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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, September 13, 2017
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with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

If not ‘Kulot', who?

Ninfa Leonardia “Ay, mali!” That was what the police probing the killing of 14-year-old Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman seem to be saying about the body found in Gapan, Nueva Ecija, that had been confirmed by Kulot's parents to be his. But the police is banking on the DNA test that they claim showed that the boy was not related to the alleged parents, Eduardo and Nina de Guzman. For our foreign readers, by the way, the expression “Ay Mali” means, literally, “Oh, a mistake!”

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But even the Public Attorney's Office is not inclined to accept the contention of the police and would rather believe the identification by the boy's parents. Me, I am also inclined to take the parents' confirmation, because I believe in that other Tagalog expression of “luksong dugo” which means literally, “a leap of the blood,” that is applied to the feeling of recognition of one's own. So, if it was not Kulot, who was it? The police have lined up several others also missing in Nueva Ecija, but they were all adults except for a Grade 11 student from Cabanatuan.

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Perhaps we will learn more about this case in the next few days. In the meantime, we hope that the police will try their best to help in identifying victims fully, without creating more confusion and agony than the killings have already caused. If they insist that Kulot de Guzman is just a “missing person”, then they should work hard at finding him. That's the long and short of it. They must not confuse issues and add to the agony of the victim's family.

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I got fascinated with the term “luksong dugo” a long time ago when I learned about the case of a teenager whose girlfriend became pregnant and whose parents spirited her away because of the shame they believe would hound their family. When the child was born, they gave the baby girl to one of their helpers to dispose of. The helper brought the baby to her hometown and gave it to a family there who took it joyfully and raised it as their own.

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After five years, the father of the baby, now a college graduate, still wanted to locate his child, even without knowing its sex. He searched in so many provinces, including in Luzon, and after almost a year, finally found the helper whom he had known before. Because of his pleas, the woman relented and told him where she brought the baby. He went to the town and located the residence of the adopting family. Somehow, they seemed to know what his purpose was, and tried to deny that they had the child. But their elderly grandmother told them to tell the truth.

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When the child came in, the real father could not help himself. She was the spitting image of her mother, who, he had also learned, had long been married to a Chinese businessman in Luzon. And the little girl ran to him and let him hold her while he cried. It was an instance of bonding and “luksong dugo”. Even the adopting family acknowledged it. Understandingly, the real father agreed to leave the child with them, but asked to be allowed to visit her and have her visit his folks, too. He also spent for her studies up to college, and they all lived happily ever after.

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Recollections of stories like these make us forget that Duterte and Trillanes are now getting so much on each other's nerves that the President has been quoted as saying that either he destroys Trillanes, or Trillanes will destroy him. The latest from Trillanes is that he has signed a waiver over his alleged deposits abroad and daring Duterte to do likewise. Where will all this end? The people are watching, some of them amusedly, but others nervously.

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With all these in the news, one is also likely to forget that we are still facing a war in Marawi even if reports keep telling us that it is almost over already, with the leading characters on the Maute side being eliminated one after the other. Pictures of the city shown in the media are depressing, with those buildings crushed and in shambles, and also of people dumped together in evacuation centers, waiting and hoping for the day they could get back to their city and rebuild their lives.*

 

 

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