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. Bulatlat.com. 30 August 2009. http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2009/08/30/video-remembering-the-disappeared/
The Media Under Arroyo: A Legacy of Bloodshed and Repression. July 2007. National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Site. http://nujp.org/v4/2009/07/the-media-under-arroyo-a-legacy-of-bloodshed-and-repression/