The rain? I saw it coming that I already warned a couple of friends about it few days ago, while the overcast was slowly thickening outside. It did not surprise me a bit even if it arrived at the most unholy hour of this lifetime--our lifetime, leaving us both cold but not really totally out of comfort.

And last night? It drenched us both. It was nasty; worse than the cutting coldness seeping through the cream and green plastic mats spread on the red concrete floor of my office. It was past 2 in the morning and the coldness burnt the flesh it earlier numbed.

Few days ago, I was multiplying 8760 hours by two to a friend; now I am substracting as many hours as I can while at the back of my mind, a slideshow just won't stop.

Rewind. Play. Pause. Forward. Fast forward. Rewind. Play. Rewind. Rewind. Rewind. Forward. Play. Rewind. It just won't stop; just like the rain.

Unlike you.


So it seems numbers are more important that I am. Not that I am complaining because I am more than feeling that. I am wanting. It's been more than three weeks but it feels like it's a year already.

I hope this is far from forever. Or over.


Canvass bags for sale. Mura lang...


Death No. 1...

This morning, I was with a throng of journalists who stormed the office of the Ombudsman Mindanao, as one of our colleagues filed criminal and administrative charges against a Board Member of Compostela Valley Province.

Apparently, what Board Member Neri Barte did to broadcaster Roel Sembrano of Radyo Natin in Compostela threatened the very soul of freedom of expression. In fact, Barte attempted to curtail this right when he attacked Sembrano, with hir wife and daughter in tow, early morning of October 24.

Listening to Sembrano retrace the event created a picture of three voltures, ripping the flesh of a half-dead prey, in my mind. It is highly condemnable that the Bartes had to share their lust (or disgust) over their hapless prey, right inside that place called "announcer's booth."

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) said the attack is intolerable as "an announcer's booth is to a broadcaster what a pulpit is to a priest."

"Actions of public officials like Barte are dangerous. It is the kind of mentality that threatens the democracy that we vowed to protect. Such act of a public official must be condemned, not only by the media as a sector, but also by fellow public officials," the NUJP and KBP said in a joint statement.

Death No. 2...

This morning, after expressing unity for the "protection of the mandate of our profession," we went to see Mariannet Amper who was lying right where she was found hanging. Hers is a death so painful it challenges everyone's apathy; a truth that screams right in the face of the policy makers who met to talk about how to fight poverty in a posh Manila hotel while she was hanging lifeless because of poverty.

Death No. 3...

This morning, news about another death in the family came in. The text message read "Patay na siya kuya..." Reading it left in me a feeling that this one is no different from the others.

Death is as overrated as death.


Diana Mandarawon wakes up at 3 am, while the earth is still covered by darkness and mist. She wastes no time, her every move well calculated as she avoids not to wake-up her younger siblings with the grating of the floor made of slabs. She then goes to the kichen--just a few steps from the only bedroom--and grabs the sack of cassava and bananas.

This morning, just like the past days, the 12-year old daughter of an Ata-Manobo farmer, leaves for school with not a single cent. But Diana does not care if her lunch appears like an endless repetition of the previous meals she had taken in with her classmates and friends at school--viandless cassava or bananas.

Worrying about food or money is the least of her concern. Her problem is how to get to school on time, the reason why she had to wake up as early as 3 am for she can start walking at 4 am. Disregard the fact that she's going to school without notebook, paper, pencil, or books--the girl is consumed by her unquestionable determination to learn.

He cousin, Gina, does not also care if, just like the yesterday, she will be using the free spaces of her overly used notebook to write down today's lessons. Her classmates will not be lucky as she is, as most of them practice writing down their names and solving simple mathematical problems on leaves of bananas.

Diana's village, called Sitio Tambuko in Barangay Palma Gil in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, is about three hours away from Sitio Dulyan, where the community learning center called Salupungan Ta 'tanu Igkanugon is located. The learning center only caters to grade one pupils.

If Diana and Gina, and at least 55 others, want to finish elementary education, they have to travel about 20 kilometers to reach Barangay Sto. Niño. To do this, they have to pay P600 for motorcycle fair for each person.

Asked why she wants to be "educated," Diana said "aron dili mi malimbungan sa mga bisaya (so the bisaya can no longer cheat us)."

Such a desire of someone so young to actually learn of her bloody past. Such a dream of someone so young yet never oblivious of the cruel future that lies ahead. This struggle while the government nearly allowed the implementation of the questionable Cyber Education Program in public schools in the country.

Btw, her village, as most of the villages of Talaingod, was the site of the logging operations of the giant Alcantara and Sons (Alsons) many years ago. Alsons, of course, is the manufacturer of Ecowood Plywood.

Now, Diana and the children of Talaingod are reaping the abuse of their ancestral lands. They are trapped in a depressing and unspeakably disheartening condition of poverty and hunger while the "intruders" lie in the comfort of their own hotels.

And yes, the intruders? They sure can have better view of the destruction they left everytime they fly their planes over the skies of Talaingod.

Learn more about the problems of Diana here.