Daily Archives: February 13, 2010

Randy Ford Author- THE HUKS A Snapshot of History 3rd Installment

      Did Jack say the Huks were then or would soon be on their knees?   Because of his report there was every reason to be optimistic.   From then on the government had the momentum, as the rebels’ morale diminished.

       With the help of his father-in-law, Jack infiltrated the heart of Huklandia.   He wasn’t easily discouraged and gave a full account of his travels.

       Two hours north of Manila, he entered the insurgent zone.   He traveled dusty roads where naked children played with chickens, pigs and goats.   He made a beeline for the jungle-covered slopes of Mount Arayat and kept pace, step by step, with his guide.   These early milestones encouraged him and led him to believe he lived a charmed life.

       Crowds greeted him.   By nature, Jack was arrogant and pretentious.   Enjoying the crowds as much as any celebrity, no one was so easily fooled.   With little difficulty, Jack joined a small squad heading for the hills, fifty or so who were still willing to give up farming.   They willingly would die in opposition to repression; while others were worn out and just wanted it all to stop.   Jack took note of their strength and plans.

       Always on the move, the rebels spent most of their time avoiding government troops.   They didn’t waste ammunition and, if their time came, hoped their deaths would mean something.   Determined to avoid capture, experienced guerrillas knew that the government couldn’t be trusted, that the articles of war wouldn’t be adhered to, and that they could expect torture.

       What did Jack know about this? He saw the curiosity and the excitement he caused, as a rich Americano going through a poor village where children yelled, “Hey Joe!”   The same children often touched him.   Generally people smiled, people who were polite to everyone.   They seemed to forget that they lived in a war zone.

       Sooner than later, rain made Jack feel miserable, and his misery brought the rebels’ situation home.   And what might he say about that?   “Oh dear me, between Cecing’s surrender, Legasipi’s death, and Mabini’s wounds, such old friends,” said the Huk commander, “a little rain is not worth mentioning.”   Would you believe that they got so hungry that they fought among themselves for scraps of food?   That is, ate anything they could scavenge to stay alive, even grass and rats.   Those were American planes and pilots dropping American bombs, and the insignia on the wings were painted over to hide that fact.

       “Where did the others go?”

       “What others my friend?

       “You might as well get use to the leeches, our blood-sucking friends.”

      Initially ignorant of the main problems, of the exploitation and the poverty, Jack was naturally also ignorant of the significance placed on these conditions by the Huks.   Jack seemed naïve and even like a fool to the insurgents he soon met.

       During long discussions about the need for collective action, Jack remained unconvinced.   Not that they expected to have many American friends.   They’d shake their heads, as a sign of regret, and wished the situation could’ve been different.   Over all there was a feeling of uncertainty.   Some called for restraint; others didn’t.   Undoubtedly Jack found himself in an uncomfortable position.   Many of these men were considered criminals, even killers, by the government.   It would’ve been unrealistic to expect Jack to support the Hukbalahap.

       He and the guerrilla leader had a long talk on the porch of a nipa hut.   Jack said that as part of his education his father-in-law sent him.   The commander chain-smoked and, in light of later events, never appeared hostile.   Mistreated peasants, the rebels Jack got to know never gave up their claim to the masses. He admired their bravery and ability to strike, retreat, strike again, and then melt into the countryside.   They justified their robbing American arsenals and ambushing government troops by saying they were leading a populist revolt.   However, their enemies viewed them as an incarnation of the Red menace.   Many of them honestly, however, didn’t know what Communism was, or why as disciples of Marx they subsequently had to be totally wiped out or forced to surrender.

       On March 4, 1936, two American teachers by the name of Sutherland and Miles brought their baseball teams to Manila to play each other for the championship of Rizal.   Both teams had practiced long and hard. Dr. Ramos remembered spending more time on batting and tricks than catching and sliding.   Tricks were added to make the game more interesting.   Mr. Miles wouldn’t relax until his team learned to anticipate curves and drops and mastered batting.   Often frustrated he never seemed satisfied, and the hardest practice always came immediately after a lost.   Amazingly Mr. Miles somehow survived his own harshness.   Even in this country where smooth interpersonal relationships were so important, his students loved him.   Early on that convinced Dr. Ramos that he could get along with Americans.

       The standard of perfection on the practice field carried over into the classroom.   Now young Ramos aced all of his examinations and, therefore, earned the right to play baseball.   Before Mr. Mills allowed them to play a game, they practiced for almost four months.   But winning made it all seem worth it; and in the end the players forgave their coach and accepted the rough treatment as part of their lessons.   Though he often instilled terror in them, he could be very kind to those who were serious about the game.   These two teachers, Miles and Sutherland, missionaries of goodwill, captured the love and sympathy of their students.   They coached and taught and left an indelible mark.   Over the years, feelings of appreciation lingered, but were rarely accepted.

       Everyone knows what happened when the Japanese invaded.   The teachers were dragged out of bed and separated from their families and most of their personal effects, and then interned in concentration camps.   With the loss of liberty, they learned to survived and the lessons of hate.

       Who were these captives who missed their homes?   Wasn’t the war incredibly long for them?   And why did Dr. Ramos risk seeing his old teacher?   Dubbed an Amboy, he was sent by Mr. Miles to a Texas college, where he joined a fraternity, played more baseball, and went to football games.   He even dated American girls and became as American as any Filipino could.   He could recite Hamilton, Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, Lincoln, with the Gettysburg Address as his absolute favorite.   For him American history had been an intellectual excursion.

       His old teacher started him on this journey.   More often than not, their conversations continued well after the bell.   Who would’ve suspected a benign American schoolteacher?   Mr. Miles, critical of U.S. colonial policy, but by all accounts loved his country, gave young Ramos some Soviet pamphlets.   How could he be a Communist, and teach American values?   Wicked Communism (which Mr. Miles treated as a religion) gave Filipinos answers to their problems, and this from an American Dr. Ramos loved and respected.

      Randy Ford

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Roy Morey Author- LITTLE BIG BEND: COMMON, UNCOMMON, AND RARE PLANTS OF BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

      LITTLE BIG BEND: COMMON, UNCOMMON, AND RARE PLANTS OF BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

      by Roy Morey .    Texas Tech University Press

      “This especially beautiful and functional plant book features 252 of Big Bend’s plants.  It may be the best of a recent bouquet of superb books about Texas plants.  Roy More’s definitive photographs and clear text bring life to the landscape and it wondrous p;lants.  Readers will especially enjoy the sections on photography and where to see certain plants within the park.”- Bill Broyles

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