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Dear Dawn,

Sure, kaya mo ngang magdrama. Magdramang tumutulong ka sa environment.

Hindi nga ba't kayo ang nasa likod ng operasyon ng mga plantasyon ng saging at pinya sa Davao del Norte at Davao City na sinasabing lumalason sa mga taong naninirahan malapit sa inyong mga plantasyon sa pamamagitan ng mga kemikal na ginagamit ninyo.

Hindi mo ba alam na habang pinapalabas ang commercial na ito ngayon ay lumilipad din ang mga eroplanong bumubuga ng mga nakakalasong kemikal na hindi lamang tumatama sa mga saging na binibenta ninyo sa mga Hapon, kundi maging sa mga batang naglalaro sa ilalim--nakikipaghabulan sa anino ng eroplano at naliligo sa chemical drift.

Hindi mo ba alam na habang sinasabi mong kaya mong palitan ang diaper ng iyong anak, ang mga bata naman sa mga bayan ng Davao del Norte at mga barangay ng Davao City na apektado ng aerial spraying ay naluluha at nangangati dahil sa epekto ng nakakalasong kemikal?

Kaya mo rin bang tanggapin, Dawn, ang katotohanang hindi ninyo tinutupad ang probisyon hinggil sa buffer zone na nakakalagay sa inyo mismong environmental compliance certificate o ECC? Kaya mo bang tanggapin, Dawm, na ang buffer zone ay siya sanang security ng mga tao laban sa mga nakakalasong kemikal na binubuga ng inyong mga eroplanon at malalaking spraying machines?

Kaya mo rin bang aminin, Dawn, na kaya hindi ninyo kayang ibigay ang buffer zone, bilang proteksyon ng mga tao at maging ng mga open bodies of water, dahil mangangahulugan ito ng pagkawala ng milyong pesong halaga ng kita.

Kumikita nga kayo ng limpak-limpak na salapi, Dawn, at the expense of the people. Alam mo ba yon?

Ang dami ko pa sanang sabihin sayo. Pero napagod ako sa rally namin kanina sa harapan ng AJMR, isa ring kompanya ng saging, kung saan nagdala kami ng isang dosena ng kabaong para iprotesta ang unti-unting pagkamatay ng mga taong may mga sakit na ngayon--lahat mga simtomas ng mas malala pang sakit na tulad ng kanser.

Napagod ako dawn. At wala akong ganang magdrama ngayon. Kasi naman ay hindi ako nakapag-Myra 400 E kanina.

Blooming pa rin na kagaya mo,
Bananas

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The banana fight resounding...





relentlessly.

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My feet felt really cold as if I was standing on a huge block of ice. I struggled not to shudder but my flesh rebelled, breaking me into little quick frissons that rendered my hand to write illegibly. I barely understood the words of the man sitting in front of me, his voice faded, segueing into silence the moment they came out of his mouth.

Outside, the sun shoo away the clouds revealing the majestic dark expanse of Mt. Apo. A villager later said that the weather was good that day contrary to the past days where fog and drizzle blanketed the whole village.

Strangely, my back started to get wet of sweat. My fever was still high, worse than the other night when I still had Athan as an instant nurse. The smell of Durian and ripe bananas was just to inviting, only that I was so sick to salivate.

But I did not have the choice than to keep my remaining senses intact, and regain the ones I lost to high fever. I did not have the option than to force a normal function mode and avoid a failure interview.

The man in front of me, a 30-something, was the village chief. He was a Lumad. If there was anything that caught my interest about the encounter was his story about how he and the council of elders in the village settle petty crimes such as stealing so successfully, as if telling that "hey, it's zero crime rate here, man!"

He said there came a time that the villagers’ number one problem was the cases of “chicken-stealing” allegedly perpetrated by the tambays. Because of this, they were prompted into coming up with a barangay ordinance.

The ordinance? To parade anyone caught in cold-blooded chicken-thievery around the village, force them to even go house-to-house, self-proclaim that they are thieves, and that they should not be emulated.

Since then, not one was caught stealing chicken again. The village chief even said that those who were earlier caught and suffered the public humiliation are also closely watching possible chicken stealers “aron makabalos daw sila (to get back).”

But get back to whom?

While in the middle of the discussion, a man in full battle gear came--an armalite slung on his shoulder and a grenade that resembled those that can be exhumed from Japanese graves clipped on his blazer.

Later we learned that he was the first councilor who chairs the peace and order committee.

It occurred to me then that in that village, the council of elders and an ordinance are not actually enough, but an armalite and a grenade to run after chicken stealers.

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Maybe it was her cologne or the lotion that overwhelmed the large room, the scent of it subdued the bright colors and density of the paintings hanging all over the large room.

The often “uncontrollable” that we are, suddenly were under her spell. At that very moment, she was the boss. Doors were shut upon her request. No cameras. No recorders.

The rules were set and I had the impression that had anyone of us dared to violate those simple rules, she would have not spoken a single word.

Well, sorry for those whose journalistic skills were only limited to transcribing recorded messages or those who practice journalism with great reliance on voice recorders. Even fast-scribblers like I am, however, wobbled later as the encounter with her turned out something very relevant and emotional.

She admitted about hating the media as it only worsened the agony that embattled her—as it became a major instrument that fueled her depression while she suffered from the mounting isolation and societal stigma.

She identified herself as Sheila Magpaye, a person living with HIV-AIDS. Shortly after her introduction, a serbidora opened the sliding doors that rendered her wordless.

Not one from the audience spoke. I was barely breathing.

More about Sheila here.

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Presenting...John Kenneth


better known as Joana Kimberly

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Correct. I forgot to mention that Nico was also caught red-faced when Kimberly, in his unusual-at-age-three bluntness, criticized the “misplaced” feet on top of the table. Truth is no one understood what the kiddo said except Julie.

Julie asked the kiddo to say sorry, to which he silently obliged. Kimberly even kissed Nico on the cheek while whispering how sorry he was for being, well…yeah, tactless.

So Nico had to ask Julie what was the sorry all about. Like, what was it for. And it was only then that the bureau chief—Julie's boss (with stress)—realized the gravity of the statement and went red face. That it wasn't just a criticism but also an insult. In his comment, Nico said:

“and you forgot dear na sinabihan nya ako na bakit daw nakapatong ang paa ko sa mesa e mabaho naman daw! pasalamat sya at bata sya! kundi nailibing ko sya ng buhay!

”in fairness, he's gonna grow up a fairy. “

Last night Julie told me that she had a “quarrel” with Kimberly. She said:

“Away kami kanina. As in cold war. Imagine mo ba naman…yong mga dolls niya bi-nucher niya because he wanted the Chubby Thalia to have the legs of Barbie. Hay! Body of Dark Christine na may head ni Polkie na three strands lang ang hair…”

I texted Nico about it who said:

“Magiging platic surgeon ang bata.”

Julie was imagining something different, though.

“Mali si Nico. Baklang matador si Kenneth. Nagalit ako kasi tinarayan ako na toys lang naman daw yong mga yon. I told him na pera ang ginamit para bilhin yong mga toys na yon. Sabihin ba naman sa akin na ibenta ko lang daw uli…at magiging masaya daw ba ako pag naibenta ko ang toys nya!”

Billycoy said Kimberly should start reading Dan Brown and Tom Clancy. Nico disagreed with the suggestion and instead offered Harold Robbins and the Anonymous series I, He, She, and Them.

“And also lessons on good manners and right conduct. Baka lumaking balahura ang bata.”

With Julie, in whom I trust, around? I doubt.

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He seldom smiles and when he does, he lights up the entire room so bizarrely that the energy emanating from his sweet and lovely face defies the nasty sight of his decayed teeth.

His presence is just illuminating that it exhausted the weariness of the stale afternoon as he moves around while humming a familiar television fantaserye theme, walking comfortably despite the oversize shoes and distracting the passivity of the hour just like how a sudden blow distracts the doldrums.

So like how a strong brewed coffee amuses an octogenarian’s cracked and thirsty lips.

Lovely.

Sigh. He’s such a darling. So young. So sweet. So handsome. And so bitch!

John Kenneth is just three years old. But believe me, a three year old boy who is, by all barometer and yardstick, already way up gay. Mother is proud, someone that John Kenneth should be very proud about when time comes that he is mature enough to realize what it is to have a mother like Julie.

Julie has “warned” me about the gayness of John Kenneth, whom I later christened Joana Kimberly. She, however, failed to warn me about the tactlessness of the kid. Oh please, sometimes, I would like to think that John Kenneth, er…Joana Kimberly, is not really tactless but just true and blunt about what he sees.

Besides, the kid doesn’t have the idea yet about the art of being fake disguised as being tactful.

My initial encounter with the kid was really a disaster. At least for me. He was restless as he roams around the bureau office cuddling Ansherina, the mermaid toy Julie bough him the last time she was in Davao.

“Bakla ka? Hindi ka pwede maging bakla kasi may balbas ka,” the kid told me that left me turning purple.

The kid has a sword tongue that victimizes everyone, including his mom.

Here’s some of Joana Kimberly:


Kimberly: Anong pangalan mo?

Rolly: Ako si Juno.

Nico: Ako naman si Markadan ay siya naman ay si Sabina (pointing at me)

Rolly: At boyfriend ko si Argo.

Kimberly: (pointing at Rolly’s crotch) Alam ba ni Argo na meron ka nyan?

Nico: Ay! Chaps na bayot!

Kimberly: (Instructs Rolly to cross his legs) Ganito para hindi makita ni Argo ang iyong lawit?

Rolly: (Crosses legs) Ganito?

Kimberly: Ay maraming ugat ang paa mo.


While I was discussing something with Nico, Julie talking in, Kimberly asked his mom: Mama bakit ka sumasagot na hindi ka naman nila kinakausap?

And a lot more:

Mama, ano pong ibig sabihin ng digmaan?
Mama, galit ako kay Gloria (macapagal-arroyo)
Nye! Inggit ka lang at marunong akong kumanta nyan (Majika)
Mama, pwede ikaw huwag magsuot ng sleeveless kasi maitim ang kilikili mo.



Sigh. Kids.

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I’m supposed to be posting Sheila Magpaye’s story now but I don’t want to undermine and compromise its chances to land in one of the major dailies so I opt to be a little subdued and instead respond to this demanding tag, the blog’s version of the chain letter and slum book.

Sorry Baluticious…you’ll get to read Sheila's story soon. Swear my ass on it. Neways, I thank jhed for the tag.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU BLOG?
I blog whenever I have the time to do it. And I blog about just anything—the dead giant rat’s indecent display of entrails and blood-stained brain pieces; cogon grasses; gloria macapagal-arroyo (in lower cases); Athan; my floppy disks and stuff.

Sometimes, I blog even without anything ready to say. Things just pop up and emotions and drama come next.

ONLINE ALIAS:
Bananas

WHAT DO YOU DO MOST OFTEN WHEN YOU ARE BORED?
Drink water. Imagine the forest. And read. And write. And drink coffee. And burn my lungs.

WHEN BATHING, WHICH DO YOU WASH FIRST?
Fingers. Testing the waters first.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN AWAKE FOR 48 HOURS STRAIGHT?
Almost. While I love to sleep, sometimes I torture myself by drowning myself in anything that makes me awake. Oh please…no drugs eh…

WHAT COLOR LOOKS BEST ON YOU?
I don’t know. I don’t care about suitability.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE ALCOHOLIC DRINK?
San Mig Light. Red Horse.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN HEAVEN AND HELL AS A REAL PLACE THAT EACH OF US WILL GO TO AFTER DEATH?
I don't even believe in god (lower case deliberate again).

DO YOU FIND THAT YOU HAVE MORE ONLINE FRIENDS THAN OFFLINE FRIENDS?
No.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SUBJECTS IN SCHOOL?Ethics.
Journalism. Writing for radio. Cultures of Mindanao.

ARE YOU A PERFECTIONIST?
Never.

DO YOU SPEND MORE THAN YOU CAN AFFORD?
No except time. Procrastinator here.

IS IT BETTER TO HAVE LOVED AND LOST THAT NEVER TO HAVE LOVED BEFORE?
Exactly. At the end of the day, a person’s gravest regret would not be about the things that he or she has done but rather those that he or she has failed to do—for being a sheer stupid or for the stupidity of not having the balls.

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF CREATIVE?
Very.

DO YOU GIVE YOURSELF THE CREDIT YOU DESERVE?
Always.

DO YOU DONATE TIME OR MONEY TO CHARITIES?
Yep.

HAVE YOU RECENTLY DONE SOMETHING YOURSELF THATT YOU'VE BEEN CRITIZED OTHERS FOR DOING?
Yeah. Smoking the poison when I am against poisoning.


WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND RIGHT NOW?
Sleep. I want to fucking sleep.



Say one nice thing about the person who tagged you and the five people that you are going to tag:

jhed is open but I don’t know if he’s out. No. I am not saying that he’s gay.

las tres estrellas are the bitches whose second names are bitches, bitches, and bitches.

garytarugo is a big-dicked blogger. At least the picture says.

tin is sweet and yeah, pretty.

utakgagu is the making of an excellent writer.

bridget is a man.

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Friday. The universe is in for a conspiracy today. For and against me. And I could only imagine what's next.

First, This morning ended the three-day more-R&R-than-an-annual-meeting in this highend Chames by the Sea Resort in the Island Garden City of Samal (pictures I will be posting next time). Next to Malipano Island, the Pearl Farm and Island Buenavista, Chames was highly recommended.

Second, even before I can put down my knapsack upon arriving home, our labandera warned us about the electricity disconnection notice--that anytime today, the fucking subscription will be discontinued for non-payment.

Housemate is out of town and I don't have spare money.

Third, I was named the Las Tres Estrellas Awardee for Best Commenter for September. The news is kind of a wow! I hate being speechless but I am now.

The sisters have this to say:

"Seriously, I love Bananas. S/He can write almost anything about everything. His thoughts are like flowers in Spring . Emerging from nowhere. He writes about pesticides today and about Big_dick23 wanting to eat his banana the next day. Who can think of blogging about the The Cogon grasses? How can you amalgamate Nestle Cream, Child Labor, Environmental destruction, Sweatshops, and Tweety De Leon in just one short blog entry? Si Bananas lang! Magaling talaga ang bruha na itets."


I am melting now. Melting while floating somewhere close to the universe conspiring for and against me. Melting and melting again.

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The gathering of journalists over the weekend in an artsy and stylish hotel here in Davao turned out really explosive.

Just like any other trainings, the event went through a slow, almost difficult, pace that initially bored me—sending an irresistible soporific effect on me which was only snatched by the overflowing supply of coffee that saturated the alcohol I consumed the night before.

Later, however, everything went popping right into our very faces, leaving the air filled with a frozen dense of dread, horror, compassion, and inspiration. Nah…this not about just anything.

This is about people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV-AIDS) in the Philippines and the rest of the world.

Initiated by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the training was aimed at educating the media about the sensitive and proper way of reporting about pandemic.

It was like putting human face into the stories. It was like humanizing the stories. It was like—the pandemic is more than the numbers and the map. That there is more to it and that is putting human face into it.

Difficult? Not really.

First off, let’s talk about the numbers as presented by the Alliance Against AIDS in Mindanao (Alagad-Mindanao), a leading alliance of reproductive health advocates on sexually transmitted infections, HIV and AIDS prevention, care and support.

As of June this year, at least 33 new HIV cases were reported, 17 (52%) of which were males and 16 (48%) were females. The age range is 19-55 years old. Predominantly, the group said, the mode of transmission was through sexual contacts—heterosexual (21%), homosexual (9), and bisexual (2).

Of the 33 new cases, Mike Mahinay of Alagad-Mindanao said four cases were reported as AIDS cases, three of which were males.

The group said that from January 1984 to August this year, there were 2,566 HIV cases reported, of which 1,835 (72 %) were asymptomatic and 731 (28%) were AIDS cases all over the country.

Of the 2,566, 891 or 35 percent were overseas Filipino worker, with seafarers hitting the top list with 303 cases or 34 percent.
In Davao city today, at least 18 cases were recorded as people living with HIV-AIDS, seven of which were already dead.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS-World Health Organization (UNAIDS-WHO) said that AIDS is “among the greatest development and security issues facing the world today.”

In the global map, the Sub-Saharan African region was identified as the region with highest number of recorded cases of people living with HIV-AIDS with 24.5 million, 2.7 million of which were new infection recorded in 2005 according to the UNAIDS-WHO.

Following was Asia with 8.3 million, 930,000 of which were new cases and Latin America with 1.6 million, with 140,000 new cases. Other regions identified in the UNAIDS-WHO lists were North America and Western and Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Middle-East and North America, Carribean, and Oceania.

The UNAIDS-WHO said that as of 2006, there are around 65 million people infected wth HIV-AIDS with more than 25 million death cases since 1981. In 2005, the agency said, 2.8 million people died all over the world because of the virus.

The agency noted that there is a decline in the HIV prevalence in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Haiti and Burkina Faso and at least four states of India including Tamil Nadu.

The facts of the agency are evenmore revealing including the number of children infected with the virus every day.

“There are more new infections every year than AIDS-related death and as more people become infected with HIV, more people will die of AIDS-related illnesses. Worldwide, less than one in five people at risk of becoming infected with HIV have access to basic prevention services. Across the world, only one in eight people who want to be tested as currently able to do so,” the agency said in their website.

“Each day, 1500 children worldwide become infected with HIV, the vast majority of them newborns. In 2005, nine percent of pregnant women in low and middle income countries were offered services to prevent transmission to their newborns,” the agency said.

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Next post: The story of Sheila Magpayo