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When History returns and looks you in the face

March 24th, 2008

Seldom does a situation occur when history comes back and looks you in the face. This rare oppurtunity happened to me a week ago on the island of Corregidor. Our office was leading the rite of unveiling the commemorative marker of the Jabidah Massacre that happened in Corregidor back in March 18, 1968.

During our preparation for the event, the idea of inviting the lone survivor of that infamous massacre, Mr. Jibin Arula to grace the unveiling ceremony excited us all. But we feared that such exciting idea might turn out to be next to impossible. We never thought that it would materialize until the Mindanao Peoples Caucus found Mr. Jibin Arula and invited him to join their Caravan for Peace starting from Mindanao going all the way to Corregidor. Jibin accepted the invitation. So after forty years, Jibin Arula returned to Corregidor. And I was there when history was remade.

A young Jibin Arula being interviewed by the late Sen. Benigno Aquino in 1968. Inset photo, Jibin Arula back in Corregidor in 2008

During my College days, we have read and learned about what happened in Corregidor in 1968. My understanding of that event and its ensuing effect was even more emphasized and given deeper context in the radical milieu where I became part of during my youth in the early 80s’. We know the story about the lone survivor Jibin Arula, and how he survived. But again the tale of the Jabidah Massacre and that of Jibin Arula became stories told and retold a thousand times with varying tones and on different versions. Some of it too romanticized, others too fantastic and the rest simply lack luster like its a news report you get to read everyday. Last week, all those stories I heard before came to rest. Now I have listened to the tale of the Jabidah Massacre, as recounted by its lone survivor Mr. Jibin Arula himself, and on the very spot where it all happened.

Who could have thought, that in my lifetime I had met a character of history, in the flesh. This is one story that I’d love to tell the young when I get older.

(Photo taken from the documentary slideshow entitled “Tan-aw Mindanaw: Journey Across Time,” produced and published by the Philippine Center for Photojournalism, September 2002)

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  1. March 31st, 2008 at 01:00 | #1

    Got here from Bambit’s site. Although it’s not my first visit here, this would be my first time to comment.

    You have a great and informative site. Just wondering if it came up during interviews but how was Mr. Arula’s life during the martial law years? Did he spend those years in hiding from Marcos and his minions? I first read about the Jabidah Massacre after Sen. Aquino’s assasination back in 1983 when as a college freshman, I started reading a lot about his life. Thanks.

  2. March 31st, 2008 at 11:44 | #2

    Thanks for the visit Panaderos. Yes, Mr. Arula went into hiding all those years during the Martial Law era. During the time of Cory Aquino, he was taken by MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari as consultant for the MNLF during the MNLF-GRP Peace Talks.

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