After the Bombings: Gathering the Pieces in Dilong Valley

Maria, his 48-year-old wife and their neighbor Juliet Badday, 45, fainted when they heard the bombings. They fear for the community. Along with the children, women feared for their lives. They did not mind that the fields were left untended and the carabaos (water buffaloes) left astray. They just hoped the ordeal would end soon.

Mariano Galisen, who was in his late 50s, was not as lucky as his neighbors. He headed for the away (meadows) intending to look after his farm animals. He was old, Buyagan remembered Galisen as saying, and the soldiers would have pity on him. But he was wrong. He could have lived after he fell on a ravine in the forest had the soldiers allowed his neighbors to follow suit. Nine days after he went into the woods, his neighbors found his body already decomposing.

“Impapilitna a napan idiay umana idiay away. Mabalin a napan na kinita didiay pagalaan ti diru ket sinabatna dagiti iyukan ket timmaray ngem natinnag iti derraas” (He asserted to go to the fields deep in the forest. He might have visited the beehives to gather honey but he might have hit the bees and he ran but fell on the ravine), Buyagan surmised, saying, the other men could have seen him alive had they been allowed by the soldiers to go into the woods to gather honey.

“Isu laeng ti pagalaan mi’t makan nu tiempo ti kalgaw”
(It’s our only source of income in summer), Buyagan said of their honey-gathering activity.

The army ground and air operations were meant to look for rebels, according to local folk who attended a meeting conducted by the army. They said they found firearms, reading materials and CDs allegedly belonging to the New People’s Army (NPA). They bombed the forests and the fields to flash out the guerrillas.

They searched people’s houses and took even the outdated VHF radio system that the barangay officials use to communicate with their counterparts in the other barangays. Abandoned houses were not spared. Soldiers went in through the windows, a woman told this reporter.

Worse, they butchered farm animals considered beast of burden in this faming communities. The soldiers reportedly took the meat, leaving the head and the carcass in the forest. Another woman said that after the soldiers had left, residents found a decaying cow head in the forest.

After sowing terror among village residents, they have only caused the people to distrust the government.

As Buyagan said, there is only one thing they want the government to hear: that they are also human beings who should be treated as humans.

Pananuman, a sitio (sub-village) in Tubtuba, is home to some 100 villagers, comprising only of 17 households.

The Tubo delegation to the 24th Cordillera Day celebrations in Baay-Licuan, also in Abra, received overwhelming applause for their courage. Northern Dispatch / Posted by (

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