As we end this month of mothers, let us look back to the struggle of one woman fighting for the life of her daughter. Her story epitomizes the call of millions of Filipino women, mothers and wives for their sons, daughters, and husbands working overseas.
The April 29 schedule of execution of Mary Jane was the most trying moment not only for the Velosos but the entire Filipino people waiting for a benevolent and just action from the Indonesian government. It was eventful — raising global community’s consciousness on the use of death penalty for criminal acts with the impact of human trafficking as linked to drug syndicates. Importantly, it brought to our attention how the legal procedures are involving countries like the Southeast Asian neighbours, Indonesia and the Philippines, in such matters. Legal circles may have tended to cite processes outlined in international criminal court and other instruments as questions for legal remedies.
But what is much given a hype, which further challenges political activists and academics, are the sentiments of Celia Veloso. The Veloso matriarch emphatically elevated the accountability of the state over her daughter’s plight as a victim of human trafficking. Desolately, it created confrontation and at its worse, condemnation from those who expected her to be sober if not submissive with the stay of the execution.
Nonetheless, accountability is unlock in this scenario as Celia used the Filipino language, maniningil! And what is in maniningil? Maniningil comes from a major stakeholder’s voice, the mother who knows best, as the cliché goes. It carries her own concrete experiences, the circumstances not only of her daughter’s plight as a woman daring to explore the foreign land for a job (to care for her children indirectly) but the family’s hard attempts to survive in an unjust poverty situation (husband as worker of the Hacienda Luisita, Benigno S Aquino’s family owned corporate farm).
The majority of the people in this land languish in poor conditions. The Celias may have all the words to speak well of their realities. They are the authorities of their social circumstances and thus, when speaking the language, this may be the harshest yet there lies the truth. The truth that social injustice mirrored in Mary Jane’s face is crystal clear for Celia. Maniningil came as sharp as a Solingen knife.
For no “handlers” (pardon for the use of this borrowed word as it appeared in national chronicles) could dictate upon a person who knows her own language to describe both prevailing emotions and perspective. Organic intellectuals among Filipino rural folks abound and Celia fits. Think that mastery of a solid experience of oppression and marginalization moves one to go a higher plane of expression when support mounts, and concretely in this case, to a global level. Celia, no doubt is behaving more than a witness to the rural farming women’s stories of state’s neglect and failures.
When individual families fail, and knowing Philippine population, a significant number reaches to almost 75%, it is the state that has to come in to take full responsibility, the primary duty bearer, in this scenario of decades of underdevelopment. Unmindful, Celia may have only avowed the majority’s rage, but was unacceptable to the seemingly blinded segment of the urbanites- the upper and middle echelons.
She appeared thankful in her public speaking tours not directly to the nation’s patriarch. Her utterances maintained a posture typical of a woman who has trained herself to be vocal about the whole experience. She must have learned from the past and has gained enough moral support since day one of the SAVE MARY JANE CAMPAIGN! The campaign mounted by a solid combination of a home-grown and international solidarity that led to a reconsideration of the merits of the case. Let her be herself at this time for she will become the key player in her daughter’s freedom. Deep in her, she is forever grateful to everyone who contributed to the initial victory as every indigenous Filipino is.