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Irosin, Sorsogon – Rebel Falls, Mother Loses Son for the Last Time

source: Voxbikol.com – Herald of Truth and Justice

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

IROSIN, Sorsogon-Alicia P. Balasta, 61, of this town, lost his son Jonathan three times.

The first time was when Jonathan worked in Manila after dropping out of college. The second time was when he joined the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The third and last time was when he was killed in the bloody firefight that also took the lives of eight of his comrades last September 25.

He was 29.

“A neighbor told me that my son was among the nine rebels killed in Pilar (Sorsogon) and that authorities were asking relatives to claim the bodies of the dead rebels,” Balasta said.

Although she was scared, she summoned all her courage to bring home the body of her son.

The last time she saw her son was in 2002 that the day she claimed his body was a tearful reunion.

“As a son, he was kind and obedient. Among all my children, he was the most caring. I felt it. When I would be sick, he would always take care of me. He would even give me sponge baths,” she said.

Few days before her son disappeared in 2002, she said she overheard him telling his friends to start calling him Ka Ely instead of Jonathan. She was puzzled.

She was thinking that her son only return to Manila to work. It was only after months and years without communication from him and without knowing where he was when she learned that her son joined the NPA as Ka Ely.

She was no stranger to losing a son. She earlier lost one of Jonathan’s brothers to a road accident. But losing Jonathan to the armed struggle was a blow to her, she said.

“I lost a loving son who was friends to everyone in the community, and who was a doting uncle to his nephews and nieces.”

She long had noticed her son’s progressive way of thinking.

She said she once asked Jonathan to send her money during the time he was still working in Manila. But her son only told her there were other things more important than money.

Once, she tried discouraging him from being an activist. But he only told her that people should fight for their rights, she said.

“So I stopped discouraging him. I just respected his beliefs.”

Jonathan had been a medic for the rebels. He had performed surgery from tooth extraction to more sensitive operations, according to Paul, one of his friends, who asked that his full name be withheld.

“We don’t know where and when he learned to conduct surgical operations. We just learned one day that he had been doing teeth extraction and other operations,” said Balasta.

She said her son’s death left a void that would be hard to refill. “Although I would have preferred him to have stayed with us for the last seven years, I feel no regret even after my son’s untimely death, knowing that my son lived fully the life he chose. The number of persons who attended my son’s funeral spoke for it. It eases my pain somehow.”

Almost 500 persons attended Jonathan’s funeral.

Balasta’s love for her son Jonathan, a medic for the rebels, is just one of the many stories intertwined with the four-decade struggle of communist guerillas in the Philippines, which the government hopes to eliminate before the end of the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. 

CPP-NPA was founded in 1968 based on Maoist philosophy. It has been outlawed for years now. The United States considers the CPP-NPA a terrorist group.

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