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Randy Ford Author- THE HUKS A Snapshot of History 8th Installment

      While the constabulary and the police followed every lead, Jack began his own inquiry.   For him, it was cathartic and part of the healing process.   So full of rage, he wanted to catch the killers himself.   The constabulary and the police seemed too slow to him.

       The jeeps that carried the gunmen were found abandoned near the scene.   Fingerprints didn’t match any known criminal.   It seemed silly to dust for prints, when the attack had obviously been meticulous planned.   Even petty crooks knew not to leave prints.   Any fair person would’ve been perplexed by the arrest, by a rough count, of some 800 suspects.   Though as passions cooled, most of them were later released.

       Secret memos and documents in the U.S embassy revealed who orchestrated such a huge roundup, which made it clear that the killings were more than a murder holdup.   For the first time, one was faced with an admission that Jack, or the victims (or someone close to them) were valuable assets of the U.S government.   Now it was at this point that the constabulary and the police were given patriotic reasons for using their authority to the fullest.

       On page three, of the trial transcript, case number 02125212, the record showed that the police picked up empty cartridge shells and spent bullets from the pavement near the victims’ vehicle.   Forensic experts matched them with guns taken during a raid of a safe house.   Other incriminating items were seized there too.   The transcript then went on to say, “but the prime suspects were long gone.”   It was remarkable that the constabulary and the police had information that led them to the correct house.

       Brick by brick, the case was built.   Once caught, the mastermind was shown no mercy, nor were any of the others who took part in the crime.   No doubt they were brave men.   But they had to face the consequences.   Yet the constabulary and the police showed an affinity for them.   The assassins wanted to make people believe that they would’ve rather spent more time with their families, but trying to make themselves seem more human didn’t help them.   Whether they had families or not was immaterial.

       Even before any arrests were made, the police prepared a list of seventy-eight witnesses.   Hearsay was certainly admissible; but with a busy street as the crime scene finding evidence was difficult.

      Could the suspects be identified?   Would their confessions stand up?   Mistakes were obviously made, but none of the mistakes made a difference.   Perfection was impossible, and the truth could only be approximated.   But the main problem with so many mistakes was the loss of time, and the more time lost, the more the trail to the killers cooled.

       Suppose the ten men wearing jungle green uniforms had randomly chosen their victims with high-jacking the vehicle in mind, how does that jive with Dr. Ramos’ connections with the Huks?   How well known were his activities?   Was there a conspiracy?   How many people were involved?   There were men posted with radios in front of the professor’s house who gave the triggermen last minute instructions.   They weren’t worried about how they would stop a moving vehicle.   Why didn’t they strike at the professor’s home?   Obviously, they were after headlines and intentionally killed the innocent along with the guilty.

      They raised the anti by striking in the heart of the capital.   Before then traitors were quietly executed.

       The public demanded revenge.   No one accused the constabulary and the police of mistreating the witnesses.   They humbled the party by detaining so many people and forced some of them to confess.   The long interrogations gave each suspect ample opportunity to confess.   There weren’t many discrepancies.   The constabulary and the police were able to crack the conspirators.   Honor and a fidelity oath had sealed their lips, which made their confessions seemed inconceivable.   The success of the investigations depended upon a tremendous amount of trickery, which the Americans had taught their Filipino associates.

       It was hard to imagine a more desperate group.   To assassinate, to gun down, to decapitate, to stab, in other words exterminate their enemies, inside or outside their organization, to mitigate with vengeance all the wrongs of the past, was a tall order.   The very principles of the Huk struggle (not merely their words or deeds but their heart and soul) gave them strength.   Yet they reportedly begged for mercy.

       Most of the contagion in Greater Manila could be found within the colleges and the universities.   In them professors and students engaged in doctrinal disputes.   They often pretended a connection with Maoism.   Being at odds with authority was attractive, but don’t mistakenly call them leaders of the movement.   With the assassination of a respected colleague and friend, many of them were arrested and their loyalty was put in question.   Weak, ineffectual, squeamish, stripped of their slogans, and altogether disillusioned by the sudden turn of events, some of them subsequently betrayed his or her comrades.

       There were breaks in the case that led to the arrest of the tall man and the short one, who witnesses pegged as leaders.   With Jack’s help, the constabulary and the police seized important exhibits: as mentioned, weapons and then disguises traced to a specific market vendor.   The immeasurable grief and pain from the loss had the blinding effect of galvanizing Jack even more, and he couldn’t have stood the ordeal had he simply sat idly by.   He couldn’t disguise the bitterness and the hatred that he shared with mothers and wives, fathers and husbands, brothers and sisters, and orphaned children who had also suffered the loss of love ones.   He couldn’t cry.   He would if he could; only he couldn’t.   Given his grief, the opposing forces within him weren’t surprising.

       In the middle of the rainy season, Jack trooped through Kandala swamp and up Mount Arayat.   He knew his picture had been printed on leaflets and distributed throughout the region.   Similar notices spread falsehood about Jo-Jo, who pleaded his case to his parents in a letter.   He told them that he finally decided to surrender.   He said he hadn’t foreseen the rash of crimes that followed in the wake of Jack’s appearance, and damaged the movement beyond repair.   Why couldn’t they stop the hemorrhaging?   On a long list of crimes, betrayal ranked high; and given the chance, both sides practiced it.

       Given the confusion and the passions following the assassinations, the blame couldn’t be placed squarely on anyone. Jo-Jo never supported the policies of his country, far less her imperialistic agents.   Therefore, his betrayal was based purely on an emotional response.

       Enduring foul weather and trudging barefooted through knee-deep mud, the two friends were drenched and with each step their feet became heavier.   In the mud, discouragement came easily.  In the mud, Jo-Jo realized his reputation had been destroyed.   In all of his life, Jack had never seen so much rain, slanting down, causing mould, mush, rust, and mildew and then, revulsion.   A few days of rain would be followed by several hours of steam.   Nothing escaped the ooze.   On the other side…. scolding, cursing, and threatening to kill one another….there were men stalking the two Americans who were thoroughly at home in the swamp.   The highest ranking rebel leader, Jose de Leon, offered a thousand pesos for their capture.   The Secretariat then held an emergency meeting and more than doubled that.   A peso equaled a half a dollar, which would’ve been the preferred currency.   In those days a thousand dollars represented a small fortune.   Many men tried to cash in.   During their trek through the Candaba Swamp, had he had anything to give, and without hesitation, Jack would’ve given his friend anything.   All they had to swap were stories about growing up.

      Surrender then!   It was made possible; and surrender to Jack’s horror led to the maximum sentence for his friend.   No one was going to let the crimes go unpunished.   Even though Jo-Jo helped solve Dr. Ramos’ and his daughter’s murders, they insisted that he plead guilty and told him that his conviction was just a formality.   They evidently didn’t appreciate the sacrifice he made for a friend.   He had expected too much; and even so, he had few regrets.

       After his surrender, for security sake, Jo-Jo was placed in a solitary cell with a heavy steel door.   He was sent to the New Bilibid Prison in Rizal, some miles outside of Manila.   It was a tough place.   Murder and riot were common.   Here was incarcerated a son of a couple, who lived with the Huks, and taught them and never acted unkind, or expected special treatment.   Recently returning from fighting, these peasants loved Jo-Jo’s parents as if they were family.   Their boy now couldn’t go home.   In order to protect him, Jack was frequently moved around, but officially the U.S. embassy never helped him.

       The two friends sadly joked about squandering their lives away for filthy politics.   Nothing seemed right except the status quo.   Fighting for democracy where even the birds and bees voted seemed to require repression and toughness.   All the king’s men couldn’t fully explain why these two boys ever chose sides.

      Jesting seemed to have taken over.   They searched for something embarrassing to say about each other.   The last thing they did together was to sit and wait, as their time ran out.   Braving the flies and the mosquitoes, they sat on the seawall that night with two smiling women.   In particularly Jack displayed mute anguish.   The murderers were caught; but with the confusion in the country, some of them were soon set free.

       Both of them lived to regret Jo-Jo’s surrender.   In order to publicize the impending collapse of Communism, the right wing press widely covered the American’s duplicity, while the left wing denounced him as a traitor and a class enemy.   For the sake of peace, national unity, and reconstruction, Jo-Jo was promised amnesty but was instead given a life sentence by a court influenced by a skeptical public.   (See court documents for the judge’s rationale.)

      Randy Ford

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Randy Ford Author- THE HUKS A Snapshot of History 7th Installment

      It was unknown how many people died as a result of Jack’s activities.   The deaths of Capadocia in Panay, Nick Pamintyan in Manila, and a whole group of commanders who were undergoing training in a cadet school, probably none of these deaths could’ve been attributed to him.   For the role he played in his wife’s death, Jack felt riddled with more guilt than he’d ever admitted.   One thing was for sure though: counterrevolutionary work was messy.

      Did Jack acquire and turn over to his handlers documents from the Secretariat?   And did he give the names of his father-in-law’s frequent guests, as members of the Politburo came and went?   Some of these members were already preparing themselves to become governors, mayors, councilors, and chiefs of police and so on.   And did he do all he did without the Huks catching on?   And when did Dr. Ramos start to realize that many of his guest and comrades were dramatically and unfortunately captured within a few weeks after visiting his home?

       But there was more. Jack’s wife, so practical and smart, who through all of the conversations cordially sat next to her husband, would remember who said what, and always afterwards helped her spouse reconstruct it all.   If she ever suspected Jack, she never let on.   She knew her role.   Whenever they had guests, she and her mother were expected to be gracious hostesses.

       On the other hand, many of the guests promoted themselves and tried to impress and talk big and were obsessed with power, taking to heart the Chinese Communist maxim that said “the people are water and we are the fish.”   Jack listened as they planned to simultaneously attack all the major installations in the city: the folly of that idea, thinking that they could catch everyone sleeping.   Certainly, they were inspired by the victorious revolution of their comrades in China.   They used quotations from Lenin and Stalin.   To the Marxists sitting in Dr. Ramos’ living room, the revolutionary crisis had certainly arrived, but the big question was were they ready to lead?   Had Dr. Ramos known of the duplicity of his son-in-law, probably he would’ve turned him over to the party’s discipline committee.

       Unfortunately, instead of Jack, Dr. Ramos attracted the attention.   His opponents began to realize that he was one of the few ideologues in Manila to have charted a mainstream course and survived.   By having done so, he made enemies, who were suspicious, and many of them characterized him as a “villain with a smile.”   And there were those who also worshipped guns.

      The assassin team struck without warning.   Tommy-guns and Sten-guns were fired at Anna even after she appeared dead.   Her father remained conscious but was unable to speak.   On the assumption that they would be mistaken for government solders, the assassins were dressed in green khaki.   On the street, witnesses got the number plates of the get-away jeeps.   These, it was true, belonged to the army but had been stolen.   The police had already been looking for them.

       A break in the case soon came.   It was an important one, an essential lead that came out of the blue.   From an unexpected source, it was also a break that the investigating team couldn’t have come up with on their own.   Such breaks the police count on to solve most major crimes.   But don’t belittle their efforts.   Cases of this magnitude were often complex, and the people involved…. the police, the judges, the witnesses, and the accused….all become involved in high drama.   And the press doing its job, printing the facts and publishing photographs, they but echoed the clamor of the public for answers.   Then the public decided the guilt or innocence, based on the role of each assassin and accomplice, both on and off the record, the cumulative picture drawn from the evidence and corroborated by various witnesses.

       That same day, after the dead were transferred to the morgue and the next-of-kin were notified, Jack found himself tormented with grief.   No one knew what he was going through, how he was involved, or how he felt.   Or the unfairness of the tragedy, or that he bore any blame for it.

       To right the wrong, Jack had to find the killers himself and turned to Jo-Jo.   Together, among antagonist, they represented a modest link between foes, a link that otherwise wouldn’t have existed.   But given the circumstances, was it treason or heroism?   If caught, either one of them could’ve anticipated death.   As it was, they both struggled; but regardless of their differences, they would help each other.   Friendship overrode other obligations.   However framed or worded, it was paramount even to men who fought on opposite sides of the war.   Each of them paid a terrible price, and even more so as events unfolded.

      Around noon, on February 12, 1952, the murders occurred on Roxas Boulevard, near the Rizal Monument and not far from where Rizal died.   Newspapers ran the story on the front page.   “Murder Hold-Up” screamed one headline; and accordingly all of them, except the respectable Manila Times, published the presumption that the murders were the work of a gang of hoods.   Fiction seemed real; facts were deliberately distorted.   What the Philippine public hungered for was a mixture of exaggeration and fact.   In keeping with this tradition, photographs of the bodies took precedent over the printed text; and the number of wounds (13) Anna received greater play than descriptions of the assailants.   Government involvement would’ve been less sensational then, because of daily arrests and killings associated with the protracted rebellion.

       Facts challenged the publicized version. None of them would ever forget that morning or the spray of bullets that shattered the windshield.   No one would say whether or not guerrillas were suspected.   All the witnesses, however, said all the killers wore bush hats.   They remembered the hats but not the jungle green uniforms.   A young Filipina lay dead in the front seat, not some whore, but a person of good repute.   The gray-headed man behind the steering wheel was wounded, but all of his injuries weren’t apparent yet.   This was wrong, all wrong, and not right; and it tied up traffic for a long while, as honking intensified and became almost unbearable.   It was stop and go all the way down Roxas Boulevard, but that was nothing when compared with the violence hundreds of people saw that day.

Randy Ford

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Randy Ford Author- THE HUKS A Snapshot of History 5th Installment

      Welcome appalling difficulties.   He proved he could take it.   They called it a first installment.   But here’s how they were tested; how Jo-Jo was tested.   To use Stalin’s words, “Communist are people of a different mold.”   During sessions of criticism and self-criticism, each person was subjected to a roasting and had to confess their weaknesses.   Then having been condemned and severely criticized, they’d often weep and express their shame in an acceptable way.   The long discussions gave an opportunity to ferret-out potential opportunist, or actual traitors, some of whom were executed for crimes against the revolution.

       They all knew the need for revolution and the problems with living the old way.   Jo-Jo used riddles and questions to challenge fellow comrades.   “What would happen if American capitalists no longer made a profit?”   The tiger shark symbolized the American capitalistic imperialist.   This analogy served its purpose but never totally worked, anymore than totally embracing Marxism did.   But formalities broke down when old friends recognized each other. Indoctrination was put on hold.

       Jo-Jo liked to sit on the high ridges of Mount Arayat, which dominated Central Luzon.   It gave him a view of busy Clark Air Base.   From these heights, he also saw rice and sugar-cane fields, a vast sea of green broken only by a network of roads and towns.   The American airplanes that came and went fascinated him; but he knew that neither the planes nor the base assured peace to the only home he ever knew.

       His parents were the ones who gave him a social conscience.   His mother took him with her throughout Pampanga as she called on the sick and delivered babies as a midwife.   Faith helped them survive the war and the political seesaw that followed.

       In the mountainous forest, Jo-Jo collected edible ferns for meals.   It was almost impossible to imagine the hunger and the other hardships they endured.   Some rebels died from fighting among themselves, the same as children over rats and snails.   Everyone was weak and numb to the bone.   The rain made for a night of misery.   Tom fools in the rain and always wet, stabbed by thorns and bitten by leeches, their feet were raw and swollen.   Faced with attacks, often backed by air raids, they were always on the move. T  he forest didn’t offer them a sanctuary.   It became the same as a sieve, and government troops pour in at will, and the government had its informers.

       The sheer will power it took to survive, the unexpected capacity to endure, this test gave them the strength to hang on.   It took more than courage.   It was tenacity and the knowledge of having made it before.   The struggle kept the revolt going.   In swashbuckling fashion, they clambered up huge boulders and this was the same for them as joining the people of China in their fight against capitalist dogs.   The truth emerged when they looked at America, touted as a showcase, and saw how America masqueraded as a benevolent society.   Most Huk cadres would say “cut an American down to size and what’s left is a Conquistador in jockey shorts.”

       Huks had their most precious possessions…. life, honor, children and wives….wantonly desecrated.   The government should’ve anticipated a reaction.   Its scorched-earth policy of looting and burning created hatred and drove effected peasants into the arms of the rebels.   The Huks organized barrios in an area of over 40,000 square kilometers, which extended across the borders of four provinces.   People pretended loyalty to the government while they secretly worked for the liberation movement.

       Fighters attacked from the mountains and slipped around during the night.   Villagers were willing to take considerable risks, and close friendships often emerged.   Of course, no leader could stop their men from having love affairs with local women.   None really tried, though they knew carelessness men died needlessly.

       Jo-Jo asked nothing in return for his participation.   He didn’t want to be treated differently than anyone else.   Had he not objected, his friends would’ve made his life easier.   He, who should’ve been rejected, soon was given rank.   Determined not to shirk his load, he picked up a rifle, but it shouldn’t be assumed then that he shot Americans.   He unavoidably, however, became entangle in precisely the cruelty and the ruthlessness he deplored.   The ruthless demands of the struggle hardened him.   Rotten to an extent, it was glorious in other ways.

       Jo-Jo made the Huk struggle his war.   He wouldn’t be able to extricate himself from it, nor did he ever repudiate his socialist convictions.   His flirting with Communism was his way of grappling with the problems he saw.   Friends of his since childhood had clearly been victimized, and he saw and understood that, understood imperialism from the Filipino perspective.   He hated imperialism and saw how it effected everyone.

      The army used trench mortars and 75-mm. guns to soften the resistance. S  helling peasant houses preceded each assault, which largely accounted for the strength of the enemy.   They covered up their mistakes and blamed the looting and the burning on the Huks, or the villages were caught in the crossfire.   Even before they entered an area, people knew what to expect from them.   Therefore, few people stuck around; and the army rarely captured anyone.

       There was panic everywhere.   Generally guerrillas couldn’t easily be identified.   Peasants and the very poor (who never had enough for themselves) supplied the army with rice, vegetables, and cigarettes, and so on, hoping then wrongfully that they would be left alone.   Whether they called this stealing or called it taxing, confiscating or contributing, it amounted to the same thing: highway robbery.   Such was the army’s method.

      The success of the spectacular attack of San Pablo City gave the Huks the feeling that the tide had turned in their favor.   They felt as if they had the government on the run.   But soon victory would lead to defeat, because Manila was busy engineering a dazzling coup.   The revolution would soon suffer many setbacks.   Many Huks would be killed.

       Jo-Jo never understood their defeats.   To fight discouragement, he told the men the Russians or the Chinese were coming.   No one really believed him.   Instead, the peasants were all anxious that their landlords wouldn’t let them back on the land.   As the uneasiness grew, many of them obtained permission to return to their families.   So to avoid shame, no request was denied. Had they asked for the moon, they probably would’ve gotten it.

       Containing Jo-Jo’s group to Mount Arayat, government troops controlled all the water holes.   Water had to be collected drop by drop from stems and vines. With artillery, armored cars, and foxholes, the ring of steel of the government left few gaps.   Clashes were inevitable. Jo-Jo insulated himself from this misery by falling for a communist gal.

       Facilitating the flow of intelligence between Manila and the mountain, this aristocratic beauty served as a courier.   Intelligence gathering required freedom of movement, so her responsibilities kept her on the move.   Faced with the ever-present danger of sudden death, Jo-Jo’s communist girl was perfectly willing to have sex with him.   Following revolutionary concepts, she engaged in sex without attachment or love.   But Jo-Jo with his Christian upbringing had a problem with that.   As his conscience and sense of decency got in the way, he had a hard time.   Rather than just accept human nature, poor Jo-Jo became angry when she gave herself to several other men.   Yet he believed in the Communist dictum concerning women, which said only class enemies try to mold women into preconceived niches and a profession of love often is a form of slavery.

       Jo-Jo slowly moved forward with the men.   They broke camp before daybreak. Intuition or premonition was all they had to go on.   The decision seemed risky, but they stuck to the plan.   Danger was ever present.   No one balked. In hopes of somehow breaking through, they left the hills behind, hoping to cause enough pandemonium for success.   What they knew about war they learned from experience.   There was no rhyme or reason why, regardless of caution or skill, one person died and another lived.   One could never explain why he or she was spared when a grenade exploded a few feet away and blew away a comrade or two, or why some lived only to surrender and spend ten years in prison.

      Randy Ford      

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Randy Ford Author- THE HUKS A Snapshot of History 2nd Installment

      Most remarkably the person Jack should’ve mistrusted the most, Dr. Ramos, a self-styled socialist, was the person who took charge of his education.   His mentor’s connection with the Huks didn’t bother the young man, but in no way was the American a revolutionary.   Instead of politics, it was the professor’s intellect that attracted him.   From philosophy to Catholicism, chiefly, perhaps how he connected divergent ideologies such as Christianity and Marxism, just as Jack would later struggle with his own sentiments (first his genuine love for country and second his love for action), Dr. Ramos also created his own reality.

       Witness Jack’s willingness to do classified work, first in the Philippines and later in Laos and Cambodia.   Having vowed to never return home except for short visits, he found himself embroiled in contradictions, such as a love/hate relationship with his country, which would demand his total commitment.   Then came the marriage he couldn’t avoid; the death of his wife, and the daughter he then had to raise.   Somehow he also got into hiring gangsters, rabble-rousers, demagogues, and politicians.   His counter-subversive activities seemed justified in light of the fight for democracy and freedom.   All of his road mending and fence-building earned him a great deal of gratitude from a succession of administrations.

       His family ultimately became proud of him, though he couldn’t acknowledge what he did.   They wouldn’t know for years what he did for freedom and democracy.   One can’t honestly tell this story without remembering the ruthlessness of the opponent, often cruel, as class hatred spread through their ranks.

       Unimpeachable patriotism wouldn’t come to Jack automatically.   In 1950, such a turn around seemed unlikely.   Back then his sympathies placed him somewhere politically in the middle.   There wasn’t a satisfactory explanation for why he took the risks.

      Jack soon became Dr. Ramos’ son-in-law.   For sure he hadn’t anticipated it.   He didn’t realize how quickly he could get in over his head or how much was assumed when he and Anna started touring Manila alone.   Jack didn’t know anything about Filipino customs, nothing about Filipinos mores, or anything about his own puzzling feelings.   Unsuspectingly he walked into a well-laid trap.

       Thus Anna couldn’t resist his charms.   She misinterpreted his smiles.   Jack’s feelings, on the other hand, never equaled her romantic intensity.   Holding hands to her meant one thing and to him something else entirely.   Nor did he ever suspect that in the public eye he had her father’s permission to marry her or that they were already sleeping together.   Great Scott, Jack, with his sex drive, didn’t stand a change, while she waited for him to become poetic and romantic, the accepted preliminaries of courtship.   At the same time Jack congratulated himself, she interpreted his friendliness as a case of true love.

      He thought she expected him to make love to her, but never thought of marriage.   Instead, he took pride in his sexual prowess.   Her constant attention and her response to his touching were definitely flattering.   Then he and Dr. Ramos had their talk.   With plenty of camaraderie, he found himself engaged; all because of Anna’s condition, which Jack admitted was entirely his fault.

    A marriage hastily was arraigned.   Because of his sense of integrity, and whether than shame her and her family, Jack married Anna. Anna, so beautiful and with attributes that were so fine, perished before Jack fully appreciated her.

      On March 29, 1950 (their eight anniversary), the Huks created havoc by launching simultaneous raids on two towns and fifteen barrios.   A hundred of them swooped down on San Pablo City, killed an army officer, looted stores, and raised the hammer and sickle.   On the same day, Manila was strewn with propaganda leaflets describing the collapse of the economy.   Free trade had caused a massive federal deficit; that and a lack of economic development had led to a deteriorating economic situation.

       With his father-in-law’s approval, Jack went to Central Luzon, with no other credentials than his marriage to his daughter.   He wanted to see first hand the situation there. Officials of the Civil Affairs Office, whom he approached, warned him that they couldn’t guarantee his safety and at first advised him not to go. F  rom the beginning it was clear that he was willing to take great risks, which as far as his future was concern, was very significant.

       Upon his return to Manila, Jack agreed to report back to the Civil Affairs Office.   From that moment on, he was on the embassy’s payroll.

      There were significant omissions on the official printed list of U.S. Government activities in the Philippines.   Some things only the Ambassador and one or two officers from the Political Section knew.   Jack first met an attaché in a small corner office on the second floor of the embassy.   They first engaged in small talk over glasses half-filled with native rum.   But to someone as anxious as Jack, the small talk seemed unnecessary.

       However, the small talk was useful to the attaché, who claimed Cleveland Ohio as his home.   He explained how his hometown became a great capitalist center, how it was home to a lot of working men and women, and how the Russians adored it.   The Terminal Tower in Cleveland, with its spire of neo-Gothic design and fifty-two stories, reminded Russians of the skyscraper tower of Moscow University.   Had the Communist party not held its convention there in 1934 Cleveland wouldn’t have attracted so much attention in Moscow.   The attaché went on to explain how the overthrow of the free enterprise system by the Russians was on par with the evils ascribed to the Huks.   “But look at civilized Russia, a so-called democracy represented by the dictator Stalin.   Take the average worker over there. Do you honestly think they can afford a washing machine?”

       In his puffed-up way, the attaché slouched in his chair.   With a red face from drinking too much, he reminded Jack of a peasant, as in a Ukrainian peasant “forced to sow the fields with the aid of hoes and baskets made of bast.”   He resembled one more than an attaché attached to the U.S. Embassy.   He sat there rough-hewn, formidable, calculating, or the same as a member of the Moscow gorkan and obkon and enjoyed his position as much as having in his possession a winning lottery ticket.

       Beating around the bush would’ve been more appropriate at some other time.   They spent more time discussing the fate of the Cleveland Indians and how the Browns were going to win the NFL than talking about business.   This didn’t bold well for Jack.   It became pretty clear that he would have to act pretty much as a lone wolf.

       Everything said then would soon be overshadowed by events.   Jack was clearly culpable.   He didn’t walk along the waterfront, along the boulevard passed the peddlers selling various wares, and through the huge iron gates onto the grounds of the embassy with his head down.   He walked deliberately.   Never brand him in the same way he branded himself.   Sensitive to where he was, how did he get there?   But without warning Jack might’ve jumped over to the other side.   Then why did he choose to risk everything?

      Randy Ford

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Randy Ford Author-crimes against Filipinos, or who were the Huks?

      Nick paid a boy to save them seats on the bus.   He knew all the seats would be taken before the bus stopped to take on passengers.   Boys were hired to climb through windows while the bus was still rolling, something that provided the boys with subsistence.   They had tickets, but having tickets didn’t guarantee them seats.   While they said goodbye to Manila, Ted tried to deal with the fact that he might be heading into hostile territory, where as an American he could be a target, in places where he had no right to be, and had no connection with, really.   He didn’t let Nick know what he was thinking or how he was feeling.   Every time they spoke he put up a brave front, testing himself to see how he would react later, and he preferred to let Nick lead the conversation.   He saw the outside of the Dew Drop Inn from inside the bus, as they went through Angeles City and passed by the gate to the airbase.   (He remembered, as if he could forget, Nick’s story about an American service man raping a Philippine young lady in the Dew Drop Inn, and he wondered what had happened to the GI.)

      Back home, when he was going to college, he had heard stories about young men being entrapped or framed by young women seeking a ticket to America.   He had no first hand knowledge of it.   He had a better idea now than then how it worked; he had some idea how an unsuspecting male could fall into such a trap.   He would like to think it couldn’t happen to him; besides he was married and didn’t see himself being unfaithful.   It was said to have been one of the dangerous of playing around in Mexico; if there, why not in the Philippines, and especially so in a town next to an American airforce base.   In his mind, it could happen even when the sex was consensual and have the woman still cry rape.   Then have it her word against his.   All this while Nick was practically screaming about the injustice of cases tried in American military courts, when the crimes were committed on Philippine soil.

      He was excited about getting to see where Nick grew up.   The town was small and dusty, but far nicer than he had imagined it would be, not even close to having the poverty that he had expected to see.   This bothered him.   He didn’t think people here were suffering.   There were even cars on the streets, though donkey carts outnumbered them.   He thought, “How quaint and Spanish looking.   I wouldn’t mind living here.   I can see though how Nick might want to get away, just as I wanted to get away from my hometown.”   That was the feeling about the place that he had the whole time he was there, in the little store Nick’s parents ran, and that was how he felt as they walk around town, a town that obviously hadn’t change for generations, where landowners were still absent and poor farmers still turned a good portion of their crops over to the owners of their land; going back to the forties and the fifties, but bubbling over now again, these were some of the dynamics that had led to the Huk revolt.   There were no signs of a revolt now, though Nick had assured Ted that they were there.

      They got off the bus at last in the center of this brown adobe small town, with streets that were narrow and far from busy.   Just up the main street was the house where Nick was born.   Open, seven days a week then, a small store occupied the ground floor of the house, while Nick’s family lived upstairs on the second and third floors, but climbing all those stairs was not hard on them.   Not far away, situated on the north end of a plaza, was the Catholic Church, and covered walkways connected it with a market and most of the other businesses in the town.   Very close indeed, and mission-shaped, the church was the main landmark in town.   They could see it from their balcony.   The balcony was on the second floor and overlooked the street and was a nice place to sit and eat when the heat wasn’t too unreal.   The street wasn’t paved but that made no difference because the dirt was packed as hard as cement.   They entered the store and began to climb to the second floor before they were noticed.   The stairs in this place were narrow, and at the top of the stairs a beaded curtain screened the doorway.   The house was filled with the clutter of several lifetimes and especially in the main room with the balcony.   Calm music came from a radio, which somehow seemed incongruent with the clutter.

      The welcome was warm and extended throughout the visit.   Throughout both of Nick’s parents expressed their appreciation of Ted in a number of ways.   They fed him and pampered him.   Ted thought, “I didn’t expect this.   I don’t think my parents would’ve been this gracious.   They’re treating me like a son.   I could never repay them enough.”

      They stayed for three days.

      They would slip out during the day and go into the countryside.   Nick’s father, who had fought with the resistance…that was what Ted was told…had control of a group of men there, even after the war, and they really didn’t disband until Magsaysay made his concessions in the fifties.   The peace had now begun to crumble, a little at a time, and Ted could see signs of it here and there.

      Ted woke up under a shade tree outside of town.   With grins on their faces and dirt under their fingernails, poor farmers surrounded him and Nick.   When Ted open his eyes, he said, “I surrender.”

      Nick said, “He’s had a long nap.”

     “I surrender.”

      “I vouch for him.”

      “He vouches for me.”

      “That’s right.   He’s with me.   What am I talking about?   The choice is his, but he’s not the enemy.   He’s with the Peace Corps.   Ted, you see, they’re not thinking of a revolution.   They just want to get rid of a few slippery politicians.”

      Ted said, “I’m not part of this.   Like he said, I’m with the Peace Corps.   Do you think it would be possible for me to stand?   We could then go into town and work this out?   Maybe you can help me understand what this is all about.”

      “You’re free to go.”

      “You’ve always been free.”

      “We really mean you’re free.”

     “We mean you no harm.   We don’t mean to hurt you.   We don’t have anything against you.   It is your government that we don’t like.”

      Ted then said, “It was his idea, not mine.   He brought me here.   He’s from here, and obviously I’m not.   And if it were up to me, you’d all be winners.”

      “You may go.   But you mustn’t tell people we detained you.”

      “I didn’t know I was being detained.”

      Randy Ford

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