Friday, November 27, 2009

because of politics, this happens again.

And when I thought that this month is a time for celebrations, this tragedy happens. The nation was filled with joy and bursting with Filipino pride when Pacquiao won against Cotto (bless him, he was a good fighter) and won his 7th title on Nov. 14th. This hero was once again commemorated not just in the country, but internationally as well. But, there is also another hero who won as the CNN Hero of the Year, and it is none other than Efren PeƱaflorida.

The Maguindanao Massacre happened 23rd of November, Monday, with 59 victims, most of which are women and journalists. A tragic and stunning event, and the only reason why these people were killed is because of politics. Again. I was reading some news about it on a national broadcasting network in the Philippines when I came across this statement from the said company, and I wanted to share it with you. (biasedness on the network aside, for there has been some network war going on in the country, for those who don't know. it's just that I was already at their website and browsing some videos and articles.)

The statement of GMA Network as read by Jessica Soho in their news program Nov. 25th:

Walang kahalintulad sa ating kasaysayan ang karahasan sa pulitikang naganap nitong araw ng lunes sa Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao. Ang mga biktima - mga babaeng Mangudadatu na magsusumite ng certificate of candidacy, mga abogadong magbibigay ng payo at mga taga-media na dapat ay magiging saksi at magbabalita.

Lahat sila'y may ginagampanang papel sa demokrasya, pero sa lugar na kailan lamang ay tinawag na Ampatuan, dahas ang kanilang dinanas, na wala nang paglulugaran sa panahong ito.

Ang kahindik-hindik na krimen ay mapait na halimbawa sa klase ng pulitika na mayroon tayo. Sa kabilang banda, nariyan ang mga mamamayan na lakas loob na naninindigan na maipatupad ang tahimik at matiwasay na pamamaraan upang makapili ng mga magiging pinuno ng bayan. Ang tunggaliang ito ng dahas at kapayapaan ay lutang na lutang kada panahon ng eleksyon. Ito ang mga kritikal na pagpipilian natin sa 2010 -- karahasan ba o' kapayapaan?

Iniutos na ng presidente ang agarang imbestigasyon at nagdeklara ng state of emergency sa mga probinsya ng Maguindanao at Sultan Kudarat, at sa Cotabato City. Anim na pulis ang sinibak sa posisyon.

Umaasa kaming umpisa pa lamang ito, ng mga aksyong magtatapos sa paghuli sa mga taong nagsagawa ng krimen, ordinaryong tao man o kinatatakutang warlord sa probinsiya.

Kung sila'y hindi pagbabayarin sa pagkakasalang ito, katumbas nito ang pagkasira ng kauna-unahang automated elections ng bansa.

Habang kami'y naghihintay ng hustisya, kami'y magluluksa. Magluluksa para sa mga naniniwala sa demokrasya subalit nabiktima ng karahasan. Magluluksa para sa mga taga-mediang namatay na naniwalang sapat na ang konstitusyon upang silang maprotektahan.

Sa kanilang paglalakbay ng walang armas sa mga lugar na walang kasiguruhan, nagtiwala ang mga biktima sa kapayapaan. Aming kinikilala ang kanilang sakripisyo, habang ang kanilang sinapit ay mapait na ala-ala para sa lahat. Ang kanilang sinapit ay maaaring naging kapalaran
din namin.

In English:

We are no longer who we were before Monday. In the annals of political violence in the Philippines, there have been no parallels to the slaughter that occurred on the lonely road to Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao on November 23.

52 unarmed civilians all, the majority of whom were media professionals, the victims were enroute to perform basic functions in a civilized democracy: the Mangudadatu women were to file certificates of candidacy; the lawyers were to provide legal advice; and the journalists were to bear witness on behalf of the public and to report on an important event without fear or favor.

All of these roles are essential for a political system where power is meant to be transferred without violence.

What met them in a town recently renamed Ampatuan was the exact opposite: a force and mentality that invoked the barbarity of more primitive times.

The crime that occurred in Ampatuan was uniquely savage, but it was also an extreme example of the violent tendency in our politics. At the other extreme are the many citizens who are bravely committed to the difficult and complex process of peacefully deciding who our leaders should be, such as those souls who perished on Monday.

It is this tension between savagery and peaceful process that has marked our electoral history. Those are the most critical choices in 2010.

Much will depend on how the government reacts in the coming days. For what is emerging is evidence that the assailants were not outside the law but part of the political machinery of local officials backed by the Arroyo administration.

The President so far has ordered a thorough investigation and declared a state of emergency in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and Cotabato City. Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa has relieved six PNP officials in Maguindanao.

We trust that this is just the beginning of a series of actions that will bring all of the perpetrators to justice, including the warlords who orchestrated this bloodbath.

If they are permitted to escape harsh punishment, it will clearly be a vote for barbarity and for the other savage armies prepared to assault our maiden automated elections.

As we wait for action, we grieve. We grieve for the believers in a democratic system who paid with their lives. We grieve for the martyred journalists who believed the Constitutional protection of their rights was enough.

By travelling without arms to perform their democratic duties in hostile territory, the 52 made their choice. We honor their example and sacrifice, as their fate continues to chill our bones. As fellow believers, we could have easily been them.

President Arroyo declared Nov. 26th as the National Day of Mourning for all the victims of the massacre, and I know that Filipinos will pray for these people, for this is really too much to happen again. I will admit; killings usually happen when elections come. These cases were unresolved, of course, but it is because of power and money that they do it. And the elections are coming; as much as I do not want to admit it, but there will be a national and provincial election in May 2010, and chaos has been going on (if I'm not mistaken) since last year. The year is almost ending, so more noise on the elections will be made. Politics really is dirty when you are in the Philippines. Literally and figuratively.  This is why I hate talking about politics. Anyway.

There is also a timeline and map of the Maguindanao Massacre from the same Network, and I suggest that you read it if you want to know more (and for my sake too). And it's not only the women, lawyers and journalists who were killed. Even passersby along the area were included in the massacre. There was this video interview of the Vice Mayor Toto Mangudadatu explaining what happened to his wife who was one of the victims. He said that when he saw his wife, he was shocked. And if I were him, I would be horrified. But most of all, hurt. I'll translate what he said on the video and I will warn you that what he said are really disturbing. This is what he said: "It really hurts. She was shot in her breasts, her genital area was slashed.... and it was also shot. Her mouth was shot, her eyes were pricked, her leg was amputated... I'm not crying because I want to show the nation that I'm strong." Because of this tragedy he decided to continue his candidacy for governor, even though he will go against his opponent, the Ampatuans, who they think are the suspects of this horrendous crime.

Earlier I was thinking if I should post this or not, but then I realized, this is a tragic moment in the country's history and even though the Philippines has been noted as the most dangerous place for journalists and media staff stated by IFJ, this still concerns my country and fellowmen. So please do bear with this post, pardon the disturbing atrocities I translated, and lastly, pray for the victims of this massacre.

Friday, November 13, 2009

why Efren is a hero

I came across this article a few weeks ago when I was browsing some sites (as I usually do) and became interested in this organization. Or more particularly, with this person.

To me, what he's doing is a very heroic thing to do, for he only wants the best for these kids because he's been through it, he's been there, done that, and he does not want them to just be roaming around the streets at night or getting into fights whenever they want.

I recommend that you read this article from CNN first, and then ponder for why he is one of our heroes of today. Or why he deserves to be considered one.

And of course, he can't do it all to himself too. He needs volunteers and other helping hands, like this group that he co-founded, the Dynamic Teen Company, an organization that assist their fellow youth to study at school instead of getting into violence and gang fights, which used to be a very common scene in the founders' schools. Today, the group holds various programs in improving the youth awareness projects and other activities as well. Do visit their site if you have the time and if you're interested. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Detective Conan: episode 1

Like I said before, I like this series. And since I already made an introduction on this show, I'll start the recaps with the first episode, so you'll get a gist of how everything started and how Shinichi Kudo became Conan Edogawa. You'll also get introduced to the characters, and look at their backgrounds. Also, I will choose which episodes I cover and the ones that I like and which also has something to do with the major plot. Because really, right now, this series has 500+ episodes and still airing, and I have no idea when this would end. If it does though, I'll let you know.

Alright, let's do this.

Detective Conan episode 1: Roller Coaster Murder Case

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hallow's eve

Just sharing a bit of information about a tradition and one of the cultures of the Philippines that I've gotten used to since my younger days: visiting my dead relatives' graves on November 1st. Supposedly, November 1st is All Saint's Day and 2nd is All Soul's Day. I can still vividly remember my grade school teacher telling me that the graves are supposed to be visited on the 2nd, not the first, for we should be commemorating the Saints. Instead, we're observing it as the All Soul's day.

You could see people camping in the cemeteries if they come from provinces or from far places. Staying up all night is a sight that should not be found surprising as well, for during these times, it's just normal for these people to do these things for this is how they pay homage to the dead. For they consider this the day to remember their dead loved ones and pray for their souls.

Now, what these people don't really celebrate is Halloween, a holiday where kids wear costumes and knock doors and get candies. Trick-or-treat, as it is fondly called. For adults who are not into candies and visiting their neighbors, they can attend a Costume party and still enjoy the holiday.

Even though Halloween means Hallow's Eve or the day before All Saints' or All Hallow's day, it seems that most people in the west celebrate this night before the actual day or reason of the holiday, which I think, loses the meaning behind it.

But, this is how things are, and I wouldn't mind being a part of this as well; for it is always important to adapt to a country that is completely different from where you came from. Who knows, I might attend a party and wear a costume as well. Although, I'm still not sure what to wear for that.

On another note, when I do think of Halloween, I also think of DOT―Daylight Ordinary Time (or in Filipino, Dating Oras Tanga*) where we adjust our clocks and go back an hour. I guess DOT also serves as a reminder to people up north for the coming (and sometimes dreaded) winter. And when we think of winter, we think of Christmas and the New Year ahead of us. Ah, how time flies really fast.

*Dating Oras Tanga is taken from P.M. Junior's Pugad Baboy comic book series. It literally means 'Back to the old time, stupid' in english.