An army service cherished by the masses

This article is available in PilipinoBisayaHiligaynon

Medics from the New People’s Army are rich in experience of providing health services. As they are confronted with all sorts of situations, these medics, many of whom come from the peasant masses, have become experts in handling all kinds of medical emergencies.

Such was the case when Ison, a 9-year old Dumagat, slipped on some rocks and broke his arm. A group of Red fighters chanced upon him and his father when the accident happened. Since an NPA unit was already in the barrio, their medical officer was able to extend assistance.

“The child was almost unconscious and was crying under so much pain,” Ka Nonoy, one of the Red fighters on the scene, related. Used to moving quickly, the Red fighters were able to gather betadine, gauze, plaster, elastic bandages and pain relievers at once. Armed with her first aid kit and her pistol, medic Ka Aida was immediately dispatched to respond to the emergency and was able to provide first aid. They put the child’s arm on a splint. The emergency was quickly addressed that the unit was able to continue with their meetings in the barrio. Even Ison’s mother, who was greatly worried by the accident, was able to attend.

Months later, the Red fighters once again chanced on Ison and some other children by the river. His wound and arm had already healed, after the medics provided him with constant medical care for a week. When asked, he was quick to say that he was already fine. “I can climb the mango tree again to get some fruits for tatay (father),” he said as he energetically waved his arm around. He gave some mangoes to the comrades. “Thank you so much. My arm is already healed. I promise, I will be more careful next time!”

He and the children offered to help the comrades in crossing the river. The children are what the comrades call their “drivers.” They help secure stuff when the water is high and the rocks are slippery. They pile the comrades’ backpacks on big salbabidas (inflated tire interiors) and bring them across the river (to keep them dry).

Scenes such as this are commonplace in areas where the people’s army operate.

As many barrios lack basic medical services, the masses rely on the services provided by the NPA. What the masses receive, they return tenfold in cherishing the comrades.

This was the experience of medic Ka Primo who was once shot in the leg during a defensive battle. At first he thought he could “crawl” his way but was later unable to pull himself up. The comrades had to carry him in a hammock, after the enemy fired mortars their way.

They maneuvered out of the area for more than two weeks. The masses were quick to assist them in every sitio they came across. In each one, the masses provided them with food and information on the routes they had planned to take. Their help in carrying Ka Primo was invaluable.

“There was a system where people took turns,” Ka Primo narrated. In the middle of their journey, Gimo, a farmer who he once treated, arrived. Gimo once suffered a blow in the head and lost consciousness. It was Ka Primo who provided first aid and stayed until he regained consciousness. He made sure that the patient was recovered before he left the area.

“When I heard that you were wounded, I said to myself I have to go and help! This way, I can return your service!” Gimo greeted Ka Primo. This greatly bouyed the spirits of the wounded comrade and cemented his resolve to serve the revolution. They traveled a path that was not easy—narrow, sharp, hanging and overgrown with vegetation. The masses and the Red fighters helped each other until they were able to send Ka Primo outside to be treated.

After months of treatment, Ka Primo recovered. When he came back, Gimo was already serving the Red army.

An army service cherished by the masses