Thursday, October 31, 2013

"The Nameless' virtual monument

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

This All Saints-All Souls Day weekend there is much to remember. Memories crash in like a strong wave coming from a great distance. We fall on our knees to pray and be grateful.

“We are nameless and all names are ours.” This is the subtitle of the website “The Nameless” run by the Project Nameless Collective. The website is yet another way to remember and celebrate the heroic lives of individuals who spent much of their time on earth in the service of their fellow Filipinos, they who fought for justice and freedom without counting the cost.

Many of them crossed over to the Great Beyond with much blood and pain, some with nary a trace, leaving behind families and comrades with grief so deep and wounds still unhealed. Others peacefully moved on in the faint glow of sunset, the trails they blazed now become well-lit and well-travelled paths for a new generation..

But many, too, are those who have not been publicly hailed, known only to those who lived and fought closely and even secretly with them, but who deserve to be known nonetheless, not so much to earn for them belated honors as to allow their sacrifices to be imitated, duplicated.

And so while “nameless” may be a figure of speech, it honors and, just as importantly, includes those who are literally nameless, faceless or unknown to many, those who perished in the night with the name of their beloved country on their lips, who died alone in wildernesses with clenched fists slowly opening to receive eternal reward, their eyes beholding their own new dawn.

The Project Nameless Collective is composed of volunteers who contribute content to The Nameless website and keep it running. They are mostly comrades, relatives and friends of the heroes honored on the virtual shrine. The collective also mounts projects, such as mobile exhibits about the heroes and martyrs honored on this website.

The Nameless website is the collective’s way to make people “remember and celebrate the heroes…of the struggle for national freedom and democracy in the Philippines.” The collective collaborates with individuals and groups with similar objectives, like the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation and Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Tayo Ngayon and Tibak Pilipinas, to name a few.

 It can, for example, gather and provide documentation that can assist in pending nominations for Bantayog ng mga Bayani. Speaking of Bantayog ng mga Bayani, I am sure it will have its share of visitors during this All Saints-All Souls Day weekend. The remains of more than 200 (and counting) Bantayog heroes and martyrs are not buried there but their names are engraved on the black granite Wall of Remembrance that reminds us of their sufferings and sacrifices for the motherland.

I learned that although there are more than 200 names engraved on the Wall of Remembrance, there are more than 1,000 more in the Bantayog files, awaiting more substantial documentation. And there are tens of thousands more, many of them poor and unknown who died fighting for justice and democracy during the dark days of martial rule. To them, Bantayog trustee and multiawarded poet Jose “Pete” Lacaba dedicated the poem, “The Nameless” (excerpts at the end of this column).

The Nameless website is “a community-based, community-driven, intercreative, and interactive site: that is, it will rely on the comrades, friends, and relatives of ‘the nameless’ to continuously provide content, and to have discussions about our heroes and martyrs. It is a social network built to serve the needs of communities who seek to name ‘the nameless.’” Threaded comments, like those in social networking sites, are a feature of the website.

Launched last February, this project is an initiative of activists of the martial-law period. The website says that those who contribute to the site honor not only those who are no longer around but also the nameless who remember them, and who continue to make their legacy known. The site wishes to remember and celebrate heroes of all political persuasions, and possibly of different historical periods. (For starters, writer Carlos Bulosan who championed the cause of Filipino laborers in the United States during the Great Depression has been included to represent those from a long bygone era.)

I looked at the roster of names of The Nameless and realized that I had written about a good number of them for the mainstream media—from rebel priest Fr. Zacarias Agatep to “Kristo” to “Bullet X,” etc. I will be sending copies of my articles to the site.

Those who wish to contribute to the site may write to

The Nameless by Jose “Pete” Lacaba

Nalalaman na lang natin/Ang kanilang mga pangalan /Kung sila ay wala na/Subalit habang sila’y nabubuhay/ Sila’y walang mga pangalan/Walang mukhang madaling tandaan/Hindi sila naiimbitang magtalumpati sa liwasan/Hindi inilalathala ng pahayagan/Ang kanilang mga larawan/At kung makasalubong mo sa daan/Kahit anong pomada ang gamit nila/ Ay hindi ka mapapalingon/Sila’y walang mga pangalan/Walang mukhang madaling tandaan/ Subalit sila ang nagpapatakbo/Sa motor ng kilusang mapagpalaya/Sila ang mga paang nagmartsa/Sa mga kalsadang nababakuran/ Ng alambreng tinik/Sila ang mga bisig na nagwawagayway/Ng mga bandila ng pakikibaka/Sa harap ng batuta at bala/Sila ang mga kamaong nagtaas/Ng nagliliyab na sulo Sa madilim na gabi ng diktadura/Sila ang mga tinig na sumigaw ng “Katarungan! Kalayaan!…”