Thursday, June 19, 2014
After The Gulf War: The Past Still Lingers On #OFW40
We received news about the atrocities done by Iraqi people to other nationalities inside Kuwait. Different stories were spreading in Dubai about these news, other stories of heroism and escapade too.
I visited Mike Luna in the coffee shop where he’s working and found out that he had rented a room for both of them. He was living-in with his new partner. I talked to him about his wife Lina, but he ignored me. I felt sorry for him that his life centered only in one facet of living.
It was in the year 1991 of February 15 when deadline for withdrawal had been set by the United National Security Council.
I remained in Dubai for my usual job, monitored the news headlines, an occasional night outings and continued the manpower business. The news coming from the Philippines and the local dailies were buried deep in my heart while continuing to follow its development.
The forces of a multinational coalition led by the United States compelled Iraq to withdraw its occupation forces from neighboring Kuwait. Iraq had illegally invaded and occupied Kuwait on August 2, 1990 and in January 15, 1991, deadline for withdrawal had been set by United Nations Security Council. Iraq accused Kuwait of conducting “economic warfare’ against it by overproducing oil and thereby pushing down petroleum prices. When faced with international demands for withdrawal, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein tried to elicit Arab support by offering to pull out if Israel would withdraw its forces from the territories it occupied during the Six-Day War (1967). His efforts to portray himself as the champion of the Palestinian drew little support other than the Palestinian themselves, who later found their cause injured by the support they gave Saddam Hussein.
Shortly after the invasion, U.S. naval, air, and ground forces were dispatched to Saudi Arabia, initially as a defensive force. US president George Bush constructed a diverse international coalition and repeatedly sought UN mandates for action against Iraq. Trade embargoes were imposed and enforced by naval forces. Resolutions later passed by the Security Council authorized the use of “any means necessary to bring about the withdrawal of Iraqi troops. President Bush also obtained authorization from Congress to use force, although many urged that sanctions be given time to take effect.
The forces arrayed against Iraq, commanded by US General H. Norman Schwarzkoff, included combat units from 28 nations, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Britain, Syria, , and France, and noncombat units from several others; Germany and Japan., prohibited by their constitutions from deploying armed forces outside their territory, pledged billions of dollars in financial underwriting for the operation.
The war code-named Operation Desert Storm, began on January 16 with massive allied air attacks on Iraqi military targets. The allies quickly gained air superiority; many Iraqi planes were flown to Iran (neutral in the conflict) to escape destruction. Iraq launched Scud missiles against Israel in a vain effort to split the coalition by presenting the war as Arab-Israeli conflict.
The ground phase of the war, initiated when Saddam Hussein ignored a February 23 US deadline to begin large-scale withdrawal, lasted only 100 hours. Arab troops launched a two-pronged frontal assault on Kuwait; recapturing Kuwait City on February 26, while US and European forces swept westward into Iraq, cutting off Iraqi avenues of retreat. Iraq’s defeat was decisive.
It was in the year 1991 of February 26 when deadline for withdrawal had been set by the United National Security Council.
Allied military operations were suspended at midnight on February 27. The Security Council on April 3 imposed stiff and unprecedented conditions for a formal end of the hostilities. The United Nations mandated the destruction of Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons capabilities.
In the aftermath of the war, Saddam Hussein remained in power and was able to crush two major internal rebellions – by the Shiites in southern Iraq and the Kurds in the north. The coalition declined to intervene.
The war was notable for the prominent role played by high technology weapons. Hundreds of Kuwait oil wells were set ablaze by retreating Iraqi forces and millions of oil deliberately spilled in the Gulf.
It was in the year 1991 of February 26 onwards that Dubai started its developments. The expatriate workforce in the United Arab Emirates especially Dubai, continued to show the usual brisk business because of the foreign people were still around. Danielle instantly arrived in Dubai to ironed-out other important business transactions.
Dubai was gearing to be the hub of tourist attractions and business acumen of international organizations. Notable was the appearance of women from the part of Russia. They invaded the nightlife of Dubai scene which constituted more tourists and visitors around the Gulf.
Manpower businesses were thriving permanently that Danielle bought a personal visa for me, service car and a flat for me at Salahuddin Street near Al Guhrair Center. I resigned from my job in the food industry and managed to put up my own food business concept that thrived permanently. For a short span of time, I opened another two fast food stores around Dubai constructed in strategic locations.
I joined in every Filipino organization and to market the manpower and food businesses. It took some time to form the targeted network of people that really cared to trust what I had in mind. It was such a good moved for me that I uplifted the image of my company to successful endeavors.
Danielle supported me for every endeavor I made that our relationship blossomed into permanent daily living in Dubai. We carried our lives with different perspectives but more in spearheading into the future. I opened my own two manpower agencies that I planned to unify the two businesses in the future. My own transactions were mine alone that Danielle did not questioned it. For legal purposes, I documented all my dealings with government authorities and their regulations were clearly followed.
Starting from the onset of the Gulf War, I had a communication with Ayah Isabel every week that I had knowledge of their activities. The children were growing tremendously as what Ayah told me; the same with Marco Junior and Shaira Rose in Bacolod City.
It was in the year 1993 of May, when I went to the Philippines for vacation.
The rigors of my daily life in Dubai contributed much to my desire to have a break from my usual work. The improvements of my food businesses really spearheaded tremendously with my hands-on style of management and the new innovations for manpower business too.
After completing some important matters with my businesses, I purchased round-trip ticket going to the Philippines. Danielle was very glad that I had to take my break and to visit our children in Bacolod City.
I arrived in the Philippines with high spirit anticipating the happy and contented families I had. Before, I felt differently when I traveled coming from Dubai, but now it’s totally different. Ayah Isabel and Bryan welcomed me to the airport where we headed directly to our house in Bacoor, Cavite. I hugged my five children and gave time for them after I arrived. The happiness that I felt really conformed to my deepest desire for them. “Ayah, where’s Lina?” I asked her.
“Its two months now that she left us, told me to go to Imus, Cavite.”
“How is she?”
“Mike did not send money for her.”
“You helped her?”
“Yes, but I think she missed her husband.”
I kept my silence for this matter, continued to talk to Ayah Isabel. “How’s the children’s education?”
“Good, they’re improving through the help of their tutor.”
“How’s the status of our bank accounts here in the Philippines?”
“Still growing, remember, you’re transferring money every month?”
“Ohhh, yes, I forgot.”By the way, we had to go to Barrio Tuyom, your place, for some important matter together with the children, Bryan and his family."
We prepared instantly for the things to be brought, bought plane tickets; rent a ten-seater van going to Barrio Tuyom. My heart kept on pounding when we arrived at Ayah’s house before. The owner told us that they bought the house since 1988. I asked if we can tour around the interior of the house which he permitted us instantly. The house had the same in structure but different in decors and arrangement.
“Actually, I’m selling this house….if you want...we can finalize it now….” The owner said while we finished touring the interior of the house. His words were like a thousand dreams able to collide with the reality.
‘Yes, please…” I answered him directly. Next, we went to the chapel guardian and asked about our marriage contract.
“Yes, have a seat please Mr. Fernando, Ayah and Bryan.
“I still remember that incident long time ago, your parents were killed Ayah and Bryan, sorry. The thing is that, the marriage was not fully solemnized but I kept the records. I can help you with this one for a week’s time.”
“Yes Father, please we can wait. If you need something I can help you.” I answered instantly without soliciting Ayah and Bryan opinions.
“Mr. Fernando, only, I have to go to the town of Cauayan proper for formalization of this marriage contract.”
“You need help Father?” I asked.
“No, I can manage, just wait here in Tuyom. Do you have a house to stay?”
“Yes Father, the same house of my parents,” Ayah answered.
We stayed for about three hours at the chapel office while the owner of the house removed and transferred their belongings. Bryan hired some laborers to repair the old house while we bought household stuff in Kabankalan. I rented a truck to deliver all the items that we purchased to the supermarket and got a permit for the electricity.
Our first night of stay in the old house was a moment of truth for me to realize the living conditions in the barrio with my family. Everything was temporarily used by our children who, for the first time adapted this temporary life. I never imagined that I can retraced my yesteryears with the advent of knowing what in-store for me while chasing my dreams.
Happily contented with the new environment while waiting for some important documents, I asked Bryan to find a trusted caretaker of the house while we were here in Tuyom. We went to the coconut plantation near the beach together with the children. Grilled some fish, eat ripe mangoes, collecting seashells and totally enjoying the coolness of the shoreline. Deep inside, I can still remember vividly the time when we left this place.
“Ayah, do you remember the time…..” My words lost in the vastness of the sea.
“Yes Marco, it’s inside of me that cannot be forgotten…” Her tears started to flow.
“Mommy, are you crying?” Anne asked her mother.
“Why mommy’s crying Daddy?” Kent asked me.
“Anne, Kent, this is place where Mommy’s met Daddy!” I answered.
“How beautiful Mommy…Daddy!” Anne said.
“It’s like paradise, same in the movie!” Kent shouted.
“Okay kids… let’s go….it’s time to play in the sand!”
We played with the kids at the place where we washed ourselves after the killings. I searched the heels of Ayah’s sandals in the sand.
“Daddy, what are you searching for….a big shells?” Anne asked me.
“Yes, the mermaid left it here a long time ago.”
“Daddy…let’s go to the water…let’s swim!”
“Okay, but be careful Anne…Kent…don’t ever go beyond the shore!”
I watched them played in the shore while Ayah watched the three children in a cottage made of coconut palm leaves. Bryan was grilling fish, hot dogs and vegetables. I’d got the two little kids from Ayah which made four of them playing in the sand. The children enjoyed it so much for the whole morning and ate our grilled foods with cold beverages.
The first time I ever played with them in the beach that had a sad story long time ago. I never thought in my whole life, that I can enjoy the feeling of fatherhood along this shoreline, the shoreline of our past, the shoreline where I felt my obligation to my wife.
TO BE CONTINUED==
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