It has been a long time hasn’t it? That I’ve posted something on my blog?
I would like to apologize for that but I don’t know how so I made a decision to participate in the 16-days of Activism that would start tomorrow.
As a member of Amnesty International here in the Philippines, I have received an invitation to join this cause, however, I do not know how to do it by myself so I thought, “hey! why don’t I just go back to blogging?”
By the way, the reason why I did not blog for sometime is because I was sent to different provinces here in the Philippines for work. There was no internet connection most times and I had a difficult time looking for mobile signals. My current job required me to socialize with lots of people (Human Rights Victims from the Philippines’ Martial Law era in fact!) and in those 6-months, I can definitely say that the Philippines is a frighteningly beautiful place. Frighteningly beautiful as it made me both proud just to be a citizen of it and very ashamed of the very same reason.
I have personally experienced the beauty of my country as I travel from one place to another and talk from one dialect to another. My job required me to talk to people from the highest in the food chain to the lowest, one province to another and truth be told, my bias are the masses.
The challenge actually, wasn’t my job, everyone who knows me and the people I’ve worked with knows that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MY JOB, the challenge is having to associate yourself to people who keeps on belittling me and my capacity to perform my job just because I’m not a law student or a law practitioner or an official. How people don’t WANT me to think and how they speak to me as if they are so high above me and sure they can control me.
Do I just confuse myself? It may have been a bad idea to take me as an employee of the government (Yes, you might be surprised that I’m working for our government and honestly, I would be too if I wasn’t the one who willingly sent in my application form) because as an individual who is young and new in the government, I am very idealistic and thus, I am not used to this SOCIAL MATRIX or the SOCIAL LADDER to which those who are below you does not have a choice but to bow down to the ALMIGHTY YOU. I still have the “You can’t change me unless I say you could” attitude that I’ve gained from my previous private jobs and truth be told, they do have a LADDER too but at least they are blunt about it. Which means, you won’t have to wake up one morning and read below ”reasons of pain” is MULTIPLE STAB WOUNDS.
I am currently working with our country’s renowned Human Rights Defenders which is probably one of the reasons I decided that I could start anew with the government and I am learning a lot working with them such as the HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION has a VERY WIDE scope. There were times when they tell us their experiences and it just amazes the hell out of us and made us think, “how could they gone through that and still lived? or WANTED TO LIVE?” because people who has gone through that much can just EXIST but they… they actually chose to LIVE.
Before this happened, I thought that their stories were the worst yet most inspiring stories I’ve heard but lo and behold, I was, as I usually am, wrong when I’ve talked to HRV’s and realized that what seemed unrealistic for me now is their history?
We have reached more than 45K applications for reparation and recognition of their human rights violations and contribution to the rebellion that “ended” it all and when I was informed about it I thought, “how many of those have I met?” because that 45K were the ones that has successfully filed in their applications, our office only have 35 staff and officials, and based on my experience, especially in the Mindanao area, MANY were not able to comply to the requirements due to the fact that their culture didn’t require them documents that are necessary to submit in their applications and that many are still hesitant to submit theirs in because of their fear that it might give them false hope, it will use too much of their time, money for documents, for transportation allowance — the whole shebang.
I’ve listened to their stories even though my job didn’t require me to but just because they wanted me to listen. Most spoke in dialects that I have no idea existed until then (as humiliating as it sounds) but I still listened to them for the reason that I felt their need to just let it all out. I’ve encountered people who kills their family members to file in their claims as solo heir (they didn’t kill their family per se but just lied to us by telling us that each of he/she is the ONLY living relative of the victim) because remember, we’re talking about money here and some people would TAKE ADVANTAGE of the fact that they are the only LITERATE in their family.
I am ashamed of the fact that there are still people who would charge you a hefty amount for a document that you don’t even need (e.g. a duly notarized affidavit of sole heir proving that you are the only heir of the victim when you are the victim yourself or translating documents from their original dialects to english or tagalog and telling people that we won’t accept it unless it is typewritten and in either of those above mentioned dialects) now here, we are talking about people WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE DOING (even has a diploma to prove it) AND ISN’T EVEN ASHAMED OF IT, in fact, they are even asking money for it from people who doesn’t even understand the documents that they are signing (can we really not blame them? could they be just misunderstood too? were they lied too as well when they are speaking in the same dialects? were they just forced to do what they did? — it really makes one think doesn’t it?)
I would lie if I said that there isn’t a single story that has made me cry buckets when in fact, I have at least 10 from all the places I’ve been and I would like to congratulate myself during those times that I held my feelings and didn’t let it get in between their story and my work. I’ve heard stories that ranged from I don’t believe it to I don’t WANT to believe it and it does really make a lot of difference.
To end this blog post I would like to say, that I have to be careful of what I wish for.
Remember last year when I did a blog roll for Martial Law and said that I want to listen to THEIR STORIES (to the victims’ stories?) of what really happened during that era? Well, obviously, I got my wish and the truth has… well, it set me free (my mind that is) These past few months I was forced to grow up and make a bigger box (not exactly think out of the box) by the people that I have only blogged about before.
I would say that the biggest challenge out of everything that happened are the ones that I have no control over. Like when my life source is held by busy people.