Alleged New People’s Army member Lyndon Botilla must be ruing the day he left his eight-year-old child in the custody of Rogelio Barcenal in Tuburan town, Cebu Province on October 5. By October 15 Barcenal, who is presumably a masa, betrayed Botilla by informing elements of the 78th Infantry Batallion last month of the identity of the child’s parents.
But that is the risk that rebels will have to go through if they want to maintain a family and raise children. Either they leave their child to the care of their next of kin outside the war zone or they place them under the custody of the masa in guerilla fronts. In the first case, parents have to endure being separated from their children for a long time. In the second case, they will be able to visit their children often but the kids are also vulnerable to military operations.
I remember the story of a professor of a university in Cebu City who went underground full-time in the early ’80s and brought her two children with her to the Leyte-Samar area despite opposition from her husband who remained in the city. She would die years later in an encounter with the military in Leyte (she exploded a hand grenade, so they said, killing some of her captors in the process). The children were cared for by the masa until the father, with the help of the military, was able to trace their whereabouts and brought them home.
Another tragic tale was about the son whose parents were suspected of being deep penetration agents and killed by the rebels in the hinterlands of Cebu City in the middle ’80s. The child was left in the care of a sympathizer in Mandaue and grew up to be fine young man. Members of a non-government organization later spearheaded an effort to recover the bones of the parents and look for their child. They were late by several months, however, because it turned out that the young man was already killed by suspected frat members.
I would have raised a family in the underground had not fate intervened in my relationship with Ivy (a code name). Before we could even decide to marry, I was arrested (that was in 1986). I was freed after spending around two months in jail but I was not able to see her as a warrant for my arrest was issued because my bail was faulty. I decided to go back to the underground and was promptly sent to Bohol. It was there that I received news she was pregnant and was looking for me. Our child was later born dead. Ivy would eventually marry a military man and, in 1993 (or was it 1994 or 1195?) she died of eclampsia.
–Bong O. Wenceslao, November 7, 2007