Busdi’s boys want to be soldiers or policemen

"There is nothing wrong with the idea as they might have seen the need for security and order, but the problem is they are so engrossed about fighting and armed conflict," Lyven T. Flores, a member of the school's faculty told MindaNews.

Flores referred to results of a profiling survey they conducted among pupils from third to sixth grade in preparation for the souvenir program in next month's graduation.

Students were made to write on a sheet of paper their ambition and why they want to pursue it.

Most of those who aspired to be soldiers or policemen said they wanted to "secure their community." Some, however, explained they "want to fight."

She attributed the pupil's popular choice to the children's proximity to conflict areas between the military and the communist New People's Army.

She said they were used to seeing soldiers aboard military trucks moving towards the more remote part of the village.

Flores also quoted another teacher as saying she observed that during free time, many of the boys draw soldiers in combat and military choppers landing.

Busdi is among the villages within the city's Upper Pulangui area where several mining firms have applied for mining exploration permits.

In mid-2006, at least 300 farmers, their wives and children were forced to evacuate the village and adjacent villages after government's helicopter gunships pounded an alleged communist rebel camp in the mountains northeast of the city.

Malaybalay's City Social Welfare and Development Officer Virginia Flores told MindaNews then that many of the displaced villagers were children.

Residents fled on foot and hid in the forest to avoid being caught in the middle of the fighting. Most of the evacuees sought refuge in schoolbuildings in nearby villages, suspending also classes of the children in that school.

Flores said they observed that the children were so fond of imitating soldiers.

"They looked happy to be acting like them, doing stuff that they think are done by armed men," she said.

Through the years, she said, many of  Busdi's children who finished elementary level, end up enlisting as Cafgu (Citizen's Armed Forces Geographical Unit) members.

Becoming a teacher is the second most popular ambition among students and Flores said this could be because the two professions (teaching and becoming a soldier or policeman) are the most visible to them in the village.

"But it's really disturbing that they are so amused with armed conflicts," she said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)