Filed under: Film, Human Rights | Tags: Angie Ipong, DM9, EMJP, Gabriela, Human Rights, Hustisya, karapatan, One Million Rising, Philippines, selda
There are a few benefits to being fat and dark. One of them is being cast as a police officer in films and live performances. The first time it happened was in a comedic role in a music video. Often, I am an abusive cop or, worse, a torturer. When schedules allow I am always happy to oblige. It is not for the money. I am hardly paid (which might be indicative of my supposed thespian skills). And I am not bothered with being typecast, as I have no illusions of a sustained “acting career”.
Last Saturday, we went to this old abandoned house deep in San Juan City to shoot an information plug about Gabriela’s ‘One Billion Rising’ anti-torture and anti-rape campaign. It is by the award-winning ad agency DM9, which also produced those award-winning ads against human trafficking in partnership with Gabriela.
Central to the campaign is Angie Ipong’s story. She was the elderly lady who was accused by the military to be a top rebel leader in Mindanao. When she was abducted in 2005 she was blindfolded for days, tortured and sexually-molested. She was also kept in isolation for 14 days. Angie was slapped with several manufactured criminal charges, which were all dismissed by the courts eventually.
In jail, Angie showed both the inmates and the jail officers why the State hates people like her. She led the cleaning of the cells, initiated dialogues with the warden, started an inmate livelihood program, and led a gardening program that fed everyone in the facility fresh vegetables.
Last Saturday’s shoot re-enacted Angie’s torture. I was one of her torturer while Angie played herself. I was a bit taken aback when I learned that Angie would do it, as many torture victims would not exactly relish reliving the horrors they underwent, even if it is only re-enacted. But Angie is a very strong lady. She even seemed eager to do it.
During rehearsals, Angie even dared us to be meaner to her. She said she did not mind being hit harder. “They did worse to me,” she said. Acted or not, it isn’t easy to hit an old lady—which is illustrative of the kind of animals who tortured and molested her.
The DM9 crew were as gentle as possible to Angie. They kept apologizing and asking if Angie is okay with being hit and touched. The director also asked us to give it our all. The longer the shoot takes the longer our agony in seeing Angie reliving the horrors of her torture—albeit willingly.
For more than an hour we hit Angie on many parts of her body. I was directed to yank her hair hard and blow cigarette smoke at her face. Another poured a bucket of water all over her while others pushed her every which way. All the while we shouted and laughed at her while she was tied up and blindfolded.
Every take was useful, and some were excellent, all because of Angie. DM9’s veteran crew broke into applause after each take. I guess they never had an actor play the part down pat. As far as I was concerned, Angie wasn’t acting. I could tell. She felt the horrors of it all over again.
I was physically and emotionally spent after the shoot. I noticed I was not my usual talkative self. But Angie even had the energy to conduct an on-cam interview about her torture for nearly an hour afterwards.
Video crews are a boisterous lot on film sets and writers and researchers think they know everything. But while Angie was retelling everything they sat still with mouth agape. Some had tears on their eyes as they listened to tales of the State’s cruelty against citizens.
As with any video project, I can’t wait to finally see this one’s final version. But I have a feeling about this one. Very rarely does a moving shoot result in a bland film. It takes some real talent for a director and editor to bungle a strongly-themed project so powerfully acted in by an inspiring actor.
Watch out for Angie Ipong’s ‘One Billion Rising’ video. It may be out early next year. Continue reading
He rides his high horse
And he is liking it
He looks down on the people
And goads them to applaud
“Makisama naman kayo,” he orders
As if he is wronged
By the people he stepped on
While mounting the beast’s back
He makes his horse dance
Step sideways and run in circles
He makes it jump and rear
Going nowhere all the while
He mistakes the people’s silent stare
As an insult on his riding skills
“Puro kayo batikos,” he thunders
Atop his high horse
Indeed the people are staring
Not at the rider but at the fat horse
Which may make for a hearty meal
For their hungry children back home
8 October 2010
Filed under: Human Rights, Poetry, politics | Tags: daang matuwid, demolition, Human Rights, Philippines, Poetry, President Noynoy Aquino, Raymund Villanueva, tula, urban poor
Naka-chat ko minsan si Middle Class
Nalilito raw siya
Bakit daw ba gustong-gusto ng mga pobre
Ang ituring silang mahirap?
Poverty mentality raw ang tawag doon.
(Kita mo nga naman, pinasiklaban pa ako nire)
Ako namang si Simple Mind
Ay nalito na rin.
Kaya inilabas ko ang sukbit kong ingles
At inubos ko sa isang buga–
“What do you mean?” (O, ha!)
Sinagot ako ni Middle Class ng buntong-hininga
Umulit ako ng tanong:
“Don’t get me wrong,” she said.
Simpatiya raw siya sa mahihirap.
Katunayan daw ay minsan na siyang bumisita
Sa mga iskwater noong siya ay kolehiyala pa.
“We even prayed for them,” she added.
Pero bakit daw ba pala-asa sa gubyerno
Sina Manang Dukha at Manong Pobresito?
Humihingi palagi ng murang pabahay
Libreng edukasyon, maayos na serbisyong kalusugan
At kundi ba naman sadyang kalabisan, malinis na pamahalaan.
“Pagpasensyahan mo na sila,” kako naman.
“Alam mo namang ang mga yagit ay bobo.
Apat na buwan nang tapos ang halalan,
Umaasa pa ba silang mapaglilingkuran?”
28 Setyembre 2010
Filed under: Human Rights, Poetry, politics | Tags: Ayala Land, Human Rights, manila, Noynoy Aquino, Philippines, Poetry, Quezon City Central Business District, raymund b villanueva, Sitio San Roque, tula
Malala ang sakit ng mga burgis.
Hindi ito galing sa kagat ng lamok
O dulot ng kakulangan ng sustansya.
Bawal sa mayaman ang kulang ang makain
O maruming kapaligiran.
Pero maraming sakit ang nakukuha sa rangya
Kadalasan ay sa utak ang tama.
Nakakabaliw ang tumae sa porselana
At magpunas ng puwit gamit ang malambot na tisyu–
Tisyung galing sa halaga ng sobrang paggawa
Ng manggagawang iskwater
O mula sa hinoldap na buwis
Ng magsasakang alipin.
Bawat hagod para tanggalin ang mabango nilang tae
Mula sa makinis na butas ng kanilang pwet
Isip nila’y iba sila sa hampas lupa
At angat sa magbubukid na walang lupa.
Tubig o dyaryo lamang ang kanila.
Kung kaya naman,
Que se joda
Imasaker ang magsasaka
O idemolis ang maralita
Hindi naman sila taong tulad nila.
26 Setyembre 2010
Filed under: Film, Human Rights, personal, Poetry, politics, Uncategorized | Tags: Anakpawis, Kilusang Mayo Uno, labor movement, Philippines, Raymund Villanueva
A friend sent me an message last night asking for my phone number. He wrote his mom is a casting manager and is looking for ‘personalities’ for an ad project. He thought of me and suggested my name.
Earlier today I received two aborted calls on my mobile phone I failed to answer because I was driving. I returned the call and, sure enough, it was my friend’s mom. She invited me to an audition tomorrow to be held at a studio in Makati. She then passed me on to her assistant who proceeded to tell me what clothes to wear and what time should I present myself. With thoughts of a substantial talent fee (and where I might spend it) dancing in my head I also thought of what gear to take to establish my credentials.
But a thought kept tugging at me and I had to make sure. So I asked, “Who’s the client?” The assistant did not want to tell me but I said I must know. And then she did.
An awkward silence came between us. I then blurted, “I’m sorry, but I can’t go.” She asked why and I said I know the company is a notorious union buster and may be responsible for the deaths of their workers’ union members and officers.
The assistant was surprised herself. She said she did not know.
Then she asked me if I could recommend names. I again apologized and told her I can not recommend anyone to endorse the company or its products.
The assistant, Marilou, said she understands. We thanked each other and I asked her to extend my sincere apologies to my friend’s mom.
Well, that’s that. But, should they choose me as an endorser, I could finally buy Pom a DSLR of her own with the TF. I could have our little farm fenced off, start Pom’s herbal garden and built a small bamboo hut. I could buy plane tickets for Mama and Chloe to celebrate my niece’s eighth birthday abroad. I could have my teeth whitened.
It could also be that once they have a look at me that they’d let me hear that oft-repeated line: “Thanks for coming. Don’t call us; we’ll call you.” For sure, I’d be no loss to this huge international conglomerate who earns billions of dollars every year.
But my decision was a no brainer, really. In the first place, If I have a choice I try not to drink their coffee. Why would I sell what little credibility I may have? My wife’s DSLR may have to wait for heaven knows when. I am open to future casting calls anyway–but not for products with blood on them.
Kung Bangkay Na Nilang Ituring Ang Ating Unyon
Tula ni Axel Pinpin para kay Diosdado ‘Ka Fort’ Fortuna
Kung musuleyo na itong pagawaan
At makina’y dugo na ang inilalangis
At ang mga pabrikang naging tahanan
Ng obrero’y ipinapansahod na’y tangis
Aawas tayong maaga’t magpakanayunan
Upang pamunuan ang kapwa Anakpawis.
Kung putok na ng baril ang ingay ng makina
At ang tangi nang puhuna’y ating lakas
Ng nangangapital na ang tubo’y pang-upa
Sa buhong na kwartel ng berdugo at dahas
Likhain natin ang pamutol-tanikala
Upang sa pagkaalipin tayo’y kumalas.
Kung bangkay na nilang ituring ang ating unyon
At akalaing ulilang lubos na ang hanay
Ng manggagawang wala nang luhang itaghoy;
Maso sa bandila’y tuloy ang pagpupugay,
Mga bayaning obrero’y martir at inspirasyon;
Mananatiling dakila hanggang sa tagumpay!
(Ka Fort was:
President – United Filipro Employees Union
President – PAMANTIK-KMU (Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan)
Member – National Council of Kilusang Mayo Uno
Chairperson – Anakpawis-Southern Tagalog
Co-Chairperson – National Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights-Southern Tagalog)
Filed under: art, Education, history, Human Rights, journalism, politics | Tags: Anakpawis, Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Crispin Beltran, Ina Alleco Silverio, Ka Bel, Kilusang Mayo Uno, KMU, Philippines, Raymund Villanueva, Southen Voices
We had to break an important meeting to attend the launch of Ina Alleco R Silverio’s first book Ka Bel: The Life and Struggles of Crispin Beltran at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani last June 4. I drove like a man possessed just to be in time and I was, with plenty to spare. It took me one and half hours to drive to the meeting venue; I reached Bantayog in 45 minutes with four nervous ladies as passengers.
I had a special guest for the launching. I invited University of King’s College School of Journalism chair and Canadian Broadcasting Corp’s Kim Kierans. I wanted her to have a signed copy of the book—Ina’s first as well as Ka Bel’s first biography. Prof Kierans met Ka Bel when we interviewed the late great labor leader at the Heart Center in 2006. She liked the interview and the interviewee (who gave her a bagful of ripening mangoes after). The hospital was Ka Bel’s prison at the time but it was somehow fitting as the man was all heart to everything anyway. Prof Kierans condoled all the way from Canada when Ka Bel died two year back.
Too bad Pom was busy playing “big little sister” and was sad to be absent at the launch. She is not one to adore mass leaders easily but she loved Ka Bel as much as she adores Ka Satur and Emmie de Jesus. That’s huge.
It was raining yesterday. The program started an hour late because of some electrical issues. The venue was too small for such a momentous event. The mic stand was busted that even duct tape failed to help. The publisher and emcee, Joel Garduce, spoke too slowly. But all these conspired to make the launch even more heart-warming. The late start because of power problems allowed those who had trouble finding cabs because of the rains to catch the opening. Those who have to stand at the back did not mind as it was the least they could do to honor Ka Bel’s great memory. Those who could no longer enter the auditorium had a good time catching up with old friends who also came in late. Even Joel’s slow drawl was okay because no one wanted the launch to end quickly anyway.
Prof Kierans said we knew how to launch books. She was also happy that there were many young people present. She said that in Canada, “old fogeys” read excerpts for some minutes and that would be it. She certainly had difficulty following the speeches and the poems in Filipino but I think she enjoyed the Nato Reyes and Sarah Katrina Maramag’s rendition of the Beatles’ “All My Life.” She was wowed by Tony Palis’ guitar wizardry and I hope she caught some lines of JMS’ “The Forest is Still Enchanted” played and sung by its composer Tony and accompanied on the harmonica by Nato. I am sure she liked Axel Pinpin’s colourful aura. I only wished she could understand Axel’s second poem, a fresh one just for the occasion. (Hey, Bulatlat! Be the first to publish it!) Ka Bien Lumbera’s mere presence already guarantees an event’s success. And the rest of the speeches were short and sweet. Perfect.
I was happy for my Kodao colleague Cris Balleta. I assigned him to be in charge of the coverage as Jola and I were to come from the abovementioned meeting. Very few journalists could cover a book launch about their granddads and get to interview their grandmoms. I was sad though that Cris’ sister Jane was not there to share with the happiness. Jane is, of course, in prison as a Morong 43 political detainee.
Everyone fought bravely to keep tears in check. It wasn’t a time to grieve Ka Bel’s untimely passing anyway. It was a time to celebrate his life, struggles and legacy. Ina summoned all her strength not to cry. I remember her, very pregnant and weak with grief, crying before Ka Bel coffin two years back. This time, there was relief in her eyes for a deeply personal mission completed.
Prof Kim, Pom and I had a delightful dinner nearby afterwards. I am sure she is happy with her signed copy as Pom and I were with ours.
Ina let me read the opening chapters sometime late last year. But it was a delight rereading them again and it’s a delight reading the rest of the book. Upon reaching home I told Pom she could read it first as I am still not finished reading another. But I dumped the other book anyway and went ahead reading “Ka Bel” first.
Thanks, Prof Kim for a delightful evening. Thanks Ina and Southern Voices for this treasure. And thanks to Ka Bel for everything—including hope his life gave and now symbolizes for the working classes of the world.