Amulet-seeking militiaman beats Good Friday deadline
MLANG, North Cotabato — While most Catholics were either fasting or seeking penance for their sins during “Visita Iglesia” on Good Friday, a militiaman was busy visiting burial places.
But he did not go to the cemeteries to atone for his sins through the intercession of his departed loved ones.
Beto — not his real name — spent the day searching for an amulet (anting-anting) in the graves.
“This is my seventh attempt to find an amulet to protect me from harm,” he told the Inquirer while visiting the public cemetery here.
The militiaman believed that an amulet would not only spare him from harm while carrying out his duties as a member of the local Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu), but also protect him from illnesses.
And there was no better day to find one than on Good Friday, he said, citing Christian folklore.
Beto, 45, said he remained a strong believer in amulets despite the techonological advances in body armor, such as Kevlar vests with its high-strength para-aramid synthetic fibers.
According to him, an amulet saved the life of his father, a former member of the Community Home Defense Force (CHDF) during fierce battles with Moro rebels in the province in the 1970s and 1980s. He did not say, though, how the amulet had protected his father.
The CHDF had since been disbanded and replaced by the Cafgu.
Beto said he had wanted his search for an amulet to be “at least legal” and so he asked permission from Hernan Dapudong, the cemetery administrator of Mlang town.
Because the cemetery was undergoing rehabilitation and human bones were being dug up to be transfered to other burial sites, he thought his search would not encounter any problems.
“My request was repeatedly denied,” he said, adding that he was only looking for the kneecaps of the dead.
Despite this, Beto said he proceeded with his search and tried to locate the grave of Feliciano Luces, alias “Commander Toothpick,” the fierce cult leader who battled Moro fighters in the 1970s.
“The more notorious a person while he lived, the better the amulet would be. I cannot think of anyone better than Toothpick,” the Cafgu volunteer said.
Beto said Dapudong tried to discourage him by saying that Luces’ bones had already been dug up by relatives years ago and transferred to another burial site.
“I believed (his grave) was still there, though,” the militiaman said.
Failing to find Toothpick’s grave, Beto said he opted to look for the grave of another former militia leader, but he declined to provide details.
With a smile, he said he managed to locate the grave shortly before 3 p.m., “the deadline” for finding an amulet, and took away the late fighter’s kneecaps.
Before putting the amulet in a special pouch, Beto recited what he said was the “required” Latin prayer so it would have mystical powers.
“I finally got one,” he said.
Asked to show the amulet, Beto just smiled. “It is not meant to be shown or trumpeted,” he said. —Edwin O. Fernandez
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