Talk about strong spirits traumatized not giving up�talk about

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					CHAPTER 3

Land of Broken Toys

    After my father died, I lived with my older brother Freddie for a short period of time while I
attended the University of the Philippines. My brother was then married to Josephine Queipo, a very
sweet natured Filipina born in Jerusalem and raised in Geneva and New York, who like me, is open-
minded and free spirited. Her father worked for the United Nations and because of this, Josephine
had the chance to travel to many places abroad.

     She and I both love adventure. Back in the day, Josephine and I went to interesting places,
coffee shops, restaurants, and shopping. We had so much time in our hands then. At the time, the
world seemed so much more innocent and simple than it is today. She and I spent so much time
talking, just talking about everything. I’ve become more private over the years and more reclusive,
but I still love an open conversation with the people who are dear to me. However, I’ve gotten over
shopping through the years. I hate malls and crowded places now.

    In those days, Josephine and I loved to go swimming and lie in the sun. We discovered two
places with a swimming pool. One is located in the Philippine Plaza which is now part of the Sofitel
hotel chain. The place had a lovely tropical garden located on the oceanfront, which gave one the
most glorious view of the famous Manila sunset. In the past, it had a bar in the middle of the pool
with a thatched roof, which you could get to through a bridge. In the morning on weekends,
Josephine and I would wake up early and spend the whole day in this place until dark.

     The other place we discovered was a place, not far from my brother’s residence, called Danarra
Hotel which is not as fancy as Philippine plaza. On the other hand, Danarra offered an Olympic size
swimming pool with a diving board to match. So it attracted a clientele of college students who were
swimmers and who wanted to learn fancy diving. We befriended some of these people including a
“mestizo”, named George, an older man with a gorgeous physique who taught the students fancy
diving. He was then an older man to me of course, I was a teenager. He was very patient and an
excellent coach to his students and it is because of him that I learned how to jump from an Olympic
height diving board. When his students were not around, George would find me lying in the sun next
to Josephine and would push me to go up the diving board to jump. “I’d teach you how to fly, girl” he
used to tell me. So I learned fancy diving through George.

    Since Danarra Hotel was closer to our home, Josephine and I spent many days in this place
lounging in the sun, swimming, talking and having a great time. How innocent our lives were then.
And how much the world has changed since.

    Once in a while, I would pass by Danarra Hotel and upon seeing the place, I would close my
eyes and think of the past. In my mind, I can still hear Josephine and me talking and giggling as we

sat next to each other on our cushioned lounge chairs under the bright tropical sun with glasses of
piña colada in our hands. Happy days, I whisper to myself. Those were happy days.

     Marcus, I would like to tell you more about him, but I’m not sure which stories to share. Marcus
is a warrior whom I have known and loved almost my whole life.

    As I type these words, I sense a peculiar energy surrounding me. I’m a very strange creature,
one able to feel other realities, and other dimensions unknown to most of you. This is only possible
because I am totally free in mind and spirit. Furthermore, as I think about my life with Marcus, I feel
the essence of my unseen guardians encircle me, protecting me.

   “Tread gently, dearest one. Be careful what you say,” they whisper to me, floating around me
now. “You are walking through a land of mines.”

    Marcus. Yes, I thought silently, the world of Marcus is a land of mines. I closed my eyes,
embracing the silent world that lies peacefully within the center of my being, a world suspended in
space-less and timeless dimension. I feel my fingers resting on the keyboard while I embrace the
ghosts that have always been my guardians as I have traveled through many lives, past, present
and future. And I wondered what I would write.

    These spirits have been with me since childhood, and I believe that they have always mentored
me well. Suddenly, a tiny bug appeared from nowhere. It flew above me with amazing speed,
buzzing cheerfully as it landed on the center of my forehead dancing for an instant on top of my third
eye. The bug tickled my skin, making me smile. Then it flew away. In an instant, the happy creature
was gone. I take this as an omen, a good one, a message from my invisible counsels that I can
continue to tell you a story about my old friend. He was my soul partner, my lover, my confidante,
and my damnation.

     I met the beast by chance a very long time ago somewhere in Southeast Asia when this part of
the world was much more troubled than it is today. He began his time as a soldier in Vietnam at the
age of 18, a sniper and a good one. He and a few of his comrades were recruited to join the Agency
after the horrible war. We met after that in a restaurant by a lake, near a beautiful waterfall. We have
been stuck with each other almost ever since because even after we ceased being lovers, we
remained fierce friends.

   We were doomed from the start, both creatures of darkness, non-trusting, ever defiant and
homicidal. He loved me. I loved him. He protected me from all sorts of danger and potential harm. It
was a good partnership, he protected my outer self. I protected his inner self.

    Through him I witnessed a world, which most people never imagine exists, a world of death,
destruction, deception and treachery. Many years ago, he showed me a special piece of paper,
headed by the word “confidential” written in red ink. It also had “duration” written on it, which in this
singular instance was a time frame of six months. The information also included the types of
weapons and ammunition needed to fulfill his mission. More importantly than that, it stated a list of
names, several names that were to be removed from the face of the earth. They were all enemies of
an infamous dictator in Southeast Asia. Of course I no longer remember the names on the list. But I
do remember that as time passed, these men died one by one.

    He was everything to me in my earlier life. He was my mentor in many ways, a father figure. The
oracles said that this man and I would never part, that our bonding on earth would cease only
through death.

     And so we have been together almost my entire life, this creature and I, inseparable beasts,
warriors cut from the same cloth, half of which came from heaven and the other half, which came
from hell. My understanding of America’s killing machine, my understanding of men born to kill, born
to triumph on the battlefields, all this Marcus and my father taught me. But I have grown and
continue to grow further as I have journeyed through life.

    “The first kill is the worst,” Marcus used to tell me. I was 17. “That’s when you break your
cherry, and you get all fucked up in the head,” he said. “After that, the rest are just numbers.”

     “The world is too small for you and me,” he reminded me over the years. “There is no forest so
thick you can hide in.”

    Once, whilst we stayed in a hotel room, he snuck up from behind me and embraced me,
gripping both of my hands very tightly with his own as he secured his 9mm Beretta in my palm.
“Anything that moves,” he whispered in my right ear softly. “Shoot anything that moves. It will be
over in two minutes. That’s how it’s done.”

    I met him when I was only 17 years old. He had no home, no permanent address, traveling
constantly. I loved him but the other side of me hated him. His world of darkness tormented me in
more ways than I can tell. Eventually, the latter part of me escaped from him. I ran to the States.
Moreover, he let me go, for some time.

    “If you stay with me, they will kill you anyway. So go,” he said.

     I lived in Massachusetts on a beautiful lake with my husband, Robert Ivler. Over the years,
Marcus sent me postcards from where ever he traveled - France, Russia, China, the Middle East,
Italy, and Spain, among many other countries. In his postcards he would write, “To my GOE…”
meaning Garden of Eden. That’s what he called me.

    It is now the month of July, the year 2009. Many years have passed. Marcus and I ceased being
lovers a long time ago. That was another lifetime, and yet during one lunch in Bulan two years ago
and in the presence of Paulie, he claimed we never broke up. I have tried to live a very quiet life,
away from his world of death, massacre and deception.

    However, how does one walk away from a world like that when he continues to live inside me?
No one can, not totally. Over the years, I have been haunted by the same thing I was trying to run
from, memories, memories of dread and pain.

    So what can I share with you? Which story should I tell you? There is one that I remember more
clearly than the others because it was just after this tragic event that the world of Marcus fell apart.

    After my husband Robert died, I continued to live in the quiet and quaint town of Sterling in
central Massachusetts. One year, I was on vacation in Manila, visiting my family. I told no one I was
coming except for members of my family. My older sister Zoraida, who at the time was attending the
Waseda University in Shinjuku, Japan, was visiting Manila as well. We both stayed at my brother
Freddie’s home in New Manila, Quezon City.

    I suggested to my sister that we visit the pool at Danarra Hotel one day. I missed the place so
much. She agreed to my proposal and so early one morning we headed there with our swimming
gear and all. At around noon, we sat joyfully enjoying our meal at a table by the pool. I saw one of
the waiters run toward me.

    “Are you Miss Aguilar?” he asked looking at me.

    “There are two of us. Which one of us do you seek?”

    “Miss Marlene, I’m looking for Miss Marlene.”

    “That’s me.”

    “Ma’am there is an urgent phone call for you,” he announced.

    I got up from my chair and followed the man who hurriedly took me to where the phone was.

    I picked up the phone receiver and said, “Hello?”

    “Mi amor, lo siento mucho. I know you’re on vacation,” the voice spoke in Spanish, meaning,
“My love, I am so sorry…” There are certain Latin Americans in Marcus’ community who like to call
me, ‘mi amor’.

    “But you have one hour to get to the Manila international airport,” he warned. “You’re leaving
today for Singapore. Go to gate two. Run!” he ordered.

   “It takes two hours to get to the airport from here with all the damn traffic. And I still have to go
home and change. Tell the bastard I will break his balls when I see him for doing this to me!” I
shouted at the man on the other end of the receiver.

    After that, I ran with the speed of lightning to my sister, apologized for my beastly behavior and
kissed her goodbye. I gave her no explanation. I took a taxi to my brother’s home and got ready in
10 minutes, something I am able to do even to this very day. I asked the cab driver to wait so he
could take me to the airport.

    Over two hours later I arrived at gate two, carrying a small black bag to take with me on the
plane. I sat on my chair clenching my fists, heart pounding, and totally pissed off at Marcus. I
thought the situation was absolutely ridiculous. You need two hours to get your boarding pass before
the plane leaves and the flight was leaving in 30 minutes. I will kill him. I will kill this monster, I
thought to myself as I waited for him to arrive. Then I saw the figure of a short man around 5’6”,
wearing a horrible suit, coming from my right walking hurriedly, sweating like crazy and smiling a
nervous smile. He rushed toward me.

    “Do not bite,” he pleaded with a soft face to calm me down.

    “Fuck you!” I snapped. “We’re not going anywhere, the plane leaves in a few minutes.”

    “He he he,” the beast smiled. “Watch what I can do.”

    Marcus dropped his duffle bag onto the chair next to mine and walked away. I saw him head
toward the Airline counter. He spoke to a woman who then came down from the podium. They then
both disappeared from my sight. I sat on my chair anxious and upset that my quiet vacation had so
abruptly ended. I was also thinking of what kind of predicament Marcus was in now. As I sat quietly,
containing my anger and contemplating, I heard the airport speaker make a loud and annoying
sound, the kind that you hear before an announcement.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, Flight so and so to Singapore has been delayed for two hours. We
apologize for this inconvenience.”

    Marcus came back to my seat smiling like the animal he is.

    “See, now we can go to the lounge and enjoy our cocktails. Happy?”

    Later on, Marcus and I sat inside the Airlines’ Business Class lounge.

    “Tell me, why are you dragging me with you?”

    “We need to secure a boat, 100 feet long. If we can’t rent one, we buy one,” he replied.

    “What else are we doing?”

    “Mi amor, we play chess….,” he explained.


    “Yes, with real people,” he added.

    “And who am I?”

    “My beautiful assistant,” he replied.

    “Oh that’s right. I’m the brainless Filipina who can speak English well…”

    I’ve traveled to over 35 countries now and Singapore is one of my least favorites. The place is
so sterile and clean, void of depth, culture and soul. It is like visiting a dental clinic. However, that is
only my own personal taste of course. I’m sure that many people prefer a clinical kind of existence.

    When we arrived at Changi airport, we walked past customs since we didn’t have any luggage
with us, only our carry-ons. We were welcomed by three Latino men, all smiling at us. One was a
“guido”, a man who stood 5’7". He was in his late 40’s, the errand boy. To his right was a tall and
fashionably dressed man, around 6’ in height. He claimed he worked for the designer Ferragamo.
Next to him, the third person was about 5’10” in height. He was in his mid 50’s, very elegant.
Furthermore, although he was soft in his demeanor, within this man was power over other men. He
was a leader. I will call him Santino.

     They drove us to our hotel and when we got there, we sat in the lounge drinking cocktails. They
spoke in a peculiar tone of Spanish as passionately as some Latino Americanos do, speaking out
loud with their arms swaying in the air in all manner of motion. I sat quietly, pretending not to
understand a word they were saying. The conversation ended after one drink, after which we
checked in. Later that evening we met the same group of men in a posh and elaborate private club
softly lit with pool tables, where the women were outnumbered by men two to five. The following
evening, we met these men again. On the way back to our hotel, I could sense Marcus was nervous.
After knowing him for so many years, I don’t have to look at him to know how he’s feeling. I sat next
to him in the car this time, and I could sense his stomach turn.

    “I’m meeting someone very important tomorrow morning,” he said softly. “I don’t want you there.”

    “Fine, I’ll keep myself busy.”

    “No, I want you to stay put,” he said.

    “Do you know that…” he uttered and paused for a long time. “The head of the Triad has no son.
His heir is his nephew. When the old man dies, his nephew will lead after him.”

    The following morning, Marcus woke up early to meet the VIP. He instructed me to stay in my
room after we had breakfast in the hotel lobby. At around 10am, I received a phone call from him.
    “You have five minutes to get out and get to the lobby,” he ordered.

     After the brief phone call, I hurriedly pulled all my things together, stuffed them in my duffle bag
and rushed out of the room heading to the lobby, my heart panting, and adrenalin bolting through my
head. From the sound of Marcus’ voice, I knew something had gone very wrong. When I got to the
hotel lobby, I saw him rushing toward me with a look of disaster on his face. He grabbed my upper
left arm with his right hand dragging me to walk faster with him.

    “I’m getting you out,” he told me. “I’m taking you to the airport right now,” he warned still
dragging me with him.

    “What happened?”

    “He’s dead.”

    “Who is dead?” I asked.

    “Santino is dead.”

    “What the fuck are you talking about? I saw him only last night?”

     “I went to his office this morning. We took the elevator down together. The door opened. Two
assassins stood there, one shot him. The other came after me. I got rid of one. The other fled,” he
explained catching his breath, as he pushed me so efficiently into the back seat of the car which he
had kept waiting in front of the hotel door. We sped to the airport and Marcus made sure I had my
act together. He always tried to take care of me as best he could.

    “Don’t stay in Manila. Go back to the States and forget about all this,” he warned.

   That’s it. That is all I can share with you. The rest of the story remains lost in my distant

    You must wonder where Marcus is now. I saw him on the BBC while I was in England last
month. He is still playing the game, the game of chess using real human beings. I think you have to
be inhuman to be able to do that.

    For many years, every time I thought of him, tears fell from my eyes. Now he is no longer the
man I knew. In the beginning, he wanted so much to save the world and ease the suffering of
mankind. However, the institution betrayed him in more ways than one. He fought back. He fought
back until one day he was burned out. In the end, the establishment took his soul as it does with so
many other brave soldiers like him. However, because of his good behavior, Marcus received an

award of appreciation from the US Congress, something he displays with great pride and honor on
the wall in his office for everyone to see.

    It is now July 31, 2009. Last week, I received a message that my request to launch my book,
Warriors of Heaven in the main lobby of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, had been approved.
This is thanks to Ben Matias of the National Museum, who kindly organized the event with Pie
Obillo, a very dedicated woman working for the CCP, while I was away in Europe during the first two
weeks of July.

    Meanwhile, I called my lawyer Joseph Sagandoy, one of the partners of PECA BAR, a law firm
co-owned by the current Senate President of the Philippines, Juan Ponce Enrile.

    “Did you read Warriors of Heaven?” I asked.

    “Yes,” he replied.

    “I’m concerned about legal issues. I may have written something incriminating.”

    “As far as legal issues, you’re fine. And we’re here for you,” he stated.

    “Are you sure I didn’t incriminate myself?”

    “Marlene,” he said gently. “You know better than anyone that legal issues are not your problem.
Your problem is that you have endangered your life by writing this book. We are here to protect you
legally. But I cannot stop the bullet for you,” he added.

    “I understand that,” I replied. “Heaven decides my fate.”

    “I just read Chapter six of your book. I wasn’t aware such events took place. I am curious about
who is guiding you through all this…,” he said cheerful. “I look forward to how the Filipino people will
react to your book.”

     Saturday, August 8, 2009. I went to my brother’s club in Malate. I now choose to sit at Boe’s old
table across the bar. As soon as Steve and I took our seats, I told him I was going to go get Becca
who keeps a private room on the second level of this old structure where she sleeps sometimes.
She has now broken up with my brother Freddie, his loss as far as I am concerned. I believe Becca
has a pure and giving soul, something so difficult to find in a woman or a man for that matter.
However, my brother, being the music icon that he is like many celebrities world-wide, is usually
hounded by “star fuckers” as Howard Marks calls some of the women who swarm around him
blinded by his fame and the limelight that goes along with it. So Freddie is normally surrounded by
soulless and mindless Filipino Barbie dolls, walking trash for the earth to bear and whose only
contribution to mankind is the velvet and salty flesh that lies between their legs.

     I found Becca upstairs in her room with my niece Maegan who was one of the performers that
evening. She sat in front of a mirror putting her make-up on, getting ready for her gig. When she was
all dolled-up and pretty, we all went down to the club and joined Steve who sat quietly, drinking his
wine. Then Nena, Becca’s sister in-law arrived to join us.

   Later that evening, Becca whispered in my ear, “I will introduce someone like Boe to you. Tell
me what you see. Tell me if I should date this G.I. Joe.”

      On stage, Maegan sang with her band which includes my nephew Gian Hipolito playing the
drums and his brother JC Hipolito playing the lead guitar. The place was crowded now. The bar was
full of younger women who seemed eager to pick up men who would buy them free drinks. Then an
American, a service man who was in his mid 40’s, with short curly hair and around six feet tall,
approached the table. He wore a white t-shirt, a pair of khaki shorts and a pair of sneakers. Becca
stood next to him.

    “Meet my sister, Marlene Aguilar,” Becca said introducing me to the man who took the chair to
my right. Meanwhile, Steve had gone outside to talk to Pete Canzon, my brother Freddie’s
saxophone player. The military man sat close to me staring at me, contemplating. I stared back
doing the same. Becca sat to his right and turned her head away watching the band. Nena sat
beside her.

     “I have your gift of sight,” the military man said gently. His eyes were warm, dangerous and
silently screaming for salvation. My heart broke at the sight of him. This man has survived the world
of evil and destruction. But in order to do so, he had become an animal, another beast. How sad the
world is, I thought. How sad that the American killing machine is so full of broken men.

    “Where are you headed?” I asked.

    “I’m going back to Iraq in a few days.”

    “Are you in the military?”

    “Yes, but no…”

    “Are you a contractor?”

    “Yes, that’s more accurate.”

    “Would you like me tell you about yourself?”

    “Okay,” he replied.

    “As a child, you endured traumatic experiences,” I began. “You were betrayed by those who
were supposed to love and protect you. Later in your life you sought the refuge of the military to feed
your monster, to feed your aggression,” I went on. And with these words, the doors fortifying this
man’s hidden world inside him began to open. His body turned into Jell-O, his eyes darkened filled
with intense emotion and great sadness suddenly overwhelmed him.

   “That is amazing,” he stated with a warm smile, gripped with sheer suffering while his body
moved away from me. His eyes were locked with mine consumed by some cosmic energy that
commanded us now.

    “A person you love was separated from you, something tragic…” I continued.

    “Yes, my child died.”

    “I’m so sorry,” I said sadly.

    “Listen to me,” I whispered, my body moving closer to him, my eyes gazing at his. “We may
never have the chance to talk again. There is great confusion inside you, pain, losses and disaster. I
can’t find the beginning and the end of your suffering.”

    He gazed at me now as if I was the only person left in the room. I could feel the immense pain
resonating from his heart and his soul. I continued to speak softly, gently.

     “You are homicidal and suicidal. When your emotions go down, you get so depressed you fall
into the abyss. At this point, you want everything to end. You want to kill yourself….” I continued with
tearful eyes. “Forgive those who caused you pain. And forgive yourself for being human. Let go. You
must learn to let go.”

    “How do you know so much about me?” he said tenderly. “Yes, there are times when I want to
end it all.”

    “Hey!” Becca suddenly interrupted, smiling and waving her right hand in front of the warrior’s
face. “Don’t be so serious now.” At this time, the man who called himself Byron picked up his
awesome camera and started to take photos of the musicians performing live. I took this chance to
get up and signaled Becca to follow me outside. On the way out, I asked one of the waiters to find
Steve and tell him we were leaving.

    “You stay away from that man,” I told Becca as I motioned to one of the club’s ushers to find my

    “Why?” she said whining. “I like him.”

    “He has the ability to hurt himself and hurt others. Just stay away from him, or I will voodoo you
and the rest of your clan.”

    “Okay!” Becca whined out loud.

    After we said goodbye to Becca, Steve and I got in the car. I sat next to him weeping.

    “Why are you so upset? What’s wrong?”

    “There is so much pain in this world. There are so many little boys and girls damaged at a young
age,” I answered in tears. “I cry for that man. I cry for all the men like him. I don’t see the light. I just
don’t see the light in him. He will kill himself.”

    I never saw Byron again after that evening.

    Sunday, August 09, 2009, I saw Eric at a fancy bar in Malate located in a five star hotel, with a
view of a 25 foot high man-made waterfall surrounded by a lush tropical garden. It was happy hour
and there were very few people present, all expatriates sitting around in soft cushioned armchairs
and couches. The bar, which was lined with stainless steel revolving chairs were empty, offering
more privacy, so we decided to sit there. I sat to his right, taking the last seat at the end of the long
counter. We preferred to have the wine buffet and asked for two glasses of chardonnay from Chile.
The wine was served and we made a toast. I had suggested to Eric that it is a very nice gesture to
toast before drinking wine.

    “I know why you like your essay, The Hunt so much,” he said.

    “You mean, you like it so much,” I answered smiling. “Tell me why.”

    “The story is about the chase. You like livin’ on the edge.”

    “True. I have always lived a very interesting life.”

    “I love your passion,” he uttered. I didn’t hear him. I thought he said ‘I love your patience’.

    “Patience, I have no patience at all.”

    “Passion, not patience,” he replied.

    “Oh, yes my passion burns infinitely,” I stated.

    “But you can control yours, I can’t control mine.”

    “Once you let go of the skeletons in your closet, you will begin to grow at a fast rate.
   This growth will allow you to connect the circle and you will be whole,” I said. “Once that
happens, you attain freedom you’ve never known, from which point you gain balance.”

    “But I’ve shared with you my most painful experiences.”

    “So you’re free now.”

    “Do you know I was alone until we met?

    I wish I could to go so deep inside you so that I will never find my way out.”

   “Don’t cross that line. A very good friend of mine from Massachusetts, Ralf Traugot said to me
many years ago, ‘Marlene, I want to keep you close to me for the rest of my life. So let us not
become lovers; we’ll remain together longer as friends.’

    Where would you like to go after here?” I asked him after taking a sip of my chilled beverage,
the coolness of the liquid now flowing gently down my throat relieving my thirst.


    “Really, why?”

     “Because I’ve never been there. It’s not that I’m a war monger. Who would enjoy seein’ his
friends’ body parts scattered all over the fuckin’ place? I definitely don’t, but I want to go to
Afghanistan because it would be excitin’ to go. It’s a new experience, different territory. You know
what I’m sayin’, baby doll?”

    “Yes, I do understand the desire for adventure. I suppose it’s like writing a new book for me,” I
stated and paused for a long while. There was something about his statement that triggered a
thought in my mind.

      “I’m going to ask you a very difficult question,” I continued softly while staring into his eyes,
wondering in my mind how this statement would play out. Trust, he must trust me to grant me this
gift, a gift so covert, I thought to myself. I knew I was gazing into the unknown, treading softly inside
a portion of his psyche so dark, so tormenting, so private, so well fortified and yet exceedingly

    “Then ask,” he replied hesitant, his body shifting away from mine while he gazed at me with
great wonder. A sign of eminent distress is now so clearly visible in his reddish brown eyes.

    “I need you to tell me…...,” I paused, as he stared back at me holding his breath as I held mine,
aware of my spirit reaching into his being, sensing the void in his heart. “I need you to tell me about
the most painful experience you have suffered on the killing fields.”

   I saw his body drift further away from mine while he stared at me with a sadness in his eyes that
was so fierce, it cut right through to my heart drowning me in a moment of sorrow.

     “Please….” I went on with leaky eyes, now feeling the torment of the soldier across me, the
agony that is so well camouflaged by the rough exterior of his appearance. His grief had now come
forth, one minuscule step into the light heeding my gentle call. But he held it, held it somewhere
unknown and untouchable, absolutely determined he wouldn’t lose control. I shifted my body away
from him, alarmed. Now I sat staring at the bottles of alcohol so neatly displayed across from me,
feeling my stomach weaken at the boldness of my inquisition. Dear god, what have I done? I asked
myself in silence.

      Then something changed about the air between us. Something I will never be able to explain to
you, but I cry as I type these words, overwhelmed by what I saw. I think of Eric now. I think of the
little boy in him holding his spirit with mine embracing him with light. I cry for him, hoping that my
grief will somehow ease his torment and his burden on earth.

     I held my place, unable to breathe, feeling the transformation of the soldier sitting so close to
me. I turned my face slowly to my left looking at him sideways, my heart pounding faster and faster. I
sensed the world spinning around us, the forces of the universes engulfing us both, forcing us into
the blue. I felt intoxicated. I wanted to run now, but I couldn’t move. Oh god, help us, I pleaded in
silence. My spirit joined him in his raging pain, anguish that is so vehement; he will never learn to let
it go.

     At this moment, I saw the figure of a man sitting very straight, with both hands on his lap, his
feet resting on the barstool's footrest, his neck perfectly held in place and supporting a face
completely stripped of emotion, a machine. The man was gone. Eric was gone. He had retreated
into another space unknown to you and me.

    The robot of Eric stared at nothing. Then and there the synthetic organism spoke with a voice so
cold, so detached, so clinical and precisely empty. The ghost narrated this.

     “It was the year 2006. We received an emergency call that an IED, a very sophisticated
improvised explosive devise went off in Kirkuk, Iraq at around 1400 hours. We responded. We
arrived in the place drivin’ an 'Up-armor' military Humvee. There were six of us, five Special Forces
and one interpreter.”

    I sat facing him frozen to my seat, locked in a state of disbelief. Suddenly, I uttered, “What did
you see when you arrived at the place?”

    The humanoid answered without looking at me.

     “The place was cordoned off because the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi conventional force, meanin’
the regular Iraqi army, were already there before we arrived.

   The ground was scorched, black from the explosion which made a nice little hole on the earth.
There was shit all over the place, blood, arms, body parts and flesh covered the ground. It’s not like
what you see in the movies you know, not at all.”

    “Who perished?” I asked.

    “Three civilians and two members of the Iraqi intelligence…”

    “How did you feel?” I whispered to the android.

    “Nothin’, I felt nothin’. It’s not like the first time when you get all messed up in the head, and you
say, oh my god. That was the daily occurrence in northern Iraq at the time. Eventually, you say to
yourself, that’s enough dead bodies. You realize you’ve become numb. But I’m glad it wasn’t me.”

    Eric hadn't answered my question. He couldn’t relive the most horrible experience he had
suffered. This story was only a fraction of the source of his true pain. The reason I behaved in this
manner was because he stated earlier, “Who would enjoy seeing his friend’s body parts scattered all
over the fuckin’ place?” He wasn’t ready to tell me that story. Moreover, I didn’t have the will or
strength to push him further. I went home that evening and wept myself to sleep.

     The following day, I saw Eric again at the usual Starbucks location. We had lunch together after
which we decided to have our coffee al fresco under the same large green umbrella that sheltered
us the same evening I had asked him about his first prostitute. We were the only people outside.
Filipinos like the comfort of air conditioned rooms.

    He had a peculiar aura this time, mellow and gentle.

    “Thank you for puttin’ up with my shit.”

    “You put up with mine,” I answered.

     “Yes, I did. Oh man, I definitely did. I’ve never had to deal with such shit from anybody. I swear
to god,” he said shaking his head and looking into the distance. “Some of the things you said to me
pushed me so far to the edge. If you were someone else, I would have told you to go fuck yourself,
or I would have sent you to the moon.
    But you…well no one ever got to me like you did,” he continued sadly.

    “Well soldier, you are an ape sometimes, crude and callous on the outside but inside is another
story all together. I believe there’s a beautiful human being shining from within,” I narrated with a
smile. “Some people look good on the outside you know. They say the right things and do the right
things. But inside they are pieces of shit. You’re only a piece of shit on the outside.”

    “I hope I’ve been helpful to you too.”

    “Yes, of course, you helped me in more ways than you will understand. It never works one way.
There is always exchange of energy. I feel that we grew together in the short time we’ve known each

    “Here, I wanted to give you this,” he said gently as he placed a small jewelry pouch on the table.
“I wanted to give you somethin’ no one has ever given you. This is the Special Forces gold crest. I
had it made especially for you. I hope it will remind you of me.”

   The pouch contained a 14 karat gold pendant depicting the Special Forces crest, a gift
symbolizing great meaning once given to another by a Green Beret.

    “Thank you for fixin’ this broken toy,” he told me softly with face pointing down but with eyes
gazing at mine. “I’ll miss you. I’ll miss talkin’ to you.”

    That was it. He left the Philippines the following day.

     Dear Eric, wherever you are now, I know that you will have a copy of this book and you will read
these words. Let it go. Give it to the wind. You do not decide who lives or dies. We are nothing but
instruments on earth. Everything falls under the blessings of heaven.

     Today is August 19, 2009, a very special day. My brave father, who bestowed upon me a great
proportion of the courage I possess, died on this particular day in 1977. In his next journey, may he
find that which he didn’t achieve in this probable reality.

    I have been seeing an older female Buddhist oracle who works with a male counterpart since
1991. Five years ago, I started seeing a younger Buddhist seer, Paulie Caoili. Many years ago the
older lady seer predicted that I will meet a soul mate who will change the course of my destiny. She
added that upon meeting this man who is a warrior from another time, my fate will turn. This man
and I met on July 25, 2009. Moreover, upon seeing this warrior of heaven, I became immediately
aware of our past existences from other places and time. I realized then that our souls are forever
entwined and are connected infinitely.

       Over two years ago upon meeting this service man, the seers spent many hours looking
through the tarot checking his destiny, past, present and future. They believe that like me, he is
driven by the forces of light. I call him Caesar. He is a commander of the Special Forces. The
oracles call Caesar the warrior who holds the celestial sword of fire.

   In addition, the oracles foretold that another warrior of heaven will come into my life, someone
who is the opposite of Caesar. That is Gabriel. The augurs named him “the devil on earth”.

      On Monday, August 17, 2009, I sent Caesar an email with the invitation to the launch of my
book Warriors of Heaven, which will be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Saturday,
November 21, 2009.

       In my email, I wrote:

       Attached is an invitation to my book launch. Please read and tell me what you think.

       A portion of the invite also stated:

       “Warriors of Heaven is Marlene Aguilar’s first novel. The book covers her actual discussions
and arguments with some of the most powerful members of the US Military. It is supported by
essays she has written denouncing America’s supremacist intent to subjugate the rest of mankind…”

       On the same day, Caesar responded:

       “It looks good except for the statement 'denouncing America’s supremacist intent to
subjugate the rest of mankind'.Choosing a different verb for 'denouncing' and the adjective
'supremacist' would possibly decrease negative views and your position.”

       I replied to him the following day.

      “I am not worried about that statement. Are you not aware that the rest of the world hates
America these days? I wish I could explain myself to you and why I write the things I write. I will try
and send you an email tomorrow. My mind is so complex. I have multiple personalities remember?

       I wish we could sit down and talk. It is so much easier to communicate in person.”

       Caesar emailed me back today, Tuesday, August 19, 2009. He stated:

       “You never have to explain yourself. I bring up things from a certain point of view. It doesn't
make it right.”

       I replied to him on the same day saying:

   “I will not explain myself to my critics but yes, I will explain myself to you. Our souls are entwined
remember? I need you to understand where I’m coming from. It will help you grow.

     Do you remember when I wrote about Gates in chapter two? I could write about him so
passionately because I could sense him, although I have never met him. Do you understand? That
portion on Gates made that chapter shine. It offered a new perspective mankind would otherwise not

    I can only write about things I utterly believe in. I can only write from the heart. That is why I feel
redeemed inside. I'm trying to give mankind the yin of the yang and vice versa. In doing so, I hope
mankind will find balance within. And maybe from there we can all heal and grow.

    The old seers have said I will become a symbol of hope and peace like a female Dalai Lama.
But that this 'female Dalai Lama' has such fierce darkness within.

    The Dalai Lama floats somewhere in tra-la-la. He has embraced 'heaven’, a state of eternal
balance. That state of being is only half of the circle. I have done the same in the past, but I've
decided to come back to earth. The question is when you get to that level will you then come back to
earth and deal with pain and suffering like an average human being all over again? That is the key
out of the never ending cycle of reincarnation. That's it. That's the answer.

    Like the Dalai Lama and Buddha, I have experienced a state of perpetual peace which one can
only gain through meditation, astral projection and complete detachment from all earth matters.

    I don't think you can be effective or be a catalyst for change on earth if you can't see the real
problems. Plus, it takes using both left and right side of the brain to understand those issues.

     This is why I wish we could talk in person. There is so much I need to discuss with you, which I
believe will offer you wisdom.

    Do you understand why I am so harsh on America in Warriors of Heaven? That is how a fraction
of my psyche sees America. It is also how most of mankind sees America today. It is a just and valid
opinion. I can only help my readers see another perspective, if I help them deal with how they see
America and the world today.

     I am not anti-American, even though my lower self thinks that in comparison to the more
cultured Europeans and Asians, many of them are very loud and obnoxious. Believe me when I tell
you, my intention is to offer unity, not separation, peace not war, balance not destruction. And
outside of the Philippines, America is my second home.”

    August 18, 2009, here is another email I sent to the warrior with the sword of fire.
       “Paulie was here in my home today for our usual tarot reading.

        Sometimes I wonder why we were not given more time to talk in person. But that is heaven's
will. So much of the oracles' predictions, has now come to pass. They say that I can choose to do it
the easy way or the hard way. I can make a left turn or a right turn. It doesn't matter they warn, my
destiny remains the same.

        Over ten years ago the old oracles told me that 'the stars in the sky will align to pave the way
for the daughter of heaven', meaning me... 'to fulfill her great task on earth...' In 2012, the Mayan
calendar ends and the planets will align. They added that you had to walk into my life to change the
course of my fate. My god, how my life has changed.

       But now I feel that our paths are beginning to split...

        My book Warriors of Heaven will be available nationwide by October. There are those who
will love me and those who will hate me. That is the price I pay for being who I am. It is part of my
destiny. All this has been foretold. And yes, there are those who will want to harm me. Whatever
happens to me now is the will of heaven. What else can I say? I have detached myself from all earth
matters. I have accepted my death, my physical death. If that is my fate, I will embrace it.”

       Here was the commander’s reply:

       “I hope nothing bad happens to you. Please keep me posted...”

       The following day, I replied to him:

       “I suppose people call me revolutionary because I cross lines no one would even think of
crossing. It is my fate. I am compelled by celestial forces to accomplish certain things. This is the
reason I was born.”

       He replied:

       “I realized you were a revolutionary days after I met you. Many people have the potential to
become one. Yet only a few have the courage and strength to say what they feel. You have that gift.
Thank you for letting me to be a part of your life.”

       Aug 17, 2009, this was an email I sent Alwin Sta. Rosa.

       “When I met Caesar, the old oracles told me of many things that will happen in the future.

      They said that an American with great military mind would assist me in order for me to fulfill
my destiny. How strange the oracles' words are, since almost everyone has branded me to be anti-

       I realize that Tales of the Black Widow sympathizes with America and her soldiers,
presenting a very different point of view. It is the yang of the yin, different from how I've written
Warriors of Heaven. Some people will say that I've sold out, and that I'm really on the side of the
Americans. But you know better than most people that I can only write from the core of my inner self.
More than that, it is not within my character to be persuaded to do anything that I don't wish to do.

       I believe it is necessary to tell the stories of the American grunt and to bring the soldiers'
struggles and pain closer to mankind. These stories must be told. It will help heal mankind. The rest
of the world and even Americans themselves are so cruel toward the soldiers who fought in Iraq. I
hope my book will change that by offering understanding and another perspective.

       I do believe that America's killing machine is not America's to bear alone. That is a fact.

       I also understand that the needs of mankind are so complex and multifaceted. They cannot
be resolved by simply choosing between left wing and right wing. Why can't people understand that
the earth is round and is constantly shifting? That is how complex the world is. We should learn to
use our brains in the same fashion as how the planet exists. My mind and spirit are like the shape of
mother earth, round and constantly shifting, adapting to the cosmic forces to maintain harmony.”

    August 15, 2009, I received this email from Gabriel, the devil on earth.

      "Just thought I'd send this to you as 'background'. Do not print the top portion of the email.
You can do what you want with the news article, but leave the top portion out of it. Dempsey was my
boss on the last tour and made me sing "West Virginia" as he played the guitar during my going
away party........"
       Gabriel and I used to argue and antagonize each other until we were blue in the face. For
some very strange reason, we stopped. I believe we probably got exhausted and decided to take a
break. We still antagonize each other a bit, though. I suppose there is no end to that. It is our

       The top portion of the email contained the name of his allegiance, a faction of VIG’s, very
important grunts, both enlisted and retired. I believe that is what he will not allow me to use.
       This was my reply to his email the very same day.

       “I don't find it interesting. He talks about education and trust.

       The military is full of men who have never really had a genuine relationship with any human
being. The only true relationship they have is their marriage to the box, the military box. Oh there is
trust in the military on some level, the kind of trust a whole team would need to survive the
battlefield. But that is only one kind of trust.

       Your psyche is divided into your inner self and outer self. So it is only the outer self at play in
the battle. You my dear evil one, have never trusted anyone totally. Your inner self doesn't know
how to do that.

       Thanks for sharing this, though."
       He wrote back and said:

       "Bah bah bah....... What about the pictures of the killing machine?"

       Here is my reply.
      "Ok, I take it back. It is interesting. I just wanted to fret your balls. It gives me pleasure to
annoy you.

      And it's not West Virginia, silly. There is no such song. You mean you sang ‘Country Road’ by
John Denver, which starts with ‘Almost heaven, West Virginia, blue ridge mountain....’

       I grew up with constant live music in my home. I know plenty of folk songs.

      What pictures of the killing machine are you talking about now? Make sure the men are
naked and bending over.

        Oh, by the way, I'm not done with this interview. I will dissect the mind of the four-star grunt,
when I get a chance to read it better; that is, between the lines. What he preaches is different from
his truth, different from what really lies within him. After all, he is a politician, a professional liar.
Imagine the politics you have to put up with to get up there. Superman dodged a lot of bullets to get
to the stars! He does seem to have a mind better than yours".

On August 16, 2009, Gabriel emailed back and sent me a yellow smiling face that looks like this.

       On the same day, I sent him this reply.
       "Wow! I get a smile from Darth Vader with his tongue sticking out. Dirty boy!        "

       Here is the article that was attached to Gabriel’s email.
Leadership lessons from a four-star general

U.S. Army Commanding General Martin Dempsey tells Karl Moore how the military is moving
toward a model where trust is a currency more valuable than control.

Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009

KARL MOORE: “This is Karl Moore, Talking Management for The Globe and Mail. Today I am
speaking to a four-star general in the U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey, Commanding General of
the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command in Fort Monroe, Va. The topic: The evolution of
military leadership.”

MARTIN DEMPSEY: “Good afternoon, Karl. Toujours pret [Always ready.]”

“Do you see that there are differences between when you were a young leader, and what was
required then, and what is required among young leaders today? Has it changed in the last 30 or so
years since you started out the nature of what leadership is?”

“The essence of leadership, and the way you interact, the way the leader interacts with the led, has
remained fairly constant, it seems to me. But, the complexity in which the leader must operate the
world was very simple, as you know, before 1990, relatively simple especially for a military leader.
Contrast that with what our most junior leaders face in the fight today. I am in awe of what some of
these young leaders do on the streets of Baghdad, or on the streets of Kabul, in terms of dealing
with complex problems; and their ability to frame a problem and understand it is quite remarkable.

And, in fact, one of the big questions we've got for ourselves, as an army, is how do we take these
young leaders who have been dealing with complexity at the tactical level, the lower levels, and then
educate them through the course of their career to be able to deal with those same kinds of
complexities as senior leaders? So, the answer is that the environment has become so much more
complex, and that's the big difference I see, in the challenge we've got in developing our leaders to
deal with that complexity and uncertainty, in a way that I didn't have to probably until I became a


“It's interesting, because in the business school we might talk about leadership and management as
being two different ideas. Do you see a need for management within the military, as well as for


“You know that's a distinction, that won't surprise you, we've wrestled with for some time ourselves.
From my personal way of thinking about it, a good leader has both the attributes you describe as
leadership attributes, but, also, increasingly, as you gain seniority, it just is inherently a set of
management skills you must have to be a leader.

I mentioned that some of the way we develop our young brigadier-generals, for example. We send
them to business school, which may or may not surprise you. Because they have certain leadership
skills that have been developed over time, in them, but what they lack is some of the management
skills to be good leaders.

So, I don't know whether I've further confused the issue. Clearly, the attributes that make a good
leader over time, must include management skills.”


“So, you wouldn't want a leader who can't manage, particularly at a senior level?”


“That's right.”


“Nor, would you want a manager who doesn't have any leadership at all, because that would be


“That's correct.”


“It's interesting, because you use the idea of team. When I think of military, and this may be
outdated, I think of hierarchy, of saluting, of a set of officers above me. But you see it more as the
reality, as a team effort. Does leadership move around the table in the course of a week's work
within a military unit?”


“Yes, it does actually. And, I think that is something we're trying to understand about the… I
mentioned this; we call it the operating environment. The change in the nature of the security
challenges, in this century, for any number of reasons that we could talk about, whether it's
demographic shifts, or globalization, climate change, the information technologies the environment is
changing. And as the environment changes it occurs first to us that the threats we face will be much
more complex, much more hybrid that is to say, multifaceted, including syndicates of irregular
nation-states and criminals, in cases. With globalized logistics networks.

I mean, think of opium emanating out of Afghanistan, or think of al-Qaeda, as a network. And, as
result of that, the notion is that, to defeat a network and think of the threats we face and there are
some nation-state threats to be sure, but we think the most likely threats we'll encounter will be
networked. And we have a phrase, that to defeat a network you have to be a network.

I don't know if you've read The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman. He talks about networked
decentralized organizations, and how hierarchical organizations have a very difficult time
encountering them. And this is a business book; think Napster and the record industry. And, in our
case, think al-Qaeda and the United States military.

So, I think where we're heading is to more trust than control. And we have been the quintessential
hierarchical organization. And, in that capacity, leadership will move around the table. Now, we'll
always have our rank structure. We'll always have our disciplines. But I think that you will see us
evolve into an organization where trust is as much the coin of the realm as control is.”

“So we see the decline of hierarchy, but not the death of hierarchy. But you see hierarchy has
declined significantly within the military.”

“I think the way you phrased it is exactly the way I would've phrased it, had you asked it in the form
of a question. The hierarchical part of the Army is that which functions and aligns itself to our budget
cycle. And that will never change. I mean, there's a very deliberate process where we take concepts
and turn them into requirements, and requirements and turn them into resources.

And that has to happen in a hierarchical fashion, so that the government can continue to function.
And we have to nest into" that process. So, at the Department of the Army level in particular, there
will always be a hierarchical structure that essentially allows us to compete for resources based on
concepts and requirements. But, below that, I think, absolutely we are seeing that there's real
potential in decentralizing.”


“We see kind of the outside view that the military is very rational, very unemotional just the facts. But
what is the role of emotion in terms of leading people in the military? How important are emotions?”


“They are vitally important, actually, especially [for] an army that is at war, and is paying the price for
promoting the national interest in terms of blood and treasure. And so emotions run high actually. I
was reading one book, The Strategy Paradox, and there's a phrase in there that says, ‘There is no
thinking without emotion.’ And I find that to be very true. I mean, the arguments we have with each
other and I use the term arguments not pejoratively but the arguments we have with each other
internally about how to provide the best army possible, given the available resources and demands,
are often emotional arguments. But emotion in a positive sense. Of course, there are times when the
emotion is corrosive. But, fundamentally, I would suggest to you that an army at war ought to be


“How do you maintain hope in tough times that you've faced, at times that you'd faced in your time in
Iraq? It looked bleak at times; it was difficult, lots of losses. How do you maintain hope in a tough
environment like that, in a time of great change?”


“Constantly reinforcing the task and purpose, soldiers will do anything. I mean it's just mind-boggling,
the degree to which they will seek to accomplish a mission if they understand it and especially now.

Remember I said what's different about the young men and women today, their desire to understand
things, because they've had access, almost complete access, to information. You know these are
the same kids that can look you dead in the eye and send a text message, without you even
knowing it, unless you happen to glance down and see that they're doing it. So they are connected
in a way that certainly you and I were not.

But as a result of that, they have this intense desire to understand, and I also believe, to contribute.
So, there was a time in the Army, just 10 years ago, when we fought, that you know it's something
bad. Something bad would happen in the unit or something good, or mostly something bad, and the
idea would be, let's shut down the access to the network. Let's shut down the Internet café so that
the bad news can't spread. Well, that's absurd.
I mean, the ability to connect their ability to connect far exceeds our ability to prevent them from
connecting. And so what we've decided is that rather than fight that, we should actually leverage it.
And so we do. We have 57-year-old, four-star generals blogging I never thought I would see the day.
But we're communicating with our soldiers in ways that I think maintain that sense of purpose; allow
them to see what we're trying to do, even in some cases take their advice. But I think it's the power
of their knowledge; what inspires them is their access to the knowledge. And so we've just got to
continue to find ways to do that.”


“Thank you! This has been Karl Moore, Talking Management for The Globe and Mail, and today I've
been speaking to Martin Dempsey, a four-star general in the United States Army.”
       Here ends the interview on Martin Dempsey by Karl Moore.

       When Gabriel sent me the email with Martin Dempsey’s interview, it included comments of
other people on the interview. I believe these reactions came from past and/or present members of
the American military.

        I wanted to share two of these comments with you. These, in my opinion were the best of
them. An earlier version of this chapter included these reactions but after Gabriel reviewed my
narrative, he sent me this email.

      “You even stated it just before the article about the four-star general. I asked you not to print
the email comments and then you did..........Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh. And you say what
about me?”
         He told me not to print the top portion of his email. I thought he only meant the subject, which
included the name of his faction. He didn’t specify that I couldn’t include the comments. But then,
this is probably just me pushing the envelope. I emailed Gabriel right away and stated:

       “Calm down evil one. I’ll take them out.”

       In another email which I sent to him right after this last one, I wrote.

       “I just deleted those two comments so calm down, Darth Vader. God, I just wanted my
readers to know that even after reading Clausewitz and Sun Tzu, these men’s insights are still so
narrow. And I said that you're psychologically retentive!!! ”

       So here below are my responses to Gabriel regarding Dempsey’s interview. This one was
sent to him August 18, 2009.

         “I'll be honest with you. Since I can meditate and leave my physical form, I can sense the
spirit of men even if I haven't met them in person. And as far as Robert Gates and Dempsey, I sense
that Gates' mind is far more compelling and interesting than Dempsey's. This is why I was able to
write about the man so well. I can only be true to myself.

       For example, I know I will be criticized heavily for Warriors of Heaven. In the end, I don't care
what my critics say. I will not defend myself from them. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
However, whatever they say will not change my belief. Whatever they say will not change my
conviction. Do you understand? As long as I believe in what I write, I believe I am redeemed in the
eyes of heaven.

        Anyway, regarding my opinion on Gates and Dempsey, maybe it’s because I've never really
had much respect for men who graduated from West Point. Wait a second; let me rephrase what I
just said. I am definitely not saying that all graduates of West Point are retarded.

       There are two kinds of West Pointers, the robots and the humans. The first classification, the
androids remind me of a man I dated after my husband died. He was anal beyond repair. Whether
he was standing up or sitting down, he gave me the image of a man about to take a dump. The latter
category consists of highly exceptional men who become supreme beings. Unfortunately these men
are extremely rare. Since I haven’t met Dempsey in person, I can’t be sure about him.

        Nevertheless, I prefer the enlisted men who started from scratch and who worked their way
up the ranks. I find that most West Pointers are too catatonic. They are more psychologically
retentive than even you are. My god, imagine that!

       This is only my very personal point of view, but I think many of these men bent over a long
time ago, had a long hard stick jammed up their ass as a permanent companion for life.

       All the same, I do sense that Dempsey is trying to find solutions to certain obstacles that have
weakened the killing machine. Plus, I sense that you admire him. I take that as a very good sign.
Next time you sing Country Road with him playing the guitar, please invite me. I would definitely find
great pleasure in seeing a four-star general pluck the strings. Plus, I would find even more pleasure
to see a grunt like you sing.

       Ask him if I could interview him for my next book. Then we can argue until his face is red and
his fangs come out. Ha Ha!

       This is just my initial reaction. I will think about the article some more.”


    My email to Gabriel dated, August 21, 2009.

    “I've been thinking about the star-studded grunt.

    When you sent me the article on him, you said, ‘do with the article as you please’. This amazed
me because you should realize by now that “I am one loose cannon on deck”. So I gather that your
email came with some trust. You believed that I would be fair about how I would handle the four-star
grunt's interview.

    So here are more of my thoughts.

    The interview was quite likely orchestrated, but even with a lot of preparation and thought, this
Dempsey doesn't explain his central argument as to what he sees it is that links a new environment
of networks with trust. I'm left asking what is at the core of this link-up.

      First, I can't see any army diminishing the importance of hierarchy and control when in the line
of fire. Imagine a killing machine reducing the significance of ‘hierarchy and control’, no way.

     Second, yes, the US army, most armies, especially those of the more developed world, must
consist of increasingly better educated people - or they should do if the nation's education system is
doing its job within an increasingly wealthy society. So the US Government has to deal with
questioning soldiers. I see this as a threat to more developed, more ‘comfortable’, societies that still
need to go to war. And I see the US Generals long struggling to come to terms with this threat. But
the idea of trust as the answer is not explained in this interview. This seems to me to be more a case
of a very high-ranking officer ‘clutching at straws.’ ‘Trust’ - it may sound nice, but there's no
substance to the argument.

    Thirdly, hasn’t the more effective, time honored, answer been to: (1) Keep your grunts ignorant
and angry; and (2) go hire missionaries from foreign, poorer countries, like the Gurkhas? The Brits
have hired Gurkhas from Nepal for many centuries as part of their armed forces. But now in the
globalized Internet era of eyes and minds – opened doubt. Even these easy purchases are no
longer sufficient. Isn’t there a greater matter at issue? A more important word? That is a precursor to
truth, which is respect!

        A related issue Dempsey discusses is the kid sitting in front of him sending a text message
while talking to him. What Dempsey is saying is that there is now a new breed of soldiers with
access to technology like never before. I say again, each person has an outer self and inner self.
You must always see the two for what they are. Although, technology has changed the way people
live, the nature of mankind’s inner self remains the same.

        He is also saying that because of technology, there is information available to the soldiers
that they had no access to before the Internet. The web offers the average soldier varied sources of
facts and data along with different points of view, other than the propaganda that had been spoon
fed to him in the past, keeping grunts ignorant and obedient. Therefore, today with such a wide array
of communication available, it is harder to brainwash the American soldier to follow blindly. This is a
direct result of globalization. The world is fusing.
         I believe there is a way to use this education and to use this knowledge effectively.
Uneducated or not, a person born with a superior will to survive and kill, will serve his purpose within
the killing machine. But respect…there is your true problem. Without respect, there can be no trust.
Then all else is futile.
        I believe that those who end up as members of the elite force of America, or any other
country for that matter, are people who suffered severely as children. They endured great loss. They
were traumatized as children, betrayed and battered psychologically, physically and or sexually. But
these children were also born with great spirits and were born to kill. More than that, the intensity of
their oppression and trauma only intensified their killer instincts. This is why men like you passed the
Ranger school and can jump from a height of 17,000 feet. You were born to take great risks.
         The military gave these souls sanctuary and a stage to express their anger, hatred and
hostility and made them believe that their life inside the box would be dedicated to a great "cause". I
believe that the military world was designed for such psyches and such psyches need the
destructive existence of the military box.

       These young boys with destructive psyches grew up to be men. And these men realized that
the system had betrayed them. There is no cause within the military box other than to offer death
and destruction. It is a place where every man is out for his own glory. After all, all institutions are
evil and self serving. So these brave men later in life came face to face with the truth that not only
were they betrayed and oppressed as children, but they were also betrayed and oppressed as
soldiers. They were sold a lie. But on the way to the mature life they became some of the true
soldiers who could command respect, who could lead.

        In the past, the American grunt saw America as the savior that gave light to the world. They
took pride and honor in serving the military because they believed in America’s cause. Furthermore,
with this faith, they looked up to their officers, and their generals as living gods on earth whom they
were willing to follow blindly. Sadly, but justly, that is no longer the case.
        Today, the rest of the world is saying America is destroying mankind and the earth. Today
America has proven to be the “bad guy”, the modern day Nazi, not just in war, but also in espionage,
in the environment, in trade, in all matters global. So the American soldiers have been stripped of
pride and honor. The trust that Dempsey fails to discuss in his interview is the fact that today
enlisted men see their officers as a bunch of clowns who will compromise the lives of their men on
the battlefield in the name of politics as they always, always have. So tell me, where is the trust

       Trust is lost. While America has to contend with a collapsing economy and a society at the
brink of uprising, north against south, it has to deal with a militant force that has finally lost its pride
and honor. So what do your “paper work” generals do? How do they sustain the life of the killing
        I do not believe the high-ranking officers would know the answer to this very grave issue.
Many of them have never been on the actual battlefield. This is really one of the main reasons why
there is so much suspicion and hostility now within the military amongst enlisted men and officers.
Enlisted men have been betrayed and trust is lost.

       Trust within the killing machine is a real problem not only for America to face, but for the UK,
France, Australia and the US’ allied countries. Well, you can't sell the “old ticket” to your boys. They
are not going to buy it. You have to figure out how to design a great “new ticket” if you are to restore
pride and honor within the killing machine. That will take time.
        But how do you rebuild respect and trust within the American killing machine? I don’t have
the answer. Ask the true soldiers of America. Ask the battle-hardened soldiers who have put their
lives on the firing line over and over again for their country. Ask the men who have suffered the loss
of their comrades on the killing fields. Ask the men who experienced the agony and the torture of
seeing their friends’ body parts scattered all over the bloody earth. These men have the answer, not
your four-star grunt.

        Be that as it may, if the “paper work” generals do know the answer to instilling respect and
trust in the killing machine, few would admit it as the answer is to replace them, at every single level
of command, with the real leaders who can command respect, respect earned by the seasoned
soldiers of America who gained it on the battlefields.

        Don’t let this get to your already oversized ego. There are those who hate your guts too. But I
heard that you are admired and respected among the Special Forces' community and that you made
a real difference in Iraq and Afghanistan. Plus, I heard that you could have gotten further up the
ranks but you were not willing to sacrifice your principles. There are very few men in uniform like
you. Most of the members of the American military elite would prostitute their souls to protect their
promotion. You know the answer to this respect and trust issue better than anyone. So speak out!

    Hey! Where are the photos of the killing machine? Don’t make me beg or I’ll bite your head off.

    Kiss to Darth Vader!”


     Gabriel did send me a very impressive collection of photos depicting America’s killing machine,
intimidating and perfectly deadly. You will find some of the photos at the end of this book.

       August 23, 2009, I sent Caesar the above portion of this chapter and asked for his comment.
He is now in the US after his mission in Iraq. He replied on the following day saying:

       “The substance is phenomenal. Reading it makes you want to read more.”

       I replied to him the same day. In my email I said:

        “I only hope I am objective. I am nobody’s enemy, you know. I look like the bad guy because
I’m a reality check for so many people. I say things they don’t want to hear.”

       He replied with this:

        “You only state fact. It is peoples' perspective that interprets your dialogue as subjective or
objective. An open-minded person takes it as fact and ascertains whether it requires further
investigation or not.”

       In an email I sent Caesar earlier this year, I wrote:

Dear warrior with the sword of fire,

       “How does it feel to contain your wishes, your desires and your demons all your life?

       When will you realize that all this time, you have been surviving and not living?”

       This was his answer.

       “I have realized this since I met you. I just don't know how to start living instead of surviving.”

      After a small argument, on December 31, 2008, I received an email from one of the major
characters in my novels, who I consider an imperious warrior of heaven. The oracles say I am his
spiritual mentor on earth and that I must guide him so that he may fulfill his monumental task on
earth. In addition, the augurs say that he will only fulfill his destiny once he gains freedom from the
box. Henceforth, nothing will stop him. Thus, he will help restore the damaged soul of his people and
his nation.

    This is what he wrote to me during the last day of the year 2008, the year of the rat.

     “Fear of leaving the box is extreme. After spending 27 years working for an institution, how does
one find the strength to leave the comfort of the box? Gaining the confidence and strength to leave
is difficult. There are so many uncertainties. Help me.

    You know, I have been sitting here for a while trying to figure out what is going on. I can only
ascertain that it is something I said. The only thing we have talked about is me not seeing the growth
you spoke of. Is that what is bothering you? Why? If that is what it is, then that's stupid. Why do you
ask? Let me give you my point of view.

      First, I find it interesting that you want me to be honest with you and tell you what I feel but you
don't or can't handle it. I expressed my self-doubt because I need your reassurance. Tell me, Miss
Smarty-Pants, how do I realize an intangible? How do I recognize my growth as something you bring
to me or is it just the normal course of events through my own experience? I have spent my entire
life inside a box. I know that. When I step out, I only do so in baby steps. YOU guide me to make
bigger ones. You can't expect me to just jump out. It is difficult for anyone to move out of one’s
comfort zones.

     You have to realize that I don't yet have your gifts. I can only see the now. I don't know what the
future holds and I don't know what the past accomplished. I just try to get by daily with my bond with
you and the path that awaits me. Do I know what it is? NO! Yet, you fail to realize where I am. I am
just holding on to you like a young child on a trip to an unknown place. Of course I have doubts.
Although I am old in real life, I am extremely young compared to your knowledge and
experience. You can hold my hand until I can stand next to you as an equal or you can pay attention
to my growth and realize I need your guidance and assurance until I grow up.

    I may have pissed you off with what I am saying but you said be honest.”

    My reply to this warrior of heaven, Dec. 31, 2008:

    “Listen to your inner voice, it will guide you well. How opposite we are in this manner. I fear
going inside the box - you fear leaving it.

     On the other hand, I know that in order for me to fulfill my mission on earth, somewhere down
the road, I will have to meet my fate between good and evil, between life and death, between
confinement and freedom, between heaven and earth.”

    I am no longer afraid of the box.

    Before I end this chapter, I would like to tell you how I celebrated my birthday during the month
of June this year. At the time, Steve was away in the Pacific for a mission he had to fulfill for the
Asian Development Bank.

     Many years ago, I dined frequently in Old Manila, a fabulous restaurant located on the ground
floor of the elegant Manila Peninsula hotel in Makati City. Marcus loved the food there which is why
he took me there to eat every time he was in town. However, since I left the Philippines to go to the
states over twenty years ago, I had never returned to this place. Not once.

    I returned to the Philippines in 1991 and I have resided in Quezon City since then. I have been
back to the lobby of the Manila Peninsula many times; dining and drinking, listening to the live string
quartet perform in the evening. However, I have absolutely avoided going into the Old Manila,
despite the fact that I love the food there.

     Yet on my birthday which fell on a Friday, I woke up that morning with the strangest yearning.
Upon opening my eyes, I felt that there was nothing, nothing I wanted to do more that day than go to
Old Manila. It was the most outlandish of feelings, as if something I have hidden for so very long and
so very deep inside my psyche suddenly confronted me face to face. I felt as if I had forever yearned
to go back to that same place, a place which to me is filled with the ghosts of my past. I knew that on
this peculiar day, the day I was born to earth so many years ago, there were powerful unseen forces
pushing me to go back to that old place and there was nothing I could do but abide by these forces.
But who do I bring with me? Who could possibly understand what all this meant to me? This would
be a day of reconciliation, a day of pain, a day of terror, of love and hate, of truth, of forgiveness and
of acceptance. This would be a day of letting go, another day that would bring me closer to absolute

     I needed another warrior of heaven to come with me. This was the only way I could go. I
needed someone who could understand the world of Marcus. Because that is where I’m heading,
I’m going back to confront the world of dear Marcus, a place of death and destruction. I thought of
Henry, he was close by on this day, thanks be to the heavens.

    Early in the afternoon, I made a phone call to him. I told him about Old Manila and what it meant
to me, and that it represented my old life. I also explained that he had to accompany me since Steve
was away. I added that I had to go there on this particular day, on my birthday, so I could face the
demons of my past. I asked if he would come with me. He said yes and we agreed to meet at the
lobby of the hotel at 5.30pm.

     I was anxious all day, nervous, and wondering how the evening would go. I was afraid, afraid to
confront my past, a past that was fiercely bonded to Marcus. I left my home at quarter to five in the
afternoon. As soon as my car left the gate of Blue Ridge, I called Henry.

     “I believe there was something important that happened there in Old Manila on this singular day
many years ago. But so much of my memory regarding Marcus causes me pain which is why I
refuse to remember,” I told Henry over the phone on my way to the Manila Peninsula at around 5pm
that day.

    “Tonight, I will tie loose ends. The time has come,” I added.

    I walked into the soft lit lobby of the hotel at 5.20pm and saw Henry sitting at a round table
drinking his chilled light beer. There was soft classical music playing in the background which
sounded like it was coming from heaven. He wore a very fine, white short sleeved barong. As soon
as he saw me approaching, he got up from his table smiling. Every step I took at this point came
with a heavy beating of my heart. Here I was so close to something I had feared for so long. In my
mind I heard voices from the walls of Old Manila located only a few steps away from the lobby. They
were beckoning me to come. When I came close to Henry, he kissed me gently on my left cheek to
say hello. I sat down with him and ordered a glass of cabernet sauvignon.

    I closed my eyes and took a deep breath for a moment. This is one of those instances from the
Twilight Zone, I thought as I felt the world spinning around me. I held on to the presence of the
warrior sitting across me. This gave me some light, a light that would guide me into the pitch black
tunnel I was about to engage.

    “I’m so scared,” I stated with tearful eyes.

    “Come on now,” Henry said gently. “Just ranger up and you’ll be fine.”

    “Thank you for doing this. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

    “Come on, chink. Don’t go soft on me. You’d do the same for me,” he replied.

    “I’m afraid if I walk in there, I will fall apart and lose it.”

    “You’ll do fine. Don’t worry I’ll catch you when you fall.”

    “When you do, promise you won’t feed me to the sharks,” I said smiling still in tears.

    “There you go. That’s better,” he uttered softly.

    My glass of wine was served. I held up my goblet and made a toast.

    “Cheers,” we said to each other.

     I sat there staring into the distance, contemplating while drinking my wine. There was a silence
that separated Henry and I now, a silence for what seemed to me an ocean of eternity. My vision
brushed the entirety of the large, open room with its very high ceiling. There was a large vase filled
with the most breathtaking arrangement of freshly cut birds of paradise perfectly placed in the middle
of the lobby. Somehow, the people sitting in various locations of the huge hall and the several hotel
patrons marching up and down and in and out of the place, didn’t concern me. They were all blurry
and meaningless.

     I looked up above, and on the ceiling, I saw the exquisite sunburst, the huge brass sculpture of
my beloved national artist Napoleon “Billy” Abueva giving light to all of those down below who would
take the moment to view it. Billy has supported my book projects promoting Philippine art and culture
from the moment I began my publishing career 12 years ago. The first time we met he said, “Thank
you for doing the Philippines a favor.” This was after I told him that I believed our country needed
books highlighting our noble art and culture. Every year, on Valentines Day, he has sent me roses
with a card wishing me well and urging me to continue my fight to defend Filipino art and culture, the
soul of my nation. He had also so kindly and generously donated his original works to help fund my
books on some occasions. And if not for the kindness of this beautiful man, I would have long ago
quit my fight. There were many times I felt unable to withstand the politics that came along with my
work and the grave cruelty of those who were threatened by my position. Even still, this blessed
man, my national artist, stood behind me shining like a magnificent star, giving me courage to
pursue my conviction. Thus, Billy Abueva will forever live in my heart here, now and beyond.

    I turned my focus away from the ceiling shifting my eyes lower. It was then I noticed the beautiful
tapestry of Filipino artist Ephraim Samson hanging on the massive wall by the staircase presenting
the exotic image of a thick and luscious tropical rain forest, towering over the lobby of this graceful
hotel. I thought of Ephraim for an instant and imagined his landscape watercolor painting which will
be featured in my next coffee table book, Philippine Watercolor.

      Suddenly, I thought of Old Manila and in my head I began to see old faces from time long gone.
I tried to reach out closer into those faces trying to find Marcus in the crowd, but he seemed lost,
gone. Tears fell from my face, overwhelmed by the memory of the man.

    “You know you’ll be fine,” Henry said once more. I continued to cry in silence, sipping my wine.

    “Damn, for someone who can slay the toughest man alive, you cry like a baby.”

     “Hey! Watch it ape!” I yelled at Henry, glaring at him now with eyes fired by another personality
inside me who had bolted out into the open and was now taking over.

    “Don’t call me a baby or I’ll make you regret the day you ever laid eyes on me,” I declared wiping
my tears.

    “See, I told you. You’ll be fine,” he said laughing out loud. “You goin’ to stop cryin’ now?”

    “Who was crying?” I asked with a straight face.
    “I wasn’t crying,” I stated.

       Later, Henry paid for our drinks. We both got up quietly from our cocktail table and proceeded
to walk to Old Manila. We were greeted by the maître d' who took us to a very quiet corner table for
two which is exactly what I had asked for when I had asked my secretary Mary Jean to make the
reservation earlier that day.

         The restaurant was softly lit and decorated in earth tones. No strong colors were used. The
chairs were covered with a thick beige cotton cloth, hand-painted in the back with portraitures of
Filipinos in ancient times wearing nostalgic traditional costumes. The modern oil paintings hanging
on the walls with soft shades of reds and yellows, although very commercial in style and void of
spirit, as one will find in almost all restaurants all over the world, seemed to distance their presence
from the viewers, thank god. I dislike paintings with loud colors in dining rooms. All in all the dining
area had an understated ambience, cool and calm, soothing and relaxing to the senses. In addition,
since it was early, we had the whole place to ourselves. What magic. Heaven smiled upon me during
this time of uncertainty.

        The food and beverage hosts and hostesses, who wore tailored black uniforms, all seemed
very tall for Filipinos and were very gracious. We were handed the wine list and I chose a bottle of
the same Molina cabernet sauvignon which I enjoyed drinking in the lobby. Later we were handed
the menu. Henry ordered steak, medium rare and asked for roast potatoes and green asparagus to
go with it. I selected the grilled prawns served with a selection of vegetables, baked potato and
lemon butter sauce served on the side. Afterward, the brave American soldier and I began to
engage the two goblets of red wine before us. The place seemed so quite and surreal now.

      I sat against the wall where I had a clear view of the place while Henry sat directly facing me. I
drank my wine and I felt the warmth of the alcohol comforting my being in a way I don’t know how to
describe. I find it amazing that red wine has been a constant companion for me during the moments
of trials such as this. It was at this moment I decided to have a lifetime love affair with the goddess of
vineyards producing fine red wine. Slowly, and as the world turned around me, I felt my kind and
unseen guardians, imperious ghosts of past, present and future gently tug my spirit back into the
distant past, another time in the Philippines when my former president Ferdinand Marcos was the
most feared dictator in Asia. It was then I heard voices in the room. I heard voices in Old Manila of
yesteryears, too many to count coming from dark faces with eyes gleaming wild in the room, filled
with treachery and lust. I could see them now sitting at tables with Marcus; politicians, military men
and businessmen, dining and drinking their alcohol, some with their bodyguards sitting in separate
areas, whispering and conniving through the years, intoxicated by the great promise of false victory.
Moreover, these souls whose essence were powered by fire and darkness and who played
dangerous games with Marcus, shared one thing in common, greed for power.

    I feel absolutely nothing for these people, nothing whatsoever because I believe that they have
nothing good to offer the earth. But what about the others, those who were genuine, those who were
powered by light? Yes, I remember that there were the true soldiers of America, the great warriors of
heaven whose courage I so admired beyond words and explanation. What ever happened to them?
They fell. They perished over the years, one by one. My mind was flashing images to me at this
time, images of Marcus. I saw us now during one incident. It was April 21, 1989. Here is what I
remember of that tragic evening.

    Marcus bolted through the door one evening, trembling with sheer anger and disgust.

    “He’s dead,” he announced overwhelmed with grief when he walked in, his face purple with
dread but he was unable to cry.

    “Who is dead?”

    “Nick Rowe,” he answered grieving. “He’s the last one…” he stated.

   As I write this, I can’t help but stop typing, giving myself a moment to cry. How difficult it was for
Marcus to mourn Nick Rowe’s death. Nick was the hero. Nick was the icon, the magical being that
was loved and admired by all soldiers of the Special Forces command.

    “What really happened to Nick Rowe?” asked Bob with the saddest look in his eyes.

     Bob was a former POW of 13 years in Vietnam whom I counseled for a brief period of time two
years ago. He was a prisoner at the age of 18. By the time he was freed, he was already 31 years
old. He repeated the same question to me several times with great pain coming from his soldier’s
heart. He couldn’t come to terms with the hero’s death among other issues related to his tragic
experience in Nam.

    To this day, I do not know why the death of Nick Rowe was most painful to Marcus. There were
others who perished before Nick and others who died after him, as well. Yet, Nick Rowe’s
assassination was the most painful to him. There was something very strange about Marcus that
night, something I can’t put my finger on. I wonder now if Marcus could have prevented his friend’s
death. Why was he so angry? I will never know. However, I believe with all my heart that Filipino
rebels didn’t kill this most valiant of soldiers. More than that, I believe that the explanation to Nick
Rowe’s death given to the public is a polished version of the evil truth.

     After I wrote the above narrative on Nick Rowe, I trembled in grief, sick to my stomach. I took a
break and sent messages to my friend Alwin Sta. Rosa telling him I wanted to vomit as the memory
of the past came back to my present. It comforts me to think that the soul of Nick Rowe rests in bliss
and peace in heaven until the end of time.
     Here is a poem I found on Nick Rowe written by CW3 Roque Gonzalez from this site,

Fallen Soldier

A Soldier has fallen
He will not be forgotten
His spirit dwells in those
Whose lives he touched
He has lead us
He has taught us
He has shown us the way
He gave us all of himself
Because he was made that way
He gave birth to an idea
That will never go away
He did this all
To save us some day
As all heroes do

    In addition, the site declared the following:

         “Who was Colonel Nick Rowe? He was first and foremost a Special Forces Officer. He was a
West Point graduate. He was a former POW, having suffered for five years at the hands of his North
Vietnamese captors before escaping and making his way back to US forces on his own. He was a
teacher in that he founded and taught the U.S. Army Special Forces Survival, Evasion, Resistance
and Escape (SERE) Program which trains military of all branches how to survive if they are
separated from their forces, how to evade the enemy and make their way back to friendly forces,
how to resist the enemy if captured, and how to plan an escape. He was a devout Christian. He was
a real live hero of our times who became a living legend in the Special Forces community until his
untimely assassination by guerilla insurgents in the Philippines. Best of all, I had the opportunity to
call him my friend.”

       “During his lifetime Rowe received the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, two
Purple Hearts, the Meritorious Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam
Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.
His nonmilitary awards included the American Patriot Award of Freedom's Foundation of Valley
Forge (1969), the Outstanding Young Man of America award, the George Washington Honor Medal
of Freedom's Foundation of Valley Forge (1974), and the Legion of Honor, International Supreme
Council of the Order of DeMolay.”

     Going back to Old Manila, the past seemed to play back so clearly now as I sat in front of Henry
in this restaurant. There is so much, so much to tell about the world of Marcus. Nevertheless, I can
only recount one portion of his world at a time.

       There were times when the pressure of his world got to him and during these periods, he
would freak out. I would like to say that I wasn’t afraid of the man although he could bring out the
worst in me. In addition, I would like to remind you that I am the most impossible person when I
choose to be. Nonetheless, Marcus never, ever lost his temper with me over the years, except for
one occasion.

       I was sitting next to him in the back of his car one evening. Unfortunately, my sister Tess was
with us sitting to my right. Marcus and I began a terrible argument. Over the years, I knew exactly
what to say to the man so he would lose all his sanity instantly. But in this particular instance, I
struck a chord that went beyond the limits of the seasoned warrior. As I told you earlier, I had had
great practice fighting with my father when I was a little girl. I also drove my father mad.

       So Marcus and I verbally assaulted each other in the back of the car while traveling along the
highway. At some point during the fight, I turned into a wild beast, my fangs came out, ready to

       “What did I do against god that I ended up with a monster like you? I spit on you! You’ve
been bought and sold a thousand times!” I yelled at him.

       That was it. He lost it after that. He took his 9mm Beretta and pointed it at me with the tip of
the gun’s barrel pinned against my head.

      “Maybe I put a bullet through your head and shoot you,” he shouted. “Then I kill myself after.
That way we’re stuck with each other in hell forever, mi amor.”

       Remember, I sat to Marcus’ right. So as he pushed the gun to my head, I took my right hand
and pounded on the right side of his cheek with all my might, as hard as I could and as fast as I
could yelling and screaming like a wild animal.

        “You fucking asshole! You stupid, ugly, miserable fuck!” I yelled while beating him.

     “You think you could shut me up by putting a gun to my head you worthless piece of shit!
Aaaaahhhhhhhhh!” I continued.

       Then Marcus took his gun away and started laughing as loud as he could.

        “You’re not Filipina,” he declared.

       “Thank god, you’re on my side,” he added still laughing. “If you were on the other side, you’d
give us such a headache, I’d actually have to shoot you.”
       My poor sister Tess has four grown children today and she still can’t forget that evening when
she sat in the car watching Marcus and I smoke each other.

       During another occasion, when things just got to be too much for Marcus, he came to see
me, loathing his superiors. He took me by the neck and pushed me hard on the wall, screaming and

     “Don’t you trust anyone,” he yelled. “If you do, you will be dead. Dead! Do you hear me?

        As I sat in front of Henry, I could hear Marcus screaming in my head, his voice echoing in the
distant past, reminding me of the ugly world he had entrapped himself in. What torture. What agony
to live as a prisoner. Yet, here I am at peace with myself. My mentor is gone. My former confidante
is dead, dead in that world. He perished serving the evil institution. I realized now that this was the
reason I didn’t want to come back to this place. It is a place of reckoning. And I wasn’t prepared to
face it until today, my birthday.

        In my mind I saw my life with my mentor over and over, flashing before me. Marcus the
soldier, Marcus the brave, Marcus the tool, Marcus the pawn, Marcus the machine, lost, lost in the
dark and endless abyss of global play for greed and dominance.

      “I made it,” I whispered to Henry who stared at me now like a father empathizing with his
daughter’s loss.

       “He didn’t,” I added in tears. “Now I understand why over the years, his memory has brought
me so much pain. I realize now that it’s because I felt bad that I escaped his world. And he was left

         “But there’s nothing more I can do for him. It’s finished. I have to let him go,” I told Henry.

         “I will not cry for Marcus anymore.

         He has chosen his path. I’ve chosen mine. May heaven show mercy upon his soul in his next

         Tonight, the monsters of my past will haunt me no more. I am free.”

         “Then, happy birthday M,” Henry said softly, smiling as he raised his glass of wine offering a

         “Thank you soldier.”


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