I first met Amiya in the DSWD Central Office.
She looked not just body-tired but the kind of tiredness that spoke of the weariness of life’s betrayals and cruelties.
And when I asked her the simplest of questions, “Kamusta ka na, Amiya?”, all she could manage was to look at the ground with downcast eyes and then lean her slight frame on me (she stood at less than 5 feet) and let out soft sobs. She was so tiny that my arms, when they fully enclosed her, went all the way to my back. She felt like a tiny bird in my arms.
And when I said goodbye to her in the Philtranco bus station, it was Amiya who held my face in both her hands and kissed me while she cried grateful, relieved tears that she was finally going back to the sanctuary of her home.
See, she was made to do punishing labor that would make the sturdiest of men faint from exhaustion. And then paid a laughable pittance for all the abuse she had to endure. She, along with hundreds of others—our indigenous brothers and sisters—were promised free food, shelter, free travel expenses to Hacienda Luisita. They were told that they only had to harvest sugar cane—no carrying of heavy loads involved.
So they made that journey across the seas with that bright hope in their hearts that there would now be a better tomorrow for them and the children they left behind in Mindanao. There would be food on the table, clothes on their backs, education for their children. Finally, a way out of the severe poverty they were in.
But when the dust had settled, what they were paid was nothing less than blood wages by the greedy bastards—the Cojuangcos—family of vultures who got obscenely wealthy off the backs of the severely impoverished– family of no less than two Philippine presidents, senators and scores of congressmen/congresswomen.
And they did backbreaking labor often starting at 2 am till sundown—with no water breaks.
And the food they were fed was rotten, unedible and rice that they were charged at 6,000 Php per sack. Rotten food that was deducted from their miniscule, unjust wage. And as icing to all that cake: verbal and physical abuse heaped on them day in, day out. These gentle, innocent indigenous people: Lumads, Blaans, Manobos, T’Bolis.
And Amiya, together with other women, minors, seniors, not only harvested but carried and loaded TONS of sugar cane a day. The promise of 500 pesos for a day’s labored spiraled downward dizzyingly to 38 pesos a WEEK.
And as if all that weren’t bad enough, sugar cane they had harvested and that they left in a pile to be loaded the following day would be gone the following day, forfeiting the dribble they were going to be paid by the heartless Cojuangco bastards.
The DSWD has facilitated return to their homes of over 300 sacadas. And where before they lived lives of poverty, now that poverty had gone several notches below the baseline.
Once again, the greedy elitist bastards have managed to make the poor poorer. Tale as fucking old as time.
Because this is how it’s been for centuries in our country: the poor getting trapped in the vicious and unforgiving cycle of poverty by the insatiable greed of the oligarchs who think it is their god-given right to be served hand-on-foot WITHOUT HAVING TO PAY JUST WAGES TO ANYONE.
And this PANDURUGAS OF THE COJUANGCOS ARE THE NAILS TO THE COFFINS OF THE SEVERELY IMPOVERISHED.
And if all they get from us is a free bus ticket home, then we are ROYALLY FUCKED AS A NATION, AS A RACE.
If we let these vampires—the Cojuangcos—get away with this by the successful sweeping of this under the rug because they own mainstream media, and this has worked for DECADES, THEN WHAT FOR ARE WE HUMAN BEINGS? WHAT FOR ARE WE HERE ON EARTH BUT TO BE SOULLESS PUPPETS OF THE POWERS-THAT-BE?
RAGE AND FIGHT FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NO FIGHT LEFT IN THEM—because they are too hungry, too tired, too afraid, too defeated.
The Cojuangcos have gotten away with murder for far too long because we had no idea this travesty was happening right under our very noses. And we didn’t know because the oligarchs have a firm grip on power: in the halls of justice, in the corridors of power there will be that fuck Cojuangco making sure we do not get a whiff of the crimes they commit against the Filipino people. And their brother/sister elitistas having their backs.
And they go about their perfumed lives, kissing the rings of popes and archbishops (who are, curiously enough, silent about this.)and looking every inch the respectable, honorable citizens they imagine themselves to be.
BUT THE RULES HAVE CHANGED. WE NO LONGER NEED MAINSTREAM MEDIA TO TELL US WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND US.
INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY, BABY!
Also, Pia Castro and Ricky Medenilla have started a fundraiser for the farmers trafficked and exploited by the Cojuangcos.
Our farmers need to be helped.
This is all they ask: money to buy seeds and fertilizer. The aim of this fundraiser is to be able to give to each of the farmers what has been stolen from them by the Cojuangcos: the ability to dream and make those dreams happen.
Here are the details of the fundraiser account that Pia and Ricky have set up for the HACIENDA LUISITA FARMERS:
Funds may also be transferred via Western Union, Palawan, LBC, etc. Just please get in touch with Pia Castro (0920 9735091). Address is: 42 Aklan St; Luzviminda Village, Batasan Hills, QC.
Needless to say, there will be a clear and transparent accounting of all funds entrusted to Pia and Ricky.
DSWD will guide our farmers—as will DAR and DA and Ricky and Pia and other private citizens and NGOs.
When government is joined by an involved citizenry, CHANGE happens.
Maraming salamat, mga kababayan ko sa pagkakapit-bisig nyo sa amin nila Pia para sa mga kapatid nating nangangailangan ng tulong natin ngayon.