Thursday, December 29, 2016

'Sanayan lang'

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

Photo by Kristine Angeli Sabillo
In English, “sanayan lang” roughly translates as “one gets used to it.” Or, to borrow a line from the musical “My Fair Lady,” one grows accustomed to a face, to someone, to something, but in a “loverly” way.

There are things to which one should not simply get accustomed, so that one becomes numb and disabled from reacting. Among these are suffering, cruelty and a host of other evils that are inflicted on persons.

Even while I was writing this piece TV news was reporting on deaths, not by typhoon, tsunami, or earthquake, but by guns. Not in some war-torn country but in your neighborhood or some blocks away from where you live. It is still killing season hereabouts; a so-called war waged on some specific societal plague has turned into a contagion. Anyone who has an axe to grind, a long-held grudge or a motive, can find use in that so-called war, pack a gun, mount a motorbike, and ride off into the night.

At the Baclaran Church, the Redemptorist Fathers have mounted a photo exhibit of the killings. So un-Christmas-y you might say, but wasn’t the newly born Jesus himself the object of killers let loose by a despot named Herod?

Yesterday, Dec. 28, was the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which commemorates the mass killing of babies that targeted the Infant Jesus. As the prophet Jeremiah had foretold, “A voice was heard in Rama, sobbing and loudly lamenting: it was Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they were no more.”

One of several books I received this Christmas was “Sanayan Lang Ang Pagpatay,” a smoldering collection of poems in Filipino (152 in all) by Jesuit Fr. Albert Eduave Alejo (High Chair, 2016). The title roughly translates as “one gets used to committing murder.”

But before reading the poem with the murderous title, break into a smile while reading the dedication: “Alay sa Tatay ko at Mama ko/ na unang nagturo sa akin/ kung paanong magparagán ng kamiseta/maghati ng buhok na de pomada/wumasiwas ng muestra/ at bumigkas ng tulang patirada.”

Here is the tulang patirada, “Sanayan Lang Ang Pagpatay [para sa sector nating pumapatay ng tao]”. I heard the poem being read at a gathering of women.

Pagpatay ng tao? Sanayan lang ’yan pare Parang sa butiki.
Sa una siyempre Ikaw’y nangingimi.
Hindi mo masikmurang
Tiradurin o hampasing tulad ng ipis o lamok
Pagkat para bang lagi ’yang nakadapo
Sa noo ng santo sa altar
At tila may tinig na nagsasabing Bawal bawal bawal ’yang pumatay.
Subalit tulad lang ng maraming bagay
Ang pagpatay ay natututuhan din kung magtitiyaga
Kang makinig sa may higit ng karanasan.
Nakuha ko sa tiyuhin ko kung paanong balibagin ng tsinelas
O pilantakin ng lampin ang nakatitig na butiki sa aming kisame
At kapag nalaglag na’t nagkikisay sa sahig
Ay agad ipitin ng hindi makapuslit
Habang dahan-dahang tinitipon ang buong bigat
Sa isang paang nakatalingkayad: sabay bagsak.
Magandang pagsasanay ito sapagkat
Hindi mo nakikita, naririnig lang na lumalangutngut
Ang buto’t bungo ng lintik na butiking hindi na makahalutiktik.
           (Kung sa bagay, kilabot din ’yan sa mga gamu-gamo.)
Nang magtagal-tagal ay naging malikhain na rin
Ang aking mga kamay sa pagdukit ng mata,
Pagbleyd ng paa, pagpisa ng itlog sa loob ng tiyan
Hanggang mamilipit ’yang parang nasa ibabaw ng baga.
O kung panahon ng Pasko’t maraming paputok
Maingat kong sinusubuan ’yan ng rebentador
Upang sa pagsabog ay mapagpaalaman ang nguso at buntot.
            (Ang hindi ko lamang maintindihan ay kung bakit
             Patuloy pa rin ’yang nadaragdagan.)
Kaya’t ang pagpatay ay nakakasawa rin kung minsan.
Mabuti na lamang at nakaluluwang ng loob
Ang pinto at bintanang kahit hindi mo sinasadya
Ay may sariling paraan ng pagpuksa ng buhay.
Ganyan lang talaga ang pagpatay:
Kung hindi ako ay iba naman ang babanat;
Kung hindi ngayon ay sa iba namang oras.
Subalit ang higit na nagbibigay sa akin ng lakas ng loob
Ay malalim nating pagsasamahan:
Habang ako’y pumapatay, kayo nama’y nanonood.
May 2017 be less bloody than the year just passed. May Divine Light shine brightly on your life and loves in the year ahead and beyond. God makes all things new. #

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Wise Women

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

You have heard the “would have” story about the Three Wise Women at the birth of Jesus. Its origin is unknown. Some humorless know-it-alls question its biblical, theological, geographical and even astronomical (something about the guiding star) possibility. But here it is, anyway.

“What would have happened if it had been Three Wise Women instead of Three Wise Men? They would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts.”

The killjoys have a sequel to this that is unflattering to women. It tells about what the Three Wise Women did after they had left the Nativity scene. So much for scrooges who can’t take a Christmas story with a gender-sensitive twist.

But, indeed, the women can be relied upon, as the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has often stressed. In its latest report, the FAO said “women hold the key to building a world free from hunger and poverty. But gender inequality is putting a brake on sustainable development.”

FAO director-general Jose Graziano da Silva said recently that achieving gender equality and empowering women is not only the right thing to do but is also a critical ingredient in the fight against extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition. Speaking at a high-level event co-organized by the FAO, the European Commission and the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad), the World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Women, Da Silva said: “Women are the backbone of our work in agriculture,” adding that women comprise 45 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries. That figure is rising to 60 percent in parts of Africa and Asia.

What do these numbers mean? They underscore the importance of ensuring that rural women enjoy a level playing field. “It’s all about opportunity. Evidence shows that when women have opportunities, the yields on their farms increase—also their incomes. Natural resources are better managed. Nutrition is improved. And livelihoods are more secured,” Da Silva said.

This is why rural women are key players in the effort to achieve all of the Sustainable Development Goals, but especially SDG2, freeing the world from hunger and malnutrition, he added. So if Zero Hunger is to be achieved, women have to be involved. There is no way to get it done without them. Neven Mimica, European Union commissioner for international cooperation and development, told event participants: “It is often said that if you educate a woman, you educate a whole generation. The same is true when we empower women across the board—not only through access to knowledge, but also to resources, to equal opportunities, and by giving them a voice.”

Yet current statistics suggest that the world is falling short on this score, Mimica said. “We know that agricultural yields would rise by almost a third if women had the same access to resources as men. As a result, there would be up to 150 million fewer hungry people in the world. And we know that children have significantly better prospects for the future when their mothers are healthy, wealthy and educated. Especially during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life,” he said, adding: “If we are serious about putting an end to poverty and hunger once and for all, then we all need to step up our support for rural women. As an investment in families, in our communities, in our wider societies, and in our planet’s future.”

And so the need to close the gender gap. Although nearly half the world’s agricultural labor force is female, women own less than 20 percent of agricultural land. The FAO has it figured out: If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry people in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million due to productivity gains.
I have headed to the “wilderness” where I will thrive on the proverbial locusts and wild honey while awaiting The One. Maranatha! Have a good Christmas, everyone. #

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Forgiveness does not erase the crime

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

For the traditional pre-Christmas simbang gabi (dawn masses, actually), the first of which is scheduled at dawn tomorrow, there will be an anticipated Mass at 9 p.m. tonight (Thursday) in front of the People Power monument on Edsa. It is dubbed “Sambayanan, simbang gabi ng siklab bayan.” (Samba means worship, and sambayanan means people or society.)

A people in worshipful, prayerful gathering. A people crying out to the Savior, “Maranatha!” Halina! Come! Bring candles, your aching hearts, your trembling hopes. The gathering, sponsored by The Coalition Against the Marcos Burial at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani (CAMB-LNMB), is the first of this year’s Advent dawn Masses.
The Filipino Catholic practice is rich in symbolism as it prepares the faithful for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior and the Light of the world. The gathering hopes to highlight the concerns of many, especially the “encroaching darkness in these troubled times.”

The organizers stress that in view of all these, “Christmas then takes on a deeper meaning, imbuing the Filipino nation with strength and courage to band together, to seek truth and justice and the preservation of our hard-won and most cherished freedoms as symbolized in the People Power monument.”

I hope the gathering turns out to be a really solemn gathering and not an occasion for onlookers, cynics and skeptics to grouse about those who do not want to “forgive and forget” and who refuse to “move on”—that is, the victims of Ferdinand Marcos’ martial rule who insist on history being set aright, not revised or twisted for the benefit of those who had wounded and scarred this nation.

Forgive, this is what revisionists so sanctimoniously admonish those who insist on the truth and who expose the lies for the young generation to see. Forgive? Move on?

I will not tire saying this: Those who underwent horrendous sufferings during the Marcos dictatorship have long moved on with the scars, lifted up their bloody memories to the heavens, cleansed their hearts of anger for their very own sake and peace of mind. (Though some succumbed to the trauma and lived a troubled existence.) But the survivors—how to continue getting on with their lives when they are suddenly given the most painful cut of all? The tyrant and plunderer who gave them hell, dead for 27 years, was given a hero’s burial in hallowed grounds reserved for the valiant and noble. No thanks to President Duterte and nine of the 15 Supreme Court justices.

Forgiveness does not absolve the criminal. Forgiveness does not erase the crime. Forgiveness and absolution are not for the unrepentant. So those who use the profound “F” word in vain, think again.

Metanoia is the Greek word for repentance. Meta means “after” and nous means “mind.” Metanoia requires a change in the mind or in the inner person.

Nobody from the Marcos family has sincerely shown atonement or sought forgiveness from the victims of martial rule. Is the compensation due the victims (Republic Act No. 10368) all about money? No. Above all, it is to show the Marcoses’ culpability.

When the Swiss government returned the ill-gotten wealth stashed in Swiss banks, it was on condition that the Philippine government give it to the martial law victims. What better way to show there was tyranny and plunder, what better way to show there were victims? In the case of the class suit filed in a Hawaii court and won by close to 10,000 victims/claimants (worth $2 billion), their victory was also meant to show that, indeed, there were that many victims and that much stolen wealth.

The hunt for the missing “Marcos art” worth billions of dollars is seeking fresh momentum, a New York Times report said. Finders keepers—the Philippine government or the almost 10,000 claimants.

In this season of Advent and hopeful waiting, it behooves us to cleanse ourselves of resentment, to open ourselves to hope and gladness, but we must also be compelled to be carriers of truth and light and not pull down the shroud of darkness and untruths that would carry us back to the anni terribilis, the dreadful years when we were in shackles. #

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Martial law killed them in their youth

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

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
—from “Dirge Without Music” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

For lack of space, I could not write about each of the 19 new heroes/martyrs honored on Nov. 30 at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in last week’s banner story of the Inquirer (“19 heroes to be honored at Bantayog,” 11/29/16). The lives of the six young men who were slain in their prime during the Marcos dictatorship are worth knowing about.

Eduardo Aquino (1953-1973) was 20 when he was killed. Born in Pangasinan, he was the youngest of eight children, the family’s doted-on, boy-next-door type, what one would now call a fashionista. He became an activist when he was studying political science at the University of the Philippines. When martial law was declared in 1972, Aquino left school and got involved in political work among farmers in Tarlac. He died when soldiers from Camp Macabulos in Sitio Pagasa, Tarlac, fired at the hut where he was meeting with farmers. He and his companions were unarmed.

Marciano “Chuck” Anastacio (1955-1982) was 27 when he was killed. Baguio-born, he went through a difficult adolescence. He studied at the University of the East for a while. He figured in brawls and was into drugs and alcohol until he met a female activist who opened his eyes to the ills of society. His life found direction and because organizing was second nature to him, he got involved in labor issues.

In 1980 a military agent shot Anastacio in the face and left him for dead in an isolated garbage dump. He spent a month in intensive care where he was put under surveillance. When he was well enough, he headed to the Sierra Madre to join the armed resistance. He and a companion were seen captured alive on Dec. 18, 1982. But the following day their bullet-riddled bodies were paraded in front of the San Jose Panganiban town hall in Camarines Norte. Two months later, his family, with the help of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines and the Paracale parish, was able to claim his remains, which were found wrapped in plastic and left in a dumpsite near the town cemetery.

Fortunato Camus (1949-1976) was killed at 26. Born in Cebu, he became a youth organizer of the Consolidation of Reforms for the Youth in the University of the Visayas where he studied law for two years. He later joined the armed resistance in Luzon against the Marcos dictatorship. He was killed in an encounter with the military in Nueva Ecija.

Hernando Cortez (1954-1983) was 29 when he was killed reportedly during an encounter with the military. His family believes otherwise. Cortez attended the Gregorio Araneta University in Caloocan City. A trade union organizer, he was with labor leaders when the military raided their meeting place. The Task Force Detainees reported that he was tortured before he was killed.

Edgardo Dojillo (1948-1972) was 24 when he was killed. A popular figure in the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos where he studied accountancy, he led consciousness-raising events against the exploitation of the sacada in Sugarlandia. A few weeks into the Marcos dictatorship, Dojillo and a friend were on a motorcycle when they were ambushed by members of the Philippine Constabulary. Badly wounded, the two were tied up and hung like animal carcasses on the side of a cargo truck, then transferred to a weapons carrier where they bled to death.

Ricardo Filio (1953-1976) was 22 when he was killed by friendly fire while government military operations were going on in Laac (now part of Compostela Valley). Filio was a student in Ateneo de Davao when he joined the Left-leaning Kabataang Makabayan. Because of his activities, his family’s house was raided and he had to seek sanctuary in the hills. He was among the first recruits of the New People’s Army in Davao.

They are the unang alay (first offerings), as the song goes. #

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Forgiveness for the unrepentant

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

Art work by Edicio dela Torre
It is one thing to have forgiveness in one’s heart for tormentors and abusers, even for the most hardened and unrepentant, and, in silence, lift one’s pain to the heavens—something victims can do for themselves to exorcise the pain. But it is quite another to bestow honors on the hardened and unrepentant, allow them to reopen wounds and mock the victims of their unspeakable crimes—and expect the victims to call it forgiveness, or moving on.

To those who, with good intentions, admonish the victims to forgive because that is choosing the better part, I say: That is indeed godly. But it is quite insensitive to say “Forgive” or “Move on” while watching the unrepentant deny their culpability, spit at the wounds of victims and claim honors for a tyrant and plunderer. Does forgiveness mean allowing the uncontrite to strut about with impunity while the wounded nurse their reopened wounds?  
Think what it is like to have one’s wound reopened and rubbed with salt, vinegar (sukang Iloko) and the hottest chili pepper.

To those who preach forgiveness from the goodness of their souls, I will not snarl at you, but please find it in your hearts to see things from the side of those who suffered extreme pain during the Marcos dictatorship. This is not about forgiveness of sins, this is about justice.

Please do not talk about moving on and letting go because many victims of the Marcos dictatorship have indeed done that, while proudly bearing the scars, even the unhealed wounds, of yesteryears. But allowing the unrepentant beneficiaries of the Marcos loot to dig at the victims’ pain and sneakily bury the dictator in hallowed grounds with honors—does allowing this constitute forgiveness?

Hateful and unforgiving—this is how victims of Marcos tyranny are labeled by those who wish to shut them up. But why turn the tables on the victims? Why demonize those who truly suffered and knew what it was like to take the blows, to be made to sit on blocks of ice, to be made to drink urine and eat feces, to go through water torture and bear the unnamable pain of loss for the disappearance of loved ones or finding their mutilated remains?

Why portray as vengeful those whose rights were trampled upon and whose properties were taken away? But how do you call those who wish to revise history by honoring the dishonored former soldier and president? How do you forgive an unrepentant family whose members continue to flaunt their impunity?

Lord, forgive them for they know not what they do—is this the prayer we want victims to say to their offenders every time their rights are trampled? Why should we expect so much from the victims but not from the uncontrite victimizers and their cheering squad?

And then there are those who say, “That happened more than 30 years ago, let history be the judge.” Precisely! We are now in that historical future and judgement is due. If it is not now, when in the future? A thousand years from now?

There are those who sneer and say, “Well, the victims went to the Supreme Court, and now that the Supreme Court has spoken, they complain and protest?” When the victims went to the Supreme Court, they were called petitioners. They pleaded that their side be heard, that the honorable justices see the justness of their plea. They did not go there to simply seek an opinion, as in “Tell us, is this red or green?” and whatever is handed down should be good enough. No.

And so the weeping and gnashing of teeth, the raising of fists, the howling in the streets.

“Not yet, Rizal, not yet,” the poet Rafael Zulueta da Costa’s cry pierces the darkening sky, “the land has need of young blood…”

Many millennials—those who knew little about the atrocities committed under martial rule—are now eager to know the truth from their elders. And having known, they do not want a repeat now and in the future. Hear them roar.#

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

19 heroes to be honored at Bantayog

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

The names of 19 people who fought the Marcos dictatorship have been engraved on the Wall of Remembrance at Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City. They will be honored in solemn ceremonies tomorrow, Bonifacio Day. The names include those of the late Inquirer editor in chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc and former Sen. Jovito Salonga. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA
Three journalists led by the late Inquirer editor in chief, Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, are among 19 honorees whose names will be added to the roster of heroes on Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City during solemn ceremonies on Wednesday. The event will also coincide with the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, which was founded in 1986 shortly after the Edsa People Power Revolution that toppled the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Aside from Magsanoc, 74 (1941-2015), the other journalists to be honored are Antonio L. Zumel, 69 (1932-2001), and Lourdes Estella-Simbulan, 53 (1957-2011). Their names and those of the others have been etched on the black granite of the Wall of Remembrance.

Seven of the honorees are from the youth sector. They are Marciano Anastacio Jr., 27 (1955-1982); Eduardo Q. Aquino, 20 (1953-1973); Fortunato Camus, 26 (1949-1976); Hernando Cortez, 29 (1954-1983); Edgardo Dojillo, 24; Ricardo P. Filio, 22 (1953-1976); and Joel O. Jose, 35 (1951-1987). All seven honorees, except one, were killed in their prime during the martial law years that lasted from 1972 to 1986.

Various sectors

The honorees from various sectors are Jovito R. Salonga, 95 (1920-2016), public servant, lawyer, senator; Simplicio Villados, 70, (1928-1998), labor; Danilo Vizmanos, 60 (1928-1998), professional, retired soldier; Manuel G. Dorotan, 35 (1948- 1983), professional; Ma. Margarita F. Gomez, 65 (1947-2012), women’s sector; Benjamin H. Cervantes, 74 (1938-2013), the arts. Three come from the church sector: Bishop Julio L. Labayen, 89 (1926-2016); Romulo Peralta, 60 (1941-2001); and Jose T. Tangente, 37 (1949-1987).

Details about the lives and heroic sacrifices of each of the honorees may be found on www.bantayog.org.

Speaking truth to power

Magsanoc was editor in chief of the Philippine Daily Inquirer from 1990 to 2015. She was the editor of Panorama magazine from the late 1970s to 1980, when the articles she published and her own writings displeased the powers-that-be. She used the written word to challenge the Marcos dictatorship.

Her forced resignation sparked indignation in the media sector. After the assassination of former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983, Magsanoc edited Mr & Ms Special Edition that exposed the excesses of the Marcos regime. She was among those who attended the birth of the Inquirer in 1985.

A multiawarded journalist, Magsanoc died of natural causes on Dec. 24, 2015. After her death, then President Benigno Aquino III conferred on her the People Power Award. The Philippine Senate passed a resolution citing her contribution to the restoration of press freedom. Bantayog cites Magsanoc “for speaking truth to power” and “for testing the limits of press freedom as writer and editor.”

The citation for Magsanoc on the Bantayog ng mga Bayani reads:

For unleashing the power of the written word for the common good, for justice, freedom and democracy;

For challenging and exposing the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship through the media even at great personal risk;

For testing the limits of press freedom as writer and editor, for defying media restrictions and censorship under martial rule and for facing up to the wrath of the dictatorship;

For encouraging and giving space to bold and daring writers despite threats from the powers-that-be;

For the warmth, kindness and understanding she showed those who were victims of tyranny;

For keeping the vigil lamps lighted in the media so that freedom won may never again be taken away;

And for speaking truth to power without fear, for her faith in her fellow Filipinos, for placing above herself, God, family and country.”

Fearless for freedom

Salonga, a lawyer, former senator and prolific writer, was known for his uncompromising stance against martial rule. In 1980 he was arrested, detained and charged with subversion. Upon his release, the Salonga family lived in exile in the United States until freedom was restored in 1986.

Labayen was a “voice in the wilderness” when many in the Catholic Church hierarchy had yet to find their voices during the dark days of martial rule. He immersed himself among the poor of his prelature, espoused social justice and gave voice to the oppressed. He risked the ire of the dictatorship.

Agent for change

Cervantes, an outspoken critic of the Marcos dictatorship, used theater and film as an agent for change and to raise people’s political awareness. He was on the front line of street rallies against the dictatorship. He was detained three times—in 1975, 1977 and 1985.

Zumel was a newspaperman. When martial law was declared, he went underground and joined the leftist underground movement and spent many years in remote and difficult places where he continued to write and fight the dictatorship. heroes. After the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship, Zumel represented the communist-led National Democratic Front in peace talks with the administration of President Corazon C. Aquino in 1986. When the talks failed, he sought political asylum in The Netherlands, where he died in 2001.

287 names to date

The 19 2016 honorees bring to 287 the names engraved on The Wall, which stands just meters away from the 13.5-meter bronze monument created by renowned sculptor Eduardo Castrillo.

The monument depicts a defiant mother holding a fallen son. The monument, the commemorative wall and other structures at Bantayog Memorial Center 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 Philippines.

Through its Never Again Never Forget Project, Bantayog addresses “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’s activities include publishing biographies, dissemination of informative materials, film showing, roving exhibitions and museum tours.

The Bantayog complex now includes a building that houses a small auditorium, library, archives and a museum. Its 1.5-hectare property on Quezon Avenue and Edsa was donated by the administration of President Corazon Aquino, through Land Bank of the Philippines, in 1986. Every year, names are added to the Wall of Remembrance. The first 65 names were engraved on the wall in 1992. The Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation is chaired by former senator Wigberto Tanada. Salonga served as chair emeritus before he died. May Rodriguez is the executive director.

The ceremonies on Wednesday will begin at 4 p.m. The public is invited. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/848784/19-heroes-to-be-honored-at-bantayog

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Caught sleeping

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

Whether or not it was a toenail of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, or a clump of his hair, or an arm bone, or his wax likeness that was hastily buried with military honors in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LMNB)—translated as cemetery for heroes—on Nov. 18, that whole exercise was one of deception, cunning and stealth on the part not only of the Marcoses but also of some feckless government authorities who allowed it.
Now those accessories to the wanton disregard for the judicial process—President Duterte included—are all feigning cluelessness. Because not yet final and executory was the Supreme Court’s Nov. 8 majority decision (9-5-1) that dug deep at the martial law victims’ wounds and denied their petition to prevent the dictator’s burial on hallowed grounds. A motion for reconsideration was forthcoming.

Clueless? Also feckless. From President Duterte and the presidential staff to the military officers who flew the Marcos family and the dictator’s 27-year-old corpse (if indeed there was a corpse) from Ilocos Norte to LNMB and who provided the honors—none of them had earlier knowledge that the burial was going to take place that soon?

This is quite plain to see—President Duterte’s campaign promise to the Marcoses has been accomplished. Consummatum est?

But as is often said to us and by us, “Wait lang.”

It is way past the November day of remembering the dead, but here we are, still preoccupied by issues pertaining to corpses, cadavers and other forms of human remains. The corpses, whether touched or not by methamphetamine hydrochloride, continue to pile up. Even those already in police custody or safely behind bars end up dead with the “nanlaban” reason always invoked.

Separately, a number of government bureaucrats have joined the body count lately—one from the Bureau of Internal Revenue, another from the Bureau of Customs, money-collecting bureaus both. Both took in assassins’ bullets. A director from the Energy Regulatory Commission ended his own life and opened a can of worms.

Now comes another corpse or non-corpse, supposedly that of the dictator Marcos, that is causing upheaval in the streets because, “like a thief in the night,” the Marcos family went through with the burial without so much as a by-your-leave. Government authorities who were supposed to be in the know simply said they knew neither the day nor the hour and were caught by surprise. In street-corner journalese, “nakatulog sa pansitan” (fell asleep at the noodle house) or caught sleeping on the job.

If that were so, barbarians would be at the gates and the country’s protectors would not know it. Scary. So much for the simplest information gathering.

And so, indeed, now there is banging at the gates and there will be more from martial law victims and their supporters upon the arrival of President Duterte from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meet in Peru. Worth noting was the President’s absence at the gala dinner for heads of state and, later, at the Apec “class photo.” He was jetlagged and sleepy, was his presidential reason for not showing up. Did he have one Peruvian Pisco too many? He had eyes only for Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jing Ping.

So while he was sleeping in the land of Machu Picchu, his subalterns back home were also sleeping on the job—deliberately, one can’t help concluding—and let the thieves come in the dead of night.

Speaking of true heroes, 19 heroes and martyrs—three journalists among them—will be honored on Nov. 30, at the Bantayog ng mg Bayani which marks its 30th anniversary this year. The ceremonies will start at 4 p.m.

The names, to be announced soon, will be added to the more than 200 names etched on the black granite Wall of Remembrance. The Bantayog Memorial Center is located on Quezon Avenue corner Edsa, near Centris. The entrance is beside the National Power Corporation. The public is invited.

Come early and find familiar names—of comrades, friends and persons you knew and admired—on The Wall. Light candles, offer flowers and prayers. Celebrate their lives.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The outrage at the memory

When nine justices of the Supreme Court voted two days ago in favor of the burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani of the 27-year-old remains of the fallen dictator Ferdinand Marcos which were brought back from abroad in 1993, they insulted the memory of those who died fighting tyranny. They spat on the wounds of the tortured, they mocked the mothers whose sons and daughters disappeared in the night.
They belittled the efforts of those who spread out their bodies before thundering military tanks during the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolt that saw the fall of the tyrant. The justices who voted yes to the dictator’s burial in hallowed grounds for heroes chose to forget his reign of terror, they chose to belittle the freedom won for them by tens of thousands who fought, suffered and died.
They voted according to the law and their conscience. So did the five justices who voted no.
In 1992, when word spread that Marcos’ remains would be brought back to the country (Fidel Ramos was president then) and that the late dictator might be given honors, victims of martial rule protested. Still, the Marcoses succeeded in bringing back his body to his hometown in Ilocos Norte, where its wax likeness has been exposed for viewing all these years.
I interviewed victims of martial rule in 1992, and here were their sentiments then:
Princess Nemenzo: “At first I could not imagine Marcos coming back after we kicked him out. Later, I thought, we should have allowed him to come back while he was still alive so he could be made to answer for his  crimes and face the wrath of the people.
“Honor somebody who dishonored his country, massacred and looted his people? That would be a mockery. Marcos has carved a niche as the most corrupt and brutal of all. He should be quietly buried. Not in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Why should he deserve that? His wartime exploits are even doubtful.”
Antonio Lacaba: “We cannot forgive that kind of person. Does Marcos deserve the honors? Go to the barrios, go to those who suffered. Ask them.”
Wilfredo Quijano, detained for almost 10 years: “Give him honors? I cannot even think of that because he victimized so many people. I was one of them. I was in high school when I became an activist. The military arrested me during a raid of a house in Butuan. In Camp Alagar soldiers mauled us, beat us with a piece of wood. We were made to drink urine. I don’t know whose urine it was. I took a sip and pretended to swallow it. We were interrogated, sabay suntok (and punched at the same time). I spent my 17th birthday in prison.”
Paula Romero, widowed mother of Henry Romero, a newspaperman who later joined the Ministry of Agrarian Reform (Henry is among the desaparecidos, the disappeared): “One day, they took him. After a week in detention, he was allowed home visits but accompanied by guards. I visited him every week even though I was not strong. I brought him food, pillows, a mosquito net. One day when I was sick, his guard named Villanueva came and told me, ‘Ang anak ninyo, wala na (Your son is gone).
“I searched for my son in camps in Pampanga and Tarlac. I consulted a fortune teller who said Henry was alive. Since he was no longer around to support me, I borrowed money to put up a sari-sari store.
“Naubusan na ako ng luha. Para akong nabibitin sa isang pisi, hindi ako makalapag. (I have run out of tears. It’s as if I am hanging suspended on a string and I cannot come down.) Should Marcos be given honors? I have nothing to say.” (She wipes away a tear.)
I have interviewed many victims these past many years—that is, after the dictator fled into exile—but I had also interviewed a good number during the martial law years. Thousands of stories will hopefully be archived in the soon-to-rise Memorial Museum and Library (as provided for in Republic Act No. 10368).
That we may NEVER FORGET.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/99113/the-outrage-at-the-memory#ixzz4PYqBrYBW 
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Thursday, November 3, 2016

From conflict to commmunion

Oct. 31 was a special day for Lutherans and Roman Catholics. Pope Francis went to Lund, Sweden, for the joint Lutheran-Catholic ecumenical commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation led by Martin Luther in 1517 that marked a bitter schism.
What a bloody split that was, after Luther, German priest, monk and theologian of high intellect, pinned his “95 Theses” on a church door in Germany to dramatize his issues against the Catholic Church, many of them crying to be addressed, if not legitimate indeed. You can look it up on the Internet.
The Catholic Church got it straight in the face, and Luther was unceremoniously excommunicated. But his move created a divide so deep that things were never the same again. He had shaken the ramparts of an institution believed to be divinely ordained but so immovable and ruled by men with feet of clay.
For church historians, the Reformation was a pivotal point in the history of Christendom that cannot be ignored. The Reformation was the harbinger of things to come—the rise of Protestantism and the Counter Reformation in the Catholic Church among them.
Over the decades after Vatican II (1960s), the Catholic Church has had so many occasions to sincerely say mea maxima culpa for the errors of the past and to seek forgiveness and hold out a hand in reconciliation. Pope John Paul II was a natural in this aspect. Still, it seems never enough. (The human weaknesses and sins of its individual shepherds—as in other religious institutions—are another story.)
Sweden, by the way, played a big part in the troubled years after the Reformation. Catholics in Sweden were persecuted and killed. “As recently as 1951, Catholics were barred from becoming doctors, teachers and nurses, and Catholic convents were banned until the 1970s,” said a report.
Last Monday night I watched the live, one-and-a-half-hour TV coverage of the Common Prayer Service at the Lund Cathedral where Pope Francis and his Lutheran counterparts took turns, within the liturgy, in expressing their hopes for more dialogue and unity. The statements were crisp and direct to the point. No long sermons. The reality that “what unites us is far greater than what divides us” was repeated several times. “From conflict to communion” was on everyone’s lips.
The liturgy, by the way, was decidedly multiracial and multilingual—and even multigender, with female Archbishop Antje Jackelen sharing the altar with the Pope and the male hierarchy. The two gave each other a peace embrace. (I googled: The Swedish Jackelen, 61, is married and a mother of two.) I spotted quite a number of women in Roman collars on the pews. This kept me smiling.
In a joint declaration, Pope Francis and Bishop Munib Younan, president of the Lutheran World Federation, said: “With gratitude we acknowledge that the Reformation helped give a greater centrality to sacred Scripture in the Church’s life.”
And addressing those in mixed marriages: “We experience the pain of those who share their whole lives, but cannot share God’s redeeming presence at the Eucharistic table. We long for this wound in the body of Christ to be healed. This is the goal of our ecumenical endeavors, which we wish to advance, also be renewing our commitment to theological dialogue.”
Dialogue already began 50 years ago, and in 1999 the Vatican and the Lutheran federation signed a joint declaration on “the doctrine of justification,” which is a core belief in God’s forgiveness of sins and which theme fired up Luther’s “95 Theses.”
“From Conflict to Communion: A Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017” is the title of the 93-page document that accompanied Pope Francis in his journey to Lutheran country. The foreword begins: “Martin Luther’s struggle with God drove and defined his whole life. The question, How can I find a gracious God? plagued him constantly. He found the gracious God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. True theology and the knowledge of God are in the crucified Christ. (“Heidelberg Disputation”)
“Conflict to Communion,” its framers say, “is a way whose goal we have not yet reached.”#