By Monica Lunot Kuker
Korinne (not her real name) is my FB friend.
I met her a couple of times in some Filipino events. As the Philippine elections heated up in the past few months, I noticed all her posts were unpopular, as these were against then Mayor of Davao and incumbent Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and the family of the Marcoses. Like me, we were both very bold in expressing our opinion against Martial Law in social media.
Several times, Korinne and I would exchange opinions and fears of the possible return of Martial Law. Like many others who experienced Martial Law, we never wanted it to happen again, although we are both residing in the US for many years now.
I noticed through her posts and comments on her FB wall that her fear is real and intense. One day, she left me a message in my inbox and we started chatting about her father Ka Alex. And I learned that her family had the worst nightmares.
Korinne’s story poised a question to me, which I can relate being an activist myself “Bayan ba muna o pamilya?” I was reminded of my life when I got involved in labor union struggle in 1995. I almost died during an intense hunger strike.
This is Korrine’s heart-wrenching story of her father, Ka Alex.
He was a loving father, who used to surprise his children with fresh sugar cane when he comes home from the hacienda. “As kids, this was a great deal to us. They were sweet treats from our dear father.”
Korrine, the eldest of six children, recalled a simple childhood. His father was a hardworking man, who tilled four hectares of land until he joined the armed underground New People’s Army in 1976, four year after Martial Law was declared. Ka Alex also had a brother who joined the underground movement, who like him revolted against his own injustice exemplified in poverty and military abuses.
In the 1970s, many important CPP-NPA were captured and jailed, including Bernabe Buscayno, then commander of NPA. The military was at the peak of getting rid of those who opposed the fascist administration.
The Philippine Constabulary raided and ransacked Korrine’s house a few times to arrest her father. He was made assistant to the commanding officer who had a short temper, Korrine recalled.
On July 28, 1982, Ka Alex was killed in the mountain village in Capas, province of Tarlac. He was shot point blank on his temple by a military soldier, despite his pleading to spare his life because as what he said, he’s a father of six children.
Ruthless and callous, the goon in uniform shot him dead without mercy. His brain scattered on the dry mountain soil. Ka Alex’s wife was widowed at the young age of 36. At the that time, Korrine was 12 years old and the youngest was six months.
“I was a tatay’s girl. His death has always been painful. I always still cry remembering what happened,” said Korrine. Her mother tilled the land which Ka Alex had left behind. The family received a damage compensation from government worth Php 60,000 or about $1000. There were about 50,000 families who were victims of Martial Law who sought indemnification from government.
For Korrine’s family, the amount was so small to begin a small business. Korrine recalled that her mother gradually used it for their consumption – for there were long droughts and the land was not giving them adequate food for several times.
After many decades, victims of Martial Law are still heart broken. Militarism is not an answer to poverty. With the spate of arbitrary killings going on right now in the Philippines, she is scared Martial Law is back, only in the guise of curbing the drug menace.
(The featured photo is an original painting of Mona Lunot Kuker, a rendition of the anti-Spanish secret society called Katipunan.)