Aircon Against My Back

September 12

It was almost 9 O’Clock in the morning, we are almost open to accept applications for Claims on Gross Human Rights Violations. A woman walked in, sat quietly in front of me. She looks very polished, respectable, like a proper career woman. She handed her affidavit. She has a PhD.

After reading through her story, I probed: “maari ninyo po bang ikwento ang nangyari sa inyo?”

She replied, “my husband was an activist. So, they came for me as well. They wanted to know where he was. I have not been in touch with him for quite some time already. I do not where he was.

I was brought to the camp. Then they placed me in an isolated room. They forced me to stand with my back against the aircon with nothing on, except my underwear. Being in that room is like an eternity.

I was blindfolded.

I can hear voices of people in anguish in another room, like they were being tormented..tortured or something. They were hoping I would say something. What do I know? The sound of another person being tormented made me believe that the person was my husband. His cries pierced through the room, and I was deeply troubled. I know it was him.

They released me afterwards. It was the morning thereafter.

Several days after that incident, my husband came home. He became irritable and it soon became difficult being with him. He also became distant and cold.

We lost our marriage after that”.

I listened intently at her narration. Controlling my emotions; steeling myself to ask difficult questions. After all, my task is not about counselling, but to ensure I probe and validate the claim.

But when you hear the truth, there is nothing more to probe, or to say, you just simply accept it like it is, like a morning sun. It is as bright as the day.

I cannot offer words of sympathy. It is not my job to counsel or to offer some platitudes. It is best not to say a word, because silence carries with it better meaning.

We were silent for some time, as I ponder the meaning of her words. I can only force my eyes in reading the affidavit, because that is what I am comfortable to do.

When I finally got my composure back, I asked…”were you able to discuss what happened to him, when he went missing…?”

She said, “No. We were never able to talk about it. Even our kids do not even talk about it.” 

**********

You see friends,  torture is never happy thing. It destroys not only the life of the victim, but also that person’s relations – his family and loved ones are never spared.

The thing with torture, the memories stick to you like a permanent tatoo. Scarring you and your loved ones for life.

#NeverAgainToMartialLaw #mlchronicles #neverforget 

Scarred for Life

September 11

It was a full day, and I am eager to close my desk and call it a day. She was the last person on que. An elderly lady who deliberately took her time before approaching my desk. She was with another companion. Three of us left in the front-desk.

She handed over her affidavit of human rights violation. She did not say a word, but waited for me to ask her questions. I browsed over her written statement. Then proceeded with the question, “maari ninyo po bang ikwento ang nangyari sa inyo?…” to which she narrated: my siblings and I are inside our home when the military came, then began straffing bullets into our house. Immediately after the gun shots stopped, I saw my sister dead sprawled on the floor, and another sibling dead. The bullets marks can still be seen in my house until today. When I am finally awarded a bonafide gross human rights violations victim, I will show to the whole world what happened to my family.

She then went back to her story, “after the shots, the military took my brother and myself to the camp. I never saw my brother again from that fateful day. I was brought to the barracks. Then there…”pinagpasa-pasahan ako. Simula sa pinakamataas na opisyal hanggang sa pinakamababang sundalo…”

Watching her narrate her experience made me feel transported into the time and place where she was raped. Her face was full of anguish, her voice trembling, almost as if she was reliving the incident all over again. I could not dare to ask another question, lest I trigger another outburst from her…

Like a seasoned interrogator, I needed to ask one probing question- nakapag-asawa ho ba kayo kalaunan?  to which she answered, “paano ka makakapag-asawa kung bababuyin ka lang?”

And that ended my interview.

****

You see, celebrating the birthday of Ferdinand E. Marcos is a self-serving law. It was never meant to help us, citizens, to regain the common good we all aspire for. It was meant to perpetuate in history the memory of a man whose evil and vile regime made thousands, like the woman in my story suffer from haunting, debilitating effects of their being victims of gross human rights violations.

#neverforget #NeverAgainToMartialLaw #mlchronicles 

Walk of Shame

September 10

I never realized that painful stories from human rights victims can be traumatic as well. I have subconsciously evaded remembering, but dark days require that I remember them. For the sake of all those heroes and martyrs who took a stand against evil. I will write about your stories, every day until we never forget.

****

An old man came to my desk. He held his affidavit of human rights violation and handed it over to me. He used to be a member of the local legislative body (i cannot recall what it is called). When martial law was imposed, he was one of the few political figures in his hometown to resist such imposition. He was vocal about the supremacy of his civil and political rights. He was arrested. Then together with a few more people, they were made to walk around town, with a placard on his body…(i forgot what was on it…).

Cruel and inhumane punishment is a Human Rights Violation.

#NeverAgainToMartialLaw #neverforget #MLChronicles 

For Better of Worse, Until Death Do Us Part…

September 9

She was on que. Downcast eyes, anxiously waiting for her number to be called. When it was her turn, she humbly requested to have her husband included in my interview. She said, our claims arise from the same incident. I probed her application and read her story, it read : They were newly weds, when they were taken by the military. They raped her in front of her husband…”

Each day until September 21, I will force myself to remember the painful stories of those dark years because to remember and tell their story is the only way the truth will come out. These are the stories of the people who were victims of the martial law years.

#neverforget #mlchronicles #NeverAgainToMartialLaw 

Jolo drenched with blood!

September 5

I recall the day I entered as a paralegal at the Human Rights Victims Claims Board – a man together with his brothers filed a claim for which I am to interview him , he narrated, …ma’am,I vividly remember my father had to literally climb the anchor of the boat to hurl us, his children, into the ship, we need to escape the island of Jolo, the water was red up to the the ankles of our feet because of the dead men who were notoriously killed during the indiscriminate shelling of our land by the military. We have no recourse but to leave our hometown and find refuge elsewhere…

#NeverForget #MLChronicles 

Succession

In a mode of acquiring ownership whereby all property, rights and obligations, to the extent of the value of the inheritance, is transferred to another by virtue of his will or by law.

Fast and Realiable Internet Service!

I saw this add at a convenience store at Nguyen Thai Thap.

imagine, nine telco providers!

This explains why internet speed is so good from here. Amazing!

I cannot help but to wish this for my own country too!

This evening my friend, May, is complaining about no internet service for five days. Such disruption has affected her work and her business.

Another friend, Rose, who visited Manila also complained how she has to subscribe to two networks just to make sure she is gets connectivity all the time and how expensive it is to maintain two networks!

For a country whose main income earner in terms of GNP is related to technology-enabled services, it is about time we take our internet service seriously.

The duopoly is seriously hurting the future of this country. We have to smash it and make the industry vibrant again.