Lost Girls of the Jungle
By Andrew Marshall
Teenage girls are grabbing guns and joining the outlawed New People's Army in the Philippines. Here, a rare glimpse at their secret lives.
In the lawless region of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, there are few opportunities for uneducated country girls unless they pick up an Uzi submachine gun and join the New People's Army. Since 1969, the NPA, the armed wing of the countrys outlawed Communist Party, has waged a war against the government, fighting for a Maoist state; as many as 40,000 Filipinos have died in the process.
The local media witnesses to the sporadic outbreaks of NPA violence over the years have dubbed the groups female fighters "Amazonas," after the legendary women warriors of ancient Greece. Indeed, girls as young as 16 have joined the 7400-strong NPA, which the U.S. and the EU classify as a terrorist group.
"I want all my sisters to join," says a rebel named Giegie, 22. "It's for the best. Theres no life for them outside the NPA." Giegie met her fiancé, Dods, in the army. It took almost a year before Communist officials granted them permission to date. Every aspect of NPA life is regulated, including romance; premarital sex is forbidden.
Giegie's platoon has a motley armory rifles and grenade launchers mostly captured from police. She and her fellow fighters make their camps in the jungle, where flickering oil lamps give them a ghostly appearance.