The road leading home on June 9, 2019, was the longest one and the most difficult of all to understand. I am still trying to tell myself that it was over, that the nightmare I experienced that fateful day was nothing but just that: a bad dream.
Countless times in the past, has it been proven that even death cannot kill a beautiful mind and a compassionate heart? Witnesses to the truth of this are not a few among people who have been touched by the fine leadership qualities filled with kindness and simplicity of Joel Virador (JV as he was fondly called by family and friends) whose life was offered to the very least and voiceless among workers, peasants, professionals and every struggling Filipinos he had served most of his waking moments.
It was a dangerous decision, but this underscores the urgency of that task, which Kaylo readily took on. This decision may have cost him his life, but Kaylo believed in his people and in their capacity to be decisive and to take the fight into their own hands. He had come of age during such a time – during the 1994 pangayaw – and there was no reason to believe that they could not do it again.
Quiet, unassuming, and humble. That is the kind of effective leadership that best describes Datu Kaylo Bontulan, the deputy secretary-general of PASAKA, the Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao.
They came with some harvests of their organically-grown fruits, vegetables, root-crops and cooked organic food to celebrate what they call as the Farmers’ Festival. Even when some of them talked about being affected by the dry spell that has scorched parts of their farm produce, still they came with whatever they could muster, despite the odds.
That one needs to conduct their graduation ceremony miles and miles away from their own home is in itself symptomatic of how spaces have become unsafe for those who originally owned them. That one needs to shed sweat and blood to experience schooling while others enjoy the same experience with a miniscule amount of effort is a sign that a larger enemy has to be defeated. That a group needs to suffer the consequences of a war that they did not create is a call for help, a call for action, a call for resistance. And we should start listening.
For the past weeks, we in MASIPAG Mindanao carefully monitor the current prices of Palay and well-milled rice to see the direct impact relative to the promises made by the Duterte government upon its ratification of RA 11203 or commonly known as the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).
Theorizing ‘tokhang’ needs a critical mind, as the matter necessitates careful analysis of situations and events.
Vigilance should no longer mean sticking our noses on election results because the counting and tallying are nothing but distractions because they can easily change numbers with just one click of a button. To be vigilant means doing our little efforts to campaign against the crooks, the liars and the scheming candidates who are milking us, Filipinos.
The perceived “Golden Years” of Philippine agriculture is nothing but another PR circus of this administration. The current state of Philippine agriculture under Duterte-Pinol leadership is in deep crises and bankruptcy.