by Oliver Carlos

History runs in my blood. My grandfather Tomas Castillo, Sr. is such an avid historian. He had this habit of writing dates on practically everything in his house. He would write the date when he acquired the objects in his possession- books, bags, the family’s refrigerator, radio, LPG tank, cabinets, and other furniture. Even the doorpost of the ancestral house in Paniqui, Tarlac had a date carved on it.

Lolo Tomas also loved cars. In one conversation with him when he was still alive, he compared himself to a Ford 1915 T-model. “That’s the year I was born,” he said. But he wasn’t really very wealthy, he only had his very own first car after World War 2, when the Americans left behind much of their military hardware. It wasn’t the Morris Oxford I got to ride in when I was a little boy, but my grandpa’s first car was actually a US Army weapons carrier!

Lolo Tomas’ Dodge WC. The little boy riding it is Uncle Tommy (Tomas Jr, born 1946). If he’s 5 or 6 years old at that time, this photo was taken around 1952.

I researched about it and I found out the following details: The military vehicle was made by Dodge. Based on the photograph I had, what my Lolo had was a 1942 model. It weighs ¾ ton, it had 6 cylinders and 4 gears. It’s a 4x4 vehicle and it can be mounted with a large machine gun. There were around 260,000 units of this vehicle manufactured during World War 2, many of which were also used in the Korean War. It’s called the Dodge WC (WC stands for weapons carrier).

Many small military jeeps were left behind by the US Army in 1945, and the Filipinos converted them into public utility vehicles, or what we know now as jeepneys. But Lolo’s unit was a rare commodity, it’s a bigger version of the common military jeep.

During the Japanese Occupation, my grandparents hid in the hinterlands of Gerona, Tarlac. When the war was over, they settled for a few years in Manila. I heard they had a little business stall at the Pandacan public market. They sold clay pots and slippers. Their last child, my father, was born in Sampaloc, Manila in 1951. Then they relocated to Paniqui, Tarlac. They used the weapons carrier to transport all their belongings to their new home in Central Luzon.

I didn’t get to trace anymore what happened to the Dodge beyond that point. The next thing on my notes was that Lolo got an old 1950s Morris Oxford for his next car in the late 1960s. He really loved vintage cars.

In the ancient Middle East, they also had a jaw-dropping, head-turner, dreaded military vehicle- the chariot. The strength of an army was measured by how many chariots they had. In an era when battles were fought mainly using hand-to-hand combat, the chariot was certainly an x factor for victory. Because it had wheels, the chariot gave its riders great mobility and speed in chasing enemies or retreating from them. Chariots also had an armor wrap, giving the riders protection from the enemy’s arrows and spears.

Monarchs and generals would really put their hope on their chariots. But not King David of Israel. He wrote in Psalm 20:7 (NLT):

“Some nations boast of their chariots and horses,
but we boast in the name of the Lord our God.”

As we face life’s battles, we don’t say “I can do this, I can get over this….because I’m strong, I have the resources, I have the connections, I have the attitude, I’m tough, I’m smart.”

But rather, we should utter in sincere and humble prayer, “Lord, I can’t make it without you. Give me what I need to overcome. I’m banking on your promises and your grace.”

What are you struggling against these days? Remember that God’s weapons carrier is just a prayer away.

Oliver Carlos wears many hats. He's a history professor, a life coach to young adults, an athlete, a sports media practicioner, and a loving family man.