This afternoon, while delivering feeds to my pigs in one of the mountain barangays of Catmon, Cebu, I was negotiating a particularly difficult pass which was being worked on. Unfortunately, the workers who were working on the road was drinking, and it was too late when they noticed that I was entering the pass while they have allowed another vehicle going the other way to enter. The driver of the other vehicle was acommodating, and we were able to pass each other with neither vehicle scratched.

One of the workers, who I was informed was the chief tanod of the barangay but who was later introduced by the barangay captain as just a volunteer, had another idea. Despite my apologetic tone, and my profuse apologies, he verbally castigated me. I started reasoning out, but instead, he landed a punch into my face, received by my glasses, causing a scratch. I wanted to get down and settle the score immediately with him, but I still had two sacks of 50-kg feeds at the back of my multicab, at an at least 25 degree angle, angled up, so I closed my windows, decided to confront him after I delivered the feeds, and continued on my way.

A few minutes later, I was done delivering the feeds and was on our way back. I spotted the old man drinking Kulafu in the same exact spot where he punched me a few minutes before. I stopped the vehicle, disembarked, and asked for his written authority to conduct traffic enforcement on that road. He got angry and wanted to punch me some more, but he was such a short guy and obviously drunk it was easier evading his punches than objecting to questions incriminating my clients in a proper hearing.

I misjudged the situation, however. Apparently, the young men also present in the area were close relatives of the old man, and with panic I realized that I and my companions (two males and a woman) were outnumbered.

Rather than retreat to the vehicle though (such would be an admission of defeat and would certainly invite aggression), I forcefully asked the other bystanders to call the police, while contemplating where to run if the relatives of the old person would decide to attack me. (They did attack one of my male companions, but only one punch to the stomach landed.) Meanwhile, I was trying to place a call to a police officer of the station whose contact number I have in my phone book. (He did not answer. Later I learned he is currently assigned at the regional headquarters.)

A woman, whose relation to the old man I do not know until now, but whom I later learned is a public school teacher, commented on how ill-mannered we were, coming to the area to confront someone who punched me in the face a few minutes before.

Fortunately for us, the police responded quickly, and before we suffered uncontrolled quicks and punches, they arrived. The barangay captain also arrived. The old man was nowhere to be found, but he was fetched and we had a confrontation at the police station.

At the police station, the relatives of the old man wanted to gang up on me, but obviously it was too late for them as I was already under the protection of the police. A woman, who was said to be a sister of the old man, insisted that her version of the story was the one to be believed, but when asked if she was in the area when the commotion happened, she had to admit that she was not and had to stay outside the police station.

The pleas of the barangay captain got into me though, and I agreed to withdraw the complaint, as long as the old man would not be assigned to a responsible position in the concreting of the road and the traffic management in the area. (I wanted to request that it be made a rule that alcohol be prohibited for voluntary public works in the barangay such as that road concreting, but I know that is impossible.) In fact, the barangay captain was so persuasive I almost agreed to divert a few sacks of cement from my farm to their road ?

There were a couple of things I learned from this afternoon’s incident.

1. While there is no excuse for punching someone’s face while that person is simply explaining why he entered a single lane road without waiting for the proper signal, not all injuries need to be dealt with in court. Sometimes court case will not all obtain anything for you.

2. A genuine intent to have the parties settle their differences could work wonders. Kudos to the two police officers and the barangay captain who amicably settled my grievances against the old man.

3. Never be as stupid as me to confront the perpetrator in his own turf. We got almost overwhelmed there, fortunately the police arrived on time ? Could have been nursing broken bones by now ?

Picture: my face, with the scratch caused by my glasses which received the blow.