Monday, August 31, 2009

The Filipino Desaparecidos

Today, August 31, is the National Heroes Day for the Philippines. Yesterday was no less significant with the global observance of the International Day of Desaparecidos. Bulatlat produced a video (Philippines: Remembering the Disappeared) for the rather morbid celebration in honor of the "more than 200 Filipinos--mostly activists--[who] have disappeared" under the reign of the EDSA 2 Illegitimate.

Philippines: Remembering the Disappeared from Bulatlat on Vimeo.

The video presented some 40 or so "victims of the regime's brutal policy against critics, particularly the Left." The first human face of the contemporary Filipino desaparecidos under the Gloria Arroyo regime is Honorio Ayroso who disappeared February 2002 in Nueva Ecija. Not even the elderly seems spared, as evidenced by the case of Patricio Abalos, who was 61 years old when he went missing in March 2005 at Catbalogan, Samar.

Even women count among the desaparecidos. A matured face belongs to Gloria Soco who, by newspaper accounts, was not even a member of any left-wing group although she was a sister-in-law of a consultant of the National Democratic Front. Perhaps, most harrowing were the cases of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan--promising young lasses from the University of the Philippines and who remain unaccounted for since being abducted in Hagonoy, Bulacan last June 26, 2006.

EDSA 2 Ironies for the Media & the Left

The penultimately featured desaparecido is Jonas Burgos, whose disappearance can be called an indirect case of press freedom irony, given that Burgos is no less the son of Joe Burgos, press freedom icon and founding publisher of the newspaper Malaya. It can be recalled that one of the ludicrous claims made back in January 2001 was the supposed absence or "death of democracy" under former President Joseph Estrada, who was actually too human-rights-conscious to disperse the irreverent mix of EDSA 2 conspirators and gullible mob.

The traditional media organizations went practically all out in support of the swift ouster of the democratically elected Estrada and the installation of Arroyo. As things unfolded, it proved to be an unwise, nay, stupid "People Power" exercise that gave birth to a government that turned out to be not only the most unpopular in Philippine history but one which, as the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines puts it, stands to leave "a legacy of bloodshed and repression, its acts of omission and commission nurturing the impunity with which the enemies of press freedom have operated."

Beautiful but dreadfully poignant Tagalog poetry graced the presentation. The Balagtasan-style ode to the missing stirs the patriotic and compassionate heart:

Hinahanap-hanap ka sa payapang dagat,
Sa bawa't kislot na aking maaninag;
Pinaghahanap ka sa tilamsik ng alat,
Sa bula, sa kislap ng bawat lagaslas.

Maging ang buhangin ay pinagtanungan,
Saan aabot ang dalampasigan?
Hapag kainan ba ang paghahandaan,
O kurona't ilaw ang iyong tahanan?

Hahanapin kita sa angil ng punlo,
Sa tinik ng gubat, silahis ng sulo;
Ipagtatanong ka sa libong kamao,
Sa kaway ng bandera't dagundong ng maso.

Hahanapin kita sa luntian bukirin,
Sa ngiti ng sanggol, sa ihip ng hangin;
Kung sa paglaya na ang iyong pagdating,
At wala ka roon ay hahanapin pa rin.

Hinahanap hanap ka, hanap ka.

--Adora Faye de Vera

Apparently, the victims of extra-judicial killings or disappearances under the Arroyo government have mostly been the left-leaning activists. Such is no surprising news because their side of the political spectrum has traditionally been the target of repression by a government who holds "special friendship" with its former colonial master and global nemesis of the communists, socialists and nationalists, the United States of America.

However, in another EDSA 2 irony, it is a fact that the repressive Arroyo government was a product of the 2001 power grab conspiracy that well included the Left. In a way, the Left who came to EDSA 2, or at least the leaders who forged the anti-Estrada coalition with the forces of Arroyo and ex-President Fidel Ramos, are indirectly responsible for the obtaining spate of disappearances and other forms of human rights violations. Arroyo, in a sense, is a big, big stone the leftists hit their own heads with. Still, that's no excuse not to contribute one's voice in the campaign against possible state-enforced disappearances or murders of Filipinos.

Pragmatic in perspective as I am, this article and the independently disseminated video will most probably be heed only by a few. To activate the gentler, just side of human nature of even not many a soul is good enough for me, though. Who knows if it can eventually lead to a government that refuses to be stained by the blood of Filipino desaparecidos, those of the leftist ones, at least.



Video: Remembering the Disappeared. 30 August 2009.

The Media Under Arroyo: A Legacy of Bloodshed and Repression. July 2007. National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Site.


JM Estoque said...

wow! nice design! I like it! Pinoy na pinoy!!! :)

Jesusa Bernardo said...

What is "Pinoy na pinoy,"--the desaparecidos?

Joke:) I know it's the template. I also find it rather exquisitely Pinoy in beauty although matagal nga lang the loading.

Ron de Vera said...

Magandang umaga, Jesusa. Ano po ang source niyo ng article na ito? Mali ang pangalan ng nagsulat ng tula. Hindi Adora Faye Guevarra, kundi Adora Faye de Vera. Sinusubukan ko lang i-trace para maitama.


Jesusa Bernardo said...

Magandang umaga din Ron de Vera.

Nasa video ang pangalan na "Adora Faye Guevarra" bilang may-akda ng tula. The video's posted by in Vimeo.

Kung tama ka at naitama mo na sa Bulatlat, pakisabihan mo lang ako. Maraming salamat.

Ron de Vera said...

Hi Jesusa,

I've already brought this to the attention of Bulatlat. I'm just waiting for a response and will keep you posted.

By the way, good job on the article on desaparecidos. Truly appreciate it.

Good day!

Jesusa Bernardo said...

Thanks for appreciating this article, Ron.

Least I could do for these unfortunate patriotic souls. For several days after I finished it, the video & their pictures continued to haunt me because we all know they're never coming back again.

Ron de Vera said...

Good Morning!

I've been informed by Bulatlat that they've already edited the video and changed the name of the author to Adora Faye de Vera. Please ensure that this change is reflected on your article.

Thanks for supporting our cause!

fonsucu said...


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