Self-debriefing: September 21 experience

I am writing this to debrief myself on my experiences last September 21, 2017, as I joined two activities in the observance of the 45th Anniversary of Martial Law in the Philippines. President Rodrigo Duterte suspended work and classes on that day and declared it as a National Day of Protest under Proclamation No. 319.

Hindi ko alam kung ano ang tumakbo sa isip ng Presidente kung bakit niya sinakyan ang hindi matahimik na sambayanang Pilipino sa kasagsagan ng pagdanak ng dugo sa kanyang war on drugs (at isama mo na ang kamakailan lang na pag-apruba ng House of Congress na P1,000 budget para sa Commission on Human Rights, na binawi rin nila noong Sept. 20. Nakakaloka, kung iisipin mo ang petty, nakakapagod din minsan patulan).

Sabi sa Proclamation, he signed it “in solidarity with the people’s call against all excesses and shortcomings of the government, and with the people’s desire to uphold the highest standards of integrity, efficiency, and accountability in government.”

I am not God to judge his intentions, and to assess whether they’re pure or not. Pawang mga obserbasyon lang at karanasan ang kaya kong ilahad dito.

Sept. 21 at pahaging sa Martial Law

Hindi na mabubura sa kalendaryo at sa isip ng mga Filipino ang September 21, ang araw kung kailan nagdeklara si dating Pangulong Ferdinand Maros ng Martial Law noong 1972. May mga nagsasabing okay naman ang mga panahon na iyon, pero sa tingin ko, mas malakas ang tinig ng mga naghuhumiyaw pa rin para sa hustisya dahil sa mga inhustisya na nangyari noon–abuso sa kapangyarihan at batas militar, mga decaparecidos, paglabag sa mga karapatang pantao, at iba pa.

Hindi pa man idinedeklara ni Duterte ang Martial Law sa buong Pilipinas ngayon, pero mga ganoong sentimyento na ang maririnig mo mula sa ilang mga Filipino. Patunay ang mga nangyaring protesta noong Sept. 21. May ilang sources na nagsasabing umabot na sa mahigit 13,000 ang namamatay kaugnay ng digmaan laban sa droga (na halos puro mahihirap lang ang tinatamaan), pero naglabas ang gobyerno ng kampanya na ‘Real Numbers‘ noong May na sinasabing nasa mahigit 4,000 lang daw (parehas na mas mataas sa 3,240 reported killings in Marcos’ Martial Law era). Hindi natin alam kung alin ang totoong numero. In fact, we should not reduce the killings into mere statistics/numbers. Ang totoo sa atin, may pagpatay, mas dumadami ngayon ang patayan–hindi lang dahil sa mga kriminal, kundi pati dahil sa mga pulis.

Hindi ko pinalampas ang pagkakataon para makasama sa kaingayan noong Sept. 21–ngunit hindi para manggulo, kundi para mahanap ko rin kahit papaano ang katahimikan sa nagniningas kong damdamin, umaasang makahanap ng kahit kaunting kapayapaan kasama ang mga katulad kong hindi na rin kayang tumahimik dahil sa mga nangyayari sa paligid.

Christians for Life and Dignity

Kasama ako sa Christians for Life and Dignity, “a group of Filipino evangelical Christians who believe that the central thrust of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to give, promote, and sustain life.” Our tagline: Bawat Buhay Mahalaga, Bawat Tao may Pag-asa. We meet online and offline para pag-usapan ang mga hakbang na pwede naming gawin sa mga nangyayaring patayan ngayon bilang mga alagad ni Kristo. Kasama sa nagawa na ay ang paglabas ng aming Statement on Killings. Kasama rin sa napag-usapan ang kilos protesta noong Sept. 21. Ang orihinal na plano ay sumama sa malawakang protesta sa Luneta, pero marami ring alternatibong gawain. (Rappler’s list of September 21 activities)

Making a choice

I showed up in two events, Misa para sa Katarungan sa U.P. Diliman Chapel, at Unveiling of Jose Diokno’s statue in front of the Commission on Human Rights. Hindi dahil hindi ko gusto sumama sa Luneta. Sa katunayan, gustung-gusto ko na doon sumama, pero hindi pinayagan ng pagkakataon.

Hindi pala ganoon kadali lalo na sa katulad kong hindi naman ganoon kadalas sumama sa mga protesta. Ang huli ko yatang nasalihan na march ay March for Climate Justice noong 2015 pa yata. Ang hirap itodo ang pagtanggap ng risks sa pagsama sa malawakang protesta sa Luneta sa araw na iyon lalo na’t may mga haka-haka  na the police, or Duterte’s supporters can hijack the peaceful protests and turn it into a violent mob, leaving the blame on those who protest against the current excesses and shortcomings of the government. Ang hirap itodo dahil hindi ko pa nalalahad sa mga magulang ko ang aking paninindigan sa mga panahong ito, though alam ko naman na may alam sila kahit kaunti. Alam mo yung pakiramdam na kung sakaling magkaroon ng putukan o bomba sa kung saan ako nag-protesta, at nasama ako sa napatay, pakiramdam ko ang selfish ko nun dahil iniwan ko nang hindi handa o well-oriented ang mga magulang/pamilya ko sa kung ano ang pinaninindigan o pinaglalaban ko.

Bukod sa mga ganitong agam-agam, kasama ko ang boyfriend ko sa kilos. Umaga pa lang, tinetext na kami parehas ni mama, nagpapaalalang mag-iingat daw kami kung sakaling sasama kami sa anumang rally (ang galing ng nanay noh, nararamdaman niya kahit di ko pa sinasabi sa kanya na may balak ako LOL). Nagmakaawa din siya na kung pwede, sa U.P. na lang daw kami, huwag na sa Luneta dahil sobrang nag-aalala sila ni papa sa akin. Nangako si nyoypren 🙂 Haha At kailangan niya nga rin makapagpahiga para makapasok sa susunod na shift niya.

Attending a Catholic Mass (Misa para sa Katarungan)

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So ayun na nga. Foremost, I really wanted to start my Sept.21 itinerary by joining a mass. Tulad ng lagi nating naririnig na advice, start your day with a prayer. But I wanted more than that. Gusto kong makiisa sa misa kasama ang mga kababayan kong lumuluhod din sa iisang Diyos para sa katarungan at kapayapaan sa buong bansa. Gusto kong makarinig ng mga awiting magpapaalala sa akin na ako’y bahagi ng isang mas malaking kabuuan (community songs). Gusto kong makarinig mula sa isang pinuno ng simbahan ng mensaheng napapanahon sa nangyayari ngayon sa ating bansa.

We experienced all this that day in a Catholic mass, at the U.P. Diliman Chapel. We’re glad we joined the mass. The Catholic crowd has been a huge source of encouragement for us, even before September 21, we’ve been reading articles on print and online about dioceses and priests standing up for justice and righteousness, which I could scarcely see and feel from my own denomination, even from the vast majority of the evangelical community. (Sorry talaga sa mga kapwa ko leaders na makakabasa nito, pero I know that you know what I mean. You know very well the prevailing silence in our churches. Not just silence, but even the preaching of twisted interpretations of Bible verses to justify the violent war on drugs. Hindi naman lahat ng leaders/pastors ay ganito, pero mayroon, at delikado iyon.)

While we were waiting for the mass to start, we listened to the Filipino version of “Do You Hear the People Sing” (a song from the musical Les Miserables). The song was translated to Filipino by Vincent de Jesus. I knew right then and there that this could be the song of the rising revolution. I discovered later that the song was also sung in the Luneta protest.

The priest’s homily revolved around two passages: Ephesians 4:1-7 and Matthew 9:9-13 (Jesus calls Matthew). “When was the last time our leaders instructed public servants to walk with humility and dignity? (referring to the Ephesians passage),” was one of the questions asked by the priest. He also reminded everyone of Jesus’ message of hope in Matthew, for us sinners–us all.

I missed singing Catholic songs. They are indeed for community singing. Some of the tear-jerking lines were: “mapasa-amin ang kaharian Mo, sundin ang loob Mo dito sa lupa para ng sa langit”, “Walang sinuman ang nabubuhay/namamatay para sa sarili lamang”, “Kordero ng Diyos na nag-aalis ng mga kasalanan ng mundo, maawa ka sa amin…ipagkaloob mo sa amin ang kapayapaan”, “If there’s one more gift I’d ask of You Lord, it would be peace here on earth…when will we realize that neither heaven is at peace when we live not in peace?”

We also joined the communion. It was my first time to take a bread from a Catholic priest. I let him put the bread in my mouth. It was both a physical and spiritual demonstration of letting myself be fed, this time by a priest, by a Catholic congregation, both with a physical and spiritual bread. It was quite overwhelming. Salamat, mga kapatid ko kay Kristo Hesus.

Unveiling of Jose “Pepe” Diokno’s statue

After which, we participated in the unveiling of the legendary late Senator and founding chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Jose “Pepe” Diokno in front of the CHR. I only learned about him through stories and some lessons in history, and series of lectures from my boyfriend. He’s become an icon during the Martial Law era for fighting for the cause of human rights. The monument and the freedom park is a long-overdue tribute for him.

I saw myself cheering amidst the white-shirted people, paying homage to the hero, and raising our voices and hands as a sign of our oneness with Ka Pepe in upholding human rights for all.

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A program shortly followed the unveiling of Diokno’s statue. CHR Chair Chito Gascon delivered a message of appreciation for Filipinos who continue to show support and uphold human rights and encouraged everyone to not give up the cause of human rights. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno delivered a moving imaginary dialogue with Pepe Diokno.

I was blessed to see two young people from our denomination who also joined the event, and even stayed for the Manlaban para sa Karapatan rally after the program. These boys are blessed to have parents who are well-grounded in history and know the atrocities of the Martial Law era.

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Beyond political

Though we all wore white shirts, many Duterte supporters would criticize both events as organized by the ‘yellows’ or dilawan. At a glance, you can’t deny it. Former President Noynoy Aquino, Vice President Leni Robredo, and other Liberal Party members were there in the mass and the unveiling of the statue. The newly organized #TindigPilipinas, who seemingly organized the event, are accused of being a group of ‘dilawan’ even if they say otherwise. Kahit ako nung nakita ko sila, nasabi ko talaga sa isip ko, na-politika na.

But again, who am I to judge their intentions? If they’re there to sincerely join the Filipinos in a mass, and in celebration of Pepe Diokno’s human rights activism, why not. Pero kung nandoon lang sila para sa kanilang political agenda at gamitin ang mga gawain na iyon upang magpabango sa media at sa mga tao, shame on them. Again, we are not to play God here. Bahala na sila doon.

Nakakalungkot lang na sa mga ganitong pagkakataon, hati-hati pa rin ang mga Pilipino. Tila bang hinahati natin ang watawat ng Pilipinas–pinag-aaway-away ang pula sa dilaw sa asul. ‘Hindi maiiwasan’ sasabihin ng ilan, pero naniniwala akong maiiwasan eh–sa tamang edukasyon, sa paghatid ng maayos na mensahe ng pagkakaisa, pagiging mapanuri, at pagtindig bilang sibilisadong mamamayang Filipino na may takot sa Diyos.

Just like what I said in my Facebook post last Sept. 21:

This is not a time to be divided, and to curse each other for differing political stands. This fight is beyond political (NOT pula vs dilaw vs asul). It speaks of our identity as Filipinos, our moral values, the relevance of our faith in this troubling times (kung ano man ang relihiyon mo). It is also spiritual, as we wage war against the rulers and authorities of the natural and supernatural world who are responsible for perpetuating dark and evil schemes.

As for me being a Christian, I would show up today to join my brothers and sisters in Christ who are like-minded and vocal on our country’s pressing issues. I would show up to represent other friends who would also want to join the activities but could not for some reasons (some are OFWs, some pregnant, while others have more important matters to attend to). I would show up for our generation, and the next. I would show up to listen to and understand other voices as well by personally interacting with them (not just on social media).

While we understand that people/groups joining the protests today have differences in statements and approaches, we have to cut through all the noises and see that it is in this diversity of voices that we realize public outrage and resistance against the prevailing violence in our nation. We do not consent.

Together, let us pray for our nation, including our nation’s leaders, and most especially, the reawakening of the Filipinos. In God we trust.

Sabi rin ni Pen Medina sa Luneta protest, “Huwag mong awayin ang mga Duterte supporters at tawagin silang ‘Dutertards’. Huwag mong awayin ang mga dilawan. Huwag mong isumpa ang mga Marcos loyalists.” Huwag tayong maghati. Tulungan natin ang isa’t isa makita ang katotohanan, mamuhay sa katotohanan, sa pag-asa, sa kapayapaan tulad ng mga itinuro sa atin ni Hesus at ng ating mga bayani. Aralin mabuti ang kasaysayan, matuto sa mga magaganda at hindi magagandang nagawa ng mga nauna sa atin. Huwag ng ulitin ang mga hindi maganda at kasuklam-suklam sa mga mata ng Panginoon. Sikapin na tumindig sa katarungan, at kapayapaan, para sa maka-Diyos, makatao, makakalikasan, at makabansang samabayanang Pilipino.

So may nangyari ba nung nag-protesta ka?

Ito ang kadalasang tanong sa mga nagpo-protesta. Some would dismiss it as mere noise, o dagdag lang sa traffic. Some would even tell you (coming from your fellow Christians) that to protest or to join a rally is not a wise thing or not a Christian-way to deal with social issues. You can say that to join a rally might not be the ‘Christianest’ approach (if there’s such a thing); I’d say it is a valid one and it can’t be easily disregarded as an ungodly one.

There is something in protest that makes it sacred. Protests gather people together, encourage them to voice out their sentiments, and their prayers to God for a just and more humane society. It is a collective cry of God’s people. We can even say it’s a form of prayer or petition. And so, it would be a shame to dismiss them as mere noise.

You can ask, “Eh ano namang nangyari, paggising mo kinabukasan iyon pa rin naman ang problema ng lipunan.” Yes. But we believe that our cries would not all land on deaf ears. Kami ay nagprotesta kasama ang pag-asa at panalangin na kahit isa o dalawa man lang na tao na nanood sa telebisyon o sa smartphone niya ay mabubuksan ang mga mata at tainga sa mga nangyayari, at matututong magtanong, at matutulak ring kumilos sa mga susunod na araw, o buwan, o taon, kung kailan mas kakailanganin ang mas malawakang pagkilos para labanan ang karahasan, inhustisya, at kadiliman na bumabalot sa ating bansa.

More so, we believe that our just and merciful God heard our petitions.

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Evolving

Source: Evolving

Here’s the first in a series of posts in my new blog “Press Unreleased“. This is to give you an idea on what had been going on in my head the past few years which led me to a hiatus from blogging. 😛

I have become less certain of what I already know or believe in (particularly in faith), but the wondrous thing is, I’m all okay with it–of not being always sure, of not being always right, or not having to know all the answers all the time. I have to tell you, it’s very humbling, and liberating in all sense.

View the entire post here.

Romans 13 and the Sovereign Filipino People

A glorious attempt to pacify Romans 13 warriors 🙂 With historical background and context of Romans 13, brief analysis on the 21st Century Philippine Government, the Sacred Contract, and Jesus.

“The Constitution is indeed a “sacred contract” between the “sovereign Filipino people” and the public servants who were elected or employed to serve the people. This document is our “governing authority.” The authority of our public servants flow from this Constitution. By ratifying it, we the Filipino people agreed to be governed by it. All of us–may we be ordinary citizens or elected public servants–are to be subject to this “governing authority.” No one is “above the law.”
…Understanding this, we can say that government officials are accountable to us, the sovereign people. Furthermore, I believe it is we the “sovereign Filipino people” that will give an account to God for the kind of government that we allow to operate so that the justice and righteousness of God may be established in our nation.” ~ Caloy Magsakay Diño

Captive Thoughts

I’ve gotten myself into a number of discussions on social media and small group huddles lately, about what followers of Jesus are supposed to do during these politically turbulent times. Every now and then, someone would give a sharp critique of certain actions of the government, critiques which I consider to be quite reasonable.

So I find it strange when in response to these criticisms, someone would say, “but should’t we just obey Romans 13?”

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