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.
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