Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hurricane Sendong Death Toll Approaches 1,500

Authorities have intensified the search for bodies as the death toll from flash floods that devastated entire communities in Mindanao, Southern Philippines still continues to rise. Today, the estimate has gone up to 1500 deaths.

Sendong Ravages Cities of CDO and Iligan
According to the latest tally done by the Office of Civil Defence, Cagayan de Oro City has 891 confirmed deaths and Iligan City has 451 confirmed deaths. The rest of those who’ve perished are from several other provinces. Most of the bodies are still unidentified.

Civil defense head Benito Ramos promised to the relatives and friends of those whom are missing that “the search will continue as long as we are recovering bodies.”

Bodies have been found floating in the sea as far as 100 kilometers from the two cities that, on December 16, have been hit by a month’s worth of rainfall in just 12 hours.

Navy sailors have recovered 13 bodies—one of which was a headless girl who appeared to have been hit and trapped by logs that were caught by the floods.

As 60,000 homeless were spending a woeful Christmas in crammed schools and gymnasiums, the United Nations initiated an appeal for $28M to assist the displaced population of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. According to the civil defence, around 2,000 people from Surigao City were evacuated where a child was reported missing in the floods.

Experts say that the enormous death toll was partly caused by deforestation and soil erosion. In light of this, President Benigno Aquino III, who had already banned logging ten months earlier, has ordered a thorough investigation into the reason of the high number of deaths.

Meanwhile, Communist Guerrillas (CPP-NPA) in the south threatened to punish multinational companies for their environmental destruction.

Jorge Madlos, the spokesman of the Rebels said that they sought funds from huge pineapple and banana plantations and other companies, to send to the victims.

Ka Oris, CPP-NPA Spokesperson
Companies that were threatened aren’t so enthusiastic with the rebels’ Robin Hood act, according to Madlos. “That’ll be a factor when we decide which ones to punish first”, Madlos added.

Besides deforestation and soil erosion, another factor in the enormous death count was illegal settlements directly along Cagayan River. Thousands of people lived in shanties on the banks directly along the water’s path.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Have a happy Christmas everyone. I got my new blessing just today. I celebrated my Christmas away from home but I really enjoyed my Christmas season. Be home on the 27th.

I miss my family. And yes, clan reunions will be right next to it. Of course trips for Christmas vacation will be there too. Hehehe.

Have a happy yule season.

I hope everyone enjoyed their noche buena last night. :)

Dec. 17, 2011: Typhoon Sendong

December can be considered as the most festive month for everyone. People would become very busy wrapping gifts, decorating wreath in their doors and some christmas lights outside their houses and of course get ready for the "simbang gabi sessions". But just right by the time the "simbang gabi" session would start, a tragic and horrifying experience shook the whole Philippines and the whole world. Located at the southern part of the Philippines lies Iligan City, the place were I am currently living, was swooped by a heavy flashflood of Typhoon Sendong.

At around 1:00 am of Saturday, when everyone were gently sleeping in their bed a sudden flash of heavy water poured down onto the houses of the people living in Brgy. Hinaplanon, Bayug Island, Mandulog, and Digkilaan. In just a matter of minutes, the water level rose from knee level  reaching up to the roof of the houses. Not even the Mandulog bridge withstood the strong gush of water.

Around 5:30am of Friday, the heavy flood still dominated.

Like the flood, the news were flashing rapidly too. The number of victims keep on rising, missing persons where everywhere. Children and old-aged were counted as most victims. I am still depressed on what happened. We were very blessed that we were protected from the danger brought by typhoon Sendong, knowing that Brgy. Hinaplanon is just the second baranggay to where I am residing. Still, I was in shock after hearing the flash news in the morning... I was thinking about those people I knew which were living in the area of the flash flood. In the afternoon, we came to see the area affected by the flood. To me, it is still unbelievable, because such incident could only happen once in a blue moon in Iligan City. 

After the flashflood, dead bodies were recovered.

The next day people where placing tents on the highways. I felt like my heart's being crushed seeing children asking for alms on the dark streets. Most of those children who survived after the calamity are still in trauma. Whenever they hear a sound of heavy rain, they just cry and panic.

Statistics As Of Dec. 20, 2011.

Today, the number of deaths accounted more than 1000. Hard to imagine, in just one day, such many lives were suddenly taken. I ought to think that it would become a happy year for everyone. Just a week before Christmas, who would have thought typhoon Sendong would turn the laughters and joys into mourning and sadness.

For people who have good hearts and wanted to donate, feel free to contact the number indicated at the picture below. You can donate any items, in cash or in kind.

Friday, December 2, 2011

There Is A Story Behind Every Oppression

It's already December. Time runs fast that I couldn't even remember how my life rolled.

When I was thinking what happened during the past Decembers, I suddenly remembered one special person. I was very thankful I was one of the chosen few who stood with her the time she dared to struggle to fight against fascism and oppression. She might be one of the faceless people who lived in this hard time, but she was one gallant heroine in the heart of the struggling masses, in the eyes of her comrades who fought with her, and to me.

I might not able to share her life to all the people in this planet but I am hoping that her life will touch the hearts of some people who tend to visit my blog.



Umaalis ang mga anak upang habulin ang kanilang mga pangarap, at malao’t madali, maraming magulang ang tumutunton sa duguang bakas ng kanilang mga anak…upang sunduin ang kanilang bangkay at iuwi ang pinakadakilang katibayan ng kanilang pagkatao.” – Lualhati Bautista

We, from the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights (STAND) in MSU-IIT, express our utmost grief and sorrow over the death of our beloved comrade Kemberly Jul Luna.

Kemberly, or “Kimay,” as she was known to her friends and comrades, was an AB English student in MSU-IIT. Known for her beauty and intellect, Kimay gained a lot of friends inside the school and out and has shown a lot of talent. She was a high school valedictorian and has participated in a lot of academic and cultural events. She was, for a time, a member of MSU-IIT’s Kalimulan, a cultural dance group.

She was also an active member of the Catholic Center Campus Ministry, where she became a leader of the Educational Committee. There, amidst the daily masses, boarding house meetings and other activities, she concluded that faith without action is dead. She always sought for ways to show that her Christian faith will not be confined to empty words and prayers, but will be brought out to the real world and be coupled by relevant action based on concrete conditions. She believed that faith should not be a lifeless dogma. She believed that just like Jesus, one must bring faith to serving the people— without thought of oneself. And just like Jesus, to die in service of the poor and oppressed.

She joined LFS early in 2008 and had been an active participant in the League’s many activities, including the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission (NIHM) of October 2008 in the face of humanitarian crises plaguing the war-stricken Moroland. She was part of the local secretariat and headed the area preparation committee in Poona Piagapo, one of the target municipalities for the Mission. Daring as always, Kimay did not hesitate entering the war-torn village of Tagoranao to uncover the effects of indiscriminate aerial bombing and militarization in the area. She also convinced one of the victims to make a testimony openly on the events in the affected areas in Lanao.

She actively joined the “No to All-Out War” campaign and various other campaigns, including the campaign against US intervention in the country and militarization of peasant and Moro communities.

At the opening of the first semester, she was chosen as the ad hoc chairperson of STAND-IIT. From then on she brought the cry of the youth and student sector in classroom and group discussions and out to the streets in rallies where she acted as STAND-IIT’s official spokesperson.

Kemberly was a very good example to her comrades and to the people around her. She showed youthful fervor and gave her heart to everything she did inside the organization. She was once a quite heavy drinker and a late riser as an ordinary student, but when she joined the League, she showed exemplary effort to remould and do away with her old habits. She shelled herself off of all the petty-bourgeois individualism.

At the opening of the second semester, we found out that she did not enroll. Later, she asked for her resignation as STAND-IIT chairperson, saying that she would stop school and do full-time peasant organizing work with KASAMA-Bukidnon, a province-wide peasant organization. She stood firm with her decision, saying she would like to do more in service of the poor, and that she could only do that in the countryside, where the majority of the poorest people live. On January 2009, after a short Christmas visit to her family in Surigao, Kemberly went off to Bukidnon to start her community work. She promised however that she would maintain correspondence with us.

On August 2009, we received a letter from her saying that she left KASAMA-Bukidnon but did not say where she went to and that she is happy where she was at that time, and that she has learned to love the peasant masses more with each day she lives with them. Kimay also happily shared to us her experiences in the peasant communities, from helping the peasants harvest corn to teaching them to read and write and do a little arithmetic, since literacy in the area is extremely low. She was also known to the people in the community as a health worker, often called as “Ma’am Nurse.”

Kimay is a true “iskolar ng bayan,” who did not waste the people’s tax money spent for her education only for personal ambitions, but used her time, talent and intellect in service of the of the people. She traded her comfortable life of night parties and hangovers for the cold, harsh and mosquito-ridden mountains of Bukidnon because she knew that she is in the right path.

At mid-December last year, we learned that Kemberly was missing through a report from Karapatan-Bukidnon Chapter, a human rights organization. A number of LFS and STAND-IIT members went to Bukidnon to join the search. We searched for her in the camp of the 403rd Inf Bde, 4th ID, PA but the officials of the brigade prevented us from entering the camp and denied that Kemberly is in their hands. During the middle of the search however, we learned that Kemberly died in an encounter with elements of the Philippine Army in Sitio Bulacao, Brgy. Concepcion, Valencia City. She was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).

We found Kimay’s corpse lying with a few others in the middle of the forest of Bulacao, unattended by the state forces who were bound by agreement to respect the casualties of war, combatant or not.

But Kimay died an honorable death. She died because she fought for what she believes in until the very last minute of her life. She chose the path of armed struggle, firmly believing that there is no greater form of struggle to advance the interests of the toiling masses.

The state and the military have been fictionalizing the New People’s Army’s image as a pack of delinquents, of tramps who lack a better future, but Kemberly was a good example of the many bright and talented youth who have opted to join the people’s army in the the advancement of the people’s war.

We salute Kimay for her determination. She was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice— all for the interest of the people without thinking of herself. She has proven that this rotten social system breeds unrest and many of the younger generation long for a better society that is based on social justice. This system pushes many of our youth to take up arms to achieve the national democratic goal. We believe that her death poses a challenge to all of us— that unless we make steps to address the root problems of our society, more and more young people will follow Kemberly’s footsteps in the days to come.

We also salute her parents, who were in deep pain, but calmly accepted her fate. They respected her decision to choose the path less traveled.

The League of Filipino Students and STAND-IIT vow to pursue the national democratic struggle, not just because this is precious to Kemberly, but because we believe in its relevance in answering today’s basic social problems. We stand firm, as Kimay did, that a true people’s scholar should not confine himself/herself inside the four walls of the classroom and study empty theories on the chalkboard. A true scholar uses his/her talents and intellect to serve the studentry, as well as the broad masses of the people. She never let her schooling interfere with her education.

Long live the memory of Kemberly Jul Luna! Long live the national democratic struggle!



Higit sa lahat iyong napatunayan,
Kung pano mabuhay ng tama.
Kinalimutan ang sarili para sa isang dalisay na tungkulin,
Ang pagsilbihan ang bayang inalipusta.

Hindi inalintana ang pagod at pighati.
Pagkat nahanap ang kanlungan sa piling ng masang api
Dugo ang naging puhunan,
Para isulong ang inaasam na kalayaan.

Ang ala-ala mo’y maisasapuso.
Higit kanino man, sa masang pinagsilbihan.
Tanging mithi mo’y hindi mapag-iiwanan.
Ito’y magpapatuloy hanggang sa katapusan.

Pra sa isang matalik na kaibigan,
Mabuting anak ng bayan,


Larawan ng isang matapang at mapangahas na rebolusyonaryo,
Maraming maraming salamat…
Isang mapulang pamamaalam,


It's almost two years since you left, but your presence is still in my heart. You will never be left forgetten Kem.


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