Special father’s day offering: You can watch the entire film by Costa-Gavras, titled “Missing”. The film is about a father’s search for his missing son, one of many who disappeared after the right-wing coup in Chile in September 11, 1973. This film stars Jack Lemmon, who starred in another father’s day film, “Dad.” I like this Costa-Gavras film more, though. Happy dads’ day to all dads. [To watch the rest of the film, you can go to the part 2 of this film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmNKBhvcn0Y&feature=related, then search for the rest in YouTube.]
No single image or photo can adequately capture the phenomenon of “impunity” in the country, much less the efforts to curb or stop it. But that was exactly the challenge that the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL)’s photo contest posed to photographers: Present a single image that visually captures our fight against impunity. I entered the contest with the idea of submitting some of my photos that invoked resistance or struggle against state-sponsored violence, either in the provinces where the various armed conflicts are most vividly experienced, or in the metropolitan streets, where the protests are most frequently expressed. I am thankful that the NUPL’s judges, Attys. Charlie Yu and Greg Fabros, as well as Edith Burgos and (legendary) Associated Press chief photographer Bullit Marquez, chose two of my entries in the top ten, and chose one of my submissions as the first prize. The latter photo, which I clumsily titled “Act of Defiance,” shows an urban poor activist braving the water canons employed by anti-riot policemen during a protest rally against repressive policies of then President Arroyo’s regime, in 2006. (Trivia: I used a FILM SLR Nikon camera for this photo. Yes, I was still using film as late as 2006. Hehe.)
While I am proud of this photo (if I remember correctly, this was one of my “Hail Mary” photos), some of the other submissions — the ones that I did see, because I arrived, uhm, late during the awarding program last January 27 — are quite compelling. I wish NUPL would publish the submissions, or at least the ten finalists, in their website, blog or Facebook account.
Here is one of my submissions; one of the ten finalists: a photo of a Muslim man and his child awkwardly sitting between two paramilitary armed men in Munai, Lanao del Norte on October 2008. The paramilitary soldiers were a constant presence in refugee camps like the one that the man and his child sought refuge in, after government troops attacked Muslim communities with supposed Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) presence in Lanao del Sur. These refugees fled their communities for fear of their lives.
Here is the so-called “winning” photo.
Rebyu ng dulang My Name is Rachel Corrie
Isinadula ng New Voice Company
Tampok si Monique Wilson
Dinirehe ni Rito Asilo
Music Museum, Setyembre 3-4, 2010
Magulo, madilim at masikip ang kuwarto ni Rachel. Paggising sa umaga, nakatingala sa kisame. Parang sinusukluban siya nito. Pinipigilang kumilos, hinaharangan ang paglipad. Gusto niyang lumipad. Kalagitnaan ng kanyang maikling buhay, nakawala rin si Rachel. Nakarating sa Rusya at nakita ang malawak na mundo. “Nagising din ako. Habambuhay nang gising,” sabi niya. Nagbago ang buhay niya, ang pananaw sa mundo at paglahok dito.
Sa kanyang ika-23 taon, nahimok si Rachel na tumungo sa bansang Palestine sa Gitnang Silangan, bilang bahagi ng isang “nonviolent, direct action group” na International Solidarity Movement (ISM) na naikiisa sa di-marahas na paglaban ng mga mamamayang Palestino laban sa okupasyon ng armadong puwersa ng Israel. Malayo sa kanyang tahanan ngunit taglay ang diwa ng pakikipagkapwa-tao at paghangad ng hustisya, naging kaibigan ni Rachel ang mga Palestino. Kabilang siya sa mga dayuhang humaharang sa mga bulldozer ng Israel Defense Forces (IDF) na nagdedemolis ng bahay ng mga Palestino.
“Minsan, kasabay kong maghapunan ang mga tao, at naisip kong may malaking makinang militar na pumapalibot sa amin, nagtatangkang patayin ang mga taong kasalo ko sa hapunan,” ani Rachel. Isang araw, sa pagharang sa bulldozer ng Israel na naglalayong wasakin ang isa sa bahay ng mga Palestino, sinapit ni Rachel ang kanyang kamatayan. Tulad ng kanyang kisame, sinukluban si Rachel ng makinang militar. Inipit, dinurog, kinaladkad.
Ako ri Rachel
Sa imahe ng pagsuklob at pagsupil nagsimula at nagtapos ang dula (o mas angkop na tawaging monologo) na My Name is Rachel Corrie. Ibinatay sa mga sulatin, kabilang ang emails, journals at liham, ng Amerikanong aktibistang si Rachel Corrie mula sa Olympia, Washington, at hinabi para maging dula ng sikat na Ingles na aktor na si Alan Rickman at mamamahayag na si Katharine Viner noong 2005, tema ng dula ang paglaya sa isip at pagkatao ng isang bata, ang pagkamulat niya sa mundo at sa reyalidad nito, at ang paglahok niya at pag-alay ng buhay.
Hindi naman bago ang naratibong ito: Katunayan ito ang naratibo ng kabayanihan at pagkamartir. Batbat ang ating kasaysayan ng mga martir na nag-alay ng buhay para sa paninindigang mas malaki sa kanila, para sa kapakanang higit sa sarili nila. Batbat nito kahit ang rebolusyonaryong mga kilusan – nakaraan at kasalukuyan – sa bansa. Ang bago, marahil, ay ang pagbibigay-katawan ng isang kabataang babaing Amerikano sa naratibong ito. Isang 23-anyos na babaing Amerikano na tumahak sa landas ng pagkilala sa sarili at sa mundo. Isang kuwento na ayon kay Viner ay “di pangkaraniwan sa panahong ito.”
I absolutely love these kinds of titles. Hehe. More for their shock value than anything else. And now that I have your attention, ladies and gentlemen, I present Luther Vandross and Cheryl Lynn.
Ilulunsad ang librong ito sa 7: 30 ng gabi sa Oktubre 23, 2009 sa Nine Mile, Kalayaan Avenue, Quezon City.
(Direksiyon papuntang Nine Mile: Sa Kalayaan Avenue galing sa Quezon City Memorial Circle, mag-u-turn pagdating sa V. Luna Ave. Katabi ng New CitiFoodhaus.)
“Magandang daigdig, ano man ang anyo noon, ang gusto niyang ipundar. Para iyon mabuo, may itinatanggi at tinututulan, kasabay ng paggigiit sa pinaniniwalaan. At ganoon nga natin binubuo ang kahulugan ng buhay.
Si VJ, gusto lamang niyang maging manunulat. Iyon ang ekspresyon ng paghahanap niya ng kahulugan. Sa kanyang mundo ng imahinasyon, nagtatagumpay ang mga bida. Nabibigo ang masasama. Pinagtatawanan niya ang kahibangan ng power. Sinisikhayan niya ang ipinupunlang pag-asa. May buhay siyang binubuo sa kanyang mga akda. Dito’y napipino niya ang magulong realidad ng kanyang lipunan. Ang munting koleksyong ito ang iyong unang alay sa paglikha, laman nito ang iyong isip, ang iyong buhay. Sapagkat may iniwan ka, mayroon ding matatandaan. Mabuhay ka, VJ.”
(Mula sa ‘Pagpapakilala Kay VJ,’Paunang Salita ni Jun Cruz Reyes)
Ginto ang oras. Kaya hindi tayo nauubusan ng mga pagkakataong kailangang habulin at madaliin: appointment, deadline, byahe, sundo, lovers’ rendezvous, last full show, pag-empake ng bagahe, pamamaalam. Santong paspasan ang proseso sa paghahanap kung ang habol ay instant fame and fortune, instant connection, instant solution, instant gratification. Sa pagmamadali, may naiiwan at nabibitawan, may nawawala. Mga moment na mami-miss ‘pag kumurap. Poof! Bigla. Iglap. Kinunan ng kamera ng mata at panamdam ni Vincent Jan Cruz Rubio mang mga photo-finish na pagkakataong ito, prinoseso at dinebelop bilang maiikling kwento. Ang PAS PAS ay imbitasyong sumabit sa express trip ni VJ, paanyayang sumabay sa paglalakbay, nang ‘di maiwan, ‘di ma-miss, ‘di maka-miss.
(Mula sa Panimula)
Testimonials from Matilde Neruda, Pablo’s wife, and Joan Jara, wife of murdered Chilean musician Victor Jara, regarding the poet’s death in September 23, 1973, or just 12 days after fascist forces in Chile staged a violent coup to topple the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende.
Death of a Poet
Matilde Urrutia Neruda
One could say that Pablo was a happy man. This could be perceived in everything he wrote, even when he was forced to keep to his bed.
He had somewhat recovered from his illness, but the day of the coup d’état was a very trying one for him. When we learned of Salvador Allende’s death, the doctor called me immediately and said: “Keep all the news from Pablo, for it could put him beyond recovery.”
Pablo had a TV set in front of his bed. He would send his driver to fetch all the newspapers. He also had a radio that got all the news. We heard of Allende’s death through a Mendoza (Argentinian) station, and this announcement killed him. Yes, it killed him.
On the day following Allende’s death, Pablo awoke in a fever, with no access to medical care, because the head doctor had been arrested and his assistant did not dare to go as far as Isla Negra. Thus we were isolated without medical help. The days were passing and Pablo’s condition was growing worse. At the end of the fifth day, I called the physician and told him, “We must take him to a clinic. He is seriously ill.”
All day he was riveted to the radio—listening to stations in Venezuela, Argentina and the Soviet Union. Finally, he grasped the situation.
His mind was perfectly lucid—absolutely clear till he fell asleep.
At the end of five days I called a private ambulance to take him to a Santiago clinic. The vehicle was thoroughly searched during the trip, which disturbed him greatly. There were other brutalities, and that also affected him visibly. I was at his side. It was terrible for him. I kept telling them: “It’s Pablo Neruda. He is very ill. Let us through.” It was frightful, and he reached the clinic in a critical condition.
Pablo died at 10:30 p.m. and no one was able to go to the clinic because of the curfew. I then had him transported to his Santiago home, which had been destroyed—books, everything. There we kept watch, and many people came, in spite of the times we were passing through in Santiago.
When we arrived at the cemetery, people came from everywhere, all workers with hard, serious faces. Half of them kept shouting, “Pablo Neruda,” and the other half replied: “Present.” This crowd entered the cemetery singing “The Internationale” in spite of the repression.
Hundreds pf people had gathered to honor Neruda, in spite of the soldiers lining the streets, machine guns threatening, at the ready, and the secret police scanning the crowd for wanted faces. Quena and I started off fairly near the front of the procession, but gradually lagged further and further behind because I seemed incapable of walking faster; it cost me to put one foot in front of the other. As we walked through the back streets towards the cemetery, I heard Neruda’s poetry being recited by one person after another in the crowd, verse after verse, defying the menace of the uniforms surrounding us; I saw the workers: on a building site, standing to attention with their yellow helmets in their hands, high above us on a scaffolding; others lined the pavement with the soldiers hemming us in.
“Sube a nacer conmigo, hermano,” (“Arise to be born with me, my brother”) and “Come and see the blood in the streets…” Neruda’s verses took on an even greater significance as voice after voice took them up, confronting the visible face of fascism. As I walked, I knew I was not alone, I knew that this was also Victor’s funeral and that of all those compañeros who had been massacred by the military, many of them flung anonymously into common graves. The presence of dozens of foreign journalists, film crews, television cameras, protected us from aggression and interference, but as the procession reached the last stage of the march at the rotunda in front of the main gates of the cemetery, a military convoy with armoured trucks rounded it in the opposite direction, looming over us. The crowd responded with cries of “Compañero Pablo Neruda: Presente, ahora y siempre!” “Compañero Salvador Allende: Presente, ahora y siempre!” and then breaking into “The Internationale,” raggedly, nervous at first, but then with more strength as everyone started to sing. It was Popular Unity’s last public demonstration in Chile, the first public demonstration of resistance to a fascist regime.
Lifted from Chile The Other September 11: An Anthology of Reflections on the 1973 Coup, 2006 Ocean Press. Thanks to Teo for lending me the book.
For facts about Neruda’s life and death, here is the wikipedia entry about him.