Archive for December, 2007

25
Dec
07

Christmas Story

Its Christmas once again. In a few days, 2007 will be a thing of the past. A few weeks before Christmas I usually go around my area looking for homeless families living in karitons (pushcarts). I have counted about thirteen. It had been a family activity to share what we have prepared for Noche Buena. This is the least we can do for those who have less in life, Its our own little way of reminding the less fortunate that some people still care.

While many splurge on feasts and personal things, these people scrounge up what meager earnings they can pool together and settle on what their little budget can afford. I am glad that through the years, their numbers have somehow dwindled. A lesser number is nothing to rejoice about, it would be better if you wouldn’t see any of them along the sidewalks of the richest city in the country.

Kalayaan Ave. is where the east end of of Quezon City Hall is located. Along this road lives five families who live on the sidewalk. As I expected, they warmly welcomed me. I handed the food which they happily accepted. I did not see anything else on the cartons they spread on the ground. Apparently, they had nothing to welcome the birth of Christ.

I had no cash on me as I had left my wallet in my haste to distribute the goodies I had. There were about fourteen kids in the group and they suddenly milled around me asking for money. What struck is what the oldest member did. He politely said thanks and told the children that what I gave is enough. He told them that what the man (me) had given them is more than enough. My helper and I were able to gather about fourteen pesos from my car and we apologetically distributed it to the kids. I saw the happiness in their eyes.

We soon left them so they can eat their humble meal. The people ran along my car waving and shouting Merry Christmas and thank you. I suppose the experience somehow touched my helper’s heart. We both sat quietly in the car. He began to share his thoughts on what just occurred. He was surprised of how well the people conducted themselves. They showed how grateful they were and how content they were with what we shared with them.

I hope that we can all do our part in the society we live in. We cannot rely on our corrupt politicians to do their share. They only remember these people during elections. They live near the city hall and yet the local government seems to have forgotten them. Caring for these people are left to NGOs, volunteers, social workers and the church. The government boasts of a growing economy and yet more and more people live in poverty.

I just hope and pray that I will not see these people next Christmas. Its not that I am growing tired of my advocacy but it would only mean that their lives have somehow improved. I also wish that we all do our share, not only during Christmas but the whole year round. Maybe our country would be a better place to live in.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE. I HOPE THAT WE ALL HAVE A FRUITFUL, PROSPEROUS AND BRIGHTER NEW YEAR.

Advertisements
24
Dec
07

Sumilao Wrap-up

The Sumilao framers finally reached San Vicente, Sumilao a little past 6PM. Members of the their families and town folks welcomed them home. As tears of joy and relief overwhelmed everyone, chants, cries and roars filled the air. Gari Lazaro who traveled with them shared the moment with me through a phone patch. I could almost see the happiness in those they left behind.

They landed in Cagayn de Oro aboard a C-130 of the Philippine Air Force. Later that night a celebration of sorts was held at the park for the farmers. Members of the clergy where also present along with other support groups who marched with them. NGOs promised to take them to Manila and they brought them home safe. (Picture courtesy of A Simple Life)

Amidst all the celebration, everyone can only look beyond the two rows of barbed wire which separated them from the land they long for, It was a mere ten steps from where they sat. So close and yet so far as the old adage goes. I can only imagine the longing they feel in their hearts. Now the long wait begins. The revocation of the conversion permit was a good Christmas gift. I just hope the the coming year will be the end of their decade old struggle.

As Christmas dawns on us, I would like to remind everyone that are still many more Filipinos who crave for land. The Sumilao farmers are fortunate to have the support of sectors who believed in their cause. I just hope that those in the same predicament are represented and given a voice just like the Sumilao farmers. The CARP is about to reach its end and there is still more work left to be done.

Most of the land distributed are government lands and some privately owned which were willingly handed over by their owners. But there are still several holdouts as the owners defy and circumvent the law. The CARP was conceived to address social justice. It is for social equity and not social equality. It was meant to give every Filipino an opportunity to improve their lives.

Sadly, our legislators did not perfect the law and opened it up to abuse. Instead of developing agriculture, they opened in to commercial big business. This led to displacement of farmers who ended up being poorer. One should not wonder why our legislators allowed this, they are the biggest landowners in the country. The land are not actually given out for free, the ARBs have to pay the government. The landowner is paid by the government but based on the productivity of the land.

I hope that the CARP be extended and implemented genuinely. This is the only way for it to really address social inequity. Its high time a greater number benefit from the land. Progress should not be limited to a handful but everyone should be allowed to live decently.

Now that this chapter of the plight of the Sumilao is over, another is about to start. I hope they finally get the justice that eluded them for so long. When they finally get it, I hope they cherish and treasure it. So many of them had given their lives and so many have sacrificed with them. I also pray that those who have no voice will be given one by those who believe that the right to live decently is not a monopoly of so few.

“Bloggers Call for Boycotting of Monterey/Purefoods Products in support of Sumilao farmers. This Christmas season, December 15, 2007 to January 2, 2008. Bring down the sales of San Miguel Food, Inc. to show public support to the farmers of Bukidnon who were denied of their 144 hectares of land. Please pass to all bloggers.”

Bloggers’ Voice Update:

Jester-in-Exile
Pedestrian Observer
Milkolate
Vignettes
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: Sumilao Sa Metro Manila
The Equalizer: Boss Danding
The Four-eyed Journal
Oddball by Mayor Jesse Robredo: Sumilao Walk
Manila Bay Watch
Loves an Ocean
Planet Naga
Pakisama
Postcard Headlines
The Antisocial
Thirty Thousand Fishes
The Citizen On Mars
Ellen Tordesillas
Gari Lazaro
Uniffors: On Patricia Evangelsita’s Column
Ibangon Ang Bayan: Ang Makabagong Lumad
Placeholder
The Equalizer:Boycott SMC’s Monterey Meat
Ang Sa Wari Ko
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: A Nation of Crackpots and Nuts
Viking: The Skeptical Subversive
Manila Bay Watch: Boycott San Miguel Products
Messages From Balatucan
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: Kababuyan
The Antisocial: So, Who’s Afraid of the Lumads?
Bikoy.net: The Same Plight
The Nutbox: Supports Boycott
Angela Stuart-Santiago
Kilometer 64
Ederic@Cyberspace
A Simple Life
Ang Sa Wari Ko: Sumilao farmers will be Merry this Christmas
You can show your support for the Sumilao Farmers here.

23
Dec
07

Touchdown: Sumilao Farmers Homeward Bound

The Sumilao farmers are finally going home. Their C-130 flight just landed in Cagayan de Oro a few minutes after 7AM. They will then travel another two hours or so to their final destination, home. The group together with members of NGOs, some clergy and their lawyers started boarding the Philippine Airforce plane just before 5AM. It was their flight back to Sumilao.

The farmers spent their last night at the Ateneo De Manila University. It was a quiet day of rest and preparation for their flight home. Unfortunately, I had a bum stomach which prevented me from having a final visit with them. Even my “son”, Gari Lazaro spent the entire day yesterday preparing for his trip with the farmers.

This will mark the start of their wait for the final resolution of their case. I am glad their back home with their loved ones who they’ve been away from for more than two months. I too will anxiously await the fulfillment of their dream. I will continually update you on the progress of their case. I hope that 2008 will be a good year for their new lives.

UPDATE FROM CAGAYAN DE ORO: In a few hours, Sumilao farmers will travel back to San Vicente, Sumilao to reunite with their loved ones whom they left in Oct. They are currently resting at the Xavier University.

“Its the church’s moral obligation to protect the poor and its our duty to fight for the weak.”

“Bloggers Call for Boycotting of Monterey/Purefoods Products in support of Sumilao farmers. This Christmas season, December 15, 2007 to January 2, 2008. Bring down the sales of San Miguel Food, Inc. to show public support to the farmers of Bukidnon who were denied of their 144 hectares of land. Please pass to all bloggers.”

Bloggers’ Voice Update:

Jester-in-Exile
Pedestrian Observer
Milkolate
Vignettes
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: Sumilao Sa Metro Manila
The Equalizer: Boss Danding
The Four-eyed Journal
Oddball by Mayor Jesse Robredo: Sumilao Walk
Manila Bay Watch
Loves an Ocean
Planet Naga
Pakisama
Postcard Headlines
The Antisocial
Thirty Thousand Fishes
The Citizen On Mars
Ellen Tordesillas
Gari Lazaro
Uniffors: On Patricia Evangelsita’s Column
Ibangon Ang Bayan: Ang Makabagong Lumad
Placeholder
The Equalizer:Boycott SMC’s Monterey Meat
Ang Sa Wari Ko
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: A Nation of Crackpots and Nuts
Viking: The Skeptical Subversive
Manila Bay Watch: Boycott San Miguel Products
Messages From Balatucan
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: Kababuyan
The Antisocial: So, Who’s Afraid of the Lumads?
Bikoy.net: The Same Plight
The Nutbox: Supports Boycott
Angela Stuart-Santiago
Kilometer 64
Ederic@Cyberspace
You can show your support for the Sumilao Farmers here.

21
Dec
07

Thy Will Be Done: Sumilao Update Day 18

In order to give government enough space and in adherence to due process, the Sumilao farmers have dismantled their camp in preparation for their trip home on Sunday. Today, they ended their journey of 1,700kms. They will bring home with them the hope that GMA will be true to her word.

They have gained what we can call the first step in their fight to get back the land they have been fighting for, for the last decade. GMA issued an executive order reverting the land to the CARP. Now they will await the government’s actions in the place where they took their first step, back in Sumilao.

In God They Trust
The Catholic Church has vowed to take up the fight. In fact, several clergy have been in talks with both the government and SMFI. Cardinal Rosales has asked SMFI to do away with legalities and be a Christian. Bishops have also promised to follow up the case of the farmers. With the all-out support given by the CBCP, the farmers are confident that God is on their side and will answer their prayers.

Since they arrived in Metro Manila, the farmers have hosted by different parishes, Catholic schools and were fed by seminarians. Nuns have marched with them and several masses celebrated for them. Priests have blessed them on several occasions. This only strengthened their belief that God will look after them.

They Shall Return
The Sumilao farmers are not running away from the fight. They have been patient and peaceful. They never raised their hands in anger, but in despair and frustration. Should the government renege on its promise, the farmers will not think twice of retracing their steps back to Manila. They promised to pursue this fight to the end.

How I Saw Them
I have never encountered such peaceful folks. So meek, mild and full of hope. I have never met such innocent, kind and loving people. I saw how they cared for each other in their own little ways. Despite what confronted them, they never lost hope that somehow they will be heard. I have seen them in desperation and during their quiet moments. I heard them joke and sing even for just a few moment.

I never saw such determination and patience. Its no joke to walk for two months and more than 1,700kms. They carried on their backs the few belongings they have and the slippers on a sling. Rain and sun did not deter them and they kept walking without complaints. I remember when I brought them pan de sal which I made myself. They munched on them while sipping coffee. I saw their simplicity and humility.

The nation should learn from them. They showed what courage and determination is all about. Desperate as they were, they never lost hope. They remained strong and believed that justice would prevail. One line that I will never forget is, “Everything is within walking distance.”

“Its the church’s moral obligation to protect the poor and its our duty to fight for the weak.”

“Bloggers Call for Boycotting of Monterey/Purefoods Products in support of Sumilao farmers. This Christmas season, December 15, 2007 to January 2, 2008. Bring down the sales of San Miguel Food, Inc. to show public support to the farmers of Bukidnon who were denied of their 144 hectares of land. Please pass to all bloggers.”

Bloggers’ Voice Update:

Jester-in-Exile
Pedestrian Observer
Milkolate
Vignettes
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: Sumilao Sa Metro Manila
The Equalizer: Boss Danding
The Four-eyed Journal
Oddball by Mayor Jesse Robredo: Sumilao Walk
Manila Bay Watch
Loves an Ocean
Planet Naga
Pakisama
Postcard Headlines
The Antisocial
Thirty Thousand Fishes
The Citizen On Mars
Ellen Tordesillas
Gari Lazaro
Uniffors: On Patricia Evangelsita’s Column
Ibangon Ang Bayan: Ang Makabagong Lumad
Placeholder
The Equalizer:Boycott SMC’s Monterey Meat
Ang Sa Wari Ko
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: A Nation of Crackpots and Nuts
Viking: The Skeptical Subversive
Manila Bay Watch: Boycott San Miguel Products
Messages From Balatucan
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: Kababuyan
The Antisocial: So, Who’s Afraid of the Lumads?
Bikoy.net: The Same Plight
The Nutbox: Supports Boycott
Angela Stuart-Santiago
You can show your support for the Sumilao Farmers here.

21
Dec
07

Sumilao Update: Metro Manila Leg – Day 18

After spending the night at La Concordia, Sumilao farmers will walk their way to Luneta to the Zero Kilometer marker. Its a symbolic closure of the walk and will be at 10AM today. A press conference with Bishop Pabillo will be held at lunch time at the CBCP-NASSA to announce new forms of struggle.

They then proceed to the DAR, their very first ride since they started their walk last October 10 for a 4PM program followed by a mass to be celebrated by Fr. Danny Huang. The mass will be held at the Gesu Chapel in Ateneo at 8PM. Everyone is invited to attend.

Yesterday, the Church finally took it upon itself to resolve the issue. Cardinal Rosales asked the SMFI to hand over the disputed land to the Sumilao farmers.

“Bloggers Call for Boycotting of Monterey/Purefoods Products in support of Sumilao farmers. This Christmas season, December 15, 2007 to January 2, 2008. Bring down the sales of San Miguel Food, Inc. to show public support to the farmers of Bukidnon who were denied of their 144 hectares of land. Please pass to all bloggers.”

Bloggers’ Voice Update:

Jester-in-Exile
Pedestrian Observer
Milkolate
Vignettes
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: Sumilao Sa Metro Manila
The Equalizer: Boss Danding
The Four-eyed Journal
Oddball by Mayor Jesse Robredo: Sumilao Walk
Manila Bay Watch
Loves an Ocean
Planet Naga
Pakisama
Postcard Headlines
The Antisocial
Thirty Thousand Fishes
The Citizen On Mars
Ellen Tordesillas
Gari Lazaro
Uniffors: On Patricia Evangelsita’s Column
Ibangon Ang Bayan: Ang Makabagong Lumad
Placeholder
The Equalizer:Boycott SMC’s Monterey Meat
Ang Sa Wari Ko
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: A Nation of Crackpots and Nuts
Viking: The Skeptical Subversive
Manila Bay Watch: Boycott San Miguel Products
Messages From Balatucan
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: Kababuyan
The Antisocial: So, Who’s Afraid of the Lumads?
Bikoy.net: The Same Plight
The Nutbox: Supports Boycott
You can show your support for the Sumilao Farmers here.

20
Dec
07

Who’s Living In The Past

The Daily Tribune and the Malaya today have somewhat similar editorials on the Sumulao issue. I suppose they will never understand nor know what social justice is all about. Why do you think Filipinos work? We all work so we can live decently. We work so we can realize our dream of owning our own land. I suppose these people are content that they sit in their airconditioned rooms, sitting in comfortable chairs and simply rely on their perception that the less fortunate are beggars and the landless incompetent.

I am glad that the Inquirer (Breakthrough, If the land could weep and sing, Choosing peace, Feudal) understands what is really at stake here. Like I said, the issue goes beyond emotions, culture and even the land. Humanity and life are the real issues here. I suppose the Tribune and Malaya are still living in the past. Industrialization does not mean one is progressive. And that being a farmer is worst than being a laborer. I do agree with their views that government support is lacking. This is the flaw in the CARP that must be addressed and its not beneficiaries who should be faulted here.

Land has been an illusive dream not just for those in the countryside but those in the cities as well. I also do not agree that converting a fertile, irrigated and prime agricultural land into a piggery, poultry farm, a processing plant or even into an industrial park will lead to uplifting the lives of FARMERS. There are other lands which both dailies point out, why not develop those? For publications who claim to fight for rights and against injustices, they seem to be barking at the wrong tree.

The Sumilao issue is one of desperation of a people long deprived. I share Bikoy’s view that there are many more out there just like the Sumilao farmers. They are just a drop in a sea of desperation. Money is one thing the Sumilao farmers do not have. They have no funds to go on a media blitz like big business. They rely on people sensitive enough to give them the voice they lack. They do not have funds to hire a battery of legal luminaries who can easily circumvent the law. What they have are lawyers who adhere to the oath they took. I am not saying that justice should be on the side of the poor, it seldom is in this country anyway. I am merely pointing out the justice usually goes to the side of those who can sustain a prolonged legal battle.

So who among us live in the past? I’m sure its not me. I would like to see every Filipino own a piece of his country. No one deserves to be a squatter in his own land.

20
Dec
07

Sumilao Update: Metro Manila Leg – Day 17

At 5AM today, the farmers will walk to Paco Church to confer with Cardinal Rosales. Rosales will be joined by 800 clergies and parishioners. A mass will be celebrated for them. Assembly time is 4:30AM. All who wish to join are requested to wear white shirts. They will then proceed to Luneta. On Friday, they will announce their next move.

As of this moment, the farmers are meeting among themselves to discuss logistics and the basic economic needs of those they left behind. Anxiety and melancholia seems to be a seasonal thing for them. The hardship they have endured has taken its toll and they need all the support we can extend.

They can exist on meager rations but the loneliness is sometimes too much to bear. The farmers need ears that would listen. They need minds that understand. They need hearts that will feel for them. I hope you can lend your ears, your minds and your hearts to them, even just for a few minutes. Its Christmas season, let’s give a little part of ourselves to our Higaonon brothers who nothing.

“Bloggers Call for Boycotting of Monterey/Purefoods Products in support of Sumilao farmers. This Christmas season, December 15, 2007 to January 2, 2008. Bring down the sales of San Miguel Food, Inc. to show public support to the farmers of Bukidnon who were denied of their 144 hectares of land. Please pass to all bloggers.”

Bloggers’ Voice Update:

Jester-in-Exile
Pedestrian Observer
Milkolate
Vignettes
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: Sumilao Sa Metro Manila
The Equalizer: Boss Danding
The Four-eyed Journal
Oddball by Mayor Jesse Robredo: Sumilao Walk
Manila Bay Watch
Loves an Ocean
Planet Naga
Pakisama
Postcard Headlines
The Antisocial
Thirty Thousand Fishes
The Citizen On Mars
Ellen Tordesillas
Gari Lazaro
Uniffors: On Patricia Evangelsita’s Column
Ibangon Ang Bayan: Ang Makabagong Lumad
Placeholder
The Equalizer:Boycott SMC’s Monterey Meat
Ang Sa Wari Ko
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: A Nation of Crackpots and Nuts
Viking: The Skeptical Subversive
Manila Bay Watch: Boycott San Miguel Products
Messages From Balatucan
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: Kababuyan
The Antisocial: So, Who’s Afraid of the Lumads?
Bikoy.net: The Same Plight
The Nutbox: Supports Boycott
You can show your support for the Sumilao Farmers here.




Blog Stats

  • 1,508 hits
December 2007
S M T W T F S
« Nov   Jan »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031