Mar 022013

FEB 7, 1974 JOLO SIEGE: Montage From a Kid’s Memory Bank


(Written in Tausug dialect and in English language)

Petsa 7, tahun 1974. “Batih na kamu yanna simud in mga mawisss!”

Biyah kahnu-kahnu ra yaun, katumtuman ku pa, nakabati aku sin waktu subuh, dyungug ku daing ha masjid sin Tinda Laud in azan daing ha bilal maglagublub pa—bang sumandung pa pikilan. Agad magdungan in katingug sin azan iban gasud biyah mag-agaw mag-apas sapantun katingug iban sahaya nag-aabay karuwa. (Unu baha lahpung pa in pikilan ku ha karu? Atawa in pikilan ha kabata asal lahpung misan way kiyakaru?)

7th of February 1974. “Batih na kamu, yanna simud in mga mawisss!” (* Mawis= Tausug pidgin for Maoist referring to the mujahideen or MNLF freedomfighters)

Seems just like a moment ago to my reverie, I can still vividly recall, waking up at early dawn hour of prayer, I heard the muezzin’s call emanating from Chinese Pier mosque, resonating in my ears, as it assailed my senses. The reverberating sounds (of adhan and the Herald’s shout) pitted to hound each other simultaneously like the speed of sound and light. (Was it because my mind was hazily asleep from abrupt wakefulness? Or my mind in its juvenile state was indeed soporific not merely out of drowsiness?)

Marukut pa ha pikilan in mga patta katumtuman. Supik mortar iban kalsu-punglu maghaging sadja lumabay sartah matanak pa lupah ha tingug kamatay. Pila batang niyug in nasapsay? Pila manusiyah in nasabat? Maas , bata, kausugan iban mga kababaihan? Awn pa baha nag-itung? Lagublub sin daugdug ha babaw langit sin Lupah Sug iban daing ha Laud Sug in karungugan. Bukun kariyasali sah kakahinangan sin AFP ha waktu pamissuku sin Pamarinta-Marcos.

The montage of war is still vivid in my mind; of mortar shrapnels and bullet shells wheezing by to deadly thud on the ground. How many coconut trunks were devastated? How many human bodies were strafed down by stray bullets and shrapnels? How many old and young people, men and women alike? Was there anyone who even bothered to count? Roaring thunder rolled across Lupah Sug’s sky as well as across the horizon of Sulu’s Ocean; not borne by Nature but by the AFP during Marcos’ regime. We were bombarded by airplanes from above and by navy boats from across the seas.

Hat kami bata-maas sibilyan nakapa-ut sin karuwa-hansipak nag-aatubang: ha gihtungan sin mga mujahideen natu iban sin mga sundalu-parinta isab ha hansipak. Sumagawa, kami mga sibilyan in landuh nahansul-kiyalaugan —anduh kailu—pasalan way sinapang namuh, di kami maka-atu, biyah kami mga binatang in qadar sumbayi-un, di na makapagbayah. Qadar ALLAH! Ha limabay waktu, in mga pangitaan ini dimukut ha lawm pangatayan namuh.

We, young and old civilians, were merely crammed between the firing exchanges of two factions of combatants: we were sandwiched in the middle by our freedom fighters on one side and by government-soldiers (the civilians’ so called defenders) on the other side. Nevertheless, it was us–vulnerable civilians– who were severely devastated, oppressed— because we did not have weapons to defend ourselves, we did not have the means to defy them and fight back; our fate was akin to animals whose destiny were to be slaughtered in the abattoir, stripped of choice. Qadar ALLAH! These memories indelibly clung inside our hearts as Time fleeted by.

In mga sibilyan-paguy hapu na ha pagsusulan sin kahigaran dagat sin Sug. In mga siki-lima nila diyaug kusug di na maka-iyan “sarang na!” Sarang da isab in buggat sin idarahan nila pamusut hiyahambiyul ha pagpaguyan. Pangdara liyulutu ha taas-u, kuttung na kailu in buli-pugay, dugaing pa in liyulutu ha lawm utuk iban buggat piyapahsan ha lawm daghal. Matilusa nila siyusul, iyurul in higad buhangin ha pagpaguyan, lumayu ha Hulah iyangpud na.

Scurrying civilians were overwhelmed by fatigue as they wearily trudged the shorelines of Sulu Sea. The strength of their arms and limbs were too overcome by defeat to issue a protest: “Enough please!” Well, the burden that they were lugging in the course of fleeing was sufficiently heavy as well. Cumbersome loads of personal belongings that they carry on their head, hunching their napes, not to mention the burdensome weight that they carry inside their heads as well as the weight they heave inside their chest. Notwithstanding, they wilfully trekked and traced the shorelines as they scampered away from their Home, burning aflame.

Laung sin kaibanan, parinta in tag-kahinangan hasupaya maruy paguwah ha pyagkyukupalan laung nila sin mga mujahideen. Laung isab sin kaibanan, tiyagnaan sin military sah siyunuan da dyahpugan sin sila mga nashahid ha pagparang sabilan ha ngan sin hulah, bangsa iban agama.

Haunu na in tandah sin silsilah sin MNLF ha waktu 1974? Nakapakain na in mga kabaluhan iban kailuhan sin sila nagka-shahid? Unu na baha in sukud myabut pa mga ilu iban mga balu sin mga gagandilan natu nagkashahid? Napapas na ha gikap sin silsilah sin Bangsamoro? Atawa kagaid wala kiyagikapan? Misan da kuman ha pikilan? Byadiin in lugay nakapalawm lima nila in Lupah Sug? Unu baha in kasabunnalan? Miyagad na baha pa lawm gumi biyah ra sin mga nagkashahid miyagad kanila timalbang?

Others have said that it was the machination of the government so that the freedomfighters would be shooed out of their sanctuaries. Still others have said that the culprit was the military who initiated the burning but thereafter “the martyred witnesses” who valiantly fought in the name of Ancestral Homeland, Indigenous Race and Islam— were the ones who set further ablaze the fire.

Where are the vestiges of the MNLF history in 1974? Where have all the widows and orphans of the martyred ones gone? What Fate has befallen the unforgotten heroes’ widows and orphans? Were the traces effaced from the pages of Bangsamoro history? Or, were these narratives have actually never even been inscribed on the pages of our history? Not even were they inscribed on the pages of our human minds? How long have they really held Jolo under siege? We wonder about the Truth. Did the Truth dissolve into oblivion along with the shahids just like how “ The Witnesses” vanished into their hallowed graves?

Smeared in blood by a martyr’s fingers, these words of proof congealed on the walls of the Notre Dame of Jolo College’s rooftop: Kami nagparang sabil ha ngan sin Hulah, Bangsa iban Agama…”

Liyukus ha duguh sin gulamay lima sin hambuuk shahid, in mga kabtangan ini karnah panaksi timahay ha dingding sin rooftop sin Notre Dame of Jolo College : Kami nagparang sabil ha ngan sin Hulah, Bangsa iban Agama…”


To ALLAH we belong, and to ALLAH we all shall return

The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on Feb 15th 2008


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