5th Street
By Acmad Toquero Macarimbang
Published: November 23, 2009
Updated: November 23, 2009


I ran fast the early morning of Saturday from the park where I took my twice a week exercises, directly to the 5th street where my modern split type home was located. I never looked back thinking I might be killed by a shadow of unknown....

"Whom you talking with?" a pakat* asked.

"I am talking with my Kaka* Raheem," I said, then, "with my Kaka Rameena."

We were sharing experiences the first time we rode a carabao from the rice field to our humble and charming barung-barong, and of how Ama and Ina taught us to swim the tempting pulangi*. Kaka Raheem was then 12 years old. Among the three of us, he was the most intelligent. In fact, aside from being the class first honor, he was also the neatest, most patient and most honest. What a beautiful mind he has - best in mathematics, english, science and Arabic. Someday he would be a great doctor and would heal Ina's symptomatic headache. I remember Kaka Rameena crying for missing the Ashar* prayer. Everybody called her Ustadza* Rameena for her being religious. Everybody preferred her. She, who was pretty and even prettier when wearing her veil or tendong. She was also as brilliant as Kaka Raheem except in dealing with numbers. She spoke a lot. Someday, she said, she would be an eminent lawyer and a fighter of the moro people.

......I hardly breathed. I was hiding in an extensive bamboo groove. The road was dusty and endless. I had seen no faces but a bunch of bodies with rifles. There was a blatant sound that ruined my hearing. It was from above. The crescent moon disappeared. The rising sun was hidden by the OV - 10 planes. Our home was destroyed by fire. Then there was a yell. Then, there was a bomb blast. Kaka Raheem was hit by a 105mm. Kaka Rameena was burnt from the explosion.

"Whom are you talking with?" a pakat asked.

"With no one," I said. I stood up and jogged again.
*moro people - collective term for Muslims in the Philippines

* pakat - Maguindanaon word for friend.

* Kaka - older brother or sister

* Ustadza - teacher of religion

* pulangi - river

* Ashar - 3 o'clock prayer