Not for keeps

sand

Like sand dripping through my fingers
I feel you leaving me, slipping through my clasp.
Holding on, is futile and senseless
The harder I grasp, the more I lose my grip.

You were not meant for my hands,
Nor were my hands made for you.
In my arms you do not belong,
A lonely stranger at my side.

Your smile is etched on the canvass of my memory
Your face carved in my heart of stone.
Your voice echoes in the valleys of my hollow heart
Your spirit flows through my tired veins.

Like sand fleeing my clenched fists
Like fading echoes in my heart
Like a bucking spirit through my veins
Your home lies over the horizon, beyond my reach.

As you go, I’m left with nothing
but your foot prints in my mind.
My orphaned heart will forever keep
The dreams we’ve shared for which we weep.

horizon

Heaven weeps

The weather outside is gloomy, it is as if the sky is weeping. Weeping for whom? For the people who lay lifeless after the blast in Congress? For the families who were robbed of their loved ones? For the wounded who are lying fighting in hospital beds fighting for their lives? For the maimed who are struggling to make sense of their fate asking for what they have lost their limbs for?

For whom is heaven weeping? For those who despite of all these remain tucked in bed in deep slumber? For those who choose to turn their backs as if nothing happened? For those who struggle but find themselves pushing against the wall or fighting windmills?

May the rain wash away our passivity… may it water the dying humanity within each one of us, drowned by so much blood that this nation has spilled. May the rains cleanse our ailing spirits, nourish our thirsty hearts.

An Appeal: A Sidebar Picture for the Sumilao Farmers

Last October 10, 2007, fifty-three (53) farmers began a trek, a journey on foot that will take them from Sumilao in Bukidnon to Manila. They have been walking for a month now. This afternoon they were leaving Matnog in Sorsogon and their next stop will be in Irosin. They are doing this journey ON FOOT (except for the boat ferries that will take them from one island to the next), from Sumilao to Manila they will cover an estimated 1,700 kms in around two months. They are expected to arrive here in Manila on December 5.
Why would they take the pains of leaving their families, their livelihood and walk such a great distance? If they were made to answer this question I am sure they will say – for a piece of land that we can build our lives on and those of our children and justice that has long eluded them.

Their story would have been simple had it not been for the crooks in government. In fact, the 144-hectare piece of land was already transferred to them by virtue of the government’s agrarian reform program a decade ago during the Ramos Administration. The land that would have been distributed to them was owned by the family of Norberto Quisumbing, a rich and landed family. However, they were not even told that the title of the land was already issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform in their name. They were deceived. They only knew of the fact that they already owned that land when they received a notice from the court that the title issued to them was subject to a petition for cancellation. The Quisumbings have belatedly filed a petition to convert the land from being classified as agricultural to industrial. This would mean that the land would be exempted from agrarian reform. The DAR denied the petition and then Bukidnon Gov. Fortich wrote a letter to the President appealing the decision of the DAR. Then Executive Secretary Ruben Torres granted the appeal without even the Quisumbings filing the petition and only on the strength of the Governor’s letter.

In the face of this injustice, the Mapalad farmers went on hunger strike in front of the DAR in Quezon City. The story of the injustice committed against them and their hunger strike made the headlines. Support for their cause poured in and pressure on then President Ramos mounted. It took 28 days of utter hunger of the Mapalad farmers for Ramos to finally heed their cause and decide on the issue. Some of the hunger strikers were on the brink of death for they took nothing bu water for almost a month. Ramos decided to play safe, he made a compromise – 100 hectares for the Sumilao farmers, 44 hectares will be retained and converted by the Quisumbings. The hunger strike was lifted and they returned to their homes waiting for the distribution of the land.

But their sufferings did not end there. The Quisumbings filed a petition in the Supreme Court for the nullification of the Ramos compromise. After several months of continued advocacy, the Supreme Court handed down its decision, the petition was granted and the Ramos formula was nullified. The Supreme Court in their decision decided against the Sumilao farmers on the basis of a mere technicality – the Department of Agrarian Reform did not appeal on time the decision of the Office of the President to grant the petition for land conversion. They turned a blind eye on the law that prohibits the conversion of irrigated and prime agricultural lands to industrial use. In the end, justice was not blind – it leaned in favor of the rich and became adamant about the rules against the poor farmers.
Seven long years have passed, the industrial complex that the Quisumbings and Fortich said will be constructed in the land remains nothing but a plan. No development of the land was undertaken. In fact, in 2002, in a very clear manifestation of their abandonment of the plan for which the land was converted for, they sold the land to San Miguel Foods , Inc. SMFI plans to put up a piggery in the land. Since when has hog-raising been considered an industrial undertaking?

The Mapalad farmers petitioned the DAR to cancel the conversion order because the order was clearly violated. The law says that in areas that were converted from agricultural to industrial, if no development has been undertaken within a period of 5 years, the land will be reverted back to agricultural classification. Unable to get any action from the DAR, they petitioned the Office of the President. In a decision dated Oct. 3, 2007, the Office of the President dismissed their petition “for lack of legal standing by the petitioners-appellants.”

So now, the Mapalad farmers in whose name the title of the land was once issued, were not only stripped of their claim over the land but were even stripped of any legal standing on the issue.

AND SO THEY WALK…. from Bukidnon to Manila, the farmers will walk – to claim what is rightly theirs, to reclaim what was unjustly taken from them, to demand for Justice. They are walking for a piece of land, a chance at life.

Nine years ago, I was an active part of their struggle. I ate with them, slept in the tents, shared their joys and victories, shared their hopes and dreams, wept over their defeats. I still am part of their struggle despite the years, the distance.

For all of my blog friends, please share in their struggle by posting this picture below that has been a symbol of the Mapalad farmers’ journey on your sidebar. May that picture be our expression of support, their beacon of hope. Maraming Salamat.

sumilao1

Halloween at Undas

I was reading Kengkay’s blog this morning. I was inspired by her kwento of the very cultural aspect of undas. Pareho lang ba ang Halloween at Undas? Ang Halloween ba ay celebration lang mayayaman ng All Soul’s Day samantalang ang Undas ba ay ang poor man’s version nito? Alam kong hindi, naalala ko pa sa aking history na ang Undas ay isang Kristyanong practice samantalang ang Halloween traces its roots to a Celtic celebration that precedes even the birth of Christianity. Nagkataong halos sabay lang sila sine-celebrate and in one way or the other the two celebrations soon merged. Being a partial historian and an incomplete sociologist (kulang ako ng isang semester sa double major kong history and sociology hehehe), nagpasya akong magbasa ng history ng Halloween at Undas.

 

The celebration of Halloween originated from the Celtic people (hindi po ito sa Boston at wala pong kinalaman si Larry Bird) who lived in what is the present day Ireland (ang kinaroroonan ni Pareng Kiko Matsing at kanyang pamilya), United Kingdom and some parts of present day France some 2,000 years ago. Actually this is their version of the New Year’s Day Celebration (November 1) which marks the end of summer and the beginning of winter. This period, the Celts believed, blurs the division between the world of the living and that of the dead. On the evening of October 31, they believed that the spirits of the dead return to the land of the living. They call this celebration Samhain and they believed that this mingling of the living and the spirits of the dead makes its easier for their priests (called the Druids) to make predictions of the future. Sa celebration na ito nagsimula ang practice ng pagsusuot ng mga costumes that is still being practiced by our kids kapag nagtrick or treat.

 

When the Romans conquered the Celtic territory sometime in 43 AD, the Samhain festival was merged with 2 Roman Festivals – the Feralia (which is the celebration of the passing of the dead) and the day honoring Pomona (Goddess of fruits and trees). By the 800’s, with the domination of Christianity over the Roman Empire which still occupied the Celtic territories, Pope Boniface IV declared November 1 as the All Saint’s Day – which was also knonw as All Hallows Day. It was only in the year 1000 AD that November 2 was declared All Saints Day.

 

Ayan base sa aking pagsasaliksik, All Saints/Souls Day is a Christianized festival that has 2 origins – the Samhain of te Celtic people and the Feralia of the Romans. ths is a perfect example of the blending of cultures and religious practices. Ang Undas naman ay ang Filipinized version of All Saints/Souls Day na minana natin sa mga Espanyol at hinaluan na rin ng animist practices ng mga ninuno ng mga Pinoys.

 

Happy Halloween sa lahat!

Adee

Ito ang pinaka-una kong post sa Nomadic Thoughts at ito ang pinakauna kong blog. Dahil gusto kong ang bagong blog na ito ay tungkol sa mga bagay na mas personal napag-isipan kong i-post muli ito. Sinulat ko ito nung birthday nya last July 17, the very first time ever na wala ako sa tabi nya on his birthday.

ADEE

(posted on July 17,2007/Nomadic Thoughts)

adee & me 210 years ago today, I received the best gift ever in my entire life, my son Adee was born. I think it is but fitting that my first post will be about him. Remembering how he came and the happiness that he brings to me.

Adee’s story will not be complete without the story of my other son who was born a little less that five years before Adee.

On October 27, 1992 Andre was born. He was a 10 pound handsome little lad with the round face of my mother and the nose of my father. Words cannot suffice to describe the feeling of being a father for the first time. It was a combination of many things, the joy of holding one’s flesh and blood in one’s arms, the nervousness of not knowing exactly what to do every time he cried, the contagion of his smile while I watched him sleep. I loved his scent, I loved the way he grasped my forefinger with his tiny hands. We named him Andre.

The joy was, however, short-lived. On the day we were supposed to bring him home, he was jaundiced and he keeps throwing up whenever he takes his milk. From one hospital we just went to another hospital where his pediatrician was. The doctor confined him to the hospital for some tests. Tests, that were heartbreaking. My heart sank every time I heard his cry as the nurses drew his blood for some tests. This was done everyday to monitor his blood chemistry to what seemed to be forever for a young father. His cries turned to just whimpers and soon enough he got used to the pain that he did not cry at all.

Andre was later on diagnosed to have a congenital disease known as aganglianosis – total aganglianosis to be exact. This meant that his intestines failed to develop ganglion cells in his nerves and that his intestines were totally paralyzed. As a result his intestines were not able to digest his food intake and this is the reason for his constant vomiting after feeding. This disease was so rare that the doctors (there were 6 attending physicians) in Cagayan de Oro were not familiar with it. To make the long painful story short, my son Andre was slowly dying of malnutrition, not because of want of food but because his body cannot absorb the nutrients. He went through 3 major operations, a baby barely few weeks old.

A gain words cannot describe the agony and the pain of watching my son slowly go, ounce after ounce of body weight disappearing each day. His cute round chubby little body turning into a bundle of skin and bones and with countless punctures from head to toe from the injections and the intravenous needles.

Andre lived exactly 45 days. As he was gasping for air, struggling to keep himself alive, I held him in my arms and with a voice filled with surrender, I whispered to him that it was okay to go and rest and that we want him to go back to God because God forgot something when he created him and that we want him to come back as our baby again. A few moments later he breathed his last. I watched the pulse in his neck slowly become weak until it disappeared. It was like watching Andre’s back as he was crawling away. That was 5pm of December 10, 1992.

It took us another five years to gather enough strength and courage to try to have a baby again. We met Jinkee’s second pregnancy with a mix of excitement, happiness and fear. And ten years ago today Adee was born. We called him Adee because we wanted to name him Andre too. It was around 3am when Jinkee woke me up to fetch a taxi cab because she already felt the beginnings of her labor pains. There was only one cab at the subdivision gates (usually there were several in the early hours of dawn). As we got off in the hospital, I turned back to make a last check if we forgot anything in the cab. As I did, I saw the cab’s name painted on its front door – Andre.

Adee was born at around 5pm of July 17 (which is thewedding anniversary of my Mom and Dad) – a 7-pound bundle of joy who was almost delivered by caesarean section had he not come out in time. We named him Andre too. After a couple of days of careful observation, we brought Adee home. For the first time, we had a baby in the house. However, after a week, Adee showed the same symptoms as that of Andre and we had to take him back to the hospital. It was like a de javu of Andre. We stayed in the hospital for a week and to our relief, it was just an infection that he got from the operating room. The oldies scolded us because it was bad luck to name a child after a sibling who passed away. So with a heavy heart we renamed Adee. After picking names at random we chose Rafael Francesco but kept Adee as his nickname. All went well after that.

A couple of months later, I was with a colleague at National Bookstore. While i was waiting for him to find a book that he was looking for, I chanced on a book about the meanings of baby names. It quickly took the book and searched for the meaning of the name Rafael – “healed by God.”

I am not a very religious person but Adee is my miracle baby. I believe Adee is Andre who was healed by God.

Adee & me

A peep at my work station

Chuckie showed his very impressive work station and tagged me along with others a couple of weeks back. Di ako nakarespond kaagad kasi sineset-up pa lang ang mga work stations namin dahil kakalipat lang ng office. Hanggang ngayon nga medyo marami pa ring pag aayos sa bagong opisina namin. Kasama ko si Pareng Taroogs sa bagong room namin. Medyo siksik kami sa room dahil mas maliit ang bagong opisina namin. Bago ang lahat ng aming mga tables pinasadya to maximize the use of space sa maliit naming room. May veranda kami sa labas overlooking the street in front of the office with a nice view of the ladies’ dorm opposite our office. Ito ang intsura ng table ko sa opisina:

 

office work station

 

Sa bahay naman ay may study room kami. Nandoon ang aking desktop (na sira pa til now) at ang study table ni Fay. Kaya lang di ako sanay magwork sa isang study room na matahimik. Dito ako nagwowork usually sa round dining table namin sa baba na katabi ng sofa at kaharap ang TV. Marami sa work ko ay pagsusulat, medyo di ako masyadong nakakapagsulat ng matino at mabilis sa opisina (except kung talagang pressured na sa oras). Most of the writing I do at home sa madaling araw. paboritong oras ko yun sa pagsusulat. Tahimik, presko ang isipan at walang gaanong distraction. Basta may kape lang ako at yosi kahit medyo inaantok pa ay mabilis akong nakakapagsulat. Ito ang itsura ng aking work table sa bahay:

 

work station at home

 

Di ko alam kung late na pero gusto ko sana masilip ang work station ng crush kong si Ella (na may kalandiang iba) at kay Mine (na busy sa kampanya).