Remnants of an Old Time

Art by Natalie Reign Pacat/THE FLAME

Ramon and his grandson Miguel had just arrived on the busy roads of Guagua with their car, having left Bataan two hours prior. Ramon planned to spend the Day of Valor by touring Miguel along the route the former traversed as a survivor of the Bataan Death March in 1942.

Occasionally, Ramon would narrate his encounters in every region they passed through — how he and his fellow fighters endured more than a hundred kilometers of marching to retrieve the light of day that the Japanese stole.

“Minsan, pinagpapahinga kami sa mga bukid,” Ramon pointed towards a small field with a warehouse. “Nakapagpahinga nga, wala namang tubig, pagkain, napaka-init.”

When a traffic jam occurred, Ramon, exhausted from the heat, observed a kalesa halted at the edge of the road. As he hummed along to Noel Cabangon’s Kanlungan playing on the radio and when the traffic lights had gone green, Ramon no longer saw a kutsero whipping his horse. 

Rather, he saw a Japanese soldier thrashing a fellow Filipino in a guinit helmet and denim fatigue with a bayonet. Ramon gasped, stalling the car, and almost bumped a Corolla in front of him.

Miguel assisted him and decided to finally take over the driver’s seat. Ramon had been experiencing the same symptoms as early as when they were still in Mariveles.

“Tay,” Miguel muttered, holding Ramon by his shoulders. “Ako na riyan, magpahinga ka na muna.” F

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