Friday, October 6, 2006

Children Of Strife

The more than 30 years of armed conflict between the government and Communist insurgency in the countryside and rural areas of the Philippines has exacted a heavy toll in terms of human casualties on both sides.

Small towns like Lianga, being located right within a so called rebel "area of influence", has been, on several occasions, touched by the fury of this protracted war and its people have greatly suffered for it. It is a great tragedy that this war goes on even today and that even as the years pass, the physical and emotional wounds never heal and new ones inflicted time and time again.

People like Jen are also victims of this conflict but of a different kind. But even so, their lives have been just as traumatized as those who, by choice or accident, lost their lives, saw loved ones lose theirs or whose lives were destroyed by a war that has become, in many ways, a senseless slaughter of innocents.

You see, the government, particularly the 1980's and even until the early 1990's, sought to contain the rapidly growing insurgency movement in the countryside by garrisoning combat troops in key towns and villages in rebel threatened provinces. Soldiers and other military personnel in these improvised military camps became a common sight in the countryside. Contact between these male guests and the local women became an inevitable consequence of this rural militarization.

The fact that many of these liaisons resulted in stable marriages and families is undeniable. But it is also true that just as many of these local women were abandoned and the children born of these unfortunate encounters cursed to live the rest of their lives not only condemned to bear the stigma of their illegitimacy but also to suffer an uncertain future bereft of financial and economic security.

The casualties of war are not only counted on the battlefields, they encompass many others far removed from it. The one great mistake is to forget that Jen and others like her are merely part of the "collateral damage" rather also actual and legitimate victims of a war that should have ended decades ago.

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