Pinoy Weekly » Editor’s Picks http://pinoyweekly.org/new Philippine news, analysis, and investigative stories Sun, 28 Sep 2014 12:30:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 VIDEO | Mga estudyante, guro lumiban sa klase para magprotesta vs taas-bayarin sa mga pamantasan http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/video-mga-estudyante-guro-lumiban-sa-klase-para-magprotesta-vs-taas-bayarin-sa-mga-pamantasan/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/video-mga-estudyante-guro-lumiban-sa-klase-para-magprotesta-vs-taas-bayarin-sa-mga-pamantasan/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 07:31:41 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=28547

Sa pangunguna ng progresibong mga organisasyon ng kabataan tulad ng Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines at National Union of Students in the Philippines, gayundin ang progresibong grupo ng mga guro, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, nagsagawa ng walk-out sa kanilang mga pamantasan at eskuwelahan ang mga estudyante at guro noong Marso 14. Nagmartsa sila patungo sa paanan ng Malakanyang sa Mendiola para iprotesta ang nagpapatuloy na taas-bayarin sa mga pamantasan at sistematikong pagkaltas ng administrasyong Aquino sa badyet ng sektor ng edukasyon. Kuha ni Pher Pasion / inedit nina Pher Pasion at Ilang-Ilang Quijano / Audio recording ni Valle Gaspe

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Wala pa ring hustisya ang mga Pinoy na biktima ng human trafficking sa US http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/wala-pa-ring-hustisya-ang-na-traffick-na-mga-gurong-pinoy-sa-us/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/wala-pa-ring-hustisya-ang-na-traffick-na-mga-gurong-pinoy-sa-us/#comments Sun, 16 Mar 2014 18:55:57 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=28505 Mga Pinoy na guro sa Washington DC, USA na nangangampanya para sa hustisya sa mga nabiktima ng human trafficking sa naturang lugar. <strong>Kontribusyon</strong>

Mga Pinoy na guro sa Washington DC, USA na nangangampanya para sa hustisya sa mga nabiktima ng human trafficking sa naturang lugar. Kontribusyon

Pangkaraniwang guro si Ginang Loel Naparato, 48. Nagtuturo siya sa Old Balara Elementary School sa Quezon City. Pero tulad ng maraming guro, lalo na sa pampublikong mga paaralan, hindi sumasapat ang suweldo niya para sa pamilya.

Isang araw, habang nag-i-Internet, natisod siya sa isang patalastas na nag-eenganyo sa mga tulad niya na magtrabaho sa Amerika bilang guro.

“Nag-online ako at nakita ko sa JobStreet.com ang Rennaisance, kaya na-encourage ako na mag-aplay,” kuwento ni Naparato. “Loving Care” daw ang pangalan ng paaralan na kanyang mapapasukan. Kaya naghanda na siya para makuha ang trabaho, at napangakuan nga siyang makakaalis sa loob ng 90 araw. Hunyo 18, 2013 nang ayusin niya ang kanyang aplikasyon at magbayad ng US$6,500 bilang processing fee.

“Naghintay ako nang tatlong buwan. Pero sabi nila tumatagal nang 10 to 12 months ito para maayos, kaya naghintay na naman ako,” aniya. Noong Abril 2013 siya naabisuhan na dumating na ang kanyang mga dokumento, at pinagbayad siya ng iba’t ibang service fee. “Pinangakuan ako na makakaalis by the end of August [ng 2013],” ani Naparato. Pinagbayad na naman siya.

Kailangan na naman daw niya magbayad para sa housing, sa embahada. Nagbayad naman siya, at naghanda nang umalis.

“Nag-leave na ako sa school. Hinihingi ko sa kanila (Rennaisance) kung kailan talaga ako makakaalis. Kaya lang, from time to time sinasabi nila na na-postpone,” dagdag pa ni Naparato. Hanggang sa sinabihan siyang aalis daw siya noong Nobyembre 20.

Pero hindi pa rin ito nangyari. Nagtaka na siya. Unti-unti, luminaw ang lahat. Dumulog siya at iba pang guro sa Migrante International para magpatulong. Marami, umaabot sa 100, ang nakarating ng US, para lamang malaman na walang naghihintay na teaching position doon, at napilitan silang magtrabaho ng kung anu-ano. Unti-unti, napag-alaman nila ang panloloko ng Renaissance, at ang sistema ng human trafficking sa mga tulad nito—na tila kinukunsinti ng, o nagkikibit-balikat ang, gobyerno ng Pilipinas.

Iskema ng pandarambong

Pilipinong guro sa Washington DC na naghahangad ng hustisya para sa mga nabiktima ng human trafficking. <strong>Kontribusyon</strong>

Pilipinong guro sa Washington DC na naghahangad ng hustisya para sa mga nabiktima ng human trafficking. Kontribusyon

Si Isidro Rodriguez ang tagapangulo ng Renaissance Staffing Support Center. Naunang nakilala ang naturang kompanya sa pangalang Great Provider. Ayon pa sa nakalap na datos ng Migrante International, pakikipagtulungan ang kompanya ni Rodriguez sa Green Life Care International, LLC (Limited Liability Company) sa Estados Unidos.

Ipinaliwanag ni Garry Martinez, tagapangulo ng Migrante International, ang aniya’y modus operandi ni Rodriguez. Nangangako umano si Rodriduez na kaya niyang magpapunta ng mga guro sa US dahil public school teacher din daw siya sa naturang bansa.

“Ang modus operandi niya ay ito: Ang mga seminar niya, sa malalaking mga five-star hotel; ang mga ginagawa niyang pagkumbinsi ay kapani-paniwala dahil istilo niya talagang may pinatutuluyan siyang opisina sa Makati, at yung mga symposium ay talagang magarbo,” paliwanag ni Martinez.

Sa naturang seminar, hinihimok ni Rodriguez ang mga guro na magmadali sa pag-aplay. “Hurry or miss the opportunity of being hired for a lucrative teaching job in the US,” sabi diumano ni Rodriguez. Limitado lamang daw kasi sa 20 ang slots na pupunuin. Dagdag ito sa presyur sa mga nagpunta sa seminar upang asikasuhin ang kanilang aplikasyon.

May nakaabot pa na ulat sa grupong pangkababaihan na Gabriela na nanghaharas at humihingi ng seksuwal na mga pabor umano si Rodriguez sa mga guro para mapabilis ang pag-asikaso raw ng kanilang trabaho.

Noong Nobyembre 2013, napag-alaman ng Gabriela na may mga nakaalis na pala sa mga inaareglo ni Rodriguez. Ang marami sa kanila, pagdating sa Washington DC ay napilitang magtrabaho sa day care centers. Nagulat ang mga employer sa walk-in na pag-aplay ng mga Pilipinong guro na pinangakuan ng trabaho roon.

“Marami sa kanila, naatasang magpalit ng mga diaper, magpakain ng mga bata, maglinis ng mga laruan, mesa, higaan, gumawa ng lesson plans, magdokumento ng mga obserbasyon, maglinis ng malalaking CR na may maraming sink at toilet, mag-mop ng sahig, maghugas ng pinggan, magtapon ng basura at iba pang trabaho na iniuutos sa kanila ng kanilang mga employer,” ayon sa fact-sheet ng Migrante na inilabas noong Disyembre 2013.

Marami pa umano sa kanila ay nagkakasakit dahil sa mga kemikal na ginagamit sa trabaho at sa mabigat na trabaho. Lantarang nalabag ang mga kontrata nila at karapatan sa paggawa–sa sahod na $10-12 kada ora na suweldo. Marami ang nagtrabaho nang 10 oras pero nababayaran lang ng 8 oras, walang overtime pay at benepisyo, sabi pa ng Migrante.

Ani Joms Salvador, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Gabriela, nakakalap daw sila ng impormasyon sa tulong ng kanilang mga miyembro at kaibigan sa Seattle, Washington at Washington DC sa US. Ayon kay Salvador, nasa Washington DC na ang mga guro pero wala namang inabutang trabaho roon. Hawak ng Gabriela at Migrante ang mga sworn affidavit nila.

Noong Nobyembre 13, 2013, nadakip si Rodriguez ng mga awtoridad, kasama sina Karen Liao Lee, Manilyn Flores Guerrero at Rosanna Magtangay, sa isang entrapment operation ng Criminal Investigation and Detection Group sa tulong ng potensiyal na biktima nila.

Para sa Migrante, may direktang pananagutan si Pangulong Aquino sa mga kaso ng human trafficking dahil sa Labor Export Policy ng gobyerno. <strong>Kontribusyon</strong>

Para sa Migrante, may direktang pananagutan si Pangulong Aquino sa mga kaso ng human trafficking dahil sa Labor Export Policy ng gobyerno. Kontribusyon

Kibit-balikat lang

Noong Disyembre 18, 2013, nakipag-usap ang ilang miyembro ng tinaguriang “DC Teachers” (mga guro na na-traffic patungong Washington DC) kasama ang Migrante International at Gabriela sa National Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) sa Department of Justice (DOJ).

Dito nila inihayag kay Raymond Jonathan Lledo, senior assistant city prosecutor ng IACAT, ang sinapit ng mga tulad ni Ginang Naparato. Tanggap ng ahensiya na malakas ang kaso na ito laban kay Rodriguez.

We’re happy that it was put to attention,” sabi ni Lledo. “We’ve already filed the case to the CIDG and we will coordinate with them to fast-track the investigation, and they informed us that the suspect ay nakakulong na. The next step dito ay to file formally the case. And we will assist the CIDG in the case build-up.”

Sa diyalogo, sinabi ni Martinez na positibo ang aksiyong ito. Pero iginiit niya na dapat sampahan ng kasong human trafficking ang akusadong si Rodriguez kahit may nakasampa na na kaso ng illegal recruitment at estafa. Iginiit din ng mga biktima ni Rodriguez na dapat mabawi ang kanilang binayad. Sinabi ni Martinez na kung talagang gugustuhin ito ng gobyerno, maaaring ma-trace ang assets ng kompanya ni Rodriguez gamit ang Anti-Money Laundering Act o AMLA. Sa hakbang na ito lamang umano masisimulang mapawi ang takot ng mga biktima.

Para sa Migrante, pagkakataon na sana ng administrasyong Aquino na masubukan ang Republic Act 10364 o ang Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012. Malakas ang kaso ng kauna-unahang kaso ng human trafficking na ihahapag sa korte, dahil na rin umusad na ang counterpart na kaso nito sa US. Malayung-malayo ito sa unang nahawakang mga kaso ng Migrante na kasong estafa at illegal recruitment lamang ang naisasampang reklamo.

Ang problema, tila minamaliit daw ng DOJ ang kaso laban kay Rodriguez. Hindi pa itinuturing ng gobyerno na human trafficking ang kaso ng DC Teachers. “Nalalagay na naman tayo ng sentro ng katatawanan—’Yung mga napapalis na nasa US na may 50 teachers ay dinidinig na yung kaso nila sa human trafficking. (Pero) kapag dito (sa Pilipinas), hindi nila kinonsider na trafficking ito, kahit may mahigit 100 na complainant,” sabi pa ni Martinez.

Ipinaliwanag pa niya na sa kaso ng DC Teachers at iba pang kaso ng human trafficking, makikitang may pananagutan ang gobyerno sa pagpapatuloy ng praktikang ito. Sa polisiya ng pag-eksport ng lakas-paggawa ng mga Pilipino (Labor Export Policy), inaapruba umano ng mismong Philippine Overseas Employment Agency o POEA ang lahat ng kontrata para sa direct- at agency-hires na napupunta ng US. Nabigyan din ng gobyerno ang Renaissance ni Rodriguez ng lisensiya para sa mga operasyon nito.

Wala ring mekanismo ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas, pati ang sa US, para umaksiyon laban sa mga kakutsaba sa Pilipinas ng mga kompanyang ito na nagrerekluta para sa human trafficking sa US.

Ngayong Marso 17, sa ika-19 anibersaryo ng pagbitay sa Pilipinong domestic helper sa Singapore na si Flor Contemplacion, nagdeklara ang Migrante at Gabriela sa US, gayundin ang iba pang tagasuporta ng mga gurong na-traffic, ng National Day of Action for Trafficked Teachers. Magsasampa rin ng kasong trafficking in persons sa ilalim ng RA 10364 ang Migrante sa DOJ.

Magpoprotesta sila, kasama ang mismong mga guro, kasama si Ginang Loel Naparato at maraming iba pa, hangga’t hindi sila nabibigyang katarungan, hangga’t napipilitan ang mga tulad nila na mangibang-bayan para lang mabuhay.

 

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One Billion Rising for Justice | A resounding women’s call for justice http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/02/one-billion-rising-for-justice-a-resounding-womens-call-for-justice/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/02/one-billion-rising-for-justice-a-resounding-womens-call-for-justice/#comments Mon, 17 Feb 2014 11:40:03 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=27958 Thousands march from Quezon City Memorial Circle to UP Diliman for the One Billion Rising for Justice on Feb. 14. (Macky Macaspac)

Thousands march and dance from Quezon City Memorial Circle to UP Diliman for the One Billion Rising for Justice on Feb. 14. Macky Macaspac

Upping the ante in its call to action to end violence against women, this year’s One Billion Rising for Justice (OBR4J) in the Philippines called for justice for all women victims under what it calls a “disaster presidency” under Benigno Aquino III.

The whole-day, country-wide affair featured flash mobs near  “places of injustice” such as the Malacanang Palace, the National Housing Authority, schools and other places, as well as creative performances and political speeches condemning various forms of violence against women and children.

In Mendiola near Malacanang in the morning of Feb. 14, women activists and members of community-based women’s groups danced, while others held up placards calling for justice for victims of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and taking the Aquino administration to task for its “criminal negligence” on the ensuing humanitarian crisis.

In the afternoon, thousands of participants held a colorful cultural parade from Quezon City Memorial Circle to University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, where a huge cultural program was held to culminate this year’s OBR4J campaign.

“After Yolanda hit the country, the Aquino administration has proven itself as a major disaster to the lives of the victims. Instead of acting in response to the need of the victims, (it) has been pushing for public-private partnership to rebuild the affected areas,” said Joms Salvador, Gabriela secretary-general.

The thousands of women and men who participated in the OBR4J events also called to public attention the corruption issues, especially pork barrel and Disbursement Acceleration Program, implicating the Aquino administration, as well as the increasingly high prices of basic commodities and utilities.

As with last year’s “rising,” the protesters noted that the present administration also recorded the highest number of cases of violence against women. They have taken the President to task for the impunity that revails in the country.

OBR4J was led by women’s groups Gabriela and Gabriela Women’s Party, pioneering theater group New Voice Company and participated in by countless grassroots organizations, schools, workers’ unions, government employees’ and teachers’ unions, local government agencies, youth groups,

Women worse off under Aquino

Gabriela, a women organization in the Philippines promoting women’s rights and welfare, said that Filipino women have “suffered more than enough” under the Aquino administration.

For this year’s OBR4J, they were determined to hold this administration accountable for its criminal negligence against the people especially for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). According to Salvador, under Aquino’s regime, impoverished women have been further victimized with unabated price hikes form power, water, oil, and other services.

Meanwhile, women and men from disaster-stricken areas like Eastern Visayas and Bohol and even Mindanao, have yet to recover. Until now, countless families continue to live off meager relief goods, while services and especially medical help, remain scarce. The people also urgently need jobs and livelihood to help them recover from the tragedy and devastation.

Gabriela Women’s Party’s representative in the Lower House, Rep. Emmi De Jesus, added that the Aquino administration also perpetuates injustice by refusing to stamp out patronage politics that has bedeviled Philippine governance for decades. Specifically, the administration has continued the practice of lump sum appropriation—a practice that breeds corruption and unaccountability.

OBR4J also became occasion to honor women heroes such as Maria Lorena Barros, Carmen “Nanay Mameng” Deunida, Maita Gomez, and even the women farmers at the forefront of struggles for democratic rights such as those of Hacienda Luisita, who have been besieged by violent landgrabbing orchestrated by the Aquino-Cojuangco family’s Tarlac Development Company (Tadeco).

“Women themselves sit in front of bulldozers to prevent it from destroying their crops. Women are the ones facing the armed security guards who want to destroy the land they are tilling. And women
also suffer repression and persecution like Tarlac City Councilor Emy Ladera who sided with the farmers in their struggle for land reform,” according to Angie Ipong, former political prisoner and now part of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).

Ladera, who is sister of martyred Tarlac councilor Abelardo Ladera, now faces what UMA calls “harassment suits” because of her steadfast support for farmer beneficiaries’ right to till the land in Hacienda Luisita.

People rising

(Photo by Macky Macaspac)

Photo by Macky Macaspac

Workers have also joined OBR4J, dancing in front of the House of Representatives, as well as Malacanang and even their work places. They bring to the campaign their issue of low wages  and contractualization that have victimized women workers under the Aquino administration, according to Yolly Mabaquiao, 64, from Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).

“Even women workers suffer from different abuses in factories like what happened in Advan (a shoe factory with many women workers). Women workers suffer from sexual abuses from the management, aside from facing repression of their labor rights,” according to Mabaquiao.

Women workers are rising for living wage and against contractualization, Mabaquiao added.

“Being contractual means low wage, no or minimal benefits, and no job security which are unjust labor practices especially for women,” Mabaquiao said.

Meanwhile, youth organizations led by Kabataan Party-list also joined the OBR4J in Morayta, Manila in the afternoon and marched to Mendiola. They took the Aquino administration to take for failing to stem tuition and fee increases in public and private universities.

“This year’s One Billion Rising campaign focuses on the concept of justice in all its forms. For us students, justice is putting an end to students’ rights violations perpetrated by school administrations
and ending the cycle of tuition and other fee increases that have vastly affected thousands of students and families throughout the country,” said Sarah Jane Ilago, national president of the National
Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and one of the organizers of OBR4J-University Belt.

After in Morayta, students and youth marched to Mendiola, saying that their call for education and justice must penetrate the guarded walls of Malacanang.

“It is exactly the Aquino administration’s ineptitude that has aggravated the current state of women and the youth sector,” according to Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon.

Families of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) also joined the event, calling for justice for abused migrant women. Led by Migrante International, Filipino migrants have also led, or participated in, similar “risings” in countries with large Filipino communities such as Hong Kong, the United States, Middle East countries, among others.

Interconnected struggles

Gabriela’s Salvador stressed that one of OBR4J’s messages is that one cannot separate physical or sexual violence against women from economic and political violence that women and children bear the brunt of.

“There is a need to name what or who are accountable for the poverty and violence against women. These structures are still in place and foreign domination particularly the United States are pushing their
neo-liberal agenda beyond their boarders that lead to the sufferings of women across the globe,” added Salvador.

She said women must unite with the men, and other sectors to confront state-sponsored violence and impunity in the country and around the world. The OBR4J events in the Philippines have proven the interconnectedness of various people’s issues and the need for people’s collective action.

In its second year, the One Billion Rising campaign has been successful in calling for action to end all forms of violence against women. But the battle continues.

Text by Pher Pasion & KR Guda | Photos by Macky Macaspac, Jaze Marco, Pher Pasion & Karla Ujano

 

Photos of events in Mendiola, QC Memorial Circle and UP Diliman, as well as other Filipino-led risings in other places:

Theater artist and One Billion Rising for Justice Global Director Monique Wilson leads the flash mob of hundreds of women activists dancing "Isang Bilyong Babaeng Babangon" in Mendiola, Manila as a protest against Aquino administration's "criminal neglect" in Yolanda (Haiyan)'s wake and other forms of violence against women. (Macky Macaspac)

Theater artist and One Billion Rising for Justice Global Director Monique Wilson leads the flash mob of hundreds of women activists dancing “Isang Bilyong Babaeng Babangon” in Mendiola, Manila as a protest against Aquino administration’s “criminal neglect” in Yolanda (Haiyan)’s wake and other forms of violence against women. Macky Macaspac

Theater artist and One Billion Rising for Justice Global Director Monique Wilson leads the flash mob of hundreds of women activists dancing "Isang Bilyong Babaeng Babangon" in Mendiola, Manila as a protest against Aquino administration's "criminal neglect" in Yolanda (Haiyan)'s wake and other forms of violence against women. (Macky Macaspac)

Monique Wilson with Gabriela dancing the OBR Philippines dance. Macky Macaspac

Women workers from Kilusang Mayo Uno join the flash mob. (Macky Macaspac)

Women workers from Kilusang Mayo Uno join the flash mob. Macky Macaspac

(Photo by Pher Pasion)

Photo by Pher Pasion

Dancing at Mendiola. <strong>Jaze Marco</strong>

Dancing at Mendiola. Jaze Marco

<strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

Macky Macaspac

<strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

Macky Macaspac

Grassroots women joining the One Billion Rising read a special print issue of Pinoy Weekly that came out Feb. 14. (Pher Pasion)

Grassroots women joining the One Billion Rising read a special print issue of Pinoy Weekly that came out Feb. 14. Pher Pasion

Women and men from People Surge, alliance of survivors of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), joins the afternoon march. (Macky Macaspac)

Women and men from People Surge, alliance of survivors of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), joins the afternoon march. Macky Macaspac

Start of the afternoon march in Quezon City. (Macky Macaspac)

Start of the afternoon march in Quezon City. Macky Macaspac

"Aquino: Disaster President" <strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

“Aquino: Disaster President” Macky Macaspac

Foreigners join in the parade. <strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

Foreigners join in the parade. Macky Macaspac

<strong>Photo by Macky Macaspac</strong>

Photo by Macky Macaspac

The award-winning UP Pep Squad before the OBR4J crowd in UP Diliman. <strong>Pher Pasion</strong>

The award-winning UP Pep Squad before the OBR4J crowd in UP Diliman. Pher Pasion

Flashiing the OBR sign. <strong>Karla Ujano</strong>

Flashing the OBR hand sign. Karla Ujano

Monique Wilson opens the program in UP Diliman. <strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

Monique Wilson opens the program in UP Diliman. Macky Macaspac

Monique Wilson joins V-Men, fellow theater artists, singers and other women leaders in singing "I Am Rising". <strong>Pher Pasion</strong>

Monique Wilson joins V-Men, fellow theater artists, singers and other women leaders in singing “I Am Rising”. Pher Pasion

With Bayan Chair Carol Araullo and Sr. Mary John Mananzan, among others. Monique Wilson joins V-Men, fellow theater artists, singers and other women leaders in singing "I Am Rising". <strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

With Bayan Chair Carol Araullo and Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Gabriela Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Luz Ilagan, among others. Monique Wilson joins V-Men, fellow theater artists, singers and other women leaders in singing “I Am Rising”. Macky Macaspac 

Monique Wilson sings "I Am Rising" with one of Yolanda survivor. With Bayan Chair Carol Araullo and Sr. Mary John Mananzan, among others. Monique Wilson joins V-Men, fellow theater artists, singers and other women leaders in singing "I Am Rising". <strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

Monique Wilson sings “I Am Rising” with one of Yolanda survivors.  Macky Macaspac

Fire dancers. <strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

Fire dancers. Macky Macaspac

Bayang Barrios. <strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

Bayang Barrios. Macky Macaspac

Legendary folk musician Lolita Carbon. <strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

Legendary folk musician Lolita Carbon. Macky Macaspac 

Community dancing to close the program. <strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

Community dancing to close the program. Macky Macaspac

Youth organizations as well as people's groups in Manila gathered in Moryata Avenue, Manila for their own OBR4J event. <strong>Jun Santiago/Tudla Productions</strong>

Youth organizations as well as people’s groups in Manila gathered in Moryata Avenue, Manila for their own OBR4J event. Jun Santiago/Tudla Productions 

Women and youth leaders lead the One Billion Rising for Justice event in Manila. <strong>Tudla Productions</strong>

Women and youth leaders lead the One Billion Rising for Justice event in Manila. Tudla Productions

Marching to Mendiola. <strong>Jun Santiago/Tudla Productions</strong>

Marching to Mendiola. Jun Santiago/Tudla Productions 

<strong>Tudla Productions</strong>

Tudla Productions

Risings in different provinces/regions in the Philippines:

OBR4J dancing in UP Los Banos, Laguna. <strong>Southern Tagalog Exposure</strong>

OBR4J dancing in UP Los Banos, Laguna. Southern Tagalog Exposure 

OBR4J in Southern Tagalog. <strong>Photo courtesy: Gabriela-Southern Tagalog</strong>

OBR4J in Rizal province. Photo courtesy: Gabriela-Southern Tagalog

OBR4J in Legazpi City, Albay. <strong>Contribution/Rico de Mesa Manallo</strong>

OBR4J in Legazpi City, Albay. Contribution/Rico de Mesa Manallo

OBR dancing in Legazpi City. <strong>Rico de Mesa Manallo</strong>

OBR dancing in Legazpi City. Rico de Mesa Manallo 

Baguio City and Cordillera. <strong>Contributed Photo/Audrey Beltran</strong>

Baguio City and Cordillera. Contributed Photo/Audrey Beltran

OBR4J in Capiz. <strong>Photo courtesy Gabriela Capiz</strong>

OBR4J in Capiz. Photo courtesy: Gabriela Capiz

Around 3,000 participated in OBR4J event in Capiz, according to Gabriela-Capiz. <strong>Photo courtesy: Gabriela-Capiz</strong>

Around 3,000 participated in OBR4J event in Capiz, according to Gabriela-Capiz. Photo courtesy: Gabriela-Capiz

Dancing in Cotabato City. <strong>Photo courtesy: Gabriela-Cotabato</strong>

Dancing in Cotabato City. Photo courtesy: Gabriela-Cotabato

OBR4J in Cotabato. <strong>Photo courtesy: Gabriela Cotabato</strong>

OBR4J in Cotabato. Photo courtesy: Gabriela Cotabato 

Color-coordinated attires in Davao City. <strong>Kilab Multimedia</strong>

Color-coordinated attires in Davao City. Kilab Multimedia

OBR4J dancing in Davao. <strong>Kilab Multimedia</strong>

OBR4J dancing in Davao. Kilab Multimedia

Risings led or participated in by Filipinos in different countries:

Amid the rain, thousands of Filipinos and other people from different nationalities danced for OBR4J in Hong Kong, SAR. <strong>Carlos Piocos</strong>

Amid the rain, thousands of Filipinos and other people from different nationalities danced for OBR4J in Hong Kong, SAR. Carlos Piocos

OBR4J dancing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. <strong>Photo courtesy: Migrante-Riyadh</strong>

OBR4J dancing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo courtesy: Gabriela-Riyadh

Gabriela Australia, Anakbayan Melbourne and Migrante Melbourne participated in OBR4J in Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia. <strong>Roni Oracion</strong>

Gabriela Australia, Anakbayan Melbourne and Migrante Melbourne participated in OBR4J in Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia. Roni Oracion

Members of Gabriela New York in NY, USA participated in OBR4J event there where V-Day and OBR founder Eve Ensler spoke glowingly about Gabriela. <strong>Candice Sering</strong>

Members of Gabriela New York in NY, USA participated in OBR4J event there where V-Day and OBR founder Eve Ensler spoke glowingly about Gabriela. Photo courtesy: Candice Sering

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Ka Inday Bagasbas: Puso ng maralitang tagalungsod http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/02/si-ka-inday-at-ang-puso-ng-maralitang-tagalungsod/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/02/si-ka-inday-at-ang-puso-ng-maralitang-tagalungsod/#comments Fri, 14 Feb 2014 04:50:09 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=27934 Si Ka Inday Bagasbas (kanan). (PW File Photo)

Si Ka Inday Bagasbas (kanan). (PW File Photo)

Para sa mga maralitang tagalungsod, mistulang demolisyon pa ang sagot ng administrasyong Aquino sa mga suliranin nila sa buhay. Maililigtas daw ang mahihirap sa tabing-ilog kapag inalis sila sa lugar. Malulutas daw ang trapik kapag nag-road widening. Maraming negosyante at dayuhan ang mahihikayat na mamuhunan sa bansa kapag ang mga gusali ay malinis.

Hindi na ito bago. Ganito rin ang programa ng nagdaang mga gobyerno – nina Ferdinand Marcos, Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada at Gloria Arroyo.  Iba-iba lang ang katawagan o pagpapakete, pero sa halip na lutasin ang suliranin ng mga maralita, dinidemolis hindi lang ang tirahan nila kundi pati ang kabuhayan at kinabukasan ng kanilang mga anak.

Marami nang napako sa mga pangakong binitiwan ng mga naluklok sa poder. Tuwing sasapit ang eleksiyon, walang ibang sinasabi sila kundi mangakong unahin daw ang interes ng mahihirap, bibigyan sila ng trabaho, pag-aaralin ang kabataan, magbibigay at papaunlarin ang serbisyong panlipunan at magpapatayo ng pabahay. Pagkakuha ng boto tumatalikod na sila sa mga botanteng mahihirap.

Sinasalamin ng buhay ni Estrelita Rubine “Ka Inday” Bagasbas, lider-maralita ng Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), ang kalagayan ng mas marami pa nating kababayan.  Sila na kung tawagi’y maralitang tagalungsod ay patuloy na pinagkakaitan ng karapatang mabuhay.

Nagmula sa pamilyang magsasaka

Mapagkumbaba pero iginigiit ang karapatan. (Larawan mula sa Bulatlat.com)

Mapagkumbaba pero iginigiit ang karapatan. (Larawan mula sa Bulatlat.com)

Tubong North Cotabato si Ka Inday, 58. Nagmula siya sa pamilyang magsasaka. Bukod sa drayber ang ama, pagtatanim ang siyang pangunahing kabuhayan ng pamilya. Pangalawa si Ka Inday sa 12 magkakapatid.

“Kasama namin noon ang ina sa malawak na lupa at doon kami natutong magbanat ng buto sa pagtatanim. Hindi kami nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral dahil kelangan naming tumulong sa bukid, aniya.

Hanggang elementarya lang nakaktuntong sa pag-aaral si Ka Inday. Maagang namatay ang apat na kapatid niya dahil sa sakit at may anim  pa sa kanila ang nanatili sa North Cotabato na nagtrabaho sa rubber plantation.  Kalaunan nasunog ang plantasyon kaya marami sa kanila ang nawalan ng hanapbuhay.  Kaya kalakhan ay naging maralitang-tagalunsod  sa Cotabato City, at dalawa sa kanila ang nakipagsapalaran sa Maynila.

Taong 1969, nagpasya si Ka Inday na lumuwas ng Maynila upang tuparin ang kanyang pangarap na makapag-aral at makaabot ng kolehiyo. Isang kaibigan niya ang nagyaya at nagpaunlak na sa kanila siya manuluyan. Kaya tumakas siya at umalis nang hindi nagpaalam sa kanyang mga magulang. Nasa barko na siya nang malaman ng mga kaanak at wala nang nagawa pa kundi ang bilinan siya na mag-ingat.

Banggit niya, “Namasukan ako sa tinuluyan ko bilang katulong sa bahay ng tatlong taon. Tumatanggap ako ng P30 isang buwan ngunit hindi na nila ako nakayanang pag-aralin pa dahil hirap din sila.

Labing-anim na taon si Ka Inday nang ligawan ng unang asawa.  Isang vulcanizer si Mariano at nanirahan sila sa Marilao, Bulacan, at lumipat sa Obando. Hindi sapat ang kinikita ni Mariano bukod pa sa may bisyo.

“Hindi kami magkasundo,” sabi ni Ka Inday, “kaya pinag-aralan ko ring mag-vulcanize para mapag-aral ang dalawa naming anak.    Kaya siguro ang kapal ng palad ko–puno ng kalyo”.

Taong 1980, lumipat sila sa  Baesa, Novaliches, at makaraan ang limang tao’y napadpad sa North Triangle. “Kabuhayan ang natatanging dahilan kung bakit palipat-lipat kami ng aming tirahan,” pagdidiin ni Ka Inday. “Noong 1986, panahon ng pagpapatalsik kay Marcos, sumama ako sa rally at nagtinda  ng suman. Ito ang naging kabuhayan namin.”

Kasabay nito nagtatanim siya ng petsay, kangkong, talbos ng kamote at gabi na ibinebenta sa Balintawak at Munoz. Noong 1988 ay namatay si Mariano dahil nasaksak sa inuman, at si Ka Inday na ang solong nagtaguyod sa mga anak.

Taliwas sa sinasabi ng iba na tamad, pabandying-bandying at walang pagsisikap ang mga maralita kaya hindi umaasenso sa buhay, sinabi ni Ka Inday na hindi birong magpakain ng buong pamilya, pag-aralin ang mga anak, at mangarap na huwag ng danasin  ng mga anak ang hirap na kanilang kinagisnan.

Minsan, nangarap din si Ka Inday na makaalis ng San Roque, North Triangle at makapagpatayo ng sariling bahay. Kaya taong 1989, namasukan siyang domestic helper (DH) sa Yemen, Middle East. Halos dalawang taon at apat na buwan siya roon, habang naiwan ang dalawang anak sa kamag-anak.

“Kaso ang kinikita ko doon ay $100 lang sa isang buwan.  Maliit ang sahod pero nagtagal ako dahil mabait naman ang amo ko at hindi nananakit. Napauwi na lang ako nang malulong sa drugs ang panganay ko at nasaksak,” sambit niya.

Pagbalik ni Ka Inday sa Pilipinas sa naipong halagang US$1,000 nakapagpagpatayo siya ng bahay pero sa San Roque rin.  “Hindi kakayaning makabili pa ng sariling lupa.  Dahil noon ay hindi pa pinag-iinteresan ang lupa, malaya kaming nanirahan at pinaunlad namin ang aming komunidad,” paliwanag niya.

Nagtrabaho na siya sa imprenta ng mga sako.  Nakilala ang kanyang pangalawang asawa at nagkaroon sila ng dalawang anak na lalake.  Aniya, “ang naging asawa ko muli ay tubong Sorsogon, pero dalawang taon lang kami nagkasama, at naghiwalay din dahil babaero.”

Matatag na babae at ina si Ka Inday. Hindi niya tinali ang kanyang buhay sa pakikipagrelasyon sa asawang walang pagpapahalaga sa sarili at pagsisikap na baguhin ang kanilang kalagayan.  Muli bumangon siya, at binuhay ang mga anak sa pamamagitan ng pagtitinda ng ulam—pang almusal at tanghalian–at nagtayo ng sari-sari store sa tapat ng tirahan. Mula 1995 hanggang 2009 ibinuhos niya ang panahon sa paghahanapbuhay. Hanggang ngayon, may dalawang anak pa siyang pinag-aaral sa high school.

Laban ng mga taga-San Roque

Kuwento ni Ka Inday, “Noong 1985 ang mga bahay sa loob ng North Triangle ay mahigit lang sa 20 pamilya, kasama na kami ‘dun.  Pero may mga tagaroon na  nagtatayo ng 4 na kubol,  tapos binebenta ng 500 kapag may naghahanap ng matitirikan.  Yung nakabenta magtatayo muli, kaya noong 1989 nasa higit 200 pamilya, bago pa ako lumabas ng bansa.  Ang lugar namin ay kinilala at napangalang San Roque buhat ng iparada ang patron sa lugar.”

Nahahati sa tatlo ang San Roque: San Roque 1 ang Adelina, likod ng bumbero, San Roque 2 ang lugar ni Ka Inday, at San Roque 3 ang nasa Trinoma at paradahan ng Metromanila Tansit.  Nang bumalik  ng 1992 Si Ka Inday, galing Yemen. Dito siksikan na  parang kabute ang mga residente. Sari-sari ang trabaho ng mga tao: may nagtitinda, pumapasok sa construction, at may nagtatrabaho sa katabing Philippine Science High School at Veterans Hospital bilang janitor.

Taong 2001 nang magkaroon ng malaking sunog na malapit sa EDSA.  May  1,000 bahay ang nasunog at muli ring nagtayo ng mga bahay; kasi di pa pinapansin ang lupa ng gobyerno sa panahon nina Cory Aquino, Ramos at Estrada.

“Mula nang manungkulan si Gloria Arroyo,” ani Ka Inday, “nagkaroon na ng sunugan na umabot sa walong beses. Nag-umpisa na rin kaming magduda sa intensiyon ng ilang nagpapanggap na naninirahan, mangungupahan pero walang gamit. Pagkatapos lamang ng isang linggo, may bigla na lang sunugan. Tumindi pa ito noong 2009.”

Dalawampu’t siyam na taon na ring residente si Ka Inday sa lugar.  Sabi niya nga, kung naisipan niyang magbuwis sa lupa noon pa, siguro ay kanya na ang lupang tinitirikan ng kanyang bahay. Pero hindi na niya naisip iyon dahil abala siya sa pagpapalaki ng mga anak at solong pagtustos sa kanilang ikabubuhay. Relocation site din ang San Roque noon at 10,000 na ang residente. Ngunit nagtulung-tulong ang mga naninirahan doon at sa sariling pagsisikap ay napaunlad ang kanilang lugar. Dati, hirap sila kasi walang tubig at kuryente.

Pero pilit bumabalik sa San Roque ang mga dating naninirahan. Kahit ang mga dati pang relocatees,dahil nandito ang kanilang kabuhayan. “Trabaho ang mahalagang pinangangalagaan naming mga mahihirap,” sabi ni Ka Inday. “Sa relocation areas na nilalaan sa amin ng gobyerno ay problemang malaki at tila di naman talaga kami inuunawa—maglalaan ng off-city relocation pero walang kabuhayan dun o di kaya umaasa silang babayaran namin ito ng 25 taon pero hindi naman din kakayanin. Dahil hindi rin ito sapat ang aming kinikita. Marami din sa mga maralita ang tinaboy rin lang papunta sa mas mapapanganib na lugar.”

Nitong Enero 14, may ordinansa na ang Quezon City Hall na pirmado ni Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista, na nagbabawal ng pagtatayo ng anumang istruktura sa lungsod.  Hindi na kailangan pang kumuha ng court order para magdemolis ang mga barangay kagawad at tanod. Tatagpasin na rin ang anumang istrukturang lagpas sa lupang kinatatayuan ng bahay.

Kaya  noong Enero 27, muling nag-umpisa ang marahas na demolisyon sa San Roque nang walang anumang notice, di katulad nang dati. “Tinambakan kami ng sandamakmak na pulis at naroon din ang security guards ni Ayala na armado lahat,” paglalahad ni Ka Inday. “Umabot sa apat na araw at halos 11.3 metro ang giniba at agaran nilang nilimas. Sa kasalukuyan, may higit 50 pamilya ang nagtayo ng kubol sa central island ng Agham Road. Marami-rami na rin sa kanila ang walang malilipatan dahil hindi nakasama sa listahan ng NHA (National Housing Authority).”

Ang San Roque ay bahagi ng lugar na pagtatayuan ng Quezon City Central Business District. Galit na sinabi ni Ka Inday: “Malinaw sa aming mahihirap na hindi kami kasama sa pag-unlad, o sa matuwid na daang malimit banggitin ni Noynoy Aquino. Walang-ibang pinaglilingkuran niya kundi ang mayayamang kapitalista, at kasabwat ang mga namumuno sa gobyernong Aquino.”

Panahon ng pagkamulat

Nagsimulang magalit si Ka Inday noon pang Setyembre 23, 2010  nang magkaroon ng marahas na demolisyon  sa EDSA.

Naisip niyang pumunta roon para magbigay ng kanyang suporta, at doon niya nakita na wala talagang maaasahan sa gobyerno. Dito siya naugnayan ng Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) at di nagtagal nahalal bilang chairperson ng September 23 Movement. Dahil naging abala sa organisasyon pati pagtitinda ay panaka-naka na lang. Gumawa na lamang siya ng basahan para may panggastos ang dalawang anak  sa mga project sa eskuwela.

Wika ni Ka Inday: “Malinaw sa akin na kaya may problema kami sa pabahay ay dahil wala kaming disenteng hanapbuhay sa bansa.  Nananatili kaming biktima ng kaapihan at pagsasamantala. Kagaya ko, na nagmula sa pamilyang magsasaka. Ang magtanim ay hindi biro, ngunit aagawin din ang lupang iyong pinaunlad at kung sino pa ang nagpapakain sa mamamayan ay siya pang walang makain at pinagkakaitan sa lupa.”

Mula sa mga karanasan sa Kadamay, lalo siyang nawalan ng tiwala sa gobyerno. Aniya, hangga’t ang gobyerno ay hindi sinsero walang magaganap na pagbabago sa buhay ng mga maralita.

Sa kabila ng kawalan, dinadahas pa rin sila nang lubusan at ito ay maluwag na pinapahintulutan ng gobyerno.  Tanong ni Ka Inday: “Masisisi n’yo ba ang maralita kung sila’y matutong lumaban at ipagtanggol ang kanilang karapatan na mabuhay? Masisisi n’yo ba kaming mga mahihirap na hindi na magtiwala pa sa gobyernong ito? Kung ang langgam nga, kapag sinira mo ang kanilang bahay mangangagat, ang tao pa–lalaban at lalaban para mabuhay para sa kinabukasan.”

Ngunit may namumuo pa ring pag-asa sa puso ni Ka Inday. May liwanag siyang nakikita. Ito ay nang magsimula nang tahakin niya ang landas ng pakikibaka para sa pambansang demokrasya.  “Sa edad ko ngayon, maaaring nababawasan na ang lakas ng katawan,” pagdidiin niya. “Nauunawaan ko ang galit at poot sa puso ng mga maralitang tagalungsod, pero kailangang ibaling ito sa pusong nagtitiwala, nagmamahal, para sa tunay at ganap na pagbabago.  Mas mahalaga pa rin ang sama-sama nating pagkilos.”

Sigurado siya na hindi lang siya ang nakikibaka para sa disenteng hanapbuhay at kasiguruhan sa paninirahan. Naniniwala si Ka Inday na balang araw ay makakamit din ng mga mamamayan ang pambansang industrialisasyon at tunay na reporma sa lupa na magbibigay ng hanapbuhay sa nakararami.

At kapag nangyari ito, aniya, di na sila tatawagin pang maralitang tagalungsod.

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Dispatches from Leyte: From Ruin to Resilience http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/02/dispatches-from-leyte-from-ruin-to-resilience/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/02/dispatches-from-leyte-from-ruin-to-resilience/#comments Fri, 14 Feb 2014 02:54:02 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=27836 Survivors trying to rebuild homes in Leyte, three months after the storm. CJ Chanco

Survivors trying to rebuild homes in Palo, Leyte, three months after the storm. CJ Chanco

Everything seems frozen in place. Every tree, branch, every root sticking out from the ground, stretches out toward an unseen horizon as though reaching for a sun that will never come, or shine as bright as it once did.  The trees are twisted out of true, like the bodies in the bags that used to occupy nearly every intersection of Tacloban City, the ones the disaster’s first responders would have seen as they passed along the way here (and would have seen, in their half-decomposed state, weeks after the storm).

Rows of coconut trees stand eerily in place, their graceful swaying brought to an abrupt halt by gale-force winds that have forced their fronds to face permanently East – or is it West? It’s impossible to say. The wind had come from every possible direction, shifting as it did with the walls of saltwater that came with broken logs and torn roofs of corrugated iron that brought low the homes of some five million families, and tore Eastern Visayas away, for seven days that felt like eternity, from the reckoning of the world and the local energy grid: leaving two provinces in total darkness, as the days turned into weeks that turned into months.

Tacloban itself is a frozen photograph, a silent sentinel on the edge of Nightmare. Or a portent of things to come.  The city has changed beyond recognition, at least physically, yet something beneath its surface-façade seems unchanged, almost permanent. Its economic life, the social conditions of its people, the rigid divisions of class and geography that determine who lives and who dies – none of this has been altered in any profound sense.

Not even by the strongest typhoon to make land-fall in recorded history.

I’d come on this journey with Balsa, an alliance of people’s organisations, churches, and individual volunteers from across the country. This was its third or fourth major deployment in Eastern Visayas, a caravan bringing aid and relief to communities worst affected by supertyphoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) that tore Tacloban apart last November.

Balsa has been doing so for close to a decade now, responding to nearly every major natural disaster to hit the country with a unique combination of grassroots mobilisation and long-term, community-led rehabilitation efforts.  Despite its limited resources, Balsa has banked on the power of collective action to match or even exceed in scope the well-funded projects of some of the best aid agencies in the world. Encouraging the full participation of people directly affected by tragedy has ensured its efforts are deeply rooted with their needs on the ground.

In Leyte, Balsa came not with an elite corps of engineers or disaster experts bearing blueprints from on high, but with community organisers, religious missionaries, teachers,  volunteer scientists and medics – “people’s doctors” – even farmers from Luzon and Mindanao who’d saved seeds all year for just this purpose: to donate to fellow farmers in Visayas who’ve lost their crops. These were people with little to share individually but much to share at a collective level.

It was with them that I saw clearest the difference between passive charity and an active, community-driven response to tragedy;  the gap between what governments promise and what they deliver,  and the need for action from ‘below’ amid damning neglect from above.  It was a glimpse into human vulnerability that persists in the face of persistent poverty. It was also a portrait of human resilience and will to life that will come to define Tacloban (and the rest of the country) as the place where a people, leveled by countless storms, rose again.

Balsa People's Relief Caravan at the Port of Matnog, Sorsogon. CJ Chanco

Balsa People’s Relief Caravan at the Port of Matnog, Sorsogon. CJ Chanco

Day 1 – January 24 – Matnog

… Or rather, Day 2.  It’s taken us seven to eight hours by bus to reach Sorsogon from Manila. It would take us another eight hours or so, more than half a day, to get past the port of Matnog, the main entry point to Leyte.

So after hours on the road, my legs are killing me. My friends and I get off for breakfast and a brisk walk.  At the port, vendors sell us hot pandesal, fried buns, sauteed veggies and tiny red native bananas that we eat with relish, before settling for a meal of tomatoes and fish roasted over an open charcoal fire.

There’s little else to do but gorge ourselves, after all, and talk, as we wait for our turn at the barge.  The early morning sun beats down on lush rice fields by the coast. At a bamboo stall next to our bus, a woman shelling mussels eyes us with sympathy, as she spots the truck behind our bus bearing relief goods for Tacloban. It would be a long wait, she says. An endless line of buses and trucks, some stamped in bold-faced letters, “Relief”, crawls its way past us.

In Matnog, a separate route was opened up for relief caravans in an attempt to cut traffic, but this actually slowed things down. Many of the trucks weren’t carrying relief at all but commercial freight, scrambling for a quick opening to drop off goods to sell in Visayas.

After a few more hours, our boat, the Peñafrancia, finally arrives. Boys as young as four climb twelve feet above the deck, diving gracefully into the cerulean blue sea to catch coins tossed by tourists with uncanny accuracy.

We get on the barge and set sail for the Port of Allen. From there, we’d take another bus ride to Tacloban City, arriving there by midnight.

Crossing the narrow channel between Samar and Leyte, San Juanico Bridge is cloaked in darkness, with only the lights from our bus guiding our way.  Even in Tacloban city proper, rotating black-outs are a fact of life and dozens of public hospitals, schools and thousands of homes still depend on diesel generators for electricity at night, months after Yolanda.

Despite this, government reports insist electricity has been restored in at least 60% of affected areas.

An eight-year old storm survivor. CJ Chanco

An eight-year old storm survivor. CJ Chanco

Day 2 – People’s Surge

A boy, around 8, shifts his gaze from the aid trucks outside to the camera I have in my hands.  We’re by the window of the school gym at Eastern Visayas State University, where I strain to find a scene, any scene, to latch on as I adjust my lens to just the right shutter speed.  The early morning sky filters through the gym awning as we peer over the balcony at the courtyard.

I soon find my scene.

Below us, the first few hundred people gather for what would quickly grow into one of the largest demonstrations I’ve ever been a part of: a “People’s Surge”, including at least 12,000 marchers – young and old, farmers and fisher folk families from at least two dozen towns and rural barrios from across Samar and Leyte. They’d come for aid and relief, but above all for solidarity and a collective sharing of grievances, in protest against the government’s scant relief efforts post-Yolanda.

For two days in this school auditorium with a portion of the roof still missing, there had been singing and story-telling and shared meals of canned sardines and rice wrapped in palm leaves, puson-style.

This is what the boy’s family had come here for, assuming he still had one. The boy’s otherwise stoic face contrasts deeply with his eyes, which have perhaps seen too much, far more than his youth deserved.

He looks straight into the lens of my camera, and not without some guilt, I snap a shot. He doesn’t smile.  Pity or shame tugs at me: was I taking advantage of these people?  These “victims” of what is surely the worst natural calamity the country has faced in a century?  What if the boy had lost a sibling in the storm? A cousin? A parent? His whole family?

A volunteer sounds the call for breakfast and the boy rushes past me. I exit the classroom we were in, and make my way through the crowded corridors – dark, dank, and in some places filled up to the ceiling with balikbayan boxes, long since been emptied of used clothes, canned goods and medical supplies.

In the next building is the gym we’d slept in the night before, and here too hundreds of people lay crammed on the upper benches or shuffle to and fro the courtyard below.  Elderly couples sip coffee, their grandchildren play basketball; one mother nurses her daughter, only days-old. A nun thumbs the beads of her rosary.

All are waiting for their cue for the march to begin.

By the university entrance is a blue tent, put up there by the doctors I arrived here with, from Samahang Operasyong Sagip and Health Alliance for Democracy. For a couple of days now they’ve giving free check-ups and medicines to a long line of people that now stretches past the gate to the next block, probably more than half a kilometre away.

Many of the patients – one man crippled from the waist down, one woman blinded by cataracts– are joining the march.

Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan sounds the call. The march begins.

My camera ranges overhead.

The sun approaches noon and beats down hard on groups of protesters that converge in an intersection just past the university gate. It’s stifling.

Dust from thousands of marching feet form a cloud that rises above us and descends on the city, adding to the surreal scene.   I knew there’d be a lot of people, but not this many.  How many were we? A thousand? 8,000? 12,000?

This was a surge. A surge of humanity on the edge of despair; a surge of relief in a desert flooded by a supertyphoon, a wave of well-meaning if short-lived aid, and months of government neglect. Each one in turn.

I stand on tip-toe. There seems no end to the march. I take my first few, tentative shots.

More than 12,000 storm survivors from different parts of Leyte and Samar march in protest of government's negligence around Tacloban City. CJ Chanco

More than 12,000 storm survivors from different parts of Leyte and Samar march in protest of government’s negligence around Tacloban City. CJ Chanco

Many think I’m from the media, and break into hasty, shy smiles. Others doubt my motives. Soldiers, government officials or policemen in civilian clothes have been known to take photos of the scattered protests which have been taking place here with increasing regularity.

The distrust was understandable: Eastern Visayas had long been the playground of Jovito Palparan, a general held responsible for commanding the torture and arrest of hundreds of activists, and for a suite of other human rights violations, in the early years of the former Arroyo administration.  It was during this period that sections of the military turned into a de facto mercenary defence force for hacienda owners, commercial plantations, and large-scale mines that were pit against communist rebels.

When hundreds of soldiers arrived in Leyte in the weeks following Yolanda – in fact, they arrived before government relief, to ensure security by cracking down on “looters” – they arrived, bringing back memories of fear, dispossession and landlessness that have made their mark on a region that is one of the poorest in the country.

***

In the crowd something catches my eye. Among the marchers is a woman, in front of me, ambling slowly under the noon-day sun. She’s clutching her son’s arm.  A small towel, stained with the sweat and grime of work on the fields, is the only protection the two have from the glare of the sun.

The woman, Teresa, is well into her eighties and has lost sight in both eyes. She was the same woman we’d given a medical check-up this morning.  Her middle-aged son is a fisherman, like many of the marchers. Mother and son inch forward.

Eventually I lose sight of them, with people cramming the road from end to end. We turn a corner and spot Gaisano grocery store, the main target of ‘looting’ binges in the days after the storm. Few of the looters, of course, were the ‘professional criminals’ commonly portrayed by the cops. The victims of the Manila-based media’s smear campaign were in reality families just scrambling to survive (among their ranks: the wife of the mayor, who managed to snag a pair of jeans from a looted department store).

We cross a few more blocs and reach a small clearing by the coast. A small stage in the middle of the road – built with a few crates and an old pick-up truck – rises above a few market stalls.

The first thing that catches my attention are the streamers, banners and placards. They’re everywhere.

Ipadayonan Relief tubtob kina hanglan sa mga Biktima! Speed up relief efforts – aid to the victims!

Ipakigbisog an Pagkaon, Pabalay, Pakabuhi ngan Serbisyo Sosyal! Fight for the Right to Food, Housing, Jobs and Social Services!

40K Subsidiyo, ihatag ha kada Pamilya! Php 40K Subsidy for every family! (the estimated amount needed by a family hit by Yolanda to survive for two months)

NO-BUILD ZONE: Kontra-mamamayan, Land-grabbing! The government has prevented thousands of   displaced families from rebuilding on lands they were originally on, claiming they’re far too dangerous for residential occupation. The catch: despite the alleged risks, many of these neighbourhoods are on public land bought up by private real-estate developers a few years ago. The survivors will have to be relocated to temporary bunkhouses built out of flimsy plywood and corrugated iron, long since criticised by Architect Felinio Palafox and the United Nations for failing to meet international standards for basic safety.

***

Residents along the shoreline are opposed to dislocation by the government's 'No-Build Zone' policy.  CJ Chanco

Residents along the shoreline are opposed to dislocation by the government’s ‘No-Build Zone’ policy. CJ Chanco

Then I hear the voices. Each one – from farmers, community organisers, a student who lost her father in the storm – builds up to a poignant crescendo. Each one speaks of promised aid from the government that simply would not arrive in time, if it would arrive at all.

Each one speaks of death, destruction and loss, but also of hope, resilience and rebuilding, stressing clearly the difference between victim and survivor.

Days 3-4 – Beyond Tacloban

We spend another night at the University of the Philippines-Tacloban, before making our way through the coastal suburbs of Tacloban to the municipality of Alangalang, further inland.

Our rented jeepney drives us through endless fields of rice: many only now throwing up the first tentative shoots of new life after months of. Nearly all the coconut trees that pass us by face East, as though bowing, prostrate, before a distant Mecca.

After a brief stop-over at Palo, our caravan reaches Sitio Bigaa, a small cluster of homes on the outskirts of Barangay Langit, Alang-alang.  We manage to hand over relief goods – clothes, food, medicines, cooking utensils, construction materials – to some two hundred families from Bigaa and neighbouring barangays, but on the way out, our aid truck gets stuck in a mud pit.

Jerry, a local kagawad overseeing local relief operations, rushes to my side. We watch helplessly as more than a dozen villagers push the truck, unloading and reloading goods to lighten the load. The engine shifts to high gear to no avail. It takes us another two hours of heaving and hauling to shake it free.

Jerry considers himself lucky. He and most of his relatives escaped the storm relatively unscathed, apart from a few scratches here and there – and a home completely destroyed. While his family huddled in their tiny bathroom, a single, strong gust of wind tore off their roof and sent it flying to the next barangay. They waited for days before the first signs of contact arrived from Tacloban city. They ate wet palay, inedible under most circumstances, picking through the remains of their crops to survive.

Then the days stretched into weeks, and relief goods came pouring in from people in Manila and around the world eager to reach out… but today  aid  has slowed down to a trickle, even in the city proper.

In Sitio Bigaa, Alangalang, Leyte, the destruction of coconut trees spell hunger for farmers. CJ Chanco

In Sitio Bigaa, Alangalang, Leyte, the destruction of coconut trees spell hunger for farmers. CJ Chanco

A group of survivors awaiting relief goods by people's organisations led by Balsa. CJ Chanco

A group of survivors awaiting relief goods by people’s organisations led by Balsa. CJ Chanco

In Bigaa, the World Food Programme still distributes about a sack of rice per family each week (around two kilos or more for every child) – and a handful of charities still visit them on occasion – but aid from the government itself has been sorely lacking.  A few weeks ago, representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development arrived here, asking hundreds of families to move to temporary bunkhouses that are as distant from their livelihoods as they are unsafe.

The plywood shacks on offer have sagging floors and flood after barely half an hour of rain. And rain has been pouring down constantly since Yolanda, like aftershocks from a big quake.

Jerry and his family, among hundreds of others, rejected the offer. People would rather build their own homes near lands they have cultivated for decades.  Give them the resources needed to rebuild, he says, and communities will recover. What people need here more than ever is long-term support, and above all cash, jobs and tools for reconstruction.

***

Bigaa suffered fewer casualties, he tells me, than those in communities along the coast.  Yolanda’s impact on local agriculture, however, has been devastating, wiping out vast tracts of coconut groves and rice fields literally overnight. This has been especially difficult for the majority of small farmers who don’t own the lands they till. Already in debt before the storm, many have taken on even more loans to rebuild their homes and replant their fields.

In Carigara, the next town we visit, Edwardo Bastol and Melecio Llagas, tell me a similar story.

Melecio is Edwardo’s uncle, pushing into his late fifties. Both of their homes were levelled by Yolanda, which saw a whole river redirected from East to West, flooding hundreds of acres of crops.

When I visit them in their half-built home near Carigara elementary school (its roof still plastered with donated UN tarpaulins), Melecio is balancing himself on a single wooden plank, hammering away and eager to share their tale.

Construction materials promised them had not arrived in time. In fact they received nothing in any kind of aid, apart from food. Barangay officials assured them there was no need. They had already begun to rebuild their home, after all.

There’s the catch. Edwardo has indeed managed to carve out a small but sturdy cement shack for his wife, two children, and his uncle who has since moved in with him – but only after taking out a hefty loan from his employer, a local vulcanizing shop owner.

Without it, it would have been impossible to rebuild. Thousands like Edwardo have dug themselves deeper in debt as a result.

Food, seeds, electricity, fuel, clothes, school supplies for their children, yero – corrugated iron roofs – are expensive. Post-disaster inflation, brought on partly by the difficulty of shipping goods to Leyte and the lack of proper public subsidies, has sent prices soaring.

Makeshift houses in Tacloban City. CJ Chanco

Makeshift houses in Tacloban City. CJ Chanco

I arrive at a small grove a few blocks away, hidden by coco palms.  I look around me, and note in passing the austere, almost deceitful, beauty of the place, perhaps concealing more than it reveals.  A mountain on the other side, after all, used to be covered entirely with coconut trees and green shrubs, locals tell us. Now green is the exception, appearing only in isolated patches between emptied-out fields slicked in mud after the storm.

I stumble on a ruined shack.  Tattered curtains are draped on a few walls still standing. Bits and pieces of chicken wire lay scattered about. At first I mistake it for a chicken coop, then realise it’s someone’s home – or used to be. Torn clothes, some still damp, lay, as if to dry, on a bamboo pole.

Sunlight pours in from the emptied-out frame of the roof, like a wooden skeleton.

The place looks abandoned, so I turn to leave, before a woman approaches me from a corner, shyly, cradling a boy in her arms.

Estelita Garantinao is in her sixties and lives alone, with her husband and three-year-old grandson. Like most other families, the child’s parents have moved to Manila, hoping to send money back home.

Her husband is paralysed from the waist down. He would have died in the storm had she not pushed him away in time as the wind heaved a tree from its roots – a kind of pillar in the middle of their nipa hut that had been its foundation – and hurled it down in front of them.

It was a caimito tree that had weathered countless storms for over twenty years – until Yolanda.

It crushed everything from their bedroom to their tiny kitchen.

Estelita has no money to spare to rebuild or even clean up. She washes clothes for her neighbours, and earns just enough for her family to eat. She’s too weak now to rebuild from scratch, all by herself.

So three months after the storm, their tiny home is in shambles. They live in a temporary shack, even smaller than the first, built by her brother next to the ruins.

Estelita stops talking. I realise she opened up to me before she even got my name, before I even got to say a few words in reply. I tell her I’m from the relief caravan and she thanks us for our help. At this I feel more shame than pride. Had I really helped? Had I done any more than report on their grief?  What did we from Manila really know about their plight?

And did I interview the others, she asks? The boy who lost his whole family in the storm; the pregnant young mother, her husband a jeepney barker in Manila?

There were stories. Hundreds of them. But there was simply no time to hear them all.  We would leave for Palo the next morning.

A woman among the ruins in Palo, Leyte. CJ Chanco

A woman among the ruins in Palo, Leyte. CJ Chanco

Day 5 – Palo and Back to Manila

It was like a scene from Titanic. Walls of water rush in as floors give way to a seething ocean. People clamber onto their roofs, and grab anything they can find as the tide surges forth, enveloping everything in its path.   Class D passengers, women and children included, drown in the cabins below, while the aristocrats of the upper decks escape unscathed. The homes of the poor are wiped out. The mansions are left standing, empty for now, their distant occupants safe in Manila.

This is how survivors remember Yolanda at its height, those harrowing moments during the storm. What unfolded in its aftermath is described in terms no less disturbing:

Relief goods bought and paid for, or stolen outright by local officials who have divided the spoils between themselves and their voters.  A ravaged local economy, leaving one of the poorest and most unequal parts of the country with a population even more vulnerable, post-Yolanda.   Rehabilitation efforts being given over to Big Business, courtesy of Panfilo Lacson, the region’s “rehab czar”, who has officially declared his support for a private-sector led initiative.

Already, real estate, construction and commercial investors that run the gamut from Consunji to Ayala to Pangilinan have sunk their teeth into juicy contracts included in the government’s rebuilding and rehousing programmes.  Homes for the survivors of Yolanda will be built by the builders of Manila condominiums. Thousands will never be able to afford them. Tens of thousands more will remain homeless, landless, and jobless in a region that will surely take more than a decade to recover even half of what it has lost, in money and in human life.

But some scenes of recovery are visible.

Communities are picking themselves up from the ruins, mostly thanks to people’s own efforts in the absence of government support. Palo regional hospital is being rebuilt, courtesy of the South Korean military. Crime rates are fairly low, despite sensationalised reports of “mass looting” in the days after Yolanda.  Donations are trickling in, thanks to scattered charity drives that can only do so much without a more comprehensive, pro-active role in the rehab efforts by the state.

And the corpses are gone.

Many, of course, are still missing; others were buried after more than a month in an advanced state of decay.  As of late January, new bodies are being discovered, at a rate of one per day, calling into question the government’s modest estimates of more than 6,700 dead.

***

Smiling children in Palo, Leyte. CJ Chanco

Smiling children in Palo, Leyte. CJ Chanco

In Palo, roofless buildings are perhaps the second most common sight one sees across the town. The first most common?  Smiling children.

From day one, children would huddle around me and my camera –  something I would get used to after a week in Leyte. Indeed, raising the camera to my face to take a shot seemed a cue for someone to smile. And smile people did, with broad grins that stretched up to the wrinkles of their eyes.

What made them smile wasn’t innocence. They had all seen too much for that.

It would be another 24-hour journey before I could finally reach home. In Eastern Visayas, some 15 million people have a much longer journey ahead of them.

It’s difficult for the casual observer to connect any of the horrors its people have faced with the beaming faces you meet in this society of contradictions.  It’s easy to be misled.  Sometimes suffering can be too deeply etched on a person’s face that the sheer weight of their troubles erases all external signs of sorrow or despair, because succumbing to despair is useless when your life is at stake, and you have a family of five to care for.

Whether or not this is a sign of genuine happiness or isolated glimpses of joy – temporary breaks in an otherwise painful existence – is another matter.  What comes out as resilience can be hidden sorrow or   anger, long repressed.  To the greatest tragedies, there are only ever two ways humanity can respond.

Resignation – or rage.

 

CJ Chanco is a freelance writer, photographer, and research officer at the College Editors Guild of the Philippines. In late January, he joined volunteer doctors from Balsa and Samahang Operasyong Sagip as they made their way across Tacloban city and neighbouring barrios in a five-day relief caravan.

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Love story sa panahon ng pagsayaw at pag-alsa http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/02/love-story-sa-panahon-ng-pagsayaw-at-pag-alsa/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/02/love-story-sa-panahon-ng-pagsayaw-at-pag-alsa/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 18:56:51 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=27859 Programa ng One Bilion Rising ngayong Pebrero 14.  (Kontribusyon/Gabriela PID)

One Bilion Rising for Justice ngayong Pebrero 14.

Kasama si Joey sa mga aktibidad ng One Billion Rising noong nakaraang taon. Kaiba siya, dahil pangunahing kababaihan ang kalahok sa kampanyang paglaban sa karahasan sa kababaihan. Sabagay, araw naman iyon ng mga puso, araw ng pagmamahalan, maiisip na marahil isinama siya ng kanyang asawa, kasintahan o di kaya nayaya ng mga barkada.

Pero kapansin-pansin na ang kanyang suot na t-shirt ay may nakatatak sa likod na salitang “Diego”. Dignity, Integrity, Equality of Genders Organization daw ang ibig sabihin nito.

Kuwento ni Joey, samahan ito ng mga manggagawa at manininda sa Bgy. Tatalon, Quezon City. Hindi naman daw sila “under de saya” dahil sa ang “Diego” na kanilang organisasyon ay pangunahing binuo ng kababaihang miyembro ng Gabriela sa lugar. “Sumusuporta kami sa laban ng Gabriela, naniniwala kami sa layunin nila,” sabi ni Joey.

Kapansin-pansin noon ang pagiging malapit ni Joey kay Beth, isang aktibong miyembro ng Gabriela na madalas makita sa mga rali at kilos-protesta ng grupo. Maraming biruan na sinusuyo raw ni Joey si Beth. Maaaring isipin na marahil nanliligaw, pero ang alam ng karamihan, may asawa na si Beth: at si Joey nga iyon.

Paghihiwalay at panunuyo

Sa tagal ng kanilang pagsasama  simula pa noong 1987 at pagkakaroon ng dalawang anak, muling nanunuyo si Joey. Hiniwalayan ni Beth ang kanyang asawa noong taong 2010. “Marami na kasi akong naririnig sa komunidad, na kesyo miyembro raw ako ng Gabriela, pero takot naman sa asawa. Magaling lang daw ako sa salita,” kuwento ni Beth.

Kaiba sa ibang babaing bantulot na ikuwento ang nakaraan, maluwag na ikinuwento ni Beth ang masalimuot niyang buhay. “Hindi ko itinago ang pinagdaanan ko kay Joey bago ko siya maging asawa,” kuwento ni Beth. Bago pa kasi magkakilala, biktima  si Beth ng prostitusyon.

Sa edad na 13, mula sa Visayas napadpad si Beth sa Kamaynilaan. Nahikayat na mamasukan sa inaakala niyang bahay, bilang katulong pero, “Sa casa kami dinala ng kumuha sa amin. Sa una serbidora lang ang trabaho ko, pero kalaunan ibinugaw na nila ako,” pagbabalik tanaw ni Beth. Sa isang maliit na kabaret sa Baclaran daw siya unang dinala. Napilitan siyang umalis sa kanilang probinsiya hindi lang dahil sa kahirapan, ginagahasa rin kasi siya ng kanyang nakikilalang lolo sa murang edad na siyam na taon.

“Maaga kasi akong dinatnan ng buwanang dalaw, kaya malaking bulas,” aniya. Sa panahon na nasa kabaret siya, inisip niyang sinadya na siya’y maging isang parausan, hanggang nagpasya siyang umalis at magpalaboy-laboy sa lansangan.

Taong 1987 nang makilala niya si Joey, matapos siyang mamasukan bilang kahera sa isang tindahan sa Sampaloc.

“Nakita ako ng nanay ko na pagala-gala, kaya dinala niya ako una sa Manggahan, Pasig. Katulong ako doon, kaso ginahasa din ako ng amo kong matanda. Umalis ako doon at namasukan sa tindahan diyan sa Espana (Avenue),” ani Beth.

Doon nagsimula ang panliligaw ni Joey, dahil sa tindahang pinasukan ni Beth namimili ng mga paninda ang pamilya ni Joey na may mga pwesto sa Welcome Rotunda at ibang lugar. Nagkapalagayang loob sila at makaraan ang tatlong buwan nagpakasal sa huwes.

“Pursigido siya sa panliligaw, kahit sabihin ko sa kanya na marumi akong babae,” sabi pa ni Beth.  Maalalahanin at di pumapalya sa pagbigay ng mga regalo sa mga okasyon si Joey. “Kahit hanggang ngayon nagreregalo pa rin iyan sa amin ng mga anak ko.”

“Akala ko noong una kaming magsiping na balewala sa kanya ang pinagdaanan ko, inamin ko naman sa kanya ang buong katotohanan,” aniya. Dito na nagsimula ang kalbaryo ni Beth. Kuwento ni Beth, bagamat isang beses lang siyang sinaktan ni Joey, mas masakit ang halos araw-araw na pang-aabusong berbal sa kanya.

“Hindi niya ako pinalalabas ng bahay, kapag umaalis yan ikinakandado niya ang pinto sa labas. Kapag nalalasing, ipinamumukha niya sa akin ang nakaraan ko, minsan kahit sa maraming tao pinapahiya niya,” pagsasalaysay ni Beth.

Saksi rin ang isang pinsan ni Joey sa pang-aabusong berbal nito kay Beth. “Naku, napakaseloso niyan. Parang stalker. Kung mag-iikot kami sa komunidad para mag-organisa, nakabuntot lagi. Ilang beses din niyang inaway yung mga organizer ng Gabriela,” dagdag-kuwento ni Grace.

Hindi rin ipinagkaila ni Beth na ilang beses na rin silang pinag-ayos ng mga opisyal ng barangay at naging bahagi na rin sa counseling session ng Gabriela. “Siyempre, nais naman ng barangay at Gabriela na magka-ayos kami, na hindi basta-basta pinaghihiwalay,” patuloy na kuwento ni Beth.

Pag-amin at pagbabago

Hindi madali para sa isang lalaking tulad ni Joey na aminin ang pagmamalabis nito sa kanyang asawa. Laluna’t napanday ang kanyang kaisipan na mas malakas ang mga lalaki kaysa sa mga babae, kulturang macho pa rin ang umiiral sa kanya. Pero sa kanyang pagkukuwento, inamin niya,  bagamat hindi detalyado, ang kanyang pagkakamali.  “Oo, kapag nalalasing ako minumura ko siya at ipinapahiya,” sabi niya, pero hindi niya inamin na minsan din niyang sinaktan si Beth.

Aminado naman si Beth na may pagbabago kay Joey mula nang maorganisa siya sa Diego. Hindi na raw pinipigilan ni Joey si Beth na sumama sa mga aktibidad ng Gabriela. “Okey lang sa akin na sumama siya sa Gabriela. Kahit naman kami sa Diego sumasama, kung kailangan nila ng tulong sa mga mabibigat na gawain tulad ng pag-set-up ng stage, pag-repack ng mga relief, nakasuporta kami,” sabi niya.  Halata rin na ipinagmamalaki na niya si Beth bilang isang lider-kababaihan ng Gabriela.

Para naman kay Beth, nanatili pa rin ang respeto niya sa dating asawa kahit pa pursigido siyang hindi na makipagbalikan sa kabila ng patuloy na panunuyo ni Joey.

Pero para kay Joey, malayo pa ang kailangang lakbayin para baguhin ang kanyang pagkatao at mahabang panunuyo pa ang kailangang gawin para manumbalik sa kanya si Beth. “Ang masasabi ko lang sa kanya, lagi siyang mag-iingat sa mga pinupuntahan niyang aktibidad at rali,” sabi ni Joey.

At sa okasyon ng araw ng mga puso, magkaiba man nang pananaw sa buhay mag-asawa, kapwa sila iindak sa saliw ng One Billion Rising for Justice.

(Sinadyang baguhin ng author ang mga pangalan sang-ayon sa kanilang kagustuhan)

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Patuloy na pagtaas ng matrikula, tinalakay sa Kongreso http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/02/patuloy-na-pagtaas-ng-matrikula-tinalakay-sa-kongreso/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/02/patuloy-na-pagtaas-ng-matrikula-tinalakay-sa-kongreso/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 18:28:36 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=27856 Committee on Higher and Technical Education habang tinatalakay ang usapin ng dagdag bayarin sa mga pamantasan. <strong>Pher Pasion</strong>

Committee on Higher and Technical Education habang tinatalakay ang usapin ng dagdag bayarin sa mga pamantasan. Pher Pasion

Dahil walang ibang maaasahan na magmamana at magpapatuloy ng lipunan kundi ang kabataan, walang dahilan ang gobyerno para hindi masiguro na mabigyan ng karapatan ang mga mamamayan ng kalidad at abot-kayang edukasyon.

Pero sinabi ng mga kritiko ng gobyerno sa sektor ng edukasyon, sa halip na makapasok ang kabataan sa mga pamantasan para magkaroon ng kalidad na edukasyon, tila lalo lamang silang naitutulak palayo dito. Taun-taon  kasi ang pagtataas ng mga bayarin sa mga pamantasan–kapwa sa pribado at pampublikong mga pamantasan.

Sa Consultative Forum On Students’ Rights and Regulation of Tuition and Other Fees sa Kamara kamakailan, dinala ng iba’t ibang grupo ng estudyante ang hinaing na ito kontra sa gobyerno.

Pinangunahan ang nasabing pagtitipon ng Kabataan Party-list, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), at iba pang organisasyon ng kabataan na nilahukan ng  iba’t ibang pribado at pampublikong pamantasan.

Di-abot kaya

Base sa datos ng NUSP na isinumite sa Committee on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) ng Kongreso, mula taong 2001 ay nasa P439.59 lamang ang average na binabayarang matrikula sa National Capital Region at P257.41 naman sa pambansang saklaw.

Sa taong 2012, nasa P536.31 na ang sa NCR at P1,078.60 naman ang sa pambansang saklaw pagdating sa average ng matrikula.

Noong nakaraang taon, nasa 354 higher education institutions (HEIs) ang inaprubahan ng CHED para magtaas ng matrikula. Sa taong ito, nangangamba ang NUSP na muling maulit ang pagtataas ng matrikula dahil sa kakulangan ng CHED na pigilan ang mga ito.

Ilan sa mga pamantasan na inaasahang magtataas ng matrikula ngayong taon base sa datos ng NUSP: ang Central Mindanao University (40%), University of St. Louis Tuguegarao (15%), Ateneo de Naga University (5%), De La Salle University (5%), University of the East (3.5%), Far Eastern University (5.6%), University of Sto. Tomas (7-8%), National University (2.6-10% para sa mga freshman), at Caraga State University (3-10%).

Dahil dito, nangangamba ang mga lider-estudyante na maraming mag-aaral sa pribadong mga pamantasan ang magsilipat sa pampublikong mga pamantasan.

Pero ayon sa NUSP, nagtataas din ang state universities and colleges (SUCs) ng matrikula at mga bayarin dulot ng mababa at di-sapat na pondong ibinibigay dito ng administrasyong Aquino. Sistematikong tinatalikuran ni Aquino ang tungkuling pondohan ng gobyerno ang tertiary education, kung pagbabatayan ang mismong programa nito na Roadmap to Higher Education and Reforms (Rpher).

Ayon sa Kabataan, nasa 26 ang tinatayang SUCs na makakaranas ng kaltas sa badyet sa susunod na taon. Pito sa mga makakaltasang ito ay mula sa mga lugar na nasalanta ng bagyong Yolanda. Kabilang sa makakaltasan ang Leyte Normal University, Eastern Visayas State University, Naval State University, Mindanao State University, at University of the Philippines System.

Bukod pa sa matrikula, problema rin ng mga mag-aaral sa parehong pampubliko at pribadong eskuwelahan ang mataas na miscellaneous fees. Pakiramdam ng mga estudyante, ayon sa Kabataan, pinipiga lamang sa kanila ang mga bayaring ito, lalo pa’t kadalasa’y di nila maintindihan at hindi nila maramdaman kung saan napupunta ang mga sinisingil.

Kabilang na rito ang tinatawag nilang redundant fees gaya ng may athletic fee na may PE (physical education) fee, sports development fee pa. Mayroon ding energy fee at air-con fee.

Nasa exorbitant fees naman ang sinasabi nila na malayung-malayo sa aktwal na presyo gaya ng ID na nasa P200 lamang ang market price pero nasa P1,000 ang nagiging singil sa mga mag-aaral.

Dubious fees naman iyung di-maipaliwanag kung saan napupunta ang sinisingil, gaya ng donation fee, spiritual fee, power plant development fee, security fee, development fee, at organization fee.

Dagdag pa umano sa mga pasanin ng mga mag-aaral ang mga polisiya gaya ng “No permit. No exam policy” at “No promissory note policy.

Kumplikasyon ng CMO 3

Ayon kay Isabel Ilayo, opisyal ng CHED na siyang sumagot sa mga paratang ng mga mag-aaral sa Kongreso, may katotohanan ang mga pagtaas na nasabi ng mga mag-aaral pero dumaan umano ang mga ito sa konsultasyon at rekisitos na nakasaad ayon sa CHED Memorandum No. 3-2012.

Dr. Isabel Ilayo ng Ched habang sinasagot ang mga tanong sa Kongresp. <strong>Kontribusyon.NUSP photo</strong>

Dr. Isabel Ilayo ng Ched habang sinasagot ang mga tanong sa Kongreso. Kontribusyon/NUSP photo

Paliwanag pa ng CHED na kasama ang NUSP sa pagbubuo ng CMO 3 na siyang sinusunod ngayon ng mga pamantasan kaugnay ng pagtatas ng matrikula.

Pero giit ng NUSP, bogus ang mga konsultasyon sa mga pamantasan dahil napakaluwag ng Ched pagdating sa pagtatas ng matrikula dahil na rin mismo sa CMO 3, kaya may reserbasyon na sila dito noong una pa.

Tinanong naman ni Rep. Lawrence Lemuel Fortun kung may mekanismo ba ang CHED para malaman kung tama ba ang mga impormasyon na binibigay sa kanila (ng mga administrador ng pamantasan) para magtaas ng matrikula base sa CMO 3.

Sagot ni Ilayo, sa ibang grupo pa nila ito ipinapatingin kung tama ang mga dokumento na ibinibigay sa kanila dahil sa kakulangan umano nila ng tao sa nasabing komisyon. Kaya sinabi niya sa mga mag-aaral na tulungan sila at iulat ang mga pamantasan na lumalabag dito.

Pero ayon kay Sheryl Alapad ng NUSP, nagsumite sila ng reklamo noong 2013 sa CHED base sa nakasaad sa CMO 3 pero nawala umano ito ng nasabing komisyon. Napag-usapan na rin mismo ito kasama ang Ched sa kanilang naunang dialogo pero hindi pa rin umano umaaksyon ang CHED.

“Ang haba ng panahon bago umaksyon ang CHED sa mga reklamo ng mga mag-aaral base na rin sa proseso kaya inaabutan ito ng pasukan. Kaya mahirap nang maibalik sa mga mag-aaral kapag nasingil na sa kanila ang mga bayaring ito sa bagal ng aksyon ng CHED,” ayon kay Alapad.

Ayon kay Rep. Roman Romula, chairman ng CHTE, mahihirapan na magtiwala ang mga mag-aaral sa proseso ng CMO 3 dahil isang taon ang lumipas at walang naging konkretong aksyon ang CHED tungkol dito.

Tinanong naman ni Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon sa CHED kung pinapayagan ba nila ang pagtataas ng matrikula sa mga pamantasan base sa procedure o compliance ng mga pamantasan (sa sinasaad ng CMO 3) o base sa determinasyon ng pagiging resonable ng pagtataas.

Pero tulad ng mga naunang sagot, pawang general statements at malalabo ang karamihan sa naging sagot ng Ched na ikinadismaya ng mga mag-aaral.

“Ang naririnig namin ngayon ay pawang mga recycled answers. Inako na nga ng mga mag-aaral ang pagbabantay sa tuition increases na dapat CHED ang gumagawa. Mahirap iyon para sa amin na nag-aaral na kami, nagbabantay pa kami ng bayarin. Kaya ang gusto sana namin ngayon ay concrete answers (mula sa kanila) para malaman namin kung may aasahan pa ba kami sa CHED (o wala na),” ayon kay Cleve Arguelles, mula sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas.

Ayon naman kay Einstein Recedes ng Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), hindi na dapat naghihintay ang CHED ng reklamo mula sa mga mag-aaral para umaksiyon dahil kung titignan milyong-milyong piso umano ang kinikita ng maraming pamantasan.

Einstein Recedes (kaliwa) at Sarah Jane Elago (kanan) habang tinatalakay ang mataas na bayarin sa mga pamantasan. <strong>Kontribusyon.NUSP photo</strong>

Einstein Recedes (kaliwa) at Sarah Jane Elago (kanan) habang tinatalakay ang mataas na bayarin sa mga pamantasan. Kontribusyon/NUSP photo

“Mismong datos na ng gobyerno ang nagpapakita ng bilang ng hindi nakakapag-aral sa kolehiyo dahil sa taas ng matrikula. Dito pa lamang dapat naaalarma na ang CHED sa bilang ng mga drop-outs at mga hindi nakakatuntong ng kolehiyo,” ayon kay Recedes.

Ayon naman kay Ilayo, nasa mga regional offices ang pagpapasya kung papayagan nila ang pagtaas ng mga matrikula kung nakasunod ang mga ito sa mga rekisito ng CMO 3. Hindi rin naman daw pinapayagan ang lahat ng pamantasan na magtaas. Kaya sa 451 na pamantasan na may proposal magtaas noong 2013, nasa 354 lamang ang pinayagan.

Tinatanggalan ng karapatan

Ang kawalan ng demokratikong karapatan ng mga mag-aaral sa loob ng mga pamantasan ang isa rin sa itinuturong dahilan ng pagtataas ng matrikula.

Ayon sa College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), nakapagtala sila ng mahigit 230 campus press freedom violations noong nakaraang taon sa buong bansa. Karamihan umano sa mga publikasyon, nakakaranas ng harassment mula sa administrasyon kapag nilalaman ng kanilang mga publikasyon ang tungkol sa pagtaas ng matrikula at iba pang bayarin at mga polisiyang nakakaapekto sa mga mag-aaral sa mga pamantasan.

“Paano magkakaroon ng demokratikong partisipasyon ang mga mag-aaral sa mga pamantasan pagdating sa usapin ng pagtaas ng matrikula kung hindi nila malalaman ang mga panukalang pagtaas dahil hindi sila hinahayaang maglabas ng ganitong mga isyu sa kanilang publikasyon?” ayon kay Mark Lino Abila, pangkalahatang-kalihim ng CEGP.

Ayon kay Recedes, mismong mga student handbook ang ginagamit para sikilin ang karapatan gaya ng karapatan ng mga ito na organisahin ang mga sarili at karapatang makapagpahayag sa mga isyu sa pamantasan.

Marc Lino Abila ng CEGP habang ipinapakita sa CHTE ang files ng mga campus press freedom violations. <strong>Kontribusyon.NUSP photo</strong>

Marc Lino Abila ng CEGP habang ipinapakita sa CHTE ang files ng mga campus press freedom violations. Kontribusyon/NUSP photo

“Maraming mga pamantasan ang hindi pinapayagan ang kanilang mga mag-aaral na magtayo ng mga organisasyon lalo na iyong mga progresibong organisasyon na nagtataguyod ng karapatan ng mga mag-aaral. Bawal silang maging miyembro ng LFS (League of Filipino Students), CEGP o NUSP. Kaya ang tanong natin sa CHED, ano ba ang mas mataas; ang Konstitusyon ng Pilipinas o ang student handbook?” ayon kay Recedes.

Dagdag naman ni Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero, pawang “do’s and don’ts” ang makikita sa mga student handbook at hindi nakasaad ang mga karapatan ng mga mag-aaral.

Ayon naman kay Ilayo, nakasaad sa bagong CHED Memorandum No. 9 na kanilang inilabas ang karapatan ng mga mag-aaral para magkaroon ng organisasyon.

Para naman kay Ridon hindi sasapat ang CHED Memorandum No.9 para masiguro ang mga demokratikong karapatan ng mga mag-aaral. Kailangang maglabas ng memorandum ang CHED kaugnay ng mga karapatan ng mga mag-aaral habang hinihintay ang kanilang isinumiteng panukalang batas kaugnay nito sa Kongreso.

CMO 3 magpapatuloy

Kaugnay nito, bibigyan umano nila ng panahon ang CHED para maayos ang problema sa CMO 3 kaugnay ng pagtataas ng matrikula, ayon kay Romulo sa panayam ng Pinoy Weekly.

Aniya, nakitang mabagal ang nagiging aksyon ng CHED para alamin kung resonable ba ang pagtaas ng mga matrikula o kung ginamit ba nang tama ang CMO 3.

Ang CMO 3 pa rin ang siyang pagbabatayan ng CHED kaugnay ng mga panukalang pagtaas ng bayarin sa mga pamantasan, ayon naman kay Ilayo sa panayam ng Pinoy Weekly.

Habang wala pang malinaw na gagawing hakbang ang CHED sa panawagan ng mga mag-aaral at dinidinig pa rin sa Kongreso sa kasalukuyan ang mga hinaing ng kabataan, mananatiling milyung kabataan pa rin ang hindi makakapasok sa mga pamantasan at milyung kabataan sa kasalukuyan ang patuloy na pinagkakakitaan.

Pero wala sa mga mag-aaral at kabataan ang makikipagtitigan lamang at hayaang patuloy silang nakawan ng kanilang karapatan na matagal nang naipagkakait sa maraming mamamayan.

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Video | 78 Days After Haiyan: Anger Rises http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/02/video-78-days-after-haiyan-anger-rises/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/02/video-78-days-after-haiyan-anger-rises/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 07:18:06 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=27763

Almost three months after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck, much of Leyte and Samar still lie in ruins. People are homeless, hungry, and without livelihood. Last January 25, around 12,000 storm survivors descended from remote villages and coastal towns to stage a protest march around Tacloban City, united in anger at the Aquino government’s negligence and ‘anti-people’ policies that show lack of genuine relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Cinematography and editing: King Catoy and Ilang-Ilang Quijano
Music: RJ Mabilin
Opening and Closing credits music: Susie Ibarra

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Orly Castillo: Mga alaala ng Sigwa ng Unang Kuwarto http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/01/orly-castillo-mga-alaala-ng-sigwa-ng-unang-kuwarto/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/01/orly-castillo-mga-alaala-ng-sigwa-ng-unang-kuwarto/#comments Thu, 30 Jan 2014 11:15:53 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=27707 Ka Orly Castillo, beterano ng Sigwa ng Unang Kuwarto. <strong>Gio Felicia</strong>

Ka Orly Castillo, beterano ng Sigwa ng Unang Kuwarto. Gio Felicia

Tuwing Enero 30, ginugunita ng maraming aktibista ang First Quarter Storm, o ang Sigwa ng Unang Kuwarto ng Dekada ‘70, ang panahong bumulwak ang militansiya at pakikibaka ng kabataan para sa pambansang demokrasya. Makikita sa mga larawan noon na libu-libo ang lumalabas sa lansangan para tuligsain ang naghaharing sistemang malakolonyal at malapiyudal.

Iniluwal ng dekadang ito ang mga tulad nina Lorena Barros, Emmanuel Lacaba at marami pang ibang naging kilala at martir sa kanilang masidhing paglahok at pag-ambag sa kilusan para sa pagpapalaya ng bayan. Marami sa kanila ang nagtungo rin sa kanayunan para lumahok sa armadong pakikibaka. May pumanaw matapos ipataw ni Ferdinand Marcos ang martial law; marami rin ang mga nahuli, tinortyur at ikinulong. Subalit marami pa rin ang walang sawang kumikilos kahit apat na dekada na ang nakararaan para magsilbi sa bayan.

Isa rito si Orlando “Ka Orly” Castillo. Isang kilalang pintor noong kanyang kabataan, si Ka Orly sa edad 67 ay mahigpit na yumayakap pa rin sa mga alaala at aral ng Dekada ‘70 habang patuloy na kumikilos sa hanay ng mga manggagawa. Walang pagdududang ang kanyang natitirang lakas ay nakatuon pa din sa pagsisilbi sa bayan. Sambit nga ni Ka Orly, Naririto tayo to serve the people… para sa akin ito ang esensiya ng Sigwa ng Unang Kuwarto.”

Buhay-pamilya

Ipinanganak si Ka Orly noong Disyembre 31, 1947 sa Camalanuga, Cagayan Valley. Tubong Cagayan ang kanyang inang si Luz Garduque Castillo na nagmula sa mayamang pamilya at nakapagtapos ng kolehiyo bilang guro. Mula naman sa Batangas ang kanyang amang si Florencio Castillo at nakapagtapos sa University of Manila. Gaya ng kanyang ina, guro ang ama niya na naging prinsipal sa nasabing paaralan, at kinalauna’y nagtapos din ng abogasya.

Noong mag-asawa, ipinagpatuloy ng kanyang ina ang pag-aaral at nakamit ang masters degree sa University of Southern California. Nagpasyang magtayo ang mag-asawa ng paaralan sa Cagayan.

Malaki ang pagpapahalaga ng mga magulang ni Ka Orly sa pag-aaral at ito rin ang ipinatimo sa kanilang mga anak. Pangatlo sa apat na magkakapatid si Ka Orly. Ang lahat ay doktor maliban sa kanya dahil Fine Arts ang kanyang kurso. Ikinagalit ng kanyang ama na hindi sumunod si Ka Orly sa yapak niya bilang abogado.

Lumaki si Ka Orly nang sanay mag-isa, malayo sa pamilya at kayang magpasya sa kung anumang naising gawin. Kuwento niya, “Malaki ang inaasahan sa akin ng aking tatay. Pero mas liberal ang aking ina. Hindi siya nanghihimasok at iginagalang niya ang aking mga desisyon kaya lumaki kaming magkakapatid na kayang magsarili.”

Dahil lumaki sa komunidad ng Maynila malapit sa Ramon Magsaysay, Espana Avenue, bantad sa kanya ang samu’t saring eksena at buhay ng mga maralitang tagalungsod. Madalas siyang nasa labas ng bahay at nakikipagkuwentuhan sa kabataan at matatanda.

Pero kahit maykaya, ninais pa rin niyang tustusan ang sariling pangangailangan. Kaya pinasok niya ang pagiging shine boy at pagtitinda ng komiks sa Maynila. Sampung taong gulang pa lang nagtitinda na siya ng komiks malapit sa Mapua Institute at nakikipag-swap sa mga manininda mula sa FEATI University. Aniya, “Komiks ng Superman at Tagalog Klasiks ang binebenta at pinapaupa naming mga manininda kaya uso din noon ang ‘swapping’– nagpapalitan kami ng mga komiks na madalas hanapin ng aming mga kostumer.”

Nakaranas din siya ng panghaharas mula sa mga kapulisan at, sa katapangang taglay, nakikipagtakbuhan at kanyang natatakasan ang mga pulis na nanggigipit sa kaniya.

Bata pa lang ay marunong na siyang manindigan, mangatwiran at magtanggol ng sarili. Aniya, “Naaalala ko noon madalas kong nakakaaway ang aking tiyuhin na isang gobernador sa Cagayan, na laging may sinasabing hindi maganda sa akin. Gaya nang malaman niya na naglilinis ako ng sapatos. Nilalait niya ito at sinasabing dapat nag-aaral daw ako. Nang kumuha naman ako ng kursong Fine Arts bakit daw hindi doktor o abogasya. Sa tuwing may eksena kami tulad nito hindi ko ito pinapalagpas.”

Likhang sining ni Orly Castillo <strong>Kuha ni Gio Felicia</strong>

Likhang sining ni Orly Castillo Kuha ni Gio Felicia

Buhay-estudyante

Sa University of Santo Tomas (UST) kumuha ng Fine Arts si Ka Orly, at edad 23 nang mahagip ng Sigwa ng Unang Kuwarto. Nakakuha siya ng pinakamaraming awards sa mga kompetisyong kanyang nilahukan. Dahil dito, naging kilala siya sa loob ng kampus.

Nagsimulang maugnayan si Ka Orly ng mga aktibista sa UST noong panahon ng kampanyang Filipinization sa kampus (mga paring Kastila pa ang nagpapatakbo ng UST noon). Nagkataon din na ang College of Fine Arts ay walang sariling representasyon sa student council at isinasanib lamang sa council ng College of Architecture.

Kahit nag-iisa, nag-room-to-room si Ka Orly at hinimok ang mga kapwa mag-aaral na iboykot ang eleksiyon sa kampus. Nagulat si Ka Orly nang sumama ang marami sa kanila. “Nagtayo kami ng bagong council at nanawagan ng referendum; umabot sa 2,500 ang bilang ng mga estudyante sa ilalim ng Architecture at Fine Arts na lumabas, umikot sa buong kampus, at nagrali sa harap mismo ng estatwa ni St. Thomas Aquinas at sa unang pagkakataon nagparada at nagsunog ng effigy,” aniya.

Di nagtagal, ibinoto si Ka Orly ng mga kaeskuwela na maging presidente ng student council ng College of Fine Arts.

Ang pinakamalawak na alyansa noon sa UST ay Sandigan Party na nagsusulong ng pambansa-demokatikong pakikibaka sa loob ng kampus. “Nakaranas ako ng pananakot mula sa mga pari ng UST dahil ako raw ay nanggugulo,“ kuwento ni Ka Orly.

Pero iba naman ang turing sa kanya ng mga guro. “Kilala ko ang lahat halos ng guro at may malapot na relasyon ako sa kanila. At dahil naoorganisa ang hanay ng kaguruan, sila na mismo ang nagsasabing huwag na kaming pumasok, basta magsumite kami ng aming class cards, rekisitos sa kurso at tiyak pasado na,” kuwento pa ni Ka Orly. Mataas ang tingin nila sa mga aktibista, at kahit mga lumpen ay iginagalang sila. Sabi nga ng isang bagong laya noon,” patotoo ni Ka Orly, “ako, isa lang ang pinatay ko, pero kayo ang kalaban niyo buong gobyerno.”

Bago pa man mag-martial law, kalagitnaan ng ikaapat na taon sa kolehiyo, napatalsik si Ka Orly sa UST. Inalok pa siya ng pamunuan o regent ng UST ng kung anu-ano, at ipinatawag ang kanyang mga magulang, para kumbinsihing talikuran ang aktibismo. Kasama pa sana siya sa listahan ng Benavidez Award, na pinakamataas na parangal na binibigay ng UST dahil sa galing niya sa pagpipinta. Pero binarahan na siya ng dekano noon, ang dating Supreme Court Justice Andres Narvasa.

Ani Ka Orly, “Siyempre, nagalit ang tatay ko na natanggal ako. Pero kahit siya, hindi mapipigilan ang aking pagiging aktibista. Samantala, walang angas naman ang aking ina; kung ano ang gusto ng kanyang mga anak, walang problema.” Nang huminto siya ng pag-aaral, napilitan siyang ibenta ang kanyang mga obra, at patuloy na naglikha para may panustos sa pagkilos niya at may pambayad sa mga bahay-pulungan nila.

Buhay-aktibista

Masasabing mahusay at malaki ang naitulong kay Ka Orly ng kapwa mag-aaral na si Ber Silva, na kasapi ng Kabataang Makabayan (KM). Pinatay si Ber noong martial law–katulad din ng maraming na-salvage (kolokyal na termino sa extra-judicial killing –ed.) dahil pinagkamalang subersibo.  “Natagpuan ang kanyang katawan,” ani Ka Orly, “sa Montalban na may tama ng baril sa ulo.” Dinikitan ni Ber si Ka Orly at inimbita sa KM tsapter ng UST.

Patuloy ni Ka Orly, “Ang unang rali na nilahukan ko, naganap sa Plaza Miranda. Ngunit hindi ito tulad ng kasalukuyang panahon na ang mga aktibista ay dumidiretso na sa assembly points. Noon, iniikutan pa muna (namin) ang mga komunidad na inoorganisa (nila) dala ang karitong nakakarga ang loud speaker. Pagpito ay maglalabasan ang masa at titipon kung saan nakatirik ang bandilang pula.” Masa rin noon ang nagtitiyak na may makakain ang mga aktibista, sabi pa niya.

Unang sumikad ang pakikibaka sa di-matatawarang ambag ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan mula sa University of the Philippines. Gayunman, nakakapagtipon ng libu-libong mamamayan noon, hindi lamang kabataan.

Ipinaliwanag ni Ka Orly na tinawag nilang Unang Distrito ang UP, Kamias at Delta, at ang tipunan ng mga demonstrador ay Welcome Rotonda. Kapag nagmartsa na, nahihigop na nito ang mga estudyante mula UST, FEU, UE, at iba pa. Isa sa napakalaking bulto ang galing Ikatlong Distrito (Caloocan, Malabon at Navotas) na sabayang nagmamartsa patungong Plaza Miranda para tagpuin ang iba pang galing sa malalayong lugar. “Salubungan ang nangyayari,” sabi ni Ka Orly, “at makikitang kumakanta ang lahat habang nagmamartsa.”

Aniya, hindi rin uso ang salitang “deployment” noon para lumubog sa masa. Natural na gawain na iyon ng mga aktibista para mapanday sa pakikibaka. Ipinagmamalaki ni Ka Orly na “lahat ng kasapi ng KM ay nakalubog sa masa – sa mga maralitang tagalunsod at maging sa mga pabrika kapiling ang mga manggagawa. Noon, lahat ng kabataan, lider ka man o hindi, ay nakalubog sa masa.”

Nag-organisa rin si Ka Orly sa komunidad. “Sa Laong Laan ako unang lumubog– may 1,000 maralita sa lugar,” sabi ni Ka Orly. “Ito yung malapit sa ngayo’y Dangwa Bus Station. Ang mga aktibista sa lugar na ito ay nakatira sa komunidad at nagbabahay-bahay sa paligid ng komunidad. Ang lugar na inoorganisa ay yung malapit lamang sa iyong tinitirhan, at mismo sa kalsada nagdadaos ng mga pag-aaral. Maglalabas ng silya ang mga kabataan at maglalapitan ang mga taga-komunidad, ipapaliwanag ang programa ng Pambansa Demokratikong Kilusan, na makakamit lamang kung isusulong ang Demokratikong Rebolusyong Bayan o DRB.”

Kapag natapos ang pag-aaral sa aklat na Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino (LRP) ni Amado Guerrero na pangalan noon sa pakikibaka ni Jose Ma. Sison, ani Ka Orly, kinabukasan lang kailangan na nilang magturo. Sinasanay din ang bawat propagandista na magtungo sa Quiapo at makipagdebate sa mga relihiyoso sa kalsada upang masanay sa pakikipagtunggali.

“Lahat ng lider noon ay ganap na agitator, matatalinghaga kung magsalita,” napapangiti si Ka Orly.  “Ang bubong na sementado sa may Quiapo ay nagsilbing entablado ng lahat ng nais magtalumpati.”

Ngunit hindi lamang sila nagrarali o nagbibigay ng pag-aaral. Sa pakikipamuhay sa masa naranasan din nina Ka Orly na “gumawa ng kubeta, magturo ng hygiene, maglinis ng kanal, mag-acupuncture para manggamot ng maysakit.”

Isa sa mga likhang-sining ni Ka Orly. <strong>Kuha ni Gio Felicia</strong>

Isa sa mga likhang-sining ni Ka Orly. Kuha ni Gio Felicia

Naaalala pa ni Ka Orly na ang buong Maynila noon ay mapulang mapula sa mga nakapintang islogan na “Isulong ang Pambansa Demokratikong Rebolusyon!” May malakas na kilusang propaganda na umaabot sa 100,000 demonstrador ang sumasama. Tantiya niya, may 1,000 noong  dekada ‘70 ang nagtutungo sa kanayunan ng halos anim na buwan, kinalaunan pati nga ang mga beauty queen na sina Nelia Sancho at Maita Gomez. Binanggit niya rin ang kaeskuwelang si Dante na engineering student na nag-NPA at gumawa ng mga kagamitang panggera, at sa kanayunan na namatay.

Pinakamasayang alaala para kay Ka Orly ang sigla at determinasyon ng mga aktibista. “Sagana sa propaganda noon. Laganap ang Taliba ng Bayan na nilalabas ng KM Manila-Rizal, ibinebenta ito ng 50 sentimos, maging ang Kamao na isang magasing pangkultura. Kahit Ang Bayan na diyaryo ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas ay pinamamahagi sa Plaza Miranda, gayundin ang Kalayaan na pambansang pahayagan ng KM na nilalabas kada linggo para sa chapters nito at para abutin ang masa.”

Mahigpit din ang tangan sa LRP at Red Book ni Mao, at sanay ang mga aktibista sa self study. Sa katunayan, naglalaan ng sariling pambili ang mga aktibista ng kanilang mga kopya nito sa Popular Bookstore. Nag-uumpisa ang pag-aaral sa LRP at kahit bagong kasapi pa lang ng KM ay isinasalang na kaagad sa pagtalakay nito para sa mga nais mulatin at organisahin. Mataas ang pagpapahalaga sa propaganda at edukasyon, at nagluwal pa ang Unang Sigwa ng mga mahuhusay at matatapang na lider tulad nila Lorena Barros, Voltaire Garcia, at iba pa.

Dumami pa lalo ang lumahok sa pambansa demokratikong kilusan sa lungsod nang makuha ang komunidad ng Tondo, patuloy ni Ka Orly. Sa malalaking rali, 30 porsiyento ang mula sa mga komunidad at 70 porsiyento ang mga estudyante mula sa iba’t ibang paaralan, at kasama rin dito ang mga manggagawa. Lumakas ang strike movement sa loob ng paaralan at mga pabrika.

Mahigpit din ang disiplina ng lahat ng mga kasapi ng KM, pagdidiin ni Ka Orly. Lingguhan ang punahan o CSC (criticism and self criticism) na nakabatay sa ibinigay na gawain at ang salalalayan nito ay ang pagsasabuhay ng “Serve the People”. Noo’y kinakampanya rin ang pagpapagupit ng mahahabang buhok ng mga lalaki (dahil nauso noon ang hippie look) na masagwang tingnan at pinupuna ng mga nakamamasid. “Kinakailangang gawin yun dahil pinapanatili natin ang prestihiyo ng kilusan,” paliwanag ni Ka Orly.

Mariing sinabi ni Ka Orly na napakahalaga ng solidong pag-oorganisa. Hindi dapat matali sa ‘sweep organizing’. “Kaya libu-libo ang lumalabas noon sa mga rali dahil umiikot kami sa mismong erya na aming nilulubugan at pinapaliwanag namin ang kahalagahan at laman ng pambansa demokratikong pakikibaka, ang esensiya ng pagrerebolusyon, at ipinapaunawa ang programang tutugon sa kahilingan ng mga mamamayan at ng buong bayan. Hayagan noong pinag-uusapan ang demokratikong rebolusyon ng bayan. Pagkatapos, maglalabasan ang daan-daang tao at tutungo sa assembly point na kadalasan ay sa Plaza Miranda, at umaabot na sa libu-libo ang kabuuang bilang. Marami rito ang sumasama lamang para makinig,” paliwanag niya.

Pero minsa’y nababansagan din si Ka Orly na “hard core,” o ng pagmamalabis dahil na rin siguro sa katapangan at pagiging maggiit. “Ang lagi ko namang tinutungtungan ay pagmamahal sa bayan at paglilingkod sa sambayanan,” sabi pa niya. Ilang beses na rin siyang napasama sa mga demonstrasyong dinadahas at binabaril pero mapalad na hindi tinamaan ng bala. Sa kabila nito, determinado pa rin siyang makibaka at maglingkod sa masa.

Nang ipataw ang martial law, nakulong din si Ka Orly nang anim na buwan. Subalit naging daan iyon upang magbago ng pakikitungo sa kanya ang ama at maintindihan siya. Huwag ka na lang pahuhuli sa susunod, ang sabi ng ama.

Lumipas pa ang mga panahon at marami pang pinagdaanang mga hirap at pagsubok si Ka Orly. Pero hindi nagbago ang kanyang paninindigan.

Payo nga niya sa mga kabataang aktibista: “Sa pagsulong ng ating pakikibaka, napakahalaga na bumalik sa kasaysayan. Kunin ang mga aral, at dahil mayaman tayo sa karanasan, hindi na bago ang tinatahak natin ngayon. Huwag maging tamad sa pag-aaral at sa pagsasapraktika. Higit sa lahat, lumubog sa masa at tunay na sila ay paglingkuran. Sapagkat ang pandayan ng komitment ay ang pagsisilbi sa masa.”

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Historic ‘surge’: Storm survivors demand justice, relief and rehabilitation http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/01/historic-surge-yolanda-survivors-demand-justice-relief-and-rehabilitation/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/01/historic-surge-yolanda-survivors-demand-justice-relief-and-rehabilitation/#comments Tue, 28 Jan 2014 07:11:58 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=27680 Around 12,000 survivors of typhoon Yolanda gathered at Eastern Visayas State University as they readied for a march around Tacloban, demanding justice, relief, and rehabilitation. Macky Macaspac

Around 12,000 survivors of typhoon Yolanda gathered at Eastern Visayas State University as they readied for a march around Tacloban, demanding justice, relief, and rehabilitation. Macky Macaspac

Almost three months after typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) hit the country, thousands of survivors “surged” through the streets of Tacloban City in the biggest protest that Eastern Visayas has seen in decades.

Hailing from remote barrios to coastal villages, an estimated 12,000 people marched around the devastated city last January 25 to seek justice for the Aquino administration’s “criminal negligence” and to lay down demands to the government for their relief and rehabilitation.

Homeless, hungry, and without livelihood, the survivors led by a newly-formed alliance People Surge (Alliance for the Victims of Typhoon Yolanda) are seeking for P40,000 financial relief for each family, housing, jobs and livelihood assistance, price controls, speedy rehabilitation of hospitals and schools, and restoration of water and electricity.

‘Proof of discontent’

The survivors mostly came from Tacloban and Ormoc City, Tanauan, Palo, and Carigara in Leyte; and Basey, Calbiga, Pinabacdao, Hinabangan, and Sta. Rita in Samar. Most of them were farmers and fisher folk who traveled or walked for hours.

Estelita Ragmac, 64, said that her family fled to Manila in December because relief came only twice in her village Bulaw in Basey, Samar. They came back a week ago to try to start anew. “It has been difficult. We still have no crops, nothing to eat. I came to this protest to ask for the government’s help,” she said.

Photo by Macky Macaspac

Photo by Macky Macaspac

People Surge assailed President Aquino’s slow-to-non-existent relief and rehabilitation efforts, corruption of aid, and the implementation of “pro-big business” policies such as the No-Build Zone.

“The massive number of people (who marched) is proof of their intense discontent over Aquino’s criminal negligence and utter incompetence in looking after the welfare of its people,” said Sr. Edita Eslopor, OSB, chairperson of People Surge.

Latest estimates from the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) reveal Yolanda’s damages in infrastructure amounted to P18.3 Billion, and damages in agriculture amounted to P18.4-B in affected areas.

The official NDRRMC death toll is currently at 6,201, though thousands remain missing and more bodies are being collected each day.

No homes, livelihoods

Storm survivors say that relief mostly comes from international organizations and private institutions.

Photo by Macky Macaspac

Photo by Macky Macaspac

“Before the storm hit, President Aquino promised that the government was prepared, but relief was slow, inadequate, and disorganized. He must be held liable for his negligence,” said Dr. Efleda Bautista, a retired teacher and executive vice-chairperson of People Surge.

Peasant groups who joined the alliance say that relief does not come at all for farmers in far-flung areas that are equally devastated.

“Even before Yolanda, majority of landless farmers in Leyte and Samar are already poor. But our situation worsened after the storm,” said Nestor Lebico, secretary-general of the peasant group Sagupa-Sinirangang Bisaya.

Gorgonio Advincula of New San Agustin, Basey, Samar said that the storm washed out his home, crops, carabao, and fishing boat. “With no coconut trees and rice to depend on, we have nothing to eat,” he said.

Another farmer, Lilio Obira, said, “We received relief goods only once. We have no shelter from the heat and cold. My children right now are just staying under a tree.”

Despite the extensive damage to agriculture, farmers have not received any livelihood assistance, according to Sagupa.

While the Department of Agriculture gave out seeds in some areas, “farmers couldn’t plant these seeds because they were high-yielding varieties and needed costly farm inputs,” Lebico revealed.

For the protest, the survivors in coastal areas of Tacloban City carried placards made out of rice sacks that read “No-Build Zone, Anti-People”. They are opposed  to the government’s prohibition of the construction of homes within 40 meters of the shoreline.

Photo by Macky Macaspac

Survivors march around the city to protest the administration’s “criminal negligence”. Macky Macaspac

Marco Ragrag of Brgy. 37 said that they are now being prevented to return along the shoreline. Most of them live either in makeshift tents along the sidewalks or in jeepney terminals. “We need a decent place to stay and construction materials for a home,” he said.

Joel Reyes, a member of Alyansa han mga Biktima han Bagyo Yolanda ha Tacloban or Alliance of Typhoon Yolanda Victims in Tacloban (ABBAT), said that they have nowhere else to go. “Most of us make a living as fishermen. Why doesn’t the government build a strong seawall to protect us, or devise an evacuation system instead?” he said.

Many lost their boats and fishing equipment, and could hardly survive, Reyes added.

He further complained that prices have been skyrocketing in Tacloban. “The prices were low only in the beginning. Now, one kilo of rice can cost up to P70,” he said.

Most residents of Tacloban City are now without jobs, as most establishments remain closed and electricity and water services have yet to be restored to the entire city.

“Without the government providing housing and livelihood, the ‘No-Build Zone’ only serves the interests of big businesses who are interested in land grabbing,” said Paul Isalona, chairperson of Bayan-Tacloban.

He said that the victims, and not big businesses, should be at the core of the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts of the government.

People Surge protest ends in downtown Tacloban. Macky Macaspac

People Surge protest ends in downtown Tacloban. Macky Macaspac

Other demands

Meanwhile, Bautista said that President Aquino should heed the survivors’ demand–or else face calls for his ouster. “This protest belies the recent SWS survey that rated the Aquino administration ‘very good’ in delivering relief and rehabilitation for typhoon victims,” he said.

Before the protest, the survivors gathered at the Eastern Visayas State University for the People Surge assembly. The alliance is composed of survivors as well as volunteers from the religious sector, academe, professionals, lawyers, and small entrepreneurs.

Among those who attended the assembly were progressive lawmakers Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna and Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis, Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, and Dr. Delen de la Paz of Council for Health and Development.

“People Surge believes that natural disasters may be inevitable, but people’s lives can be spared and massive damage may be prevented or minimized if the government takes adequate preparedness and prompt action in the face of natural calamities,” the alliance said.

Other demands include a one-year tax moratorium to help local businesses and small entrepreneurs and public consultations in crafting rehabilitation and reconstruction plans to ensure that victims, “not the big businesses and landlords,” are at the core of such plans.

The alliance is also pushing for long-term demands. These include a review of environmentally-destructive policies such as mining and laws on disaster risk preparedness and response, as well as genuine agrarian reform and a national industrialization program “as a key solution to mass poverty and its consequent people’s vulnerability to disasters and climate change impacts.”

Report by Ilang-Ilang Quijano and Macky Macaspac

More photos:

Urban poor of Tacloban protesting the 'No-Build Zone'. Ilang-Ilang Quijano

Urban poor of Tacloban protesting the ‘No-Build Zone’. Ilang-Ilang Quijano

Survivors, including senior citizens, hold hands in unity as they march around Tacloban. Ilang-Ilang Quijano

Survivors, including senior citizens, hold hands in unity as they march around Tacloban. Ilang-Ilang Quijano

 

A survivor calling for immediate relief. Macky Macaspac

A survivor calling for immediate relief. Macky Macaspac

Survivors want to hold the Aquino administration liable for 'criminal negligence.' Ilang-Ilang Quijano

Survivors want to hold the Aquino administration liable for ‘criminal negligence.’ Ilang-Ilang Quijano

 

A SM mall is being constructed a few meters away from the shoreline in downtown Tacloban, while this protester holds a placard demanding for social services. Ilang-Ilang Quijano

A SM mall is being constructed a few meters away from the shoreline in downtown Tacloban, while this protester holds a placard demanding for social services. Ilang-Ilang Quijano

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