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Saturday, 24 November 2012

Nanay

    Ang susunod na mga kuwento ay isinulat ko bilang pagkilala sa ilang inang nakilala ko sa aking paglalakbay at mga gawain.  Mga totoong tao sila na nagmula  sa iba't ibang lugar at iba't ibang antas ng pamumuhay.  Mga ina na tulad ko rin, nangarap ng mabuting kinabukasan para sa kanilang mga anak. 

      May sinulid na nagdudugtong sa kanilang mga kuwento.

                                             (1) Mommy Rose

     Kahapon nagkita kami ni Mommy Rose sa kasal ng anak niya. Matagal na rin kaming di nagkita magmula nang namatay ang kamag-anak ko na naging asawa niya. Doon na siya nanirahan sa Bulacan sa bahay ng kanyang ama't ina. 

    Matagal na rin niyang di nakita ang kanyang mga anak.   Iniwan niya ang mga ito sa pangangalaga ng kanyang asawa dahil alam niya na mas mabuti ang magiging kalagayan nila. Di siya nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral at hindi siya makahanap ng maayos na trabaho.


       Alam niya sa mga taong hindi sila nagkikita, malayo na ang kalooban ng mga ito sa kanya. Tanggap niya yun at alam niyang mahirap makuha ang pagmamahal nila tulad nang dati. Marami siyang gustong sabihin sa mga anak niya; gusto niyang humingi ng patawad pero hindi niya alam kung paano. Hindi naman niya gustong pagpilitan ang sarili niya sa  damdamin ng kanyang mga anak.

      "Basta alam nila na narito lang ako para sa kanila", sinabi niya sa akin. Aninag ko ang lungkot ng isang inang nangungulila sa kanyang mga anak.


                                    (2) Ate Floring

     Nakilala ko si Ate Floring sa isang pagsasanay na ibinigay ng isang samahang datirati nang tumutulong sa maralita at nasa bulnerableng sektor ng lipunan. Isang pioneer si Ate Floring sa samahang ito; matagal na siyang advocate sa karapatan ng mga kasamahan niya. Alam niya ang pinagmumulan nila, nasa ganitong trabaho rin siya dati- bilang isang sex worker

  Pinasok niya ang trabahong ito dahil wala na siyang maipakain sa kanyang anak. Bata pa siya nang mabuntis siya ng isang lalaking inakala niyang paninindigan silang dalawa ng kanilang anak. Hindi pala. Buong buhay niya inalay na lang niya sa kanyang anak. Nangarap siya na balang araw, kapag nakapagtapos na rin ang kanyang anak, hindi na siya kailangang magtrabaho, hindi na niya kailangan ang ganitong trabaho para mabuhay.

  Pinagmamasdan niya ang ilang litratong kuha niya sa kanyang anak. Maingat niyang hinawakan ang mga litratong isinilid niya sa isang lumang kahon. Naroon ang isang litrato ng kuha nang ipagdiwang  ang unang kaarawan ng anak niya,  nang grumadweyt na siya ng elementarya, litrato nilang dalawa nang nagtapos naman siya ng high-school pati na rin nang magtapos ito ng vocational school noong nakaraang buwan.  

   Napagtapos na niya ang anak niya sa pag-aaral. Biglang bumagsak ang luha sa kanyang pisngi.

    Nung isang araw, sa isang di pagkakaunawaan nilang mag-ina, sinigawan siya nito at sinabing, " Paano ako maniniwala sa iyo, isa kang puta. Ikinahihiya kita."

    Pakiramdam niya noon, napakaliit niyang tao. Gusto niyang magsalita kaya lang walang lumalabas na salita sa kanyang bibig.  


                                 (3) Inay Linda

 Nabasa niya sa pahayagan ang sinabi ni Editha Burgos, tungkul sa nawawala nitong anak na si Jonas. Matagal na ring hinahanap ni Editha  ang bunsong anak na lalaki na dinukot sa isang kainan sa Ever Gotesco, Commonwealth. Hanggang ngayon ay wala pa ring balita tungkul kay Jonas.

     Natatandaan niya tuloy ang anak niyang si Amanda.

Drawing by eleven years old Gina Muga
    Ilang linggo na rin mula nang umalis ito sa kanilang bahay para mag- full time sa pagtulong sa mga maralita. Hindi na niya nakausap ito bago umalis. Pinaabot na lang sa kanya ang isang sulat ng pasasalamat sa pagmamahal at pag-aaruga sa kanya. 

    Aktibista ang kanyang anak na babae. Pinag-aral niya ito sa isang premyadong unibersidad sa Maynila, student leader ito ng ilang samahang pang-kabataan. Matalas siyang magsulat at magsalita tungkul sa mga isyung panlipunan.

      Dahil sa gobyerno rin nagtatrabaho ang kanyang asawa, pinagbawalan nila ito na sumama sa mga ganung gawain. Mapapahamak lang siya sa kanyang ginagawa.

     Hanggang umalis na ang anak niya at tuluyan na ring iniwan ang pag-aaral.

      Nang malaman  sa sulat na maninilbihan na ang kanyang anak sa sambayanan, naiyak siya sa kalungkutan. Alam niya mula sa araw na yun, hindi na niya hawak ang buhay ng kanyang anak.

   Maraming katanungang pilit niyang hinahanapan ng sagot. 

Nakakain kaya ng maayos ang anak niya? Natatandaan niyang nagkaroon ito ng typhoid fever at kailangang mamalagi ng ilang araw sa ospital. Nakuha niya sa pagkain ng pagkaing tinitinda sa kalye. May maayos ba siyang tulugan? Paano kung may masamang mangyari sa  kanya tulad nang nababasa niya sa ilang aktibista.

   Hindi niya masabi ang agam-agam niya sa kanyang asawa na may sakit sa puso. Ang alam niya, hahanapin niya ang kanyang anak. Kahit hindi na niya makausap, basta makita lang niyang maayos ang kalagayan nito, mapapanatag na siya.

     Lumipas ang mga araw. Hindi pa rin umuuwi ang kanyang anak. Marami na rin siyang pinuntahan sa paghahanap dito. Nalaman niyang may kasamahan ang kanyang anak sa pamantasan na nawala at natagpuan na lang na pinasagasaan sa riles ng tren sa Laguna. Nanlamig siya sa takot. Huwag naman ipahintulot ng Panginoon na mangyari ito sa kanyang anak na babae. 

    Araw-araw isinasama niya sa panalangin ang kanyang anak, na sana isang araw ay magkita sila muling mag-ina.


Mother and child made from clay by Amy Muga
                                    

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Collective Pain

     Motherhood has a way of connecting people from various cultures and various communities in collective joy and even in collective pain.


      I love reading letters and posts from family members and friends about  milestones in their personal and family life. I treasure the pictures of my nieces and nephew as they were growing up. I happily share pictures and stories about my children too. I appreciate the photo sharing feature in social media sites because it makes connecting with the people you care about easier. 
           
     It is sometimes in social media that I learn  about distressing news  happening to children and families in places so far from home. It is here where I first read that family members of a B'laan tribal leader in Davao del Sur were killed with only the youngest daughter surviving the massacre. The tribal leader opposed the entry of a mining firm in the B'laan tribe ancestral domain.

     What happened  in Davao a few weeks ago is not an isolated case. I was able to talk to a children rights advocate who related the story of another kid they counseled who was likewise the sole survivor of a massacre to her entire family. She  was able to tell her entire story  after so many months. 

   Meanwhile, in far-away Gaza peninsula, families are cowering in fear over air strikes and bombs which target their homes. Innocent civilians, the elderly, mothers, children have been maimed or killed. I am pained by the images of parents holding the bodies of their dead children, of mothers losing their homes and their families. How soon shall these killings stop? How many more lives must be sacrificed before a ceasefire or cessation of hostilities shall be ordered?

     As a mother, I pray that compassion may reign in their hearts, for the inhumane killings of innocent civilians to stop and that survivors of human rights violations be given justice. 



Syrian Free Press http://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/10892/





http://www.smh.com.au/world/deadliest-day-children-killed-in-gaza-air-raids-20121119-29ks4.html


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   "Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and  the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

                                                                  -Pema Chodron

Monday, 12 November 2012

Ordinary People

Nakatatlong tigil siya sa pag-aaral dahil wala kaming pera. Hindi ko siya pinaghuhugas ng pinggan. Tapos babarilin nila nang ganun ganun."

"She stopped going to school three times because we do not have money. I did not let her wash the dishes. They shot her just like that."
                                               -   Mrs. Rodelas, mother of Jaja Rodelas 
                         (from an interview conducted  by InterAksyon.com's Jaime Sinapit)
                            
                                        
     A twenty year old promising model, named Jaja Rodelas,  was shot five times in the head and her body thrown on the concrete pavement along a busy street in Cubao, Quezon City. She was kidnapped upon the instigation of a person she considered her friend The plan was just to cripple her (lulumpuhin lang) and not to kill her, according to this friend. 

     It's as if crippling a person is not that painful.

   Jaja is the  youngest child in a family of six. Much like  many other poor students, she had difficulty in paying her tuition and other educational expenses. Money was tight; her mother provides for her and her other siblings by cooking and selling food. Jaja  tried modeling and even accepted bit roles on television just to be able to earn and save enough to enroll this semester.

   I felt sad reading about her mother's sentiments on her death. Here is a mother who would have wanted her daughter to stay in school yet could not support her given their financial difficulties. How her heart might have bled for her daughter who aspired to do more, to accomplish more, to save for her schooling and to be able to help her family rise above their financial difficulties. How could anyone even hurt her youngest child, who she has high hopes and dreams for.

   I am a mother and I am pained by what Jaja's mother is going through.  I am angered by the inhumanity and senseless killing of one innocent soul.

 I wonder whether her killers ever considered that Jaja's death will leave her mother and her family broken-hearted and in grief. 

  
      A report from GMA 7's 24 Oras:    


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Libro sa Pasko! (Books for Christmas!)

Stories of courage, hope, kindness, strength, democracy, resiliency in the midst of despair, love of country are some of the themes I hope to find in books written for children. I have visited Adarna House a few months back and I appreciate that there are already writers who are creating such stories for children.

Reading books develop  a child's imagination and critical thinking. Their horizons are broadened through reading different kinds of books.  This is why I encourage parents to enjoy telling stories and reading books to their children. 

                         
                    (Children in ABAKADA Storytelling session photo credit: Amy Muga)

     If you would like to give books to the children of urban poor families, consider donating to Aklatang Bata sa Komunidad (Community Children's Library).  This project is spearheaded by Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY), a nation-wide alliance of urban poor organizations;  the Center of People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) Inc., and the Kalayag Foundation Incorporated. The ABAKADA project  aims to establish community-based libraries in urban poor communities in the entire archipelago.

http://www.cenpeg.org


  Donations for the books and scholarships may also be deposited through the account of CenPEG, Inc. Kindly see the banner above for details.

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Monday, 5 November 2012

Songs, Lullabies and Authentic Love

     I count among my blessings, my two daughters who I am very proud of. My elder daughter grew up to be a loving  and empathetic person; she helps me in my work with marginal communities.  She is likewise a caring and responsible "ate" (elder sister) to her only sibling who is affectionate and who loves her very much. They were born twelve years apart, both "dragon" babies according to the chinese zodiac. Both of them are gifted with loving hearts. 

   Like many other couples starting out their families, Lex and I lived simply and frugally. Both of us would commute to our places of work; even to my last term in my pregnancy, I was still riding a jeep to and from work. We didn't even find it necessary to buy our own camera to document the birth of our first child. It was only when I was wheeled to the nursery to visit her that I realized that we needed one. A father, who was taking pictures of his son, volunteered to take the picture of my daughter and send it to us. I am so thankful for his kindness and generosity.

   Singing lullabies and favorite songs were our lifeline during times when our daughter would wake up in the middle of the night and cry. Since I was recuperating from childbirth, I asked my husband to carry her at night. It was then I heard my husband singing to her lullabies and beautiful Visayan songs such as Matud Nila and Usahay, a song I grew to love so much. I still hear him sing these songs today.

   When my younger daughter was born, Lex stayed inside the delivery room until she was moved to the nursery. Hay, he wanted to make sure that our bunso (youngest childwas safe and the nurses took care of her.

During the birth of my second child ( photo taken by Lex Muga)

   He likewise sang  Usahay  with bunso and she also loved it.  She was soothed by the beautiful melody and the loving baritone voice of her father. 

     I am thankful that Lex was there for us from the very start. He is the expression of magis for me. He has no qualms in helping me with household chores and taking care of our children. He encouraged me to do my best in whatever field I am in and to pursue the activities  and causes I am passionate of.  
     
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Friday, 2 November 2012

A Visit to the House I Grew Up In


     Early this afternoon, I visited the house I grew up in, along with my eleven-year old daughter and my husband, Lex. This is the first house my parents built, a testament to their perseverance and hardwork.

     The two-storey house is still painted white, the wooden window panes are still intact, the steel mesh fence is now covered by concrete hollow blocks.  Lush plants were planted around the fence; they somehow improved the facade of the house. I remember the dama de noche flowers planted by my mother around the fence: I also remember their lingering fragrance at night.

Photo credit: Amy Muga
      Our kasambahays (house helpers) do not tire of telling us children stories of hauntings and the lady in white seen near the dama de noche plant. Much as I am not sure if they indeed saw such "visitors", their stories made us, their wards, eat our rice meal faster and clamor for more stories from them. 

     I  remember playing with gusto, along with my sister ,inside the small garden. I made mud pies and other imagined delicacies. I imagined having my own bakery where I made chocolate pies. I planted seeds  in the soft soil and watch them grow. We played habulan (tag) and taguan (hide and seek) with our care providers. It was such a blissful time of laughter and play for us children and  hopefully a respite for our care providers. 
                                            ***

    November 2 is All Soul's Day in the Philippines. Many people trooped to public and private cemeteries to visit the tombs of their loved ones since October 31. I lit a virtual candle in remembrance of my father and two brothers who passed away years ago. I pray that wherever they may be, they are at peace. I missed them so much.
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