Reeling from shock, fatigue (at least, bearable now as the body begins to heal) and severe, almost unbearable "D" from the trip to Diat Palo, a mining community in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, just a ravine across from where the Diat Uno landslide occurred four days after the New Year.
I wish you knew the feeling. After the long trip on board a dumptruck used to carry ores from the mines, followed by an hour’s climb on a steep miner’s trail up an almost 90-degree cliff; and another ride on a Saddam (a reconditioned army truck from Iraq being used in Mindanao hinterlands), where I kept staring at the giant ferns above us to pull the heavy truck up the road so that we will not fall into the ravines bluish in their depths far, far down below. Seeing the desperation of people soaking their hands in mercury poison, cheerful at the prospect of money, inhaling toxic fumes just to extract gold to satisfy the First World’s craving. Saying yes to a boy, who asked, “Te, are you still coming back? Mingaw na mi kung wala na mo.” Nodding, smiling reassuringly at the boy but deep inside, feeling rotten. So, I just turned into a liar.
Had I been creative enough, I could have told him, “Don’t worry, Ondoy—for that was the boy’s name, not a typhoon’s—“Even if we are no longer here, we are staying with you in mind and spirit.” Just like Jesus. Perhaps, a lie like that can sustain the child for a number of years until he grows up and finds himself working in the tunnels.
Perhaps, he will not work in the tunnels, after all.
Perhaps, he will find a route of escape. Perhaps, he will grow mountain rice to fill gigantic warehouses to feed an army to fight the people’s war that will not fail like they did in in Russia and China. Perhaps, he will grow potatoes as big as Bernardo Carpio.
Perhaps, a different way of telling lies can transform them into truths to light his way out of dark tunnels.