Collateral Damage

The Promised Change

Change has come for the Philippines, just as the current President Rodrigo Duterte promised us during the campaign periods for presidency last year and vowed to wage war against drugs in the country upon winning. Within six months later, over a million drug personalities surrendered to authorities under Operation Tokhang (derived from Cebuano words, “Tok Tok” which means “Knock Knock” and “Hangyo” which means “To plead or surrender”). During those first six months, policemen and authorities would knock on one’s door if they’ve been listed or identified as one of drug users/pushers, to persuade them to stop the illegal use of drugs or surrender themselves to rehabilitation program of the government. At first, it looked promising. People surrendered willing to let go of drug addiction and hopefully have another chance to change.

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The Drug War

But the promising days ahead for change and the hopes to eradicate illegal drugs in the country turned into a nightmare. Within the first six months, more than 2000 deaths were recorded, all in relation to drug war by a vigilant-style killings. And adding the fact that rehabilitation centers for illegal drugs in the country is limited and cannot accommodate the number of drug users and pushers who surrendered. As the operation and campaign against illegal drugs continue, more deaths came.

Philippines UN Drug Violence
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The mass is divided. Solid supporters would totally agree and support the government despite the increasing number of killings, but this is my take — this is not the change I am looking forward to.

In our barangay (smallest administrative district/most local level of government), over 30 people were killed in this drug war. Even during daytime, even in the busiest place, people were killed. Most cases in our barangay, people were killed by gun mans or “riding in tandem”, whether hired by authorities or big-time drug lords, we do not know. One case was even killed at 5 pm, sun still up, in front of a child in the street. And just like that, they will kill you and shoot you in the head.

The Collateral Damage

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Some people believe in the saying “An eye for an eye.” Drug users or addicts committed a number of crimes that are unforgivable according to our own judgement. They should be punished according to the same extent of their crimes. The death toll increases. We are on war against drugs and there will always be a collateral damage, as they say. But unfortunately, the victims are always the poor.

Included in the increasing number of deaths, the number casualties of innocent people in this war. There were children, women, students, innocent people who were supposed to be saved and protected in the promised administration.

Lately, the authorities, especially, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is facing a grave issue on the way they implement “Operation Tokhang”.  Last Aug. 17, 2017, Kian Delos Santos (17 yrs old) was shot by two policemen during a drug raid in their area in Caloocan. This causes controversies and noise even in social media. The police said Kian was a drug runner and he shoot the police first forcing the police to protect themselves and kill Kian, but the CCTV footage and some witnesses tell another story, claiming Kian was never related to any drug trade and he was innocent. They’re still investigating the case until now. We only hope that justice is served properly.

When the authorities supposed to protect and serve the country is now beginning to become a threat, are we still safe?

The Protest

September 21, 2017 is declared a National Day of Protest. Also, this day marks the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law. People will gather to exercise their right to freedom of speech and to express their grievances against the government.

I personally do not believe that in order to eradicate drugs in the country, one must kill. But they can only kill the poor. The high profile drug lords are spared — due process is served. Why not for the poor? People were killed brutally as if their lives don’t matter at all. As if a victim is not capable of changing, as if one doesn’t deserve a chance.

No matter what change, it should be for the better. No matter what, a life is a life. I also plead to stop the killings. Yes, this is not a perfect world, people will get killed and die, some people are greedy, but I believe in humanity, not in politics.

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“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” – Mahatma Gandhi


Pokemon Go and the 90’s Kids

I want to be the very best, like no one ever was…. And the song goes on in my head. Come on, don’t be shy, sing with me. We all knew the song. We knew it by heart. It’s Pokemon!

We’re all going crazy. No, we’re not just joining the club of Ash’s and Team Rockets just for the sake of being ‘in’. This is millennial anime/game in Generation Z! And yes, this is nostalgic.

I remember watching Pokemon when I was a kid with my siblings. We were trying to memorize all the Pokemons and their evolutions. Who owns which and what did the Team Rocket catched and stupidly gave away. We play Pokemon cards, texts (small rectangular paper with Pokemon prints) and pogs (round-shaped cardboard with prints of your fave cartoon) of Pomemon in our own ‘gym’. It was a nice memory. As if we’re back in time. Those childhood memories we kept in our childhood self, were automatically retrieved and refreshed the moment we caught sight of the Pokeball. One Pokemon catched on the list, be it Vulpix to Ninetails, Abra to Kadabra to Alakazam, our minds knew those familiar names, and we can’t help but smile.

Now Pokemon is in this smartphones we always use. Looking for a Pokemon in ‘real life’ is a wow for us. Finally, we can be like Ash or Brock or Misty, Serena or even Jessie or James. We can catch our first Pokemon and train them. Our childhood dreams came true.

Many will never understand specially those who don’t play the game, who don’t know any Pokemon at all (and that is possible), but this our childhood fantasy (how many times will I say it). It’s coming true in this virtual world. We can never defend ourselves for not looking on the streets instead because we’re too engrossed in playing Pokemon Go. We can’t blame you if we tripped over, if our phones were snatched, if we exit on a wrong way and bump into a glass door — which just happened to me yesterday. We can’t blame you for blaming us, ourselves. We’re guilty as charged.

We can’t promise we’ll stay alert at all times, sometimes we will just be plain stupid because of the game. But we will try to be sane as we should be. Though bear with us please for stopping abruptly while walking, or just by walking really really slowly. You will get irritated and get tired of this hype but this will all pass.

So let us just have our moment, our childhood dreams came into reality (though not really that ‘real’). We will be responsible of our own whatever effect the game may have on us. Just let us play the game and we will all live happily ever after. 😁

2013, I’m Saying Goodbye

It’s the last day of the year and I’m compelled to look back, in retrospect on what happened to me in 2013 out of boredom. So here it goes:

The first half of my 2013 wasn’t planned (I’m too carefree to plan) and neither did I expect anything as such. I had a couple of my firsts and lasts and some part of life is like flowing water for me — finding its way on its own. Somehow, there’s something I can’t control….

I took my first plane ride. Waah, my first plane ride. (Well, everybody had their first anything) It was hilarious. That day, I vowed to myself, I will ride more planes and will continue to do what I love — travel! Be it a ride on a bus, or on a boat, whatever means of transportation. And for that matter, I may also add, this year, I learned how to ride all alone in LRT (Congrats to me!)

I also strongly believe that I was so blessed. I passed my last evaluation subject at last! (Business Law and Taxation) — The easiest subject on board exam yet the reason for my ‘doctor’s degree’ in college, repeating the evaluation exam over and over again. Five times: three semesters and two summer classes. (Hey, I heard it. “What?!” “Ows?!” “Hell no” @*&%$*&! — but I’m done with it.)

Then, graduation came. Graduation? Oh, all I ever think was, “Go, and wear a dress and high heels. Put on some make-up, attend the ceremony and go home.” The excitement was long before gone after two extra years in college. Yet that was the happiest and most rewarding years in my college life. 🙂 And at last, I’m out of PUP. Welcome to the world of the unemployed.

I really didn’t know if I will take the board exam and never plan on enrolling in a review school, but God insisted (thanks to the people who always believe in me and supported me in any manner despite my vulnerability and failures). I enrolled a week before review classes starts and got an evening schedule — not what I wanted initially but then started to love: less pressure, cute and awesome reviewers :), insane yet thoughtful friends (haha), and some calm-almost-indifferent co-reviewees. Four months of serious review came in a rush. Half a year had passed — Whoosh! It came so fast.

So fast — we’re moving so fast and so does what happened next. We hit the car in front of us as another tricycle hit us from behind and the tricycle I’m riding in crashed and rolled round and round. I can see everything upside-down, so clear from my memory. Someone’s crying, shouting for help. I felt blood oozing from my head, blood from my nose — good thing I can still stand: no broken arms and legs. I started to panic but calmed myself and prayed ‘thank you’ to God —- my first vehicular accident, a month before my board exam, my second life.

A beautiful doctor from surgery makes me laugh while she’s doing the stitches in my head. Both the doctor and the nurse were amazed by me knowing I’ve been in an accident minutes before yet I can still manage to laugh. Never did they know that I’m worried about where will I get the money to get me out of the hospital (8 of the passengers from both tricycles were injured, including ‘our’ driver/operator, one passenger, I was told, was in coma and died a week later). 🙁
I don’t want my mother to come for she’ll be worried enough to make me worry about her, however, minutes later, my ninang and younger brother came, followed by my mother (my mother was crying, expectantly, of course, and I reassured her and calmed her that I am alright). Then another beautiful, yet aloof doctor from ENT came with a huge thong in her hand. She said my nose was broken (Of all things, my nose was flat, why in the world and how come that happened?!). She said she had to use that huge thong to push the broken bone inside my nose up, placing it back to where it should be, and in my head it was like, “Uh-huh… wait, WHAT?! Seriously.” And it would be very painful she further explains (how comforting). Anesthesia won’t work to ease the pain, even though they will inject five dose of anesthesia on my face (another ‘seriously’ from me).

Then I started to realize, this is really serious and only at that moment, I started to cry.

I’ve been two weeks of coming in and out of the hospital (but a different one now and with a different doctor) for checkup — no more huge thongs and all that painful process. Natural healing would be fine, said the good doctor. And though I’m very tired and my body’s not yet recovered from the accident, I prepared my requirements in PRC.

I got to join the long line of people getting the NBI with gauze on my head, hurting stitches and sore muscles. Trials didn’t stop there. My birthdate on my birth certificate was wrong and never knew it until that time — how stupid of me. I almost didn’t make it to the deadline of filing for the board.
But still, God has a plan — and that includes me, taking the board exam (almost dozing off to sleep because of medicines I still have to take) and failing it all the same. I’ve had enough of people who would ask or say “Why did you fail?”, “I guess you didn’t study that much.” Thanks to those who never said anything at all; those who just smiled at me and said “Let’s have a drink.” Or “Mag-videoke tayo!”
I’m never new to failures. It is always behind my back; Only too bad for it, for success is always beside me and in front of me. 🙂

I asked God, what is it He wanted me to do. There are so many open doors. All I have to do is take the right one. But how will I know?

So as the year closes to an end, I rested. It feels so comfortable to rest for a while. So darn comfortable that it seems like something is wrong. I waited for anything — for wisdom, for patience itself, for inspiration. So many things happened to me both the good and the bad; where from all things were learned. I’ve got only one thought in mind: next year, I’m going to do what I love.

I decided to come out of my comfort zone next year; try something new and adventurous — what I love the most. I will paint again, I will sing like nobody cares, I will find the job that suits me, I will travel, go mountain climbing, rappelling, trekking or whatever that makes my blood rush with happiness. I’ll try zumba and dance to the beat of gimme gimme. I will write poems, short stories and songs, and maybe, I could ask someone to play it for me. I will fall in love again and will never be afraid to love. And, I will learn how to cook. 🙂

I will treat myself and watch movie alone. I will buy and wear dresses that give me confidence. I will laugh much more often. I will gain new friends and I will read more books. I will surely enjoy the year and days ahead. I’m free as a wild horse galloping with strength. It’s my second life, my last life, my only life. I will do what makes me happy.

Oh, and yesterday, I dyed my hair mahogany. I didn’t wait for next year to do it. 😀

A Late Bloomer’s Thoughts

When I can’t think of something to write,
I blame the hot weather on a cold December.
I heard every noise and distractions a night can offer.
I push myself up to the last thought,
but I’ll end spending hours staring on a blank paper,
thoughts wandering but nowhere to go.

When I can’t think of something to write,
I’ll invent stories;
stories with no ending, neither a beginning.
I’ll spend time chatting with characters I’ve made up,
forming their roles and making a mess with them.

I forced my poor mind to complete
even just one sentence that makes sense,
and unfortunately end up with nothing.
All words jammed together without a clear thought,
just like a blur.

When I can’t think of something that makes sense,
I blame the tiresome, long day,
for draining up my wit and strength.
I try to relax and unwind for a minute
but still, gained nothing but a yawn.

But my poor heart wants to say something to the world
yet my mind can’t decipher what the heart wants to say.
I try my best to hear my conscience—
if it can help me with something wonderful.
Alas, I can only hear my own voice singing a Carpenters’ song.
Even my conscience takes a break.

I read magazines and even the Bible for some inspirations,
but I only got make up tips
and ‘how to make him notice you’ information,
though helpful, I admit.
And oh, yes, the Bible says,
“Wisdom is in every thought of the intelligent people;
fools know nothing about wisdom”.

When I can’t think of something to write,
I blame my boring love life—-
Oh, I don’t even have a ‘love life’.
A woman in love can write a novel
about how she feels at exactly that moment,
expressing her love by thousand words.

I thought that’s why I can’t even write
one sentence that makes sense—
I’m not in love.

When inspiration doesn’t spend time with me,
sometimes even a fortnight,
I feel so empty.
A writer needs inspirations to write.
And when passion seems like taking a rest too,
like a fire in an open field,
trying to stay ablaze in a stormy weather—
there’s nothing poorer than that to a writer;
a broken glass; a wet book;
a withered plant.

When I can’t think of something to write,
I blame my pen and my notebook
for not keeping up with my mood.
And after a series of erasures and wasted, crumpled papers,
I forced myself again.

And soon, everything fits to place.
There’s no one to blame really,
not even myself.
Yes, blame is such a harsh word
because I realized, all these jammed words,
still made sense, indeed it makes sense —
even when I can’t think of something to write.

-jle120612 (Photo not mine)



Ang Tatlong Anghel sa UP

Dumayo kami ng mga kaibigan ko sa UP para kumain ng pansit canton, kwek-kwek at isaw nitong nakaraang linggo. Pero bukod doon, maswerte kaming nakarinig ng bagong kwento at maikling oras na di malilimutan.

Kilala na siguro sila ng ilang estudyante sa unibersidad. Narinig din kaya nila ang kwento ng tatlong anghel na ito?
Sila si Angel, Angelita at Angelo, tatlo sa anim na magkakapatid. Unang lumapit sa amin si Angelo, may bulutong pero pagaling na, mga dose anyos, nanghihingi ng limos pambaon daw kinabukasan. Medyo hindi ko pa siya pinapansin noong una, pero mabubuting tao ang mga kasama ko 😁 (echos lang), imbes na pera ang ibigay ay inalok nalang nila ng pansit canton. Agad namang pumili ang bata kung anong pansit canton combo ang nais niya. Hindi na siya nagdalawang-isip.  Gutom na sigurado.

Nakipag-kwentuhan muna kami sa kanya habang naghihintay maluto ang aming order. Biglang nakita sya ng dalawa pang bata at lumapit sa amin. Mas batang kapatid pala niya. Si Angel at Angelita (na nahawaan na rin ng bulutong at nilalagnat). Nagpadagdag kami ng order para sa kanila at sinimulan na ring makipagkwentuhan.

Hindi kami nahirapang malaman ang sitwasyon nila dahil willing silang sumagot. Sila pa nga ang nagkekwento. Napag-alaman naming walang trabaho ang nanay nila. Iniwan na sila ng tatay nila na nag-asawa ulit; ginugulpi raw sila kaya ayaw daw nila doon.  Nakakulong ang stepfather nila at dinalaw ng nanay nila sa kulungan. Napagbintangang nagnakaw ng mangga, at ng bisikleta, dagdag ni angelo nung nagtaka kami sa sagot nya. Meron pa bang nagpapakulong dahil lang sa pagnanakaw ng mangga? Grabe ah. Anyway, nag-aaral silang tatlo (grade 5 si Angelo pero di ko na tanda ang grade at edad nung dalawa). Ang nalilimos nila ay pinambibili nila ng bigas. Minsan, hinihingian din sila ng mga batang hamog para pambili ng yosi at chongke, pag hindi sila nagbigay, gugulpihin sila.

Pero kahit mahirap ang kanilang sitwasyon, nakakangiti sila at nakakapgbiro. Tinatawanan nila yung mga kwento nilang masasaya. Hayagan nilang kinikwento ang buhay nila, na tila wala silang alam kung gaano kahirap ang hirap na dinaranas nila. Hindi nila alam kung gaano sila katatag. Sila ay mga bata pa lamang. Walang bahid ng galit sa mukha nila, pero dama mo ang lungkot. Higit pa sa lahat, marunong silang magpasalamat. “Maraming salamat po!”, “Salamat po” at “Ingat” ang narinig ko sa kanila noong paalis na kami. Maraming nanlilimos na nagagalit kapag di mo nabigyan, pero iba ang tatlong to. Nakakatuwa.

Di na bago ang ganitong sitwasyon. Di na bago sa lipunan na puno ng mahihirap. Di na bago sa Pilipinas. Pero bawat kwento may bagong aral, may bagong mensahe. Kailangan mo lang ay makinig at magmasid. Hindi lahat ng nasa kalye masasama, manghoholdup, magnanakaw. Di lahat ng nanlilimos dulot ng sindikato at bumibili lang ng rugby, solvent or kung anu-ano pang masamang bisyo. Sa likod ng nakaunat nilang kamay, may kwento, may dahilan.

Ito ang kwento ng tatlong anghel na si Angelo, Angelita at Angel. Hindi pa tapos ang aklat ng buhay nila, mahaba pa ang kanilang lalakbayin. Nawa, maging isa itong magandang aklat na kapag nabasa ng lahat, di mo mapipigilang mapangiti at magpasalamat. 😊






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