Transnational Group Hug: The Language of Arms

I bumped into this news item from PressTV.  Their report seemed straightforward enough: Panamanian flagged ship (with a Georgian crew and a South African captain) carrying Israeli arms was seized by Philippine authorities.  I thought I better check it out, smelling a nice whiff of internationalism.

Oh, was I awfully wrong!  The UN has a lot to learn in terms of bringing different nations and cultures together.  The Philippine Inquirer report says the weapons, though designed in Israel, were in fact made – no, pirate-made! – in Indonesia. It also mentioned that there might even be Jordanians among the crew.

Who were the arms for?  The authorities suspect any or even a mixture of the following:

a) traditional politicians (or “Trapo” – which also means cleaning rag, by the way) gearing up for next year’s elections

b) terrorists out to destabilize the government

c) the Philippines was one of many Asian and African drop-off points used by an international syndicate.

The most unbelievable detail is the apparent “language problem” with the crew – either they cannot speak any English or refuse to do so.  I am pretty sure the South African captain can.  I wonder if they conversed in a secret code.  One fart means trouble.  Two means coast is clear.

Hollywood writers aren’t making their political suspense thrillers convoluted enough.

About matangmanok

Jim Pascual Agustin writes and translates poetry. Sometimes he tries his hand at essays and stories. His latest book is BLOODRED DRAGONFLIES, published by Deep South in South Africa. Check out the official blog page for Bloodred Dragonflies. In 2011 the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House in Manila released BAHA-BAHAGDANG KARUPUKAN (poems in Filipino) and ALIEN TO ANY SKIN (poems in English). The same publisher released his most recent poetry collections SOUND BEFORE WATER and KALMOT NG PUSA SA TAGILIRAN. In 2015 a new poetry collection in English, A THOUSAND EYES was released. His first collection of short stories in Filipino, SANGA SA BASANG LUPA, was released in 2016. UK publisher The Onslaught Press launches his poetry collection, WINGS OF SMOKE, worldwide in February 2017. San Anselmo Publications released HOW TO MAKE A SALAGUBANG HELICOPTER & OTHER POEMS in 2019 followed by CROCODILES IN BELFAST & OTHER POEMS in 2020 - both books can be purchased through their Facebook page. View all posts by matangmanok

4 responses to “Transnational Group Hug: The Language of Arms

  • Jie-Shi

    Hi Mister,

    Clever use of words in the title. Anyway glad you’re back.

    Take care,


    • matangmanok

      Hey Jie-Shi,

      Had a good chuckle with the title, yeah. I’m also glad to be back. Didn’t mean to be away so long. Thanks for the visit!


  • Michael Raymond

    Surely there must be some logical explanation for the apparent contortions these people were putting themselves through to deliver their alleged cargo of arms. Like maybe, the whole world has gone mad, and it’s just waiting for the rest of us to catch up…

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find a deep cave and start hiding food stuffs…

    • matangmanok

      Hi Michael,

      Logical explanation? World gone mad? Sounds like business as usual to me. Just this one is not using big planes with country flags and matching uniforms for the crew, and no media fanfare (CNN, BBC, SkyNews, etc). Which reminds me — I need to find time to write a review of a Hollywood movie (dvd borrowed from the local library) I just saw which deals with arms in Afghanistan.

      You’re not related to that squirrel in Ice Age now, are you? 😛


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