Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Soldier Encounter Going To Cotabato Airport

So, Cotabato City visit came to an end and I had to get myself back to the airport for a noontime flight to Manila. Good that I was already staying at Estosan Hotel since they have a shuttle service. Actually, an airport limousine as many would call it! It’s an old “Mercedes”!. Vintage if you may. And I liked the spacious seats! But that is not my topic here. There is something that travelers have to watch out for, and watch their mouths for hehe. It happened to me, it may happen to you. Don’t do what I did if you are not that crazy stupid and stupid crazy like I was! I am serious… hehe, yes, really!

Here’s the story, so you’ll know what to do and what NOT to do…

Black Mercedes as Estosan Hotel’s Airport Limousine departed with, of course, just me beside the driver and my backpack regally seated at the spacious “backseat”. Whatever the vehicle, when I’m not home (Metro Manila), I take every effort to get me seated at front seat beside the driver, so I could see things around, so I don’t miss any of the little things I might later consider worth telling (you) in my blogs. And a tale to tell did I get in this short trip from Estosan to the airport! There we were fording the short 7 or so kms and I saw the intersection again, yep, the Y-shaped road where if you go straight that would be to the towns of Guindulngan, Talitay, Datu Piang, etc all the way to Shariff Aguak but if you head right, that is the way to the airport. I saw the many people again waiting on the sides of the road.

And then… the checkpoint, gate, whatever. Imagine, there is even that steel brace (or whatever you call it) on the ground instead of a hump. For the unfamiliar, that long steel thing spans the width of the lane, it has sharp teeth like that of a big saw, and it faces your tire. So that, if you cross without the guard pulling the lever down, your tires will definitely blow! That is in addition to the usual barrier that is lowered and raised like at village gates or toll booths. Plus the military personnel that mill around. That is how heavy a “fortification” you have to pass through just to be able to approach the airport! In my mind, I said “this is Cotabato”, so let it be. Driver stopped the car, pressed the button to open all windows and a youngish (handsome in fact) uniformed guy approached….

The Dialogue:

Military Guy (Talking to me, not the driver): Saan kayo pupunta?

Me (looked at the driver first before rolling my eyeballs): Airport

Military Guy: Ano gagawin nyo sa airport?

Me (as I placed the camera on the dashboard): Alangan magsisimba, nasa airport ba ang simbahan? Alangan magsasabong, me sabungan ba sa airport nyo? Me dala ba kaming manok? Di naman siguro ako sasakay ng barko sa airport, di ba? Ano sa tingin mo?

[He obviously blushed with a face that was really irked as if he wanted to crush me into pieces]

Military Guy (after glancing at my camera): Bawal mag-picture dito

Me: ano ngayon? Bakit nagpipicture ba ako? piniktyuran ba kita? Do you want to review the pictures in my camera?

Military Guy (raised voice, hollering actually): Sinasabi lang, paalala lang

Me (now also pissed): Yun lang ang purpose ng checkpoint na ito? For you to know kung ano gagawin ko sa airport? Ayan sa likod ko ang backpack ko, halukayin mo kung gusto mo. Di mo man lang itatanong kung me ticket ako? What else do you want? The trunk is open, di mo man lang titingnan?

[His face showed anger, lips even pursed, went to check the empty trunk. That, as other military guys (there were probably 20 of them in the area) looked on, some looking at me, and I looked at all of them with a face that was obviously burning with irritation. An older soldier, probably their boss, and the only one whose long rifle was not in his chest, smiled at me with a slight bow. The look in my eyes did not change a bit. Young soldier circled to the driver’s side and waved him to proceed]

Driver (to young soldier): Thank you ser!
[I sat there looking front still showing that irritated face. Glanced at the soldier when I sensed he was looking at me. He did not say anything anymore, so I did not say anything too]

Driver (as he closed the windows): Kinabahan ako sa iyo sir…

Me: Bakit?

Driver: Eh “happy trigger” and mga yan (he meant trigger-happy), isip nila sila ang boss

Me: Ganyan ba dapat? Eh pera natin ang ipinapalamon sa mga yan tapos walang galang?!

Driver: Eh kung bigla tayo pinagbababaril? Pansin ko galit yung sundalo e!

Me: Eh di patay kung patay hehe!

…and so on!

But read the dialogue again folks! Who was more stupid? Wasn’t it me myself and I? When I reflect on this story, I sometimes cringe thinking about what could have happened if that soldier fired at me! Simba ko hehe! If he did, without doubt, all the other soldiers there would have also fired at us in succession without asking what happened, right? Ah, I can only imagine! The fact is, many of these soldiers are ex-CAFGU or nothing to do bastards who have not even finished high school and allowed to join the military instead of becoming hoodlums, right?! So their sense of reason is probably not as ‘talkative’ as us, or me at least, that’s why they may easily resort to their weapons when 'verbally' provoked by an irritated, philosophical. talkative bastard like me hehe!

Anyway, when I entered the pre-departure area… lo and behold… the first person I saw as fellow passenger was a longtime friend who I did not hear from anymore after his PMA graduation. I learned he is commander whatever of a brigade battalion whatever in the area (probably even boss of those soldiers guarding the checkpoint). As we waited for flight boarding, I told him the above story. His first reaction was… “gago ka talaga”! My reply? A very firm and resounding “oo nga”!

It was not as if my friend was saying those soldiers should be boss, but he told me… “alam mo naman ang mga bata ngayon, masyadong mapusok". And laughing hard, I almost clapped at his next (even if sarcastic) comment, "at hindi nag-a-attend ang mga yan ng customer service at personality development training mo”! All I could say was… “correct”!

So folks, learn from the above encounter hehe! What a way to end my Cotabato City visit!

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