Kosovo War Memorial, Pristinasaid the Kosovar: “I shall go home to kill Serbs”. This was in the late 1990s, and the Kosovar was an old friend I ran into then. Did he really go back to Kosovo, after the Serbs he said had burnt the house he and his brother had built by working in Germany for years? Did he hurt innocents himself, this strong and simple man, or did he look for the perpetrators? To take personal vengeance like what is the reputation of Albanians, which Kosovars are? Not the imagined Albanians of Balagtas’ Florante at Laura. Was his rage just in passing? Hopefully I will never find out, inspite of curiosity.

There is an old story I heard, of a young Cebuano boy who went to visit his relatives in Davao. His mother and aunts died in an ambush, he survived because he was under his mother’s corpse, presumed dead. He grew up, became a soldier, found the Moros who had done it – and killed them.

Revenge is one of the oldest parts of human nature, and in many societies a part of the culture. Rido is the Filipino Muslim vendetta, yet the Christian too may know venganza or paghihiganti.

Who isn’t human for us? Those who have harmed or destroyed something we love or worked hard for – or who threaten to do so in reality or in our minds, like the fear of some Filipinos in areas not as protected as subdivisions that a drug addict may kill and/or rape him or her for a bit of cash or a watch bought with hard-earned money from abroad. For many Kosovars, Serbs were not human, yet I ALSO know Serbs – in my IT profession – who experienced the bombs of NATO while young. One of them told me – around five years ago – that the tension upon passing Croatia had eased.

A Bosnian Croat – a Catholic – whom I chanced to talk to a decade ago once told me how the civil war had changed him, especially when he remembered how Muslim Bosnians had died next to him there. “People are people, politics divides us, religion doesn’t matter” he said. The bald and muscular man then turned and closed his eyes. He moved his arms to the music in the place we were drinking in, one could see the pain he tried to hide. From at least a decade before, in Bosnia.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, Germany, 27 April 2017