Note: November 4, 2010. Just received word that Jibin Arula, who was then the only living survivor of the Jabidah Massacre, died during the Holy Month of Ramadhan this year.
It is humbling, to say the least, when you visit a site that you know only from history books—a place that you’ve heard about only in documentaries and movie adaptations—and you meet someone who was actually part of history and hear straight from his mouth the events of 40 years ago.
Jibin Arula was a young husband and father when he left Mindanao to join what eventually become the Jabidah commando unit which was formed under Operation Merdeka, which is now pegged in infamy as a vain attempt to conquer Sabah gone horribly wrong.
The story behind Operation Merdeka is best told by Paul F. Whitman of The Heritage Battalion. But only Jibin Arula himself could relate how he and a fellow Moro soldier were being led unarmed through a tunnel in the pitch dark towards Kindley Airfield, when they heard the sound of an M2 carbine rifle’s magazine falling to the ground. To them that meant only one thing—that their escort had tried to release the safety switch on his rifle but in the dark had hit the magazine release switch instead. That was when Jibin Arula knew for sure that something was wrong. It was sheer presence of mind and the will to live that kept Jibin Arula alive in that dark morning of March 18, 1968.
For more reading on what the Jabidah Massacre was about, the following links are highly recommended:
Paul F. Whitman’s “THE CORREGIDOR MASSACRE – 1968”
Chronology of Events – summarizing the history of the Moro struggle and the Philippine Government’s attempts at diffusing a so-called time bomb.
Commemorating the 40th Year of the Jabidah Massacre – a blog entry by Sam on Travel Light
After 40 Years, a marker commemorating Jabidah Massacre is now installed – from the Anak Mindanao Website
For more photos of what Corregidor used to look like during the war check out:
For why the island was named Corregidor, click here
Also if you click the Welcome to Corregidor photo at the beginning of this post, you will be taken to my Flickr set of photos from today’s activity.
Bonus: History returns. Click on the photo to view a full-size version, and Sam’s blog on Jibin Arula then and now.