Achieving Happiness

August 20, 2009

Let’s Talk Peace: support the Peace Talks between the GRP and the NDFP

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 7:58 am

22243-Clipart-Illustration-Of-A-Colorful-Floral-Psychedelic-Dove-Of-Peace-With-Sunshine-Flowers-Clouds-And-Swirls-Flying-Over-A-Black-BackgroundWho does not share the vision of a Philippines freed from the fetters of economic crisis and political turmoil? A country where the majority of the people – the poor and working classes – do not suffer the yoke of poverty and exploitation. A country where the needs of the majority for education, health and housing are met; and there are countless opportunities for them and their children to develop their skills and gifts, and can create art and beauty even as they also build a self-reliant, independent and self-sustaining economy.

What we need, what we aspire to is a Philippines where the government is untainted by corruption, and its leaders are not greedy and power-hungry; where justice cannot be escaped by those who commit crimes that destroy hundreds of lives in a myriads of ways.  What we work for is a country that does not exist in the shadow of foreign powers; a country not indebted or enslaved, and its territory cannot be taken over by foreign troops that their own nations’ economic, political and military interests to the extreme detriment of our nation’s sovereignty, internal security, and at the risk of the Filipino people’s safety.

This vision, this aspiration is far from being realized; but by no means are we willing to let goof them.

It’s unfortunate that there isn’t much of a buzz regarding the upcoming peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). I mean, considering that the aim of the talks is to  bring to the negotiating table the roots of  armed conflict in the country, shouldn’t everyone be in a bit of  flurry over it? Not going nuts or anything; but at least talking about it; discussing it.Because the talks are important.

The talks began in March 1986 one month after the ouster of former dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, and  since then negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP have taken place on an intermittent basis, dependent on the willingness of the GRP to return to the table. Syempre, the GRP will deny this and say that it’s the NDFP that’s been less than enthusiastic; but hey, let’s trace everything is history, shall we? It would be great if someone could do his or her undergrad thesis on the peace talks. There’s already a wealth of materials, and because of the wonders of technology, it’s relatively easy now to interview the key personalities who participated in them or had a role in them.

Since 1992, FYI,  six important documents and agreements have been the results of the negotiations: a) the Hague Joint Declaration signed on September 1, 1992; b) Breukelen Joint Statement signed on June 14, 1994; c) Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed on February 24, 1995; d) Joint Agreement on the Ground Rules of the Formal Meetings Between the GRP and the NDFP Negotiating Panels signed on February 26, 1995; e) Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees (RWCs) and f) the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed on March 16, 1998.

These are documents that speak much about the balance of power between the two parties. Despite the constant harping of the certain officials of the GRP  especially those in the military that the NDFP and its forces are ‘criminals’ and that negotiating with them is an act of lunacy, it’s clear that the NDFP does wield political power that the GRP cannot deny and refuse to recognize.

Para walang kalituhan, it’s a general understanding that when the term ‘peace talks’ is used, it refers to the formal process of dialogues between members of the respective peace panels of the GRP and the NDFP; while the term ‘peace negotiations’ refers even to the informal communications between both parties prior to and in-between  formal peace talks.

It was in the Hague Joint Declaration that the goal and orientation of the formal peace negotiations between the NDFP and the GRP were established and agreed upon.  It was set that henceforward, efforts to resolve the armed conflict is aimed towards attaining a just and lasting peace; that negotiations will take place after the parties have arrived tentative agreements on substantive issues included in the agreed agenda. It was also stated that the negotiations must be based on  mutually acceptable principles, including national sovereignty, democracy and social justice; and that no preconditions should be made that will serve to negate the inherent character and purpose of the negotiations.

In the meantime, it was also agreed that the GRP and the NDFP were to organize reciprocal working committees (RWCs) that will deal with the four major headings of the substantive agenda of the formal peace negotiations, namely Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law; Socio-Economic Reforms; Political and Constitutional Reforms; and End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces.  Each of the RWC was to  be composed of a chairperson and two members, all of whom are appointed by their respective negotiating panels. They will also be assisted by consultants and staff.

The main work of the RWC is to draft a tentative comprehensive agreement for each major heading of the substantive agenda they were assigned.  The agreements were to be finalized and signed by the two panels, and then submitted to the principals for final consideration and approval.

Sa ngayon, ang naka-table sa usapan ay ang CASER because only the CARHRIHL has been signed by the NDFP and the GRP. We can only hope and cross our fingers that the CASER will be finalized and signed.

As per records, the peace negotiations  between the GRP and the NDFP have been continuous since 1986, but the actual formal dialogues  have been far and in between.  Several events have resulted to the stalling of the peace talks, with factors and considerations stemming from the GRP’s attempts to undermine the NDFP’s authority by forcing it to capitulate and surrender. Di ba nga, it’s now 2009. The last round of talks was way back in 2004. Ang tagal na.

Under ousted Pres. Joseph Estrada, the GRP formally terminated the peace negotiations with the NDFP on May 31, 1999. It also issued a written notice of the unilateral termination of the JASIG.

Following the take-over of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime, informal talks took place on March 5-9, 2001 in the Hague. This was followed by the resumption of formal talks in Oslo, Norway from April 27 to 30, 2001, and then again from June 10 to 31 on the same year.

After a series of suspensions and indefinite recess, the formal talks resumed in Oslo from February 10 to 14, 2004. The result of this round was the signing of the Oslo Joint Statement wherein both parties agreed to take active steps to resolve the issue of the terrorist listing.

The second round of talks took place soon after on March 30 up to April 2, 2004. The Second Oslo Joint Statement was finalized during this round, and the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) was also convened.

The third round of talks were held again in Oslo on June 22 to 24, 2004 where two small agreements were signed, the Partial Supplemental Guidelines for the JMC, and the Memorandum of Understanding between the GRP and the NDFP and the Royal Norwegian Government (the Third Party Facilitator).

Since August 2004, the formal meetings of the negotiating panels have been postponed to allow the GRP time to comply with its obligations stated in The Hague Joint Declaration and other agreements, including Oslo I and II. In the meantime, the NDFP  raised the issue of the inclusion of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP, the New People’s Army (NPA) and the NDFP’s Chief Political Consultant Jose Ma. Sison’s name  in the  terrorist list  of the United States government.

The NDFP broached to the GRP the urgency of the need to address the matter and urged the GRP to assert, together with the NDFP, the Filipino people’s fundamental right to national sovereignty which was being violated in the course of the CPP-NPA’s inclusion in the list.

Kaso, in violation of its obligation in accordance to The Hague Joint Declaration and other bilateral agreements with the NDFP,  the GRP refused to assert this fundamental right and instead declared that the ‘terrorist listings’ by foreign states were sovereign acts of these same states.

Since then, the NDFP has accused the GRP has used the terrorist listing as a means to intimidate the NDFP and force it to capitulate by entering a ‘final peace agreement’ or a prolonged ceasefire. The NDFP has also made public charges against the GRP regarding the attempts of  GRP personnel to intimidate and assassinate the NDFP Chief Political Consultant, the senior legal adviser, and other consultants of the NDFP. The GRP has also been taken to the task  for its failure to indemnify the victims of human rights violations of the Marcos regime.

For the past years, there have been no formal meetings of the negotiating panels. Through it all, however, the  NDFP maintained that there are ongoing peace negotiations. Also, all previously signed agreements remain binding and in effect. The Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC)  continues to function, as does the Reciprocal Working Committees (RWCs) on human rights and international humanitarian law, and on social and economic affairs.

The NDFP has also submitted proposals to break the impasse; among them are the 10-point Concise Agreement for an Immediate Ceasefire (August 27, 2005); Responding to Prejudicial Questions, Accelerating  Peace Negotiations through Informal Meetings of Special Representatives of the Principals (June 2005); and the NDFP Package of Proposals (November 2005).

For its part, instead of meeting the efforts of the NDFP halfway, the GRP virtually suspended the peace negotiations when , in February 2006, it filed rebellion charges the NDFP Chief Political Consultant, NDFP Panel Chair Jalandoni; NDFP Panel members Agcaoili and Juliet Sison; NDFP Panel consultants Vicente Ladlad, Rafael Baylosis and  Randall Echanis.  The GRP’s Department of Justice has also attacked the integrity of the Joint Secretariat by identifying its office  as the address of the individuals it charged with rebellion.

And now we come full-circle.  It’s 2009, and the countdown has begun. The talks are slated to begin (cross your fingers and barring underhanded maneuvers of the GRP and war-mongers among its ranks) later this month, and we can only hope that something positive will come out of the talks.

The latest press releases of the NDFP and the speeches delivered on behalf of NDFP leaders among them Chief Negotiator and Panel Chairman Luis Jalandoni, Panel Vice-chairman and Spokesperson Fidel V. Agacaoili and NDFP consultant on socio-economic affairs Randall Enchanis  enjoin the Filipino people to  support the upcoming talks and to help the NDFP in ensuring that the negotiations are both productive and beneficial to the Filipino people and their  collective aspirations for a just and lasting peace.

According to them, the NDFP is most sincere and desirous of pursuing the peace negotiations as the NDFP carries the aim of addressing the roots of the armed conflict in the country through fundamental social, economic and political reforms. It also goes without saying, they said, that the current global economic and financial crisis that is at the core of the immense suffering of the Filipino people makes the necessity for the resumption for formal peace talks more urgent.

As for me, social observer, I believe that what the NDFP brings to the negotiating table are the most cherished hopes and deepest aspirations of our people for a just and lasting peace, for independence, freedom, and genuine democracy.  Kung ano’t-ano pa, sinabi na rin ni Luis Jalandoni na “Whatever may happen and regardless of the stand of the Arroyo regime, however, the revolutionary movement represented by the NDFP  is determined to persevere and to continue  the struggle towards the realization of these aspirations, these hopes. ”

Mga kapwa Pilipino na nagmamahal sa kalayaan, demokrasya at katarungan, magsikap tayo at sumuporta sa usapang pangkapayaan. Together, let’s all work to  make our vision for a renewed Philippines a living, breathing reality.

August 18, 2009

Rafael Baylosis, NDFP Consultant

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 4:27 am

raffy2I first wrote this blog entry in 2005; and this same piece was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer in April or May 2006 as part of  a series of essays on Fathers’ Day.

I decided to repost this in the light of the upcoming peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Deomocratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).  Rafael Baylosis is an NDFP adviser on socio-economic reforms, but there is a major hindrance in his being able to partcipate in the talks because of the completely false and fabricated criminal charges filed against him by the GRP.

Despite the implementation of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which gives protection and immunity for NDFP consultants and staff — particularly those participating in the peace talks–  Ka Raffy’s safety is still in question.

What sort of man is Rafael Baylosis and why is it important that he be able to attend the talks? Why is he being persecuted by the GRP? What does he stand for and believe?

These questions cannot be answered in one sitting; but I wrote this entry in tribute to one of the two people who have helped shape the way I view the world and how life should be lived as a national democrat.



Sunday, August 21st, 2005

When I was in college, I was a member of the UP Karate Association. Our sensei — or teacher — was shihan (synonymous with teacher, or master) Jerome. He was a tall, well-built man who was on the quiet side. He was friendly but firm. He wasn’t a perfectionist, but he demanded that his students — us UPKA members who kicked and punched and leaped and jumped like sweating lizards in white gis within a red dojo)– perform the exercises or kata  with a little more than plain dexterity. I think he wanted us to be graceful. Not surprising, what with karate-do a sport of grace, not unlike ballet.

So there I was trying to control my breathing, steadying my legs (which in the beginning hurt like heck from having to bend and squat halfway for 15-20 minutes at a stretch every hour), focusing what physical force I had in my fists and aiming at invisible opponents. I learned how to place well-aimed blows; how to make the proper fist (thumbs tucked under the other fingers to secure them from being broken upon impact with a hard object like, say, someone’s skull); how to make the air whistle with kicks swiftly delivered then retracted; how to pivot, with my center of gravity nearer to the ground and my body below hitting range. I learned to slow-breathe, focus and meditate.

It was exhilarating. Sensei Jerome was a great teacher. He hardly spoke, but he communicated volumes with a nod of his head, a gesture of his steady hands, or by executing an absolutely perfect, graceful yet very powerful movement such as blocking a blow with his arm.

Now, a decade later, I have a different sensei. I’m not studying karate anymore (I wish I was, though. I miss it, my body misses the light and weightlessness of feeling), but I’m studying something more difficult and demanding than karate.

My sensei’s name is Rafael Baylosis. He is alleged to be the secretary general of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) before he was imprisoned by the Marcos dictatorship until he was released in 1995. Now, as a strictly legal, above-ground civilian, he is the vice-chairman of Anakpawis National Political Party and a consultant  on socio-economic concerns in the peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

I’ve had the honor of working with and learning from Ka Raffy since 1998 when I was still in the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) labor center as propaganda officer, and he was the Political affairs secretary. It was from him that I learned to get up at 6am and be ready to begin writing 15 minutes later (he was always my wake-up call. Used to bug the hell out of me).

He taught me how to be consistent with my work habits (and I try to imitate and adopt his own work ethic — constancy, timeliness, economic but determined movements, sharp awareness of developments. I still lack patience and cool-headedness, though. I’m still trying to overcome my tendency to become quite the monster when confronted with upsetting things) and how to recognize, analyze and then resolve political contradictions in concepts and ideas.

He taught me to push the limits of what I used to believe as the limits to my abilities and skills.

But apart from these, I learned and still learn from Ka Raffy how to live with integrity. I know this sounds stilted, but this is the only way I can describe this.

Rafael Baylosis is a great father, a loving husband, a supportive comrade, an intellectual and a dreamer. He has, since he became an activist at 18 in UP Diliman, a friend and comrade of the likes of then 21- year old Jose Ma. Sison and other veterans of the First Quarter Storm and the Diliman Commune,  lived plainly and simply; but always his actions and thoughts have been profoundly in service to a cause greater to himself.

After presiding over important campaign or consultation meetings, he washes the dishes after meal times in the Anakpawis headquarters and cleans the conference room.He always ask after the health of Kasamas, or how they’re doing in their respective line of work. He makes silly and corny jokes that people often laugh at, not so much because the jokes themselves are funny, but because they are amused at Ka Raffy’s boyishness.

He is a calm and confident leader in rallies and demonstrations, a fiery public speaker, a well-read ideologue, a lover of music, and a great cook (well, they say he is — I’m too finicky an eater to actually try his more complicated Ilocano dishes made up of, well, various vegetables. I’m not crazy for vegetables).

Ka Raffy is capable of compelling such fierce loyalty, because to put it plainly, he is such a good person and worthy of the highest respect. Approachable and light-hearted, young activists like myself can always rely on Ka Raffy to give comforting but well-grounded advice. While an understanding and tolerant person, he is strict when it comes to the core activist principles and their application to work and living. 

I am no end humbled and awed at how such an  evolved human being, a well-known and highly-respected individual in the Kilusan sees it fit to trust me with his confidence and guide me through my political work and growth as an activist.

Though right now (and often in the last seven years) I give him headaches because of my stubborn nature, it is one of my life’s highest ambitions to make Ka Raffy proud of me, because I am so proud and honored to say that what I am today and what I am capable of doing and achieving for the Kilusan is largely because of his influence. He is my Jedi master, and I hope never to be like Anakin Skywalker but to be as Obiwan Kenobi.  He trains and teaches by example, and this, I think, is the best way to teach. He, along with Crispin ‘Ka Bel’ Beltran are the biggest political and personal influences in my life. From them I learn not only how to be activist, but to be, hopefully, a good person.

Often, to be worthy  of one’s teachers, to be a good person are the highest  and best things one should hope to be.

August 14, 2009

Feed Macapagal- Arroyo UFC Sarsarap for a month

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 6:04 am

a-palace-invitationufc sarsarap 2Gad, Malacanang and congressional swine — of course led by the Main Oinker herself — have been having the time of their lives spending millions of pesos in the US, eating lunches and dinners at swanky places. Back at home, their constituents are slowly starving even as they struggle to find means to feed themselves and their families. And when there is money, what the hell can it buy when the prices of everything continues to aim for outer space?

What’s that new product Mr. Jimmy Santos is endorsing? The gravy-sauce thing which people are supposed to pour over rice and there’s no more need for a viand that has anything solid in it like meat, fish or vegetables? Well, I suppose many Filipinos are being forced to buy and eat that in lieu of more nutritious but more expensive food. The sauce thing that’s supposed to come in various flavors like adobo and lechon paksiw is cheaper than instant mami noodles, and there’s no more need for cooking (gas is freaking expensive). The fact that such a product has been developed and is being mass marketed says much about the state of the economy, and the state of the budgets of most households.

I can’t comment on the taste of UFC Sarsarap (I haven’t eaten it), but i suppose its safe to venture the opinion that it can’t be chockful of nutrients, can it?  What would happen to your kidney and liver if you eat it on a regular basis. Seems to me like an MSG festival, and yes, I still haven’t bought into the Ajinomoto campaign that MSG is good and yay for the classic umami flavor…

The only good thing to come out of this issue of Macapagal-Arroyo’s power-tripping via gastronomy (well, what else can you call it? She and her disgusting companions ate at Le Cirque and Bobby Van’s because the places were elitist, wildly expensive, and to be seen eating there meant that you were someone. Nevermind if you were officials of  Third World country 200 years behind other nations with First World status, they wanted to be there!!! ) is that more and more Filipinos are becoming fed up (pardon the pun) with her and her corrupt government.  I’ll just bet that abroad, embassy and consulate officials are secretly embarrassed to death by their executive’s shameless and callous conduct.

As a form of penance, Macapagal-Arroyo and all the other shameless officials who ate with her in Le Cirque and Bobby Van’s should eat UFC Sarsarap for a month, and nothing else. Okay, because I am against torture and cruel and unusual punishment, I would allow Arroyo to be served instant noodles and canned sardines in tomato sauce (no, not the foreign brands that come in the flat tins but the local brands) after every four meals.

It’s also so infuriating that now Malacanang’s various defenders and spokspersons are training their guns on the local and international media for reporting Macapagal-Arroyo et al’s  shenanigans in the US. As if it’s the media’s fault. What happened to the media’s duty to report relevant and important events?  Because the president’s shameless conduct and profligate spending (or condonation of the same by anyone in her party) is relevant to the Filipino people; and it’s important to report the truth regarding such.

Now’s it also being reported that Macapagal-Arroyo and the even more despicable First Gentleman (gad, it took some effort to type that without upchucking) with their entourage (ranging from 50 to 65 hanger-ons ) ate at the  Le Cirque. the bill, it’s said, was shouldered by the RP embassy in the US and the salaries of the rank and file employees were delayed.

The Arroyos were said to have stayed in the  Waldorf hotel, in a suite which cost $3,500/day  (P168,210). The sycophants and hanger-ons were billeted in rooms that cost  $950/day (P45,657), and they rented  60 rooms all in all! In the meantime, the swine all came in stretch limousines which were rented for three days.

Okay, I’ve changed my mind: UFC Sarsarap lang kakainin nilang lahat.

(“Formal Invitation”  image courtesy of Kabataan Party-List)

August 7, 2009

Alan Rickman on my mind

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 9:15 am

red_umbrella-w blackMovies I need to get copies of:

1. Truly, Madly, Deeply

2. The English Patient

3. Pretty in Pink

4. The Breakfast Club

5. Dolphy’s films when he was younger

6. Cold Mountain

7. Quiz Show


Gad, I didnt even know that Anthony Minghella died last year. Crap, crap, crap. The man was a genius; he was a brilliant scriptwriter, and I loved his films.  For the longest time I’ve been to Google “Truly, Madly Deeply” as it is one of my favorite films (I loved the story, I love Alan Rickman), but I didn’t know that Mr. Minghella wrote the script. I only found out today (I love Google).

There is a lot to be said about watching films, the experience of watching a well-written story come to life visually. I’m no movie critic, and it’s certainly not like I have a list of must-see films that have been deemed classics by the more knowledgeable film buffs. But I like movies, and the ones that I’ve seen and loved I tend to watch again, over and over. It’s comforting. It helps me have happy dreams. I like to memorize lines that speak to me, and they’re like poetry sometimes.

There are more important things to write about, but my mind is wandering and I don’t feel like being socially responsible today. What I feel like is running out the office door and walking around the UP academic oval, enjoying the wind and rain. I have  a new umbrella, you see – and it’s so beautiful I want to show it off. I also like this so-called ‘depressing’ weather; it’s the weather I most thrive in.  Cold/chilly, slightly windy, raining gently. I feel both so alive and so lazy; I want to curl up on the sofa and watch old favorites; I want to run and run and run against the wind. Sometimes I feel like I was 21 again, and now is one of those times. I’ve missed being 21 — it was a very interesting time for me because it was then when I felt feelings so keenly and experienced everything like everything was happening to me and to me alone. It was thrilling and exhausting; sad and happy.

Did I already write that I love Alan Rickman? I love Alan Rickman. I’ve loved him since I saw him in “Truly, Madly, Deeply” oh, years and years ago. I think it was when I was 21 years old. Did I write that it was an interesting time for me? That I felt everything strongly and deeply and it was like I was a caterpillar coming out of the cocoon, only it was nighttime, and everything was silent but  nocturnal sounds were everywhere so there was both profound silence and lively noise muted and was it any wonder that the former caterpillar was both exhilarated and scared but left the cocoon anyways because she had wings?

So Alan Rickman. There’s this scene in “Truly, Madly, Deeply”‘ where he (as Jamie) answers Nina (played by the remarkable Juliet Stevenson) after she asks him if he remembers their first night together and as he speaks his voice has the full confidence of one who loves truly but also with the sadness of one who knows that the strength of letting go od the beloved is one that one who loves must possess.

He also recited a poem by Pablo Neruda in Spanish.

I miss hearing poems read. I miss walking barefoot on the grass.I want to rush home and play with my daughter and tell her about the rain and why her mother loves it. I want to eat a roastbeef sandwich from Oliver’s. I need to be around my friends. I need to take off these flats and change into running shoes and run and run until the stale office air in my lungs is expelled and I can breathe freely again. I want to take my daughter out for frozen yoghurt (she’s allergic  to cow’s milk). I can’t help but be wistful and wish that I could beg off pending responsibilities and instead go with my Miko to see her father and the three of us could play in the snow that’s sure to fall by November. I want Miko to experience autumn and see the leaves turn brown, then red and watch them fall slowly, gently to the ground.

I wish there’d be an Alan Rickman film festival. And I should get another umbrella just like the one I bought yesterday, only this time in fire engine red and not black. I must get all my ducks in line and be more decisive. Maybe I should get cake because always makes me feel better. Not that I feel bad right now, but I do want cake and it never hurts to feel better than you already feel even if you’re feeling good.

I wonder if Alan Rickman has an umbrella and if he likes it?


August 5, 2009

Lessons in love as we say goodbye to Mrs. Cory Aquino

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 9:43 am


The death of Mrs. Corazon C. Aquino has left me feeling sad and frustrated. It’s difficult to come to terms with kind of people we Filipinos are, the kind of collective memory we have, and how we are able to forgive and forget so easily. Oh but how we love! How immensely capable we are of loving, and how intensely we love– almost with the innocence of young children loving their favorite toy or their first puppy; and with the depth and sincerity of a poet writing their beloved.  And as we love, we hurt ourselves because we forget that those we love were not perfect, and we dismiss the pain that never leaves.

Cory_AquinoAll this morning and this afternoon (as the whole time yesterday) my mother has kept vigil over the television, watching as Filipinos paid their last respects to Mrs. Aquino. She barely got up from the sofa, worried that if she did, she might miss something.  It was strange to me, because I thought that my mother was not a particular fan of Mrs. Aquino or her family. But there was she sat, watching avidly– even crying sometimes.

When I asked her about it, she turned to me and said, quite simply, “Cory was a good person. She wasn’t like Gloria Arroyo.”

I could understand that. Mrs. Aquino was a good person. She tried her hardest to be. She was prayerful and humble, and she kept her dignity at all times. And most important, she was not at all like the incumbent president.

And today, the same incumbent president is forced to accept the harsh and brutal fact when she dies, she will not have the same kind of funeral; she will not be accorded the same honor; and her memory will not be cherished and loved by multitudes. Thousands will not go out into the streets, braving heavy rains and heavy traffic to get a glimpse of her cortege and whisper a prayer for her peaceful repose. The only reason that people will go out to attend her funeral would be to make sure that she was good and dead, and probably to give a nod of approval that someone who clung to power so tenaciously out of fear that she will be persecuted for her countless crimes has finally died.


Hay naku,  mahal kong bayan at mamamayan.

I couldn’t help but be upset by the commentaries made by radio and tv hosts covering the funeral.  They kept saying that it was Cory who brought back democracy to the Philippines; that it was her who made sure that we enjoy the freedom we enjoy today.

All the while I kept thinking: what, and she did it singlehandedly?  The last decade before Marcos was ousted, it was the national democratic movement that fought the hardest and the Filipino people supported the creation of a new liberation movement, one that continues today. And to think that the martyrs of the Movement,  the hundreds of nameless civilians who laid down their lives in the struggle against Marcos; and the hundreds more victims of human rights violations of the dictatorship have yet to receive the tribute and indemnification they deserve!

And what kind of democracy are the broadcasters talking about? What kind of freedom?

Re-establishing the senate and the congress? Two institutions that have passed very few or little laws that ensured that the quality of life of Filipinos improve?  And are we free from poverty? When the Marcos dictatorship fell, the money and corporations they sequestered were taken back by the Aquino government and then turned over to the likes of the Lopezes, the Cojuangcos, the Ayala-Zobels and tycoons like Tan and Sy once more had the freedom to develop  and expand their monopolies?

The lessons of EDSA are not lost, but I’m not sure that these lessons are the same for everyone. I don’t think we’re talking about the same lessons; the same way that we are not talking about the same kind of freedom, the same kind of democracy.  The Philippines remains a nation where those who toil continue to starve, and to demand justice is to risk receiving a bullet in the head.

While we love, we must not be blind. And as we move forward, we must not neglect to look back because we always risk losing our way. As a nation and as a people, we still have to grow in political and cultural maturity.  We are too sentimental and too compassionate; we forget too easily (or we forgive too much: either way, we suffer).  But then again, maybe it will be like like what Dumbledore told Harry Potter (and what supposedly, inevitably save the latter in his final confrontation with Voldemort):  it will be love that will save us in the end. And mercy will replace forgetting; and a deep sense of  justice will hold back the temptation to simply forgive and then embrace.

Even as we continue as a people to love and love those who even hurt us in one way or another (and the pain survives through generations, birthing more hurt in various forms), maybe we will learn to love with eyes awake, and without needing to deliberately ignore the flaws and weaknesses of the beloved. And only then can we truly pay tribute to the beloved and what they tried to achieve, what they in essence believed in and fought for.

Tuloy ang laban para sa tunay na demokrasya, kalayaan at ganap na pagkakapantay-pantay!

August 2, 2009

Heroes and saints

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 4:56 am

Today’s the second day of mouhalorning for Mrs. Cory Aquino. All the newspapers (as well as tv and radio news programs) have come out with numerous tributes, all calling the former president ‘saintly’ and ‘good.’

Kenneth Roland Guda, editor of PinoyWeekly, wrote this is his Facebook status: “Hindi porke pino-point out ang naging kahinaan ni Cory ay irreverent na. Please. Sa pagtitimbang natin, siyempre, on the whole positibo ang naging ambag niya. Pero para bigyang respeto yung tao, kailangan na ba nating kalimutan ang naging mga limitasyon ng panunungkulan niya? I would say na disservice kay Cory kung puro papuri lang ang sasabihin natin sa kanya. And, more importantly, disservice ito sa bayan.”

I agree. While I think that she does deserve to a large extent the praises and tributes to her, I cannot help also but to wince as I read them. Because they’re too one-sided, too glowing, too positive, as if she was a saint who did not wrong and had no limits to her goodness.

But then again, even saints committed mistakes of varying degrees before they were beatified and cannonized. Also, there are saints who lived pure lives so they could secure a place in heaven and in truth did nothing to help others except by inspiring them to be more prayerful.

The thing with Filipinos is that so many of us have short or selective memories; and it’s a cultural thing to never speak ill of the dead. News reports have lost all objectivity in the reporters and editors’ love for her and what she symbolized. Nary a criticism, not a phrase.

When Ka Bel died in 2008, I wrote about how silly his death was, and I received some flak for that.

I suppose it was because I didn’t expound on that.  I knew the man for 12 years, and for him to fall off the freaking roof was, well, silly and infuriating. Because Ka Bel was often a  stubborn man, and he didn’t listen to our firm order (yes, the staff ordered Ka Bel around, haha) that he KEEP OFF THE ROOF and let someone else fix the holes and leaks.

Anyway, men and women of greatness are in the final analysis just that: human, and they carry with them human frailties and weaknesses. But what cloaks them in greatness are the nature of their deeds and decisions; their actions and the impact on others.  Even as they continue to possess their internal weaknesses of character and personality, their deeds were untainted by them because they considered the effect on others; what their actions would imply and how the course of history will be affected (or not).

Mrs. Aquino was the product of her class: landowners, the ruling elite.  Can her upbringing or background have influenced her when she approved the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) that created it? Because now, even after her death, the CARP remains the bane of millions of Filipino farmers and their families all over the country.Nowhere near are Filipino farmers to the dream of owning and tilling their own land; and there are, still, only a handful of families who control the economy.

I suppose its long overdue that Filipinos redefine the meaning of hero/heroine: shouldn’t it be that who left behind the self-serving, narrow and selfish economic and political interests of the class they were born to- and embraced the cause of the poor and the oppressed even at their own expense and self-sacrifice and very lives –  shouldn’t they be the ones to be called, rightfully, the nation’s heroes?

Kaso nga, sa kasalukuyang panahon at kalagayan ng lipunan, bawat uri ay may kanya-kanyang kinikilalang bayani. Katulad na lang ng pagkakaroon ng magkakaibang depinisyon ng demokrasya at kalayaan; katarungan at kapayapaan. Nakadepende ang lahat kung saan ka nakatayo at kung saan ka nakatingin: kung kaninong perspektiba ang tangan mo at para kanino ka nagsasalita.

But I recognize Mrs. Aquino’s contributions to history and society.  It’s just that it’s also impossible to ignore the other things that she did as president, what the AFP did in the name of her government, and what she failed to do even when she had to power. Pero kung pwede, kung posibleng hiwalay ang kanyang nagawa bilang dating pangulo ng bansa at bilang isang indibwal na Pilipino, tunay na taos at pinakamataas ang pagpupugay sa kanya. She lived an exemplary life, in relative simplicity and in humility, and she took a stand when so many didn’t. She did what she could to help this nation, and for this, we honor her.


Looking forward to:

1. Watching Dexter Season 4

2. Getting Miko pet hamsters

3. Getting Miko new shoes

4.Jogging again

5. Watching Season 2 of  the Big Bang Theory

6. Dinner with good friends

7. Buying Miko big Crayolas.

8. Taking Miko to see her daddy.

I know these things don’t sound much, but since I became a mom, the things I want are much simpler, less ambitious and less ostentatious. I used to dream big, and now, well, it’s not that my dreams are smaller, but they’re in concentrated form and they mostly center around my daughter.  All the cliches (at the time I thought they were cliches) have become truths for me: motherhood does change you irrevocably and permanently. Your every happiness is directed towards making your child happy and healthy. Seeing Miko smile and hearing her laugh is the reward for every good thought and deed I’ve ever done in my life before her.

Kim likes it when I tell him that Miko is so obviously smart, but I think he likes it even more when I say that daily looks more and more like him, albeit much much cuter.

August 1, 2009

Mrs. Aquino 1986-1992

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 10:32 am

Former President Corazon C. Aquino passed away earlier today at 3 am, and the media say that the country is in mourning.

On a personal level, I am happy and relieved that her suffering has ended. Cancer is not a joke — my own grandmother died of stomach cancer in 2006, and like Cory, my Lola bore the pain silently and quietly, surrendering her will to her God and trusted Him to do what was best for her and those she would leave behind. I wasn’t in the country when Lola died, but all the way to Hong Kong I felt the enormity of her loss.

So Mrs. Aquino is now in peace.

But how do I view this entire  matter  on a political and social level?
It’s hard for me to consider Mrs. Aquino a heroine of the masses. She hardly, if ever, spoke directly them. She was silent on the life and death issues that affected workers, farmers and their families; she did not issue statements whenever there were reports of massive military operations and hundreds of families in the countryside were displaced. Urban poor demolitions were not a matter she did not seem to be concerned with. Oil price hikes? Electricity rate increases? Low wages? Mass unemployment? Twisted budgetary allocations where military spending was prioritized over public education, health and housing?No, no, no and no.

Neither did she speak out against extrajudicial killings and abductions of activists and ordinary civilians at the hands of military and paramilitary forces. She was not a patriot either, choosing not to say anything on the issue of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the return of US troops in the country during ‘peacetime’; in fact, in 1991, she was for the retention of the US military bases.

Mrs. Aquino, however, was very vocal against corruption in government; and for this I am grateful to her.  To me, Mrs. Aquino was a heroine of the middle and the more or less  (relatively) enlightened upper classes. It was them whom she really galvanized and appealed to. It was to them that her messages were primarily directed to; and it was them who followed her example and responded to her calls to action.

Hindi naman pag-aaklas at lumaban para sa katarungan, tunay na pagkakapantay-pantay at demokrasya ang naging mensahe ni dating pangcoryaquinoulong Aquino, kundi magdasal para sa pagbabago, at umaksyon sa paraang katanggap-tanggap sa mga maiingat na peti-burgesya at burgesya. Hindi naman pagkakaisa ng mga maralita at masang-anakpawis ang kanyang nilayon; kundi ang pagpapalayas ng mga sobrang swapang at ganid sa pamahalaan (na papalitan din naman ng mga swapang at ganid na hindi nga lang siguro kasing-halata gaya ng kanilang mga pinalitan). Hindi naman niya pinanawagan ang paglagot sa mga tanikala ng kahirapan at pagsasamantala ng mga naghahari: ang pinanawagan niya ay ang pagpaptalsik sa mga sinungaling at hipokritong kauri siyang nagsabing iyon ang kanilang pinaniniwalaan at pinanindigan.

Mrs. Aquino was a heroine and an icon of democracy; but not for me and mine. She was a representative of the ruling elite, albeit a section that shrank away from  and denounced too obvious displays of greed and power-hunger.

Mrs. Aquino lived her life the way she saw fit, and it was a more or less worthy life in the sense that she tried to do more good and never harm. But she did harm as president from 1986-1991. Noong panahon niya pinaslang si Ka Lando Olalia, tagapangulo ng Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) at si Ka Leonor Alay-ay na kasamahan din ni Ka Lando sa KMU. Sa panahon din ni Gng. Aquino naganap ang mga masaker sa Mendiola at Lupao. HIndi rin makakalimutan ang karahasan, dugo at dahas na dinala ng Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) na sa ubod ay serye ng mga kampanyang militar na umatake sa daan-daang komunidad ng mga magsasaka upang suyurin at durugin ang mga umano’y kampo ng New Peoples Army .

Right now as her supporters and many others who loved her grieve, it is certain that all of this be discussed or alluded to. But history cannot be tricked or silenced. Pag lumaon, lalabas at lalabas din ang mga naging kahinaan at kasalanang ito sa nagawa niya siya sa bayan at sa mamayan — whether or n0t she was aware of it or not.

Pero saka na yan. Right now, we honor her, and her contribution to the social debate and struggle. She fought against corruption, and a kind of democracy that was acceptable to the middle and ruling classes. She was a symbol of prayerful contemplation that aimed to serve a political purpose.  She was a good mother (especially to Kris, I think; despite all the scandals this youngest daughter got herself into). Finally, in a nation where religion still carries a very strong influence and impacts on the way of life of millions, she was a symbol of prayer and peaceful response to social changes. Whether this religiosity is a good thing or if it carries serious drawbacks in the Filipino people’s struggle for genuine freedom and emancipation is open to debate; but it is clear what Mrs. Aquino believed in, and many followed her example.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Aquino.