CRUCIBLE: Whispers of the Guns (2)

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 10 April) – Talking in whisper, Garand asked M79: “Who is your master?”

The steps of Big Boots were getting nearer. Thump! Thump! Trump!

Afraid that Big Boots might hear their conversation, M79 could only manage to do a smirk-like reaction while protruding its lips to his master who was sitting with other masters at the other side of guns with tags.

Garand persisted: “Who, the one in front, the one in the middle, the third, or the fourth guy near the wall?”

Nearly pissed off, M79 blurted out: “That’s a silly question.”

Garand: Why?

M79: “How can I have many masters? The one in front is, of course, my master. I am loyal to him.”

“You know,” M79 continued, “I have been with him for years. He loved me so much. He always carried me with care and gave me enough ′durul.′ That was how I came to like Tausug delicacy.”

Garand: “I am sorry that is not ′durul.′ I am afraid you have already been ‘acculturated’ because of your long stay in Kan-awn. You are referring to M406 40mm (HE), the ammo of M79.”

“Of all of us here, I was the only one that literally ate ′durul,′ ′bawlu,′ ′daral,′ ′panganan,′ ′juwalan′ all at once – in an occasion when my master Apah Juwak practically forced me to eat those delicacies,” Garand waxed nostalgic.

“So, don’t talk to me about your favorite delicacy,” Garand reminded M79.

Garand continued:

“After ′Musil′ (mauser) and Springfield, I am proud to say that I was the early gun that Tausug loved so much. You should know that I was among the first five Garand rifles that President Ferdinand Marcos gave as ′gift′ to Congressman Wanni Hilaw after 1965. As he wanted votes, the late congressman gave me, in turn, to Apah Sumangsang Sug in Kawman Piyag-sunugan; then, when he lost in ′pagpanayam hapus′ (gambling), Sumangsang Sug loaned me to Apah Juwak.”

Then, Garand raised his final point: “After Apah Juwak, do you know how many masters I had before I was ‘surrendered’ the other day?”

“And do you know,” Garand’s voice began to crack, “how many Tausug died because of me?”

Sobbing in tears, Garand abruptly kept silent. It could not handle his emotion.

M79 could only praise Garand with its knowledge; it tried to empathize with him. It was interested to hear more about Garand’s story, but M79 had to check its own self first.

“It must be true,” mumbled M79, “there is no sign of ′durul′ associated with me. I may look like a ′patung hawpuh′ (short bamboo) but am certainly not made from a giant grass.”

“Oh! My God,” panicked M79, “am I having an identity crisis?”

Thump! Trump!

Big Boots was already in front of them.

M79 suddenly stood up, put its right hand over its right eyebrow and raised its voice: “I am the “Thumper;” “I am the Thump-Gun.”

Awaken from slumber, all the guns – from tag Nos. 1 to 19 – stood up in attention and spoke in unison: “Hail to the Thumper! Hail the Thump-Gun!”

[MindaViews is opinion section of MindaNews. This series (second part) is a satire on the politics of guns in the Sulu Archipelago as undergirded by arms trade in the Philippines and elsewhere. It Is interlaced with historical and cultural issues with some linguistic ingredients among Tausug while framed in the larger context in the politics of arms in the Philippines. The aim is to reveal the impact of proliferation of firearms in Sulu society as it forms part of the network of global arm industry. Julkipli Wadi is Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of the Philippines].

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