He had been fighting all day.

Now with the red sunset sky above him, he lay on the ground exhausted, his bloodied head dampening the earth. This was his 31st fight and his opponent was fast.

The head cadre looked down upon him as he vainly tried to get up. “Are you still willing to spill your blood for your country?”

All he could muster was a weak and feeble, “Yes, Maestro.”

“You are ready.” Said the cadre.

The raid on the Japanese barracks could only be done in the dead of a moonless night. Now the time has come. Heedless of the monsoon rains bearing down upon them, they prepared for battle. Almost naked, they climbed one by one into drums filled with black oil…in silence. “Tonight may be my last.” Everyone thought. Bidding farewell to their comrades, they went on their way.

Closer and closer to the japanese encampment they crawled; bolos cradled in their arms, knives between their teeth. Two went for the guards, and then two for the lights….all in silence. The sleeping soldiers never knew what hit them. In the inky blackness, all that could be heard was the whoosh of the blades cutting through flesh; curses thrown at the panicking foe; the cries of the mortally wounded. Again and again the Filipino blades struck. Again and again their foes fell.

In the chaos and darkness, he groped; feeling for the clothed enemy; striking when he found one….looking for another when he touched bare skin. He stabbed and he slashed, till the ground was muddied with Japanese blood.

It was over in a matter of minutes. Now, he stood just behind the treeline, looking at the carnage before him. The rain had stopped and the encampment was slowly burning to the ground. “I will fight for as long as the enemy is here.” He thought. “If I must give my life, then so be it!”

He looked around and he knew that this was just the beginning. With his blood-covered bolo hanging from his side, he thought of his ancestors. He thought of the very first Filipino who drew foreign blood. Gritting his teeth, he repeated the very words of that ancient Mandirigma who stood victorious on the shores of Mactan: “We are a race of warriors… and we shall bow before no king, for we owe allegiance only to our people!”


This freedom we enjoy is the legacy of our ancestors…the MANDIRIGMA!


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