Why people love “terrorists”

 

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews /07 November) – Years from now, nobody would care to remember the soldiers who killed Jorge Madlos aka Ka Oris, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front in Mindanao until his death on 29 October this year. But many would reminisce the memory of the slain revolutionary leader, he who chose to leave a life that promised comfort and safety and embraced instead the perils and harshness of underground existence.

Fifty years in the hills and safe houses – and briefly in prison. That’s almost as long as the armed struggle itself being waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army. Ka Oris virtually spent his whole life in the revolution, and could have taken pride in having battled a long line of officers produced by the Philippine Military Academy. But no, the revolution doesn’t hand medals to its sons and daughters, only a salute of clenched fists that serves as a promise to continue the fight, to move on from grief to greater courage now that he has returned to dust.

Ka Oris’s death brings to mind the name of an eminent revolutionary, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, an Argentinian doctor and writer who, along with Fidel Castro, became a major figure in the Cuban Revolution. After Cuba, Guevara journeyed to other countries and ended up in Bolivia where on 9 October 1967 (yes, the same month that Oris was killed), he was executed by Bolivian rangers acting on orders from the Central Intelligence Agency.

It’s been over 50 years since Guevara’s death, but the world still remembers and honors the man. Many see him as uncompromising in his quest for a humane social order through world revolution, others as nothing more than a coldblooded ideologue. But the thing is his memory lingers, his image emblazoned on shirts and other personal items of even those who barely know his story. Pop culture has embraced him as an icon.

Strange (discomforting?) indeed that people like Che and Ka Oris, they who could have “gotten ahead of the rest,” opted to take “the roads less traveled by” and to become faceless and nameless because as rebel-poet Eman Lacaba wrote, “all faces are ours” and “all names are ours.” Never mind that apart from sharing the same month of death and the willingness to die for their beliefs, both suffered from debilitating diseases, Che being an asthmatic.

Perhaps it is this quality of selflessness and dedication that imbues them with a mystical aura that even nonbelievers in revolution could only admire. In fact, even those who loathe Ka Oris as an enemy may find it fitting to salute him for enduring over 50 years of “simple living, hard struggle,” abandoning the wild things of youth for the sake of a cause he deemed greater than himself or anybody else.

Perhaps, for as long as society remains mired in injustice, inequity and inept governance, people will find refuge in a counter-culture inspired by the likes of Che and Ka Oris.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at hmcmordeno@gmail.com)