Sunday, November 29, 2009

Conflicts Resolution and Hope For Reconciliation

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” -Jimi Hendrix


These past days, we have been hearing the names Ampatuans, Mangudadatu, Maguindanao, massacre, death everyday. I for one has been saturated of the gruesome pictures and this barbaric act. Sadly, this week is also the Celebration of Mindanao's Week of Peace, an annual event that highlights peace initiatives from all over the world. The event has been mired down by this event but the peace builders and advocates will not be hampered. This event showed us that in the process of conflict, there is hope for mediation and regaining strength to plant peace.

This year's PEACE ON TOUR has several workshop sessions to understand fully ourselves and how to deal with intra and interpersonal conflicts.

So yesterday, my office mates and I were invited to join sharing on personal conflicts and meeting a person living with HIV/AIDS at ALAGAD-Mindanao's office in Kamuning St., Juna Subdivision which incidentally is near the mansion of Mayor Andal Ampatuan.


The gates of the "one block" mansion of Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Sr. in Juna Subdivision

The Person living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) shared the struggle he faced when he was diagnosed by the said disease. Before sharing, the staff of ALAGAD Mindanao (an NGO advocating for health and stigma associated with HIV/AIDS) asked us to sign a confidentiality contract. It says we cannot disclose the description of our resource speaker ( a person with HIV/AIDS). We can share the experiences and draw out lessons from it but they asked us not to describe the face. Our resource speaker described how hard it was open up about the disease and his sexuality. He knows his parents would ask where possibly he acquired the virus and why he's been sick all the time. So he decided to come out and be clean despite his fear of his father and brother. Good for him, his family and close friends stood up for him. They are crucial support groups in his recovery. For persons living with HIV, the support groups are every important in order for them face the reality and even death, if it get worse.


Poster for the World's Aids Day Celebration on Dec.1.

Kuya Mike Mahinay, one of the counselors in Alagad shared that they have clients who are able to open up to their families about their diseases but up until now could not "come out." This is attributed to the macho values in a patriarchal society like ours. Family support is very important. They observed that those affected by HIV who's responding fast to the medicines are also the ones who has been open about their sexuality.

What's alarming during the sharing is the rise of bisexuals who are still afraid to "come out" and has heterosexual partners and the invisible line of risk to their respective partners. Looking also in gender relations, 40% of wives battered are at high risk of being transmitted with HIV/AIDS. Around 60% of wives economically dependent to their husbands are also at risk of being infected. Why? Women who are battered cannot say NO and negotiate in marital sex. And mostly of the cases of battered women, the husbands mostly engages in sex with other women. But no empirical data is available on this but this is a trend that's happening not only in the Philippines but in Asia.

It is also alarming that here in Davao City, the numbers are increasing for the youth (16-25) who are getting at risk of HIV/AIDS because of risky unprotected sex.


Poster raising awareness on sexuality and protected sex.

Gender-sensitivity is not the only part that we have to learn but alongside with it is reproductive rights. Sadly, we are still battling even to the passing of the Reproductive Health Bill.

After the activity, we have to proceed to conflict transformation workshop. We asked the boys to just hire a jeep. When they got back, they shared that when Manong Drayber asked them where he has to get the passengers, they told him, "Kamuning St. Manong, basta kanang duol sa balay ni Ampatuan!", Manong driver almost backed out. His afraid since the police and NBI has been patrolling the area, according to him.

So the next activity was conflict resolution in Shrine Hills, Matina, a place overlooking Davao Gulf. Just right place to keep you at peace. John Mark Cajiuat from Bread for the World facilitated the workshop. Pictures were placed on the floor and we were asked to take pictures that "talk to us", pictures that we can relate too. I choose a man holding .45mm pistol standing in a middle of thousand of other .45 pistols.

It reminded me of arms trade and warlodism that reigns in Maguindanao. With illegal and unregulated arms that is being made in the province, it makes the political clans invincible. As Dean Marvic Leonen on UP College of Law puts it in political equation 1: amount of insecurity is directly proportional to the number of bodyguards employed.
2: propensity for corruption is also directly proportional to the number of public officers serving as body guards.

This is true in the area. I don't know if the military or the Police has an exact number of bodyguards and "civilian volunteers" serving the Ampatuan family. Wherever they go, they have convoys! and since they are "CVOs", the government pays for it. It's the people's money, money from taxpayers like me! I was enraged during the discussion.

Then JM asked the group, particularly me, "Do you believe that reconciliation will be possible between the Ampatuans and Mangudadatus?"

Yes it is possible, I said. I am still hopeful that the two clans will reconcile, when both have already used up their resources and both are already powerless. And it is possible if the children from both families also take steps to reconcile their families.

I am still keeping my hopes.

pure evil

(written on November 25,2009; 7:53PM)

I was not watching the news lately. I am sick and tired of these beaming politicians and their unending promises.

I was busy moderating the forum we have co-sponsored when my phone rang and several texts received. It was from my sister. It’s unusual. First, we had a misunderstanding for two weeks now and she never texted me. She probably came to her senses and has forgiven the spoiled brat. When I read her text, it was full of concern. She wanted to know where I was, if I was traveling and if I have companions.

She thought I was traveling again to Maguindanao. She chattered about the massacre in Buluan. She was alarmed since after Datu Paglas, I’ll be passing the municipality of Buluan, Pres. Roxas and Tacurong before I arriving to Marbel. She was talking about the massacre. I could not comprehend what she was talking and I promised her I’ll be off the traveling trail and I’m in on my writing process now.

After the forum, I immediately searched what's behidn her hysteria. And she, I and everyone has the right to be hysterical for the massacre in Sitio Salay, Brgy. Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao last November 23. What happened is the WORST Killings and the most violent in the history of pre- election violence.

Vice Mayor Esmael Toto Mangudadatu of Buluan would like to run as governor of the province of Maguindanao, in opposition to the reigning Ampatuan family in the province. His wife decided to file his COC (Certificate on Candidacy) to the COMELEC alongside with other female relatives and supporters. They also asked the media to accompany them in their convoy. The group requested the army but it was declined claiming their forces are depleted in the area and it’s the PNP’s area of responsibility. The PNP on the other hand, denied that they have knowledge on the said request.

On their way to the Comelec, on Barangay Salman, the group was held captive by armed men. They were asked to line up and were shot on the head. The buck how used to dug up the victims burial place is owned by the provincial government with the capital names of ZALDY AMPATUAN etched on it.

The Mangugudatu claims they are now holding four survivors and witnesses to this gruesome event.

I don’t know where this will lead. Rido or clan war is really up to avenging and taking lives from each clan. But in any rido, women and children are spared. But what happened goes beyond the cultural aspect of revenge and avenging death. It is about greed, warlordism and impunity.

The journalists and victims, which sadly are women were killed mercilessly. The journalists were killed not during crossfire, or by accident but was killed non senselessly by a political clan who maintains private armies to maintain their power.,

And it is very disgusting that this government is dillydallying on its decision. Ampatuan clan after all is one of the closest ally of the current administration. Ampatuan’s have delivered an over-all win to Team Unity, the administration’s slate last 2004 and 2007 election. And in return, the current administration has even approved of the clan’s reign and provided the private army of the family. Civilian volunteer’s organization (CVO), they call. And these private armies is being paid by the taxpayer’s money!

I read this article describing the Ampatuan’s reign in the province. Political dynasty at its finest! Imagine, they are ruling 7 municipalities even up to the point of making another one to accommodate their control on the area. The initial investigation showed that Mayor Andal Unsay Ampatuan’s as the prime suspect. If the government is really serious to solve this crisis, the military and police could have interrogated the suspects, but where are the Ampatuans? They are still sitting at their posh and luxurious mansions while the families of the 50+ victims are grieving, and could no longer identify the defiled bodies.

Hearing the news, appalled me. Again, Mindanao has been in the limelight. Not because of honor but because of warlodism and impunity that reigns over the area. It is appalling to look at the mansions of these politicians while the shanties, temporary houses of the poor majority of the population are everywhere. Evil has become so strong, that even brutal and inhumane acts are done in the name of power. Guns, goons, gold and god are with them, life has become useless.



Thanks to the Ampatuans, Mindanao, Maguindanao in particular is a deadly place. The peacebuilding efforts and even promoting the island has been watered down, what remained is the disturbing image of tortured and defiled bodies. It’s a nightmare. But I do hope in this time of crisis, we will use it as a springboard to move again and show our outrage. Let us not only remember their death but let us all unite to call for political clans to disarm and for the administration (and for coming officials) to stop cuddling political clans in return of votes every election.

For the victims,


Battered bodies, shattered dreams,
Lining the streets no end to the means
Crippled corpses, vandalized streets
degraded, penetrated beaten down
bought and sold
-- Bought and Sold, Wolfgang


Friday, November 20, 2009

Reminiscing my Meanness

Okay I just want to give a rest on the political talks and Mannny Pacquiao's historic feat.

As I read some posts from dear old friends and my usual laugh trip at some funny posts, I chanced upon Lance's entry. He posted an article reminiscing his antics and misdemeanors. I laughed at the idea of this "saintly" valedictorian used to stab his classmates' eyes and pushed his cousin around. Oh well, we do have sinister plans when we were a kid. Revenge is always sweet.And I have my own share of such meanness.


Yes, I am a brat. In the compound where I grew up in Marbel, I was the youngest female kid and mostly of my playmates are boys. Then there was the twins, Tonton and Tata who lives just in front of our house. Their mother wanted to have a girl but she could no longer conceive a child. She somehow "adopted" me, and the twins were my "brothers." Tonton and Tata would like to play those boy games and I always wanted to participate on those games. When they climbed the guava and santol trees, I wanted to prove to them that I can do what they can do. I followed suit even my short limbs had difficulty on climbing the branches. One day, I insisted on following them getting the ripe guava fruits. They would not let me since the tree could no longer accommodate our weight. I, The hardheaded one did not listen. I struggled to climb and reach the fruits; the branch snap off and I fell. Fortunately I fell on my butt on the sack of sands just near the culvert and not on the cement.

Because of shame, I cried. No, I wailed like a pig ready to be butchered. I created a scene.
My Nanay Nelly and the twin's mother came running and were very worried. When asked why I climbed the tree, I pointed at the twins. Tonton and Tata received the ultimate punishment on their household: leather na pakpak. In short, the thick leather belt that hangs near their altar kissed their asses. I think, Tonton and Tata never forgave me for that.

When Tata, Tonton and I met five years after that incident, we could not talk. I was too ashamed for what I have done. To break the ice, I ask, "Naglabiti ba ang paha? (Did the belt sting?)" And they nodded. I said sorry for being such a big fat mean liar and they both laughed.


I also remembered the time I pulled Maricar's hair when she told the class about Reggie's (a transferree student from Gensan) confession of his "admiration slash crush" on me (yacks!). That was so unthinkable since Maricar and I had known each other since we were four. I remembered putting those pink nicely chewed Bazooka bubble gum on Cutie's chair since she didn't let me hold her new pencil case.

Yes, I was so mean. But I got my own share of karma too from my cousins. When i turned six, I relocated at my maternal grandmother's place. We were four girls and the older ones (my ate and my other cousin) are meaner. Meaning, they bully me and Angel, my other younger cousin. In order not to get their attention, I have to behave. That gave me the precious lesson of the Golden Rule: Never do unto others what you don't want other do unto you.

 

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