Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The door at DepEd

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

On exhibit since two days ago (till Aug. 23) in the lobby of the Department of Education (DepEd) main office in Pasig City is a piece of a door with 13 bullet holes. This was the door in the house of Kalinga chief Macli-ing Dulag in Bugnay village in Kalinga. Macli-ing was killed by Marcos forces on April 24, 1980.

This Kalinga brave led the opposition to the construction of the Chico Dam that would have wiped out large portions of Kalinga ancestral domain in the Cordillera. April 24 is now celebrated as Cordillera People’s Day. Macli-ing fought the Marcos dictatorship and is hailed as a hero, so his name is among the hundreds inscribed on the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Wall of Remembrance in Quezon City.

Last Tuesday, Aug. 9, was World’s Indigenous People’s (IP) Day. Hereabouts, Aug. 9 is also National Indigenous People’s Day as provided in Republic Act No. 10689.

The DepEd observed the day not only by opening the mini-exhibit but also by issuing a memorandum dated July 21 and signed by Secretary Leonor Briones “enjoin[ing] all its offices and schools to observe the said national celebration, declared as a special working holiday, through various commemorative and advocacy activities.”

The memo further stated: “As the primary government agency mandated to protect and promote the right of every Filipino learner to basic education, including the inculcation of values that promote recognition of the nation’s cultural diversity, it is imperative for DepEd to actively contribute to the nation’s meaningful observance of the National Indigenous People’s Day.”

This is consistent with the aims of the K-to-12 Basic Education Program and—note this—the DepEd’s National Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) Policy Framework which stipulates that “within the framework of maintaining inclusive and effective learning environments, the DepEd shall nurture, among all learners and DepEd teaching and nonteaching personnel, respect for human rights and cultural diversity,” and that the DepEd shall “promote greater awareness and appreciation of the [IP’s] cultural heritage and history—and integral yet often neglected part of the nation’s cultural heritage and history.”

It is heartening indeed that awareness and appreciation of our IP heritage is now being pushed in early education so that ignorance and biases against IPs would be no more, and so that they would stand proud of who they are and of their roots. And stand proudly distinct, too.

Exhibiting Macli-ing’s door and important IP information at the DepEd lobby is a great move. Behind this activity is the DepEd’s Indigenous Peoples Education Office (IPsEO) coordinated by Rozanno E. Rufino. Yes, the DepEd has an IP Education Office!

I learned through the grapevine that the Aquino administration had approved the construction of hundreds of school buildings (with teachers, of course) in far-flung IP areas—not with a DepEd budget but with another agency’s budget. Here’s hoping that this does not get snared in an ideologically-tainted tug-of-war, if you know what I mean. Here’s hoping that Briones can stand her ground. Sadly, some IP areas are taken over by contesting groups with clashing aims—armed, ideological, religious, corporate groups—and turning these areas into hotbeds.

I was pleased to learn that included in the DepEd exhibit are excerpts from my book “Macli-ing Dulag: Kalinga Chief, Defender of the Cordillera” (University of the Philippines Press, 2015), along with the door. I saw and touched that bullet-riddled door when I went up to Bugnay in 1980 with a fact-finding team shortly after Macli-ing was killed. I laid my eyes on the door again last year, when it was exhibited with other Kalinga artifacts, at the book’s launch in UP Baguio.

Anthropology professor Analyn Salvador, an avid researcher of Cordillera culture, had asked for the door when she saw that parts of Macli-ing’s old home were being demolished for renovation. Salvador had lived among the Butbut (Macli-ing’s community) and made Bugnay village her field base for research. The door is now part of UP Baguio’s Cordillera People’s Archives and Museum. IPsEO’s Rufino asked UP Baguio if he could borrow the door for the DepEd exhibit.

There are now learning materials for greater IP awareness. I know that a group of Aeta and a group of Mangyan had written children’s books highlighting their culture. If I remember right, these were published by Assisi Foundation. I remember I wrote about these books for the Inquirer’s front page. It is so good to know that there are many efforts in this area. Even fashion designers are doing their part by coming up with wearables that are highly marketable.

The IPEd program supports education initiatives undertaken through formal, nonformal and informal modalities with emphasis on, but not limited to, these key areas: indigenous knowledge systems and practices and community history; indigenous languages; indigenous learning systems (ILS) and community life cycle-based curriculum and assessment; and education goals, aspirations and competences specific to the indigenous cultural community. It encourages elders and other community members in the teaching-learning process, assessment and management of the initiative, while recognizing and continuing the practice of the community’s ILS. All these were crafted in consultation with representatives of IP communities.

I suggest we all learn to write our names using our indigenous baybayin/alibata (the Mangyan have their own syllabary). Who said precolonial Filipinos did not know how to read and write before the Spaniards came? Under my byline in my latest books, I have my name also written in baybayin. Here it is:

Thursday, August 4, 2016

'Shadows of Light'


Because history is most often written from the point of view of the victors or the colonizers, the stories of and about the vanquished or the colonized are ignored and, if at all, remain in the archives, there to gather dust for centuries, until…
Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB, got a research grant to write the history of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines from the people’s perspective. The grant enabled her to do archival research in the Archivo General de Indias, the Valladolid Archives, the National Library in Madrid, and the Archivo General de Nacion in Mexico.

There is no dearth of information on how colonial history unfolded on our islands, but this was written by the conquistadores during the early years of conquest, and in Spanish at that. Now the data had to be dug up, read with new eyes, interpreted and presented to show what it was like from the so-called underside.
Mananzan’s “Shadows of Light: Philippine Church History Under Spain, A People’s Perspective” (Claretian Communications) does these and adds a twist to enable the reader to see, believe and understand why we are what we are. Instead of simply throwing out long-held assumptions that die hard with bolo (not sword) in hand, she presents another view. But she does not tread lightly, she who is unmistakably a true daughter of the Church—and more.
The book’s cover is subversive enough: in the background a hazy image of a Spanish-era church, and up front a cross that casts a shadow shaped like a sword. Didn’t we learn early on in history class that the Spaniards came with the sword and the cross? It is these two weapons—used to colonize and to Christianize—that cast shadows on these islands that Mananzan tackles to give light to darkened spots in our past and our present. Pardon the mixed metaphors, but aren’t we a somewhat mixed-up race with a somewhat mixed-up concept of ourselves and of our religious faith?

At the outset, Mananzan lays out a reality: the “split-level Christianity” on which groundbreaking Filipino psychologist Fr. Jaime Bulatao, SJ, had expounded. But “Shadows of Light” is not a treatise on Filipino psychology or sociology; it is about history. So like the historian that she is, Mananzan dwells on historical events and their impact, and invites the reader to see with “a people’s perspective.”

The first chapter opens with an illustration of a babaylan, a priestess-healer. (All illustrations are by Ziggy Perlas.) The chapter is about the “Prehistory of the Church in the Philippines,” and what culture and religion were like in pre-Spanish society. This is often glossed over in history class. Here Mananzan also provides a European context of the conquest of the Philippines, and what was happening in the Church in Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries. And then Christianization in the context of colonization—plantatio ecclesiae—the missionary activities that reduced the inhabitants to submission, the methods used, the suppression of “idolatrous beliefs,” and so forth. How the frailes—first the Augustinian pioneers, followed by the Franciscans (1577), Jesuits (1581), Dominicans (1587) and Recollects (1606)—conducted systematic evangelization alongside the conquistadores.

Mananzan tackles the role of the clergy in military conflicts, and the conflict between Church and state—for example, between bishop and the civil administration, between archbishop and governor general, between governor and inquisitorial tribunal. The development of the indigenous clergy is no doubt a high point in the story, and how it helped in the struggle for independence. The continuing struggle of the Filipino clergy exploded in the Cavite mutiny of 1872 that later saw the martyrdom—sentenced to death by garrote—of three Filipino priests, collectively known to us as Gomburza.

Let me say here that Mananzan was a history major in college (magna cum laude), and completed her master’s degree in theology and doctorate in linguistic philosophy (summa cum laude) in Europe. She is a feminist theologian, and served as prioress of the Missionary Benedictines Sisters and as chair of Gabriela. She is the founder and executive director of the Institute of Women’s Studies of St. Scholastica’s College (where she served as president for six years). She is now cochair of the Office of Women and Gender Concerns of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines.

Having said all that, one will not be surprised that Mananzan saves the best for last. The final chapter of her book, “The Impact of the Spanish Church on the Mujer Indigena,” first deals with the women in precolonial Philippines, their place in myths and legends, and, more importantly, their active role in the community. They were leaders, healers, priestesses.

Historian Fe Mangahas, who wrote the foreword for “Shadows of Light,” and coedited with Jenny Llaguno the book “Readings on Babaylan Feminism in the Philippines,” would have much to say on that pre-Spanish period, when women rocked!

Mananzan rues: “The imposition of a strongly patriarchal system had decidedly negative consequences on the role of women in society.

“Though the missionaries were forced to acknowledge the superiority of the mujer indigena (native woman) which they could hardly deny, they nevertheless condemned as vice any behavior which they could not reconcile with the moral prescriptions for women in their mother country. So they praised the women’s intelligence, strong will and practicality, but they censured her for being too sensual and too free in her behavior.”

Thus was spawned the stereotypical Maria Clara, “a delicate ornament of the home or the victim soul of the convent.”

Unrestrained, Mananzan exclaims in bold font: “However, she retained the subversive dangerous memory of her original equality!”

“Shadows of Light” is a good read before 2021, the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines.#

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The photograph

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

The banner photograph of the Inquirer last Sunday drew a negative off-the-cuff remark from President Duterte. He showed he was pissed off when he ditched the teleprompter and ad-libbed during his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday and dwelled on his favorite subject: his war on drugs that, during his 25 days in office, has seen more than 100—and counting—blown to kingdom come.

Many were reportedly killed during shoot-outs and drug busts, while the rest were killed by unknown persons, their bullet-riddled bodies dumped on the wayside. Others were found wrapped in plastic or inside sacks, head and arms tightly taped. Some were found with a sign bearing a message: drug pusher, huwag tularan (do not be like them). The Commission on Human Rights is very busy indeed, according to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism that is following up the cases.
During his Sona Duterte said a newspaper had come out with a photo of a woman and a corpse made to look like Mother Mary cradling the dead Jesus Christ. He must have been thinking of Michelangelo’s “Pieta.” It was as if this broadsheet was calling for sympathy for what he considered the scum of society that needed to be eliminated through fair means or foul—and why should anyone care?

His words: “Eh tapos nandiyan ka nakabulagta and you are portrayed in a broadsheet na parang Mother Mary cradling the dead cadaver of Jesus Christ. Eh yan yang mga yan magda-dramahan tayo dito.”

The photo was taken by Inquirer photographer Raffy Lerma. It is a captivating image to behold, especially if one withholds judgment and simply looks at it without bias. Near the feet of the victim and the weeping woman is a piece of cardboard with the words “drug pusher.”

The caption was simple: “Lamentation: A weeping Jennelyn Olaires hugs partner Michael Siaron, 30, a pedicab driver and alleged drug pusher, who was shot and killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen near Pasay Rotonda on Edsa. He was one of six killed in drug-related incidents in Pasay and Manila yesterday. (Story on Page A8.)”

Below that banner photo is the Sunday issue’s banner headline “Church: Thou shall not kill” with the subhead “Message to Duterte to coincide with Sona.” Well, Mr. Duterte was certainly pissed off. As always, with the Catholic Church.

The Philippine Sunday Inquirer (the word Sunday written in lovely font) front page is usually dedicated to good news and inspiring stories to give readers a breather, except when very important breaking news are anything but, and grim images that land on the news desk are so irresistible because they speak loudly.

Lerma’s photograph silently speaks. Luck, pluck, vigilance, readiness and talent synchronized to spring that photo opportunity that comes once in a rare while to a photojournalist who is constantly on the run. The photograph almost looks like an oil painting—with a burnished look of a Rembrandt, if I may say so. I don’t know how much, if at all, our art department enhanced the photo, but this “Pieta” certainly evokes thoughts and feelings.

The two figures look illumined in the middle of the blackness. While examining the image, I found interesting details: the word “drug” very small (I had to use a magnifying glass) and “pusher” big, the intricate tattoo on the weeping woman’s upper arm, her blue nail polish, the colorful fabric strewn on the concrete. The two figures have no footwear. I could not make out the signage behind. The face of the victim is not seen, only the back of his head. No blood is seen, only the sorrow on the face of the woman, Jennelyn.

What’s with that name? Years ago I did a piece (“Sad photograph”) on a photo of a teenage girl, an armed fighter of the New People’s Army who had survived an encounter with the military. (It was a front-page banner photo captioned “Still Life by a Soldier.”) A soldier found her wounded, all alone and seated among the ferns in the wilderness, and took her photo. Her name was Jenalyn. All her comrades in arms had died.

I have not spoken with Lerma about the what, where, when and how of his photograph and to congratulate him. But here is Lynett Villariba of the Inquirer’s art department and her post on Facebook: “The final layout is a conspiracy of the universe. We have this banner story. The pic by Raffy Lerma lands on the news desk like it is beamed from heaven. No argument. No doubt. No-brainer. Even the printing cooperates. [News editor] Jun Engracia braces for the Pieta effect. And this is it.”

Chelo Banal-Formoso posted on Facebook: “‘Positive Sunday’ would have been a big lie if the Inquirer didn’t use this heart-wrenching photograph taken by Raffy Lerma… For many years now, ‘Positive Sunday’ has been the guiding light for the editorial team that works on the Sunday issue of the Inquirer, to make reading the newspaper a pleasant or more pleasant experience if only for a day. All week the team sets aside the positive news and feel-good features turned in by reporters and contributors for publication on Sunday.

“But the reality of Bloody Sunday was too compelling to ignore, as we can see in this photo and the story on the indiscriminate killings going on in our country.”

When US-based photographer Rick Rocamora gifted me with the huge book, “In Our Time: The World as Seen by Magnum Photographers,” he included a copy of a letter of photojournalist and Magnum founder George Rodger to his son Jonathan: “You look into the viewfinder and what you see there may be pretty and gay or it may be sad. Your heart may stand still for the horror of it or your eyes dim in pity or in shame. But it is all a reality and you must know what to do with it.” #

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Meeting Inanna et al. under the tree

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

Two weeks ago, while the police and media were (as they still are) busy counting corpses of suspected drug pushers, a hundred or so people from different sectors, with varied interests, affiliations, careers and goals in life—myself included—were “somewhere out there” exploring the Jungian depths, so to speak, getting deep into our selves (two words, those)—and our Earth.

I put aside my media hat for the nonce and went back to my original field of training—psychology. It was good to be with my Ateneo graduate school classmates from way back: Rose Yenko and Dido Gustilo-Villasor with whom I had sat in classes under Fr. Jaime Bulatao, SJ.

Rose and Dido are among the prime movers of the Carl Jung Circle Center (CJCC) which, together with the California-based Pacifica Graduate Institute, organized this year’s “Salubungan on Depth Psychology: Our Psyche, Our Earth.” Salubungan means a meeting or encounter, and the natural process used during this particular gathering was “Ang Kwentuhan sa Ilalim ng Punongkahoy” or storytelling under the tree.

The conference, like the previous ones, hoped to bring to a wider public the understanding of depth psychology which Carl Gustav Jung espoused. Depth psychology is an approach to therapy that explores the subtle and unconscious aspects of the human experience. CJCC uses a multidisciplinary approach that draws on literature, philosophy, mythology and the arts; “moving towards wholeness is seen as the process of bringing to light what has been unknown in one’s personality—thoughts, feelings, memories, archetypal projections—so that the person can understand and integrate them, allowing for a transformation in consciousness. Depth psychology also looks at the ways the unconscious expresses itself in society and culture, and how culture affects the psyche.”

That last sentence should give us pause, especially these days as earthshaking global and local events unfold and we end up discombobulated.

CJCC and Pacifica Institute’s Salubungan was a fruit of their shared mission of “animae mundi colendae gratia,” Latin for “tending soul of and in the world.” So they served up an array of persons engaged in depth psychology turned storytellers. Sharing their knowledge and experiences were psychologists and psychotherapists, social scientists, dream tenders, myth experts, artists, filmmakers, musicians, environmentalists, peace workers, academics, healers, poets, and a babaylan’s great grandson who showed a captivating documentary on his ancestor. The participants came from varied disciplines and involvements— seekers, sojourners in the heart of the world.

And so, who is Inanna? At a book sale, I happened to find a book titled “Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer” by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer. I bought the book, hoping to learn about this woman in ancient myth and her stories that, I thought, must form part of feminist literature. I was also attracted by the book design and the photographs of clay tablets that date back to 2000 BC. Well, I did not begin to read it until the Salubungan conference where her story was told and interpreted to us by a Pacifica professor who had the same book that I had.

Dr. Maren Tonder Hansen, whose area is “psychological uses of myth, women’s spirituality, psychological play, and dream analysis,” told the story of Inanna, the liberating goddess of Sumer. An ordained minister, mother of three and wife to Pacifica founding president and chancellor Steve Aizenstat (psychotherapist, dream tender), Hansen spoke about how, even after 4,000 years, Inanna continues to inspire and be a model not only to women but also to men “with her soulful quest for wholeness, authentic power, and depth of experience, how her various experiences evolved into her embodied understanding of the sacred mysteries of life.”

Like the Roman myth of Ceres and the Greek myth of Demeter who bravely descended into the underworld to seek justice and deliverance for their respective captive daughters, so did Inanna as part of her spiritual initiation, to test her feminine powers. It is an amazing story that is echoed in myths and nonmyths (even in biblical stories) with archetypal characters that inhabit our collective unconscious.

While writing this piece, I reached out for Jungian-trained psychoanalyst Clarissa Pinkola-Estes’ book, “The Gift of Story” (she wrote “Women Who Run with the Wolves”) where she says: “Stories that instruct, renew and heal provide a vital nourishment to the psyche that cannot be obtained in any other way. Stories reveal over and over again the precious and peculiar knack that humans have for triumph over travail. They provide all the vital instructions we need to live a useful, necessary and unbounded life—a life of meaning, a life worth remembering.”

The salubungan/encounter theme brought a smile on my face because one of my books has the title “Human Face: A Journalist’s Encounters and Awakenings.” And I couldn’t help thinking that I have not really strayed far from my original field of discipline which is psychology, but as a journalist-storyteller I have journeyed on, on roads both well and less travelled. And was the richer for the encounters or salubungan along the way.

                                                              * * *
Yesterday, AdvoCafe opened its latest branch (main) on Mendiola-Concepcion Aguila St., beside College of the Holy Spirit. Founded by Ramon Magsaysay Awardee and Assisi Development Foundation president Ben Abadiano, AdvoCafe is a social enterprise that supports indigenous peoples’ (IP) projects for sustainable living. Fair trade is its operating principle. All profits go to IP initiatives. AdvoCafe is an effort toward Zero Extreme Poverty in the Philippines by 2030. Come, have a cup.#

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Landing on the Spratlys 25 years ago

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

I  put aside the piece I have written for today to give way to another, to celebrate the positive ruling two days ago of the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague on the Philippines’ complaint, junking China’s intrusion and claim over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). I jumped for joy when I heard the news announced by the grim-faced acting Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay of the Duterte administration.

But thank you, former president Benigno S. Aquino, former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario and the legal team, for bravely pursuing the case against a bully nation.

Throwback Thursday. I am resurrecting a piece I wrote 25 years ago in this space. I also wrote a long, two-part series for the Sunday Inquirer Magazine. I was one of the first two journalists to have stepped on the disputed Spratlys in June 1991.

SPRATLY GROUP OF ISLANDS—Suddenly there it was, Pag-asa, a little green island floating on a sea of turquoise blue. Our small plane felt like a feather floating in that windy vastness. And I remembered the famous pilot-philosopher Antoine de Saint Exupery’s words: “Below the sea of clouds lies eternity.”

The Air Force’s 10-seater Nomad plane circled just a little longer to allow us to feast our eyes on the proverbial emerald isle and then came down with a light thud on a runway abloom with dandelions. Spratly, at last, after three years of waiting. Spratly, at last, after some two hours of eternal sea and sky.

Figuratively, we were in the middle of nowhere. More accurately, we were far into the South China Sea, 278 nautical miles off Puerto Princesa, Palawan, far enough for us to say we were no longer on the regular map of the Philippines. But make no mistake, we were definitely still on Philippine soil. (The volcanic ash from the June Mount Pinatubo eruption has travelled up to here.)

We stepped out into the open and were met by men wearing deep brown faces. If not for their snappy salutes and weather-beaten uniforms, they could have come straight out of Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.”

Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Loven Abadia was on his first visit here as commanding general and we were invited to come along. Among those with him were Brig. Gen. Ciriaco Reconquista, commander of the Palawan-based 570th Composite Tactical Wing, and Col. Felix Duenas Jr., the Air Force’s chief for planning. Theirs was no after-thought visit. Talk of timing … I will be writing an extensive feature (with photographs) on the Spratly Islands sometime in July in the Sunday Inquirer Magazine, my home base.

In the recent weeks, the issue about the Spratly Islands (Kalayaan or Freedom Group of Islands to us Filipino claimants) was again in the international news. Time magazine had three pages on it. “A flash-point” is how these islands are always called, and this gives a sudden cold flash in the spine considering that there are six other formidable Asian nations (Vietnam, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and recently Brunei) making claims to the rest of the 53 islands rumored to be floating on oil.

“Occupancy is possession,” says Abadia. That seems to be the law of the sea in these parts. Since the 1950s when the Philippines took over nine islands, Philippine troops have always been stationed here. We now have only eight islands, fewer than some countries have. When the Philippines abandoned Pugad island eight years ago, Vietnam right away took over and has since held on to it. There are always takers.

Pag-asa, the main and biggest Philippine-owned island (32.6 hectares), is where most of the Air Force and Navy troops are stationed. There is a weather station here manned by a civilian. The seven other islands have men watching over them, too. Security prevents me from divulging how many men are stationed on every island. But this I can say —the other nations have more resources with which to protect their island-gems. “We either take care of these islands or give them up,” Abadia says.

In the 1970s there were more soldiers stationed on the islands. Not anymore. “Somewhere along the way, this place was forsaken.” Why? “Ask the politicians,” Abadia snaps. It’s no joke being assigned to the Spratlys or Kalayaan, unless one has the predisposition of a monk or a hermit. The next Navy ship will come probably in January of next year. Only light planes can land and they come every few months.

Occasionally big fishing boats come and the soldiers are happy to see new faces. After several months, the men have to be replaced with a fresh batch because the solitude and desolation during the monsoon months turn some soldiers into overnight poets and they are moved to write lachrymose verses on walls and bathrooms. (We copied some of them.) There are some resilient mainstays though (maybe the hazard pay is an incentive) and one wonders how they are able to stay sane. The piles of gin bottles say it all. There are no women there except “Gina.”

Of course there have been tales about men talking to the waves. But with the advent of VCRs the loneliness has become bearable. And what sort of shows do they watch? “Mostly bold,” says a junior grade Navy lieutenant. “And war movies starring Telly Savalas.” 

 The men in other foreign-occupied islands must be just as lonely. So why should there be fear of war on these islands? “It is a historical fact that people and nations fight over resources,” Abadia serves a reminder. “In the next generation the area of conflict will be the sea because it is the source of food. If there are resources in Kalayaan we have to defend them.”

Before leaving, Abadia gave a pep talk and promised to send as many tapes as he could find. Also a freezer. The men had stars in their eyes.

                                                                     * * *

The three-day 3rd Philippine Conference on New Evangelization starts tomorrow at the UST Millennium Hall, hosted by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

For every stone, a hero

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

What a great show of protest! Last Sunday, protestors (#bawatbato movement) of the planned burial of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, almost three decades dead, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani trooped to the site supposedly reserved for him. There, one by one, they placed stones with the names of individual heroes and martyrs who lived and died fighting for the restoration of freedom.

They were in the thousands, these heroes and martyrs, known and unknown: farmers, workers, writers, lawyers, priests, nuns, bishops, teachers, health workers, students, politicians, public servants, intellectuals, men and women who took up arms. Many of their names are etched on the granite Wall of Remembrance at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City. As my own act of protest, I list here the names of the 268 (as of 2015) on The Wall, even as more will be added in the coming years.

ACEBEDO, Norberto H. Jr. ACEBEDO, Roy Lorenzo H. AGATEP, Zacarias AGUILAR, Zorro C. AGUIRRE, Danilo M. ALCANTARA, Jose ALEGRE, William D. ALEJANDRO, Leandro L. ALINGAL, Godofredo B. ALTO, Leo C. ALVAREZ, Amada E. ALVAREZ, Emmanuel I. ALVAREZ, Marsman T. AMATONG, Jacobo S. ANDAL, Reynante C. ANDRES, Trifonio AQUINO, Benigno S. Jr. AQUINO, Corazon C. AQUINO, Jeremias A. ARCE, Merardo T. ARCE, Santiago ARCEO, Ferdinand M. ARIADO, Antonio G. ARMEA, Juliet C. ASUNCION, Filomena G. ATIENZA, Monico M. BAES, Aloysius U. BALANDO, Elsa BALCE, Floro E. BARROS, Ma. Lorena M. BAUTISTA, Manuel C. BEGG, William Vincent A. BELONE, Alexander A. BELORIA, Vicente L. BELTRAN, Crispin BERNARDO, Pepito V. BLAS, Catalino D. BONTIA, Evella V. BORLONGAN, Edwin G. BROCKA, Catalino O. BUCAG, Renato L. BUENO, David T. BUGAY, Amado G. BURGOS, Jose G. Jr. CABARUBIAS, Tranquilino CABRERA, Claro CAILING, Crisostomo CALDERON, Jose R., Jr.CALIXTO, Leopoldo Y., Jr. CARIÑO, Jennifer K. CASTRO, Rolando M. CATALLA, Cristina F. CELESTIAL, Artemio S., Jr. CHECA, Jorge CHUA, William T. CHUIDIAN, Mary Consuelo CLARETE, Ronillo Noel M. CLIMACO, Cesar CONCEPCION, Roberto R. CONSTANTINO, Renato CONTI, Mary Concepcion CORTES, Ellecer E. CORTEZ, Delia R. CRISMO, Romeo G. CUPINO, Edgardo R. DAPOG, Eliseo G. DAYANAN, Michael DE GUZMAN, Lucio P. DE JESUS, Jeremias S. DEHERAN, Pepito L. DEL ROSARIO, Carlos B. DEL ROSARIO, Nimfa B. DELA FUENTE, Edward L. DELA PAZ, Remberto DEMIGILIO, Rodney A. DEVERATURDA, Dennis Rolando R. DIMARANAN, Mariani C., SFIC DINGCONG, Demosthenes DIOKNO, Jose W. DOMINGO, Silme G. DULAG, Macli’ing DUNGOC, Pedro Sr. ENRIQUEZ, Albert R. ESCANDOR, Juan B. ESPERON, Fernando T. ESPINAS, Alberto T. EVANGELIO, Ronilo T. FAUSTINO, Gerardo T. FAVALI, Tullio FEDERIS, Rolando M. FERNANDEZ, Jesus F. FERNANDEZ, Resteta A. FLORES, Ceferino A. Jr. FORTICH, Antonio Y. FRANCISCO, Oscar D. FRANCO, Rovena T. GABRIEL, Luis I. GALACE, Arthur E. GALANG-REYES, Rosalinda GARCIA, Enrique Voltaire R., Jr. GARDUCE-LAGMAN, Lourdes GAVANZO, Ceasar Jr. GILLEGO, Bonifacio H. GLOR, Melito T. GONZAGA, Mary Virginia GONZALES, Nicanor R., Jr. GREY, Eugene C. GUEVARRA, Rogelio HICARO, Cesar E. HILAO, Liliosa, R. HILARIO, Antonio M. HIZON, Manuel L. Jr. HOLLERO, Manolo J. ILAGAN, Laurente C. ILAGAN, Rizalina P. IPONG, Inocencio T. JALLORES, Romulo JARAVELLO, Juvelyn JASUL, Alfredo V. JASUL, Ramon V. JAVIER, Evelio B. JIMENEZ, Ester M. JIMENEZ, Mary Bernard JOPSON, Edgar Gil M. JUCO, Estelita G. LABATOS, Alex D. LACABA, Emmanuel F. LACBAO, Ernesto D. LADLAD, Ma. Leticia Pascual LAGARTEJA, Elmer LAGMAN, Hermon C. LAGUERDER, Edwin C. LANDRITO, Vergel E. LANSANG, Lorenzo C. LANZONA, Eduardo E. LAPE, Angelina M. LAURELLA, Francisco C. LAZO, Emmanuel L. LEAÑO, Salvador F. LEGISLADOR, Edmundo R. LINGAD, Jose B. LLORENTE, Teresita E. LOCANILAO, Norberto S. LONTOK, Bayani P. LOPEZ, Mariano M. LORCA, Napoleon P. LORCA, Rolando P. LORETO, Mary Catherine LUCMAN, Haroun Al Rashid LUNAS, Ruben M. MAGLANTAY, Rizaldy Jesus M. MAGPANTAY, Aurelio D. MAHINAY, Julieto MAHINAY, Rodolfo C. MALAY, Armando J. MALAY, Paula Carolina S. MALICAY, Alfredo L. MANAOG, Rodelo Z. MANGLAPUS, Raul S. MANIMBO, Renato T. MARCOS, Ma. Violeta AMP MARTINEZ, Asuncion C., ICM MEDINA, Constantino R. MEGALLEN, Rogelio S., Jr. MENDOZA, Alfredo L. MENDOZA, Armando L. MERCADO, La Verne D. MESINA, Pastor R. MIJARES, Antonio S. MIRABUENO, Vicente A. MOLINTAS, Wright M. Jr. MONARES, Claro S. MONDEJAR, Ma. Luz U. MONTEALTO, Rodolfo T. MORALES, Horacio R., Jr. MORALES, Nicasio M. MORALES, Rogelio C. MORDENO, Rodrigo MUÑOZ-PALMA, Cecilia OBISPO, Immanuel M. OLALIA, Felixberto Sr. OLALIA, Rolando M. OLIVAR, Mateo ONGPIN, Jaime V. ONTONG, Manuel F. ORCULLO, Alexander L. ORDONEZ, Sedfrey A. ORNOPIA, Aniano C. OROT, Nenita T. ORTIGAS, Gaston Z. ORTIGAS, Virgil M. ORTIZ, Pacifico A., S.J. OSORIO, Magnifico L. PADUANO, Joji S. PALABAY, Armando D. PALABAY, Romulo D. PAR, Ma. Socorro B. PASETES, Benedicto M. PASTOR, Fernando T., Sr. PEDRO, Purificacion A. PEÑA, Jacinto D. PEREZ, Dante D. PESQUESA, Florencio S. PETALCORIN, Raymundo O. PONCE, Rodrigo Jr. PRUDENTE, Nemesio E. PURUGGANAN, Miguel C. QUIMPO, Ishmael F., Jr. QUIMPO, Ronald Jan F. QUINTERO, Eduardo T. RAGRAGIO, Clemente P. RESABAL-KINTANAR Ester RESUS, Arnulfo A. REYES, Cecilio A. REYES, Jose B.L. REYES, Victor D. RIGOS, Cirilo A. ROBLES, Reynaldo L. ROCES, Joaquin P. RODRIGO, Francisco A. ROMANO, Rosaleo B., C.Ss.R. ROQUE, Magtanggol S. ROXAS, Sofronio P. SALAC, Roberto C.SALES, Jessica M. SALILI, Edgardo G. SALVADOR, Soledad N. SANCHEZ, Augusto S. SANTOS, Antero G. SARMIENTO, Abraham P., Jr. SILVA, Lazaro P. SIN, Jaime L. Cardinal SISON, Modesto C. SISON, Teresito D. SOLANA, Nicolas M., Jr. STA. ANA, Ronilo J. SUAREZ, Juanito S., Jr. SUMILANG, Michael J. SUYAT, Benjamen TACA, Arturo M. TAGAMOLILA, Antonio S. TAGAMOLILA, Crispin S. TAN, Manuel L. TAN, Mary Christine L., R.G.S. TAÑADA, Lorenzo M. TAOJO, Romraflo S. TAYAG, Carlos N. TEEHANKEE, Claudio TEJONES, Caesar T. TIERRA, Noel C. TIGLAO, Raquel A. Edralin TORRES, Alex G. TORRES, Amanteflor A. UMALI, Ysmael G. VALCOS, Danilo C., Jr. VALENZUELA, Teofilo B. VALERIO, Nilo Christopher Jr. VELEZ, Jose Mari U. VIERNES, Gene A. VILLACILLO, Venerando VILLANUEVA, Marcelino M. VYTIACO, Ma. Antonia Teresa V. YAP, Emmanuel D.R. YBAÑEZ, Rolan Y. YORAC, Haydee B. YUYITUNG, Quintin G. YUYITUNG, Rizal C.K. ZALDIVAR, Calixto O. #

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pinoy cultural symbols, expressions, brands

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

Centuries from now, if the book is discovered intact in the aftermath of a planetary cataclysm, its readers, if they are Filipinos, would be amazed at how their forebears lived and expressed themselves, what values they upheld, and what personalities they turned into icons.

But even now, readers of Visitacion de la Torre’s new book, “Filipino Cultural Symbols, Expressions and Brands,” would be able to identify with the subject matter she tackles, be pleased with themselves that they continue to use and practice many of these, and recognize or experience them.

Filipinos living abroad (the hyphenated ones, especially) who still value their roots would find in the book a home, something they can consider part of their lives and use to explain to their obdurate young: This is why we are what we are. For us who remain in the homeland, this book is also a reminder. It cannot explain everything exhaustively, but it can make us think that there are elements and influences at work in our lives that make us what we are, collectively or individually. And be proud of them.

As the author explains, “the book provides another texture of the Filipino identity—the images that point to or reveal diverse facets of the Filipino, the expressions he/she reveals himself/herself in and the brands that have engaged the popular imagination of the Filipino then and now.” The book attempts to contribute to the written, printed materials that have similarly explored the subject matter.

De la Torre classifies the cultural symbols into five: built structures, natural wonders, material objects, travel destinations, and rituals/traditions and personalities. Built structures: Ifugao rice terraces, Vigan, etc. Natural wonders: Boracay, Taal, Mayon, etc. Material objects: jeepney, sarimanok, etc. Food: adobo, pan de sal, balut, halo-halo, Jollibee, etc.

The concepts/expressions she discusses are kapwa, kagandahang loob, barkada, jeproks, diskarte, pusong mamon, bayanihan, etc., to name a few. These expressions that describe values, traits and practices are used in the Tagalog-speaking areas of the Philippines. What a pity that their equivalent in non-Tagalog-speaking provinces—differently nuanced, perhaps—are not mentioned. And surely, there are cultural traits and values—among indigenous communities, for example—that are outside of what we are familiar with and also differently named, like the pagta ti bodong in the Cordillera. Perhaps these can be tackled in another book?

Some of the personalities: Jose Rizal, the Santo Niño, Lola Basyang, Ninoy and Cory Aquino, Dolphy, FPJ, Lea Salonga, Pacquiao. De la Torre does not say how she picked them, whether from a survey or the research results used in a TV game show. Conspicuously absent on the long list are Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. It is because De la Torre prefers to tackle the positive that the icons she chose embody.

Speaking of Marcos who ruled as dictator for 14 years, he is included in a children’s book (in Spanish) on tyrants and despots that was exhibited at a European book fair. The Philippines’ Marcos, with his prominent coiffure in the caricature, is on the same spread as Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Idi Amin, et al., and on the same line as Hitler. There is no book of this sort here in the Philippines. No wonder many who belong to the younger generation are clueless, stunned witless when they learn for the first time that an uncle was tortured to death during the Marcos dictatorship, or why their grandfather’s body has never been found.

Filipino expressions come and go; many survive generations and many still get invented with every new technology (e.g., unli). De la Torre explains away many, among them Mabuhay, hulog ng langit, siksik liglig, kayod marino, peks man, lukso ng dugo, hindi ka nag-iisa, bahala na, diskarte, Filipino time, utang na loob. Again, these are all Tagalog expressions, some ancient, but withstood the test of time.

As to the Filipino brands, there is the iconic San Miguel, Max’s, Jollibee, Mercury Drug, Original Pilipino Music (OPM), Ginebra, Goldilocks, National Book Store, Philippine Airlines, etc. Ang Tibay, a shoe brand of yore, is still mentioned. SM is on the list, of course, but so are some not-so-familiar brands. OFW and Gawad Kalinga are listed as brands.

De la Torre is a prolific book writer-publisher, a keen observer of the Philippine scene. Most of her books deal with our Filipino-ness and are heavyweights (being coffee-table books), but easy and enjoyable to read. “Filipino Cultural Symbols, Expressions and Brands” is her 39th book.

                                                               * * *

The Carl Jung Circle Center, with the participation of Pacifica Graduate Institute, will hold a conference, “Salubungan On Depth Psychology: Our Psyche, Our Earth” (Ang Kwentuhan sa Ilalim ng Punongkahoy) on July 6 and 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan. The conference aims to bring to a wider public the understanding of depth psychology, an approach to therapy that explores the subtle and unconscious aspects of the human experience. It is a multidisciplinary approach that draws on literature, philosophy, mythology and the arts. Moving toward wholeness is seen as the process of bringing to light what has been unknown in one’s personality—thoughts, feelings, memories, archetypal projections—so that the person can understand and integrate them, allowing for a transformation in consciousness. Depth psychology also looks at the ways the unconscious expresses itself in society and culture, and how culture affects the psyche. For inquiries, call Tin at 0926-6341755. #

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Eruption and exodus, 1991

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

“Binulsa ko na lang ang aking kalungkutan” (I kept my sadness in my pocket).”—Paylot,

Aeta leader It has been 25 years since the grand, world-class eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991. I remember a Franciscan sister, Sr. Emma Mediavillo, rushing to Manila and coming to my house to tell me about the volcanic rumbling felt by the Aeta community in Sitio Yamot in Poonbato, Botolan, Zambales.

The volcano experts had yet no idea something big was going to happen. But the Aeta were already feeling the earth move under their feet. The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) were living among the Aeta at that time. Sister Emma, a science graduate who knew the movements of the earth, was stationed there.

Some years earlier, the FMMs had invited me to stay with them there, share in their life with the Aeta, and see for myself the kind of work they did. The FMMs were just starting their ministry with the Aeta community then. The sisters had to get their water supply from the town proper via a trusty weapons carrier, while the Aeta walked kilometers to wash, bathe and fetch water from a spring.

I still have a photo of a tot named Emily with snot in her nostrils, and a photo of an Aeta mother breastfeeding her child. These were used for my feature story in a national magazine. When I went back to Yamot a few years later, the little village had been transformed; the homes made of native materials looked very neat and well-maintained, with lots of green around. Even the Franciscans’ small nipa house was bursting with wild orchids. The teenagers in G-strings enjoyed playing basketball when they were not in the fields. There were no schools nearby. But this life-sharing between the Franciscan nuns and the Aeta at the foot of the volcano was not to remain for long. 

After a 600-year slumber, Pinatubo erupted and continued to do so for days and weeks, covering the towns of the provinces around it, changing the landscape, darkening the sky and even other parts of Southeast Asia. It was an eruption like no other. I remember returning from a vacation in Baguio the day before the major eruption. Had I not come down on time, I would have been unable to get back to Metro Manila until weeks after as the ash fall in Pampanga was heavy.

At home, I was able to sweep fine ash from the driveway and put it in a jar. I still have it. Yes, the ashfall reached Metro Manila.

A week after the major eruption, I went with some religious sisters to Pampanga and then on to Zambales to look for the nuns and the Aeta community. We found them in San Antonio where they had pitched their tents while planning where to go next and settle permanently. This Aeta community, with the help of the FMMs, was among the most prepared to face the wrath of the volcano. But they did not expect the difficulties they would live through.

The Aeta of Yamot were organized and ready to leave their village long before the residents of towns and villages heeded the warnings. Their evacuation was very orderly. Every time the Aeta moved they carried with them meager belongings and took along farm animals.

As early as April 1991 when Pinatubo started to grumble, they began preparing for the worst. Still, they did not expect the volcano to lay their dreams to waste so swiftly. The Aeta had reached Tomangan when they were caught off-guard by a violent eruption made worse by a raging typhoon. Three people were struck by lightning. At that time the Aeta were already panicky. They poured vinegar on the prostrate victims who, they said, miraculously regained consciousness.

That deadly hour came without warning. The Aeta had no choice but to leave behind the work animals they had taken with them during their evacuation. They untethered the animals so they could run for their lives, in the hope that humans and animals would find one another alive again someday. The Aeta remember their animals’ faces. “We know our animals,” an Aeta leader told me. “We know how they look. I hope they are alive.” As long as no one has stolen or claimed the animals as their own, the Aeta will find them. There were about 20 carabaos let loose.

Ten years before the 1991 eruption, when the nuns, led by Sr. Carmen Balazo, FMM, came for the first time, many of the Aeta were afraid and diffident. But it didn’t take long for the Aeta to welcome the new arrivals. They were impressed that the nuns lived simply in their midst and did not attempt to convert any of them to Christianity. Instead, the nuns taught them how to read and write and not be fooled by anyone, especially by middlemen. They did not start off with ABC. It was “L” for lota (land) and “D” for damowag (carabao). They learned how to compute how much they were cheated on their bananas by scheming traders.

When I spent time there, the nuns had been in the area barely a year but already they had wrought changes in the Aeta’s lives. The key was organizing. At the time of Pinatubo’s eruption, the Aeta of 12 sitios in that area had eight cooperatives. Most of the Aeta in the co-ops belonged to the organization called Lakas (for Lubos na Alyansa ng mga Katutubong Ayta ng Sambales). It was through Lakas that many of the Aeta found a voice. Yamot slowly became a dream village. Until…

The Aeta are now well settled in their new communities in Zambales. Every now and then, I would receive a greeting card from them, with their signatures on it. Accounts of the volcanic eruption and the Aeta evacuation, plus photographs of those times, are in the coffee-table book “Eruption and Exodus,” parts of which the Aeta wrote themselves, and for which I wrote the foreword. #

Thursday, June 9, 2016

May I change the topic?

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

The postelection atmosphere is getting more and more toxic and foul from political, sexual, gender-insensitive and murderous tirades from you-know-who, and every time I hear more of the same the blood in my feet rises to my head. There is too much malodorous saliva flying around. Call it diarrhea of the mouth.

Sometimes we need to turn off the sights and sounds and look elsewhere to revive our sanity and breathe new air. And so I look to another arena that is hardly familiar to me but is full of human faces and stories nonetheless.

With the death last week of Muhammad Ali, considered boxing’s greatest, the world of sports was at a loss for words in describing the absence that will not be filled.

I don’t like boxing. I don’t think I will ever fall in love with the brutal sport. I think it should be outlawed. I sometimes wonder what extraterrestrials would think if they came upon a boxing match, which, if you ask me, isn’t too different from a cockfight or a spider fight, a fight to the death between gladiators while the blood-thirsty spectators in the arena lustily cheer. Boxing is the sport of the underdog from the underside. I have yet to know of a boxer who was born rich. Like boxing, long-distance cycling is also for the anakpawis. Although every other rich kid now owns a mountain bike, I have yet to know of one who would desperately want to win a bike tour—in a blistering Philippine summer, that is.

 In boxing and long-distance cycling, one has to have a high threshold for pain. In golf, you walk on soft grass and you have to have lots of money, too, unless you are a caddy with access to the green. I remember Ali as the lighter of the flame in the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. The signs of Parkinson’s disease were already evident then. I have a copy of the April 25, 1988, issue of Sports Illustrated with him on the cover and the cover story “Ali and His Entourage.” It is about “The Greatest” and the people who waited on him when he was the greatest.

The blurb says: “The champ and his followers were the greatest show on earth, and then the show ended. But life went on.” I’m no boxing and Ali fan, but the story by Gary Smith is a great one. The black-and-white photographs by Gregory Heisler are just as great. The story is about decay and decline. It is also about moving on.

Here are the portraits of the men and women who doted on the champ. Here they are, long after the show had ended. All together, they paint a portrait of Ali, even as they paint a portrait of themselves as individuals and as members of an entourage.

Ferdie Pacheco, the doctor: “The first signal of decline was in Ali’s hands. Pacheco began injecting them with novocaine before fights, and the ride went on. Then the reflexes slowed, the beatings began, the media started to question the doctor. And the world began to learn how much the doctor loved to talk… The slower Ali spoke, the more frequently spoke the doctor.”

Gene Kilroy, the facilitator: “The trouble with facilitating was that it left no mark, no ‘Kilroy was here.’ He has covered the walls of his rec room with 50 Ali photos. He reminisces every day. He watches videos of old Ali interviews he helped facilitate… .”

Lana Shabazz, the cook: “Some days, though, I just have to hear his voice. I call him, ask him what he’s eating. People ask me all the time how he’s doing. Know how that feels, when people ask you how’s your child, and you don’t know what to say?”

Luis Sarria, the masseur: “His hands, splayed from long, long arms, were broad and black and powerful from years of hacking Cuban sugarcane. I remembered them, working endlessly up and down the smooth ripples of Ali’s body until he drifted off to sleep. His hand I remembered, but I could not remember him.”

Pat Patterson, the bodyguard: “But the Bodyguard had to sit on the corner stool and watch helplessly when his man needed protection most, in the ring when the end was near. ‘Watching him get hit was like watching someone stick my mama with a knife.’”

Herbert Muhammad, the manager: “His dream of building 49 more mosques like this first one, using the money Ali and he could generate, was drifting further and further from his reach. Ali slurred words and shook and didn’t want to be seen on television.”

Drew “Bundini” Brown, the motivator: “…[T]he ghetto poet who motivated Ali and maddened him, who invented the phrase, ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ … who licked Ali’s mouthpiece before sliding it in but never said a yes to him he didn’t mean; who could engage the champion in long discussions of nature and God and man, then lie in the hotel pool before a fight and have his white woman.”

Despite his immense wealth, Ali remained trapped in a ghetto. The world of boxing is a surreal world, a gold mine for stories. Consider the many movies and novels—Norman Mailer’s “The Fight” among them—on this bloody sport. Mailer was in the Philippines to cover the “Thrilla in Manila” between heavyweights Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975.

I cannot help but think of the Philippines’ boxing great, Manny Pacquiao, a newly elected senator of the republic, (he was congressman before that, with the most absences), who rose from poverty and had little education, but is now a multibillionaire, and a lawmaker. Like Ali, he has an entourage that is at his beck and call, who live off him.

                                                              * * *
For those who need to brush up on gender issues in the religious life: The Office of Women and Gender Concerns, a mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, is holding a “Gender Orientation for Formators” on June 22-24 at the Benedictine Sisters Retreat House, Wagner Road, Military Cut-off, Baguio City. This is a subsidized seminar, so the fee is only P500. Call 2636208 or 0942-9804343. #

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"Sutokil' on the menu

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

If speakers of Tagalog have tapsilog and longsilog—short for tapa/longganisa, sinangag and itlog (aged beef/native sausage, fried rice and fried egg) for breakfast, the Visayans have sutokil which stands for the verbs sugba (to grill), tola (to cook a fish/chicken-veggie soup dish) and kilaw (to prepare raw fish marinated in vinegar and spices).

Sutokil, a combo meal for lunch or dinner, sounds like “shoot to kill” but is not as lethal. It is, in fact, healthier than tapsilog and longsilog because sutokil needs no frying and consists mostly of seafood.

There are many sutokil eateries in the Visayas, each one boasting of the freshness of the day’s catch and the spiciness of the kinilaw. Grilled (sinugba) tuna panga (jaw) is to die for. I’ve been to an all-tuna restaurant in Davao City offering sutokil and the visit was really worth it. Cebuanos would exclaim, “Lami gyud!” and Ilonggos, “Kanamit gid!”

I will not be surprised if eateries offering sutokil will be sprouting overnight (also in Metro Manila, I hope) because the acronym is becoming a byword, thanks to the man of the moment. President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s intent to issue shoot-to-kill orders on lawless elements and his take-no-prisoners stance should cause fear and trembling among those concerned, but his words are also worrisome for human rights advocates. Already, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has made its stand against the return of the death penalty which Duterte plans to revive. And Duterte called CHR Chair Chito Gascon “an idiot.”

Those who are tired of heinous crimes and drug-related offenses welcome Duterte’s threats; others consider them harmless bluff and bluster or inflated talk. But will he, can he, on the national level? How far will he go and what if he crosses the line, as his alleged Davao Death Squad did?

Defeated presidential aspirant Jejomar Binay’s campaign line that he would make the Philippines like Makati City where his family ruled (he, his wife, son, and, now, daughter) did not work and he ended up fourth in the tally. And so Duterte’s promise to rid the streets of criminality in a few months, Davao-style, will have to be proven. He now fancies calling himself the “Mayor of the Philippines,” which is more than what the president of this country should be.

Already, the cities of Taguig, Mandaluyong and Quezon City have been putting teeth into their respective ordinances that prohibit unaccompanied minors from being out in the streets at certain hours, and for their parents to be answerable for their children’s actions by paying fines or doing community service. Only now do we know about these ordinances being implemented, although local execs are saying that they had been doing the rounds and picking up juveniles while also admitting that Duterte’s national curfew for minors would boost their efforts. Time to make pasikat and put back their dentures.

But sutokil gastronomic delights aside and speaking of real shootings and killings, something the incoming President said at one of his nocturnal briefings in Davao City, sent shivers down my spine. Asked to comment on the killing of journalists, he said journalists are not exempted from assassination. Did he mean it is always open season? And to say that these journalists—did he, at least, say “only some”?—were corrupt was the reason for their being targeted is to demean the memory of those who died in the line of duty, who died not because they were corrupt but because they were, in fact, hounding the corrupt. They knew where the stink was. A reporter I know who had exposed massive corruption that involved government officials is now lying low because of security threats.

There are corrupt people in the media as there are corrupt people everywhere—the government bureaucracy, the corporate world, the churches, the nongovernment organizations, the banking system. The last one recently gave us a shocking glimpse of a cross-country money-laundering operation the likes of which we have not seen before.

To be fair to outgoing President Aquino who reminded repeatedly, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap,” his call to arms emboldened investigative journalists to dig deeper. But, alas, spade work is still hampered by the nonpassage of the freedom of information bill. But despite this, who blew the lid on the earth-shaking, jaw-dropping massive corruption that involved even senators and their accomplices (several are now in jail and on the run) who allegedly connived with an enterprising operator, if not investigative journalists? I am proud to say that the exposé first saw print in the Inquirer, and with more spade work without letup, the whole operation unraveled. But we have yet to see the last of this.

Those who gave Duterte the majority vote were no doubt enticed by his strong sound bytes peppered with words like “shoot to kill,” “extermination,” and “death by hanging” (he even described how quick it could be, with the spine getting severed and all that). His fans equate this with strong, decisive leadership, with, uh, being presidential.

Archie Brown, political scientist and historian, author of “The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age,” eschews worshipping the false god of the strong leader. He writes: “Politicians spend a lot of time trying to portray the leader they oppose as weak. They believe this resonates with a broader public.”

He warns about leaders who “fall prey to arrogance” while “the rest of us… undervalue collegial and collective decision-making… Whether we are talking about authoritarian regimes or democracies, the idea that the most admirable and successful leader is one who maximizes his or her individual power is deeply suspect.” He goes on to cite lessons from history. #

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Castrillo's monument vs. Marcos tyranny

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

When the renowned Filipino sculptor Eduardo Castrillo passed away last week at 73, news reports about him included the enumeration of many of his bigger-than-life metal monuments—historical, sociopolitical, religious—that are familiar to the public. Among these are the People Power Monument on Edsa, the Bonifacio Monument near Manila City Hall, and the Rajah Sulayman Monument in Malate. Some are in the provinces.
But there was no mention of the one at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani compound in Quezon City, where heroes and martyrs who fought against tyranny during the dark years of the Marcos dictatorship are memorialized.
Soaring to the sky, this 45-foot bronze monument by Castrillo depicts a mother trying, with one hand, to raise from the ground a fallen son, while her other hand is raised to the heavens in defiance. It is a piece of work that rends the heart and pierces the soul—a timeless reminder that freedom is not free, that freedom comes at a price.
If you were one of those who experienced the excesses of the Marcos regime and the cruelty that defined it, if you lost loved ones—family members, friends, colleagues and comrades—during that despicable era, you would shudder at the memory when you look up and lay your eyes on Castrillo’s work. Yes, upon gazing at it you would, not only because of the painful events it brings back but also because of the stark poetry in the agony it depicts, the beauty in the defiant stance of a mother who must bear an unspeakable loss.
Truly Castrillo was able to capture the roiling mix of anger, pain and defiance. It is the reverse of his “Pieta” as far as the bereaved mother is concerned. She looks up instead of looks down. She does not sob but screams. She does not cradle her dead son but seems to be pulling him along. Because she moves. She is Inang Bayan, the motherland.
At the foot of the monument is a stanza (in Spanish, English and Filipino) from “Mi Ultimo Adios” of Jose Rizal: “I die just when I see the dawn break/ Through the gloom of night, to herald the day:/ And if color is lacking my blood thou shall take,/ Pour’d out at need for thy dear sake,/ To dye with its crimson the waking ray.”
The Bantayog complex now includes a P16-million building which houses a small auditorium, library, archives and museum. The 1.5-hectare property was donated by the administration of President Corazon Aquino, through Land Bank of the Philippines, the year after the Marcos dictatorship was toppled and Corazon Aquino was swept to the presidency in 1986.
I wish I had interviewed Castrillo long ago to ask him how he came to depict the defiant mother and her fallen son in that way, what inspired him, what he knew about the persons for whom his piece of art in bronze would be dedicated. How long did it take him to finish the work? What were his thoughts and feelings when he saw his creation being hoisted up to its pedestal? Did he often come around for quiet moments to find inspiration from the heroes and martyrs?
What I learned just now is that the Bantayog monument was commissioned by a donor for a seven-digit price. I do not want to mention a name because the donor might want to remain unknown. I do not know him at all.
A short distance from the monument to the heroes and martyrs is a black granite wall of remembrance where the first 65 names were etched in 1992. Many names have been added every year since then, bringing to 268 the names on the wall as of 2015. The biographies of these heroes and martyrs are posted on the Bantayog website (www.bantayog.org).
All of them were opposed to the martial law regime of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and considered freedom advocates. The way they lived and died varied, but they had heroic streaks that made them worthy to be included in the list of names on the Wall of Remembrance.
The monument, the commemorative wall and other structures at the Bantayog complex are dedicated to the nation’s modern-day martyrs and heroes who fought against all odds to help restore freedom, peace, justice, truth and democracy in the country.
According to the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, its “Never Again, Never Forget Project” is “a response to recent attempts by certain groups to rewrite Philippine history, to confuse the young generation about the truths of the Marcos dictatorship, to erase its horrors, abuses and deceptions, and to have it remembered as a ‘golden era’ in the Philippines.”
Bantayog plans to expand its information activities that would include publishing biographies, dissemination of informative materials, film showings, roving exhibitions and museum tours.
It hopes to spread lessons from the martial law era and recently tackled “issues related to it included in the national debate during the 2016 electoral campaign.” It hopes to counter the “historical deception and mass forgetting of the sins of the dictatorship” so that “Philippine politics and the writing and learning of Philippine history will be the better for it.”
The Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation is chaired by Alfonso T. Yuchengco. Former Senate president Jovito R. Salonga was chair emeritus until his death early this year. May Rodriguez is the executive director. The complex is at the corner of Edsa and Quezon Avenue, just behind Centris Mall. Castrillo’s creation is a good starting point for visitors on a historical trek. Before going to the museum, visitors should head for the Wall of Remembrance and search for names of next of kin, friends, colleagues, comrades—the known and little-known—who fell in the night and also those who did not die in battle but continued the struggle until the breaking of the dawn.
Like many of his bronze creations that reach out to the sky, may Castrillo’s spirit reach out and soar to the heavens. #