Wedding Dance
By Amador Daguio

Awiyao reached for the upper horizontal log which served as the edge of the headhigh threshold. Clinging to the log, he lifted himself with one bound that carried him across to the narrow door. He slid back the cover, stepped inside, then pushed the cover back in place. After some moments during which he seemed to wait, he talked to the listening darkness.

"I'm sorry this had to be done. I am really sorry. But neither of us can help it."

The sound of the gangsas beat through the walls of the dark house like muffled roars of falling waters. The woman who had moved with a start when the sliding door opened had been hearing the gangsas for she did not know how long. There was a sudden rush of fire in her. She gave no sign that she heard Awiyao, but continued to sit unmoving in the darkness.

But Awiyao knew that she heard him and his heart pitied her. He crawled on all fours to the middle of the room; he knew exactly where the stove was. With bare fingers he stirred the covered smoldering embers, and blew into the stove. When the coals began to glow, Awiyao put pieces of pine on them, then full round logs as his arms. The room brightened.

"Why don't you go out," he said, "and join the dancing women?" He felt a pang inside him, because what he said was really not the right thing to say and because the woman did not stir. "You should join the dancers," he said, "as if--as if nothing had happened." He looked at the woman huddled in a corner of the room, leaning against the wall. The stove fire played with strange moving shadows and lights upon her face. She was partly sullen, but her sullenness was not because of anger or hate.

"Go out--go out and dance. If you really don't hate me for this separation, go out and dance. One of the men will see you dance well; he will like your dancing, he will marry you. Who knows but that, with him, you will be luckier than you were with me."

"I don't want any man," she said sharply. "I don't want any other man."

He felt relieved that at least she talked: "You know very well that I won't want any other woman either. You know that, don't you? Lumnay, you know it, don't you?"

She did not answer him.

"You know it Lumnay, don't you?" he repeated.

"Yes, I know," she said weakly.

"It is not my fault," he said, feeling relieved. "You cannot blame me; I have been a good husband to you."

"Neither can you blame me," she said. She seemed about to cry.

"No, you have been very good to me. You have been a good wife. I have nothing to say against you." He set some of the burning wood in place. "It's only that a man must have a child. Seven harvests is just too long to wait. Yes, we have waited too long. We should have another chance before it is too late for both of us."

This time the woman stirred, stretched her right leg out and bent her left leg in. She wound the blanket more snugly around herself.

"You know that I have done my best," she said. "I have prayed to Kabunyan much. I have sacrificed many chickens in my prayers."

"Yes, I know."

"You remember how angry you were once when you came home from your work in the terrace because I butchered one of our pigs without your permission? I did it to appease Kabunyan, because, like you, I wanted to have a child. But what could I do?"

"Kabunyan does not see fit for us to have a child," he said. He stirred the fire. The spark rose through the crackles of the flames. The smoke and soot went up the ceiling.

Lumnay looked down and unconsciously started to pull at the rattan that kept the split bamboo flooring in place. She tugged at the rattan flooring. Each time she did this the split bamboo went up and came down with a slight rattle. The gong of the dancers clamorously called in her care through the walls.

Awiyao went to the corner where Lumnay sat, paused before her, looked at her bronzed and sturdy face, then turned to where the jars of water stood piled one over the other. Awiyao took a coconut cup and dipped it in the top jar and drank. Lumnay had filled the jars from the mountain creek early that evening.

"I came home," he said. "Because I did not find you among the dancers. Of course, I am not forcing you to come, if you don't want to join my wedding ceremony. I came to tell you that Madulimay, although I am marrying her, can never become as good as you are. She is not as strong in planting beans, not as fast in cleaning water jars, not as good keeping a house clean. You are one of the best wives in the whole village."

"That has not done me any good, has it?" She said. She looked at him lovingly. She almost seemed to smile.

He put the coconut cup aside on the floor and came closer to her. He held her face between his hands and looked longingly at her beauty. But her eyes looked away. Never again would he hold her face. The next day she would not be his any more. She would go back to her parents. He let go of her face, and she bent to the floor again and looked at her fingers as they tugged softly at the split bamboo floor.

"This house is yours," he said. "I built it for you. Make it your own, live in it as long as you wish. I will build another house for Madulimay."

"I have no need for a house," she said slowly. "I'll go to my own house. My parents are old. They will need help in the planting of the beans, in the pounding of the rice."

"I will give you the field that I dug out of the mountains during the first year of our marriage," he said. "You know I did it for you. You helped me to make it for the two of us."

"I have no use for any field," she said.

He looked at her, then turned away, and became silent. They were silent for a time.

"Go back to the dance," she said finally. "It is not right for you to be here. They will wonder where you are, and Madulimay will not feel good. Go back to the dance."

"I would feel better if you could come, and dance---for the last time. The gangsas are playing."

"You know that I cannot."

"Lumnay," he said tenderly. "Lumnay, if I did this it is because of my need for a child. You know that life is not worth living without a child. The man have mocked me behind my back. You know that."

"I know it," he said. "I will pray that Kabunyan will bless you and Madulimay."

She bit her lips now, then shook her head wildly, and sobbed.

She thought of the seven harvests that had passed, the high hopes they had in the beginning of their new life, the day he took her away from her parents across the roaring river, on the other side of the mountain, the trip up the trail which they had to climb, the steep canyon which they had to cross. The waters boiled in her mind in forms of white and jade and roaring silver; the waters tolled and growled, resounded in thunderous echoes through the walls of the stiff cliffs; they were far away now from somewhere on the tops of the other ranges, and they had looked carefully at the buttresses of rocks they had to step on---a slip would have meant death.

They both drank of the water then rested on the other bank before they made the final climb to the other side of the mountain.

She looked at his face with the fire playing upon his features---hard and strong, and kind. He had a sense of lightness in his way of saying things which often made her and the village people laugh. How proud she had been of his humor. The muscles where taut and firm, bronze and compact in their hold upon his skull---how frank his bright eyes were. She looked at his body that carved out of the mountains five fields for her; his wide and supple torso heaved as if a slab of shining lumber were heaving; his arms and legs flowed down in fluent muscles--he was strong and for that she had lost him.

She flung herself upon his knees and clung to them. "Awiyao, Awiyao, my husband," she cried. "I did everything to have a child," she said passionately in a hoarse whisper. "Look at me," she cried. "Look at my body. Then it was full of promise. It could dance; it could work fast in the fields; it could climb the mountains fast. Even now it is firm, full. But, Awiyao, I am useless. I must die."

"It will not be right to die," he said, gathering her in his arms. Her whole warm naked naked breast quivered against his own; she clung now to his neck, and her hand lay upon his right shoulder; her hair flowed down in cascades of gleaming darkness.

"I don't care about the fields," she said. "I don't care about the house. I don't care for anything but you. I'll have no other man."

"Then you'll always be fruitless."

"I'll go back to my father, I'll die."

"Then you hate me," he said. "If you die it means you hate me. You do not want me to have a child. You do not want my name to live on in our tribe."

She was silent.

"If I do not try a second time," he explained, "it means I'll die. Nobody will get the fields I have carved out of the mountains; nobody will come after me."

"If you fail--if you fail this second time--" she said thoughtfully. The voice was a shudder. "No--no, I don't want you to fail."

"If I fail," he said, "I'll come back to you. Then both of us will die together. Both of us will vanish from the life of our tribe."

The gongs thundered through the walls of their house, sonorous and faraway.

"I'll keep my beads," she said. "Awiyao, let me keep my beads," she half-whispered.

"You will keep the beads. They come from far-off times. My grandmother said they come from up North, from the slant-eyed people across the sea. You keep them, Lumnay. They are worth twenty fields."

"I'll keep them because they stand for the love you have for me," she said. "I love you. I love you and have nothing to give."

She took herself away from him, for a voice was calling out to him from outside. "Awiyao! Awiyao! O Awiyao! They are looking for you at the dance!"

"I am not in hurry."

"The elders will scold you. You had better go."

"Not until you tell me that it is all right with you."

"It is all right with me."

He clasped her hands. "I do this for the sake of the tribe," he said.

"I know," she said.

He went to the door.


He stopped as if suddenly hit by a spear. In pain he turned to her. Her face was in agony. It pained him to leave. She had been wonderful to him. What was it that made a man wish for a child? What was it in life, in the work in the field, in the planting and harvest, in the silence of the night, in the communing with husband and wife, in the whole life of the tribe itself that made man wish for the laughter and speech of a child? Suppose he changed his mind? Why did the unwritten law demand, anyway, that a man, to be a man, must have a child to come after him? And if he was fruitless--but he loved Lumnay. It was like taking away of his life to leave her like this.

"Awiyao," she said, and her eyes seemed to smile in the light. "The beads!" He turned back and walked to the farthest corner of their room, to the trunk where they kept their worldly possession---his battle-ax and his spear points, her betel nut box and her beads. He dug out from the darkness the beads which had been given to him by his grandmother to give to Lumnay on the beads on, and tied them in place. The white and jade and deep orange obsidians shone in the firelight. She suddenly clung to him, clung to his neck as if she would never let him go.

"Awiyao! Awiyao, it is hard!" She gasped, and she closed her eyes and huried her face in his neck.

The call for him from the outside repeated; her grip loosened, and he buried out into the night.

Lumnay sat for some time in the darkness. Then she went to the door and opened it. The moonlight struck her face; the moonlight spilled itself on the whole village.

She could hear the throbbing of the gangsas coming to her through the caverns of the other houses. She knew that all the houses were empty that the whole tribe was at the dance. Only she was absent. And yet was she not the best dancer of the village? Did she not have the most lightness and grace? Could she not, alone among all women, dance like a bird tripping for grains on the ground, beautifully timed to the beat of the gangsas? Did not the men praise her supple body, and the women envy the way she stretched her hands like the wings of the mountain eagle now and then as she danced? How long ago did she dance at her own wedding? Tonight, all the women who counted, who once danced in her honor, were dancing now in honor of another whose only claim was that perhaps she could give her husband a child.

"It is not right. It is not right!" she cried. "How does she know? How can anybody know? It is not right," she said.

Suddenly she found courage. She would go to the dance. She would go to the chief of the village, to the elders, to tell them it was not right. Awiyao was hers; nobody could take him away from her. Let her be the first woman to complain, to denounce the unwritten rule that a man may take another woman. She would tell Awiyao to come back to her. He surely would relent. Was not their love as strong as the river?

She made for the other side of the village where the dancing was. There was a flaming glow over the whole place; a great bonfire was burning. The gangsas clamored more loudly now, and it seemed they were calling to her. She was near at last. She could see the dancers clearly now. The man leaped lightly with their gangsas as they circled the dancing women decked in feast garments and beads, tripping on the ground like graceful birds, following their men. Her heart warmed to the flaming call of the dance; strange heat in her blood welled up, and she started to run. But the gleaming brightness of the bonfire commanded her to stop. Did anybody see her approach?

She stopped. What if somebody had seen her coming? The flames of the bonfire leaped in countless sparks which spread and rose like yellow points and died out in the night. The blaze reached out to her like a spreading radiance. She did not have the courage to break into the wedding feast.

Lumnay walked away from the dancing ground, away from the village. She thought of the new clearing of beans which Awiyao and she had started to make only four moons before. She followed the trail above the village.

When she came to the mountain stream she crossed it carefully. Nobody held her hand, and the stream water was very cold. The trail went up again, and she was in the moonlight shadows among the trees and shrubs. Slowly she climbed the mountain.

When Lumnay reached the clearing, she cold see from where she stood the blazing bonfire at the edge of the village, where the wedding was. She could hear the far-off clamor of the gongs, still rich in their sonorousness, echoing from mountain to mountain. The sound did not mock her; they seemed to call far to her, to speak to her in the language of unspeaking love. She felt the pull of their gratitude for her sacrifice. Her heartbeat began to sound to her like many gangsas.

Lumnay thought of Awiyao as the Awiyao she had known long ago-- a strong, muscular boy carrying his heavy loads of fuel logs down the mountains to his home. She had met him one day as she was on her way to fill her clay jars with water. He had stopped at the spring to drink and rest; and she had made him drink the cool mountain water from her coconut shell. After that it did not take him long to decide to throw his spear on the stairs of her father's house in token on his desire to marry her.

The mountain clearing was cold in the freezing moonlight. The wind began to stir the leaves of the bean plants. Lumnay looked for a big rock on which to sit down. The bean plants now surrounded her, and she was lost among them.

A few more weeks, a few more months, a few more harvests---what did it matter? She would be holding the bean flowers, soft in the texture, silken almost, but moist where the dew got into them, silver to look at, silver on the light blue, blooming whiteness, when the morning comes. The stretching of the bean pods full length from the hearts of the wilting petals would go on.

Lumnay's fingers moved a long, long time among the growing bean pods.


Bury Marcos as 'hero'?
AT GROUND LEVEL By Satur C. Ocampo (The Philippine Star)

I wasn’t at all surprised that Rep. Salvador H. Escudero III had filed a resolution in the House of Representatives (HR 1135) urging the Aquino government to allow the burial of the remains of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Neither was I surprised but nonetheless dismayed that over two-thirds of the 287 members of the 15th Congress had signed the resolution. It isn’t unusual for the author or proponent of a bill or resolution to aggressively solicit as I myself used to as many signatures among colleagues as he or she can collect. Sadly, some congresspersons sign even without reading the measure’s content.

However, in my experience, the big number of signatories doesn’t ensure the passage of a legislative proposal. It has to undergo debate in the plenary session, and before that, subjected to public hearings by the concerned committee(s). Come voting time, not all those who signed vote yes.

Rep. “Sonny” Escudero, like his senator-son “Chiz,” is amiable, friendly to everyone. He’s also a diligent legislator. I worked well with him, as I had with Chiz, when we were minority (opposition) members in the 14th Congress.

But Sonny, who served long in Marcos’ government, is unabashedly a Marcos loyalist. There’s where we part ways. I have been an anti-Marcos, anti-dictatorship activist since the mid-1960s and a victim of torture and nine years of military detention under the Marcos martial-law regime.

Rep. Escudero has stirred up a hornet’s nest by reviving this proposal, first put forward by then President Joseph Estrada in 1998 and refloated by Bongbong Marcos during the senatorial campaign last year.

Upon the backlash of widespread popular opposition and opprobrium, Estrada withdrew his proposal. As for Bongbong’s, he and I had a brief run-in during a press conference of the Nacionalista Party senatorial candidates; he didn’t insist on it and the issue lapsed.

Now with Bongbong in the Senate and his mother, Imelda, in the House as Ilocos Norte representative, Rep. Escudero may have believed he could easily shepherd his resolution into adoption by the House. He ought to think some more.

The resolution has yet to be discussed at committee level, but before it can be tackled a counter-resolution, “vigorously opposing the renewed proposal,” will be filed on Monday by the progressive party-list bloc of Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, Anakpawis, Kabataan Party and the ACT-Teachers Party. Both resolutions will be referred to the same committee for consideration and public hearings.

The party-list bloc resolution manifests the vehement opposition thus far publicly expressed by the human rights alliance Karapatan, SELDA (the organization of former martial-law political detainees), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, and the First Quarter Storm Movement. Members of these organizations held a protest-condemnation rally at the Batasan South Gate last Tuesday.

Strong opposition has also been aired by MABINI (human rights lawyers’ group formed during the Marcos dictatorship), the Bantayog ng Mga Bayani Foundation (which honors martial-law martyrs and heroes), and the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines. MABINI, headed by ex-senator Rene A.V. Saguisag, even twitted Vice President Jejomar Binay, a MABINI member, for conducting a survey on the burial issue after President Aquino shifted the burden of decision-making on to him.

The bone of contention is not so much over burying Marcos’s remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, since not so few now think that the burial ground no longer deserves its name.

The bone of contention is over the idea, as the Escudero resolution proposes, to honor Marcos indirectly as a “hero” and emphatically as a “patriot,” and that doing so will be a “magnanimous act of reconciliation.”

The party-list bloc’s resolution calls the proposal “a grave travesty of justice and a monumental historical distortion tantamount to declaring as a hero a dictator who committed gross crimes against humanity, plunged the nation deeper into debt and foreign control, and plundered the nation’s resources.”

The proposal, the resolution adds, is “a renunciation of the historic 1986 People Power Uprising which toppled the Marcos dictatorship.” To give Marcos a hero’s burial, it points out, “would send the absurd message that the Filipino people overthrew a ‘hero’ during People Power I and that the international community’s sympathy for that uprising is wrong.”

As for reconciliation, which has been bandied about since the Cory Aquino administration: “How can there be reconciliation when the Marcoses haven’t acknowledged any wrongdoing, much less crimes against the people, and haven’t deemed it proper to apologize?”

As the public observed during the proceedings on impeachment complaints, political and other self-serving considerations not high moral principle or historical fidelity seem to prevail among the majority of House members. Many among the signatories to the Escudero resolution held posts or benefitted from the Marcos years in power; but I was aghast to see the name of a former feisty anti-Marcos activist.

The House may either acquit itself or plunge into infamy by how its members will vote on this issue whether P-Noy accedes or not to its decision.

P-Noy himself will be judged by his ultimate action. There is no escaping it.

* * *

E-mail: satur.ocampo@gmail.com


Watching the No-Fly Zone

by Cheryl L. Daytec

Demanding an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute “crimes against humanity”, the Security Council this evening imposed a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace — a no-fly zone — and tightened sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters.
-UN Security Council, 17 March 2011

Rebels in eastern Libya say their forces have been mistakenly hit in a NATO air raid on a rebel tank position…"What remains clear is that Nato will continue to uphold the UN mandate and strike forces that can potentially cause harm to the civilian population of Libya," said the (NATO) in a statement.
-BBC, 7 April 2011

Only the cries of surrender
from broken dreams
and the shouts of triumph
of pseudo-victors
could traverse the skyway
along with the winged steel
dropping desultory verdicts
on who lives or dies
The borders of an empire
were sealed by interlopers
Armless, weightless,
the indigenes have been tuned out
Too impotent,
Too shriveled
to count for much
In the show of force
a perdurable tyrant
and ruthless invaders
Not even I
who watches from a safe distance
could no more reconcile
your rhetoric for peace
with the carnage you pushed
to nest upon that land
squatting on oil
that bewitches esurience./ chyt16april2011


by Cheryl L. Daytec

I am
without my name…
alone with my shadow
in a crowd of people
also nameless to me

unlike their cameras-
Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Canon-
capturing the charm
of a city, its neoteric dash
merging gracefully

with its antediluvian air:
Baroque palaces and a diner
that gyrates with graceful speed
like the small hand of a clock,
a Gothic castle perched on a hill

overlooking the serene Danube
crossed by a new bridge
with an edifice contrived earlier
than its time
No one perhaps missed Cumil

who mischievously bobbed up
through a manhole cover
after a day’s backbreaking labor
in the underground sewer
his nostrils escaping the noxious blend

of the city’s motley stinks
We all must have met Naci
taking his hat off to everyone
How sagacious of him to elude
the contretemps of the world

by renouncing
what we all struggle to keep:
the mind
And The Paparazzi peeping through
a camera; he has never been

a scandalmonger nor tattler
On the contrary, he is routinely,
mercilessly harassed, his image
stolen by lenses of curious strangers
The city is a riot of cynosures

People talk all at once
Like the chirping of birds,
the sounds mean nothing to me
But the shared gasps of awe
are eloquent speech

Souls connect
breathing in the same magnificence
that tomorrow shall be shared memories
of people who will never know
each other’s names.



Lawyers group Join Farmers Groups in filing criminal charges against former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez at the DOJ today

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) joined militant peasant and fisherfolk organizations in filing criminal charges against resigned Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez at the Department of Justice today.

In the complaint affidavit they presented to DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima, Anakpawis Partylist Representative Rafael V. Mariano, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), AMIHAN, Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK), Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), Dangayan Dagiti Manalon Ti Cagayan Valley (Dangayan) and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) accused resigned Ombudsman Gutierrez of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act tantamount to obstruction of justice and perjury in connection with the graft complaint filed by the said organizations against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo et.al. on the issue of the fertilizer scam.

The peasant organizations have filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo et.al. regarding the malversation of P728M pesos fertilizer and farm input fund allotted for the Ginintuang Masagang Ani Program as early as 03 June 2004. In response to the said complaint, Task Force Abono was formed by the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the said scam. However, despite the numerous findings and consistent recommendations of the said task force to file criminal and administrative charges against those involved in the said scam, Ombudsman Gutierrez failed to act on the said recommendations. It was only before Ombudsman Gutierrez resigned last 29 April 2011 that she recommended the filing of charges against those who were responsible for the malversation of the said fund but which has been criticized as deliberately ill-prepared and designed to fail.

The said criminal complaint is the first to be filed against Gutierrez.

Atty. Edre U. Olalia, Secretary-General of the NUPL, said, “The filing of this criminal complaint is part of the organized effort of the NUPL for accountability and good governance aside from the prosecution of human rights violations to abate impunity. Just because Ombudsman Gutierrez resigned does not mean she is less accountable or responsible for her actions. As a matter of principle, NUPL is determined that she has to face the music.”

The NUPL was one of the complainants in the impeachment proceedings against Gutierrez and represented them in the hearings before the Supreme Court which resulted in a favorable decision on this matter. NUPL lawyers likewise served as researchers and would-be private prosecutors in the aborted impeachment trial.

“We would also like to emphasize that former Ombudsman Gutierrez did not only sit on cases involving massive graft and corruption filed before her office. Her inaction even covered cases filed against government officials and state agents involved in human rights violations,” Atty. Olalia added citing the case of Raymond Manalo, the witness to the abduction of UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno which has remained pending before the Office of the Ombudsman. After filing a damages suit against GMA et. al. for the violation of the rights of the Morong 43 last month, the NUPL just filed a criminal complaint for the disappearance of Cadapan and Empeno against Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. et. al. last week in representation of the victims and their kin. ####

Reference: Atty. Edre U. Olalia

Secretary-General, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)

Contact Number: 0917-5113373


(Painting by Kathlea Francynn Gawani Yangot, aged 8)


by Cheryl L. Daytec

Look at her hands
with unvarnished nails
now rough from age
and labor in her youth
They have embraced
many babies in their cribs
and driven away
the obnoxious goblins
that called on them
at night and in solitude
Look at her mouth
with unpainted lips
How many words
have flowed from them
softly like the feel
of cotton on bruised skin
restoring confidence
and soothing nightmares?
Look at her eyes –
they are tired and now read
through rounded spectacles
about her children’s small
victories which to her seem
large as life. They have seen
through the heart of every
child. They cried the tears for
every child’s shattered dream
Her feet -now set on
brittle bones- have walked
endless distances for
a can of infant milk
or a drop of cough syrup
or a basic writing pad
Look at her ears
unadorned with precious gems
They have listened
to anguish, to exhilaration,
to lies, and to truths,
to fiery temper,
to half-meant apologies
Her skin now sags from age,
her back is slightly hunched


She has had a full life.
For she has given
a proud dimension to the word



Seasons of Cautious Amour
by Cheryl L. Daytec

Across the humid air
we swapped
reluctant smiles
You asked me
my name

Diffidence slipped to ease
when leaves
were a riot of colors
and they were falling
on our shoes trudging
unknown roads
Together, we explored
dark alleys, strange nooks
You kept me from
falling off ravines
And I kept you from
bumping into dead-ends
of walled opportunities

We were bridged
to each other
when whiteness
buried the landscape
and iridescence was sucked in
by cinereal aura
Your arms around me
routed the glacial air
But our laughter was
not for the world to hear

As the crocus struggled
against dormancy
and inched its way
to bring shades to the ground
and the tulips of all shades
conquered the ambience
Our closeness bloomed
like the cherry efflorescing,
its blush of pink
alert with gentle rain,
too loud to contain a secret

The humid air returned
We stood admiring the trees
basking in the sun
and the innocent fragrance
of roses in the wind
I was looking forward
to better tomorrows
The world’s eyes found
a new fixation

Earth drew
an almost full circle
I had reasons to stretch
the space between us
But they were the same reasons
why I stayed in the hook
of your arms
It was déjà vu
we crossed a river to see
what was on the other side
and found what we left

I was smelling the alyssum
when you started talking
about a future
That was when
I chose
over your company

Lest you forgot,
the rainbow is our flag
Unknown to law
Castles in the air
have to be deserted
before they crash.


The mothers of missing UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno today filed a criminal complaint against retired General Jovito Palparan Jr. for rape, serious physical injuries, arbitrary detention and other crimes, based on sworn affidavits of several eyewitnesses.

Counsel Edre U. Olalia, Secretary-General of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) said “This will not ensure that Karen and Sherlyn will be brought back to us. Indeed, this is more than seeking justice for them. This is a way to put these incorrigible abductors, torturers and rapists out of places of authority.” Karen and Sherlyn have been missing since 2006.

Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeno, alleging conspiracy within the military unit, filed the complaint at the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Palparan, former commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army; his commanding officers Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac of the 56th Infantry Battalion and Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado of the 25th Infantry Battalion. It also charged M/Sgt. Donald Caigas and M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario for particular acts of torture and rape. The charge of rape is non-bailable.

Attached to the complaint were eight detailed affidavits that established Sherlyn and Karen were in military custody. Farmer Raymond Manalo, whose testimony was taken in open court in 2008 during the habeas corpus proceedings in the Court of Appeals, positively identified several of the abductors and torturers, as well as witnessed horrible acts of torture. Manalo was himself abducted in Bulacan in 2006, but he eventually escaped.

Other Bulacan farmers, fishermen, and other barriofolk have willingly come up to state for the record that they saw Sherlyn and Karen being abducted or in the custody of the military, said Att. Julian Oliva, a member of the NUPL Legal Team. “Despite the possible consequences, they have stood up in defense of the two UP students who served their community. This is an outstanding act of courage, and a genuine belief that criminals must be punished,” he said.

The criminal acts that were alleged by witnesses are: rape, serious physical injuries, arbitrary detention, maltreatment of prisoners, grave threats, grave coercion, and violation of R.A. 7438, or the law which provides for the rights of detained persons.

NUPL also cited violations of international treaties, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture.

Among the NUPL counsels are two young UP Law graduates, Attys. Sandra Jill Santos and Ma. Cristina Yambot, who both just passed the Bar and are contemporaries of Karen and Sherlyn.

This is the first criminal case either lawyer will handle. “The time has come for us to take the cudgels for our friends,” said Atty. Santos, “and to continue what Karen and She have begun.” Atty. Santos served with Sherlyn in the UP Diliman student council.

Atty. Yambot, who entered UP as an undergraduate the same time as Karen, said “What we could only demonstrate against as students before, we will help prosecute as lawyers now.”

The mothers of the 2 missing UP students had earlier secured the court’s approval for the writs of habeas corpus and amparo, but neither writ has been executed. The Court of Appeals in September 2008 ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to release the two coeds, but the latter has denied custody. Military camp inspections have been unsuccessful.

This is the first countersuit against Palparan to be filed during the present administration of President Noynoy Aquino. Palparan earned the monicker “The Butcher” for his bloody record of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

Gen. Palparan was sued during the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who had supported and praised him publicly. Other killings attributed to him are those of human rights worker Eden Marcellana, peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy, activist Choy Napoles, and many others.

The case of Marcellana and Gumanoy were brought to the UN Human Rights Committee, where the GMA government was held accountable for violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Atty. Olalia, who handled these cases, said “We will continue to pursue all avenues to prosecute human rights violators. We will not let them get away with murder, rape, and other crimes that debase our sensibilities. We will continue to stand by our clients who have dared to speak out against the worst types of violations—those committed by state agents and the state itself.”

This criminal case is a continuation of the efforts of human rights defenders and lawyers to abate the impunity surrounding human rights violations, coming on the heels of the damages suit against GMA and her cohorts for the Morong 43 incident, and to be followed by other suits in the near future against top civilian, military and police officials.#

References: Atty. Edre U. Olalia, NUPL secretary general (09175113373); Atty. Julian Oliva, member of the NUPL Legal Team(09157707067)


On 29 April 2011, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez resigned rather than face impeachment. The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, the largest organization of human rights lawyers in the Philippines, on that same day issued a press release. Here it is:

NUPL welcomes resignation of Gutierrez, challenges Pnoy to prosecute Arroyo

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), one of the parties in the impeachment complaint, today welcomed the resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

“As one of the complainants, lawyers and private prosecutors, NUPL is glad and relieved with the resignation of the Ombudsman. It once again demonstrates the power of vigilance and grim determination that sovereignty must reside in the people and that public office must always be a public trust,” said lawyer Edre U. Olalia, who represented NUPL in the complaint.

Atty. Olalia also refused to call the Ombudsman’s resignation as an act of sacrifice.”In leaving office she said that her loyalty is to the Filipino people. But the charges against her is precisely ‘betrayal of public trust’, and we were ready to prove that in the proper proceedings,” he said. “This is hardly a graceful exit when public opinion is heavily against her, and she has desisted from one of the legal venues to decide the case on its merits.”

He also challenged the present administration to pursue the root charges in the impeachment case. NUPL sought Gutierrez’s impeachment because of her inaction on and mishandling of cases against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and officials. “Now PNoy’s government must start rolling up its sleeves and doggedly run after the plunderers and human rights violators that have until now hidden behind the layers of protection that Arroyo has left in place.” He said that one of the best steps would be to appoint an Ombudsman who will fairly and squarely investigate charges against officials of the previous administration.

NUPL lawyer Rey B. Cortez said the resignation of Gutierrez will certainly hasten the prosecution of Arroyo and her allies. “However, whether she will be actually charged for graft or not is another thing. This requires a positive act from the government.”

"So far, except for the tax evasion case against Mikey Arroyo, no charge has yet been filed by the government against the former president Arroyo for graft and violations of human rights during her nine-year term. The cases that have been filed against her were upon initiative of private individuals and people’s organizations,” said Atty. Cortez.

The NUPL in April filed the first known civil case against Arroyo and top-ranking officials, for damages in the illegal arrest, arbitrary detention, and torture of the health workers arrested in Morong, Rizal. The Aquino government withdrew charges against the so-called Morong 43 in December 2010.

NUPL, the country’s largest association of human rights lawyers, represents several other victims of rights violation under Arroyo’s time. “We will continue as lawyers of the people to do our part to prosecute and fight impunity,” said Atty. Olalia. #

Reference: Atty. Edre U. Olalia, NUPL Secretary - General (09175113373)