CRUCIBLE: Whispers of the Guns (3)

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 20 April) – Their common genes prodded all the guns to accord recognition on M79.

Guns are guns: as comrades at arms, they are manufactured out of paradox. They have a shared mission – to kill or to save people from being killed. They are needed in time of war as it is in time of peace. They are of service to most men 24/7 and make many of them their servants for life.

The Big Boots walked fast without acknowledging their salutes. Slowly, all the guns sat down and laid their nakedness bare again. Their whispers continued to reverberate among themselves with their masters looking askance still.

With Big Boots at their rear this time, Garand moved to the side while still wiping his tears. For some reasons, Garand felt enveloped by an overwhelming nostalgia; he could not believe that he had been in Lupah Sug for the last 53 years which is already thrice the age of the last Abu Sayyaf member that became his master.

Despondent and with tears rolling from its face, Garand muttered in a language he was too familiar: “unu na bahah in kimugdan kakuh ini?” (What has happened to me?)

“Don’t be too emotional,” came the comforting words of Bazooka. He stepped forward and sat near Garand and gently touched the wooden case of its barrel.

“You have indeed come a long way, my friend,” Bazooka assured his friend. “These marks and stiches in your barrel are your badge of honors indeed – the living witness of your bravery.

A slight smile brought light into Garand’s face. The word “bravery” struck a chord into its psyche. Then, in classic Tausug prose, he uttered:

Nah! Asal
In kami Tausug
maisug, makusug, makulasug.

“It’s in our nature as Tausug
We are brave, strong, and fervent.”

“When your father, John Garand, created you in that original Model 1919 Prototype,” Bazooka enthused, “I am sure he had no idea that you would reach this isolated island.”

Puzzled, Garand took a serious look on Bazooka and muttered: “Oh! Yea I thought am Tausug.”

Then, his nostalgia gripped him further into roughly 21 years before President Marcos donated him to Congressman Wanni Hilaw.

The scene was World War II. The Philippine Island was in a firestorm. The “Pearl of the Orient Sea” was the battleground between two giants. Garand saw himself being unloaded from USS Nashville in one of the caches that General Douglas MacArthur brought to Leyte on 20 October 1944.

Garand could still see the backs of General MacArthur, President Sergio Osmeña, and Secretary Carlos P. Romulo wading toward the shore of Leyte when he heard AK47:

“Hey! Guys. I’ve been listening to you. This is not the time to be nostalgic. Why are you so concerned with knowing our masters? Why are you not concerned with our fate? They already forsake us. Can’t you see we are made to lay bare here – without their care anymore. I thought our masters are our masters and that Tausug do not recognize other masters.”

Then, 50 Caliber interrupted AK47: “Do you hear what I hear?”

“What’s that?” Garand asked, “I also have similar question.”

“What do you hear every time the Big Boots stomps his feet?”

M79: “I hear ′thump′ then ′Trump.′”

Bazooka: “Me, I hear not ′Trump′ but U.K.”

Armalite: “Me, China.”

30 Caliber: “I hear Israel.”

AK47: “Russia.”

Barrett: “Pulangi.”

Paltik: “Danao.”

50 Caliber: “How about ′Lupah Sug′? I did not hear it from other tags. I thought Tausug owned us as their ′sinapang′ (guns)?”

[MindaViews is opinion section of MindaNews. This series is a satire on the politics of guns in the Sulu Archipelago as undergirded by arms trade in the Philippines. It Is interlaced with historical and cultural issues with some linguistic ingredients among Tausug while framed 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 in the network of global arm industry. Julkipli Wadi is Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of the Philippines.]