LAST April 9 was supposed to be a day to be remembered — the Fall of Bataan.
It was a day that depicted the raw courage and bravery of the both the Filipino and American soldiers, hand in hand together in the defense of freedom and democracy.
That was what was in my mind when I was suddenly jolted from my quiet solitude when someone rang our doorbell.
“Uncle B, can you help me, please,” pleaded my distressed nephew.
“Sure,” I said, “what can I do for you? Come in, come inside.”
“I have this high school project about writing an essay for our English subject,” he said as she pulled aside a chair near me in the living room.
“Uncle B, Our teacher gave us an assignment about interviewing people who were war veterans.
“Actually, I prefer a veteran from the Second World War. I need someone who is a survivor of that war. Do you know anyone, Uncle?”
“Ha ha ha,” I laughed, “I was not even born at that time. But let me think,” scratching my head.
“Hmmm, oh, sorry, I don’t know of anyone. Even If I knew one, he is probably deceased by now.”
I could see from his face his utter disappointment.
He was teary-eyed.
Then, after a few minutes of disquieting silence, his eyes brightened up as if he had found a way to solve his dilemma.
“How about if we played pretend?” he asked with a hint of mischief.
“What do you mean?” I asked him.
Then he continued, “My teacher surely doesn’t know that you were not born yet during that time. Let’s pretend that you were a war survivor and then you just make up some war experiences.”
“Uh-oh, no, no,” I protested, “in my book, that is lying, and I can’t in my good conscience do that.”
He was somewhat taken aback by my comment, quite shocked that his favorite uncle would not be able to help him.
He apologized, folded his notebook and walked slowly towards the door.
“OMG, I think I am going to fail in English,” he muttered dejectedly.
I felt uneasy.
The guilt of not being able to help my handsome nephew weighed heavily in my heart.
And to think that I actually hailed from the province — and yet, here I am, unable to help.
“Wait, wait,” I motioned him to come back.
“OK, let’s do it.”
I will just commit a sin of perjury for now, but then, I will ask for forgiveness later on.
“Where shall we begin the story, Uncle B?” he asked me after sipping a few gulps of hot tea.
I rolled my eyes trying to paint a scenario of some movie episodes, except that the fake hero is yours truly.
“Let’s say, I was the leader of some guerrillas fighting in the foothills of Mt. Samat. And my unit is called Maharajah Unit.”
“Uncle, do you mean Maharlika Unit?”
“No,” I said.
“Maharlika is for another hero’s unit whereas this Maharajah Unit was from my own creative imagination.”
“OK, what did you do then? Did you wipe them out like Superman and Batman?” he asked while readying to jot down my answer.
“Did you receive any medals or awards for valor?” he asked successively.
“Let’s say for the record that I was the most decorated war hero.”
“But Uncle B, I need a picture of the medals for proof. My teacher surely would ask me for that.”
“OK, OK, let’s Google Audie Murphy, take a snapshot of his chest full of medals and do some photo-shopping.”
“You are a genius, Uncle.”
“We are almost done with the interview, Uncle, but all I need now is just one thing more.”
“And what is that?”
“My teacher said she would give extra credits if we can submit a picture of the interviewee.”
“I think that’s not good,” I cut him in his mid-sentence.
“It’s because my picture would then not give justice to this make-up story.”
“You see, nephew, the real character in my story is supposedly in his mid-90s now. And I am not even in my 70s.”
“Oh, no problem Uncle, my teacher would not know the difference. You look as good as a 101-year-old veteran, in this photo and in real life.”
Then he ran to the door quite excitedly.
I heard him exclaiming, “I should get an A plus for this. Thank you. Thank you, Audie Murphy whoever you are.”