Davao City (Mai Gevera / 21 Nov) - Who would have thought a 24-year-old member of the Philippine Army now was once a child rebel who fought for the principles and ideology of the New People's Army?
At 12, Gelyn Dayong was swayed by the sweet promises of her recruiters. She left the comforts of her home, packed her things, and headed to where the leader directs her to go."Wala kaming kain, lakad kami nang lakad na hindi ko alam kung saan kami patungo," she said. At that young age, all she heard is angst from the mouth of her leaders.
The rebels painted a dark government in the mind of Gelyn. She then grew up hating laws, policies, programs, projects, and most especially government officials. The sweet girl who is supposedly seated inside a school classroom, getting knowledge from educators was rather trapped in a complicated plan that hinders her development and that of the whole county.
Instead of pen and paper, Gelyn got used of a gun as a daily gadget she calls her best friend. The gun has become her protector from her so-called faceless enemies. All she knew while she fires a bullet is her hatred that apparently grew from the strong education from the rebel leaders.
Gelyn never had experienced the excitement of her youth. Instead of minding simple, and easy problems usually encountered by children at her age, she learned to worry about a complex concern that even any past president of the country hardly solved.
She bravely trekked the hinterlands knowing that she's got what it takes to be great -- and that is her skill in fighting. Gelyn knew nothing on algebra, biology, chemistry that a sixth grader must have learned. However, she knew so much about war tactics, kinds of ammunition, and she's perfected it all at age 12.
The turning point of her life happened in an encounter of the NPA with some military forces in 1999. After some rigid training and ripe dedication to crush the government, Gelyn finally joined the battle.
She rushed the front line and fearlessly manipulated her so-called "toy" that downed some of the enemies. But the greatness she used to feel before the battle seemed to be a mere illusion after all.
"Natamaan ako sa paa, sa likod at malapit na akong mamatay dahil doon." Severely wounded during the fight, Gelyn hardly stood up. At that moment, she felt she was never great, after all. Death knocked at her while she struggled from severe bleeding. But she woke up in the comfort of some uniformed men, who she considered her enemies for quite some time.
A bit confused of the set-up, Gelyn felt nervous for a while thinking that it was again a trap she used to hear from her co-rebels. However, getting cured by those military men for many days then made her realize that these people were never bad, contrary to what she's been hearing from her colleagues.
"Nakita ko kung paano nila ako ituring bilang kapatid. Ito'y kabaliktaran kung paano ko sila ituring noon habang ako'y rebelde pa."Gelyn never expected that she would be saved by those who she considered her "enemies".
Now that she finally learned the real works of the government, Gelyn asked some military men if they could find her a job."Bata pa lang ako, gustung-gusto ko nang mag police. Kaya hiniling ko kung pwede ba nila akong tulungang makapasok sa ganung propesyon."
Equipped with the previous skills and the strong determination to change her life, Gelyn grabbed the program offered by the government.
At 24, she is now a member of the Philippine Army and an active advocate that constantly reminds the youth especially those in the barrios to value education so as not to be easily swayed by the sweet promises of the rebels."I-enjoy nyo ang inyong kabataan. Ito ang hindi ko kailanman naranasan noon."
A former warrior of the left side, Gelyn is now a proud warrior of the Filipino people especially the youth of today.She was one of the young speakers who shared her experience as child warrior during Sunday Peace Tech 5 held at the University of the Southeastern Philippines here and simultaneously linked with the participants in St. Paul College in Manila.