Dr Abe V. Rotor
graduated from the famous Philippine Military Academy on top of his
class. On the day of graduation his father, a general from the
Philippine Air Force, and mother, a dean of the University of the
Philippines, proudly pinned the Medal of Excellence on their only son
and child. Nobody could be happier. God smiled at them. The world
loved them. And they loved the world. What more did they wish?
was none, although his mother said in prayerful whisper, looking up
to heaven, “How I wish we are like this forever – happy and united.”
his father wished his son to become famous. He knew that a military
career awaits many opportunities of greatness to one who adheres to his
pledge to defend his country and countrymen. His thoughts gleamed
with his medals he received for participating in the Korean War and
the Vietnam War. He treasured most a medal given by the President of
the Philippines for serving as a military adviser during Martial Law.
Those were troubled times, he thought, and put away his fears that his son would be placed in a similar test.
young Lieutenant was looked up with pride and praise. How many young
men in the world are endowed with caring parents, good school,
intelligence, good looks and excellent health? Heads turned as he
walked. Young women saw him a knight in shining armor. Children looked
up to him a model, a hero of sort. Would they grow up just like him?
Dreams! Air castles!
he was real. He dressed up simply. He was friendly. There was no
air of arrogance in his actions and words. He liked people. And
people liked him. Many times he would go to the village of his birth
in Pangasinan – Bigbiga, near Anda. He talked to farmers and fisher
folks for hours. At harvest time his presence alone was enough to draw
people from their homes and other work just to help harvest the
golden grains. How the field beamed with laughter and music and joyous
company! It's reminiscent of Fernando Amorsolo's masterpiece,
there were many stories to tell, many pleasant memories to recall.
Housewives on errand bringing baon to the workers would make up all
sorts of excuses for returning late. Passersby who were not from the
place, when they heard the name Lieutenant Carding Lopez, took off
their hats in greeting - and always, they got their reward of
recognition. Children playing nearby would caution each other not to
be rowdy, and they would display their best to impress their special
months passed. The monsoon came and the young lieutenant joined the
planters in the field as he did at harvest time. Came fishing season,
and he would join the fisher folks pull in the daklis
(seine) net to shore. And when they gave him his share of the catch,
he would politely decline or give it to the old people in the
time he stopped to greet a crew draining a nearby swamp, the lowest
part of the village. While relating how the Panama Canal was built,
people the next day came by groups armed with shovels, crowbars and all.
The swamp was drained in a short time. Incidence of malaria and
dengue drastically fell. Farmers planted melons and watermelons on
the reclaimed mudflat and made a lot of money.
it was the marketplace he was fond of visiting on Sundays. The
barangay chairman saw to it that everything and around appeared clean
and orderly. More vendors came to sell their wares and products. And
more people came to buy them.
strolling on a dirt road, he paused to put some stones to fill up a
rut. The next day a gravel truck came. With it were workers. What
took an hour to reach the market, could now be reached in half an
Lopez and Dean Lopez who were living in a push subdivision in Manila
began to wonder at the kind of life their son was leading in the
province. Surely it is very strange to know of one who is full of
dreams and raring to seek a bright future. Not for a young and
ambitious man, and a Pemeyer. No, not their son and only child,
“No, no, let’s talk to him,” the mother rose from her lounging chair. “Hush, hush, let him be,” replied her husband soothingly.
day the young Lieutenant received a call to report for duty. In the
next few days he was flying over Sierra Madre on a mission. But alas!
His plane disappeared in the sky and crashed on a misty slope covered
by forest, far, far away from civilization. No one witnessed the
accident, but guesses are not rare for such news. The plane plunged
into the sea where three islands make a triangle, ventured one mystic
who knew about the Bermuda Triangle that mysteriously “swallow up”
airplanes and ships.
it crashed on one of the Philippines’ tallest mountains - Mt. Apo or
Mt. Pulag. That’s how high jets fly, said an elderly native who knew
too well about the flight of the Philippine eagle. Oh, exclaimed an
activist, who said the young Lopez was an idealist, who must have
sought refuge maybe in Indonesia, or New Guinea - or somewhere else.
turned into hoax, rumors died down, only the enigma on how a
promising young man suddenly disappeared without trace persisted.
General Lopez shook his head in disbelief. Even in times of peace, he
realized, danger hangs like a Damocles Sword. You can’t rely on
technology, he muttered. Those planes – yes, those planes he
remembered, they were very old. He knew it; they were donated by the
US soon after the Vietnam ended. Mrs. Lopez had retired from the
university, but how could you enjoy retirement if you were in her
had been five years since the young pilot mysteriously disappeared.
The village people of his birth put up a cross in his memory at the
center of the village cemetery. At all times they kept it white, and
not a single weed grew around it.
today come to Bigbiga, now a progressive community. It boosts of a
model cooperative. It is a persistent winner of cleanliness in the
whole province. A church has been built, around it is a park and
playground. Not far is the cemetery. Classes are no longer conducted
under the big mango tree. Floods that accompany the monsoon are a thing
of the past. The market is a village mall of sort, attracting people
from nearby towns. An institute of science and technology was recently
inaugurated. Young men and women are returning and changing the
concept of balikbayan, at least in Bigbiga. They call it brain gain, whereas before we called it brain drain.
The fields are green and at harvest time under the moonlight, some
people would swear, they would see a young handsome man inaudibly
talking and laughing – men and women and children huddled around him.
general and his wife did not live long in their grief. A new
leadership had taken over the reins of command in the military. A new
president has been installed in Malacañang. He is young and handsome,
and there’s something they like in him - the way he talked, his
actions, his friendliness and warmth. They trust him. Those who knew
the late Lieutenant Lopez liken him to the new president.
day there was a flash report that a community was discovered
somewhere between Nueva Ecija and Aurora. It is ensconced in a valley
shrouded by forests and clouds, accessible only on the Pacific coast.
That is why it remained obscure for a long time. "There must be some
mistake," a Manila-based government official commented. So a survey
team was formed.
is like searching a lost city in the Andes, or in the Himalayas. But
it is true. There in the very eyes of the team unfurled a local
Shangrila - the former Dakdakel, a remote barangay of San Mariano,
Isabela, now transformed into a model community.
people in that community are peace loving, self reliant, and
respectable. They are farmers, craftsmen, many are professionals. They
have children studying in Manila, and relatives working abroad. There
is a cooperative and a progressive market. A chapel stands near a
cemetery. In the middle of the cemetery rises an immaculate white
cross, and no weed grows around it.
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