- Posted January 25, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Women in combat: Your take
Women in the Battlefield
The first women in the battlefield that I saw were Maoist guerillas in the great Sierra Madre mountain ranges in the northern Philippines. This was in December 1986 during Christmas truce between the Corazon Aquino government and the communist rebels.
I was a neophyte journalist and I spent ten days in the jungle with the poorly armed but highly motivated guerillas. There were about a hundred fighters, half of them women. The youngest was a fourteen-year old girl.
The presence of many women combatants, especially teenage fighters in the rebel camp was, at first, unsettling. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The sight of young village girls cradling M-16s and AK47s was surreal.
In the traditional farming village that I grew up, the idea of a woman in combat was just unimaginable. To even think of it was a sort of blasphemy.
But there I was in the Philippine Amazon, not too far from my hometown, photographing and having many nights of conversations with smiling and courageous young guerillas.
Twenty-six years after my first encounter with the unyielding communist guerillas, I remember our discussions, among others, on land reform, death, killing the enemy, and gender-equality. They were quite proud telling me: “All revolutionaries are equal.”