… in between the spaces of unconsciousness, Pedro Agela caught flashes of an old man’s ghost passively observing him. The brooding melancholic eyes are haunting, as if asking him why. The ghost floated and warped above him until its graying cropped hair and elongated face triggered something vaguely familiar. The memories of far away Almaguer stirred. It bored at his ebbing soul, as if tugging and sucking what remained of his life.
Slowly, a numbing coldness start to consume his body. The pain from hands crushed in the dadapilan, from ribs broken by angry fists, and from the skinned soles of his feet faded. He let out a reluctant cough that spat out the lumps of blood in his throat.
Nearby is a pile of what used to be his sons. The angry unspeaking men who came tied them together before beating them with the chopped firewood gathered from the forest just yesterday. His sons died pleading for their lives, not understanding why.
As the welcome blackness began to return, Pedro Agela once again saw the ghost. The face is younger. Angrier. Then he remembered. The lost lands in Almaguer, the old man with the melancholic eyes and elongated face who said and did nothing, and the old man’s son who left Almaguer in anger. There was just enough time for him to see the angry young man’s lips turn to a sneer of hatred and smile of fulfilled revenge before coldness froze his memories and life forever…
FOOTNOTE: The photo above shows St. Mark's church in Cabarroguis, Quirino. Its construction was initiated by Fr. George Gelade (CICM) who was assigned as the first parish priest of Cabarroguis in 1979. Pedro Agela and his sons migrated from Nueva Vizcaya to Quirino where they were killed. The cause of their murder was allegedly due to land grabbing .