; The Road of the Red Flags
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The Road of the Red Flags

VIEWS: 9 PAGES: 4

(Mindanao, Philippines: 1969-1971) Please Check Your Firearms with the Stewardess - Air Manila Sign In memory I see it still its blue volcanic vistas, Poincianas flamed under vast Pacific cumuli; the dark shapes of caraboas1 plodding rice fields washed by sun. In moonlight on the hilltop, an army post stirred eerie memories of men in puttees and campaign hats, ghosts keeping watch in America's forgotten war.

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									Cornelia Snider Yarrington (Lafayette, CO). "The Road of the Red Flags"
recalls the two years I lived outside Marawi City on Mindanao in the
Philippines. The Peace Corps had moved its people out a couple of year before
because the area was considered too dangerous. An insurgent war against the
government of Ferdinand Marcos was moving closer to where my then husband
was doing doctoral research on a lake as I and two Filipino assistants helped
him. We left in October of 1971 after a hijack attempt on our boat at night. Soon
after, the government moved in tanks and planes to protect the campus of the
University of Marawi. This was a Muslim area inhabited by a people called the
Maranaos. After fierce and protracted battles, Pershing defeated them at the turn
of the past century. When the US government signed a treaty assuring them
religious freedom and kept its word, Pershing was made an honorary Sultan. A
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painting of him in a Sultan' fez hung in the library at the University of Marawi.
Pershing and General McArthur were still remembered with honor on the island
in those days. When we returned home to tell of our experiences, people either
changed the subject or became angry and accused us of exaggerating. Some
even called us racists. On the contrary, we paid the Maranaos the respect of
taking them seriously and not patronizing them as victims of American
Imperialism, though no one we talked to had ever heard of Pershing and the
Philippine Campaigns of the Spanish American War. We soon learned that our
fellow Americans knew nothing of the Philippines and had all its islands confused
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with Hollywood' idealized South Pacific. In fact Mindanao lay north of the
equator and was not in the South Pacific at all, and its Malay people had nothing
in common with the fictional islanders of the musical. For a time I stubbornly
persisted in disabusing my countrymen and women of their ignorance, but to no
avail. Their preconceptions were not to be shaken. And I had become a
stranger, a dissident if you will, in my own land.


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