It was a beautiful morning yesterday though I felt a little bit sick of allergy. But, I was so happy. I was able to talk with Jackie for the first time on Skype. It was such a lovely half an hour exchange of joy and excitement being selected as VOF winners. With my six year old daughter talking with Jackie was such an added joy for me.
I also emailed Scott telling him I will take a short time-out. I just wanted to relax and enjoy looking back with my eight months journey in Pulse Wire. I just wanted to feel this wonderful lifetime experience before diving again for the next stage of my journey as one of the World Pulse VOF correspondent awardees.
I thought I could enjoy my free time not writing my monthly assignment but I was wrong. Headaches and heartaches are what I feel at this very moment with the shocking news of Monday’s mass slaughter in Maguindanao, a part of Autonomous Muslim region in southern Philippines.
A total of fifty–eight ( 58) delegations mostly women went to file a Certificate of Candidacy for the May 2010 election for BuluanVice Mayor Ishmael Mangudadatu in the provincial capitol of Maguindanao. Mangudadatu is vying for a governatorial seat against the incumbent Governor Ampatuan Sr. of Maguindanao Province.
I feel my heart is bursting with anger and it pains me so much today. Forty-six brutally killed bodies dug in shallow graves, mercilessly murdered by allegedly one hundred policemen and para-military troops. Mostly were women and one of the bodies was a four month pregnant woman. Faces of the victims couldn’t be identified by families. Two human rights women lawyers and thirty-seven journalists who joined the convoy were among the fatalities. There were still others who are missing. Four were able to escape.
There were reports that women were raped before they were killed. Others were decapitated , beheaded and chain sewed. This is the kind of democracy the Arroyo government is proud to the international community. A democracy marred by blood in her face!
International condemnations of the massacre were immediately expressed in cyber space. Reporter Without Borders, European Union, Amnesty International among others condemned such brutalities and called on the government to investigate the massacre and exert its political will to give justice to the victims. Reporters Without Borders states that this is the darkest days of journalism in modern history.
I was informed that the two human rights women lawyers were member of Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao and members of GABRIELA, the country’s biggest women’s organization. They were friends of mine. I’m crying with anger. I’m crying because life is too short for those who fight and seek for peace and justice. I’m crying for their children left behind.
What a violent way of dying! I feel so weak right now and my heart is bleeding. Yet a big part of me is shouting for justice. Today, we are organizing series of protest actions raising the voices of the victims out loud. I may not able to hear their cries, their voices of anger but I know they fought and died bravely. I will raise their voices today. The Filipino people, the women, the journalists and lawyers today are turning their anger and sadness into courage; the courage to fight violence by state instrumentalities; the courage to be free and the courage to face death and fight for life.
Indeed, being a VOF correspondent and activist I realized, time is a luxury. I may not have the luxury of time today for a short break but my heart finds solace in raising women voices in my country. My commitment of serving my people, my sisters in need is calling me every second of the day. This I can’t refuse. As the world celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Againts Women today Novemebr 25, I VOW to fight Violence Against Women (VAW) at all times.