Pinoy Weekly » Jailhouse Blog Philippine news, analysis, and investigative stories Tue, 12 May 2015 22:16:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mula Tarima Hanggang Fri, 21 Dec 2012 10:30:28 +0000 Mula tarima hanggang sa ipising kasilyas
isang di iniisip na hakbang ng tsinelas.

Mula tarima hanggang d’yan sa rehas na bakal
isang buga ng usok at dukwang na mabagal.

Mula tarima hanggang sa erya ng dalawan
isang pasilyong putol kundi man ay dal’wang buwan.

Mula tarima hanggang dalawin na ng himbing
isang buong magdamag, buong linggo pa mandin.

Mula tarima hanggang sa magising sa kumot
isang kahol ng aso’t igkas mula sa bangungot.

Mula tarima hanggang sa bungad ng aplaya
isang ihip ng hanging angkas ay alaala.

Mula tarima hanggang sa gitna ng pilapil
‘sang bugso ng pag-asang walang makapipigil.

Mula tarima hanggang sa pasyang magpatatag
isang hingang malalim sa dibdib na kalasag.

Mula tarima hanggang talikdan ko ang bayan
isang bagay nga lamang, at ito’y kamatayan.

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Some Notes on People’s Culture and the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners Sun, 16 Dec 2012 15:35:37 +0000 Despite the grim reality of imprisonment, I have not, as of yet, been condemned to a total state of ignorance as far as current efforts of various committed art and cultural groups and alliances are concerned. Thanks largely to a good number of artists and writers who have generously been sparing their time to visit me ever since the very first weeks of my incarceration almost two years ago, I have quite auspiciously been kept updated, however generally, on the developments and direction of the struggle in the artistic and cultural front here as well as in other parts of the world.

Last year for example, in July, a delegate from the U.S. to the International Conference on Progressive Culture (ICPC) flew all the way here as soon as the successful launching of that conference formally ended in Manila. He related to me not only the rich showcase of works and performances that capped the said cultural gathering, but also the wealth of theoretical discussions and interface of experiences through which was achieved firm common resolve to unite around a general set of tasks. One among such tasks, in relation to responding to urgent people’s concerns, was to subscribe to the International League of People’s Struggles’ (ILPS) declaration in 2004 making every 3rd of December International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War. It is that day today and so from this tiny cell here at the Calbayog sub-provincial jail in Samar island, or from this penal colony more popularly known as the Philippines, I raise a clenched fist for solidarity.


A visual artist from the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) apprised me a month ago on a major ICPC event in the works for early 2013, which I understand will be a 2-day global action carrying the theme “defend people’s culture.” Very good news no doubt which speaks much of how the ICPC, since its inception last year, has so far been able to effectively keep its momentum of active engagement.

The call “defend people’s culture,” furthermore, presupposes that amid the crisis of the world capitalist system, and side by side with the intensifying struggles of the people for their basic democratic rights and for national and social liberation, a formidable and dynamic movement of progressive artists, writers and cultural workers is indeed in resurgence in the world today. This palpable trend – arising from the people’s movements’ renewed recognition of the need to combat cultural imperialism, and of the immense value of art and culture as tools for progressive social change – we welcome with much eagerness. And with the vast consciousness-building, organizing and mobilizing possibilities opened up in social media – notwithstanding modern communication technology’s otherwise dominant function as global accelerator of finance capital and consumerism, and as nexus for pacifism, utopianism and anarchism, social alienation and degeneration – this new wave of people’s culture can certainly develop in a very profound, even unprecedented way.

Consequently, however, such advance, in the face of the escalating attacks by states against progressive artists and cultural workers, should entail a prompt consolidation of ranks in order to be defended. I have just been recently informed, for instance, of the killing of Argentine musician Facundo Cabral; other artists meanwhile like Kurdish singer Ferhat Tunc and the Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been sentenced to serve time merely because of the political contents of their performances. Defending progressive culture, in this light becomes in itself a legitimate urgent people’s concern.

In the Philippines, there are at present some 400 activists and revolutionaries who languish in various detention facilities as consequence of the state’s long-running, institutionalized policy of criminalizing political dissent and involvement in advocacies and movement for real and wide-ranging social reforms. Mostly affiliated with national democratic formations and coming from the toiling masses of workers and peasants, they are victims of illegal arrest and torture. In order to justify their continued detention and to hide the political context of their cases, they become victims as well of the patently bogus modus of being slapped with trumped-up charges of non-bailable heinous criminal offenses, even as court proceedings move in very slow dubiously erratic motion.

While imprisoned artists and writers comprise only a small portion of the current statistics, it is timely and important to note that art and culture, especially literature and songs, have long assumed a distinct part in the continuing struggle of political prisoners for justice and freedom. In the context of defending people’s culture, it appears that artists and writers who continue to create even under detention, as well as those political prisoners who may not have been active culturally before being imprisoned but who have now learned to produce works of art and literature, do not only belong necessarily to those who must be defended, but very interestingly are in fact at the same time among our most ardent defenders.


“Prison makes us into poets,” says National Democratic Front (NDF) peace consultant Alan Jazmines in one of his poems written in the early ‘80s, during the period of his second imprisonment (he is now on his third since February of last year). Jazmines is here however referring to poets mainly in the figurative sense. Prisoners, he suggests, in many instances, apprehend prison life in much the same way as poets usually set out composing their pieces. In rising above the adversities of a bounded, compact existence, for example, prisoners are just like poets who try painstakingly to achieve poignancy of meaning in the barest minimum amount of verse. Political prisoners are all poets, he says,

Who struggle everyday
to break the dross confines
of image of life outside
compressed into a few such things
as the iron bars
you squeeze for thought.

Prison after all, is only
a frugal, compact version
of an outside world,
bereft of so much verbiage
and the prose of assumed life
with somewhat freer movement

And yet quite self-evidently on account of this brilliant poem alone, and taking exception of the the fact that Jazmines has had barely a literary background to speak of prior to prison, we are made convinced that prison does make poets in the most literal, practical and very important sense.

It is not simply out of tedium or for lack of anything else to do that political prisoners actually take to writing. For one thing, those who have been thrown in jail for the audacity of their written works are quite naturally expected, given their character, to employ nonetheless the very same methods of the pen as one of their more immediate, self-acting responses to defy imprisonment despite extremely difficult new challenges.

Accustomed to the general strain of a relatively busier “outside world,” writers may presumably have found forthwith in prison, and not without much irony, the prospect of freer time to devote to writing. But such in any case is just as quickly offset by the attendant weight of arbitrary restrictions, ill-treatments of various kinds, and the tense chaos that takes turns with the doldrums in defining the climate of misery behind bars. Far from being trivial, their frustrations over having been deprived of otherwise standard essential tools as a word processor or a dictionary or ready references to current events, are pretty intense and justified considering how much of their former competence or of the work process they have previously been inured to, is severely undermined.

Many times however, it is the emotional and psychological scars left by their abductors and torturers that prove to be the more daunting impediments. For some, it is the hounding dread from clear and present threats of murder by state agents – or what they call “accidents” around here – that makes it seem impossible to write altogether.

All these of course, in the viciously tiresome scheme it seems of things, are but stuffs themselves that beg to be written about in earnest. The urgency of writing under such circumscribed circumstances – of giving full account of the machinations of injustice no longer expounded from observation alone or from one’s sound grasp of theory, but as something that now grips one very tightly in the neck – is so compelling that the imprisoned writers on the whole, despite all deterrents, are able to will themselves to write.

Though they may usually have to start from a practical non-guarantee that what they write could immediately reach their audience beyond prison walls, they write perseveringly just the same knowing that their works, as documentation of a continuing real social, human experience, should be able, in one way of another, to hold their relevance and cogency over time. Temporarily in such cases, the general inmate population becomes their immediate audience; which should serve them just as well and not in the least significant way given the political prisoner’s task of organizing the imprisoned masses – themselves a collective embodiment of the extreme dehumanizing effects of social injustice – into politicized prisoners.

And always, the imprisoned writers are themselves are their own works’ necessary audience – they who at all times must be reminded of the true socio-political, even historic essence of their ordeal; they who continually must be strengthened in militancy, ideology and spirit. The urgency of writing in prison is such that even the previously non-writers among the political prisoners strive to learn to write and become people’s artists and writers in their own right. In the history of state political repression, prison transformed as veritable workshops not only for but of writers has built its own living legacy of militant literature and culture.

I am still quite uninformed as to how precisely this category of the imprisoned writer is operationalized by PEN International. I see no reason, however, how such could possibly differ in any basic way from the progressive or militant sectors’ own definition. Anyway, I am very much thankful to the PEN International and its Philippine Center for their continued support, especially those who just last November 15, led a successful forum in Manila on the International Day of the Imprisoned Writer – Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, Elmer Ordoñez, Jun Cruz Reyes and many others. I extend my gratitude as well to Katia Canciani of Canada, and Tom Eaton of South Africa who represented me in their respective PEN events on the said date.


One particular issue that a Filipino-American cultural worker brought up during his visit here in prison last year had something to do with the rather general difficulty of American artists and intellectuals (even those in fact in progressive circles) in imagining the phenomenon of the political prisoner. This notwithstanding, let’s say, Assata Shakur’s already legendary pre-eminence in the counter-cultural consciousness of some of hip-hop’s more relevant quarters, or the popular mainstream MTV and concert circuit advocacy for Nelson Mandela’s freedom in the ‘80s, or for Aung San Suu Kyi’s in the last couple of decades.

The national democratic movement in the Philippines could readily suggest as basic reference the documents of SELDA, a human rights group which focuses on cases of political prisoners in the country. There are of course international organizations like Amnesty International whose work on those who fall under their category of “prisoners of conscience” is more expansive and worldwide. But I think must be given stress here – especially if what is commonly invoked to explain the inability of U.S. artists and intellectuals to comprehend the discourse of the political prisoner is the assumption that such discourse in fact is absolutely alien to the general political landscape of purportedly advanced democratic societies like the U.S. – is this: that political prisoners in many so-called weak democracies like the Philippines or say, Colombia, are as much the political prisoners of the monopoly capitalist state of the United States as they are of their respective reactionary governments.

The politico-military dominance of the US through which the monopoly bourgeoisie and financial oligarchy are able to impose upon the starving peoples of the world the rapacious economic system of neoliberalism to rake in superprofits and accumulate capital, is the very same global hegemonic presence that allows, and in fact guides puppet states to design and implement with alarming impunity, repressive fascist policies against the organized resistance of their people.

President Benigno Aquino III’s Oplan Bayanihan (Operation Plan “Cooperation”) is one such U.S.-Pentagon instigated “counter-insurgency” (COIN) policy. Under Oplan Bayanihan, state force systematically carry out extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, abduction and illegal detention of activists, and forced evacuation of whole communities, all in the name of state and imperialist imperatives. Through Oplan Bayanihan, the U.S.-Aquino regime has already accomplished in just two years an awesome track record of flagrant human rights violations – most recent and gruesome of which is the massacre of anti-mining activists and families of indigenous peoples in Tampakan in Mindanao island.


Oplan Bayanihan moreover has its own cultural component. No longer content with corporate media or traditional state cultural and propaganda apparatuses dutifully performing their usual sabotage job of blacking-out information about military atrocities, the regime still very much consistent with the pervading COIN doctrine of the U.S. has directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to reorganize and beef up its media and public relations (PR) machinery. The AFP, with more spin, savvy and persistence than in the past years, has now been able to establish closer and more constant working relations with practically the entire milieu of PR sectors and potentially PR-rich institutions – TV and radio network producers, publishers and corporate advertisers, the church and the academe, national agencies such as the Department of Tourism or even the Commission of Human Rights, local government units, and shady non-government organizations (NGOs) – all for the chief purpose of aggressively re-imaging the military establishment as far as possible from its actual savage practice.

While artists and cultural workers of the national democratic open mass movement are vilified and persecuted as “Leftist propagandists” and terrorists, the AFP’s civil-military commanders and other fascist publicists, impresarios and stylists are now vigorously trying to sustain a campaign of mobilizing directors, writers and actors for such ubiquitous media productions as Christmas network IDs, drama anthologies, short films or public service programs, to project the false idealization of the militaryman at once as humble everyman and as selfless patriot. An AFP website has commissioned poets (those of the mercenary type themselves) to calibratedly emulate militant peasant literature as a cunning but rather desperate ploy to gloss over the fact that the military itself is the single most powerful instrument of the big landlord class in crushing the aspirations of the peasant masses for genuine land reform. While no less than eight (8) battalions of the Philippine Army continue to sow fear and havoc in the towns and barrios of South Quezon, a platoon, for good measure as a sort of blocking force, is deployed to a noontime TV variety show to dance the Gangnam Style. And, as declared by the AFP in a high-profile event a few days ago, the most popular celebrity diva in Philippine show business today, is now also the official Oplan Bayanihan ambassadress.

The culture of impunity in the Philippines, as a state policy, is not only contingent on a juridical system that is by nature grossly complicit. It requires at the same time for a particular fascist contrivance of deception to permeate the general moribund feudal, bourgeois and colonial culture – a mode through which, as we’ve seen, certain segments of the art, culture and media professions, however unwittingly, are enlisted and implicated in state repression and terror.


But again, the growing strength of the organized art and culture sector that is determined to speak the more consequential truths in society and advance the course of freedom of expression along with the people’s struggle for liberation, democracy and social justice, is undeniable. This, despite the rather enduring inaccurate assumption that singles out the artists and writers as among the toughest, almost impossible to organize. Cultural organizers in the main are able to rectify the attitude of inordinately amplifying the tendency of artists and writers toward individualism, liberalism or careerism, as if these were, in the class context of the petty-bourgeoisie, qualities that are perpetually irreversible.

They are aware that the state and the monopoly capitalists are only too happy to get help from whomever in perpetuating this stereotype. It is in the interest of the ruling class to constantly prop up this myth in order to spoil the objective potential of artists and writers in participating in radical social movements and in truly serving the people. For imperialism, it is important for artists and writers to remain blind to this class potential amid the culture of consumerism, elitism, mysticism and decadence, and even as their talents, skills and labor themselves are exploited in the service of fascism and neoliberalism.

With social investigation and class analysis, appropriate methods and patience, and in working for the artists and writers’ particular democratic demands, the resurgent worldwide people’s cultural movement can organize cultural activists in great numbers. They must continuously be consolidated through an efficient system of political and theoretical education, collective work, and practical integration with the lives and struggles of the working classes. This should enable them not only to create more socially truthful and potent works of art and culture but also to effectively do battle with their own petty-bourgeois ideological fetters.

In prisons meanwhile around the world, people’s art and culture remains a viable ideological weapon of intense power. In Batangas in Southern Luzon, Philippines, Charity Diño, a peasant organizer and public school teacher, has just recently taught herself to write poetry behind bars. Impelled by the need to exorcise the demons of torture in her head, to reaffirm herself the militant principles of service to the people, and to exhort those outside prison to fearlessly carry on the fight against fascism, social injustice and imperialism, she writes:

This heart heavy with grief vows
To melt away these iron bars
To ensure justice for those
Stripped of their rights

These tearful eyes vow
To tear down these walls
To ensure the meeting of fists
Out to forge freedom

…Shackled, out of breath
Threatened with death
I vow ever to be loyal to you, the toiling masses!

-Ericson Acosta
Calbayog sub-provincial jail
Western Samar, Philippines
December 3, 2012

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Nakahiga sa Tarima Kaharap ng Pader Thu, 25 Oct 2012 02:36:32 +0000 Isang pares na ipis
itong mga paa ko
na gumalu-galugad
sa pader na semento.

Napaihi ang higad
sa bote ng Anejo,
Nilanggam ang balikat
ng modelo ng So-ho.

Napaipot ang tiki
sa bigote ng santo.
Binangaw ang bunganga
ng trapong kandidato.

Isang pares na surot
itong mga mata ko
na sumisip sa dugo’t
laman ng kalendaryo.

(October 13, 2012)

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Pagsisimula sa Talaarawan Mon, 15 Oct 2012 02:01:22 +0000 (Nota: Ito dapat ang naging una sa serye ng mga salin ni Ericson Acosta sa Prison Diary ni Ho Chi Minh. Pero dahil sa paglilipat-kamay ng sulat mula sa bilangguan ay ngayon lang nakarating ang artikulong ito sa PW.)

Sa samu’t saring padala ng mga kaibigan sa Maynila na hinatid sa akin nina Bomen Guillermo at Sarah Raymundo nung dumalaw sila dito nitong July, may isang bagay na hanggang ngayon ay hindi ko ma-eksakto kung kanino nangggaling: isang munting paperback edition ng Prison Diary (PD) ni Ho Chi Minh. Ito yung inilanas ng Vietnamese Foreign Languages Publishing House noong 2008 sa tatlong wika – sa Chinese original, sa Vietnamese translation ni Nguyen Si Lam, at sa English ni Dang The Binh. Cám o’n, thank you very much kung sino man po kayo (Nota: ang salin ay mula sa Yahoo! Answers).

Ang isandaang quatrain at  tulang Tang na ito ni Ho, na isinulat sa gitna ng labing-apat na buwang pagpapalipat-lipat ng kulungan (August 1942-September 1943) ay isang maningning na testamento ng rebolusyonaryong katatagan at makasining na sensibilidad ng isa sa pinakamagiting na lider-Komunista ng nagdaang siglo. Mula nang unang mailimbag ang PD sa Vietnamese noong 1960, naisalin na ito sa English (na may kung ilan nang bersyon) French, German, Russian, Hindi at iba pang wika. Ito na nga, walang duda, ang pinakakilalang akdang pampanitikan o ano pa mang sulatin na nagmula sa Vietnam. Hanggang ngayon ay patuloy itong tinatangkilik at pinag-aaralan sa maraming bansa hindi lamang ng mga aktibista at rebolusyonaryo kundi ng mga makata at iskolar.

Sa Pilipinas, kung hindi ako nagkakamali, ay wala pang naitatalang salin sa Pilipino ng buong PD ang mga akademiko at pamantasan, o maging ang underground na mga publikasyon. Gayunman, ang mga bersyon nito sa English at mga salin sa Pilipino (at iba pang lokal na wika) ng ilang patingi-tinging tula mula rito at mabisa pa ring nakapag-ambag upang ang ilang henerasyon na nga ng mga pwersang pambansa-demokratiko ay magkaroon ng isang antas ng pamilyaridad sa diwa at sa pamana (legacy) nito. Samantala, may hinala akong isa rin ang PD sa mga babasahing madalas ipasalubong sa mga bilanggong pulitikal (muli, maraming salamat po sa inyo, ____________.)

Sabi ni Ho, “singing poems may help in the wait for freedom.” Sabi ko naman, translating Ho’s poems may just as well help in my own wait. Heto ang subok:


Sadyang hindi ko naging hilig ang tumula-tula;
Subalit ano pa nga bang magagawa sa pagkakatanikala?
Gugugulin ko ang mahahabang araw sa pagkatha.
Agapay ang pagkamakata sa pag-aantabay sa paglaya.


I’ve never been fond of chanting poetry;
But what else can I do in thraldom?
These long days I’ll spend in composing poesy.
Singing poems may help in the wait for freedom.

[p. 6])

Hayan, nakakaisa na ako. Dalawa na nga ito kung tutuusin dahil sa salin ko sa “Autumn Night” noong Pebrero matapos akong padalhan ng mga estudyante ng isang pamantasan sa Calbayog City ng print-out ng sampung tula mula sa isang mas maagang English edition ng PD (Chinabooks and Periodicals, sa salin ni Aileen Palmer) na nahanap nila online. Kaya malapit na akong matapos – 97 na lang.

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Gestalt Mon, 08 Oct 2012 03:52:25 +0000 Kumikisap-kisap ang bombilya
na bibitin-bitin sa kabelya;
gaya ng tsubibo sa perya,
umiindak at nagbabanyuhay

Pumipitik-pitik ang bombilya
na bibitay-bitay sa kabelya,
at ang subersibo sa bastilya —
pumapadyak, nag-aagaw-buhay

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Mahirap ang Landas ng Buhay Sun, 30 Sep 2012 17:27:32 +0000 I

Matapos maglakbay sa matarik na kabundukan

Aakalain ko bang higit ang panganib na masasalubong sa kapatagan?
Sa bundok nang masalubong ko ang isang tigre ay hindi ako napahamak,
Sa patag may nakaengkwentro akong mga tao, at sa kulungan ako inilagak.


Ako ay isang delegado ng sambayanan ng Vietnam
Papunta sa Tsina upang isang mahalagang pinuno ay makapanayam.
Anu’t kailangang bumagyo sa gitna ng isang panatag na tanawin
At bilangguan ang isalubong sa akin?


Isang taong tapat at sa puso’y walang pagsisising sumisikil
Ako’y pinaratangang sa Tsina raw ay isang taksil
Kailanma’y hindi naging madali ang pagtahak sa landas ng buhay
Subalit lahat ngayo’y pagkahirap-hirap na tunay!

May pagkapambihira ang sirkumstansya ng pagkakadakip sa dakilang rebolusyonaryong si Ho Chi Minh, 70 taon na ang nakararaan.

Hindi ang mga French colonialist ang may gawa nito. Unang dekada pa lang ng nagdaang siglo ay naging bahagi na si Ho ng Vietnamese resistance movement laban sa mga French pero 1942, kung kailan siya nahuli sa kasagsagan ng second imperialist  war (World War II) ay Japan na ang may sakop sa Vietnam at sa buong Indochina. Pero hindi ang mga Hapon ang nagpakulong sa kanya.

Sa sikreto at kumplikadong ruta sa bundok papuntang China, naikutan at nalusutan ni Ho ang kordon at patrulya ng mga pwersang Hapon sa Sino-Vietnamese border. Ang problema, pagtuntong sa kapatagan ng Guangxi province sa Southern China, ay doon naman siya naharang ng mga pulis ng gobyernong Koumintang.
Hindi nila kilala ang pangalang Ho Chi Minh at sa kasamaang palad ay naging kahina-hinala sa kanila ang mga kilos niya at itsura. Lalong hindi nakatulong kay Ho nang sabihin niya na may hinahabol siyang appointment sa ilang Chinese official sa Zhongqing. Kung hindi lagalag na baliw ang halos gusgusing matandang ito (52 noon si Ho), malamang sa hindi, sa palagay nila, ay isang intelligence operative para sa Hapon ang kanilang kaharap,  at dapat arestuhin at ikulong.

Walang naipresentang patunay si Ho na naka-iskedyul talaga siya noon na magtungo sa sentrong lunan ng pamahalaan ni Chiang Kai Shek sa Zhongqing bilang delegado ng League for the Independence of Vietnam, kaya’t sa kulungan sa bayan ng Jingxi siya agad na idineliber. Kumbaga, isang napaka-interesante at makasaysayang kaso ng mistaken identity – isang Vietnamese freedom fighter na lumalaban sa Japanese imperialists ang hinuli at ikinulong ng Chinese nationalists dahil napagkamalang isang Chinese traitor at spy para sa Hapon. Medyo masalimuot at definitely ironic at pwedeng maihanay sa mga tragic-heroic plot ng Greek o Elizabethan drama. Pero maaaring pinasimple na nga ito sa ganitong lagay at mas malalim pa ang ironic twist na sangkot kung may matino ngang patutunguhan ang mga hina-hinala ko. Kaya’t mainam kung agad na makakapagbigay-linaw ang mga eksperto sa Vietnamese history (o kung sino man na di tulad ko ay may access naman sa Google hinggil sa paksa.

Sa Zhongqing nga ba papunta si Ho? Hindi kaya sa Yenan o kung saan pa mang baseng erya ng Communist Party of China(CPC)? Yung binabanggit nyang kakatagpuing mahalagang Chinese official, necessarily bang Koumintang ito o mas posibleng isang kade ng CPC, kung hindi man si Mao Zedong mismo? Kumbaga, maaari kayang ito ay kaso hindi ng mistaken, kundi undisclosed identity?

Si Ho noong panahong ito ay isa sa pinakamatatag na mga haligi ng partidong proletaryado  sa buong Indochina bilang isa rin sa mga pioneer nito mula pa noong 1920s. Kilala rin siya sa kanyang pagiging hindi kilala, o sa kahusayan sa pagtangan sa rebolusyonaryong disiplina sa lihim na pagkilos. Sa mahaba niyang karanasan sa underground movement, naikot niya ang buong Indochina at may pagkakataon pa ngang nakatawid hanggang Moscow para sa mga gawaing internasyunalista. Pero consistent niyang napag-ingatan ang kanyang identidad. Kung sa isang punto man ay natukoy siya bilang ang patriyotikong si Ngyuen Ai Quoc, di rin naglaon ay nagawa niyang palabasing patay na ang taong iyon upang epektibong makakilos sa harap ng pagmamanman ng mga kaaway, French man o Japanese.
Hindi kaya’t sa ganitong konteksto at trademark elusive character din ni Ho maaari nating maunawaaan ang banghay ng labing-apat na buwang pagkapiit niya sa China? Alam ni Ho ang brutal na pagka-anti-komunista ni Chiang Kai Shek kaya’t bagamat noong mga taong iyon ay umiiral ang isang alyansang taktikal kontra sa Hapon sa pagitan ng Koumintang at ng CPC, may mahigpit talagang kakagyatan na hindi maikompromiso ang tunay na pagkatao sa likod ng pangalang Ho Chi Minh alang-alang sa seguridad ng kanyang partido. Tiniis niya ang mapait na buhay ng isang kalaboso habang hinihintay na may sumaklolo o gumawa ng paraan mula sa mga ugnay niya sa CPC. Sa isang banda, mas mainam na nga marahil para sa kanya ang maparatangang isang espiya para sa Hapon, kaysa sa matukoy na isang high-ranking communist leader.
Sa kabilang banda, kung ang ibig-sabihin ng pag-aakusa sa kanya na isa siyang Chinese traitor ay ang hinala na siya ay mula sa CPC, mas kinailangan niyang bantayan ang kanyang sarili at baka dalhin nga siya sa Zhongqing at dun ay lalu pang mabulilyaso at mabisto siya pala ay hindi CPC kundi mismong pinuno ng Vietnamese communist movement at isa sa pinaka-susing proponent ng Third International mula sa Asya.

Huwag sanang pandilatan ng mga eksperto ang bigong tangka na ito sa historical investigation – “preso lang po!” Anu’t anuman, napaka-profound na pinag-aaralan ngayon ng sinserong mga iskolar ang buo at aktwal na naging papel sa kasaysayan ng isang taong nagsumikap na hindi patampukin ang sarili hindi lamang bilang pagtangan sa disiplinang panseguridad ng kilusang kanyang kinabibilangan, kundi dahil sa kababaang-loob ng pananaw na ang masa ang siyang tunay na bayani at tagapaglikha ng kasaysayan.


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Mga Kuko at Paliwanag Sat, 22 Sep 2012 17:18:05 +0000 Sa pader
na barubal yung kalburo,
sa gitna mismo nung pader
wala na ngayon dun yung anino
nung taong pumatay –
kanina pa siguro siya sumakay
sa bulok na hangin,
sa gabok, sa usok,
pabalik sa kunh san mang sulok
para subukang bumawi ng tulog
pagkatapos maghugas ng kamay.

Ganyan naman madalas
yung tagpo ng krimen, hindi ba?
(lalu pa kung kinalas
Yung CCTV camera)
Andyan lang sa harap mo
Nakahandusay yung biktima –

O sa kaso na ‘to, di nga lang isa,
ilagay na muna natin sa lima;
di natin masabi kung ilan talaga
kasi… Pano ba ‘to?
Kasi nga… Pira-piraso,
Ata-atado na yung mga bangkay
Na nakahanay sa pader
dumikit na nga yung hiwa-hiwalay
na parte nung mga katawan
at yung malapot, malagkit
na dugo nila yung glue –

pero alam mong wala kang clue
kung sino ba eksakto
yung may gawa nito;
manghihina yung loob mo,
ang lakas kasi nung kutob mo
na hindi kayang hulihin sa hula
yung hayop na salarin
kahit sobra ka pa ngang magtiwala
sa mga hinala mong praning;
mangingilo ka sa bagang,
maluluha ka na lang sa hilo
kasi huli na malamang
ang lahat.

Yan ang drama mo habang wala pa
yung mga kelangang humabol sa eksena,

mga rerespondeng naka-SOCO t-shirt,
mga correspondent, mga taga-research,
mula sa dyaryo, radyo at TV,
mga OJT sa Criminology,
yung mga dapat mangulekta
ng positibong ebidensya,
humimay sa motibo
o anupang sirkumstansya,
bumuo ng scenario
o aktwal na istorya,
magpangalan sa wakas
sa mga suspetsado
o maglabas ng abiso
kung ano nga ba ang itsura
ng susmaryosep na mga ‘to

Kasi nga ganito,
kung tungkol na rito sa pader,
sa gitna mismo ng pader
na di mo matitigan nang matagal,
ang kaduda-duda walang duda
kung sa’kin lang naman
e kung anong bwakanang raket
ang nangyari kung bakit
bago pa makabwelo
yung mga miron at eksperto
e meron nang naatat
(isang preskong alagad at payaso)
na magpapreskon kaagad sa palasyo.

Pasintabi sa naghahapunang mga manonood
isa na naman pong masaker
ang iniulat na nangyari kaninang umaga
sa Calbayog City sa loob ng sub-provincial jail…
Kinilala ang pitong nasawi sa malagim na insidente
na pawang magkakamag-anak
mula sa isang angkan ng malulusog
na surot sa Samar…

Agad naman itong kinondena ng Malacanang
sa isang pahayag kanina ring umaga
kasabay ng paliwanag na ang mga kuko
na ginamit sa walang-awang paniniris
ay imposible umanong maging pagmamay-ari
ng sinumang bilanggong pulitikal.
Dagdag pa ng pahayag,
wala naman daw kasing ganung klase
ng bilanggo saan mang kulungan sa bansa…

(Hunyo 2012)

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Buhay-Kulungan Tue, 18 Sep 2012 02:13:35 +0000 [Nota: Ang sumusunod ay bahagi ng serye ng mga salin at repleksyon ni Ericson sa mga tula ng rebolusyonaryong Byetnames na si Ho Chi Minh, mula sa kanyang tanyag na Prison Diary.

Ang una sa seryeng ito ay ang “Gabi ng Taglagas.”]


Isang kalan para sa bawat bilanggo
At mga palayok na sari-sari ang laki
Para sa paggawa ng tsaa, paglalaga ng gulay at pagsasaing
Maghapon ang buong paligid ay balot sa usok.

—  Salin mula sa “PRISON LIFE” ni Ho Chi Minh


Gaya ng inilalarawan ni Ho, KKL dito sa CSPJ*. Kanya-kanyang luto ang mga preso (o pwede ring grupo ng mga preso) sa bawat selda. May tinatawag na kitchen room pero ang pagkain lang ng mga gwardiya at ilang piling trustee ang niluluto dito; o di kaya ay mga packed meal na dinadala sa kung saan man sa labas ng jail sa tuwing may raket sa catering ang ilang empleyado. Walang mess hall.

Sa unang tingin ay hindi problema sa mga inmate ang kawalan ng sentralisadong feeding system. Ang opinyon ng marami ay mainam na ngang KKL para ikaw na ang bahala kung anong oras mo gustong magluto,  at kung paano mo lulutuin ang araw-araw na inirarasyong bigas at sariwang isda;  o ang dinadalang gulay at isda ng mga dalaw;  o ang binibili sa tindahan dito gaya ng itlog, noodles at tuyo. Sa ganito, sabi nila, maiiwasan ang hindi kaaya-aya, tinipid at bara-barang luto na karaniwan daw na nangyayari kung isahan at bultuhan.

Sa kabilang banda naman, ang karaniwang inaalala ng mga kosa sa  ganito ay ang panggatong. De-uling ang tipo ng kalan na meron ang mga inmate (1-2 sa kada selda) pero dahil mahal ang uling ay kahoy ang mas ginagamit. Kung ubos na ang kahoy na dala ng dalaw mo ay kailangan mong dumiskarte para magpabili sa labas, kung meron kang pambili. Ang ilan ay may rice  cooker pero pang-saing nga lang. Kung gagamitin sa iba pang pagluluto gaya ng pagpiprito ay mabilis namang nasisira kaya kakailanganin pa rin gumamit ng de-uling/ de-kahoy na kalan para hindi ito maabuso o magasgas.

Bukod sa panggatong, lumalabas na bagamat ayos lang ang bigas, ang rasyong isda ay hindi sapat sa tatlong beses na pangkain sa bawat araw. Kaya kailangan mo pa rin umasa sa mga padala ng mga dalaw o bumili sa tindahan na presyong-laya ang umiiral.

Kung sa kalakhan ay hindi paborable sa mga kosa ang sentralisadong sistema ng pagluluto, kakailanganing magawan pa rin ng paraan na maging sapat ang kantidad ng niluluto. Kailangan ng dagdag na rasyon ng uulamin. Kailangain din na maging presyong-bilanggo ang bentahan sa tindahan. Maaari ngang patakbuhin sa tindahan sa batayang kooperatiba na hindi lang magpapababa sa presyo ng mga bilihin kundi siya na ring pagmumulan ng solusyon para sa mura at regular na suplay ng panggatong.

Gaya ng inilalarawan ni Ho, nababalot din sa usok ang buu-buong mga selda lalu na sa bandang alas-syete ng umaga, at alas-sais ng gabi. Walang problema sa amin ang usok. Bukod sa epektibong pambugaw sa lamok, araw-araw din itong hudyat ng di-pinagsasawang siste:

“Hoy kayo dyan sa selda dos, bilis-bilisan na ninyo ang pagluluto nyo ng kopra…”

Ang problema ay kung dahil sa kawalan ng panggatong ay mga lumang damit ang tirahin o kung ano pang materyal na kapag nagliyab ay nakakasulasok at masama sa kalusugan ang usok:

“Hoy selda tres, bakit nyo kami tini-teargas?!”

Ang problema ay kung sa buong araw na pag-usok ng mga kalan ay tubig lang pala ang nakasalang.

*Calbayog sub-provincial jail.

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Greedyyyyyy…PETROL! Mon, 20 Aug 2012 10:22:57 +0000

Mataas na.
Tataas pa.
Tumaas pa nang tumaas.
Tumaas na.
Tumaas na naman.
Tumaas na ulit
at tumaas pa nang tumaas.
Bababa raw.
Tataas naman pala agad
at tataas pa nang tataas.

Ito at marami pa
sa pagbabalik ng

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Astig Tue, 07 Aug 2012 16:00:01 +0000 Para kay Tirso “Ka Bart” Alcantara


Nakadagan sa dibdib ko
Ang talampakan ng estado
Isang tambak ng mga bloke ng semento.

Nakadiin sa dibdib ko
Ang mga tuhod niya at siko
Ilang hilerang mga rehas na asero.

Naririto ang dibdib ko
Ito ri’y bakal at kongkreto
Hinding-hindi magpapadurog sa pasismo.

(June 2012)

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