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. #

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Duterte's speech writers and other thoughts

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

Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has rightly earned the moniker “The Mouth” because of the expletives and strong words he issued during the election campaign. Analysts of every color and odor who have come out of the woodwork during this season of surprises even attribute to Duterte’s foul language the voters’ attraction to him. He was supposedly saying for them what they could not say out loud. Including his cursing of the Pope and the Pope’s mother? Including his rape wish?

Foul language has so punctuated social media postings on the elections that even the young have taken to it. What a pity. So young and already so foul-mouthed can aptly describe these nubile cyberdenizens who post before they think.

Having taken the lead in the <@!*&%#^-^> language department during the campaign period, Duterte should now sanitize his mouth a bit without entirely losing his penchant for colorful language. I heard some of his handlers say that it behooves their principal to sound more presidential now that he has gotten the majority’s mandate.

Duterte is known to ignore prepared speeches and go extemporaneous. We saw that when he spoke before members of the Makati Business Club who were eager to hear him speak about broad economic policies, but toward the end, he instead perorated on the so-called “5-6” scheme of Indian moneylenders in cash-strapped communities. He left no time for an open forum—a subtle but smart move to avoid questions.

But now that Duterte is going to be the president of this once-woebegone nation now out of its sickbed—a development for which President Aquino is not getting enough credit—will there be a makeover, at least in Duterte’s way with words? Who will be his wordsmiths, the writers who will second-guess the Duterte mind and articulate what he needs to say to 100 million Filipinos? Who will be burning the midnight oil for next day’s oral delivery?

What will Duterte’s speeches now be like? For starters, his inaugural speech? Will his speeches be in elegant language—Filipino, English or Cebuano—or will they be deliberately gruff, made to sound off-the-cuff, with pauses for grunts while he chews his cud? (Is he into gum or does he need a denture change or something?)

Some might say that words are just words and that concrete deeds on the ground are more important. Sure. But we also need to hear about them first. The way the British Royal Navy needed to hear Winston Churchill roar, “Sink the Bismarck!” And, in a call to arms, call Hitler a “maniac,” a “monstrous apparition,” and end his speech with “march[ing] together through the fire.” It’s on YouTube.

Those who diminish the importance of the written and spoken word need only to consider the Bible and those who wrote the stories in it, the writers who inspired revolutions, the poets who stirred patriotic passions. As the biblically inclined would often say, quoting scriptures, “In the beginning was the word…” Think of Rizal’s novels. And who is not moved by a recitation of Amado V. Hernandez’s “Lumuha ka, aking bayan…” or the singing of Andres Bonifacio’s “Aling pag-ibig pa ang hihigit kaya?”

One of my all-time favorites is a line from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech on the eve of India’s independence in August 1947. “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.” I first read it in “Freedom at Midnight” (by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins) when I was in my 20s and was smitten by the sound of the words.

Remember President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address?

But we have ours. Before me now are five CDs that contain “20 Speeches that Moved a Nation,” speeches delivered by Filipino men and women during their time and worth listening to by generations. For the recording, the speeches were recited by theater people mostly. Each CD has the transcript of the speeches. The “20 Speeches” were compiled years ago by Manuel L. Quezon III, grandson and namesake of President Manuel L. Quezon. He produced the set before he took a post in the Aquino administration, a hidden position that meant giving up his column in Inquirer Opinion (his space was right below mine) and to which, I hope, he returns. Only now I remember and see that I had written a blurb to go with the set; that’s why I was given one.

I am curious as to who will be writing Duterte’s speeches and how he will deliver them. At 71, Duterte is the oldest to be elected to the presidency, and old habits die hard. Will he read from paper or does he have to learn to use a teleprompter? President Aquino appeared at home with the gadget and, with his good speaking voice, delivered relatively well in both Filipino and English, sarcastic punches included.

Speeches, like homilies, are meant to be heard. Delivering a speech is talking to an audience. Content is important, but so is the sound of the words, the length of the sentences, the rhyme, the rhythm, the cadence, the syntax. The tone of voice. There are four big reasons for a speech, says author George Plimpton: to inspire, to persuade, to entertain, to instruct. Also, to inform.

Those who invite us to speak think that because we are writers, we can just show up tomorrow and spew out the words. Mark Twain said, “It takes three weeks to prepare a good ad-lib speech.” Writing to be read is different from writing to be heard, although as writers, we want our words on the page to sound as if spoken, to sing as if sung. #

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Leni's Magnificat moment

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

It’s the month of May, when many Filipino Catholic Marian devotees celebrate the life of Mary, mother of Jesus. Muslims, too, have great respect for her. But Mothers Day, which happened to fall on the eve of Election Day, came and went, almost lost in the election cacophony. My Marian thoughts a few paragraphs from here.

It’s game over for many contested posts, if we go by the unofficial election results that have come in. But as of this writing, the vice presidential candidates are still neck and neck, with top contenders Leni Robredo and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the late ousted dictator, jostling on the tally sheets.

Marcos Jr.’s purposeful rise and coming so close to the presidency has worried tens of thousands of survivor-victims of the Marcos dictatorship. On the other side, Leni’s own overnight rise from behind, beneath and below (where she dwelled in the start of the campaign) in the vice presidential race has amazed us all. After she said yes to the call to be the running mate of Mar Roxas, we saw how this reluctant candidate gave it her all.

To end that last sentence with “and never looked back” would not be quite apt for Leni because this grassroots lawyer, widow of the interior secretary and beloved mayor of Naga City Jesse Robredo, mother of three daughters, and congresswoman from Camarines Sur has not stopped looking back to where chapters in her life ended and began: the plane crash site in the sea where Jesse died in 2012.

Jesse had Leni who will continue to serve. And so as Leni’s steady and inexorable rise in the preelection surveys and in the postelection count unfolded before our eyes, some trolls that reside in the netherworld of social media would send cruel and vicious messages. As Leni recalled on GMA News’ “State of the Nation” hosted by Jessica Soho, someone had posted on Facebook: “Napaka-evil mo, sana ikaw na lang ’yung nasa eroplanong bumagsak, hindi ’yung asawa mo.” (You are so evil, I wish you were the one in the plane crash, not your husband.)

Huh? What about her is evil?

Leni said she was tempted to answer: “Hindi mo lang alam na nung bumagsak yung eroplano ng asawa ko, wini-wish ko na sana ako na lang ’yung nasa eroplanong ’yun.” (You have no idea that after my husband’s plane crashed, I would wish I were the one on that plane.)

You have no idea. Yes, loss and emotional pain could be so overwhelming that death would seem like a welcome balm. One has to go through some kind of dark night in life in order to understand that kind of sharp, searing pain from the depths. But, the poet-psalmist assures, “Joy comes in the morning.”

Call it comic relief or something out of the movies, but in Bocaue, Bulacan, two mayoral candidates who ended up in a tie had to settle for coin tossing—for cara y cruz, literally. Thank God for some rain in the form of laughter in this sweltering El NiƱo month.

Leni might yet be the answer to the prayer for divine intervention for which many Filipino voters had been desperately hoping. When the die was cast, and hope dimmed for those who had fears in their hearts about what’s on the road ahead, the image of steady Leni and what she stood for seemed to provide a ray of light. Having worked with those on the fringes of society, she vowed to personally and literally get them included in the government’s agenda.

Now that victory is nigh and when asked how she would see herself in a Duterte presidency, Leni did not flinch from her original option to be with the disenfranchised. If given a choice, she said, she would want to see herself in antipoverty programs, not a Cabinet position.

To Marcos Jr.’s unfounded tirade (he now sounds like his father stricken with paranoia during the dying days of his dictatorship) that Leni could be part of the Liberal Party’s so-called “Plan B” to topple presumptive president-elect Rodrigo Duterte and install her as president, Leni just laughed. “I have no presidential ambition,” she asserted. Clearly he has, she added in so many words.

On Leni’s part, it has all been affirmation after affirmation about the battles she took on after Jesse died. The reluctant candidate has made broad strides and accepted challenges with nary a tinge of personal ambition. And always, with gratefulness in her heart.

I think of Mary’s Magnificat, her cry of praise and gratitude to God who raised her up. The Magnificat is Mary’s longest spiel in the Bible where she says, “You have thrown down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly…” Surely many of us have had Magnificat moments in our lives. I think of Leni and I think of the Magnificat.

From nowhere, Leni has come this far. I pray she triumphs.
                                           * * *
After voting early in the morning of May 9 (I was among the first batch in my precinct) and going to the wake of a friend ( a women’s rights advocate in the Church sector), my friends and I had lunch at a Cubao restaurant with fiesta-like pahiyas decor used in Lucban, Quezon. Just across from it is Novotel where, it was falsely rumored, vote-counting machines were being stored for cheating purposes. No wonder we saw media vehicles coming. Dud! We focused on our fiesta fare.

Henceforth we will be associating the month of May with elections. But what is May without the Flores de Mayo and the Santacruzan? What’s life without the childhood memories of May, of blazing summers and sudden downpours, of food and fiestas, of beaches and rivers and flowers and songs?#

Thursday, May 5, 2016

While we were sleeping

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

God help us, is now an oft-repeated refrain.

The emergence of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the late dictator’s only son and namesake, as a front-runner in the vice presidential race has caught many by surprise. Or should it? It shocks and worries those who suffered during Marcos Sr.’s 14-year dictatorial rule and those who continue to suffer the aftermath of those dark martial law years. Loss of loved ones, properties, livelihood and the personal trauma of those who survived have not been erased by the decades that have passed.

Recognition of the victims’ bravery in the struggle against dictatorial rule through the soon-to-be-built Freedom Memorial (museum, library and archives) and the forthcoming compensation for survivors and the families of those who perished, both mandated by Republic Act No. 10368, will serve as grim reminders that, indeed, there were people who suffered. That, indeed, there were heroes and martyrs as there were tyrants and despots. That, indeed, there exists the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth. The compensation (P10 billion) comes mainly from a Marcos stash in Swiss banks that the Swiss government returned. But there’s more out there to be discovered.

Alas, during these past three decades after the Marcos dictatorship came crashing down, many of those who made this happen, the militant sector in particular, became preoccupied with demonizing the succeeding governments. They were busy trying to get their ideological agenda across. They laid aside—conveniently or purposefully—the Marcos past while claiming their portion from the ruins and pushing forward their political plans.

I am referring to the militant, ideological Left that continues to espouse a protracted class war and a bloody insurgency in the countryside while having one foot in the electoral process. But to give credit where credit is due, the leftist militants were the ones who had a sustained, protracted struggle against the Marcos dictatorship that, alas, was overtaken by the 1986 People Power uprising and military putsch (so-called Edsa I) that brought down the Marcos dictatorship.

The militants who had broken away from their hard-core comrades sought alternative ways to serve, but in the din of clashing political views and strategies, were often outshouted by their former comrades. Those who took the mainstream path of service—via academe, business, civil society, media, politics, church—became preoccupied with their particular concerns. Who was guarding the fort?

The Marcoses slowly and stealthily found inroads and, in no time, were back in the country, claiming back their lost territories that would again be their stepping stones to power. Again the blame-throwing. Why is the story about the Marcos dictatorship not in the history books being used in schools? Who were supposed to have been the repository and guardians of these dark memories? Was everybody so busy moving on?

And so, to borrow the title of a movie, while we were sleeping … something was going on. In street-corner journalese, nakatulog sa pansitan. Which reminds me of the Bible parable about those who were supposed to keep vigil with their lamps but were caught sleeping when the bridegroom came, except that in our case, there was no bridegroom to be expected but a bunch of despoilers to be prevented from regaining foothold.

In fairness, there were groups and individuals that kept the candle of memory trimmed and lit for heroism and sacrifice to be kept alive, among them, the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, the human rights groups, the writers who wrote books, the walking, living survivors who shared their experiences with the young.

And if I may tap ourselves on the back, the journalists and other media workers (documentarists, filmmakers, theater denizens) who did their part to impart. Year in and year out, during special dates, we at the Inquirer would come out with articles on the heroic struggles during those dark years to remind, remember, honor and be thankful for regained freedoms.

But there had been little institutional or governmental assist to perpetuate the memory through education, not only of the heroes and martyrs, but also of a dark chapter that should never happen again. Sure, there is the Presidential Commission on Good Government’s (PCGG) recovering some Marcos wealth. It is to be commended for belatedly showing to the public the enormity of what had been recovered (Imelda Marcos’ jewelry collection, among them). But there is so much more out there, among them, the hundreds of artworks that are in the millions of dollars each. (We wrote a series on these masterpieces last year.)

It is in the area of collective memory that there might have been a blip. Not because of some psychogenic amnesia or selective forgetting of the pain, but simply because of neglect and complacency.

And so the cramming. How to prevent Marcos Jr. from becoming vice president, a post perhaps not as powerful as that of a Senate president or House speaker, but it is a sneeze away from the presidency.

I dug up my files (digital and hard copy) of almost 30 years and, yes, sometime in 1987, the year after the Marcoses fled and Cory Aquino became president, there were efforts in the academe to incorporate human rights awareness in the curriculum. Those who had witnessed and experienced human rights violations during the Marcos military dictatorship, those in the academe especially, wanted human rights to become a byword in early education. I did a Sunday Inquirer Magazine story on this (“Is there a human rights teacher in the schoolhouse?” 6/14/1987). Whatever happened to it?

I am trying to put together a list of books (now in the hundreds) on the dreadful martial law years. You can help by sending me the image of the cover, author, description of the book, date of publication and publisher. I hope to make a blog site of it. Any suggestion for a blog site name? #

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Nuns all over PH pray for divine intervention

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

They call on voters to chose 'servant-leaders'

Presidential aspirants Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Grace Poe, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Mar Roxas. Presidential aspirants Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Grace Poe, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Mar Roxas.

DESPERATELY seeking divine intervention, Catholic Church parishes, religious congregations and various groups are turning to prayer and fasting in the run-up to the national elections on May 9.

Given the muck, mud, slime and scum being thrown about during the election campaign, given the quality of candidates lording it over at the hustings and regaling crowds with pies in the sky and inappropriate jokes, these are desperate times indeed.

On May 1, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president, Socrates Villegas, issued a “pastoral appeal” titled “Prophets of Truth, Servants of Unity” that urged voters to “discern (their) choices.”

“In this novena of rosaries and Masses, we claim from the Lord the gift of a godly electoral process,” said the archbishop of Lingayen. “With the permission of the bishops, the Blessed Sacrament may be exposed for public adoration to beg the Lord for the gift of peaceful elections.”

He told the candidates: “Pray! Pray not only to win but pray that the Lord may show by His signs His chosen leader for this nation, this nation who calls on Him at the crossroads of its national life.” But even before the CBCP pastoral appeal, some religious congregations have already been on their knees, fasting, praying novenas and the rosary for clean elections and so that voters would be discerning and choose exemplary servant-leaders.

At the Carmelite monastery in Lipa City, the contemplative nuns have been praying a novena to the Holy Spirit since April 30.

A novena is a series of nine-day prayers for a particular intention.

“We have been praying daily the four mysteries of the rosary specifically for the elections,” said Mother Prioress Mary Grace Rillo, OCD.

At the Cubao diocese, women and men from religious congregations have composed common daily intercessory prayers and have used them since April 30, said Fr. Aris Sison, rector of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

‘Veritas’ prayer

Sr. Sonia Aldeguer of the Religious of the Sacred Heart said her community had incorporated the prayers for the elections into their community night prayers. They use the “Veritas” prayer that came from the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines and its Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation task force.

Another prayer composed by one of the sisters ends with an intercession for administration candidates Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo.

Aldeguer said a religious congregation in Taguig City on Friday held a forum and mock elections among their mission partners. The winners, Aldeguer said, were Roxas and Robredo.

The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) are also among the congregations that have taken to prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for the elections. Sr. Asuncion Borromeo, superior of a Cubao community of FMMs, said they were also praying the Veritas prayer. The Veritas prayer asks the Holy Spirit for “divine wisdom and insight” for the Philippine electorate.

The Missionary Benedictine Sisters have been also praying and fasting, said Sr. Mary John Mananzan OSB, head of St. Scholastica’s College Institute of Women’s Studies.

No endorsement

In his statement, Archbishop Villegas said: “We encourage you to pray the rosary every day and receive Holy Communion starting May 1 until May 9. In this novena of rosaries and Masses, we claim from the Lord the gift of a godly electoral process. With the permission of the bishops, the Blessed Sacrament may be exposed for public adoration to beg the Lord for the gift of peaceful elections.”

According to him, the Catholic Church has never asked any political candidate to seek its endorsement.

“But the Catholic Church has always demanded of Catholic voters that they cast their votes as an act not only of citizenship but also as a public declaration of faith. We ask this most earnestly of all of you, Catholic brothers and sisters, in the forthcoming election,” Villegas said.

He noted that the desire for change was understandable because the people had suffered from “incompetence and indifference.”

“But this cannot take the form of supporting a candidate whose speech and actions, whose plans and projects show scant regard for the rights of all, who has openly declared indifference if not dislike and disregard for the Church specially her moral teachings,” Villegas said.


In a two-page pastoral letter issued on Sunday, Bishop Buenaventura Famadico of San Pablo City urged the Catholic faithful to vote “servant-leaders” and reject candidates belonging to political dynasties.

“This is the day when we can prove how we truly love our country by using our single vote as reflection of ourselves and our share in God’s saving actions,” Famadico said.

“Selling your votes and buying votes by candidates degrade into mutual manipulation between voters and candidates,” he added. With reports from Tina G. Santos and Romulo O. Ponte, Inquirer Southern Luzon Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/782891/nuns-all-over-ph-pray-for-divine-intervention#ixzz4D96pPanJ Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook