Sunday, September 22, 2013

a world war ii veteran's take on the zamboanga siege

husband and kids in tow, i visited my mother's sister this afternoon bearing a box of grocery-bought mamon. i wanted to get my  aunt, she who loves all things sweet, something fancier but the usual place was too out of the way (and in these troubled times, the best route is the shortest route) and the other one would not let me in. apparently, they close shop much much earlier than usual on account of the on-going government versus separatists shoot-off a few kilometers away.

she got flowers and cake for her birthday. because of the gunfight, only five guests or so dropped by.  a stark contrast to the big parties this house is used to hosting since what, the 50s, 60s. growing up, this house was venue to countless family gatherings. 

tita anita celebrated her 94th birthday on the 9th day of the siege, on september 17. i was not able to visit her that day because we were by then on our self-imposed exile, having decided to bring the kids somewhere where there was no threat of bullets straying into our personal spaces.

tita anita is the eldest of 10 children. by the time my mom came along, tita anita was 18 years old. she and her younger sister tita norma were in their final year of nursing school when the japanese army came. they both completed their nursing education in the battlefield. both signed up as army nurses for the US armed forces. when i think ideal nurse, i think of tita anita. for tita anita, nursing was art and craft, a point of pride, not just a way to make a living.

before she goes to sleep each night these days, she says she begs God for two things. first, that if the good Lord decides to take her, let it be while she sleeps. Second, that God does not let it rain because it will make life even harder for the evacuees at grandstand.

"I am not afraid to die," she says without arrogance nor self-pity but rather with her trademark twinkly-eyed smile. "But I wish I were younger so I can go to grandstand and see for myself what is happening there." By that you know she means "what she can do."

once a war nurse, always a war nurse i guess.

more insights from her: she thinks this siege is worse than the japanese invasion. she said that at least, you know who the enemies were during ww2. the japanese wore japanese uniforms, looked Japanese, spoke Japanese. now its not so easy to tell who the enemy is.

my thought exactly.

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