Thursday, December 20, 2007

If the land could weep and sing

Well, what can I say. Weeping has turned into rejoicing. Day is breaking all over the land. Joy comes in the morning. If there should be weeping, the weeping should let flow tears of joy.

For the farmers of Sumilao who marched 1,700 km. for two months from Bukidnon to Manila under scorching heat and driving rain are finally seeing a glimmer of hope. That the disputed 144 hectares would be theirs once again, wrenched at last from corporate hands after years of weeping and gnashing of teeth on the part of the farmer-awardees.

But there were will be some waiting to do even after President Arroyo authorized that the land that had been reclassified as agro-industrial, be reverted back to agricultural land covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

With the backing of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and civil society groups but minus the disruptive flag-waving of hard-core ideological elements, the farmers should be on their way back to their promised land.

Nine years ago, I wrote the column piece below. I fished it out from my files some days ago when I thought the Sumilao case would again turn awry, because for a while it looked that way. Anyway, here it is as a remembrance of things past and I hope I never have to rub it in again.


If the land could weep, it would weep rivers. It would not weep for those who fawn and faint over it, or for those who fling themselves on it while frenziedly clutching straw and stones to throw at each other and the darkening sky. What a shame. If the land could grieve, it would grieve for itself.

If the land could weep, it would weep for itself. It would not weep for the whining people who call themselves rightful landowners, who call themselves heirs to the yawning vastness simply because their fathers begot them and their mothers writhed in pain to push them out of the darkness of their hemorrhaging wombs. For why should the land waste its tears on those who have not grasped the meaning of land, the essence of the earth whence they sprang?

If the land could weep, it would weep for itself. It would not weep for those who spend precious time, talent and treasure in order to claim, reclaim and proclaim ownership of that which is supposed to be eternally ownerless. For as a slain sage had said, ``How can you own that which will outlive you?''

If the land could weep, it would not weep for those who lose much sleep deciding whose side they should take on the issue of who must till the land and make it yield flower and fruit. For why must they be sleepless and go around displaying the bags under their eyes when it has been written somewhere that a certain class of people, blessed and poor they are called, are just as qualified to inherit the earth?

If the land could weep, it would weep for itself. It would not weep for those who warm benches and sit hunched on their desks, figuring out how to dispense justice based on precise legal points and technicalities. Their brand of justice, if dictated by a thousand books alone, would be as nothing, it would be only as useful as the straw is for the bonfire. It bursts into a blinding blaze and then is no more. For why waste tears on those who work hard and earn good money, who think of themselves redeemed by their worship of the law?

If the land could weep, it would weep for itself. It would not weep for those whose grand plans for the land are stalled and who panic over the possible demise of their dreams because there exist people who need a share, who have simple plans and simple dreams. It would not grieve their possible loss for nothing could possibly be lost.

If the land could weep, it would not weep for the government officials who play God and preside over the fate of the land and its tillers, who overturn just decisions to favor the rich and mock the poor. It would not weep over the festering sores on their souls and the rudeness of their actions. It would not cry out for their redemption, but neither would it weep over its damnation.

If the land could weep, it would not weep for the hungry landless who make themselves hungrier still with their protests. For why weep for them when tears are not what they need? What they need is the justice of God and the justice of Her creatures. For as someone had said: ``It is by justice that we bring together the broken, neglected, cut-off, impoverished parts of the universe to render them whole again.''

If the land could weep, it would weep for itself because people are killing each other for it, spilling blood and guts on it, defiling it with their foul spit. It would weep rivers because its rivers have become as dry as the soul of those who claim ownership of it by virtue of words written on paper.

It would weep because they stick iron rods on pregnant fields in order that they may yield more, more--not succulent fruit and fragrant flower, but more money. Because they do not get it. Because they build fences and enclosures to ward off the so-called wretched of the land who want a little share.

If the land in Sumilao could weep, it would weep for itself and the Mapalad farmers whose rejoicing quickly turned into despair when the Supreme Court nullifed the Ramos “win-win solution” that would have given the farmers a just share of a disputed land. It would weep because the decision would pave the way for the conversion of productive agricultural land to a non-agricultural estate...


With their imminent victory, the farmers should march home singing, “And heaven and nature sing, And heaven and nature sing…” If the land could sing, it would sing, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace to all humankind.”