Apr 7, 2011


Easter and Execution

We have it coming, this continuing saga of lives lost, this execution of the people of the Philippines who have been ‘found’ violating the law of their destination country.

It has happened before, with the country kneeling in prayer for the sparing of the life of Flor Contemplacion.

But we did not learn: we did not learn the way to contemplating what a flower means to us in the Easter and in the spring of our lives, individual and personal, as well as collective and communal.

As a country, we do not even know what the promise of redemption means, not with our short memories, like the shrimp that jumps into the frying pan, not learning of the penalties of fire. 

Or the possibilities of more bruising.

Here is a story that can be told—and we will tell this again and again: that we 
have allowed this social drama to unfold before us, and the spectacle is enough 
to sustain our short memories, is enough to make us remember that prayer can 
indeed move mountains.

And yet prayer, too, is not enough. 

We held on to the foolish hope: that one country will listen to our supplication 
as if with our ardent hope, three lives would come back to us, whole and entire, 
smiling and alive and kicking and telling us, in the full narrative of overseas-Filipino-workers’ hope—that there is kindness in places strange and foreign.

Let us record this: three lives snuffed out—put to death is the preferred term by the media—for the execution of Sally Ordinario Villanueva, 32; Ramon Credo, 
42; and Elizabeth Batain, 38. 

Their stories are not foreign and strange: these are stories that have visited us for so long—and many times over.

There is the traitor: the recruiter promising them the best of a dream, like the 
thirty pieces of silver given to Judas by those who did not like the Christ who rankled the high priests, who challenged their own version of truth, and who offered a new version of the good life. 

There are the gullible people, their gullibility born of centuries of deprivation and want, of dreams aborted, of hopes distorted to suit the purposes of those whose business is to make business out of empty words.

We watched as we are fed with the gory details of their death and the equally gory details of the sorrow that can only come from these injustices that have 
come to visit us as a people.

Our being in America does not spare us from this theatre of sorrow.

Our being in America reminds us that we have come to these shores because there is promise over here, and the goods of this promise are being delivered to us, however difficult the delivery is.  

We pause during this Easter time and we see the contradictions of our days: the 
coming of Easter, the coming of Spring, and this coming of Death and Destruction.

The only way for us to get out this is to seek the road to our redemption.

Three thousand Filipinos leave the country for other shores each day; four coffins come back to us, cold as cold can be, each day. 

About ten percent of our Philippine population is elsewhere, not in our shores, but in other unfamiliar shores, to eke out a life wherever there is promise of life.

There is no more tragic story than our own story of the tragic. 

Perhaps it is high that we rearranged the sequence of the events of our collective life so that the plot of our tragedy can become the seed of our collective hope.

We cannot afford to have children who will grow up not knowing who their parents are because their parents are missing or dead, or traumatized and unable to function as parents after years of struggle in other lands just to put food on their children’s table. 

We cannot afford to have a country of our ancestors whose people are forever 
scarred by the exportation of their warm bodies, the selling of their strength, 
and the mortgaging of their dignity.

We demand more that this spectacle of misery.

We demand the resurrection of our sense of self and self-worth, our sense of humanity and care. 

We demand the promise of a real Easter for us all. 

Happy Easter everyone!

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