Today, the world starts a three-day mourning for the victims of the Israel-authored 2009 Gaza Massacre that claimed the lives of innocent civilians, many of them children.

No one from the authors of the massacres has been made to pay. Meantime, Palestinian children are languishing inside prison walls. Their crime: they were forced to grow up too quickly to the horrors of a war without a cause committed on their parents, their relatives, their neighbors, their playmates, themselves.

Dodo is 3. He is my friend's nephew. He lives in Gaza. He can tell the difference between the sound coming from an air strike and a baby's holler. When the planes strike, he knows he must seek cover. For him and the other children in his situation, I wrote this poem inspired by news on the prosecution of young Palestinians forwarded by Dildora.

(for Dodo)

(A)n average of 9,000 Palestinians are prosecuted in two Israeli military courts in the West Bank each year, among them an average of 700 children, some of them as young as 12.
-Maan News Agency, 2 November 2009

While they were sleeping
Under covers of innocence
You abstracted their dreams
Of legends that spring from grandmothers’ laps
The smell of milk from their mothers’ breasts
The fishing trips with their fathers
Eager to see their sons grow into men
You smuggled nightmares
Into the depth of their slumbers
Screaming they awoke in the night
The lullabyes were drowned
By exploding bombs and shouts of rage
Infancy leapt past midmorning
Into the burning heat of an angry noon

Tell me: How does a three year old
Come to comprehend death
Before he knows how to count his age?
How does a boy learn to pull the trigger of a gun
Before his hand can write his name?
Why does he know the killing fields so well
But does not know how a karaoke bar looks?

I see tired old men in young boys’ gawky bodies
March slowly till they disappear inside prison walls
Shadows fading away from the wall
When the lights are turned out suddenly
Helpless without the guns thrust into their arms
By your politics strange to conscience
Victims who must suffer the guilt
Of boundless power that bloodshed never sates.

/ chyt daytec, 5nov09


(Connie with Rep. Satur Ocampo and former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona in Sept. 2007 during the NUPL Founding Congress.)

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) strongly condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrible act of brutal killings of innocent civilians including its two lawyer-members, Attys. Concepcion Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo, and scores of women and journalists in Maguindanao yesterday.

Penal books are not enough to depict the horrifying mass slaughter of innocent civilians, much less the state of mental perversity of their executioners in the commission of such a gruesome act.

Lawyers are essential agents of the administration of justice, and journalists are an institution in a civilized society. If lawyers and journalists are brutally murdered while in the performance of their duties, and in broad daylight at that, democracy is dead, plain and simple.

Malacañang must see to it that it knows how to accord justice to the hapless victims, especially in this case where military reports disclosed that the mastermind is its closest political ally in Mindanao, the Ampatuans. All government resources must be brought to bear on the Ampatuans. Otherwise, Malacañang itself would tolerate lawlessness and violence. The private army of the Ampatuans must be instantly disarmed and placed under immediate custody and investigation, and all their firearm licenses immediately revoked.

Malacañang’s tolerance of warlords greatly contributes to the persistence of the culture of impunity in our society. Since 2001 and prior to the Maguindanao massacre, 22 lawyers and 15 judges in the country have already been murdered and not a soul was put in prison by the authorities, and this has earned the present administration the dubious distinction of having the most number of lawyers and judges that were killed in an administration.

These extra-judicial killings of lawyers and journalists must be put to an end. We demand in the strongest possible manner that justice be accorded to the innocent victims, particularly to our compañeros, Attys. Brizuela and Oquendo. We demand justice, no more, no less.

Contact Person:

Atty. Julius Garcia Matibag (0927.9293089)


• Documents confirm that the CIA knew that the Jesuit priest Ellacuría was going to be killed

by Jean-Guy Allard

THE U.S. State Department, the CIA, and the Spanish intelligence services (the old CESID), all knew that the Jesuit priest, Ignacio Ellacuría, rector of the Central American University (UCA), and five of his colleagues were going to be killed by a death squad from the Salvadoran Army. That has been confirmed in the Sunday edition of the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, citing a series of "recently declassified" U.S. intelligence documents to be handed over to the Spanish courts.

The revelation further supports information indicating how CIA agent Carlos Alberto Montaner, who was stationed in Madrid, was well-informed about the conspiracy when he directly threatened Ellacuría a few days before the horrendous crime.

It also fits perfectly with the theory that international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, then a CIA agent and high official in the repressive Salvadoran apparatus, was involved in the plot. Carriles is currently being protected in the United States with the complacency of U.S. authorities.

The military death squad burst into UCA in the early hours of November 16, 1989, surprising the six Jesuits who were asleep. They ordered them to get up and then took them outside, where they were all shot in the back of the head.

Fathers Ellacuría, Armando López, Juan Ramón Moreno, Ignacio Martín-Baró, Segundo Montes and Joaquín López, all professors at the institution and defenders of liberation theology, were victims of constant attacks by ultra-fascists from the ARENA party, whose representatives are still active on the Salvadoran political stage.

Elba Julia Ramos, the priest’s housekeeper, and her 15-year-old daughter Celina were also victims of the massacre.

Monday, November 16 is the 20th anniversary of the murder while, in neighboring Honduras, the same class of Central Americans who continually sowed terror 20 years ago with CIA and the State Department support, have seized power.

Some of the material authors of the massacre were sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment in January 1992, but were scandalously given amnesty barely 14 months later, in April 1993.

The Spanish El Mundo reports that a series of documents from U.S. intelligence services have been declassified and will be given to the Spanish National Court, in Madrid, where charges have been filed for "those responsible for that slaughter."

"In the papers to be handed over to Spain, there is information that directly documents the fact that Colonel Milton Menjívar, military chief of the U.S. embassy in El Salvador and a high U.S. State Department official were aware of what the Salvadoran army was plotting against the UCA rector," El Mundo notes.

"According to analysts consulted by this newspaper, it can be deduced from studying these declassified documents that CESID also had this knowledge or was looking at the same information as the Americans," the newspaper specified.


By coincidence, the El Mundo revelations have emerged while Carlos Alberto Montaner, a pseudo-intellectual of Cuban origin, is celebrating the fascist regime of businessman Micheletti in Tegucigalpa along with the son of Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa.

In a fervent speech to an assembly of coup negotiators, Montaner denounced, with his usual right-wing rhetoric, "the Castro-Chavism" that, according to him, has failed in Honduras, although "it will soon try to destabilize the country again."

It’s important to remember how, barely one week before the murder of the six Salvadoran Jesuit priests, that same Montaner threatened Ellacuría after the latter completed a "face to face" Spanish television program led by its pro-Franco host Mercedes Milá.

Years later, the Madrid ‘writer’, on the run from the Cuban justice system for his terrorist activity in Havana in 1960, described the presence of liberation theologians in Latin America as "a labyrinth of lost Jesuits and Maryknolls."

The U.S. Maryknoll Order was also a victim of the death squads. In 1980, the year when Monsignor Arnulfo Romero was murdered, four U.S. nuns were raped and killed by National Guard troops during Operation Centauro, which directed by Cuban-American CIA agents and Leopoldo Castillo, the Venezuelan ambassador in El Salvador.

Neo-fascist Leopoldo Castillo currently hosts a program on the right-wing Venezuelan TV station Globovisión.


In the period when the Jesuits were murdered, Luis Posada Carriles was personal advisor on repression to President José Napoleón Duarte, who had governed the country under State Department instructions since 1984.

When the arms for drugs trafficking operation directed in Ilopango ended in the Iran-Contra Scandal, the CIA placed Posada among former torturers of the Venezuelan secret police, who were then directing the Salvadoran National Police (PN), alongside the henchmen Mauricio Sandoval and Víctor "Zacarías" Rivera.

Posada became the advisor of Duarte who, it’s said, called him to his own home to resolve "particular cases." In those days he dedicated himself to giving orders to the death squads that were sowing terror across the country.

After leaving El Salvador after a change in presidents, Posada returned a few years later with his ARENA buddies and established a command center on behalf of the Cuban-American National Foundation, a U.S. intelligence anti-Cuban front organization.

It is important to note that, in November 2003, the UCA and the El Salvador Human Rights Institute petitioned the Inter-American Human Rights Commission to investigate former Salvadoran president Alfredo Cristiani (currently an unconditional supporter the Micheletti regime) and certain military officers from that country. Six years later, that agency of the Organization of American States has still not responded to the petition.

Translated by Granma International


In the Philippines, stories of money changing hands from litigants to judges are not new. But here is a case where a judge himself confirmed how money was used to buy "justice" in a criminal case. He was the judge who signed the decision convicting the accused. According to this judge, he did not pocket any penny. Other people- among them a prosecutor and a lawyer said to be the bagman of another judge- divided the hefty bounty from the private complainant among themselves.

The judge says he wrote a decision acquitting the accused. Oh, by the way, when the decision was read, the judge was absent. It was purportedly the birthday of a loved one. It was another judge (someone identified with the lawyer I mentioned) who did. His Honor was surprised that what was read was a decision convicting the accused.

In fairness to His Honor, he still gave the accused the opportunity to read the draft decision for acquittal. He told the poor guy's mother, "If the money taken from the private complainant will be returned, the decision will be overturned." To make a long story short, the family of the accused did not entertain the innuendo. (Come on- he did not say, "If you return the money...") The accused is now in a Metro-Manila jail. Oh, yes, I should not have forgotten this: The judge also said to the accused's mother, "But you know what? I saved your son. If I acquitted him, he would have been killed by killers hired by the private complainant." I know you are confused. Did he not say earlier that what he prepared was a decision acquitting the accused? I am also confused why he was surprised that what was read was a decision for conviction. It bore his signature!

I repeat: His Honor says he received no penny. He even pointed to a crucifix in his chambers. OK, fine, whatever.

Categorically, I state that this is not my case, although I was the man's counsel in another litigation. I have not made any unequivocal assertion that the case was decided in Baguio City where I was based when the events I sketchily described happened. It is good to keep the public guessing. When an administrative case against the judge is filed and the story hits the papers, you will know who he is.

By the way, it is good to visit jailhouses. The inmates are great story-tellers. They will tell you how much justice costs or does not cost.

Anyway, from the story came inspiration to write some lines that I wanted to give to the accused. I never did but I hope it reaches him. I am glad though that I was able to visit him in jail before he was transferred to the National Penitentiary. I even succeeded in making a plea on his behalf to stay his transfer for a week or so. The sight of his baby girl and his wife shattered my heart into tiny splinters.

One day when he is free, perhaps he will read this poem. Don't we always say, "The truth sets free?"

Footnote to a Conviction

Echoes cringe from the audacity
To inter Justice in her own Hall
The sable robe has been imbrued
Yet again
With the blood of innocence

Justice, orphaned, wanders
In the ebony of the nocturnal air
In the clarity of diurnal light
Banished from her own hall
By ghastly hoodlums in robes
Who claim to have touched
The sacred mind of God

A hollowed crucifix is suspended
From a wall in the chambers
Whose sterility is a chilling myth
Even to its two-faced occupant
The wall is straining to burst
With nefarious secrets caged
In the rhetoric of justice

The prisons are not deaf
They know Truth
Languishing within their walls

Let His Honor swim in his own filth
Let his stomach bulge from the bounty
Of his own depravity
One day, the Judge

Will be judged. chytdaytec/15june09

(I am reproducing in the Comments section some of the comments posted on Facebook.)


This is a story about how I got my package as much as it is a story about knowing what brassieres are made of. No, there is no word in what I am about to write that warrants either bowdlerizing or censorship.

On August 12 while still in the Philippines, I sent to Budapest via courier service a box of clothes and shoes with myself as consignee. Two days later, I was to fly to Hungary’s capital to study in Central European University, an international post-grad school established by Mr. George Soros. I thought that since my cabinets back home are bursting with clothes I accumulated through the years (Yes, I still have those caftans and shawls I had more than ten years ago. I never obeyed the rules of fashion so nothing goes passé for me.), it would be impractical if not a social offense to buy sweaters, jackets and suits in Europe. Besides, having traveled to the continent previously, I was already aware that clothes here fetch a fortune compared to Asia. The courier company told me that my unaccompanied luggage would arrive in Budapest three to four days later.

I flew to Hungary. As soon as I arrived at the student hotel, the receptionist handed me some papers faxed by the courier company. It was asking me to submit a copy of my passport, my flight ticket and accomplished value declaration form. Wow, the company's speed impressed me. After two days, I complied.

For more than a week, I waited for my stuff but none came. So I emailed the company asking for update and was told my faxed documents were not received. Deciding to be unstinting in giving the benefit of the doubt, I emailed my documents.

A day later, I got an email from the company’s Custom Clearance Supervisor. It said: “I received your filled form but I need a list of the items in the package. Please send this list with unit values and what kind of matter made of the clothes and shoes.” The message was cloudless enough to me. I mean I understood what she said. But not why. I felt harassed.

I emailed back: “I already submitted the list to your office in the Philippines. In fact, your people were the ones who loaded my things in the box. For the list, just refer to the receipt because everything is there. If you want to open the package, you may. Everything is used clothing and shoes except for the Ponds facial cream. I cannot send a list detailing the materials of which the clothes and shoes are made. As it happens, in my most recent past life, I was a lawyer and a teacher and not an expert on determining kinds of materials used for clothes. I would just say they are all made of cloth. The rubber shoes are made of rubber; the leather shoes are made of leather and the facial cream is made of chemicals.” Well, I also had three pairs of brassieres -the only unused items- in the box but I was a bit bashful to mention them. But I was not shy enough to resist being sarcastic.

I could not also resist saying I "was" a lawyer, even if I come from that part of the world where the justice system has essentially nothing to do with justice. In a continent strong on rights, I thought it would paint the picture that I am legally brawny. Deliberately, I created the impression that a litigation was in the offing. I imagined the customs supervisor's facial muscle twitching a bit and her shoulder muscles going taut upon reading my mail. I must have smirked with self-assurance then.

But the supervisor did not, would not let up! She emailed me again: “We have a list but we don’t know the unit prices because this information isn’t on the list! If you don’t know the material we can make inspection but you should pay warehouse charge about 5100 HuF.”

I went ballistic and shot back: ““Don't you think it is unfair that (your company) did not tell me about your requirements when I shipped? And why should I be made to pay warehouse charge on account of your not telling me something I should have been told?

“What materials do you want me to say my goods are made of? The cream is made of chemicals. The clothes are made of cloth. The sweaters are made of polyester thread. The rubber shoes are made of rubber. The leather shoes are made of leather. And I am pretty sure of this: the brassieres are made of spandex! I am sorry for not mentioning this earlier.”

I was already seeing red. Literally. I had to be scathingly sarcastic and sarcastically scathing.

She emailed me: “ I try to help. If you want to get this package duty free we need your airplane ticket and passport copy.” Hey, I already sent my passport copy and ticket but since she was conciliatory, I answered: “Thank you so much. I will send you the passport copy and ticket tomorrow.” Hah, I did not even know that the requirement to submit a list had to do with taxation. I was not expecting to pay any tax on top of the hefty amount (approx. USD250 for 25 kgs) for courier service I paid.

I did not send my passport copy, neither my ticket because I completely forgot about them. My short-term memory failure is chronic. I realized my lapse only when I was in school. When I was in the computer room taking my computer test -which I flunked as I did not even successfully hurdle stage one- I looked at my mail box. The company sent me a mail saying my luggage was ready for delivery. Later I got a mail that said: "Shipment delivered."

When I got home in the afternoon, my package was waiting for me. Now that my swim suits arrived, I can dip in my hotel’s pool every night. Maybe, I will learn to like pinacolada so I can drink it by the "pool shore" and look chic. I think people get embarrassed when you are all in a bar and they order all these alcohol-laced drinks with names my tongue cannot pronounce (and back there in the Philippines, with names I cannot say but can write, such as Sex on the Beach) while you order tea, or in some cases, milk.

Morale of the story: When you ship unaccompanied luggage, always add brassieres. All the men out there surely have a wife, a girlfriend or both, if not a grandmother. When asked what your shipped goods are made of, just say: “I am pretty sure of this: the brassieres are made of spandex!” It is probably the only right thing you have to say.

(I am posting on the Comments Section some of the reactions that I received on Facebook.)


In the Philippines, the biggest political announcement this week is Sen. Mar Roxas' decision to give up his presidential ambition in favor of Sen. Benigno Simeon Noynoy Aquino, his partymate in the Liberal Party and son of martyr Benigno Ninoy Aquino and the late "People Power" icon Pres. Corazon Aquino. Even before the official announcement was made, my husband Leandro who happens to be the Liberal Party's regional chair in the Cordillera Region sent me a text message informing me about it.

Noynoy, who appears to have a strong middle class following, is said to be a reluctant candidate.

Dr. Carol Araullo wrote a very objective article
published in Business World, 4-5 September 2009 issue. I am reproducing it as I did on my Facebook wall. It is also interesting to read the comments posted on my Facebook wall which I am reproducing in the Comments section.

By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo

Those who predicted the fizzling out of moves to enlist Senator Noynoy Aquino to run for President in the wake of the massive turn-out at the burial of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, did not expect the relative ease and swiftness by which Senator Mar Roxas was dislodged from being the Liberal Party’s presidential candidate. Strangely enough, Mr. Roxas was apparently convinced to give way, not to a better candidate, not even to a more convincingly popular one at that.

The Noynoy-for-President supporters are invoking not his personal qualities and achievements but those of his departed famous parents. There is a discernible, if not conscious attempt, to draw parallels between the situation faced by Cory Aquino when she was drafted as a reluctant candidate in 1986 to run against the dictator Marcos and her son’s current circumstances. All the better it seems to invest him with the mantle of his parent’s political legacy.

Mr. Aquino’s own reluctance to run for president has been elevated to political virtue, interpreted to mean he is not lusting after the most powerful office in the land unlike the other presidential candidates, much in keeping with his beloved mother’s sterling example.

The delay in Mr. Aquino’s announcement that he will enter the presidential race lends itself quite nicely to the political drama of the man’s sudden foray into the big-time electoral arena. The campaign strategists in the Liberal Party are doubtlessly capitalizing on the people’s contempt for the kapit-tuko Arroyo clique by projecting the image of self-sacrifice and team spirit of the LP stalwarts, Messrs. Roxas and Aquino.

Noynoy’s lack of involvement in corruption scandals and any high-profile role in the horse trading and other opportunist maneuverings inherent in the decadent political order are pointed to by his supporters as added points that allegedly make him the ideal foil against the corrupt-ridden and morally-bankrupt Arroyo regime.

As for Mr. Aquino’s lack of preparedness for the requirements of being Chief Executive, cited not only by Malacañang and his detractors but by his own close-knit family, once more the example of his mother, the plain-housewife-turned-opposition-leader, is offered to trump the arguments against him. On faith, we are supposed to accept the line that if Cory could do it, so can Noynoy.

All this is secondary to the more forceful argument-- that Noynoy is the only person capable of uniting the opposition and galvanizing it into a cohesive machinery with a single presidential candidate that can square off with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's candidate, if not GMA herself. He is purportedly the only star in the Philippine political firmament that would auger our nation’s deliverance from the usurping, plundering and power-hungry Arroyo regime.

That idea appeared to have gotten a big boost last Monday when Mr. Roxas withdrew from the race in favor of Mr. Aquino. But it is still a long way to go from what the Noynoy-for-President drumbeaters are claiming he alone can do. What it achieved was galvanize the dominant Liberal Party faction into backing Noynoy instead of Mar Roxas, virtually clinching the nomination for Noynoy even as he defers his announcement to run.

As expected, survey frontrunner Sen. Manny Villar has promptly indicated he is not about to back out and give way to some people whose main credentials are in their surnames and aristocratic origins. Obviously referring to the Aquino-Roxas tandem, Mr. Villar reasoned that the people deserve to have a candidate who has plebeian origins and who knows what it's like to be destitute in this country. Again, obviously referring to himself.

It remains to be seen whether Noynoy would be able to persuade the likes of come backing deposed President “Erap” Estrada and young upstart Sen. Chiz Escudero to unite under his banner, but most will agree it's a long shot.

But this is not even the main and most important issue at hand. Buried under the rising anticipation and excitement on who will run with whom is the question: what do they stand for?

Roxas et al herald themselves as THE harbingers of "tunay na pagbabago" -- genuine change. Fine. It is at least recognition that the Filipino people need and demand more than a change of Malacañang tenants. (Ironically, it was from the Aquino presidency that the people began to realize that replacing a hated, despotic, plundering, fascist and puppet ruler with a benign and popular one does not necessarily rid government of corruption, puppetry and fascist rule.)

One of the most important lessons of the “people power” uprisings, EDSA 1 and 2, which are relevant to the current election campaign is that it is not enough to unite the opposition against an already isolated incumbent president. It is not enough to win the vote and expel that unwanted ruler.

What is more important – in fact, most important -- is to unite the opposition and the people behind a program of genuine change. From corruption and plunder to clean government; from political repression to upholding civil and political liberties; from subservience to foreign interests to an independent foreign and economic policy; from feudal exploitation and oppression arising from landlessness to genuine land reform, from wanton destruction of the environment for profit to ecological protection and sustainability; from a militarist solution to armed conflicts to negotiating in earnest with revolutionary armed movements for a just and lasting peace; and much more.

None of the serious contenders has so far come out with a substantial platform for change, including those who claim to stand for it. Beyond motherhood statements and rhetoric, not one has painstakingly elucidated his or her stand on land reform, foreign debt, trade liberalization, labor rights, US military presence and activities in Philippine territory, electoral reform, the right to self determination of the Moro people and other indigenous peoples, etc.

Too often, the candidate’s stand on major problems bedeviling our country is the last thing to be made known, if at all. Thus the quality of the political discourse during the election period does little to raise the political awareness of the electorate and bring about a more informed and wise choice of leaders.

A Noynoy-led Liberal Party, or for that matter any and all of the opposition parties, will be doing our people a great service if they clearly spell out their stand on these issues and unite our people behind a platform that is truly democratic, patriotic and just.

Until they seriously do so and while they continue to engage in the politics of personalities, opportunism and demagoguery, they would not have taken a single step away from the worn-out, rotten politics of old towards "tunay na pagbabago".*#

*genuine change



Jonas Burgos. James Balao. Karen Empeno. Sherilyn Cadapan. 

The list is long. And as one more day is added to The Queen Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s stolen term, it will become longer. 

We remember them today. The Desaparecidos. The Disappeared. They are all over the Philippines. They are all over the world. They come in different colors. They have different mothers. But they are all the same.

They are victims of oppressive states. 

They are The Disappeared. 

Today is the International Day for the Desaparecidos. This is their day. 

This is our day, too. A day for us to remember more than any other day that we must work hard. Still. Harder than we used to. Before The List Gets Longer. 

I am sharing a poem I wrote after reading Raymond Manalo’s account of his and his brother’s torture in the hands of Philippine state security forces.

Pledge of Rage (To Sherilyn and Karen)

You are not forgotten

When the chesnut wind blows
Every father is tormented
By your harrowing cries
Every mother’s lap aches
To cradle your tired spirit
The gravity of your despair
Parallels the intensity of our rage
In our memory
We burned the image of you
In a cramped wooden box
Curled like a fetus
Helpless from capacious terror

Your suffering is the fillip
That moves apathy to hide in shame
The tonic that washes down lethargy
In a people arrested by hunger

Behold us link our spirits
See our palm curl into a cup
To capture every gobbet
Of your tears
The salt of the earth
We will hold a feast
And drink your struggle
Tomorrow, we rise with our spears
We will bring you
To every mother waiting for you

Should you be sapped of life
We will lie with you
In your grave
Our grave
From which will rise our ghost
To settle the score
To haunt evil
Till it tires.



(for M.C.)

With a tentative hug, they said goodbye

He sauntered, backpack embracing him

She ran, ineffable sorrow enveloping her

No rearward squint; anguish must not tarry

The moon turned crescent, full, half, quarter

Once, twice, a million times. She lost count

In another world, another life claimed her

Spring disembarked from the snow. But her

Ring is still cold like ice in the mantelpiece

Obdurate in its defiance of the wrathful fire

In a big space in her heart, he abides…still

Like a squatter on someone else’s property

In her mind she sees again and yet again

His easy form in front of an old computer

Smoking stick after stick of Sampoerna

Punching the keyboard, he bedecks her

With warm silky descriptions of his love

As if carried by a soft whisper in the dark

Did they not say goodbye then? But what

Is goodbye? Is it not the pain on hindsight

That never goes? Oh, goodbye is a word

That deceives even the tongue that says it

Like a man suffering from a ghastly curse

How it deeply regrets the day of its birth.


(Mike’s Final Appeal)

So you have made your choice.

I beg leave:
Let me journey with our children
Back to Baguio
Where the past still hovers nigh
Where Love smelled fresh
As pine scent after the first rains
Where Faith was unsullied
As a newborn’s innocence
Back to where the biting cold
Was conquered by your feather-light touch
Where every space of emptiness
Was crammed by your presence
Where the wonted wine glass
We shared on a thousand nights
Was not a corpus of myriad shards

Let me and the children
Dunk into the familiar
Before it morphed into fiction
In our old hotel room, we will relive the laughter
Which once echoed repeatedly in our life
May it burn in their memory
Like footprints purposely abandoned
On wet cement.

There, in that honeymooners’ arcadia
I will break free, at least momentarily
From this searing melancholy
I will probably shed some tears
But –thank Providence- they will be disguised
As spatters of Baguio’s incessant rain

Then you can take my children to your new life
One without me
In the dining table
In the living room
In the bedroom
In your heart
Because someone else will be

But at least, tomorrow
I can put my feet up, assured
They will always hark back to the Baguio days
When there was love

And, in it, there was I.


"She doesn't know either. She doesn't know the reason why. All I know was Pops is in the dark, taken by surprise."-Martin Nievera speaking for his ex-wife Pops Fernandez on the reason for the break-up of her romance with Jomari Yllana.

(Inspired by the Break-up of Pops and Jomari)

Patent is your wonder: You ask, how did I bear
The pain your leaving caused, colossal as a bear
It matters that I save armaments in my bank
From which I pull vigor; on it I always bank
To survive during times when I am short of air

I’m strong! So now I feel I ‘m quite prepared to air
Questions we must dissect, issues we need to close
So despite our parting, we can stay friends, be close
Tell me the truth: was your noiseless departure due
To harm I may have caused you, far from fairly due?

My nights - restive, perturbed, with guilt I need to fare
Every debt must be paid: A ride demands a fare
State clearly my arrears! You do not have to grill
Me with your dogged silence. Send me behind the grill!
I would much rather bear than stand under a hail

Of reticent sharp glare. Speak! Say, “Pardoned. All hail
To farewell sans remorse.” On your mercy, I’ll lean
We’ll start again as friends; I pray- my hope not lean
We shall embrace candor , discard farce thick as hide
The new slate - clean, shipshape; no shame, no pain to hide.


(In Sympathy to Mark Sanford)

Ah, but there is no certain providence
For this hopelessly impossible love
None, but a catastrophic conclusion
It does not hurt any less but much more
To keep waiting for an engaged ship
Fated never ever to dock at your quay

Quietly, we sit, habitués of this café,
Insulated from an interfering crowd
By the unsuspecting assembly itself
Bold, I come to declare all I need to
No more than necessary to reason
See me naked, bereft of my heart

I beg: Spare me this indignant silence
Weighing heavier than a spoken curse
Deeply inflaming this bedeviling regret
How can you not know: Goodbye is not
What I want to do, but what we need to?
For the last time, can’t we feign eagerness

To strike a tête-à-tête about the samba
Or your Che Guevara or Obama’s smoke
Or darkness dispelling the sun’s light
Before we quickly spew our farewell?
Or do we skip awkward preliminaries
Lest this thin resolve for parting dissolves?

And then we depart from this old café
Each of us clutching a fragmented soul
Scampering to two different continents
Then in the inner sanctum of our hearts
Let us release the tears as if in a funeral
Parting, like freedom, is its own redemption

And so without much ado, let us conclude
Our journey to each other, here, halfway
With words that bear no hint of semblance
To our whispers under the Argentinian moon
Speak! Or is your pained taciturnity your way
Of telling me, “What else is there to say?”

/ chytdaytec 28june09

Governor Sanford of South Carolina, USA wipes his tears as he publicly acknowledges his affair with an Argentinian woman. Why can't I bring myself to judge him?


It looks like finally, the uproar caused by Candy Pangilinan's statement: "Tao po ako, hindi po ako Igorot (I am a human being, not an Igorot.)!" is waning. As soon as she opened her mouth, we Igorots clenched our fists and went to war. For the enlightenment of our non-Filipino readers, Igorots are indigenous peoples found in the Cordillera region of Northern Philippines.

On May 12, I wrote her a fuming-mad if not arrogant letter (reproduced below) which, I was told, was posted by more than one hundred concerned individuals on their Facebook, Multiply and Friendster sites. Some posted it on their blogsites and on on-line forums. Candy was condemned by Igorots and non-Igorots. On my Facebook site, there were hundreds of reactions most of which were of disgust at her behaviour.

On May 13, she sent me a very remorseful letter of apology saying she would make a public apology on national television. After her public apology, I sent her another letter whose tone was this time calm, unlike the first one which was berserk. In my second letter, I asked Candy to rectify her error by using her relative influence to raise public consciousness of the Igorots.

To be fair to her, she already expressed her remorse on national television. And she also appeared before the Baguio City Council to apologize- a brave act considering that the Council passed a resolution condemning her and declaring her a persona non-grata.

I believe that after the public backlash, she learned her lesson and is now aware of who Igorots are.

I am posting my two letters to Candy and, to be fair to her, her message to me:


The First Letter

Candy, I am a poet and human rights lawyer who happens to be indigenous. In particular, I am a member of the Kankanaey ethnolinguistic group. Kankanaeys are Igorots.

I am currently in Australia attending a training on indigenous peoples rights. Yesterday, I learned that when you had a concert in Baguio, you shouted twice: "Tao po ako, hindi po ako Igorot." This incident was discussed with the participants in the training because I brought it out. Australian aborigines recall the time they were not considered humans and were downgraded by the Australian government to the level of "part of the flora and fauna." How you treated us right in our territory smacks of shamelessness and outright ignorance of who Igorots are. You are as bad as the Australian government which, by the way, had the humility to apologize to the aborigines in 2009.

You can claim that you were joking. Twice, you were joking? Real artists use performance art to inspire noble emotions, not hatred for or discrimination against a particular ethnic group. Since you call yourself an artist, you should know that you have a social responsibility which demands that you should not promote ethnic bias.

It is a good thing that you are not so popular because your very prejudicial statement would have influenced the minds of millions of people. The fact of your stature in the entertainment industry does not however mitigate the vileness of your statement.

I hope that like the Australian government, you will have the humility to apologize on national television to the indigenous peoples whose collective identity you slurred with your careless statement.

Cheryl L. Daytec

Candy's Response

Yes i am scheduled for a public apology.
It was not intended to mean that way.
No explanation naman can calm all of you.
kaya po, i'm sorry... I am actually trying to get in touch with the Igorot community to personally give my apologies. I would like to show my sincere apologies, in any way I can.I do not know how to reach everyone with my apologies. More than I am afraid that you will all get mad, I am so dissapointed with myself that i have hurt people
The guilt is beyond me.
I don't know what to say... I made a mistake. I'm sorry.
If you read the multiply site ang dami pong hurtful words ang nakasulat and I feel I deserve it for causing people pain.
I certainly know that I am not above anyone and would not intentionally hurt anyone.
This is a humbling experience. A lesson learned the hard way. I am praying now that you all just forgive me for once. i assure all of you that his will never happen again.
I am sorry.

My Second Letter

Dear Candy,

I want you to know I feel less bad after reading your message to me to which was appended your statement of public apology.

You did what you did- carelessly as you now admit with remorse. Igorots from all over the globe reacted - naturally with outrage. I hope you understand the ""tumult."

I am sure you wish you could turn back the hands of time and undo what you did. But it is just not possible. So what matters is how you will rectify your misdeed. You are in a position to correct misconceptions. It will be nice if you will emerge from this experience an "artistang bayan," someone who will use her relative influence to effect social change. Forgiveness from the people you wronged may not be immediate but it will come especially if Igorots see that you are making amends beyond your public apology.

I did not watch your public apology as at the moment, I am abroad. Many who did say you "seemed sincere" (The use of the modifier "seemed" means they have doubts, but the inclination is towards believing you.). I believe apologizing publicly was not a baby step for you or anyone in your position for that matter. Although some people may not feel it was enough, it is a portent of good things to come- for you at least.

If there is something good that came out of the incident, it made the Igorots from all over the globe congregate around their besieged identity. In good times, some of us may take for granted our history of struggle for recognition and the importance of continuously raising public consciousness of who and what we are. But in bad times,we revisit our past as a people, claim our roots with pride. We remember with ardor in our hearts that our ancestors resisted Spanish colonization for centuries, that self-determination was a right they were ready to fight for with their very lives. We remember that the present society can learn from our indigenous history and will be transformed if we reclaim the values they held dear. I am not saying however that more ethnic bashing of Igorots - or of any ethnolinguistic group- should happen.

Unfortunately, some of us may have become irrational in expressing our outrage to ethnic slur and I am not an exception. On hindsight, I myself realized that invoking my academic award to stress my point in my letter to you was devoid of rational connection to a principled critical reaction to your statement. When I wrote the letter, I was feeling so horrified that you truly thought we were not humans (and only humans go to school.). Add to this the fact that I was immersed in an activity on indigenous peoples rights where shared experiences of racial discrimination reopened old wounds, exacerbated fresh ones, and created new ones for us who were hearing for the first time the stories of other indigenous peoples from various countries.

Australian aboriginals shared with pain in their hearts that under discriminatory laws, they were classed with plants and animals in the wild, the flora and fauna. Children of mixed blood were abducted from their parents who were thought unfit to care for children. Members of the Stolen Generation still suffer from the psychological damage wrought by their very, very sorrowful experience. In February 2008 however, Prime Minister Steven Rudd apologized. Although the apology did not (and could not) restore the damage done, it eased the aboriginals' baggage. Every time they spoke, they acknowledged the traditional owners of the land where we were holding an activity. I thought that was so uplifting and was hoping the same could be done in our country. Listening to them recount their ordeal as an oppressed people, I was so emotionally affected.You can imagine the state I was in when I expressed my anger to you for what you did in my birthplace which was originally owned by the Ibalois who are Igorots.

I am not going to apologize for people who may have gone overboard, responding to you with similar or equal slur because that is for them to do. But I ask you to understand them and see the shape of the lessons we can all draw from this experience.

I wish you well. As an Igorot, I have forgiven you for the hurt caused me personally.


Cheryl Daytec

REP. VICTOR S. DOMINGUEZ: The Man Whose Heart Was Bigger Than His Life

-->(This was written last year a day before Rep. Dominguez was buried. Today is his first death anniversary.)

The stories were checkered. Some said he died of pneumonia. Others said heart attack. But those who were with him during his final moments say Mountain Province Rep. Victor S. Dominguez succumbed to a broken heart.
Only people who love and love too much would yield to a broken heart. And I know that he had an immense capacity for it.
Since my childhood, I had known him. I spent more than one summer vacation joining his campaign sorties. As his staff for two years in the House of Representatives, I bear witness to his dedication to help people. He took and made time for people- constituents or otherwise- appealing for assistance. He often made me scour telephone directories for the numbers of officials who had the power to appoint or disappoint job-seekers, or grant or deny concessions. Exerting pressure when necessary, he surrendered to no obstacles. His relentlessness was remarkable.
Not a stranger to the discrimination suffered by indigenous peoples, he was resolute to pluck out Igorots from the junction of inconsequentiality to the dais of national prominence. To him, this was achieved by the appointment of Igorots to key government posts. Friends brag and foes concede that his weight-throwing placed Igorots in national major positions. Sundry criticisms may be hurled at the mainstream politics he subscribed to. But if Igorot history will be written, it should devote a page to the trails he blazed for a people who, for years, suffered and still suffer the indignity of being flouted while their resources are being plundered, courtesy of imperial Manila.
When I was 22, he pushed for my appointment --by the President of the Philippines-- as Director of the Cordillera Executive Board. My limited experience- the years I worked for him in the House of Representatives while studying law in a state university- was decorated by good academic credentials (which spelled nothing), and bloated by his influence (which meant everything). He would proudly introduce me as the youngest presidential appointee. If that was an achievement, it was his, not mine. It was my fortune.
He knew how to return favors and never considered them fully repaid. To a fault, he could go to extreme lengths to protect his people- even those guilty of wrongs. Privately, he castigated them for their “sins” but sheltered them from the cage or the whip.
His lingering recollection of favors was a stark contrast to his brief memory for affronts. His heart, as well as his office, was never too crowded for his enemies. One day, a man who publicly campaigned against and vilified him in the past approached him for help on an agency’s budget. I asked, “Why oblige this man?” He replied, “To make your enemy the beneficiary of your goodness is the most gratifying revenge.” That was probably his version of Jesus’ “Throw bread at them who throw stones at you.”
His Quezon City home was perpetually open to everyone in need of help, shelter and food. There was a constant stream of guests, some from the neighboring provinces of Mt. Province. On weekends, his Baguio home was teeming with people shackled by motley problems requiring his service or power trident. Not once did I hear him and his family complain although their privacy was a casualty. Openhandedness was truly his trademark. Probably on this score, no politician will ever match him. 
I agonized when we had a publicized rift. I denounced him for standing up for his relative against my relative. He broke my heart. I must have broken his heart too, because he wrote to say that as my second father, he was hurt by my action but understood me. Alas, things were said and done.
The crevasse ran so deep –it had to for people who were close- I thought it would remain gaping. Fortunately, time, indeed, does heal wounds. My eternal regret is that things were never the same. When soreness vanished, I already had a very large world plus a million and one concerns that I rarely socialized. Also, there was the ideological divide. While working in the executive branch, my ideological metamorphosis was completed irreversibly. I abhorred and still abhor the anti-people national status quo. Rep. Dominguez–wittingly or unwittingly- was a status quo pillar. (Consider how he helped save Gloria Arroyo from impeachment!) Differences in our political views notwithstanding, it was always in my “in-the-future” agenda to pay him a personal visit and savor the old days. With his untimely departure, I forfeited that chance. Missed opportunities will haunt me. But forever, I will be grateful for the privilege of knowing this man who was exceptional amidst his flaws and weaknesses.
Rep. Dominguez had a mischievous side, too. With an impish grin, he voiced out one time that he wished I would romantically “fancy” his very nice, good-looking relative, certainly every girl’s ideal pick. But the relative was not interested in me. Besides, I was eighteen or nineteen and my world was too narrow to accommodate boys. My surprise and embarrassment must have been evident. He simply chuckled and did not wait for a reply that would never come.
There were persistent talks that he died hankering for the affection of kith and kin who politically forsook him. His vital signs were good. But he seemed to have slackened his grasp on his willpower to live.
Jesus’ death on the cross shakes us to the core because of a friend’s betrayal. If Judas were one of the Pharisees, or the Roman soldiers, or the unbelieving crowd, betrayal would have been negated, altering the twist in the story of salvation. Foes cannot betray you as they cannot perforate your heart, although they may arouse your temper. Rep Dominguez must have loved his relatives so much to be ineffably upset by their rejection.
In life, he did not draw comfort from moving around with anger weighing him down. While a shattered heart enervated him during his last days, I believe he began his journey to the afterlife sans a decelerating baggage of hate. During his final hours, he must have been like the father weakened by unquenched thirst for the homecoming of his prodigal son, absolved before absolution was sought, loved beyond he deserved. Thankfully for the prodigal son, he ironed out emotional kinks and embraced the old man again before it was too late; otherwise guilt would have plagued him for the rest of his life.
I looked at Rep. Dominguez’ shrunken body in a brass coffin. So shrived of animation. A light has gone out. I surveyed the thousands who came to pay their last respects to a man whose kindness and generosity humbled also those who rebuff his brand of politics. Many wept unabashedly. He was so very alive. The torch of his good deeds will endure.
His hurts are behind him now. We who still breathe are left to confront our regrets for things undone and unfinished conversations, our guilt for knowingly or unknowingly hurting him beyond his endurance and neglecting to ask for forgiveness, our sorrow for a loss we did not quite prepare ourselves for. In a way, we are dead ourselves. We must struggle to rise from our own graves, dug by our regrets, our guilt, our sorrow.
Au revoir, Uncle Vic. Long you will live.