This one is really depressing. Mariannet Amper, a 12-year old girl killed herself over poverty! Read the story here and here.

But there seems to be something good that came from her suicide: The Queendom miraculously acknowledged the existence of poverty and is taking full responsibility for the suicide. And, the suicide elicited a stern rebuke from the United Nations which also urged the Philippine government to speed up its anti-poverty program.

Please let me express my thoughts through a poem:

To A Twelve-Year Old Child Who Committed Suicide To Give Eyeglasses To Blind Leaders Who Could Not See Poverty Right Before Their Eyes

-A 12-year-old girl, who became despondent over her family’s poverty, hanged herself inside their makeshift house a day after her father told her he could not give her the P100 she needed for a school project.

-The government is taking responsibility for a 12-year-old girl who took her life because of extreme poverty but assured that steps are being taken to ease hunger and poverty, officials said on Thursday.

-News reports of The Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2007

The deep shadows that enveloped your home
And never retreated since you were born
Became the light that illuminated your mind.

I sorrow for your death, my dear child
Your mother’s milk on your lips barely dried
And she is not tired from singing cradlesongs
I did not tell you that there is life…still
There is life beyond a pad paper and a pencil
that fathers forced into shameful indolence
could not purchase, even with their blood
This world did not demand heroism from
someone so tender and innocent as you
Because it owed you; you did not owe it.

I sorrow for your death, my dear child
But I must release the black garb soon
for your small grave is a large gift
to every cold, famished child like you
An intensely brilliant light for a world
that is too dark; yes, too disgracefully dark
for the blindingly clear sparks and lightning
emitted by charged voices hoarse from
traveling too much space in too much time
You are the voice of the unheeded loud voices.

Your grave is the commanding energy
that will rouse a nation groping in the dark
for its soul fatigued from hopelessness,
broken promises and aimless wandering
Resigned to a fate worse than death
For there is no hunger in the cemetery,
not even cold, in spite of its glacial ambiance
Your corpse is the chance at redemption
of them that wear the crown but never
rode the horse to the unspeakable places
where every human blight celebrates
victory handed on a silver platter by the enemy.

I sorrow for your death
It is one death too many
the death of a million children
that should end with your death
But I will not slur your sacrifice
The tears that flow are an amalgam
of crushing grief and a song of hope.


Today, I give way to the thoughts of Ophelia Belo on the Philippine national situation contained in her valedictory address.

According to Dr. Andrew Tauli (himself the class valedictorian of Brent School sometime in the 1960's) who gave us the copy of the address, Ophelia Belo "is the valedictorian for 2007 at the recently concluded graduation ceremonies of the Filipino Workers' Resource Center-Skills Training Program (FWRC-STP) in Kuala Lumpur. She's quiet but efficient, unassuming yet smart. She works as a DH [domestic helper, not 'desperate housewife'] in Malaysia. In her valedictory address, Ms. Belo had a lot to say about the sad state of our country."

I admire Ms Belo a lot. She is a "Super Maid." I think the course she took was in compliance with The Queen's Super Maid Policy as we discussed here.

I urge the reader not to miss any of Ms Belo's statements.
Although moderate in temperament, every line in her address is loaded. She lambasts the political leaders. She laments the mishandling of the national economy. She heaves the sigh of weariness and surrender of the OFW's, the saviors of The Queendom's economy who do not receive adequate protection from The Queen when they are in trouble. You will feel our people's desperation and re-experience political fatigue. When you get to the part where she says, "We have to bite the bullet," you will realize the extent of the loss of the Filipino nation's freedom of choice of opportunities.

After reading the speech, I was so sad. I felt the resignation of the OFW's to their fate. No longer do they demand that they be assured of jobs here in their Motherland. They aim only to improve their skills and secure for themselves and one another better working conditions. They aim only to ensure that their remittances are handled wisely by the government. Reality hit them in the eye, maybe a long time ago - there is nothing for them in The Queendom.

So read on and put on the shoes of our OFWs, even for just a moment.

by: Ms. Ophelia A. Belo

Excellencies, Ambassadors Lecaros and Brillantes, Mrs. Lecaros, Labatt JBJ and Mrs. Jimenez, Faculty Advisers, Embassy Officials, Filcom Leaders, Malaysian Nationals, Princess Becky, Datu Lim Sun Hoe and Datu Sunny Lim, Honorees, Guests, Fellow Students and Graduates, Friends Countrymen and Visitors, Good Afternoon,

I thank God for this honor and I express gratitude to my country and government for this opportunity. I accept this distinction with both joy and sadness. There is joy in my heart right now because once again I have proven that there is a reward for hardwork, dedication,
and excellence. But I am sad right at these moment, I am sad for our country and for our people. I am sad for you fellow graduates. And I am sad for myself.

I am sad that the Philippines, the homeland of brilliant, highly skilled and very articulate people, is now be coming the number one supplier of cheap labor including domestic helper into the booming world of global markets. We can kid ourselves by saying there's nothing wrong in being a domestic helper. Oh come on! I am a domestic helper myself and I'm not ashamed to be so. But then, what?

I am looking at the big picture and I am looking at our country and I am disappointed that there is not much hope if we remain there. I am regretful that every single day, no less than 3,200 Filipinos are leaving the Philippines, many of them for good, in the hope of finding jobs that can send our children to school, buy medicines for our sick, repair our dilapidated shanties or pay for all our indebtedness.

What happened to the Philippines?

Our country is supposed to be the Pearl of the Orient Seas. In 1961, many Malaysians used to envy the Filipinos. They dreamt to study in UP, La Salle or Ateneo. Today, Malaysians are the employers of Filipino domestic helpers. They have sent an astronaut into space, while the Filipinos are still quarrelling about government contracts and alleged rigging of elections.

We, the OFWs must begin the process of the renewal for our country. The FWRC is our center of excellence to be able to compete globally and turn around our country.

The global labor markets are unforgiving. The avalanche of rising demands for quality comes rushing every single moment and the standards of excellence keep on rising without pause. Only those who never stop learning will survive in this crazy and mind-boggling competition for skills.

Filipino engineers and technicians in IT who surf the cyberspaces for emerging opportunities find themselves competing with highly competent Indian computer wizards. Indians are also emerging as our OFW's top competitors in the global labor markets.

Our oil and gas engineers are still preferred by Malaysian employers because the local chemical and mechanical engineers prefer to work in UK and in the Middle East. This is the result of globalization of human capital.

Our domestic helpers from the Philippines are still the preferred ones by Malaysian royalty, high government officials and top businessmen. But the Filipino domestics represent only a miniscule 2% of the entire DH market in Malaysia, Indonesia commands more than 90% of the 500,000 household service providers in this country. ut the Philippine government is aiming for QUALITY employment. We frown upon QUANTITY or high volume of 5 D's: the jobs that are DIRTY, DIFFICULT, DANGEROUS, DEMEANING and DECEPTIVE.

Even if the Filipina DHs are only few, they enjoy superior benefits. They enjoy Sunday day-offs every week or at least every another week with the two Sundays paid for when they are not allowed to go. They have much higher pay and better terms and conditions of employment. They are allowed to study in the FWRC Skills Training Program.

The Filipino household service workers, along with other OFWs do study in FWRC. They learn word processing, spreadsheet, internet, illustrator, photoshop, autocad and multiple computer applications. They study Commercial Baking, Advanced Cake Decorating, Western Food Cooking, Basic Nursing, Reflexology and Arts and Crafts.They even learn the Art of Communication, Composition and Correspondences, Business and Social Correspondences, Financial Management, Business Development and Entrepreneurship.

The Labor Attache and top Embassy Officials teach BLAWSFIL (Basic Labor Laws for Filipino, a subject created by Labat JBJ as a means for empowerment, to arm the OFWs with fundamental knowledge of the labor and family laws, immigration and even contract laws and criminal statutes. The migrant workers from the Philippines are aware of their rights as well as obligations to employers and host government.They have less chances of being arrested and detained and they are more confident when confronted with legal issues.

OFWs from Malaysia who are now venturing to UK like Lyn dela Rama and Gene Sarmiento, both outstanding FWRC alumnae, have better chances of survival and even excellence in more challenging work environments. Former FWRC resource persons like Dang Penarubia who migrated to Canada have better probability of success than others who went without FWRC KASH (Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Habits)

Today, the 21st of October, here in the Grand Ballroom of Crown Princess Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, few shall graduate those among the 490 who enrolled in January, survived the grueling holistic training in FWRC. Today, the word GRADUATION should be understood as a process, not an end, a process of enhancing elevating, improving and developing the KASH positions of the OFW who made the correct decision to study in FWRC.

Today, also is a COMMENCEMENT, a starting point, a beginning, a point of embarkation to a higher level of consciousness, to a better perspective in life, a much improved point of view and a stronger, higher quality of qualification, a better state of readiness, an empowered new beginning of the rest of our lifetime journey.

The quest for excellence, the drive to win the global labor markets, the hunger for bigger challenges, the thirst for learning -- an insatiable yearning to learn more -- these are the hallmarks of men and women who are geared and programmed for success in life.

The next motto of FWRC is "ON TO THE MARCH FOR EXCELLENCE," both in skills and in Character. Both committed and competent. Thus, today is indeed a day for celebration. But aft er the celebration, we need to do something for our country.

And so today, ladies and gentlemen, what are we going to do to create a meaningful difference in the future of our country? Evil triumphs because good men do nothing. Let us all do something, no matter how small.

FIRST, let us not remit everything that we earn here. Let us save at least 50% through the Samahang Impok Bayan and keep it until we go home for good.

SECOND, let us all take courses in the FWRC that will help us in our reintegration like Business Management, Entrepreneurship Accounting, Basic Laws and other relevant courses. Indeed it is only EXCELLENCE THAT WE CAN bring TO THE GLOBAL WORLD.

THIRD, let us all write to our congressmen, let us write to our newspaper, let us e-mail jour opinions and let us be active in denouncing the abuses of our political leaders.

FOURTH, let us rally behind honest and hardworking officials and staff in government but let us denounce and expose and charge all those who violate their oaths as public servants.

FIFTH, let us help in the FWRC. Whatever honor we receive today should provide us an inspiration to share our knowledge to other OFWs.

SIXTH, let us discipline our families at home. They should learn to value our remittances and not squander them in luxuries. Let us let them learn that we worked hard for the money and we should not tolerate extravagances.

SEVENTH, let us all be aware of all the economic, social and political developments in our country. Let us monitor what are the trends and programs of our country's future. And let us share our thoughts with those who spend our remittances.

AND lastly number EIGHT, let us all be aware that all that were, all that are and all that will be in the Philippines are driven by economic realities, high population growth, labor excess economy,
cheap labor, globalization without safety nets, insufficient social services. All these are exacerbating the pains and sufferings of our people.

These are the reasons why the joy of my success today is eclipsed by the sadness in our situation as a nation and as a people.

We've got to feel the pain so that we will do something about it. We can not continue deluding ourselves. We have to face realities and bite the bullet.

According to a great social scientist: THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THE DISCONTENTED. The Filipinos should start to be discontented with our situation and tell our leaders of our discontentment.

According to a Chinese Philosopher: IT IS CRAZY TO EXPECT DIFFERENT RESULTS IF WE CONTINUE TO REPEAT THE SAME MISTAKES. The Filipinos should accept that there are for too many mistakes and we have to correct them.

And according to Dr. Jose Rizal in his NOLI ME TANGERE, recorded in the history of human sufferings is a cancer of so malignant a character that the least touch irritates it.

Since the time of Rizal until now more than a century after, the cancer is still here --a SOCIAL CANCER, AN ECONOMIC MALADY.

The only difference is that we can do something about it. Yes we can. And we should. No matter how strait the gate and how charged with punishment the scroll, we are the masters of our fate. We are the captain of our souls, to borrow from Invictus.

Kaya mga kababayan, dapat umpisahan na ang pagbabago, umpisahan sa ating sarili. Kung hindi ngayon, kaylan pa? Kung hindi tayo and mag umpisa, sino pa?? Bahala tayo sa ating kinabukasan at bahala tayo sa kinabukasan ng ating bansa. Pakaisipin ninyo ito. Huwag kayong masyadong magsaya. Dapat magkaroon din kayo ng lungkot, upang magsikap kayong magbago. Dahil ang mga problema ay hindi nakakatuwa.

Marami pong salamat.


I am currently somewhere in Europe partly for business and partly for pleasure. I do not know if I will always be enthusiastic to go to an internet shop while there are sights to behold and places to explore. Envy me. At least I am taking a respite from having to know about the wrong turns being taken by The Queen and her ilk, and the massive corruption further burying the Filipino nation into the muck and putting the Philippines on the brink of political collapse. (But the truth is I just have to know. Everytime I have access to the internet, I find out the latest happenings in The Queendom. Chismosa talaga.)

She was reportedly distressed over all the briberies. So upset she was that she ordered an investigation to get to the truth. Talaga? She is upset over the briberies or she is upset that her bright boys and girls did not do a clean job? Nabisto tuloy. The investigation must be for the purpose of identifying those whose head must be axed from her holy inner circle. Imagine bribing Crispin Beltran and Ed Panlilio? There is an Ilocano word for those who had the stupidity to offer money to Beltran and Panlilio: Tabbed!

Anyway, since I am supposed to be on vacation, let me do a Part II of a topic that brings me nothing but a light feeling: John Denver. Let me share you my poem in his remembrance.

For John Denver (In Memoriam)
by Cheryl Daytec

The sweet voice that spoke for them without tongue
The courage released where there was almost none
The saber that could pierce apathy and ire
The shield from a rain of bullets gone haywire
The unguent that calmed weeping broken hearts
The refuge of them whose sapped life lost all art
A candle illuminating in the dark
Jasmine strewing fragrance in a stinking park

You asked, What are we making those weapons for?
So much money to waste! Why not feed the poor?
Why do we exile the feeble refugees
When our gluttony forced them on bended knees?
Why do we have three worlds- first, second and third?
Let's tear down the curtain,for there's just one world
Women everywhere must have bread and roses
Wind down their toil from years of powerlessness

A small garden snail is a creature to defend
What more human infants unable to fend
For their own survival? Pity them sans power
Life is so sacred, protect it no matter
The cabbage and tomatoes complete life's circle
Honor their significance; respect their innate worth
Creation's a gift; every death must give life
Death that spells more death gives birth to more strife

I listened to you, a child I may have been
I had been repeating your questions since then
You made me imagine a night in the forest
Afterwards, I nurse no dread of snakes and beasts
As I have of men whose hands pull power's trigger
Whose callousness push the world into danger
So what is wealth when it renders others poor
What is an open gate when there is one closed door?

Your songs are in my soul, they are in my bone
You showed how a flower could shatter a stone
Your music is part of what I have become
Searching for fairness in places where's none
Your sweet voice summons, and not just the ear
It nudges the conscience to submit to fear
Of virtues such as love, virtues such as justice
Oh, these we must serve; oh, these we must please

I look for the rhyme and reason in your death
There's none I can see; but I still feel your breath
You had so much to share, and your all you did give
No grave lies in your name; and long you will live!

I wrote the poem while listening to John Denver one day in September. I sent it to my siblings, all John Denver admirers. My sister Betty (not just an admirer but a possessed fan) emailed to say the poem should reach people and John Denver's family. I posted it on Bread for the World. Carlos Navarro of the Bread for the World Movement said that he passed the poem on to Hank Bruce, author of the book Peace Beyond All Fear: A Tribute to John Denver's Vision. Bruce's wife Tomi Jill Folk said to me in Carlos Navarro's blog: "My husband Hank Bruce and I will be meeting John Denver's mother Erma and first wife Annie Denver at the Windstar Foundation gathering Sunday, Oct.14th, and will bring them each a copy of your poem, so it will indeed reach his family. We will be presenting them with Hank's book "Peace Beyond All Fear, a Tribute to John Denver's Vision." Two thousand people from all over the world are expected to be meeting in Aspen, (Colorado) to honor the memory of John Denver; your poem will tell his family that his influence extends to those not able to be present at the event."

I was floored. I told Betty. She was more floored.

I just thought you should know.

I'll be back in November.


He was a musician. He was a poet. He was a philosopher. More than all this, he was an activist.

What a shame that he died too soon.

On 12 October 1997, John Denver (born Henry John Deutschendorf) died when the private plane he was piloting crashed. The details of his death can be found here.

He is best remembered by the world for that very beautiful love song "Annie's Song." In the Cordillera, he is renowned for the song Take Me Home, Country Roads which was unofficially adopted as the Cordillera anthem.

But not everyone is aware that like Jackson Browne, John Denver was an activist who used his music to question inequality and injustice everywhere. As a young child raised in Sunday school, I was passionate about justice and equality. This was the 1980's. We had John Denver cassette tapes and I would listen to them over and over again. The virtues I learned to appreciate in Sunday school I appreciated all the more.

When I was in college, my generation was going gaga over Madonna and the orange-haired Cindy Lauper, and dancing to the ear-piercing sounds generated by weird looking people who called their noise metallic rock and roll. It could not relate to my music choice, and neither could I to its (although for a time in the 1990's, I was crying to Toto's I'll Be Over You after my first love slipped away. I also became deeply interested in Depeche Mode's Somebody because my then ka-relasyon who is now my husband swore he could have written that song for me).

Even among Filipino activists, Denver is not widely appreciated and I guess it stems from their not knowing how profound his music is. It seems not to have commercial appeal. In the 90's ear-damaging noise was selling and Denver was creating soft music although his songs created noise of their own because they expressed the concerns of the common people. I think Denver knew this. To his eternal credit and my eternal happiness, he did not succumb to the temptation of wealth. He did not let the market change his music. I think he was hoping he could change the market.

In the song One World, he laments global socio-economic stratification. He asks, "Why are you calling this the third world? I only know that it is my world. I hope someday it can be our world. Can you imagine one world, one world? This world is made for everybody. This life is gift for everyone. This earth is bound to keep on turning. This day is flowers in the sunshine, sunshine." In Let Us Begin, his castigation of US military interventionism and the Reagan administration's military spending policy is unequivocal: "What are we making weapons for? Why keep on feeding the war machine? We take it right out of the mouths of our babies, take it away from the hands of the poor. Tell me, what are we making weapons for?"

He invites the world's attention to the case of the homeless in Falling Leaves. "This is for the refugees/ The ones without a home/ A boat out on the ocean/ A city street alone/Are they not some dear mother's child?/ Are they not you and I/ Are we the ones to bear this shame? And they this sacrifice?/ Or are they just like falling leaves/ Who give themselves away/ From dust to dust, from seed to shear? And to another day?? If i could have one wish on earth? Of all i can conceive/ T'would be to see another spring/ And bless the falling leaves."

In It's A Possibility, the tenor-voiced John Denver exhorts the world to unite to end hunger and injustice. He says, "For all the times that you've wondered why/ The world turned out this way/ And all of the times that you've asked yourself/ About the games that people play/ About the politics of hunger/ And the politics of need/ How the politics of power/ Seem to be the politics of greed." He speaks for the defenseless children and poignantly articulates their dreams in I Want to Live.

He also popularized the song Bread and Roses written in 1912 by James Oppenheim as a tribute to the Suffragette Movement. Here are some lines from that song which moves me to tears everytime I hear it: "As we go marching, marching/ We battle too for men/ For they are women's children/ And we mother them again/ Our lives shall not be sweetened/ From birth until life closes/ Hearts starve as well as bodies/ Give us bread, but give us roses/ As we go marching, marching/ We bring the greater days/ For the rising of the women/ Means the rising of the race/ No more the drudge and idler/ Ten that toil where one reposes/ But the sharing of lifes glories/ Bread and roses, bread and roses." Tell me, isn't this beautiful?

And John Denver brought to life Ed McCurdy's The Strangest Dream during a massive rally denouncing the US-instigated Vietnam War. With fire in his soul, John Denver sang: "Last night I had the strangest dream/ I'd ever dreamed before/ I dreamed the world had all agreed/ To put an end to war." I think this song should be revived especially with a brewing US-Iran War and the ongoing US-led war in Iraq wreaking horror of all sizes, shapes and nationalities.

I could go on and on about John Denver's politics. As I said in the blog Bread for the World, "Many modern day intellectuals wrote books on ideology and theories that they developed and, for their works, are now extolled by the world as philosophers. John Denver wrote and sang songs that make him no less a philosopher. The whole world will one day realize this."

I never met John Denver. But we could actually have. The virtues he kept searching are the same ones I pine for. His music heavily influenced my life. This world is still as turbulent as he left it. Poverty is massive. Imperialism is still the norm for the First World. But there are people who, because of John Denver's music, are standing firm in the name of the peace, justice, love and equality to which he dedicated his career. This gives us hope that all is not lost. His life was short. But his influence outlives him.

Rest in peace, John Denver. Death insulates you from the politics and injustice that made you unhappy.

- cheryl daytec/ 12October07

SUPER MAID OR SUPER VICTIM: The Case of OFW Jocelyn Dulnuan (R.I.P)

Who killed Jocelyn Dulnuan?

Jocelyn Dulnuan, a 27 year old criminology graduate from Ifugao province left her practically newborn baby to work in Canada. Two months ago, she was employed as a housemaid in a S15M mansion. On October 2, the mansion became the scene of a murder - hers.

Up to this time, the killer has not been identified.

Aside from the one being pursued by the Canadian authorities, I know someone else who did it. Call me a stupid lawyer. But this case is not just about who owned the hands that pulled the trigger or plunged the knife (Reports are not yet clear as to how Jocelyn was killed.). This case is also about why Jocelyn had to leave her baby to work abroad. What a terrible social cost!

This is the undeniable truth: There are no jobs in The Queen's Queendom. The other undeniable truth is that it is the responsibility of the State to create economic opportunities for its subjects. On this score, The Queen failed. Miserably. Hers is not an Enchanted Queendom. Hers is like Skar's kingdom in the movie, "The Lion King Part II." So Jocelyn had to move out, perhaps without a portent of the doom she would eventually meet. Perhaps, she heard of the ordeals of OFWs but so what? Poverty has no fear.

When The Queen ran in 2004, she promised to create jobs. Whew. After she became The Queen without the benefit of an election, did she? She says she did, but the jobs that her subjects found were jobs abroad. She sponsored overseas employment aggressively, but she did not put up structures or erect hedges to adequately protect OFW's from abuse. (Do not ever forget how her Queendom mishandled the OFW's funds being administered by OWWA.) She was, as she is, more interested in perpetuating her reign at all costs. She left job creation for her subjects to other governments.

Meantime, her Unenchanted Queendom's economy remained afloat, thanks to the OFWs, even while she raided the GSIS' coffers so she could buy votes in 2004. In 2006, the total amount of OFW remittances was officially recorded at $12.8 billion, just above 10 percent of the GDP. The Philippines is now the world's third highest remittance-recipient country after India and Mexico, and the highest when remittances are measured as ratios to population, GDP and exports.

Last year, The Queen proudly launched her Super Maid policy, very much like FVR's Bagong Bayani policy under which Filipinos seeking jobs as housemaids abroad should first obtain training certificates and be registered as super maids. It is a super-exploitative policy. It is killing Jocelyn over again.

Fellow blogger Bill Bilig, Jr. eloquently dissected Jocelyn's case in Jocelyn and Julia: A Tale of Two Women:

When Julia Campbell was killed in Ifugao, the Philippine government moved heaven and earth to be of help.Gloria Arroyo, with her trademark faux sympathy, said something like: "We will give 110% to help her and her family. We will do everything we can." Hundreds of Cordillera police officers were sent to Ifugao to look for Julia... And Congress officially honored her as a hero. Well and good. When Jocelyn Dulnuan, our kailiyan from Ifugao, was killed in Toronto, do you know how the Philippine consulate in Toronto responded to requests for help?According to a source, consulate officials said something like: "Duh, she is not registered with the OWWA, so we can't help you.

Okay, we added "duh" for effect. But, other than that, those are the words spoken by our consular officials. Now, it is words like that which tempts us to throw away our advocacy for non-violence. Maybe we should get those officials and drop them from Toronto's CN Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the whole world. Or maybe we should send said officials to the mental institution at Queen's Street... Anyway, as stated above, the reason why the OWWA cannot help Jocelyn is the fact that she did not register with said agency.

Quotable quotes from the Philippine consulate in Toronto:

"If the person came direct from the Philippines, then they would have registered and paid their dues at the airport. But because this girl came from Hongkong, then she should have registered when she got here."

Our source pointed out to said consular officials that Jocelyn paid her dues, and thus registered, when she left the Philippines to go to Hongkong. Sadly, such fact apparently does not count. So let us get this clear: Jocelyn paid whatever it is that OWWA collects at the airport from departing OFWs when she left for Hongkong. But OWWA insists that she is not registered with them because she didn't pay anything when she moved from Hongkong to Canada. Wow, technicality, what a way to wash your hands off. So how did our source react to our consular official's insistence on technicality. Here's what she told us:

So I told them that they need to put it in their responsibility list to ensure the OFWs get educated on the importance of "registering" and make it so.

Exactly. We agree with her 110%. This strict interpretation of the registration requirement is really silly. Too often, it is used by our government officials to turn away from their responsibility to protect Filipino citizens. Eh klarong-klaro na OFW, ano pang hahanapin mo?

Actually, these consular officials are like the bus conductors or waiters who insist that old people present a certification proving that they are senior citizens before they are given the discounted rates for senior citizens. An old friend got so exasperated with this silliness so she shouted: "Eh obvious na matanda ang tao, hahanapan mo pa ng proof na siya ay matanda." We can excuse those bus conductors and waiters because they are most probably doing what their employers, who are in the business of making money, told them to do. However, it's hard to find an excuse for our consular official's insistence that an OFW must first be registered with OWWA (in the manner of registration they prescribe) before they lend a helping hand. To paraphrase our friend: "Eh obvious na OFW yung tao, hahanapan mo pa ng proof na siya ay OFW. Because the Philippine consulate is officially not helping (hopefully it will help unofficially), our kailiyans in Toronto are banding together to help raise funds to bring Jocelyn home.

From our source:

So at the moment, we are depending on the good hearts of citizens to raise over 15,000 dollars to send the body home. Since an ash is not going to do. I am asking help from all the Filipino associations and I just hope they will help.

In ending, let's go back to the tales of Julia and Jocelyn. We are glad that the Philippine government did everything it could in the Julia Campbell case. But we are quite sad to hear of the Philippine consulate's insistence on a stupid registration requirement in response to calls for help for Jocelyn Dulnuan.What foolishness in this worst of times.

Very well said, Bill. As a belated reaction, the DFA officials directed the Toronto consulate to extend full support to Jocelyn. But as Bill says, "Full support should include assuming responsibility in repatriating Jocelyn's body. Thank heavens. But we'll see if it isn't just for press release."

(Bill reported later that the Philippine consulate in Toronto pledged S5,000. Why not the entire $15,000? Anyway, the consulate's change of heart is thanks to the kailians and kababayans in Canada, the media and bloggers who did not let up in pursuing Jocelyn's case. Sadly, in the Philippine print media department, it seems that it is only Vince Cabreza of the Philippine Daily Inquirer who worked hard to give this tragedy the national attention it deserves. I could be wrong, though. But I am certain it was he who first wrote about this tragedy in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.)

Back to the question: Who killed Jocelyn Dulnuan?

Her blood is on The Queen's hands.


Here is a poem I wrote in the 1990s to express my disgust over FVR's Bagong Bayani Policy. I feel the same about GMA's Super Maid program. I feel my disgust over again because of Jocelyn's death.

Salt on Wound

When nature liberated its anger
its air stream unbridled its muscle
scattering leaves to all directions
deracinating life-giving verdure
Some plants were robbed of life on
the soil of their birth and youth
Others were swept to faraway
shores where they withered away
or struggled to reclaim animation.

Such is the blight of poverty you
nurture like a favorite pet in this
land you call your principality
It flings your people to the globe’s far
corners ramming them out of their homes,
away from their spouses’ embrace
You have orphaned the children
while their parents are still alive
Babies who yearn for a mother’s touch
grow up suddenly in the night; in the
morrow, they are acquainted with life’s
harshness forbidden in an infant’s world
The cradle has abruptly shrank for them.
Homes have been shattered into minute
slivers they could not be pieced together.

There you are- smoking cigar, counting the
gold wired to your kingdom’s coffers and
your elation reverberates throughout
the archipelago taunting loneliness and despair.
You ridicule the tears of the mothers as
they slave on foreign shores for the stomach
ignoring the yearnings of the heart.
You jeer at the anguish of the father
who has not witnessed the birth of his daughter
and her metamorphosis into womanhood.

Why do you call them heroes
when they are your victims?

cheryl daytec/ 12 June 1996


Last night, I was watching TV and there was The Queen's Executive muchacho declaring Malacañang's disgust over a dialogue in the September 30, 2007 episode of "Desperate Housewives."

The character Susan Mayer Delfino said: "Okay, before we go any further, can I check these diplomas? Because I would just like to make sure they are not from some med school in the Philippines."

Malacañang had this coming. For the record, I am not saying that I agree with Susan Mayer Delfino. I am upset. I am incensed. I inked my signature on the petition demanding apology from ABC and Desperate Housewives.

Desperate Housewives
must apologize. But Malacanang does not stand on a moral high ground as it demands it. In fact, Malacanang must apologize to Desperate Housewives for feeding it a false information. The derogatory statement is an offshoot of Malacanang's handling or, more appropriately, mishandling of the 2006 nursing exam fraud which was elevated into a scandal of international magnitude.

When examinees and nursing leaders complained to the PRC about the leakage of test questions, it ignored them because their complaint was "not official" even if they presented indubitable evidences of fraud. (Under the PRC Modernization Law, the PRC can investigate examination irregularities on its own without need of a complaint. This it neglected or, rather, refused to do). They filed an official complaint. Without looking into it, PRC issued a statement that there was no cheating. The fraud was cavalierly swept under the rug by the very same agency mandated by law to protect the credibility of licensure tests. The complaint was liberally injected with sleeping pills. The complainants' lawyer had to trade insults with some PRC officials before they finally retrieved the complaint from the slumber box.

Ignoring the complainants' call for the creation of an independent, competent fact-finding body, PRC assumed the task of investigation. The complainants had every reason not to trust it. After all, it precipitately dismissed the allegations of fraud even in the face of compelling evidence.

After resolute follow-ups by the complainants, PRC issued a resolution affirming that the exam was marred by cheating, but declined to pinpoint the culprits. Notably, it cleared itself of any involvement. It also referred the matter to the NBI for determination of the guilty, claiming that it did not have the competence to do it. (But that was why the complainants did not want them to investigate. Its people were evidently incompetent.) PRC Chair Leonor Rosero announced the forthcoming release of the exam result. Alarmed, the complainants wrote a letter asking PRC to adopt as its most urgent agenda the removal of the thick mist of doubt plaguing the test's integrity. In their letter, they warned PRC of more problems as a consequence of a premature release.

It released the results anyway. All hell broke loose. Whereas before, noise was coming from the cold northern mountains, this time it was reverberating from every corner in the country. The leakage became a national scandal. The complainants asked The Queen to step into the fray and reverse the PRC. She retreated into autism (as she often does when it is the small people asking government to do its job). Then the national scandal quickly metamorphosed into a badge of international shame. The Filipino people were polarized over the issue of retake. The "passers," cheaters and non-cheaters alike (There was no way to tell who was what and who was what not.) were attacked by questions on their competence and credibility. Calls for Rosero's resignation mounted. The Queen refused to budge. (It was later found out that Rosero's husband was a powerful PAGCOR guy close to The Queen's FG of AB..ZTE..FG notoriety. Rosero herself was -still is- The Queen's personal dentist. I stopped wondering why Rosero was so durable.)

The complainants -this time, a bigger multitude- went to the Senate. PRC ignored the body citing EO 464. They also went to the Court of Appeals seeking the nullification of the leaked exams and praying for retake.

By golly, the country was chaotic. Only blood and gore were absent to make it a killing field. Examinees, nurses here and abraod, nursing school deans, politicians, parents, students, nursing review centers and other stakeholders were shooting at one another. Someone in the palace was very happy, eager to capitalize on the bedlam to reinforce her illegitimate powers. When the country's berth of patience was saturated with desperation and everyone was praying for a messiah, The Queen stepped out of her ivory tower and shouted, "No retake!" She waited for applause. It was deafeningly loud. She was pleased until she realized that the quarters wanting cleansing through retake had an equally resounding voice. Reversing herself, she hollered, "Retake." More chaos. Realizing that any move she made at that point was political suicide, she declared in her distinctive, androgynous monotone, "I leave the issue to the Court of Appeals." Typical of her. (Shades of Honor the ZTE deal; Withdraw the ZTE deal.) The CA came out with a decision that pleased and displeased the public. Still more chaos. But the heat was off Malacañang; it was on the CA. (The Queen is still living under the rule of the Old Testament. She loves sacrificial lambs.)

While the country was struggling to come to terms with the nursing scandal, more reports of leakage in other licensure tests came out.

The USA, the number 1 absorber of the Philippine nursing labor force, was watching in the sidelines like a hawk. Even it could take so much ineptude. Through the CGFNS, it expressed its disappointment. To make a really long and winding story short, the USA said, "You want to come to the USA? Retake. Your license is valid for purposes of practising in your country, but not here." Haha. It virtually said that the "passers" were a possible menace to the American public's health without passing a retake. How could the Philippine government let them loose in an unsuspecting health service-consuming public? Loud was a veiled albeit sharp rebuke of the Philippine government for its incompetence in handling fraud which made indelible the stigma attending the license of the June 2006 nursing exam passers who would not retake.

Surely, Desperate Housewives owes the Filipino people an apology. But it owes Malacañang nothing. It was Malacañang that gave every reason for some outside quarters to doubt the competence of Philippine graduates of professions providing medical and allied health services. Malacañang should now apologize to the medical profession for making them vulnerable to undeserved slander and racial slur.

Again, I salute the examinees and nursing leaders who did not waver in their search for justice no matter how elusive it was. It was a long journey. It was a tiring journey. It was a disappointing journey. But to have begun it was a noble quest.


(You may be interested to read an analysis of the scandal by me and UST Prof. Rene Tadle, published by the Manila Times in October 2006:


We are living in dangerous times.

Here are some of the facts: Since The Queen assumed power in 2001, there have been close to 900 cases of political activists and human rights defenders brutally murdered, involuntarily disappeared, unjustifiably arrested and detained or subjected to extreme pressure, threats and harassments. Of the murdered, nineteen were lawyers.

Human rights violations continue to escalate. The Melo Commission, created by The Queen to investigate the killings established that the military was involved, although it virtually cleared its creator. The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Prof Philip Alston came for a visit, conducted his own investigation and affirmed what the enlightened quarters have been claiming- the State is liable for human rights violations. The dimwitted Secretary of Injustice (born a joke, lives a joke, will die a joke), also The Queen's muchacho, dismissed Alston as a mere muchacho of the UN.

Plagued by questions on the legitimacy of her totalitarian reign, The Queen forced the hand of Congress to pass the Human Security Act otherwise known as the Anti-Terror Law. Under this law, the expression of legitimate dissent to or righteous indignation over anti-people State policies may be repressed under the cover of anti-terror operation. It allows the detention of the accused for 72 hours without charge, surveillance and wiretapping. It becomes the paper justification for the violation of human rights. It becomes the paper justification to stifle, "Oust The Unelected President!" movements.

The Human Security Law promotes mainly one thing: Silence. This it does by legalizing State repression of freedom of expression. This it does by legitimizing human rights violations.

These are very trying times when the voice of the sober urgently needs to be heard. There is the ZTE Broadband deal (Please visit the blog Manila Bay Watch for an exhaustive, enlightened dissection of the issue, the broadbandits and the other members of the cast of characters in the drama.), and yet the truth about it is still beyond our reach. It is a story of unprecedented corruption in Philippine history, so massive that Erap’s plunder may sound very trivial. There is the Hello, Garcinungaling Scandal which demands closure. There is the Jose Pidal episode. There are so many more.

Silence is the people’s foe. The HSA is the last thing we need if we want to be free. Only truth makes freedom possible. As Martial Rule demonstrated in no uncertain terms, silence is not golden; it is the enemy of truth.

It is when democratic institutions and human rights are shaken and exposed to great peril that the people look unto the legal profession for refuge. Really, this profession has a commitment to democracy, justice and truth (although many of its members have chosen to take the side of these virtues' enemies in the name of cold cash, but that is another story). It is in times as trying as the present that a show of its dedication to the preservation of democratic institutions, rights, justice and truth is expected by the public. When the lawyers fail them, they turn to the priests and nuns. Sadly, though, our priests and nuns as a collective group have chosen to fold their arms and watch the scene, if they watch at all. The whole thing is sadder really when you note that the sustained protest against Myanmar's despotic regime is spearheaded by nuns and monks who used to be cloistered in their monasteries, seemingly oblivious to the slaughter of freedom and humans in the outside world. There is development somewhere; there is regression elsewhere. Cheers to the Burmese, by the way.

Aware of the gargantuan responsibility of the legal profession, some one hundred lawyers, paralegals and law students from all over the country gathered in Cebu and founded the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers. They elected veteran human rights lawyer Romeo T. Capulong Chairperson. Another lawyer of the same mold Frederico Gapuz of Mindanao was elected President. Atty. Neri Colmenares (who was often addressed The Congressman Without A Seat, being Bayan Muna’s third nominee) is NUPL’s Secretary General. NUPL is committed to the promotion, defense and protection of human rights especially of the poor and the oppressed.

For sure, NUPL members will be targeted as terrorists by their mere defense and, therefore, association with groups and individuals openly critical of the government and its anti-people policies. Many of them have been subjected to various forms of harrasment. But they are not cowed because “to embrace silence in these troubled times is to contribute to the assault on Philippine democracy, and to abandon our sworn duty to defend justice and struggle for truth is to contribute to the victory of repression, and to choose to be safe and uninvolved is a betrayal of our oath to protect and preserve justice and truth.”

The Queen’s totalitarian regime will succeed with a mute constituency. The NUPL will not be muted. It will continue to shatter silence where it looms. The Queen should not succeed.

Let not silence kill democracy
! Let not silence kill truth and justice!

Mabuhay ang NUPL! Mabuhay ang karapatang pantao! Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!


Philippines, 2007

What time and place is this?
Lies fly around like birds
Freedom’s banished away
Truth’s chained in an abyss

Terror rears its jagged head
Its fangs drip with more death
It spreads fright in the night
And rules the day with dread

What time and place is this?
Hope abandoned the slums
Mothers search for loved ones
Dirge punctuates the stillness

The dead crowd out the lists
Graveyards are getting small
Wraiths wail in Justice Hall
Orphans grieve with clenched fists

What time and place is this?
Smile is a luxury
Youth left children’s faces
Old people are in tears.

Like angry streams of blood
Puce rays filter through clouds
The air sucks out our breath
Disgust is like a flood

What time and place is this?
Is this when time will end?
Things could not get much worse
This place – this is bleakness.

But this is also when
The only choice is fight
Stand up for what is right
Home - this will be again. /
cheryl daytec


Yesterday was the death anniversary of one of the most distinguished persons the Philippines ever produced: Haydee Bofill Yorac.

Shortly before her death, she was a Commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government tasked to recover the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth. Under her watch, the PCGG had several accomplishments to justify its existence. She left that body on account of illness but the nation believed that she was pressured into resigning by an administration dancing beautiful tango with the Marcoses.

Yorac was also a COMELEC Commissioner. In 1986, when Marcos was pressuring the COMELEC to rig election results, she led a walk out. It is heartening to know that the COMELEC, after all, had its moments of glory. Now the body has gone to the most stinking gutter after the Hello, Garcinungaling scandal and COMELEC Chair Abalos' involvement in the highly anomalous ZTE deal with the Philippine government.

A human rights lawyer, Yorac was courageous and outspoken. She opposed the Marcos' dictatorship and was jailed for it. Above all, she was like Caesar’s wife: beyond reproach. In 2004, she was a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for government service. Accepting the award, she said: "Our values and personal convictions dictate the direction that we take and the stand that we make on moral issues that affect our work, in particular, and the country, in general. The desire to make government more effective and efficient in its mandate of good governance is of paramount importance. It is the driving force that compels many of us to accept responsibilities in government, despite the odds."

As A UP Law Professor, she was known for putting presidential daughter Imee Marcos in the latter’s rightful place: a mere student. It is said that she prevented Imee’s bodyguards from entering her class.

I am honored to have been a student of the Great One. She was my professor in Obligations and Contracts, a five unit-killer law subject. In the University of the Philippines, professors required students in civil law subjects to use commentaries by Arturo Tolentino which frizzy-haired Yorac called “the best of the bad law books.” Paras was banned. Yorac went as far as saying that anyone caught using Paras would be booted out of the classroom. Paras books started to be rejected by my mental process. I could not understand them. When I started to teach civil law subjects, I forbade my students from using Paras.

She would say, “That is a flash of brilliance!” when a particular discussion of Tolentino was superb.

In her class, we were like a cat on a hot tin roof. The Great One administered one-on-one oral examinations, with you standing in front of her for some twenty minutes. She would grill you and her facial expression or the absence of it would be no help. We feared her, until the fear metamorphosed into reverence. I was never the studious type. After all, our UP Law Professors were mostly “finalists” who based the grades on the final examination. I would burn the candle before the final examinations. Literally, too at one time when the Republic of Diliman was plunged in darkness by a super typhoon that uprooted a big tree in front of our dorm. But I read for the Great One’s subject. Every night. At times, I would read even while at work in Congress. The objective was not a high grade, it was to do the Great One’s efforts justice. It paid off: At the end of the semester I was one of the top two in her class, the other one being Tina Benipayo who would eventually graduate valedictorian.

One time, we discussed a case about a naïve young woman who was promised marriage by a much older man. Apparently, the man had been visiting the home of the girl. On the pretext of teaching the girl how to pray the rosary, he convinced her parents to let her go with him. They slept together and she got pregnant.

Eric, a philosophy instructor in Diliman, raised his hand and asked, “How did the girl get pregnant if they only slept together?” Yorac’s eyes enlarged, and then with a face that would not betray her amusement, she blurted: Mr. ___, sleeping together means not sleeping at all.” We had a good laugh. Her facial expression remained stoic. She never laughed at her own jokes. At one time, a student could not answer her question. Edgy, he just kept staring at her. As if taunting him, Yorac kept staring back. Then the unmarried Great One said after what seemed like an eternity, “Mr. ___, let’s stop staring at each other. We might fall in love.” The giggle that the class had been stifling was let loose like a powerful waterfall. I remember how the big-bodied Mel Velasco roared in laughter.

The Great One is in the Great Beyond. In these times when corruption is at its highest and vilest, when it seems to be the norm in government, we miss her terribly. We search for Haydee Yoracs. And we are disappointed that no one in the top level comes close. Most of them dirtied their hands. Most of them are following the leader of the pack.

Haydee Yorac will always be my idol. She will live long after she died.


This morning, I sent this text message to friends: "My gut feel is politics, not justice, will prevail today. Erap will be convicted for a lesser offense. GMA will be happy-though not ecstatic- for the conviction; Erap will be happy for the lesser crime. Text later to jeer or cheer. Any decision, though, will have no bearing on our quality of life."

Erap got 40 years and I got a wake-up call that I'm no political psychic. None of my friends texted to jeer, perhaps not wanting to rub salt on a wounded ego. To my defense, even Madam Auring wrongly predicted her victory when she ran for an elective post! So what is the big deal? Let me off the hook already. Haha!

I still insist though that politics prevailed. I am not saying that Erap is innocent. Hey, I was a convenor of the Metro-Baguio Erap Resign Movement. An Erap acquittal would have been disastrous for the Filipino nation. It would have rubbished the people power demonstrated by the masses (which Rene Saguisag insists on calling the mob.) in 2000-2001. Erap would be vindicated. It would confirm beyond cavil what we already know: that the justice system in this country mercilessly operates against the poor, but the rich are triumphantly insulated from its wrath. The doubting Thomases could go the way of the vanishing Filipino crocodile - and I mean the ones native to Palawan that stop gobbling when their hunger is sated.

An Erap acquittal would also have spelled more disaster for the Arroyo administration which writhes from a hopeless chronic credibility problem even as its legitimacy continues to be haunted by the Hello, Garcinungaling scandal. The Erap cult would be rejuvenated more than ever, and they would be more audacious in launching destabilization (I did not say revolutionary or Bonifacioic) efforts. Certainly not good for the Makati Business Club. Etcetera.

Erap's camp is firm that to begin with, there never was any evidence to prove his guilt beyond moral certainty. Granting that it is right, the Sandiganbayan must have been caught between a rock and hard place. It chose the rock. Or the hard place. Whatever, it chose the politically correct one. (And my eyebrow would not be raised if one or more of the justices will be appointed to the Court of Appeals, or the Supreme Court.)

Even before today, political psychics (the ones with track record and self-proclaimed ones like myself) were saying that if Erap would end up in a loop, he would be pardoned by the Palace like the prodigal son, complete with a feast and a new wardrobe. But Erap pre-empted any official offer of pardon: he would reject it because he is innocent and the Filipino people have acquitted him anyway. I do not know how he secured a popular acquittal after the enlightened crowd convicted him in 2001. I was probably out of this country or holed up in a health facility- in coma- when it happened. His repudiation of pardon offers rings hollow in my ears, even in their unclean state. I still remember how his close allies (except my classmate now Sen. Chiz Escudero and others) voted or made themselves scarce when they were confronted with the impeachment question in the House of Representatives. Prior to the casting of votes, they were deafeningly noisy in their lurid rhetorics against the self-appointed Queen as though the success of the GMA, Step Down! Movement rested on their shoulders. But when the official count began, they were either absent or good as absent. Coincidentally, they met with Erap, then fervently praying for a house arrest, in his Veteran (?) lair shortly before!

So something is brewing and it is a recipe detrimental to the welfare of the Filipino people.

In the case of Erap, his acquittal and his conviction are not opposites; they are two sides of the same coin. Like Erap and Gloria.

Like a hole in the head, neither is good for the Filipino people.


I wrote this while watching in a wellness facility the live telecast of Erap's sentencing (Would you believe that a senior citizen suffering from arthritis was actually in tears? Gosh, I almost shed tears myself not for Erap but because her tears, to me, are a pathetic display of the unenlightened's internalization of their oppression.):


On the streets, fury seeks wisdom
Injustice complains
Justice weeps in a corner
One got ten pies
And left ten to a hungry hundred
Inside ivory towers,
dreams are being burned
robberies are being schemed
gold is being eaten by the epicurean
In the slums, old men cough
Children eat air and drink hunger
while mothers bake pan de sal
in their imagination
Our viewdeck trembles
We watched this
In another place
In another time
From a dim corner,
our destination is


Deconstructing The Club's Outcry

Yesterday, the Makati Business Club, with other economic forces in the country, denounced in a statement (see below) the "culture of impunity" pervading the Philippine bureaucracy. The Club, the fierce lion that regressed into a cub at the height of the "Hello, Garcinungaling" scandal, is particulary "appalled" at allegations of corruption and bribery involving the ZTE National Broadband Network deal. Jose de Venecia III admitted having been offered a bribe of $10M dollars by COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos, now better known as the ZTE Liaison Officer, to withdraw his company's bid in the said government project. Former NEDA Director General Romulo Neri could not categorically deny that he was offered a P250M bribe by the ZTE Liaison Officer. He opted not to say anything. Did this education czar think he was being cute in his pathetic attempt to be mysterious? The child could not see the Emperor's New Clothes as he could not see Neri's denial.

Let us go back to the Makati Business Club which bears most of the brunt of my ire today. It is appalled? Where has it been all this time? The masses are past being appalled. They are either more incensed or blissful in their apathy. This apathy was an escape route they took after rocks of misfortune were thrown their way several times and The Establishment could not help them any. Later on they would find out that it was The Establishment hurling rocks at them. Because The Club is appalled, it is calling on Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, self-appointed Queen of The Establishment, to heed "our pleas" and to "take immediate action to rectify blatant wrongdoings of public officials lest she be accused of condoning them."

If The Club has faith that Her Royal Highness will rectify blatant wrongdoings committed by her boys, we should stop wondering why we are going to the dogs. How can she clean a house she made dirtier than when she first moved in? She will spank the truant ZTE Liaison Officer, he will spill the beans on "Hello, Garcinungaling." If The Club will accuse HRH of condoning the public officials should she not heed the plea to take immediate action, it is way too late in its reaction. The enlightened population already accused her. She already condoned the corruption with her silence on the issue.

Why am I singling out The Club when the statement was issued by it with other powerful economic groups? It is a towering economic power in this country. Sure, its members who carry the blue blood of the national bourgeoisie are part of the oligarchy which holds the remote control that decides when those morons in Congress should sit or stand. In short, The Club is A Force. Karl Marx said that they who hold the economic power also hold the political power. If The Club wanted HRH impeached in 2005, she could have been impeached (That may be giving The Club far too much credit, but it was a possibility.). But no, it chose to play house with HRH in their own Garden of Eden, with the usual galit-bati routine, while the masses scavenged for food somewhere between hell and the desert. What was that about condemning HRH then making a turn-around saying there was a mistake? The shameful deal unraveling before our eyes right now would have been prevented by the success of the HRH Resign Movement whose failure The Club helped bring about. The failure of that movement sealed our fate: this is a nation where cheating is a way of life. Anybody else who disagrees is a deviant. Or worse, an aberration.

The movement failed because some of us chose to waltz with the dictator. And those some have forfeited the moral standing to say who should be crucified for this latest scandal of universal proportion!

The statement has its valid points, I must admit. I will just imagine that it was issued by the public school teachers who are far more credible than The Club.
  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Joint statement of Makati Business Club,Management Association of the Philippines,Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines,Foundation for Economic Freedom, Inc.,Action for Economic Reforms)

We are appalled that the culture of impunity among certain government officials appears to have spread to an extent exceeding that of all past administrations. This impunity seems also increasingly evident in many agencies of government.

A glaring example is that of COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos who had no business in allowing himself to be entertained by officials of ZTE Corporation, a potential contractor of the Republic, particularly considering he had an important electoral exercise to administer. His indiscreet conduct and absence from his official duties could only have happened if he believed he was immune from sanctions. We therefore reiterate our call for Chairman Abalos to resign. Dept. of Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza needs to think very carefully about the charges leveled against him by Congressman Carlos Padilla. Like other questionable projects, the ZTE deal will be rejected by the court of public opinion and, sooner or later, evaluated and ruled on by our own independent courts of law. Sec. Mendoza should prove his worth and rescind it now.

Should he choose not to do these, we would support a full investigation by the Senate of this highly questionable project given the huge expenditure of public funds involved. We also demand that the government publicly release a copy of the contract as mandated by Article III, Sec. 7 of our Constitution which states that “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized.”

The secrecy about this project, despite repeated demands by the public, is contrary to the principle avowed by this Administration for complete transparency in matters of public interest and to the provisions of Republic Act 7925 which emphasizes that “public telecommunications services shall be provided by private enterprises.”

We are heartened by the courage of journalists and fiscalizers who bring to light the anomalous activities of public officials who believe they are protected by their position. We join them and encourage others in expressing public outrage at these questionable acts and the growing culture of political impunity.

We call on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to heed our pleas and take immediate action to rectify blatant wrongdoings of public officials, lest she be accused of condoning them.

Mother Teresa's Darkness and Light

The world is still trying to recover from shock, disillusionment , even devastation. Mother Teresa, world renowned figure, Nobel Peace Prize awardee, Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, and yes, the Living Saint when she was still alive, spent decades in spiritual emptiness!

This is revealed in her letters compiled in the book “Come Be My Light” edited and published by Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, one of her spiritual advisers. He is also the nun’s postulator. (For the enlightenment of non-Catholics like me, a postulator is the principal petitioner for the canonization or recognition as saint of a Roman Catholic Church faithful.)

In one letter, the revered Mother Teresa said “In my soul I feel just that terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me – of God not being God – of God not existing.” In another, she said, "If there be no God - there can be no soul. If there is no soul then Jesus - You also are not true. Heaven, what emptiness."

Mother Teresa’s journey to doubt must have begun in the late 1940’s when, then a cloistered nun teacher, she asked to be released by the Loreto sisters to set up the Missionaries of Charity. To do that, she had to struggle with her vow of obedience. With other nuns, she lived among the poor in Calcutta’s slums where she faced and battled against the curse of hunger, pain and desolation. Shortly after living among the poor, the demons of doubt started to torment her.

It is easy for me to understand her.

There was a time when in one day, I learned from the papers that an American woman drowned her babies to death, a man was hailed to the police station for raping his daughter who was his sex slave for year, and a typhoon left hundreds dead. And I wrote a poem that ended with the lines: “Did God flee from this world? Or did He go on a long vacation?” I will not print the poem here because it is so angry. My Mom whose faith in God is so deep will be saddened and, knowing her, she will worry over my spiritual health. She has enough worries over my physical health already.

I have not even seen one-third of the horrors Mother Teresa witnessed. Her smile, she said in one letter, was often a mask. The ironic thing is that while she was being tortured by doubts, people’s faith in God was drawing nourishment from her unparalleled work to alleviate the misery of Calcutta’s scourged. Other people preach the Gospel and talk about the existence of God; she opted to make her life colossally significant for others and by doing so, affirmed the presence of a Being higher than us. And yet in some of her letters, she referred to God as the Absent One. There she was- giving light to those whose lives were submerged in utter darkness. But within herself, she was wandering in spiritual limbo. In one letter, she said, “If ever I become a saint, I will surely be one of “darkness." That’s coming from the person who was a beacon of hope in a world of hopelessness.

None of us is competent to stand as judge of Mother Teresa’s spiritual salvation. That is for God to decide. But we can say that her life was the torch that kept the world from totally stumbling in its own darkness, the darkness forces within it created, the darkness from which we wrestle to be free.

What Wars Are; What They Are Not

A visit to the The Rain Maker, the blog of fellow Igorot Daniel Ted, inspires this piece today. His most recent post deals with war and peace.

My young Igorot American friend, Mark Leo is into a relentless campaign against the US- Iraq or any US-led war, or any war for that matter. In Bibaknets, a discussion forum of Igorots worldwide, he called everyone's attention to the plight of Pat Tillman. Tillman was a casualty of the US-led war versus Afghanistan. A professional football player, he gave up his sports career and enlisted in the United Stat,s army. He was joined by his brother Kevin. He must have believed that something good would come out of the US-led wars that he abandoned a lucrative profession. Others evaded the draft; this guy, however, sought it.

But Pat Tillman died in the war he believed in, sadly not as a hero but as a victim. His death was reported as the result of hostile fire or fire coming from the enemy. Perhaps due to his stature, his death generated a lot of publicity. Questions went beyond the surface until the Pentagon had to admit that he was killed by friendly fire. In harsher terms, he was killed by his own country, the country he went to serve in the battlefields of Afghanistan.

But let us go beyond Pat Tillman and the others who died in Operation Enduring Freedom which is America's military response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Filipino-American soldiers died in the US-led wars, too. The latest casualties of the Iraq war include Michael E. Tayaotao from California. His parents are from the Mountain Province, Philippines. You can read about him in Bill Bilig's From The Boondocks. So the tragedy is very real to us.

And, as though dying from a bullet fired by an assassin who might as well be one of us, we ask Richard North Patterson's Private Screening martyr James Kilcannon's question before he gave up the ghost: "Such a joke. But what does it mean?"

For Pat Tillman, I wrote some lines which I posted in 2006 in American blogs opposed to war:

Who Wins a War?

(to the memory of Pat Tillman)

Who will win the US-Iraq war? Who wins a war?
Does body count demarcate triumph from defeat?
Who won World War I? Who won World War II?

Who wins when limbs and torsos fly in the air?
Who wins when blood squirts profusely from the
belly of a baby who has no name yet,
hit by a stray bullet a day after its birth?
Who wins when civilians are maimed forever
to exist lifeless in the land of the living,
a merciless fate worse than death?
Who wins when a passer-by's brain explodes
while he is ruminating his son's future?
Who wins when women are raped to weaken foes?
Who wins when an entire village is reduced to
nothingness even ghosts cannot survive?

Victory in war is a tall tale, a gory monster tale.

Victory is mindless and random destruction.
Victory is food shortage, hunger, deprivation.
Victory is death, murder, genocide, ethnocide.
Victory is the massacre of innocent people.
Victory is orphaned defenseless boys and girls.
Victory is mothers and widows with broken hearts.
Victory is robbery of the dreams and future of
men and women who barely graduated
from the crib, compelled to render
military service to fight a senseless war.
Victory is the remorseless sacrifice of soldiers
like Pat Tillman in the cold, cold altar of
unquenchable thirst for power and gold.
Victory is recurrent nightmare for soldiers forced
to pull the trigger on fellow human beings.

Victory in war is the big, big lie always passed on
as the big, big truth that it is not.
Victory in war is the big, big truth seldom told as
the big, big lie that it is.

The only truth is defeat and material accumulation
for the manufacturers of death machines.
There are no winners, only losers and profiteers and
eternal curse for those who gain from the
tragedy of the human race, and the seed
of their loins up to the third generation.

Why do governments assign huge budgets
for firearms and death machines in the name
of peace, when peace is nothing but a stomach
that does not grumble from hunger and want?

If peace is the absence of war, why go to war
to have peace?

If peace is the presence of justice, why should it
be achieved through an innately unjust means?

Must we have wars at all? Must we live a lie?
Must we have wars at all? Must we live a lie?

-Cheryl L. Daytec, 22 October 06

Reexamining the Oppression of Indigenous Peoples

Bill Bilig's blog From The Boondocks tackles the plight of indigenous peoples in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya adversely affected by the operation of an Australian mining firm. You can read the article here.

This blog has a soft spot for indigenous peoples. Despite the feature by From The Boondocks I cannot shake off the urge to append a footnote in this blog.

By way of summary, an Australian firm, Oxiana, was given permit by the State to explore Kasibu for copper and gold. The area is inhabited by the Bugkalots who are natives of that place, Benguet Ibalois and Kankanaeys who migrated there after their lands were grabbed by the State to pave the way for the construction of the dams, and other indigenous peoples. The affected IPs are resisting the operation of Oxiana. They staged mass actions which turned violent because Oxiana let loose members of the CAFGU to subdue them.

The resistance tells us one thing-the IP's free prior and informed consent (FPIC) was not secured before Oxiana got its permit, as required under the Indigenous People's Rights Act (IPRA). Why did the local government not speak for the resident IP's? Why did the Department of Environment and Natural Resources indorse the permit of this brawny economic force? And where is the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples in the midst of this controversy? Why does the State seem unable to see the IPs in Kasibu? They are there. They exist. In flesh, in blood. Their mass action is their way of shedding off the veil of invisibility shrouding the vision of those in whose hands their fortune or misfortune resides. It is a struggle to be visible to the eyes that refuse to see.

The story of the IPs in Kasibu is not new. Indigenous peoples all over the world have one story - the plot is always a pattern of oppression authored by the bureaucratic apparatuses in collaboration with capitalist interests. All that is happening in Kasibu is atrocious to say the least. The government, instead of providing refuge to its constituents, is placing its resources at the disposal of the mining firm. Oxiana employed the CAFGU for its own vested interests! And the courts granted a temporary restraining order against the IPs, clearing Oxiana's bulldozers' path into the bowels of Kasibu. I can see Oxiana's long, sinister arms itching to abstract the gold and copper.

My heart goes out to the migrant Benguet IPs. They fled oppression in Benguet and sought refuge in Kasibu only to realize decades after that they they jumped out of the frying pan into a furnace waiting to burn. Very much like the Israelites who escaped slavery in Egypt to wander in the desert for forty long years!

IPs are intimate with Mother Nature. Regardless of time and space, the IPs' collective psyche concedes that the present generation is merely the steward of Nature for posterity. It is this belief that eliminates gluttony in their culture. Why natural wealth abounds in their territories should not be riddle. If it were up to them, their descending bloodline will never know hunger. But what they are saving for the generations centuries from now are what the capitalists are too agitated to exproriate in the name of profit. The big problem with capitalists is that no amount of profit is ever enough. Posterity be damned!

The natural wealth of IP territories makes them magnets of oppression and abuse everywhere. The capitalists (the economic force that controls the means of production) and States forged a dominant conspiracy to render the IPs defenseless, and their subjugation a foregone conclusion. Look at the IP's in the Kasibu. The government cannot help them, because it is in excessive entanglement with Oxiana. In the not-too-distant past, Gloria Arroyo, who occupies the most coveted swivel chair in Malacañang, seduced investors to explore the Philippine mountains for minerals. I heard Sen. Jamby Madrigal state in one forum that during the six months that Mike Defensor sat as DENR Secretary, he issued more or less 4,000 mining permits, almost equal to the number of such permits issued duirng Marcos' 20-year rule! What an unprecedented record.

Many of us labeled Karl Marx insane for saying that the State is nothing but an instrument for oppression by the ruling class. To be more exact, he said that the Executive is nothing but a committee to manage the affairs of the bourgeoisie.

With all that is happening in Kasibu right now, Marx could not be more right. And anyone who challenges him must remove his/her blinders. Sight, too, is freedom.

Let me express my lament at the abuse of IPs everywhere by reprinting my poem which was previously published by Bulatlat and The Northern Dispatch.

Invisible II
(for the Philippine indigenous peoples)

We were born rich in an abundant land.
Then they saw us and all of a sudden-

We were invisible. They did not see us
when they came to vandalize the burial
grounds of our ancestors to herald the
fabrication of counterfeit lakes and rivers
with strong flux to command brightness
for faraway places they called civilization.
We looked at our future--

We were invisible. They did not see us
when they came with their bulldozers
and made plains of our mountains, our
home and refuge for millions of years.
In the sacrosanct name of development,
they erected chateaus for the bourgeois.
We looked at our home--

We were invisible. They did not see us
when with supercilious air, they flounced
into our florid forest thieving her coins and
jewelry; she is now void inside, threadbare
on the surface, dumped by false gods who
wallow in the brimming briny of her wealth.
We looked at ourselves--

We are the people whose life is the land
The land is departed; so are we demised.
We flounder in the miasma of destitution.
Our invisibility was our strong impotence.
Our invisibility was our victorious defeat.

Our visibility
is our campaign
against invisibility.