OPINION: Elementals and Martial Law

Tin Bartolome

Posted at Jan 13 2017 01:49 PM

What I would give to be a child again—even for just an hour.  I grew up in the city but was fortunate to have lived in a family compound that once had a swimming hole and lots of trees.  I was told that it was a picnic area open to the public!

There were many wells that were used to water plants in the area.  The swimming hole and those wells were filled up to give way to houses and gardens, but fishponds were later built right in front of my grandmother’s house. Those became our swimming holes!

Summer Afternoons

For me, summer meant long, hot afternoons reading comic books, playing bingo using old coins, biking, climbing trees and just hanging out with cousins, nephews and nieces (who were just a bit younger than us).  Mornings were spent wading in those ponds and lunches on the ping-pong table in my grandmother’s garage.  Sometimes, we would imagine we were intergalactic explorers confronting space monsters. We also talked about dwendes, nuno sa punso, kapre and other elementals that may have lived among us in that compound. I cannot imagine being a child and not experiencing any of these!  

Today, the smell of newly cut grass, smoke from the embers of a bonfire, the mustiness of the earth as rain falls upon it or the scent of the air just before a storm—all these evoke memories of my childhood—a time when forests were merely in danger of dying, of impending water shortage and air pollution.  It was a time when telephone lines were difficult to acquire and one had to wait in line for years!

Martial Law

I was in sixth grade when martial law was declared.  My friend was celebrating her birthday on the day it was announced.  No one wanted to venture out of their homes because nobody knew what was going on outside.  I envisioned streets slowly being occupied by tanks—no knowing that we may not have had enough to fill major thoroughfares!

Slowly, as I grew older, I came to know the horrors of martial law.  At first, I did not understand how it would affect ordinary people like us.  
But I later learned of desaparecidos, tortures, extrajudicial killings and other injustices.

Deja Vu

I guess, without realizing it, that part of my childhood is playing out once more—the threat of the same name responsible for all those horrors looming over the horizon.  No, I do not want to go back to that part of my childhood after all.

Having been through all that, I now know that those horrors should never be allowed to happen again.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.