Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘impunity’

Curtain Viewpoint: Finding the Missing in “Katre”

To lose a loved one through death is tragic, but to lose them without a trace is more devastating. Such is the pain that relatives of the missing go through, which was brought to life by Christian Tordecillas’ masterpiece, “Katre”.

It’s an honor for me to see a friend’s work come alive on stage. Christian, or X as we fondly call him, had written plays that imply social relevance. One of them was the one-act satire, “Dyip” (Jeep, short for jeepney), which won him the Carlos Palanca award in 2006. I was already impressed by his brilliance in provoking critical thinking of life’s realities through artistic writing. This time, “Katre” touched my heart as it brought up the issue of desaparecidos in the country.

In the play, an aged Lea awaits for her missing husband and child. Everytime she rises and returns to her katre (bed in Visayan dialect), she recollects her life when her family was still with her. Not knowing their fate, she clung on the hope that they are still alive.

Lea is the epitome of those left by desaparecidos, or those who are missing due to forced disappearances. We remember Jonas Burgos, who still remains missing since he was taken in 2007. We remember Karen Empeño, and Sherlyn Cadapan, whose whereabouts remain unknown even when alledged abductor Ret. Gen. Jovito Palparan had been caught. We remember the rest of the desaparecidos since Martial Law, who had been forcefully taken into the seclusion. Just like Lea, those left behind by desaparecidos struggle between hope and despair.

Because I did not want anybody to see I was a crybaby, I gulped back my tears when Lea battled against that hope she treasured for years. The actress convinced me of the pain and frustration Lea tried to deny before. Her story rings the message of the consequences of impunity — which the Philippines has struggled for a long time.

Without glorifying the political overtures of impunity, “Katre” brings to thought the ordeal of those who have been victimized by it, whether the desaparecidos or the families they left. Simply portrayed yet deeply movong, “Katre” awakens the fact that the issue of impunity should not be ignored.

“Katre” is one of the plays featured in “BA-WAL: Mga Dulang Bagong Luwal” by Project Mayhem Productions. Also featured here is the dark comedy “Over My Dead Body” by Christian Dagsil. You can watch them at Ateneo de Manila, at the ISO complex. Remaining theater dates are at September 7, 13, 14, and 15. These plays are shown at 3pm and 7pm, except on September 13, as show is only at 7pm.

Meet the master behind, "Katre", Christian "X" Tordecillas. To see one of his works come alive on stage is an honor

Meet the master behind, “Katre”, Christian “X” Tordecillas. To see one of his works come alive on stage is an honor

Advertisements

Behind the Yellow Confetti

I know it’s a week late but let me share how memorable it is to be a part of another historic moment.

Twenty seven years after the first EDSA People Power Revolution, a law to compensate every human rights victim under

Pres. Aquino signing the Human Rights Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 at the People Power Monument at EDSA last Feb. 25, 2013

Pres. Aquino signing the Human Rights Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 at the People Power Monument at EDSA last Feb. 25, 2013

the Martial Law has been signed. The Human Rights Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 has been signed by President Aquino at the very People Power Monument last February 25.

To give a brief description of this law, this enables the compensation of the human rights victims under the Marcos regime between 1972 to 1986. This is for thus to restore not only their memory but to recognize the agony they endured and for the later generations to remember the ordeals of this era. A more detailed description of this law can be found under the Official Gazette website: http://www.gov.ph/downloads/2013/02feb/20130225-RA-10368-BSA.pdf

I have heard various accounts of when the state was under the Martial Law. Some claimed tough and terrible times. Others said it was just as normal as it was. While there were people who claimed that being under the Marcos regime was peaceful and generally did not want to take into account the horrible part. I wouldn’t conclude at this point who’s right, though. But it was a privilege for me to have had a short encounter with the Martial Law survivors last Monday.

One of them was Boni Ilagan, vice chairperson of the anti-human rights violence group SELDA (Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detention at Aresto). For a short moment, I asked him to recount a bit what he experienced during the Martial Law. By 23, he was arrested, tortured, and kept in a secluded place in almost a year. He cried injustice on what was done, as he was not put in a regular detention facility, being an activist against the regime. Yet, what happened to his sister, Rizalina, was more tragic. After being arrested with ten others in Southern Tagalog, her body was never found. Some of those with her were found dead in separated areas in Luzon.

An army tank at the reenactment of the "Salubong", when civilians and soldiers "met" in a peaceful clash that made the 1986 revolution a memorable and a historic one.

An army tank at the reenactment of the “Salubong”, when civilians and soldiers “met” in a peaceful clash that made the 1986 revolution a memorable and a historic one.

Twenty seven years lapsed; the signing, Ilagan said, was a success. After the Marcos regime, four administrations passed and yet no such law was taken into effect. Ilagan mentioned to me that this act was filed in the legislative for more than a decade and only until now it was a dream for those who yearned justice. Yet, it was only the beginning, he said. There’s more to battle. This is just one step to end impunity and human rights violence.

Commission on Human Rights Chairperson and also former human rights victim Etta Rosales agreed with this statement. The Philippines is the first in Asia to sign such a law in recognition of human rights victims. She hopes this would become a model for the world to push through to end impunity.

As I then talked to young people after the celebration, I observed how most of the younger generation do not understand the ordeal that these older activists must have gone through. I asked a few (rowdy and pretentiously shy) students how would they fare if we don’t have this freedom we’re getting. I got generally general answers: we’re not free. They tried to get details on how it would have been but on the general note, they can’t move the way as they do now.

I don’t blame them. I don’t understand the Martial Law ordeal either. I was already existing on the face of the earth for only a year when the sea of yellow fighters stormed the streets ready to sacrifice their red blood for freedom. These young people are decades apart from the time a renewed constitution was forged for them.

I remember how bleak it was to “witness” history through textbooks (that keep on being updated) alone. Museums try to recreate accounts dramatically to make sure we will not forget. Survivors would tell us in pain and tears for us to feel what they felt then. But if we take our present for granted, we will never remember. It is up to our generation to remember and recount the ordeals of history.

History never repeats itself. It is up to us to repeat history. Most of us find this subject in school boring because we were not a part of it. Yet, we don’t realize that we are living in historical times. Historical accounts became legend because it was either destroyed or was totally ignored. If there’s one way to warn the younger generations of the mistakes of the past, it is only through a re-account of history. But it is up to us, and for the younger generation, to heed the cries of the past and those who lived in the past.

After the "salubong" took place.

After the “salubong” took place.

My heart felt bad for some of the young students who kept on picking flowers from the army tanks and taking pictures while Pres. Aquino was speaking. Perhaps, they were not briefed about protocols and respect to the leaders of our nation. I wonder what would it be if we were threatened by nearby soldiers to shut up and listen to the president? They must not have understood that this freedom should never be taken for granted to the point of showing nonchalance to figures of authority. I wonder what difference one would react if he came from a threatening environment to a freed atmosphere. What character he must have exemplified!

As the yellow confetti showered the streets of EDSA, I hope everyone would not think of the People Power as merely a celebration or a sensationalized propaganda. Behind the yellow brand that is being blasted in public every February 25 are stories doused in red blood. We celebrate so as not to forget. We celebrate so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past anymore. I hope every young person would realize this. I hope every young ones in my generation would remember and listen to the voice of the past.

Gagging the Truth Bearer

For the sake of truth, we journalists know the risk of it. But I never thought such danger would happen to one of us at these times.

Most of us in MPC were shocked to know that one of our colleagues, Fernan Angeles of The Daily Tribune, was a victim of an attack Sunday night. As said by his wife, before he became unconscious, he knew who his attacker was…and this was someone influential. We’re hoping for the best that he would completely recover and that justice would be brought upon his assailants.

I myself spurred thoughts after hearing much of this incident. Though we’re been rallying against impunity and injustice, made much awareness to the expectant public in incomprehensible speed through social media and other means, and did all the means to make sure that tragic deaths of media men will never happen,  there are still many who would dare shut up the mouths of these truth bearers – I, as one of them. But this was not a reason for us to be afraid of what we’re doing. This is our job…and we’d rather stand by telling the truth rather than closing our eyes to it.

Ok, let’s admit that most of us are really dared to go beyond the expected thinking, are very loud and even provocative. But we do it to make the public think and rethink. Once the public dig deeper into the obvious, there’s much exposure and it would not be pleasant. This is what they are afraid of…and would dare to stop the quarry before revealing the murky part of their palaces.

We, of course, are reminded of the weight of our responsibility. We stand by a code that makes us unbiased. Some of us won’t, though. But, this does not mean that all of us should fall because of who we are and what we do.

There are still many cases of media killings that are not solved…forgotten, actually. What are we to do? We are doing our best to let the world know – and remind not to forget my fellow colleagues who had fallen and who are struggling for justice. This is a fallen world, I can say, and for sure more arrows are set out to attack our kind. But it will never stop us…and they’ll never will.

Let not these attacks completely gag the truth. They might silence the reporter, but never silence the truth.

Tag Cloud