Yes this is a staged photo. But It is a real Armalite and a very real young girl who is training to defend herself from government forces or perhaps a Warlords private army in the Philippines. I do not know this girl but I have met others who well before their 18th Birthday had voluntarily joined up with the freedom fighter/rebel forces.
One night during a long slow boat trip I asked a young lady why she had joined up. She had lots of reasons and none of them were ideological. She just didn’t care about communism or capitalism. Vote or no vote did not matter to her. She could not have cared less about democracies and dictatorships.
She cared that her brothers and sisters never had enough to eat. She cared about no water to their hut and waiting in line at a water pipe that often ran dry. But it was her final reason before she rolled over and went to sleep that has for almost 20 years stunned me. She was just so damn tired of people pointing guns at her without having one of her own to point back and defend herself with.
After that night she went her way and I went mine. On nights like tonight I wonder what has happened in her life. I may one day find out. But I do know one thing… there are still young girls who are just so damn tired of having people point guns at them that they will find a way to get a gun of their own one day.