Thursday, January 27, 2022



Maring Feria, patriot

 / 05:04 AM January 27, 2022

Maria Yusay Feria, simply called Maring or Tita Maring by many, passed away quietly last Jan. 22 at the age of 93. She had lived a full and happy life of single blessedness dedicated to the welfare of many.


The day after she passed, our ex-Nassa (National Secretariat of Social Action) group asked Ed dela Torre to make an e-poster in her honor with group photos of ourselves during reunions. I found in my photo files a solo shot of her which I took when we were in Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio for a short retreat with Sr. Mary Christine Tan RGS, her bosom friend and schoolmate.

Soon after I posted that e-poster plus my very brief write-up on her on Facebook, so many condolences, goodbyes, and recollections began to pop up. I have since added more sentences to that first post because more recollections kept playing in my head. Here is a more expanded write-up with added bits for this column:


Not many know that Maring helped save the lives of some activists who were being hunted by the Marcos dictatorship during the martial law years. Oh, the risks she took, the things she did—some so hilarious if not suspenseful! One of the daunting operations Maring was closely involved in was the escape to exile of Charito Planas. Some details on this are in Planas’ book “Escape!” but Maring had her own recollections that would make you double up with laughter. Big woman that she was, Planas was not easy to hide. Maring had to play her own part so as not to make Planas stand out but with some almost disastrous outcome. Hint: Maring was a smoker and had to have her puff. I will not get into more details so as not to give surveillance agents ideas on how and where to find their prey.

Karen Tañada (granddaughter of the great Sen. Lorenzo Tañada) was among the hunted that Maring helped. She did post on Facebook how Maring gave her a new haircut so she would look “different.” There were other big ones, Sen. Raul Manglapus among them, who later came back from exile in the US after the dictator was ousted. He became foreign affairs secretary during the Cory Aquino administration, with Maring as his chief of staff.

In Maring’s living room hangs a framed blow-up photo-on-canvas—a gift from a friend—that shows her linking arms with anti-dictatorship demonstrators ready to face water cannons. Her family might want to donate it to the Human Rights Memorial Museum in Diliman, Quezon City, that will be finished sometime soon, part of the provisions in Republic Act No. 10368 passed during the term of President Benigno Aquino III. The law provided for the museum’s creation and compensation of more than 11,000 martial law victims and survivors. The funds came from the Marcos ill-gotten wealth returned by the Swiss government.

When Cory became president, the military intelligence gave her a trove of photos surreptitiously taken during her visits to Fort Bonifacio where her husband Sen. Ninoy Aquino was detained. One of the black and white photos taken on the sly showed Maring, Sr. Christine Tan, and Mrs. Dakila Castro entering the detention area. Cory gave the photo to Maring with a dedication written on it. I did use the photo for an Inquirer article on the anniversary of Ninoy’s assassination.

Though to the manor born, Maring had a big heart for the downtrodden and, most especially, the political detainees, but she was not the G&D (grim and determined) type. She was fun to be with and was a great ballroom dancer even when she was well into her 80s. She had a group of amigas from her age bracket, among them, her St. Scholastica’s College schoolmates who danced their way into their sunset years. Among her non-dancing amigas were Nini Quezon-Avanceña, Supreme Court Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma, and Thelma Arceo. A true-blue Scholastican steeped in the Benedictine ora et labora, Maring lived out her Christianity the best way she could.

Our Nassa group of “subversives” will miss the twice-yearly reunions in her home (and the Iloilo-style pansit molo). She had worked in Nassa’s finance department for many years where she was simply called Maring and developed close friendships and links to the so-called “poor deprived and oppressed,” the so-called PDO of liberation theology advocates.

No goodbyes, dear Maring. Enjoy your heavenly rest. No puede fumar in heaven ha! And oh, for nincompoops and cowards she had two gentle words: “No tiene.”

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/149105/maring-feria-patriot#ixzz7sDdx1UNC
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Thursday, January 20, 2022



Spying on our working poor

 / 05:04 AM January 20, 2022

Ano na naman daw? What will they think of next? is the question one often hears whenever government operatives embark on something so unsettling (a mild term) if not so directly oppressive to the so-called poor, deprived, and oppressed or the PDO, as ideologues of a bygone era called them. The proletariat, the hoi polloi, the masa. The so-called basic sectors to jet-setting development workers. The C-D-E, as pollsters and demographers would refer to them. The wretched of the earth, the anawim, to bible scholars. The so-called.


Now comes a government announcement that “mystery passengers” will be deployed to spy on public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and riders. The lead paragraph of an Inquirer news report (“PNP to have own spies on PUV drives, riders,” 1/19/22, by Dexter Cabalza: “The Philippine National Police has jumped into the ‘mystery passengers’ bandwagon and will deploy its own transport spies on various PUVs in Metro Manila to ensure drivers and commuters comply with the ‘no vaccination, no ride’ policy of the Department of Transportation.”

That, even as the Inquirer’s headline on the same day read: “Workers are exempted: ‘No vax, no ride’ clarified.”


The context of all this spying is to stem the unprecedented daily rise in the number of COVID-19 positive cases (of the mutant Omicron variety, it is presumed) that reached 39,004 on Jan. 15 last week, with the positivity rate close to 50 percent, the highest since the pandemic began two long years ago. Compare that to 168 on Dec. 21, 2021. The recent steep rise in numbers was only based on those who were tested. As alien hunters would say, “The truth is out there” and the number crunchers, bless them, can only extrapolate. It is more comforting to me to see the decline in the number of deaths.

Announcing that there will be spies and mystery passengers is saying it so crudely it grates on the nerves. Spying on the riding public, the working poor mostly, who need to go from Point A to Point B to earn a living or respond to emergencies is the pits. Worse, the driver who has to keep his eyes on the road and the rearview and side mirrors are to be spied on as well.

We’re spying on you. How loudly it is said.

But even before these egregious threats were made, tear-jerking scenes were already unfolding in checkpoints. People pleading to law enforcers, passengers caught with fake vaccination cards, commuters stating reasons for not having anything to show. Drivers being blamed. Elsewhere some enterprising counterfeiters were caught in flagrante delicto with fake vaccination cards to sell to the equally enterprising.

While there are those who deliberately flaunt breaking the law—the so-called “Poblacion girls and boys” of this world who think themselves entitled—there are those who must find means to get through and beyond, to get through the barriers, to get through the day, to make it through the night, as the song goes. It is the latter who need understanding and compassion, not a threat that if they are caught they will be driven further to penury with detention, fines, etc.

Is resorting to spying — and announcing it as a threat — a knee-jerk solution of persons put in national positions to battle the pandemic, persons who came from the military instead of from the fields of medicine, management, or social work, fields that deal closely day by day with human beings? While law enforcement deals with people too, it leans heavily on order, deterrence, and punishment.

Is there a more compassionate way? Let us know.


The coronavirus is fearsome enough but just as fearsome is the prospect of a poor worker’s family going hungry and dying of malnutrition. And there is the toll on mental health that is being addressed, thank God, by private entities and individuals who make themselves available for those on the verge of, if not already deep into depression. I don’t think the government is busy addressing this, and if it is, it is not loud enough about it. Not as loud as its spying threat.

Large areas of our archipelago have yet to rise from the havoc that Supertyphoon “Odette” wrought the week before Christmas. That we have yet to learn about suicide outbreaks in those areas speaks a lot about our people’s emotional sturdiness. (All right, I will not use the word resilience.) Behold how they rise again and again from the ruins. They do not need to be threatened.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/148881/spying-on-our-working-poor#ixzz7sDeUqm7W
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Thursday, January 13, 2022



‘Testing COVID-19 positive as welcome rest’

 / 05:04 AM January 13, 2022

Inquirer news report (Inquirer.net, 1/11/22): “A total of 6,595 health care workers in Metro Manila are under quarantine due to COVID-19, an official of the Department of Health said Tuesday. This comprises 7.2% of the 91,838 health workers in Metro Manila…”


Some health care workers (HCWs) are saying among themselves that their testing positive for COVID-19, during these days of the unprecedented surge of cases, means welcome rest, if not a blessing in disguise. This is because of extreme exhaustion that puts their physical and mental health at risk. I certainly concur after I learned from an ER nurse who had tested positive three times (and recovered) in these two years of the pandemic and who has been on 12-hour backbreaking duty in the past days. With many of them testing positive for COVID-19, the staff reduced and the increasing number of patients admitted, the heavy burden is on those who remain standing.

My unsolicited advice: Resign if that means saving your life. Meaning, it is all up to you now. Are you on the verge of a meltdown? This reminds me of the unwritten reminder for us journalists: No story is worth dying for. Not that we have not risked our lives but the risks have to be calculated. You can’t tell your story if you’re dead.


But with the Omicron variant supposedly milder in its effects despite its being more infectious, government officials seem to be conceding to clamors that tight quarantine measures be relaxed. Despite 33,169 new cases and 46 percent positivity rate three days ago, the highest since the pandemic began in 2020? Now HCWs who test positive can only go on leave for five days instead of the 10 to 14 days required in the past. Does this mean that even while the HCWs remain infectious they should be back to their duties?

How many times have we seen photographs of HCWs slumped in corners, catching up with sleep at odd hours while sweating profusely underneath their PPEs? Rarely have we heard their lamentations, only pleas to one and all to observe health protocols because they can hardly keep up. And yet there are the so-called “Poblacion girls and boys” of this world, new arrivals whose sense of entitlement takes precedence over other people’s health. They circumvent ordinances and quarantine measures and even flaunt them on social media. For the likes of them: No mercy. My heart goes out to the hardworking folk who find ways to earn for their families while every detail is squeezed out of them in checkpoints to prove they are “essential.”

In honor of our HCWs, may I share “There is no more honor” (author anonymous):

We wanted to help people/ We were smart and driven/ We loved science and physiology, humans and disease/ So we made a commitment/ We signed up/ It was an honor/

We read thousands of pages/ Attended hundreds of lectures/ Pulled all-nighters/ Took more exams than we thought possible/ Finals week felt insurmountable/ But it didn’t break us/ It made us stronger/ We learned statistics and biochemistry/ Immunology and pathophysiology/ We mastered genetics, virology and pharmacology/ We read scientific papers and learned how to dissect them/ Papers, not videos/ It was an honor/

We came running when you needed us/ Literally, running down the hallway/ To the ICU, the trauma bay, labor and delivery/ I need help, you said/ We can help, we said/ It was an honor/

There were moments that we thought would break us/ Moments that drove us to journaling, to therapy, to nightmares/ Broken babies/ Paralyzed children/ Dead pregnant mothers with three kids at home/ The wail of a mother whose son just died/ We bent but we did not break/ We returned because you needed us/ And we could help/ It was an honor/


Then there was fear/ Fear of walking into our place of work/ Fear that we’d be killed by going to work/ Fear that we’d kill a loved one because of our work/ There were tears and sleepless nights and anti-anxiety medications/ But you banged your pots and pans/ You sent us pizzas and called us heroes/ You needed us/ We could help/ So we wore our masks, and our gowns, and our gloves, and our goggles/ We decontaminated ourselves before going home and isolated ourselves from our families/ We almost broke/ It was an honor/

How quickly the joy turned to defeat/ Elation to rage/ You’ve learned to do your own research now/ You know better than we do/ Gaslighting is your language/ Your selfishness is astounding/ You don’t want our help when we ask you to stay healthy/ Yet you arrive at our doors begging for help at the end/ You stole our resources/ You hobbled our ability to help those who did what they were supposed to do/ You killed our patients by filling our beds and using up our ventilators/ We can’t help any more/ You broke us/ There is no more honor

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/148617/testing-covid-19-positive-as-welcome-rest#ixzz7sDezb4lf
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Thursday, January 6, 2022



Copy, paste, and save FYI

 / 05:05 AM January 06, 2022

Survivors of martial law (ML) during the Marcos dictatorship are awaiting with both excitement and dread the decision of the Commission on Elections on several petitions for the cancellation of the certificate of candidacy (COC) for president of Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (Bongbong) and his disqualification. Cancellation of COC and disqualification are two different things that have been discussed earlier.


Separately, a group of ML survivors, with the help of their lawyer, are also discussing points that are relevant to the petitions against Marcos Jr.’s candidacy. Not many are conversant about the legal aftermath of the ouster of the dictator and the labyrinthine legal path the survivors pursued that ended in triumphs in court. That is not to say that justice has been fully served.

Here, for those survivors whose memory might have been blurred by time, for those interested in history and the legal weapons used to achieve justice and make the guilty answerable for their sins, know that battles had been won and the legal triumphs are writ in stone and the world’s legal annals.


Historical and legal points relative to the petitions (copy, paste, and save):

1. The class suit (Hilao v. Ferdinand E. Marcos) was filed in April 1986 in Federal Court in the United States alleging that Marcos directed and orchestrated the torture, summary execution, and disappearance of about 10,000 Filipinos between September 1972 and February 1986.

2. Marcos died in September 1989. Imelda Marcos and Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. were substituted as personal representatives of the Marcos estate, in effect making them parties to the lawsuit.

3. The class was certified by the US Court, and 9,539 Filipinos qualified as class members.

4. Following a hotly contested jury trial, a final judgment was entered for the class in February 1995 for almost US$2 billion. The final judgment was affirmed on appeal. To date, relatively little has been collected on it.

5. While the case was pending pretrial, the class in November 1991 obtained a preliminary injunction prohibiting the estate and its representatives from transferring, concealing, conveying, or dissipating the assets of the estate.

6. The final judgment made the preliminary injunction permanent.


7. In January 1995, the class filed a motion to hold the estate and its representatives in contempt for violating the injunction.

8. The motion was based on revelations that the Marcoses and the Philippine government had entered into agreements in 1992 and 1993 dividing the estate’s assets between them.

9. Imelda and Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. refused the class’ requests for their depositions and for production of documents regarding the agreements with the Republic.

10. After four court hearings, the Court found the Marcoses in contempt of Court and issued a coercive fine, payable to the class, of $100,000/day until they purged their contempt.

11. The Marcoses refused to purge their contempt, and, in fact, continued to violate the injunction.

12. Among other violations, the Marcoses in 1997-1998 actively tried to obtain for themselves the funds at Merrill Lynch in the name of Arelma, a Panamanian corporation. Through Jose Campos, dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos created Arelma and deposited $2 million into its Merrill Lynch account in New York in 1972. By 2000, the funds totaled more than $35 million.

13. In January 2011, the US Court entered final judgment for the class on the contempt motion in the amount of $353,600,000 against the estate, Imelda Marcos, and Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. The final judgment was affirmed on appeal.

14. The judgment proved useful in the artwork litigation in New York involving paintings purchased by Imelda Marcos which were held or sold by Vilma Bautista, Imelda’s personal secretary in New York. The class executed on the paintings and proceeds from their sale, and recovered $23.75 million. But for the contempt judgment, this would not have been possible.

15. Marcos Jr. and Imelda have never disclosed the identity of the estate’s assets which would allow the class to collect on its judgments. Likewise, they have never disclosed their personal assets to allow the class to collect on the contempt judgment.

16. The contempt proceedings in the US demonstrate the unlawful conduct of Marcos Jr. and his disdain for courts and the law. They mirror his unlawful conduct resulting in his conviction for tax fraud in the Philippines.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/148374/copy-paste-and-save-fyi#ixzz7sE1LHhaQ
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook