January 24, 2008


Petty Officer 2nd Class Allan M. Cundanga Espiritu

from time to time i go through the washington posts' list of casualties in iraq/afghanistan, hoping NOT to see any friends or service members that i might have spent time with. when i pop open the marine corps list, i find myself staring at the faces of so many young people that i recognize -- conversations with them pop up, memories of standing in formation with some of them come rushing back to me, going through training exercises with a few... it's scary. i haven't done this in a while, because the feeling of running across a familiar face always saddens me.

it's about 2am, and i decide that i want to go through this list and see who can see -- and as usual, i'm hoping i don't recognize any of these folks.

no such luck. allan espiritu. we trained together. we were both california pinoys, so naturally, we bonded and became friends. we went to medical training together and we had a good time. i remember him as being a little guy in height, but he was swole up from doing crazy weights with this one white boy (his name slips my mind) after classes. he died at 28 years old on november 1st, 2005. according to the listing, he was killed by a makeshift bomb in ar ramadi. before tonight, i had no idea where he was. thought about him maybe twice in the past year. but, now that i know he's gone -- i miss him.

so, that leads me to check myself... how am i honoring my friend? how am i continuing to support those young men and women who got stuck in that military trap? what am i really doing to prevent the next young pinoy out of oxnard from joining that list?

then, i had to sit up and think, is my music (for example, international guerilla's anthem) dishonoring my friend, espiritu?

in short, i guess this answer is this: i'm pushing a message that i would proudly push if espiritu stood before me today. i would tell him that as a friend, i will always have love for him and i will always have his back -- but, in that same breath, i will tell him that i don't want another young brown man or woman to end up where we've been... that we've been tricked. we are not here to protect or defend our country -- we are being pawned for money.

regardless, espiritu did not die in vain. i don't believe that. espiritu, when i yell, "bring them back home!" i will be yelling for you! i will be screaming it at the top of my lungs so that wherever you are, you'll hear me, brother. i heard sometime ago, you had children -- i'm not sure how true that is, but if it is, they'll always be able to come see me for whatever i can help them with...

espiritu will always be remembered, by me, as a funny brother who laughed at my jokes, stood beside me in scuffles and helped me get through a period in my life that really helped mold me into a better man, a better father and a stronger organizer.

see you when i see you, spirit!