Thursday, April 30, 2015


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

“They hope to tell the world about the boundless love that returned to the remaining boat people their inalienable human dignity. That boundless love is none other than the Philippines’ undiscriminating embrace.”

That moving statement is in a document written on behalf of the Vietnamese boat people who had chosen to permanently settle in the Philippines. I shed Filipino tears when it was read at the inauguration of Vietville in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan in 1998.

For so long, the Vietnamese refugees were without a country. There was no room for them in the inn. It was the Philippines that made their long wait bearable. It was, in fact, the Philippines that gave many Vietnamese boat people a permanent home after the refugee camps were closed and when no country out there had space for them at that time.

Today marks the 40th year since the so-called Fall of Saigon. On April 30, 1975, the capital city of South Vietnam fell to the communist North Vietnamese forces and marked the end of the Vietnam War in which the United States was massively involved. Millions of Vietnamese (civilians and soldiers from opposite sides) and Americans lost their lives in that internecine war that wounded and scarred several generations.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Inquirer pundit wins Sarihay Media Award

MANILA, Philippines–Inquirer columnist Ma. Ceres P. Doyo was cited for Best Commentary or Editorial Article in the First Sarihay Media Awards for her column “El Niño Redux” (Opinion, 5/22/14) during ceremonies on April 24 at Luxent Hotel in Quezon City.

Organized by the Foundation for the Philippine Environment, the Sarihay Media Awards recognize the role of media in promoting awareness and better understanding of environmental and sustainable development issues among policymakers, decision makers and the public.

The other winners for print were: Best News Story (National): “Ensuring Rivers are Clean” by Jonathan L. Mayuga, Business Mirror; Best News Story (Regional): “Davao Gulf: Rich Spawning Ground” by Stella A. Estremera, Sun Star Davao; Best Investigative Report: “Stinking Snag” by the Manila Bulletin Research Team; and Best Feature Story: “PH Birds Caught Between Discovery, Extinction” by Monch Mikko E. Misagal, Manila Bulletin.

There were also winners for TV, radio, online and photojournalism. Each winner received a cash prize and a trophy designed by Los Baños-based artist Yvette Co on the theme “Nurturing Life Together.”

The Sarihay Media Awards were launched in February 2014 in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Biodiversity Management Bureau and Public Affairs Office, Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation Inc., Tanggol Kalikasan Inc. and Miriam College Environmental Studies Institute.

The term “sarihay” was coined from “samu’t saring buhay,” a Filipino phrase that best describes biodiversity. #

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Here's to the Kalinga Brave!

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

“You ask if we own the land and mock us saying, ‘Where is your title?’ When we ask the meaning of your words you answer with taunting arrogance, ‘Where are the documents to prove that you own the land?’ Titles? Documents? Proof of ownership? Such arrogance to speak of owning the land when we instead are owned by it. How can you own that which will outlive you? Only the race owns the land because the race lives forever.”—Macli-ing Dulag

Tomorrow, April 24, is Cordillera People’s Day, celebrated by Cordillerans who value their culture and heritage and who wish to honor Kalinga chief Macli-ing Dulag who was slain on April 24, 1980, by government soldiers. But there is another Cordillera Day in July, supposedly a nonworking holiday, which is a government-initiated celebration.

But suffice it to say that April 24 is important enough to make it a special day, official or not, because it was a watershed moment for Cordillerans.

I am sharing here the Author’s Note for my book, “Macli-ing Dulag: Kalinga Chief, Defender of the Cordillera” (University of the Philippines Press, 2015), which was launched yesterday, April 22, at UP Baguio. The launch was in anticipation of Cordillera People’s Day. It was also launched, along with 21 other books, last April 17 on the occasion of UP Press’ 50th anniversary at UP Diliman. Today I am supposed to do an Author’s Talk at Mount Cloud Bookshop in the City of Pines.

My thanks to UP Baguio anthropology professor Analyn “Ikin” Salvador, the university’s Cordillera Studies Center and UP Press for making the Baguio book launch possible. The book (with photos that I took in 1980) is affordable at P200. Great cover and book design, lovely paper.

It was at UP Baguio 35 years ago that our Church-initiated fact-finding team descended and held a forum on the killing of Macli-ing Dulag.

We had come from Bugnay, Macli-ing’s village, where we found his blood still splattered on the wall of his home. The ascent to the Butbut tribe’s mountain village was not an easy one. But first we had to cross the raging Chico River on the backs of Kalinga men who wore G-strings. I had several minor slips and falls. The scar on my right elbow still shows.

Here is my introduction to the book:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The 173rd

She had a name, a face, a story, a family, a track record. She had a life. She did not want to become just a number. She is Melinda “Mei” Magsino, a former Inquirer correspondent based in Batangas who was gunned down by an unknown assailant at high noon last Monday. She was 40.
I did not know Mei personally but some editors in the Inquirer did. This tragedy, so close to home, sends the hair-raising message that even former media workers like Mei are not safe. Glaring is the fact that the Philippines ranks third, after Iraq and Somalia, as an unsafe place for journalists. The ranking is based on the number of journalists killed during a period of time.
Mei was the 173rd Filipino journalist killed since democracy was restored in 1986, the 32nd since 2010 when President Aquino was elected into office.
A former editor whom I texted after I learned of the bad news replied: “I was afraid that was Mei. I saw footage in the 6 p.m. news but didn’t catch the name. Very sad, tragic end for another brave journalist. She had come to see me at Inquirer … Last time I heard from her, years ago, she wanted to get a grant or work abroad, Bangkok maybe, to get away from the governor or mayor who hated her guts.”
Inquirer reporter Jerome Aning shared on Facebook a story about Mei that came out in the American Journalism Review in 2005. “Forced Into Hiding” was written by Sherry Richiarddi.
Here are the first paragraphs:

Thursday, April 9, 2015

"Complicit silence'

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

“There can be no peace between nations if there is no peace between religions.” Thus said theologian Hans Kung decades ago.

The subtext is that it is ironic that religion—any religion, in fact—preaches peace, and yet can itself be a big factor in the unpeace.

Pope Francis, during Good Friday rites, condemned what he called the “complicit silence” while human beings, particularly Christians, were being butchered by members of a terrorist group who are adherents of Islam. He was referring to the killing by al-Shabab Islamists of more than 148 persons at Garissa University in Kenya.

The terrorist jihadists separated the Muslims from the Christians, then slaughtered the latter. TV footage of the aftermath showed the corpses strewn all over the floor. The dead were young people who were there to get a university education. They were not militants or activists.

That was not enough. The murderers promised to return and kill more. These al-Qaida-aligned terrorists made it known that their acts were in retribution for Kenya’s military presence in Somalia and the ill-treatment of Muslims within Kenya. They warned that Kenyans will see their country awash in more blood.

After last Friday’s Via Crucis, Pope Francis prayed: “Today, we see our brothers persecuted, decapitated, crucified for their faith in you, under our eyes and often with our complicit silence.” “Our complicit silence,” as if to say, “Mea maxima culpa.”

His sentiments echoed till Easter Sunday. Here was a pope grieving at a time when Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was cause for celebration for Christians around the world. But how could there be total rejoicing when elsewhere in the world there was weeping and unspeakable grief?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

'Via dolorosa' for HRVCB and HRVV

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

Every day since November last year, the members of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) and their paralegal team must have been on a “via dolorosa” as they began “the table-top evaluation” of all claims for reparation and recognition that victims had filed since May to November 2014.

Going through tens of thousands of claims that contain stories of torture, rape, detention, oppression, disappearance, loss and bereavement must be a painful, arduous walk. This is true for both the claimants who had to recall the gruesome details that would have been better left outside of memory and the evaluators who had to go through every affidavit, every story, and had to see every tear, every wound yet unhealed.

Because of the clamor from human rights violations victims (HRVVs), the period for the filing of claims has been extended. Here is the HRVCB’s announcement:

“Pursuant to Joint Resolution No. 03 of the Congress of the Philippines approved by the President on Feb. 17, 2015, and after due publication of the same in the Official Gazette on March 23, 2015, the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board through HRVCB Resolution No. 003-2015 sets the extension of the period to file applications by HRVVs during Martial Law—[to begin] on April 8, 2015 and [to end] on May 30, 2015.”