this story originally appeared in the philippine daily inquirer on december 11, 2008.

AUGUST 10, 2008

Dear Nanay,

Today you turn 53. I really wish you were here to celebrate it. I’ve missed you so much, every day and always. And I guess everyone else has, too.

It has been hard not having you around.

I have been living in a dorm for the past two months now. It has been stressful and depressing living there. Some of my high school classmates are staying there, too. I get homesick every now and then because I don’t like the place. I don’t know why.

There was this one time when I really got sick because I cried for almost the whole night. Crying makes me weak. That night, my classmate got homesick and she cried because she missed her mom. That’s what triggered my fit of crying. You see, I won’t easily admit it and I sometimes forget it, but deep down inside, I miss you so much. I’ve missed you since the day you did not come back. I try my best not to talk about you because just a mere memory brings me to the verge of tears. Sometimes I wonder if the pain will ever go away.

I remember the time I first cried in the dorm. We were having our group dynamics and talking about our lives and problems. When it was my turn, I thought I could handle it. They urged me to let everything out because that would lessen the pain. I talked about you and my life, but it made me cry. My head ached the whole night.

The last time I cried it was during the first time I went to a cheering practice for the Elektrons. It was my first time to be in the workshop and I had to do it alone because I came in late. I guess they weren’t hard on me like they were on the others. I just had to act three times.

It was a nightmare because I couldn’t keep myself from smiling. But on the last scene they turned out the lights. Then they told me to act like a mother begging for food and money to feed her child. I didn’t know what to do, so I knelt and acted but I still kept on smiling. To stop me from smiling, I guess, they threw bad comments at me. They were talking at the same time, but I heard one question loud and clear: “Where’s your mom?” Thinking it was just a part of the exercise, “She’s dead.”

It took some time for me to take in those words. I said a whole lot more, and then I stopped at mid-sentence. The whole weight of what I said bore down on me. It felt like the darkness was squeezing me, seeping into every bit of my humanity, waiting for me to fall off the brink. Then, I cried.

I suppose the people around me couldn’t understand why. I guess they thought they were a bit rough on me, so they became a lot nicer to me after that incident. Some of my friends were there to comfort me, and I wouldn’t have stopped crying if they weren’t there.

Remember the time I got sick? My friends took care of me and I felt a lot better in no time at all. Being around people takes my mind off the sadness. I get depressed when I’m alone.

What I’m trying to say is that on your birthday, or any other day, you don’t need to worry about me, about us. All you need to do is to worry about yourself and take care, wherever you are. Because I am surrounded by people who care and will help in any way they can. They can make me laugh until my tummy hurts and they are just as crazy as I am.

As I finish this letter which might never reach you, I would like to write some bars from a song that I like:

“I’ve lost any chance for me to say,
To say that I miss you,
Say that I love you,
Will someone please tell me I’m OK?”


ONE YEAR AFTER THE ABDUCTION…

April 12, 2007 was the day I lost everything. Not only did I lose my mom, I lost my dreams, my hopes, my future. All my plans, our plans, will never be played out. On that day, I almost lost my sanity but someone brought me back to reality. And so here I am, still standing, breathing, living this broken life.

Fast forward to April 12, 2008. It has already been a year. And all I can say is that this situation is driving me crazy. I battle with depression almost every day. Small problems or disappointments make me cry and remember better days with my mother, which would cause me to cry some more because I miss her so much.

My life is so different now. It is much more different to have my sister control my life. She does things differently.

I cannot count how many times I have hoped, dreamed and wished that my mom would come home safe, maybe bringing along some food to eat. Then instead of all these tears, instead of our disappointments and fears, instead of me and my sister’s shattered dreams, we would all be happy.

My sister could have studied better and she would be a lawyer right now. Then she would bring hell to all the evil people. And my mom would be helping the poor and the helpless that she had been fighting for. She would be fighting for their rights and giving them everything she could give. And then if she had the time, my mom and I would talk about my studies and help me achieve my dreams. She would always find the time for everyone even if she has no time to spare. We would hear her voice and hear her loud, booming laughter, and see her smile even when she has a million problems to think about. She would still be here for us.

But instead of a happy ending, no, they had to take her away from us. They had to take her for their own selfish reasons. Whoever these stupid people were, they did not think she had a family that needed her. If they did think, and I believe they did, they must have calculated that we would suffer like this, that we would be afraid, that we would fear them and cower before them.

But what is there for us to fear? Can’t they see that angry, suffering, people fear nothing.

Me? I am angry. I loathe every one of those who forced us into this life. Just a few more disappointments, a few more shattered dreams, and I would lose my sanity. But I will try my hardest not to. I need to be strong, to be brave. I know that’s what my mom would want. She would be disappointed if I am not. She wasn’t afraid of them, and neither am I. They can try to scare me with their guns and death threats, but I won’t be afraid. They have already taken everything away.

Whoever did this to my mom and tito and countless others should be ashamed of themselves. They don’t need a 15-year-old to tell them that what they did was wrong. Will they tell me that what they did was for the good of the nation? I cannot see any good in abducting innocent people who are helping others.

Whoever they may be, I wish them a good life. I hope they live the good life with their families. I hope their families won’t be forced to live the live we have to live. And I hope their sons and daughters will not grow up to be like them, cowardly and cruel. And when they grow old and have had enough of doing the bad things, well, there is nothing else to hope for but that that they die—and burn in hell.

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