National Geographic : 1971 Aug
National Geographic, August 1971 his wife is badly hurt. Did he die because he fought back, or was he murdered? We don't know. But murder is common in Mindanao. The Manila press calls this island the 'Wild Wild South.' "We have our frontiersmen, as did your Wild Wild West, and they're a rough, tough lot. But we mustn't forget why they're here. After World War II the government urged settlers to go to undeveloped Mindanao and start civilizing it. The nation was-and is suffering a population explosion, and no one cared much about how land was acquired. "The settlers took what they could get, and the tribesmen moved back to the hills. Now mining and lumber interests want the hills too. But the tribesmen have nowhere left to go. So in desperation they protest. They some times even stand and fight instead of quietly vanishing before the advance of what we call civilization." The Secretary rubbed his stubbly chin and shoved his dirty white cap back from his fore head. "You know, we hear a lot about conser vation these days. Conservation of animals, even of plants. But what about conservation of human beings and human cultures?" Compassion Drives a Complex Man Young (34), wealthy, Harvard-educated Manuel Elizalde might reasonably have been expected to join ranks with the rich and pow erful. To the amazement of his peer group, excepting President Ferdinand E. Marcos and a few other men who cannot forget that the pagan tribesmen of the Philippines are their blood brothers, Elizalde cares more about the hard-pressed national minorities than about his family fortune or his life. He is a vision ary idealist and a romantic. But he is also quick-witted, tough-minded, and given to sudden decisions. "The runner says the woman's wounds have begun to smell," Elizalde said. "Let's bring her out." The young American helicopter pilot glanced at the small cumulus of morning floating over jungle-covered peaks. "O.K.," he said. "But right now. By midafternoon those puffs will be thunderheads. Even if I could get in up there I'd never get out. What am I supposed to land on anyway?" A thousand flying hours in Viet Nam had given Denis Rinehart a skill verging on artistry. His question conveyed no anxiety. "The messenger will show you the place. He says the tribesmen have cleared a little space for you an hour by foot from where the woman is hidden." "Little!" said Denis sadly. "Ha!" "I want some guns up there," Elizalde told me. "No knowing who's around. I'll send two security men with automatic weapons. You take this." He handed me a compact H-K submachine gun. "Besides your .45." Trumpet Heralds a Mission of Mercy Denis made two trips to deliver the lot of us, cranking down the hole in the jungle like a swift descending a chimney. The whine of the chopper's jet engine summoned a few hill people out of the green wilderness. No out siders were near, they said. They would come with us. The runner pointed the way, and our party set off with National Geographic pho tographer Dean Conger in the lead, at six feet two a giant of a man among these small, lithe mountainfolk. Distant gongs sounded a soft reassurance, then were still. We walked in silence. A long climb brought us to the summit of a ridge where a thatched house rested on the closest approximation to level land this crumpled country could offer. We paused while our guides spoke to the men of the place, who brought out a bamboo trumpet and sent a signal wailing away toward the higher ridges beyond. "That is a secret message," said the runner. "It tells those who guard the woman that we come to take her out. Now they will not attack us." Hampered by a leg badly swollen from a spider bite, I stayed behind as the group went Flown to safety, the tribeswoman receives treatment for festering bullet wounds in her face, leg, and foot. The jungle clinic was set up by Panamin-the Presidential Arm for National Minorities. Its head, Manuel Elizalde, Jr., left, keeps a bedside vigil. The 34-year-old scion of a wealthy Filipino family, a Harvard graduate, holds cabinet rank in the government of Philippine Presi dent Ferdinand E. Marcos. Secretary Elizalde's appointment underlines the Mar cos administration's concern for the island nation's oft-mistreated minorities.