Posts tagged ‘young martyr’

What is a Mother?

Lorena Barros (Photo from E. San Juan, Jr. Archive).
One Mother’s Day weekend, I decided to translate into English a poem written by Lorena Barros to her mother. She was a poet, writer, and student activist who went to the hills and became a guerilla fighter in the 70s when President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in the Philippines in order to stay in power.

In 1976, she paid the ultimate price when government forces caught up with her in a hiding place in the mountains. When democracy was finally restored, a wall of remembrance containing the names of those who died fighting martial law was erected. She was one of the first 65 martyrs who were honored and enshrined.

When she died, she left a child motherless. but in the process, she became a mother to all freedom-loving Filipinos.

Here’s the poem published with her story written by Maita Gomez in the book, Six Young Filipino Martyrs.


Ano ang isang ina?
Mayamang hapag ng
gutom na sanggol
Kumot sa gabing maginaw
Matamis na uyayi
sa naghahapding sugat.

Ngunit ano ang isang
makabayang ina?
Maapoy na tanglaw
Tungo sa liwayway.
Sandigang bato.
Lupang bukal ng lakas
sa digma.
Katabi sa laban’t
Alalay sa tagumpay
Ang ina ko.

She’d probably frown at my attempt of translation and ask, “What for?” Well, I haven’t seen it translated before. For all its worth, I just feel it needs a wider audience.


what is a mother?
sumptuous table
to a hungry child.
blanket on a cold night.
sweet lullaby.
to a tender wound.

but what is
a patriotic mother?
fiery glow
leading towards dawn.
rock to lean on.
wellspring of strength
in battle.
beside me in the fight and
a hand in victory
is my mother.


May 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm 14 comments

To Kimay: In Memoriam

Kemberly Jul Luna (1988-2009)

it’s winter in the park
skies are gray
brown leaves have fallen
far and wide

i think of someone gone
and remember when these leaves were green
strong, full of life
mocking the wind

now the trees are bare
their wet branches showing the hidden pain
alone on the bench
i’ve grown older watching the rain

Kimay was a Iskolar ng Bayan, student activist, and freedom fighter. She died for her beliefs with a bullet piercing her breast during an encounter with the military in Bukidnon last month.

She was no Gabriela Silang. She was no Teresa Magbanua. She was no Lorena Barros. She was no Maria Theresa Dayrit. But she was equal to any one, in her heart, in her spirit, and in her love for the poor and the oppressed.

January 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm 32 comments

The Forgotten

Rebelyn Pitao was kidnapped by armed men on the evening of March 4 in Southern Philippines. She was on her way home from school where she taught 2nd and 6th grade students. The following day her half-naked body was found in an irrigation canal. It showed signs that she was tortured, raped, and stabbed to death.

Rebelyn’s murder made the headline news. Every major TV, radio, and newspaper in the country covered it. After all, she was the 20-year old noncombatant daughter of Leoncio Pitao, a well-known rebel leader in Mindanao.

Civil groups, human rights activists, politicians, and members of the clergy cried foul and clamored for justice. The brazen abduction executed so precisely and done in front of witnesses pointed to the military as the culprits. Could it be a case of extra-judicial killing gone overboard?

President Gloria Arroyo expressed outrage and condemned the murder of the young woman whose only fault was to be her father’s daughter. She ordered both the presidential committee on human rights and the independent commission on human rights to conduct an investigation.

The military acted immediately as well. It created task force Rebelyn to probe allegations linking elements of the military to the murder.

But it’s been six months and Rebelyn’s death is yet to be resolved. It seems that the case has turned cold. All trails have gone mysteriously nowhere whenever they lead to the military.

What do you think? Is it the time to move on? We, the Filipino people, have a short memory for this kind of things anyway. As a Christian nation, it’s easier to forgive, too.

Soon, this case will be forgotten and shelved just like the others before it.

September 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm 8 comments

Is the Taraneh Mousavi Story a Hoax?

Updated 08/26/2009

On August 14, The Observers based in France published this clip. It’s from the Islamic Republic of Iran News Networks which claimed to have interviewed Taraneh Mousavi’s family. Does it pass the credibility test?

In my opinon, it raises more questions than answers. First, it shows the mother accompanied by her daughter. Was the Taraneh in question supposed to be an only child? Next, why interview her family? What would make it so difficult to have somebody interview her in Canada where she’s supposed to be living? Finally, is it possible, as many others have alleged, that it’s not the same Taraneh Mousavi being discussed in the interview? Could she just be another woman sharing the same name?

Read More…

July 25, 2009 at 7:54 am 20 comments

Taraneh Mousavi – An Iranian Martyr

She was a young woman who was arrested by the Iranian secret service on June 19 at the Ghoba Mosque in Tehran. She was part of an “illegal” gathering of mourners waiting for presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi to speak about the martyrs of the post-election protests. In the process, she had become a martyr herself. A couple of days ago, her burnt corpse was found west of the city.

According to witnesses, Taraneh was wearing make-up and western clothes and high-heeled shoes when she was taken for questioning. In addition, the fact that she bore the same name as the presidential candidate could have upset the interrogators even more and helped seal her doom.

Female virginity is highly respected in the Muslim world. Under the Sharia law, for example, if she is a virgin, a woman cannot be executed regardless of the severity of her crime. To circumvent this law, Iranian authorities would have a prison guard legally marry the woman and have the marriage consummated on the eve of her execution.

Taraneh, which means “song” in Persian, must have suffered the same fate. Worse, because of her beauty, she must have been singled out for special treatment. She must have been gang-raped by her torturers. It was reported that three weeks after her arrest, a woman matching her description was brought to a local hospital suffering from a ruptured womb and anus.

There was so much hope for the better when the Shah of Iran was toppled in 1979 and replaced by the Islamic republic. but it proved to be illusory. Through the years, the regime that took over after the Shah, has become the mirror-image of its predecessor clinging to power through authoritarian rule and blatant disrespect of basic human rights.

How many more Taraneh Mousavis would have to die before the current crisis in Iran is resolved? It’s not the change in the system that the Iranian people clamor. Rather, it’s a change in governance. Those who are in power have lost their credibility and ability to govern.

Taraneh mousavi died for her beliefs. In my eyes, she’ll remain a virgin worthy of my deepest respects.

July 20, 2009 at 12:42 pm 23 comments

From The Book Thief

i have hated the words and i have loved them, and i hope i have made them right.

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