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CRUCIBLE: Whispers of the Guns (4)

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 25 April) – Garand turned to M79 and pressed its question softly: “you have not answered my question about your master?”

“Pila na ba lilling layuh-layuh

Si Bunggau ba lilling pa Sibutuh.”

(Oh! My Darling how far is the distance

Of Bongao to Sibutu)

Sang Rifle Grenade.

“I need to know,” Garand pursued while unmindful of Rifle, “so we could ask help from him.”

“This is the first time we are treated like this; yet, our masters are doing nothing,” Garand emphasized his point.

“Ask help from your own master,” M79 punched back.

“I don’t know who to prioritize between them,” Garand responded.

Garand whispered further:

“We thought they are our masters, but they are as terrified in front of Big Boots. I know many of them here could not even see eye to eye with each other as they had been engaged in endless ‘pagkuntara’ (feuds) among themselves. That guy is the kuntara of that guy (pointing his hand); this guy against that guy; and those guys against those other guys. Yet, why are they here all submissive while giving us to Big Boots?”

All the guns were stunned listening to Garand except Rifle Grenade – standing, beaming, displaying itself.

“Bang kaw lilling bunnal matuyuh.” (If indeed you have persistence).

Despite Rifle’s annoyance, “we should know,” Garand persisted, “because they have been using us in killing their own ‘kuntara,’ their own fellows, their own Bangsa.”

“We are their servants!” Garand made his point.

“Uy! Ayaw da kaw isab marahlas magbissara” (Don’t be too excessive with your words), Bazooka countered.

Garand was surprised how fluent his friend is with his Bahasa Sug.

“I cannot agree that we guns are their servants,” Bazooka debunked Garand. “They are, in fact our servants. We may call them masters; truth is, they are serving us and the purpose with which we are created by our Master.”

Garand asked: “what do you mean master and Master?”

Bazooka: Yes, we have two masters – “master-servant” and “Master-creator.”

“I am lost,” Garand pleaded, “please enlighten me.”

Bazooka: “The first is also known as “master-consumer” while the second is…”

“Urul kaw ba lilling pa malayuh.” (Of far distance you follow).

Rifle Grenade ended his song while pulling up his gungutan (trouser) that accidentally fell from his waist; he turned left and right to see if other guns saw him grabbing it up.

Bazooka was interrupted with the song while M79 has been egging to answer the question of Garand earlier about his own master. But before M79 could point his master, 30 Caliber stood up, faced the two guns in conversation then followed up Garand’s question: “have you forgotten that we were actually together in the custody of that second master of ours – until we were separated in the war in Kan-wai?”

“Oh! Please M79, don’t forget that you were actually exchanged to the MNLF when the latter helped our master release a foreign priest who was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in Kawman Juljanah,” 30 Caliber said.

M79 could only bow his head with his identity being unmasked. “We parted ways,” 30 Caliber reminded M79, “then you went to master one, while I remained in master two.” I thought I won’t be able to see you again,” he reminisced.

Trembling to its knees, M79 purred like a wet cat and murmured: “How come they know much about me. I hate being known. I don’t want Big Boots to know me. Huhuhu!”

“Thanks God!” 30 Caliber, getting more emotional this time, pursued his thought: “Now that we are tied and bared, at least, we already have time to trace our past. We’d know ourselves.”

[MindaViews is opinion section of MindaNews. This series is a satire on the politics of guns in the Sulu Archipelago as undergirded by arms trade in the Philippines. It is interlaced with historical and cultural issues with some linguistic ingredients among Tausug while framed in the politics of arms in the Philippines. The aim is to reveal the impact of proliferation of firearms in Sulu society as it forms part of the network of the global arms industry. Julkipli Wadi is Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of the Philippines.]

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