Musings, Thoughts & Commentaries
Task Force Davao operates a checkpoint at the boundary between the mostly Christian Mindanao city of Davao and the ARMM—The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. I often crossed through the checkpoint on the way back and forth from Davao to General Santos City, both key locations in stories I have written. This week was quite a week.
What will be the fate of the movie I wrote and produced?
We had a spectacular time in Gen San and stayed as guests of the Greenleaf Hotel. It was an upscale international hotel managed by a new friend who had grown up at the Philippine Military Academy while his father taught there. We shared experiences.
The Premiere of Sabine was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Greenleaf. The venue was packed and the movie well-received. Afterwards the cast and crew partied in the bar downstairs and our talent took over the stage from the regular band, hence delegated to back-up music. Bonz Militar—a young up and coming star—grabbed the mike and sang our song, “I Swear” for Mailyn and me.
In General Santos City my Public Relations Rep had taken me to a City Councilman’s office. He was a great guy and supports our movie plans. We had met several times before. A younger guy, we expect him to gain national prominence. For now he has a small office, three chairs around a desk in the corner with a computer. We plan to promote the entire SOCSARGEN region when we film the next two movies in his territory.
After a visit to the mayor, another supporter—I like the 105 mm Howitzer shell he has mounted on his desk—my Rep took me to a seminar going on at Brokenshire College-Gensan concerning children with special needs. I will write that concept and location into “Sarangani Girl.” Leading characters will volunteer to teach blind children as their own lives fall apart.
Before we departed Gen San the General Manger showed me around the hotel as we plan to set locations of “Sarangani Girl” here. Outside a steep ramp winds around a water fountain with a tuna statue centerpiece. I visualize the Sarangani Girl running up and down the ramp, stopping in the Café outside by the waterfall, passing the pool, background shots of artwork, workout in the gym and dancing the flamenco in the lobby lounge.
What I saw out the window during the bus ride inspired me. Mount Matatum in the far distance. A short-haired fat dog lying on the sidewalk sound asleep in front of a sari-sari store. People passed it by with the same lack of interest shown as they passed by a Shabu-addicted boy staggering. Street scenes.
The bus moves on. A young man, thick black hair, tattered clothes, mouth hanging open, squats on the ground in the middle of a dirty puddle, gazing around blankly with his limp penis hanging down into the green ooze. Pedestrians on their way to work walk by and cops in uniform ignore it all-- too much trouble for them to bother and no place to take the shabu addicted anyway.
Stacks of grey aggregate and piles of sand wait patiently beside the highway to be mixed together some day with cement to make concrete for something, some day…maybe.
The bus hit a bump as we pulled into the Check Point and I was flipped straight up in my seat. I thought it had happened before. I was surprised to find myself suddenly awake and staring out the window directly into the eyes of a skinny black goat tied in a cage with a dozen or so young pigs in the back of a small pick-up truck. Surprised to find myself in the Philippines because in my dream I was in California. But here I am, lost and confused in cognitive dissonance.
I immediately forgot my dream. Whatever dreams of freedom that goat or those pigs were slobbering to each other about would soon be ruined when they arrived at the lecheron and were quickly turned into curry of goat or put on a sharp stick from butt through mouth to roast as lechon de leche for a holiday feast. It was almost Christmas and time for happy parties along the coast of Sarangani Bay.
I close my eyes and am back in the café reading the morning’s military news I had already heard from the second in command of the rebels and his intelligence officer the night before. The leader had come with his personal security team to pick me up. He and I had coffee on a patio in front of the hotel. While he was on a phone interview with a Manila newspaper and local radio he explained action in the field of the previous day.
In an email to a friend in Manila I told him to watch for a story to come out in tomorrow’s papers; he asked me how do I know what will be in tomorrow’s news?
At the Check Point, Philippine Army troops assigned to Task Force Davao entered the bus, looked through our luggage and searched our persons for weapons or bombs while I looked out the window. Finding nothing suspicious but many cute girls to slow their inspection, they eventually got off the bus and signaled the driver it was OK to move on.
We pulled out of the Check Point. I am back in Davao.
Tom Anthony is a West Point Graduate and combat veteran who spent his professional civilian career in global business all over the world. He has lived and worked in Austria, Italy, Spain, England, Iraq, Israel, and throughout Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Anthony also lived in Mindanao for seven years.
Copyright 2017 Tom Anthony.