Thursday, November 26, 2009


Before I share what's on my mind, let me first say something about the picture posted here. To those who are in the know, that's barrett sniper rifle and it's a long distance rifle that should only be in the hands of elite units in the Armed Forces or the Philippine National Police. Gun dealers refer to this kind as "exotic" firearms because of precision and sophistication. Sama na ang price tag siyempre.

The PNP's Special Action Forces procured several pieces of this kind for anti-terrorism purposes.

But guess what? The Ampatuans bought one like this and one powerful mayor in Southern Philippines knew this and I hope he confirms this information because the barrett model seen in this picture was first offered to him at a price of P1.2-million pesos. Namahalan si mayor. And gun dealers knew just where to offer it next, the one person in Mindanao who would not even ask for a discount on buying this kind of firearms.

Binili ang barrett sa halagang inalok, walang tawad-tawad, paid not in check---but in CASH!

Where did I get this story? Sa mga mismong nakakaalam ng transaksiyong naganap.

Now---aside from the "surrender" of Andal Ampatuan Jr. and the "arrest" of policemen involved in the carnage of 57 last Monday in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao---the other photos you'll probably see in all newspapers are the firearms surrendered or confiscated from the Civilian Auxiliary Forces in Maguindanao---all 357 firearms issued accounted for. Wala akong problema sa impormasyong iyon, di ko nga pagdududahan sa kasi...tignan ang mga tipo ng baril na nakumpiska o isinuko ng mga civilian forces...di ba GARAND lang?

May nag-do-drawing na naman yata.

Now---this is what happens when media unites and when the constitutionally mandated role and function of media in a democratic society is attacked with total disregard and with the highest form of brutality and barbarism: WE DIG MORE. WE INQUIRE MORE. WE INVESTIGATE MORE. WE EXPOSE MORE.

If the intention was to cow the messengers, then the opposite was achieved.

The give justice to November 23-Maguindanao carnage victims --- civilians, lawyers and journalists --- is to continue unearthing everything that they have desperately concealed in the last few years.

Bigla---naalala ko muli si Lintang Bidol (Bedol)...asan na nga kaya siya?

May dapat kayang HUKAYIN kung nasaan na siya ngayon? O baka IBINAON na nga siya sa limot?

No doubt that Maguindanao carnage placed the country on the world map again---recognized for something that placed our ranking on top of Iraq as the most dangerous place on earth for journalists.

The massacre of 57 individuals, relatives of a political clan in the province of Maguindanao, their lawyers and supporters and journalists covering their intention to file for Certificate of Candidacy in next year's election exposed the ugly truth about the country's political system especially in a province like Maguindanao, where warlords are considered allies and partners of government for "peace" and "security". I qualified the statement...especially in Maguindanao because the other ugly truth here is that warlords do not only enjoy demi-god status in that part of the country, in every region, there exists one.

There were many inhuman acts that journalists like myself have witnessed in the last 20-years but nothing compared to this and this I say not because journalists are among those who were brutally killed with no reason at all! The very act itself is beyond any human comprehension. Minsan sa dami ng mga karahasang nakita ng isang mamamahayag, akala niya, hindi na siya magugulat pa. Akala lang pala namin...hanggang sa dumating ang araw na maging ang buong mundo ay nagulantang. Nangyayari pa pala ang ganito sa lugar na tulad ng Pilipinas? Teka, mali ang hanay ng salita: Puwede palang mangyari ang ganitong uri ng kahayupan sa lugar na tulad ng Pilipinas? Teka, ayusin uli natin ang kamada ng mga salita: Pinapayagan palang mangyari ang karumaldumal na krimeng tulad nito sa Pilipinas?

What was shattered in the Maguindanao incident is the very essence of law and order and of governance in this country. Hindi lang sa panahon ni Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo nagsimula ang mga private armies at kalakaran ng warlordism sa bansa. Hindi lang ito kahapon nangyari. Dati na, meron na, marami pa.

Huwag na tayong maglokohan, hindi lang sa Maguindanao may private army ang mga pulitiko. Huwag na tayong lumayo, sa Kamaynilaan, meron din, ang tawag nga lang minsan, private security.

Kung sasabihin sa atin na nabuwag na ang armadong suporta ng mga Ampatuans---tignang mabuti ang mga ihaharap na mga armas na umanoy nakuha sa kanilang mga taga-sunod.

Alam na alam ng mga gun dealers kung anong mga uri ng armas ang naibenta nila sa mga Ampatuans at wala sa mga naibenta nila ang garand. Dati nang nasa Mindanao yan...please lang, do not insult our capacity to comprehend.

Kung sa presentasyon ng mga armas na nakumpiska---may nakita kayong mataas at makabagong uri ng armas na tulad ng nasa larawan---may chance na maniwala akong binubuwag na nga ang puwersa ng mga Ampatuans. Pero hanggang garand pa lang ang ipinapakita....walang maniniwala.

And while I'm at it...kung seryoso talaga ang pamahalaan na buwagin ang mga private armies---bakit kaya di tignan din ang mga malalaking personalidad na may koleksiyon na rin ng mga matataas na kalibre ng armas? Yan ay kung SERYOSO nga ha. Sabi ng isang retired general na kausap ko kanina, "(Blank) is the next big warlord in Mindanao...lalo na kapag nanalo...and no doubt he will win."

Papangalanan ko pa ba? Wag na, baka mabigwasan pa ako ng isang malakas na KALIWA.

The point here is, to fully salvage the shatterred credibility of governance and law enforcement in a place like Maguindanao, the reactionary campaign against private armies should not stop with the Ampatuans alone.

For years, the system of warlordism in this country has been tolerated, patronized and re-engineered and re-invigorated to conform and to comply with political agendas and interests.

Nakatingin na ang buong mundo. In this day and age, why are we allowing this kind of political patronage to exist?

After the condemnation, call for justice, what comes next?

Tignan na natin ang mas malaking larawan na naipamukha at nailantad ng naganap sa Maguindanao. Doon tayo tunay na makapagsisimula.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Teaching was his passion and vocation in life...

Every victim has a face. It is with deep pain that I share the picture of this man, respected and loved by many in an island province down South.

The one you see on this blog entry is that of Gabriel "Bong" Canizares, the school principal in Jolo, Sulu beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf Group.

When I arrived home this evening, it took me a while before I opened my computer to join the rest of the ON-LINE world.I did not open my Gmail account at once and instead stayed a few minutes on Facebook before opening my Gmail--and among the messages in my INBOX was from a staff in the Department of Education who e-mailed this picture. I remember inquiring about this, to DepED Secretary Jesli Lapus mid-morning but completely forgotten about it as I went on with my day's schedule.

When I saw his face--I thought he is someone I may have met in the past in the many years that I covered Sulu beginning in the early 90s. I made a mental note to ask my other friends in Sulu like Ed General, Ed Gambali...if he was among those whom we met in some coverage about consultation meetings related to a crisis in Sulu---usually---another case of kidnapping.

But even if he's a total stranger to me---to you---to all of us---the face here that smiles back at us in this picture gives us an idea on how he labored his time and effort in his profession as educator in Sulu.

Lapus in a statement said: The entire DepED family is shocked and grieves with the family of one of our best performing principals, Mr. Gabriel Canizares.A key catalyst in teacher trainings with Synergia in Sulu, he is a great loss to efforts to improve the quality of education of our children in the area. We condemn this heinous act committed against the people of ARMM. Violence creates more sufferings and sabotaging education by harming tachers will have dire consequences in the attainment of peace and progress."

The severed head of 36-year old school principal was recovered at a gas station in Jolo town at around 5 a.m., said Major David Hontiveros, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command. Canizares was abducted by armed men suspected to be Abu Sayyaf bandits last October 19, eight days after Irish priest Michael Sinnot in Pagadian City last October 11 by armed men suspected to be allied with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

According to AFP spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr. Canizares’ case was “not a simple kidnap for ransom” incident."Prior to his (Canizares) kidnapping, marami ng threats sa buhay niya. And dun sa sasakyan, siya lang ang dinukot ng mga bandido (there have been a lot of threats to his life. He was the only one taken by the bandits in the vehicle)," Brawner said.

The people of Sulu are used to news of violence but this one shocked and angered many according to Jolo municipal mayor Hussin Amin. Who would not be?

It was reported that the non-payment of ransom amounting to P2-million pesos was the reason Canizares was beheaded. That maybe true as far as the parameters of the ASG or other bandits in the area is concerned. But having covered conflict related stories in Mindanao, Sulu in particular for nearly two-decades now--I did not take that reasoning pointblank.

The Philippine National Police too said in a statement that the beheading maybe linked with the arrest of a top MILF commander. The MILF as an organization has long been suspected of providing sanctuary to the ASG, something that they always deny and belie in media. You must have heard Ed Kabalu's statement about this a hundred times. The intelligence report gathered by the PNP about the arrest of an MILF commander and the beheading may also be true given the fact that the ASG has indeed sought protection in areas known to be lairs of the MNLF in the past.

But as I ponder the sad news about the beheading of Canizares---my mind brought me to another possible angle on this story. Just last week, I received an e-mail from a source in Sulu and with that email are attachments of pictures from the swearing in of some 2,000 Civilian Volunteers or CVOs in Sulu, all armed,ready to wage battle side by side with government troops anytime.

In Sulu, these CVOs have another name, unofficial, uttered in whispers:"private army."

They underwent rigorous training on the art of modern and jungle warfare and have been trained to use modern rifles--a bush rifle type, one source told me--a weapon that has yet to see action in the battled tested grounds of Sulu.

But how does one measure the performance of those 2,000 plus armed CVOs or auxiliary force when there's no on going and actual war happening to begin with?

Create one? Is this the answer here?

What incident would be condemnable enough to wage an active war in the field again?--Something like this one? The beheading of Canizares? ---I sure hope the answer is NO!Certainly NOT.

But then mind took me again to another time---stories of the MAGIC-8, civilian forces armed figting side by side with government troops against the Moro National Liberation Front in the early 70s, of the burning of Jolo in 1973---a period referred to in history as Martial Rule.

And then there's this twin bombing again this morning adding to the other two last week in Metro Manila. Some dots connect---and I hope these "dots" do not.

In the meantime--let me set aside these thoughts that popped out of nowhere and instead end by adding my voice in honoring the man---this man,Gabriel "Bong" Canizares, for the service he extended to the students of Sulu.

When I was a hostage for 98-days in Sulu, at least two of those who guarded me begged me to teach them how to read using that old woman's magazine cover (MOD-old size) with Patricia Javier on the cover. When I was released on the morning of April 27, 2002---one of my guards, NOUPAL said, "Magsukol, Kaingatan na ako Magbasa." He said, thank you, I know now how to read.

This thing I knew as TRUTH: In the hearts of many youngsters in Sulu, many yearn for real education. Many of them believe that education is the way to free them from the pains of poverty, violence and discrimination.

We honor the memory of Gabriel "Bong: Canizares because he responded to the yearning of many and showed them that yes---education opens doors and that it is possible and not just something they imagine or dream of acquiring.

This face you see on this page lived a life that was meaningful and selfless in service of other, a true hero every Filipino can be proud of. (END)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A reason revealed in the movie PUNTOD...

Let me begin this piece by uttering the lines "Everything happens for a reason"---probably the most abused lines to describe or to justify an occurrence or a non-occurrence. But I cannot help but fall prey to these lines again for it is the law of nature--again, everything really happens for a reason--good or bad, there is always something that explains why it happened or did not happen.

As a first time producer of an independent film, my intention of course is to show the movie at once and showcase the final product, a result of a magical and unforgettable collaboration of hearts and minds of men and women involved in the making of this film. Our aim was to enter the film in different international film festivals and we did the rounds, inexperienced and with a vague idea on how things work in the world of independent films and international film festivals, we simply did what anybody else in the same shoes as ours would do: send entries, wait for the next big opportunity for the film to be noticed in one of the many international film festivals happening all year round in various parts of the world, one after the other, sometimes almost simultaneously. DHL must have made a "small fortune" from me if I would be counting the many entries that I sent.

Every time I would hear a report about a Filipino film being selected or having won in this and that award---I would be filled with joy and excitement for the recognition of a Filipino work of art. When the movie KINATAY won the top awards in this year's CANNES FILM FESTIVAL, I was among those who literally jumped with happiness and pride for I am part of the casts of the film, portraying the role of a reporter along with fellow journalist turned filmmaker Jim Libiran for a brief scene that establishes the kind of life the central character in the film, sees and confronts on his day to day existence.

But to be totally frank about it, while I was genuinely happy with that recognition, there was this nagging thought, restless question begging to be answered: Why was our film not selected? Why is it that no one seemed to be noticing the film we submitted even for exhibition purposes?

We have an award winning director in the person of Cesar Apolinario, a good friend of mine and a fellow journalist who is as passionate and as committed as I am and other journalists turned filmmakers too in translating the realities of life that we witnessed and experienced as journalists in the big screen via independent and small budgeted film productions; the script was very realistic and penned by someone who actually experienced life in that part of Tondo, Melchor Encabo; we have very competent casts of actors and actresses in our film led by the very talented and multi-awarded actor Mark Gil, the Mark Gil of Philippine Cinema; we have a gem in the person of our discovery and central character, Baby, portrayed by Barbie Forteza; the original music was handled by an Urian veteran;---I could go on listing plus factors about the film that only left me to ask that same question over and over again---why? Why does it seem that no one noticed our film?

And then last month, we were finally included as one of the exhibition films for the recently concluded Cinemanila Film Festival and it was there that I got the answers to my questions---in the company local viewers, in the perspective of fellow Filipinos who watched the films with us and voluntarily approached me and Melchor to share their views about the film, PUNTOD.

One comment came from Ms. Liza B. Martinez, Ph.D.Director of the Philippine Deaf Resource Center who said, "you guys had me fooled. I thought that your character Baby is really deaf!" --And then she encouraged us to present our film during the Deaf Awareness Month this November and the next thing I knew, there's this invitation for the exhibition of our film PUNTOD, described by the recognized authority in deaf related studies as "the most realistic portrayal" she has even seen in movies.

And then another unsolicited review, most welcomed and very much appreciated, from a member of the entertainment press, columnist Eric Borromeo who said, "it's not usual to end a movie on a sad note, but that's life, not all have happy endings, what happens is that we simply go on and move on after a seemingly insurmountable pain."

Actress Sheree who essayed the role of Sarah, told me, "Ate Arlyn, salamat po talaga sa pagpili ninyo sa akin ni Direk Cesar at ngayong nakita ko ang kabuuan, masasabi kong ito na ang pinakamakabuluhang pelikulang nagawa ko. Ipagmamalaki ko ang pelikulang ito."

And then there's this stranger, who shook my hand as she spoke to me, "please show this film commercially, it's a very powerful film. Akala mo tungkol lang sa isang pipi at bingi, pero ang totoo, tungkol sa kuwento nating mga Filipino na sa katagalan na ng panahon ng pagkukuwento ng kuwentong ito, ayaw na nating marinig at makita, dahil kinasanayan na natin, kahirapan, pagwawalang bahala, pang-aabuso sa kalikasan. You are depicting the story of many in one film. Sana mapanood ng mga gustong pamunuan tayo." She said a lot, she left me with a calling card and I realized we attracted someone from the academe to watch the film in wide screen, and the delight was strengthened by the fact that she's also teaching aspiring filmmakers.

And then it hit me. While we strive so much to have our film get noticed outside, in the international arena, the audience of the film is really inside the very shores where the movie is set----the Philippines, seen in the eyes of Filipinos looking at themselves, examining the horizon of the immediate future that awaits their decision or indecision, hoping for the one direction that would eventually affirm the dignity and the bravery of Filipinos.

In the movies, you would often hear this, "ang buhay ay parang pelikula", and as journalists and filmmakers, we say this with a twist, "ang pelikula ay parang totoong buhay nga!"---truth in journalism translated to films.

And just as I was convinced that the film is really meant for the local audience, I got a confirmation from organizers of an upcoming festival in San Fransisco, USA, that the film will be among those chosen for film-showing as exhibit films.

Then another surprise came---another international film festival, by invitation only---is asking for a trailer copy of the movie. No final decision yet but the mere fact that they asked for a copy spoke volumes on how thrilling this piece of news was---so thrilling and so exciting that I am still awake at this wee hour of the morning, exhaling and unloading my thoughts and emotions about the film PUNTOD.

Puntod or tomb symbolizes and end but in many ways, as we labored to promote this film in months, we were rewarded with the virtue and lessons learned of having to wait in line with patience, tired, wounded, but never giving up.

Everything happens for a reason I said at the beginning, and now all of us involved in this humble production are delighted in the opening of not just a window, but many doors for our film PUNTOD. (end)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nang ibinuhos ni ONDOY ang lahat-lahat...

Nakatitiyak akong hindi ako nag-iisa sa ganitong karanasan. Marami ang sumailalim sa kakaibang damdamin at kalagayan kahapon. Yun bang makakatanggap ka ng text message na humihingi ng saklolo at tulong at gustong-gusto mo mang tumulong, wala kang magawa dahil sa ikaw ay nasa gitna din ng baha at sa hindi na gumagalaw na usad ng trapiko?

I felt so helpless...useless...I am certain many felt the same.

Halos mabiyak ang puso ko sa mga text messages na natanggap ko kahapon. Puputok na ang INBOX ng message ko sa cellular phone sa dami ng text messages. May nasasagot ako, may hindi.

I was worried. Two of my teams were deployed in the field. Yung una, pauwi na from Subic pero stranded na agad pagpasok pa lamang ng papalapit na sa Valenzuela sa NLEX. Yung isa, madaling araw umalis ---4:30 in the morning---umuulan na, pero signal number one lang sabi ng PAG-ASA...parang ambon-ambon pa lang nung madaling araw...lumarga ang team.

Ako naman---may maagang programa sa radyo sa RMN with DEP-ED Secretary Jesli Lapus. Naitakda ko pa nga that morning after the program yung first leg of interview ng mga cadet-reporters ng Net-25 with the secretary. Nauna na akong umalis, susunod sana ako sa Team 2 papuntang Anilao, Batangas. Si Secretary Jesli, naiwan pa sa RMN studio sa Guadalupe sa Makati. May kausap pang mga naghihintay sa kanya na humihingi ng tulong.

Di pa ako nag-almusal---kumain muna sa carenderia sa mismong Guadalupe Market na nasa ibaba. Wala pa ang baha, past 9:30 na. Mabilis akong kumain, saglit lang, sakay na sa service---then go---fly na.

Nang nasa daan na...parang malikmata lang, parang isang kurap lang, agad ang taas na ng tubig baha.

I dialed the land line at home and made sure the kids are okey. Thank God they were in good condition. Nakikinig ng radyo. Trained na ang mga anak ko, kapag may bagyo, AM radio dapat na tumutok. Sabi ng mga anak ko, "Be careful mom...bilisan mong lumampas sa baha, di ka marunong lumangoy!"

Sa hinaba-haba ng pagiging reporter ko, wala pa akong na-cover o nakita kaya na ganito kabilis na pag-akyat ng tubig baha. Ngayon din lang ako nakaranas na ako ay naipit sa baha, na ang dapat na isa sa mga naguulat---ayun at kasama sa mga naipit sa baha. Sa AM radio---marami sa mga kasama sa hanapbuhay ang ganun din ang kapalaran. Mabuti nga't nakapag-report pa sila.

Nagtatawag ako sa phone. Hindi rin matahimik ang phone ko. Isa sa mga tawag na di makalimutan, mula kay Richard na media officer ni Mayor Mon Ilagan ng Cainta, "Arlyn tulong, please, magtawag na kayo ng rubber boats, ang bilis tumaas ng tubig!!!" Tapos agad na nawala. Kasunod text na mula mismo kay Mayor Mon na dating reporter din at malapit na kaibigan. "Friend, tulungan ninyo kami, please."

Tumawag ako kasunod kay Senator Richard Gordon na siya ring Chairman ng Philippine National Red Cross. Busy ang linya niya pero nakalusot ako. "We are doing our best...we are doing our best," sabi ni Gordon. I know that he is really doing just that. Sanay sa disaster management si Gordon, pero sa boses niya, parang dun ko lang narinig sa kanya ang himig na parang wala siyang magawa kahit ano pang pagsisikap niya.

Isa pang text message, mula naman kay Lani na stranded sa Valenzuela, "Ate, rescue...kawawa kami, lalo na mga kasama ko, nakakaawa."

Isa pang text...mula kay Roel naman, " Hindi na kami gumagalaw dito, ano na ba ang nangyayari sa Metro Manila ateng?"

At maya-maya---isang tawag pa sa cellular ko na siya nang tuluyang nagpatulo ng luha ko. "Ate, I am so scared. Please help me. Ngayon lang nangyari sa subdivision namin ito. Tapos naalala ko si Mama, wala ang mga kapatid ko, yung kasama ko sa bahay, inanod ng baha....I am so scared. Wala bang rubber boat? Please keep on calling me ate..."

The person on the other line calls me ate, or older sister. But he's not really my brother in real life. "Ate" is his term of endearment, a mark of our many years of friendship. Parang kapatid ko na siya, sa madaling salita. Kay Joee Guilas galing ang tawag na nagpatulo ng aking luha. " I love you ate..."

"I love you too," I said, "huwag kang mawawalan ng pag-asa, pray ka ha. Pray and remind yourself that you are strong," yun ang sinabi ko, pilit na pinalalakas ang loob niya, sa kabila ng garalgal ko na ring tinig.

Ilan ang kuwentong ganito ang takbo kahapon? Lahat ng tulong gustong ibigay, lahat na kinalampag, binulabog pero walang halos galawan. May mga gumalaw man, di nakararing, ang iba, sila pa nga ang mismong nadisgrasya rin.

Maraming kuwento ang ganito----nangyari sa nakalipas na mahigit na 36 oras mula nang humagupit si Ondoy.

Hanggang ngayon---hindi napuputol ang kuwento ng mga paghihirap na dinaanan ng marami.

Patuloy na tumataas ang bilang ng mga kumpirmadong namatay dahil sa mabigat at napakaraming buhos ng ulang taglay ni Ondoy. Mas marami pa kumpara sa typhoon Katrina, sabi pa ng PAG-ASA at ng NDCC.

Habang nadaragdagan ang mga kuwento ng pinsala at pighati dahil sa iniwang latay ni Ondoy----hindi ko malimutan ang maikling palakpakan na nakita sa briefing ng National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) sa Kampo Aguinaldo kasama ng pangulo at ang mga miyembro ng gabinete.

Ang aga nilang magsabi na naging maagap sila sa pagtugon, na naging mas mabilis pa sila sa responde kumpara sa nangyari sa typhoon Katrina na humagupit sa Estados in not so many words, "mas magaling sila, mas handa sila, mas tama ang ginawa nila." Palakpakan--yehey!!!

Sana nag-briefing na lang sila ng normal.

Sana nagbigay na lang sila ng datos.

Sana yung kung anong tulong na lang ang ibinigay o ibibigay pa at aasahan ang sinaysay.

Hindi yung ah mas mabilis sila, ah mas handa sila...SABI NILA.

Dahil habang tumatambad ang kabuuang pinsala na iniwan ni Ondoy. Lalong lumilinaw ang tunay na kuwento. Hindi napaghandaan ang bagyong ito.

Nang araw na ibinuhos ni ONDOY ang lahat-lahat --- marami ang nagulantang. Kalikasan ang nagsalita. Mahaba pa ang itatakbo ng kuwentong ito. Pero please lang----wag nang sabihin pa ng mga namumuno na ang bagyong ito---ang pagdating ni Ondoy ay pinaghandaan. That is not clearly the story here.

Pero hindi rin ito ang panahon ng sisihan. Ang punto lang ay wag sabihin ang di naman ginawa dahil lang sa gustong pagtakpan ang kakulangan.

Tandaan natin ang lupit ni Ondoy na naiwan sa atin.

But let us not forget how Ondoy made heroes amongst us.

Ang kahinaan at kawalan ng magagawa ng marami ang siyang nagpalakas naman ng loob ng mas marami.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

No Eulogy for Ka Erdy

When a respected and influential man dies, a eulogy is often given at the person's wake. To utter a eulogy is to pay tribute to what that person has done in life, words that laud, praise and commend are expected in eulogies.

A eulogy too is about the love of many to the one who passed away. A eulogy could contain anecdotes and personal experiences shared with the one who died. A eulogy could make people cry more and dwell in deeper grief brought about by the death of a loved one, a eulogy too can make people laugh or sigh or think or in some instances, a eulogy could move people to act, to decide on something that affects their lives and the future.

When Brother Erano "Ka Erdy" Manlo,Executive Minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo died, some colleagues in the media asked me when is the schedule of the eulogy?

As a journalist who is a member of the church, I feel the need to write something about this one. But first things first, so to speak.

To begin with, to answer the question, when will the eulogy take place, the response is, No eulogy will take place.

In as much as every member of the church would want to say their piece on how each and everyone of us love and respect Ka Erdy and how he has influenced and guided the INC flock in our spiritual life primarily and most especially---no act of eulogy would give anyone of us the venue to praise the man and the life that he lived in service to the Church.

Modern technology however provided an alternative means for individual members to express their grief, loss and unwavering love to the memory of Ka Erdy as Executive Minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo for more than four decades. This blog is one electronic venue and so are the rests of the personal blogs of brethren worldwide everyone wanted to write something, a way of expressing their grief, about one man who labored all his life to teach the words of God and the way to Salvation.

If there's a eulogy, many would volunteer to share one. I would!

But even if we collectively placed all our writings to praise Ka Erdy, even if we erect a wall to write about our love for him and his love for us, it would not be enough.

Since Tuesday afternoon after the official announcement of the death of Ka Erdy last August 31, a Monday in his home at passed 3 in the afternoon due to cardio-pulmonary arrest, the queue or line of brothers and sisters in the Church, tens of thousands, coming from different parts of the country, continue to amaze non-members. One colleague in media asked a member with a physical handicapped why despite his obvious physical disability, he endured the long line of people just to have his few seconds moment glimpse to the mortal remains of Ka Erdy. His response was short but represented every reason in the hearts of individual members of the Church: "It's all about faith," he said in Filipino, "Ito'y ayon sa aming pananampalataya."

The next logical question would be: Why is there no eulogy for someone so loved like Ka Erdy?

I became a member of the Church some 10 years ago, a dwarf 10 years of that gigantic 95 glorious years of the Church since it has reemerged in the Philippines, a country in the Far East and one of the teachings that I learned, one that humbled me in many ways is that in everything that we do in this life, no matter how extraordinary or exemplary your act or your work may appear, it's not about one's personal glory. "WALANG SARILING KAPURIHAN."

I found true honor, comfort and joy to be called "servant".

Until the very end---this was what Ka Erdy lived for, for everyone of us to emulate---that everything we have in life comes from GOD beginning from the air we breath, the next sunrise, the next sunset---the very life we have.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Mula pagkabata'y kasama na ang KOMIKS....

Alam kong marami ang magagawi sa pagbubulalas kong ito tungkol sa usapin ng Komiks dahil sa ito ay nadidikit ngayon sa kontrobersiyal na NATIONAL ARTIST AWARD at lalo pa kapag nabasa ang pangalang Carlo J. Caparas.

Hindi ito pagtatanggol kundi isang paglalahad ng aking saloobin, hindi kay Caparas, kundi sa KOMIKS. Sa mundo ng komiks.

Alam ito ni Ding Gagelonia, hindi naman sa kailangan ko pa ng testigo para lang makapuntos. Bahagi kasi ng kuwento. Nung nag-aplay ako noon sa DZBB-GMA-7, circa 1990, may dala ako clippings ng mga articles ko sa school paper na ako ang patnugot at mga maikling kuwento at kung ano-ano pa. Siyempre, pagka-reporter ang inaaplayan ko, eh bakit may short story folder pa? Ang totoo, may kasamang drawing folder din iyun at kung nahalungkat ang bag ko noon...may minus one din. Oo, kung di ako natanggap ni Ding. may plan B ako, kay ate Helen Vela ko ipapakita ang aking mga short stories para sa Lovingly Yours Helen. At kung di naman nakapasa, abah...mailabas nga ang minus one at mag-audition ng isang song and dance number...Zsa-Zsa Padilla, Point of No Return, contest piece ko noon sa Music Mate Regional Championship, at kung di pa uli nakapasa---ay sa Atlas ako tatakbo, gagawa ng nobela sa komiks at magdedebuho! Ala Carlo J. Caparas!

Ang masasabi ko lang, HE-HE-HE! oo---dami ko plan b--may b-1, b-2, b-3....ganun kapag naguumapaw ang pagnanais mo na makaalpas sa kung ano pa man.

Going back to Carlo and to the world of KOMIKS---this medium and the names attached to this form of media are images that accompanied me through my growing up years.

Pag inuutusan akong mamalengke noon---ah kailangan may matirang kahit 50-sentimos. May sa malamig na ako, 15-sentimos, may banana-que pa, 15-sentimos, may arkila pa ng komiks sa kanto, dun ka magbabasa ha, para 15-sentimos din lang!

Di nawala ang pagmamahal ko sa komiks at sa pagdidibuho. Nang makasilip ako ng libreng oras noon, nasa media na ako, reporter na, nag-enrol ako sa klase ni Hal Santiago sa Pasay, si Hal Santiago ay isa rin sa mga higanteng pangalan sa daigdig ng komiks. Isang sakay lang, diretso mula sa Timog kaya dun ako napadpad. Kaso di ko naipagpatuloy kasi baka noon pa lang, natigok na ako, sa pagod, ala una ba naman ng madaling araw ang duty ko sa DZBB? Tapos aral pa sa hapon sa unibersidad dun sa tabi ng riles sa Sta. Mesa, tapos, minsan, ang oras ng pagtulog, di pa makukuha dahil ang kahaliling writer/producer ng newscast---abah..absinero. Ibang kuwento na yun, he-he! Baka mapangalanan ko pa. Teka, Pareng Orly T. absinero pa rin ba ang taong tinutukoy ko? Bwahahaha!!! (O pati tawa, KOMIKS!)

Wakasan man o nobela yan sa komiks---ay talagang inaabangan ko. Pero di tulad ng iba na basta komiks lang, sinabayan ko ng basa naman ng mga libro na donasyon ng mga Kano sa Base Militar noon sa Olongapo. Wala pang internet...TV nga wala sa bahay, silip lang sa kapitbahay. Nung magkaroon, parang cabinet pa, may kandado pa! Ah---komiks na nga lang.

Hindi na ako makikiambag pa sa debate ng kung sino ang nararapat o hindi, kung napulitika ang National Artist Awards o hindi, kung nasunod ang proseso o hindi---dami nang nasabi eh.

Pero sa isang mula sa hanay ng masa na tulad ko, may kirot sa dibdib na marinig na naalipusta ang isang Carlo J. Caparas at nasabihang hindi marunong mag-drawing, gayung, bata pa alam naman ng lahat ng nasa komiks ito, lalo na nung ang industriyang ito ay namamayagpag----na marunong mag-dibuho si Carlo J. Caparas. Kung ikukumpara sa ibang dibuhista, sa aking personal na panlasa, may mga mas hihigit kay Carlo J. Caparas...andiyan si Nestor Malgapo Sr. at si Hal Santiago nga...iba ang atake naman ng pag-guhit ng mga ito....pero ang kaibahan ni Carlo J. Caparas, naiangat niya at mas napalawak ang kanyang uri ng sining. Sa salitang ingles---"he continued to evolved as an artist" na nang mamatay ang daigdig ng komiks, nang naghihingalo ito --- siya may iba nang tinatahak na mundo--pelikula.

Kung ang naging mga unang argumento ay hindi nasamahan ng paghamak at natuon lamang sa usapin ng sinasabing proseso --- walang makikitang paghahati o pagbabaha-bahagi ng kampo mo, kampo nila, kampo natin----walang haliging namamagitan----mas naging mataas sana ang uri ng debate tungkol dito.

Si Yoyoy Villame ay tunay na henyo...karapat-dapat siyang maging National Artist at isa ako sa mga unang sumang-ayon nang ang panukalang ito ay lumutang sa Facebook, nasipat ko sa pahina ng kasamang si Ares.

Si Dolphy ay tunay na henyo din at karapat-dapat sa pagkilala---noon pa man. Ano ba ang kuwento ng pelikulang Filipino kung wala ang mga pahina ng brilyo ng karera ng Hari ng Komedya?

Pero alam ninyo, sa tulad ko, sa ka-henerasyon ko, ke makuha ni Carlo Caparas o hindi ang pagkilalang siya ay National Artist, okey lang naman dahil sa tulad nina Yoyoy Villame at Doplhy...sila ay mga pangalang mananatili na sa kamalayan ng marami sa aking ka-henerasyon.

(Ang mga imahe, unang dalawa sa itaas ay akin--halimbawa ng aking pagdidibuho. Matagal na itong kuha, naisipan ko lang na ilagay. Yung dulo sa ibaba, yung babaeng kay rilag, na tila nakatingala, dibuho iyan ni Carlo J. Caparas.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Cory's death brought back memories of love, kindness, courage and love of country.

Allow me to share with you, one story of one person I know, who in normal circumstances would not share this story for fear of being misinterpreted that he's bragging of a past association. The truth is, he would rather keep mum about it.

But when he heard about Cory's death, he remembered this incident as if it happened just the other day, as he allowed himself to succumbed to grief shared by many.

This is his story...

He was not a former cabinet member, not one of the known personalities in the Administration that came after the toppling of the Marcos regime, but this man will never forget and will forever cherished in his heart that just like the powerful men of that administration, he too was trusted by the lady in yellow.

“Minsan, nakakahiya, kasi siya pa ang laging nagpapasalamat sa amin, na para bang siya pa ang may karangalan na nakasama kami. Lagi pa niya kaming tinatanong kung kumain na kami o kung pagod na ba kami. Ganun siya. Mapagpakumbaba,” says Eduardo De Guzman, 53 years old, retired senior cameraman of TV-5 and one of the selected close-in cameramen of President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino under Radio-TV-Malacanang then spearheaded by Maria Montelibano.

De Guzman, as a news cameraman is known for his mild-mannered demeanor, one of the bests in his field, but not one who will come forward and brag about anything, but upon hearing the news of Cory’s death, he felt a deep sense of loss and grief and remembered instantly how for one unforgettable moment, the former president accorded him the highest honor that humbled him.

It was just a day after the devastating earthquake of July 16, 1990, De Guzman was on duty in Malacanang, he came on time, never the type to go absent without a valid reason, but while he was physically present, his mind was somewhere else, worried for what happened to his relatives and his town mates in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija. “Isa sa mga tinamaan ng lindol noon ang Nueva Ecija, tapos ang nababalita lang yung sa Cabanatuan, kako, paano yung mas malalayong lugar na noong mga panahong iyon, mahirap pang maabot, tulad ng bayan namin sa Gabaldon. Duty ako, pero di ako mapakali,” narrates De Guzman.

De Guzman was worried that the roads maybe blocked and that the supply of food for those in the remote parts of Nueva Ecija like Gabaldon would be scarce. He mustered the courage within him and asked his direct superior, Montelibano, if it’s possible that help could also be extended to those in other parts of Nueva Ecija and not only in Cabanatuan City. Montelibano discussed the matter not with the then Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos who is also the Chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council NDCC but directly to the president herself.

Montelibano never went back to De Guzman to tell him what happened to his request, not intentionally, De Guzman noted, but due to the hectic schedule that his direct boss had to attend to at that time. That very same day, the president was scheduled to record a statement and he was assigned, as usual to be the studio cameraman.

After President Aquino finished with her statement recorded and for nationwide broadcast related to the earthquake that hit the country in 1990, she walked towards him and smiled. In a motherly way, she placed her hand on his shoulder, tapped it as if to pacify him, “Ed, Huwag ka ng mag-alala, magpapadala tayo ng tulong sa mga kababayan mo. Manalangin ka na walang napinsala sa kanila,” President Aquino told him and then she left the room.

De Guzman recalled that his body shivered and he felt a rush of emotion that humbled him a 100X over. “Akalain mo, nilapitan ako. Hinawakan pa ako sa balikat at tinawag ako sa aking pangalan.” To be called by his first name by the President was a big deal for a production crew like him because De Guzman thought, he probably was just one of the persons in the room, serving at the pleasure of the president. That single gesture validated what they knew all along, that the president they’re serving, trusts them and consider them as part of her family.

Recalling that moment, De Guzman said, it was as if his own mother touched and comforted him.

Later that day, she was called to Montelibano’s office where his direct boss told him, the President has ordered that three truckloads of relief goods be deployed to Gabaldon and nearby remote areas that was also hit by the Earthquake. There was another message for De Guzman, one that really startled and humbled him. “Sabi ni Boss Maria, sabi raw ni presidente, ako na ang magdala ng relief goods sa Gabaldon at sa iba pang bayan na malalayo sa Nueva Ecija.”

And so it was in July of 1990, a cameraman from Malacanang led a relief mission of not just one but three military trucks full of relief goods to the remote towns of Nueva Ecija and it was made possible because the president listened to a plea of someone who thought he was just a face in the crowd, a nobody.

On the day of President Aquino’s burial, De Guzman vowed to serve his president again. “Kahit retired na ako, manghihiram ako ng camera, lalabas uli ako, kukuha uli ako ng video, sasamahan ko ang Sambayang Filipino sa paghahatid sa pangulong tunay na makapangyarihan pero mas matingkad ang pagiging mapagpakumbaba.”

Truly, how can anyone forget and not share this act of kindness that was just one of the many reasons why she is loved by many? (end)

Saturday, August 1, 2009





Nang tuluyang maupos ang kandila ng ilaw sa buhay ni Cory Aquino, sa huli at mapait na yugto sa pagamutan kung saan siya nakaratay, ang buong bansa, ang sambayanan, sa isang banda, ay inaasahan na ito. Gayunman, ang balita ng kanyang tuluyan nang pagpanaw ay tinanggap pa rin na may pagkabigla at labis na kalungkutan na naramdaman sa buong bansa, kalungkutan na muling naglapit sa mahirap at mayaman, bata at matanda, partisano at mga walang pakialam, babae at lalake, sundalo at mga sibilyan.
Ang pagkakaisa ay bibihira sa ating bansa, ngayon, nasumpungan natin ito at nakapanlulumong mapagtano na ang kamatayan ni Cory ang siyang nagbuklod sa isang watak-watak na bansa.

Sa kanyang nanginginig na tinig noong 1948, sinabi ni Jawaharlal Nehru sa kanyang mga kababayan ang pagpanaw ni Mahatma Gandhi, at tumatak ang mga katagang ito, “Ang ilaw ay wala na sa ating buhay at ang kadiliman ay laganap.” Walang ibang pambansang personalidad sa kasalukuyan ang gumanap sa papel ng paghahatid ng mapait na balita ng kamatayan ni Cory, sa halip, ito ay nalaman ng publiko sa pamamagitan ng kanyang labis na nagdadalamhating anak na lalake, at mula doon, kumalat na ang balita at ang simula ng pagbabahagi ng mga magagandang alaala.

Nararapat lamang na ihalintulad ang kawalan na isinatinig noon ni Nehru sa pagkawala ng isang Filipina na sinikap ang kanyang kakayanan na gawing isang institusyon ang pagkakaroon ng pulitikang walang bahid ng karahasan sa ating bansa. Si Gandhi ay nagsilbing inspirasyon ng kabiyak ni Cory, at anumang binalak na gawin ni Ninoy, si Cory ang nagpatuloy kasunod ng malagim na pagpaslay sa kanya. Ang kawalan ng karahasan, mula noon, ang naging nangibabaw na kalakaran ng pagpapatupad ng pagbabago sa ating bansa, isang rebolusyon sa kaisipan, na nabigyang buhay sa pamamagitan ng mga panalangin, martsa at mga pagtitirik ng kandila.

Sabi pa ni Nehru, “Ang ilaw na tumanglaw sa bansang ito sa loob ng maraming taon ay patuloy pang magbibigay liwanag sa bansang ito sa mas mahaba pang mga taon,” pagpapatuloy pa nito, “at sa susunod na sanlibong taon, ang ilaw nay an ay makikita hindi lamang sa bansang ito kundi sa buong mundo at magbibigay ito ng kakaibang kapayapaan sa hindi mabilang mga puso.”

Ano nga ba ang ilaw na ito? Ito ay ang munti ngunit matatag na ilaw ng personal na paninindigan at kunsiyensiya na hindi natinag kahit na ang bansa at kahit pa ang mga itinuring niyang pinakamalapit at pinakamahal sa kanya ay lumayo, tumalikod---nakalimot, at bumatikos pa nga, dahil sa ang kanyang asawa ay piniling makulong kaysa sa yumukod sa isang diktador.

Ang ilaw na yan ay nagmumula sa isa pananampalaya na laging nagdadala sa kanya sa dalanginan, hindi upang sumuko o umayon sa brutal na pamamayagpag ng isang diktador, kundi para hingin ang pagkakataong malinis ang selda ng kanyang nakakulong na asawa sa bibihirang pagkakataon na siya ay napahintulutang ito ay bisitahin, na laging nagdala sa kanya sa pagluhod at malalim na panalangin, hanggang sa siya at ang kanyang asawa ay nabuhay sa ibang bansa, sa mga panahon pagkatapos ng pagkamatay ng kanyang asawa, nang ang kanyang mga kosa ay naging kanya na para isulong at ipatupad.

Ito ay ang ilaw ng kasarinlan, ang hindi matatapakang siga ng demokrasya, ang ilaw ng pag-asam at paniniwala sa Filipino, na nagising mula sa imahe ng kanyang asawang nasa loob ng isang kabaong, buhay na kinitil ng bala ng isang bayarang mamamatay tao, na ilaw na siya ring nagsindi sa iba pang maliliit na siga, hanggang sa unti-unti, ang kadiliman na sumaklob sa bansa mula noong 1972 ay unti-unting napawi.

Ito ang ilaw na hindi kayang gupuin ng anumang kudeta o ng anumang unos hatid ng kalikasan, lalo na ng mga panunuya ng mga taong ang nakita lamang sa kanya ay ang babae, isang balo lang, isang tao lang na ang tanging hinangad ay ibalik ang kapangyarihan sa tunay na nagmamay-ari nito---sa kamay ng taongbayan, para muli, gawin nila ang naisin nila.

Ang ilaw na mula sa kaibuturan ni Cory Aquino ay muling nakita ng lahat nang siya ay bumaba sa puwesto, ang tanging pangulo sa ating kasaysayan na hindi nagpakita ng anumang pagnanasang makamit ang kapangyarihan ngunit naging masigasig sa pagnanais na bitiwan ang kapangyarihang ito, ganap at sa takdang panahon. Ang ilaw na ito ay nagpatindig sa kanya sa tuwing ang demokrasya ay nasa balag ng alanganin, pinalakpakan siya dito, meron namang hindi dumating sa pagkaunawa kung ano nga ba ang mga bagay na mahalaga sa kanya. Ang di pagkaunawang ito ay mula sa mga kritikong hindi inabot ng kislap ng ilaw na ito, ilaw mula sa kanyang kaibuturan, na hindi kailanman naghangad ng anumang kasikatan na tatak ng isang pulitiko.

Ang ilaw na ito ay nakuha natin mula kay Ninoy at Cory, ilaw na ipinasa natin mula sa isa, hanggang sa isa, at sa sumunod pa, hanggang sa sinabi natin sa ating mga sarili na mas maiman ang magsindi ng kandila kaysa kasuklaman ang kadiliman. Ito ang ilaw na ipinagdiriwang sa natatanging yugto ng pagkatubos at pagwawagi ng ating bansa.

Ngunit sa ngayon, ang mga puso ay mabigat, at ang magaganap ay pagpapaalam, mula sa kahamak-hamakan hanggang sa kagitigan ng parangal ng Estado, ngunit sa kabuuan, lahat tayo---tulad niya---mga humawak at natanglawan ng ilaw, ilaw na hindi mapapanglaw, hanggat ang pag-ibig sa kalayaan at kasarinlan ay nananahan sa ating mga puso---na umiiral ngayon, panghabambuhay na tanglaw—sa puso nina Cory at Ninoy.

At para sa mga nalalabi pa----sa gitna ng seremonya at pagkilala sa pagpanaw ng isang dating naging lider ng estado---ang kanyang huling habilin na ipinabot sa kanyang pamilya ay tiyak at detalyado:Ang mga kanyon ng militar ay nagsipag-ingay para sa kanilang pagpupugay, ang mga watawat at ibababa sa kalagitnaan, isang sundalo ang magbabantay sa kanyang labi. Ang lahat ng mga karangyaan ng parangal na inasam-asam ni Ferdinand Marcos, sa kanyang likas na kapayakan, lahat ng iba pa ay tinanggihan ni Cory. Ang tanging saliw at kasama niya sa kanyang huling himlayan, sa tabi ng kanyang pinakamamamahal na si Ninoy, ay dili’t walang iba kundi ang dahilan kung bakit namatay si Ninoy at dahilan kung bakit siya nabuhay at nagpatuloy, tayo, ang sambayanan, na walang paguuri sa kung ano ang kalagayan sa buhay o kung saan tayo nagmula.

Katulad noong 1983, ganun din nga ngayong 2009: Si Cory, at ang sambayanan, magkasama para ipamalas na ang tunay na kapangyarihan, ang kaluwalhatian at ang kagitingan ay wala sa puwestong ibinigay ng mga nasa puwesto kundi mula sa mga taong malayang nagbigay sa iyo nito. At tulad nga noong 1986, nangyayari ngayon, tayo ay muling nagkaisa, sa mga lansangan, sa alaala at sa pagmamahal sa ating walang pagmamaliw na ilaw, si Cory. Hayaang ang mga araw na ito n gating pagluluksa ay mga araw din ng paggunita, ng muling paglasap, kahit sandali lamang, ng napakailap na pagkakaisa ng bansa na labis nating hinahangad.

At muli, tayo ay muling lumakad, mag-martsa, tulad ng ginawa natin noon----hindi lamang para mamamaalam, ngunit para ipagpatuloy ang pagtahak sa daang marami na ang nakalimot: ang daan ng isang hindi matatawaran, hindi nasusukat at hindi maglalahong dedikasyon na ipaglaban an gating kasarinlan. (wakas)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why the DRUG AGENT reacted that way....

The question is why?

In journalism lingo and understood by ordinary laymen nowadays, what happened was indeed a "kuryente" story. But a "kuryente" only in a sense that the source of the news interpreted an incident or reacted to an incident in a way that sent shock waves---or let's say more like electric waves to those who learned of the incident.

The newspaper who reported it was not charged with high voltage---in the way we understand "kuryente"---for the story was written based on an official source, recorded---just so we are clear in putting context to what happened to the story.

Yes---this piece is about the story that shocked us all---including Malacanang---but turned out to be something else, different, devastating still, but of a different kind.

But before rushing to condemn the agent in the center of the controversy here...let me offer some insights about the present situation in life of this agent. It's easy to simply conclude that he should at least be reprimanded for coming up with a scenario that jolted every senses of even the most insensitive person there is.

He will not speak this time---not yet. And with all good intent, I am hoping he would not rush to talking before the media to defend himself or what he did or why he concluded the way he did.

Yes, I know him. The truth is, he's a good friend of mine. Our friendship dates back from the time I was in the thick of coverage of kidnapping and military operation in Muslim Mindanao.

Let me make it clear that this piece does not seek to defend him. I will simply try to put context to what happened and why---taking off from the point of view of a father.

I was not the one who wrote the story for the Inquirer. It was a colleague who based the report on an on-record interview with an official source, in this case, the head of the agency which the agent is attached to, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency or PDEA. But I did a follow-up, based on an interview with Representative Roquito Ablan Jr. who heads the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs and who also knows the agent personally and also because, Ablan was among those contacted by the agent in the hours of confusion and uncertainty last Saturday when his only daughter went missing...or the be exact, failed to come home on schedule or at the expected time.

That Saturday night---I was not among those whom he called. I cannot say I am relieved that he chose not to contact me that night for I may end up writing the story myself. In retrospect, I thought, he should have called me so that I could offer him some advise. I could perhaps told him to halt, don't panic and to evaluate the situation first before making calls---that eventually led to the attention of the president of the Republic. But of course---that's easier said than done.

Any parent would panic. Any mother. Any father. And certainly, I am not the authority to advise him at that time not to panic had he called me that Saturday night, knowing fully well how I react when it comes to the safety of my kids.

That night, my friend contacted other reporters, some of whom, also covered him in Mindanao some years back. All his text messages were saved and recorded, providing the basis that the flow of information came from him directly, raising the alarm, suspecting that something bad may have happen to his kid, and then later when his kid finally showed up at the main gate of the compound where their house is located, the physical state they found her bolstered their fears, he and his wife, that something bad happened to his daughter.

He told me that one TV reporter whom he contacted apologized to him for using the text messages he sent him in his broadcast report. It was private communication to a friend who just happened to be a reporter he told me, but I tried to defend that reporter, colleague of a TV network, saying that he was not identified and that the reporter was left with no choice but to put into context and lay the basis of the earlier report he aired especially so that the information made it as a banner headline in the Inquirer last Monday.

The agent's fear about the safety of his daughter was without basis. It was not just a product of a wild imagination. In the past, he too reported to his superiors that some group tried to abduct his kid, the same 13-year old daughter, in the center of this story--or as others have referred to it---a "non-story".

But come to think of it. Is it really a non-story minus the sensational angle of a drug syndicate kidnapping the daughter of an anti-narcotics agent, drugged her, raped her and then dumped her to send the strongest message to the agent to "BACK OFF!"?

In the landscape of human relationship, parent to kids, kids to parents, mother to daughter, daughter to mother, father to daughter, daughter to father---considering that we all see the signs of a decaying moral foundation in our own society that is supposed to be founded and grounded on the strength of the family as a basic unit of society, this to my mind is still a big story---a real big story that speaks volumes about the truth that reflects what exists in our society right now.

I had a very long conversation with him yesterday on the phone and just like the common friend who passed the cellular phone to me, one of the advises I gave him was to take a breather with his family, relax for a while and reconnect with his loved ones---his children in particular and his only 13-year old daughter most especially.

"Talk to her, hug her, tell her you love her and that she's very important to you," these words I told him, hoping that somehow this will allow him to open up more, break-away from his defenses as a man in uniform and be just one person -- a father this time, present and willing to listen to whatever his daughter wanted to say.

On the phone, his voice sounded low, sad and confused. The truth is---he has yet to have a heart to heart talk with his daughter whom he said, is still in the state of shock, crying most of the time.

He told me he believes something bad really happened to his daughter even if the PNP Cordillera already released the medical findings on his daughter, declaring no sexual abuse took place, in line with the official statement that no abduction and no drug syndicate involved in this case, stressing that what happened was the agent's kid was with some friends, on a drinking spree of GSM-blue.

On the phone he told me, "May mga kaibigan akong nakita siya nang ipa-check-up namin sa ospital, at nakita nila na hindi lasing ang bata, at nakita nila ang shock sa kanya, kaya hindi nila matanggap ang sinabi ng PNP-Cordillera na sa inuman galing ang (name of his daughter)."

He wanted to prove his suspicion. He wanted to investigate further. He wanted to raise a point.

I listened to every word he said, allowing him to expand his thoughts, his fears and his leads ---sensing that at the back of his mind, he is worried on how this incident will impact on his professional career. Without telling him, I was crying on the other end of the line. I feel the unspoken and the real fear that he continue to conceal and shield up to this time.

For how can any person accept that in his dedication and passion to serve his country and people, flag and nation, he neglected his family? Not seeing them for 2, 3, sometimes even 6 months because he was so engaged and so focused on the mission assigned to him as a man in uniform?

How can a father easily accept that perhaps what the incident really means is that his own daughter is crying for help, attention and fatherly love?

As I write these last few paragraphs, I am reminded about the speech that Michael Jackson delivered at Oxford University in 2001, the one posted by colleague and fellow journalist-blogger Ding Gagelonia, wherein in he said, that in the world today, there exists a crisis, the missing link and the long forgotten relationship between parent and child.

In essence what MJ said was---"it's time to reinforce that bond. It's time to go back to basics and the basics dictate that parents nurture and love their kids with the highest priority and to allow them to be kids, to be loved without any condition, so that when their time comes as parents, they too would continue the cycle of parent and kid bond, so that finally, finally, the world will heal."

A non-story?

Yes when taken into consideration the parameters by which headlines are weighed and evaluated in every newsroom or editorial room.

But in the confines of human relations, in the seclusion and in the privacy of ones home---this is the biggest story we could all learn from.

To my friend and his family, I repeat my advise, uncalled for and unsolicited--"take time out to be with each other. Hold each other. Feel each other. Listen and speak your heart out. Let go of the shields and free yourself, say the words---I LOVE YOU MY CHILD." (end)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ONE LAST TIME....thank you Michael Jackson!!!!

One last time, tears and farewell for the one person who have touched the lives of many generations.

We need not know him the way Brooke Shields knew him. They were childhood friends whose celebrity status bonded them together as icons of their generation.

They were so close then that many thought it was a fitting progression in their relationship that they end us as husband and wife. What could be more ideal than marrying your best friend?

But forever friends they are---they were...

In her eulogy at the Memorial Service at the Staples Center Brooke said, "To the outside world, Michael was a genius with unchallenged ability. To the people who were lucky enough to know him personally--he was caring and funny, honest,pure, non-jaded and he was a lover of life. He cared so deeply for his family and his friends and to his fans."

What Brooke probably did not know is that while many fans loved Michael Jackson from a distance, miles and miles of distance for millions---the millions who loved him knew in their hearts that he is one caring and funny individual. One who radiates and love life.

The songs he gave his fans told us so. His music became our window to his soul, he allowed us into his private world through the music he shared with his millions of fans.

"Wacko Jacko"--this was one of the many ugly titles attached to his name, unsolicited and very undeserving. He never defended himself, he allowed it, because the truth was---even though millions now realized how deeply hurt Michael Jackson was for most part of his life, he decided to keep it to himself.

His journey into life was something that is inspiring to say the least. He went through pain like millions of ordinary individuals---but with dignity and with a very brave face, one that smiles, one that radiates, one that tells you, life is beautiful and that life is a gift from God.

Brooke also said something about her best friend's favorite song. She said, "Michael's favorite song was not one of the countless masterpieces that he gave us, but was a piece that Charlie Chaplin wrote, for the movie Modern Times, it's called SMILE---there's a line in the song that says, smile though your heart is aching, smile what's the use in crying...Today although our hearts are aching...we need to smile..."

Born January 4, 1970--I am one of the millions of Michael Jackson fans who grew up loving and learning lessons of life through his music.

One of the songs I memorized as an aspiring child singer was his song "BEN". "I'LL BE THERE" was also a song of my youth, one that talks about a very vital human relationship: the value of friendship.

Family, friends and millions of fans paid tribute. This one is mine.

We maybe outsiders, not family, not in his circle of friends, not part of the privilege few, but Michael Jackson will stay in our hearts because he was part of us.

For those who cried buckets of tears watching the memorial, it was not because the world lost a music icon for as the final curtain call in his life came, Michael Jackson thought us one great lesson that would inspire many to journey into life the way he did.

With a smile...for life is ours to cherish, a gift that we must protect and treasure everyday of our lives, for as long as we have it.

Let the child in all of us journey life with a caring and pure heart...then it would not be hard to simply do just that---SMILE.

The song lingers on my mind...

"Smile, what's the use of crying/You'll find that life is still worthwhile/If you just smile." (END)

Monday, July 6, 2009


This may sound a little insensitive---questions that maybe misinterpreted as a justification of a violent action. But just the same---these questions were raised in the midst of the recent bloody bombing in Cotabato City yesterday.

What about the attacks on civilians in evacuation center? Is that not a cause of alarm for government? Who will investigate these attacks?

The one who raised these questions was Eid Kabalu, spokesperson of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) reacting to the bloodiest bomb attack that hit Mindanao in recent weeks killing 5 people and wounding 45 others last Sunday at a lechon store outside the Cotabato Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral.

According to police investigators the bomb that exploded was homemade and that the explosion was triggered by a cellular phone. Immediately after the bombing, two people were taken in for questioning and is now still under tactical interrogation.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines had pinpointed to the Special Operations Group of the MILF as the perpetrator of the Sunday bomb blast in Cotabato.

“We condemn the bombing and we are confident that if only police investigators will stick to the evidence they gather on site, they will come to the conclusion that the MILF is not behind the bombing.There is a bigger agenda here and Mindanao is just a take off of that plan, designed by others and not the MILF” said Kabalu and even referred to a statement made in the media by former House Speaker Jose De Venecia that the recent bombings could be the handiwork of government itself, as a preliminary scenario to the declaration of an emergency rule or Martial Law.

“Si De Venecia nga yun ang sinabi, pero kami, hihintayin namin ang resulta ng opisyal na imbestigasyon and we are confident we will be vindicated in the very irresponsible allegations made by the AFP that the MILF are the ones behind the bombings in our own area.”

It doesn’t make sense explains Kabalu and raised the question What they will gain from launching a bomb attack?

In an interview with this reporter adding that the unfortunate incident near a Catholic Church in a way eclipsed another issue of atrocities directed towards the civilian population of many provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao especially in the province of Maguindanao.

“Nobody seemed to take notice about the fact that civilians in evacuation centers are crying for help, complaining that they are now direct targets of the military,” Kabalu lamented.

In one evacuation center in Maguindanao last June 30, in the remote part of Libutan town to be exact, journalists from Metro Manila and various cities in Mindanao discovered the case of 7-year old Fahidza Kajar, who according to her family and the evacuees was a victim of a shrapnel of a 105 Howitzer Bomb of the Philippine Army.

According to Fahidza’s brother Mario, her sister was sleeping at around 8 in the evening, tucked in bed in a makeshift shelter they occupy at the Libutan Evacuation Center when the bomb exploded just a few meters away from the camp itself, shrapnel hitting the girl in an instant.

With her right leg and foot bandaged, Fahidza was carried by her elder brother Mario who was visibly surprised and thankful when he saw two elf-trucks full of members of the media and some human rights workers from various non-governmental organizations numbering to almost 60 arrived in their remote evacuation site.

In Filipino Mario said,” Mabuti nakarating kayo para makita ng gobyerno ang kalagayan namin dito, lalo na yung nangyari sa kapatid ko. Sana maipagamot man lang siya ng tama, hindi na kami umaasa ng hustisya, magamot lang ng tama para maligtas sa impeksiyon, okey na sa amin.”

The incident according to Mario took place eleven days prior to the media visit in their evacuation camp in Libutan.

On the verge of tears, Mario clutching Fahidza on his arms asked the military if they have now become the targets and not the MILF. “Bakit nasa evacuation na kami, binobomba pa rin kami?” Not used to seeing strangers and her first time to see cameras focused on her, Fahidza did not say a word and hid her face most of the time by burying it on her brother’s chest.

On the same day, June 30, a media briefing to the media by the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army provided the answer as to why the civilians in evacuation centers feel they now have become direct targets of the military.

In a briefing recorded by the NGO workers and media, the 6th ID through its spokesperson Col. Jonathan Ponce said they “consider and look at the civilians in the evacuation centers as reserve forces of the MILF, in other words, part of the MILF itself.” Ponce during the briefing even said that some MILF fighters pretend to be evacuees.

Evacuees in various parts of Central Mindanao still number to more than 300,000 individuals have been living in makeshift camps, schools turned into a mini-community for more almost a year now when the encounters between the MILF and the military erupted beginning in August of last year following the Supreme Court’s rejection of the legitimacy of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain signed by representatives from the Government of the Philippines and the MILF.

In the last quarter of 2008, the number of internally displaced persons in the Philippines at 600,000 plus individuals, many in the Central Mindanao provinces like Maguindanao even surpassed the number of evacuees in countries like Sudan and Kenya based on the April 2009 Report of the Geneva-based INTERNAL DISPLACEMENT MONITORING CENTRE (IDMC).

Amina Anuka, one of the elderly women evacuees in Datu Gumbang in Piang Center told this reporter doesn’t know how old she is but thinks she’s probably 70 years old plus and that most of her years were spent running away from war.

Her greatest fear she said in her native dialect in Maguindanao, translated by another evacuee in Filipino, was that she would breathe her last in the evacuation center, not seeing the end to the conflict she experienced all her life.

While fear remains in her eyes, there is also that look in Anuka's eyes that conveys the reality that she has embraced everything as her fate, her life--her destiny.(end)


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Praying for Tita Cory in these times....

Just a short note before I go to my Saturday radio program on RMN-Manila-DZXL today, a thought that was bursting since last night.

A note about the country's Tita.

She's the only president whom everybody called Tita, Tita Cory to be exact, a term of endearment that symbolizes how the nation looks up to her, not just the country's leader in those very interesting and trying times in our history as a nation, but also as an extended member of the Filipino family's home, an aunt, a Tita, whom everyone can rely on for love and inspiration.

Former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino was the widow who emerged from her cocoon to lead a nation in gaining the grounds of democracy. But as the nation prays for her recovery, it is also acknowledged that she was more than a symbol of leader to us. She was part of our homes, our lives, proof of the Filipino's commitment to the preservation of the family as the basic unit of society.

I was still a high school campus journalist when Tita Cory was President.It was time of a battle between yellow and red or red and yellow. The Laban sign and the Victory sign.

It was also a time when Press Freedom in the country was slowly regaining its strength, functioning the key role of exposing the truth amidst many lies hidden through the years.

When I became a reporter professionally, she was two years away from the end of her term but I also had the opportunity of covering some of her official events as Chief Executive then. It was a thrill to cover the Tita for she would always have that demure smile, one that will definitely caught you off-guard, specially when that smile was directed to you. She was charming in person and she probably doesn't even know how powerful that charm was for there were even times, she would come across as shy--a shadow of the simple housewife that she was before she became the leader of a nation wanting CHANGE in those trying times.

CHANGE is a word we embraced then with Tita Cory as the symbol.

SOBRA NA TAMA NA---that was the clamor of an aching nation wanting so much to be healed from the political, economic, social and even cultural illness.

CHANGE is a word we long to claim these days.

It's interesting to note that in the midst of our common clamor for CHANGE, Tita Cory is in our hearts and in our minds again---a subconscious reminder that it is indeed time for the Filipino people to come out and do their part in effecting that change.

In her sickbed, Tita Cory is once again the one person who is leading us to take seriously the task of building a nation through meaningful reforms and genuine CHANGES.

Just like in '86, when the time comes, when no one is expecting, when the experts are saying, the Filipino people will not find it in them to rally again for truthful CHANGE--I trust that they will---WE WILL.

As we pray for the recovery of the Filipino people's TITA CORY---let us again reflect and ponder on what it really takes for a nation to CHANGE its course in history. (end)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Sometime last year, Ding Gagelonia invited me to a get-together with former Vice President Teofisto Guingona in his Quezon City residence days before the launching of his book.

A handful of members of the media were present at that simple get together, among them, veteran journalist Julius Fortuna, whom I address in person as Tito Julius.

In the book of Guingona, a chapter dealt on his time in jail at a military camp under Martial Law. Tito Julius was his prison/block mate according to the former Vice President. It was a delight and an honor at the same time to hear straight from two former political detainees that exceptional common experience they had during Martial Law.

I say exceptional because in those days, to be placed in incarceration because of your political and democratic pursuits and beliefs were indeed marks of great men and women. For a good four hours sometime last year, I was among those who listened with undivided attention and awe with the stories told by both Guingona and Fortuna.

This morning over the radio, a sad breaking news was aired. Tito Julius has passed away due to cardiac arrest at the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City early this morning.

I called up Ding at once, knowing how close the two are---only to be placed in that uncomfortable position of the bearer of the sad news.

Ding, was apparently not tuned in to the AM radio when I made the call this morning. Quickly, I sensed and felt the sadness in his voice. I regret that I was the one who told him about it. I thought, it would be I who would be getting more information from Ding.

It was Ding and Richard Rivera who influenced Tito Julius to sail on to the world of new media, to be a journalist-blogger in this day and age of citizen and global blogging.

Tito Julius complied and opened his blog-site last January, but with no entry except the ones that were already published on line in the Manila Times where he wrote regular columns on various national and international issues. His column in the Manila Times is called, EAST WEST. The blog he created last January was also called EAST-WEST--ON LINE.

The reason why there's no real new entry in Tito Julius' Blog Site is best explained by the introduction he made in his blog spot.

Here's what he wrote: "It is my pleasure to join the new force in the field of information known as the blogging community. I must confess that I am not that familiar with computers and blogs, hence, I am glad to be inducted into this group, courtesy of my friends Ding Gagelonia and Richard Rivera. Like many of you, I am busy with other affairs. But I shall try to share with you some of my views on political and foreign affairs. We are faced with many issues like charter change and now, the pressure being exerted on the Supreme Court chief justice. But the biggest issue shall be the forthcoming presidential and local elections of 2010. This is all for the moment."

Tito Julius belongs to a generation of journalists who really know how it was to defend Democracy and Freedom of the Press.

Vēnī, vīdī, vīcī -- "I came, I saw, I conquered"---Julius Ceasar (47 BC)said in describing his recent victory over Pharnaces II of Pontus in the Battle of Zela in Zile, a town of Tokat city in contemporary Turkey, a laconic remark that represented the totality of his victory and military prowess.

It was no accident that Tito Julius was named after Julius Ceasar who was a Roman military and political leader who played a critical role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.

Journalist from his era contributed much to the rebirth of Press Freedom and Democracy in this part of the world.

In honoring the death of a colleague, one who came, saw and conquered, let us commit to the preservation of our rights to Press Freedom.

Bye Tito Julius---we shall carry on. (end)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Joc-Joc's Careless Whisper...

A careless whisper can ruin a love life, shatter trust, throw one into the lion's den of the what could be the biggest scandal of the decade.

But a careless whisper too can ruin a career and result into tha axing of one government official, without any announcement, without any explanation.

Just---go, bye---get the hell out of your office.

That could happen in one click, especially so, if the one who relayed the juicy information about that government official--I mean ex-government official--is someone by the name of Jocelyn "Joc-Joc" Bolante, also an ex-government official, but not necessarily, someone who is out of grace of the powers that be in the present administration.

No, the careless whisper was not about another fertilizer procurement---at least, not yet.

It was about a political opponent in the coming 2010 local elections in the province of Capiz.

Everyone in Capiz are now aware of Joc-Joc's big plan in next year's elections: Run for governor. Don't look now, but according to my sources in the province, there's a real big chance that with Joc-Joc's vast resources and influence, he might just win as the next chief executive of Capiz.

Joc-Joc is so confident of winning in next year's elections that his guns are not pointed directly towards his main opponent in the same position but in other aspiring candidates in other position, such as the 2nd District of Capiz whose incumbent representative in the Lower House, Congressman Fredinel Castro is a known ally of Joc-Joc, and also allied to the administration party.

Now--here's an interesting part, challenging the position of Castro, whose actually on his third and last term as congressman, but has already announced, he is fielding his wife, Jane Castro also known as "Baby Jane", is someone who is supposed to be an ally of the administration like Joc-Joc.

Running for congressman in the 2nd District of Capiz in next year's elections is former Assistant Secretary for Transportation and Communication and General Manager of the Metro Rail Transit Authority Roberto "Bobby" Lastimoso.

Yes--in case you did not notice, Lastimoso was axed from his position, replaced by DOTC Assistant Secretary Reynaldo Berroya, without the usual and the normal announcement of reorganization or revamp in cabinet posts.

Lastimoso was the last to know of his forced departure from his position, which in his own timetable, as promised to him, he would vacate and turn-over to Berroya in November of this year. But the turn-over came much earlier and without courtesy that is perhaps due to someone who positioned himself on the side of the Administration in critical times of its existence.

The truth is, there's nothing wrong or unusual with another administration ally challenging the position of another palace follower especially in the local political arena. Such was the case of the 2007 Elections, proving the volatility and fragile nature of the Administration's coalition party.

As far as local politics is concerned, the arena is usually declared as ZONA LIBRE.

But Lastimoso courted the ire of the powers that be, when he began to discreetly ally himself with the camp of senator Mar Roxas who is not exactly Malacañang's favorite senator these days. In local politics, there's no such thing as secret alliances, sooner or later, it will be exposed.

Lastimoso's foray into enemy territory, that is Mar Roxas' camp reached the powers behind the powers, through Joc-Joc first and according to my source, Joc-Joc took it upon himself to personally inform the person on top that needed to be informed, and that person, is not necessarily the president herself, but just as powerful, maybe even more.

And just like that, a decision was made. You have to go Bobby. End of the line.

The fate of Lastimoso proves only one thing, that under this administration, there can be no other loyalty, no other alliances, and no other dreams made possible, outside of their wings.

From a larger perspective, loyalty is indeed is a valued virtue.

From a larger perspective, yes, it's true, one cannot serve several masters.

Had somebody else whispered the information that exposed Lastimoso's rendezvous with Mar Roxas and company, the situation could perhaps be met with a lesser drastic decision. It would not have been that swift. Perhaps, Lastimoso's political move in the local front could be justified considering the fact that Capiz after all, is an acknowledged Roxas country.

But---the messenger, the one that gave that careless whisper, was not just somebody else:It was Jocelyn "Joc-Joc" Bolante.

Can they say No to Joc-Joc?

That I doubt very much. (end)

Monday, June 15, 2009


Huwag nating bitiwan ang kasong ito. Bantayan natin. Tunay na maimpluwensiya ang kalaban. At kung ang abogado ng pamilya ng inaakusahan sa karumdaldumal na krimeng ito ang pakikinggan natin, madaling makita kung anong klaseng utak mayroon ang kanyang mga kinakatawan.

Ang tinutukoy ko ay ang pagpatay kay Ruby Rose Barrameda-Jimenez. Kung mas may masahol pa sa salitang karumaldumal, yun ang katapat nito.

Sa isang panayam ni Arnold Clavio, sinabi ng abogado ni Manuel Jimenez, biyenan ni Ruby Rose, na kung ang kliyente daw niya ang nasa likod ng pagpatay sa manugang nito, maano man lang daw ba na itapon na lang sa dagat ang bangkay o kaya ang drum na kinalalagyan nito dahil marami naman daw barko ang kanyang kliyente.

Nakapaninindig balahibo. Ni wala kang maramdamang awa o simpatiya man lang mula sa mismong abogado. Na para bang napaka-normal ang magtapon ng bangkay sa karagatan.

Pero sabi nga, saan ba nahuhuli ang isda?

Maanong itapon na lang daw sana sa dagat kung ang kliyente niya ang talagang nag-utos...

Yun pala---may mga ganitong kaso mismo--eksakto----di na natagpuan---dahil itinapon nga sa dagat.

Nilubos-lubos na ni Manuel Montero ang kanyang paglalahad ng katotohanan at nalalaman laban sa mga Jimenez, may-ari ng Buena Suerte Jimenez-Fishing sa Navotas Fish Port.

Ang kunsiyensiya kapag umusig, iba. Ganito ang nangyari kay Montero. Natagalan man ang kanyang paglalahad, hindi pa naman ganap na huli ang lahat para mapanagot ang mga dapat managot sa krimeng hindi lamang pala isa.

May iba pa palang biktima. Tulad ni Ruby Rose, pinatay at isinilid din sa drum. Ang iba, itinapon ang drum na pinagtaguan sa kanilang bangkay sa dagat. Isa sa mga ipinapatay umano ng mga Jimenez sa kanya ayon kay Montero ay si Alberto Orsolino noong 2006, halos kasunod lamang o nauna sa panahong iniulat na nawawala si Ruby Rose.

Hindi matatawaran ang kredibilidad ni Montero bilang witness sa kasong ito. Oo, siya ang umaming pumatay kay Ruby Rose at sa iba pa. Pero kung gawa-gawa lamang ito---hindi niya maituturo kung nasaan ang drum, nasaan ang bangkay, at ni hindi maisasalarwan ang posisyon ng bangkay sa loob ng drum.

Walang motibo si Montero para patayin ng kusa lamang si Ruby Rose o ang iba pang biktima. Ang motibo lang dito--pera, binayaran siya. Trabaho, walang personalan, may mga assassin talaga, may mga sikmurang kayang gawin ito. Nagawa na nga.

Pero may umusig. May puso ang bawat tao. May takot ang bawat tao. May kunsiyensiya. Yun ang umiral.

Humahanga ako sa pamilya Barrameda, lalo na sa aktres na si Rochelle. Alam niyang higante ang kalaban nila. Pero di siya nawawalan ng puso. Sa tingin ko ay lalo pa siyang tumapang at mas naging determinado ngayon na makapamit ang hustisya para sa kanyang kapatid.

At kung susundan ang kuwento rito---ang mga taong kayang magpapatay, hindi lang dahil sa may pera sila, kundi dahil sa may kuneksiyon sila.

Sa kuwento---maraming ilegal na negosyong dapat na ipaliwanag ang mga Jimenez ng Navotas.

Paihi ng langis---oil smuggling sa madaling salita. Dati nang bulong-bulungan ito na ang ilang barkong pangisda kuno ay front lamang ng illegal oil smuggling sa bansa. Ito ang magandang pagkakataon para sa mga otoridad para patunayan nang walang pasubali ang ilegal na aktibidad na ito at papanagutin ang mga tinatawag na economic saboteurs ng bansa.

Naisip ko lang, magulat kaya tayo kung sa psgsasaliksik sa kuwentong ito, may matisod na impormasyon na ang linya ng proteksiyon sa ilegal na gawaing ito ay papataas na naman? Di ba, minsan na nating narinig na pati sa ganitong gawain, abot ng impluwensiya ng isang makapangyarihang tao sa gobyerno?

Pero wag na muna nating dagdagan ng detalye o patabain ito ng sanga-sangang akusasyon bagaman malinaw na puwedeng may kinalaman ito sa motibo. Pinatahimik na mga bikttima dahil sa kanilang nalalaman.

Doon muna sa krimen mismo. Sa ginawang pagpaslang kay Ruby Rose at iba pa.

Huwag natin itong bitiwan. Pahiram ng linya ni Mike Enriquez---huwag natin itong tantanan!

Bibihira ang pagkakataong kumanta nang ganito kalakas ang isang napakahalagang saksi laban sa isang krimen.

Samantalahin natin ang pagusbong ng takot at pagiral ng kunsiyensiya ni Montero.

Abot-kamay ang hustisya, huwag tayong kakalas. Kailangan ng mga Barrameda ang tulong natin---lalo na tayong nasa hanay ng Pamamahayag. (wakas)

Monday, June 8, 2009


While we are not looking, this alleged coup plotter finally launched one, a coup but of a "different kind".

Discharged officer Lt. Colonel Oscarlito Mapalo of the Philippine Army accused just last year of plotting to commit a coup d’ etat against the Arroyo Administration has finally gathered enough supporters, numbering to close to a thousand, a potent force on its own enough to give life to the ideals he adheres to as a “rebel” military officer.

Through a new group called the United Brotherhood of Uniformed Personnel Incorporated, Mapalo, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1979 was able to finally launch what he considers the biggest crusade of his life as a soldier.

“It’s a coup alright, but of another kind,” explains Mapalo who along with Colonels Ernie Amboy, Cesar dela Peña and police Supt. Rafael Cardeno and lawyer Atty. Homobono Adaza were accused just last year of being the brains behind the plot to topple the government, an accusation where they were eventually arrested and charged in court.

Months has passed since they were released in jail, bail paid, Mapalo and the rest, discharged from the service.

Interestingly, except for Cardeño who is still detained at Camp Crame because another charge, that of allegedly masterminding the killing of Lt. Baron Cervantes, former spokesperson of the Young Officers Union (YOU), Mapalo and the others charged are involved in the organization of this new group called UBUPI simply called BROTHERHOOD.

The group is registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission as a non-profit, non-stock, non-government organization--but least he gains the ire of the government again, Mapalo stressed that this is not an anti-government group.

This newly created group has its First Organizational Meeting last May 30 at the Ricarte Hall of the Philippine Army Officers Clubhouse in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig with more than 800 members in attendance mostly retired members of the AFP, the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and other units and agencies attached to the AFP and the PNP to include the Reservists.

A handful of active members of the AFP are also among those in attendance.

Mapalo explained that BROTHERHOOD was organized not to commit any form of rebellion or acts against the government or any institution. He stressed that BROTHERHOOD has one simple and very basic objective: TO TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN. “The fact that we held our First Organizational Meeting inside the premises of the Philippine Army Headquarters is a proof that this group is not out to threaten anyone in power,” Mapalo said.

Taking care of their own according to Mapalo is translated to initiating and coordinating projects and programs that would enhance, preserve and uplift the welfare, dignity and self-respect of the members. One key project is related to economic and livelihood opportunities focusing on the collective strength and non on the individual member.

Aside from livelihood projects, BROTHERHOOD also promises to give job opportunities, scholarship for qualified beneficiaries, legal, social, moral and spiritual support and hospitalization and medical assistance to their members.

“Pera, hindi giyera, ito ang goal ni Colonel Mapalo. Ang nangyayari kasi, lalo na kapag wala na sa serbisyo, wala nang umaasikaso sa mga sundalo, dating pulis, dating jailguards. Yun bang ang pakiramdam, parang wala silang ipinasilbi at ipinaglingkod sa bayan,” explains another officer, an active member of the Philippine Army who refused to be named but part of the steering committee of BROTHERHOOD because as an active member of the AFP, he should not be part of another group such as this one. He wears a ring like Mapalo, also a graduate of the PMA.

The active officer explained to this reporter that not all retired officers in the armed service would be as lucky as the likes of former Chief of Staff Rodolfo “Pong” Biazon who succeeded in transforming himself into another arena of public service as senator of the Republic. “Hindi lahat puwedeng maging Pong Biazon. Iisa lang ang Biazon sa amin. Destiny yun, but the rest, sad to say, after the service in the military, were left on their own, without a strong organization to back them up. This is where we are coming in.”

But while the group BROTHERHOOD positions itself as a group that is non against the government, the brains of this group remains critical of the present administration.

Adaza for one, who was among those who spoke during the First Organizational Meeting believes the Administration of President Arroyo will do anything to stay in power---even to the extent of declaring Martial Law. Adaza who remains the legal counsel of Cardeño and several other officers facing court martial says “Gloria will try to declare Martial Law but she will fail because she doesn’t have the support of majority of the armed forces and the police and that include the ranks of those retired and out of service.”

Does this view represent the collective stance of the new group BROTHERHOOD?

“Let’s just say I am expressing an intelligent assessment of someone who had seen leaders from Marcos to Arroyo. What I expressed are my personal beliefs but you know, I never lack followers,” Adaza adds in jest.

Now this is the other thing I found out about this group. That most of its members are based in Taguig City and that one retired but still powerful ex-general is really the "godfather" of this group. I got the information from one of the members of this newly formed group, who holds an official ID of BROTHERHOOD.

I wonder if the ex-general's reported plan to run as mayor of Taguig has something to do with the creation of this group?

Whether the creation of this group has something to do with his political plans in Taguig, it's also very clear here that he has associated himself with personalities that are--or at least---were once very openly critical about the present government.

Does his president knew about this? Is he trying to consolidate a force of his own?

Let me stretch more your imagination...

This retired general but still very powerful public official was among the key personalities that clinched the ouster of former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

With warnings of an impending Martial Rule and No-Election come 2010, one wonders what this general is really up to?

I asked that question because this general is never comfortable with the word loyalty.

The other question is which side is he really supporting this time?

If and when the Filipino people will once again manifest their power as one---say at EDSA again---which side will he go to?(end)