He combs his still damp hair. Unsatisfied with his looks, he poured additional gel to his palm and applied from front to back. He combed again. Better now. He heard his wife, humming their favourite Maranao song while preparing the table for breakfast. He smells the aroma of a freshly roasted native coffee being brewed. His stomach growled. He buttoned his shirt and walked to the table. He smiled.
They take their breakfast of raw camote. He drained it with cold water from a nearby stream. His stomach complains. He’s still wanting more. But they can’t return to their lair. The military is combing the area, looking for them.
It’s been three days since the military launched its offensive. They were spotted while scurrying for food. They were shot. Some of his men fell, some were able to run and hide. The military are relentless. Automatic burst of fire is everywhere. He admits, the military have better training, better arms, and are better fed. They have no choice but to retreat, leaving their wounded, much so their dead. Their number thinned. They can’t afford to have another encounter. Many of his men are wounded, tired and hungry.
He finished his meal. He is satisfied of his breakfast of hot rice, fried dried fish, boiled egg and coffee. He kissed his wife, grab her hand and together they climbed to their waiting AUV. It’s tires screeched as he floored the gas. He expertly maneuvered the vehicle along the narrow road. He looked at his wife. Trying to depict fear. She smiles instead.
One night in October, he visited his family. It’s near midnight, and the moon was young. The door opens after its third knock. He saw his wife, smiling, with hope in her eyes. His heart melts. Realization swept him. His sons and daughters are growing up without him most of the time. His wife was hoping for him to give up his fight. To lay down his arms. To return to them. To till their land.
They are now on the vicinity of their farm. He have planted durian, lanzones, coconut, upland rice, tapol or upland malagkit, black rice, corn. All organic. The harvest festival for his palayamanan project were just concluded. He silently thanked Allah for helping him gain the trust of the government. He is an active advocate of Diversified Integrated Organic farming. He volunteered portion of his land to be a learning site so his men can learn and harvest more, earn more.
He dreamt to help his men. Not by always giving and sharing his harvest, but through education. By teaching them how to live through their sweat. To improve their land. He knew it is an uphill battle. He has no power. His resources is limited. Government programs never reached their place. Non Government Organizations deliberately avoided them. They do not listen to him. He made his decision. He will run for Barangay Captain.
I do solemnly swear, to do my duty, as duly elected ABC President…so help me God.