It is Monday, high noon, when you hear the story. Your son tells you he heard about it from his teachers. He says it’s the talk of the school.

At first they say it was a kidnapping. You brush it off, there’s no reason to be afraid. Politicians are involved. They will kill each other off and haul each other to hell, and life will go on because this is Mindanao.
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Nov 14, 2010 under General, People | no comment


This is a story about death in a place they call the Promised Land, where the heat punches with a sweaty fist, and a crescent moon rises with the Christian sun.

It happened on a lonely hill in a quiet town, where every bridge is a checkpoint manned by young men in fatigues. Esmael Mangudadatu, Buluan vice mayor, threatened with violence, sending his wife Genalyn, his sister, his nieces and his lawyers to file his certificate of candidacy because he believed women would be safe. Esmael Mangudadatu, inviting a pack of journalists to cover the event, because he believed his family would be safe where the media were. Esmael Mangudadatu, answering the last phone call from a wife who told him they had been stopped by Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.’s private army.
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Nov 28, 2009 under Elections, General, People | 2 comments

Franco’s war

Franco liked to dance. He loved cars, and called his Daddy’s Innova “Franco’s car.” He smelled of soap and giggles and baby skin. “Give me a kiss,” his daddy would say. “No,” Franco would answer. “Come give dada a kiss.” And Franco would pretend he couldn’t hear. “All right, don’t kiss dada.” And then the small body would launch itself at the laughing father, whose face would be smothered with Franco’s wet kisses.

His Daddy says Franco was expressive. “I’m happy,” Franco would say, when the sun was bright. And sometimes, on days that the world did not behave according to the plans of a three-year-old man, “I’m sad.”
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Jun 21, 2009 under General | 1 comment