Monday, June 8, 2015

Flores de Mayo with a political twist

Note: This appeared as a short item titled 'Santacruzan makes a political statement' in the 'Filipinos all over the world" section of the 05-11 Jun 2015 issue of the FilAm Star, the weekly 'newspaper for Filipinos in maintream America.'  The blogger/author is the paper's Manila-based special news/photo correspondent.  This is a slightly different edition,

Human rights advocates from the non-government organization Hustisya set up a different kind of Flores de Mayo at Plaza Miranda in front of the Quiapo Church on 30 May 2015.

The traditional Flores is a month-long veneration of the Virgin Mary with offerings of flowers to her image in the Roman Catholic churches in the country. In this event, the young boys and girls carried the customary bunches of flowers, which they offered instead to political prisoners, the desaparecidos, the victims of the Kentex factory fire, and OFWs in the gallows. There were also the familiar arches adorned with flowers but each carried a streamer with a political statement or slogan.  

The arch with “Iligtas at palayain si Mary Jane Veloso” was carried by her parents Cesar and Celia. Her young children Daniel and Darren, both grade school boys, stood under the arch.  The Velosos said they are in constant touch with Mary Jane by text or call.  They were all in the Indonesian island of Nusakambangan when Indon president Joko Widodo granted Mary Jane temporary reprieve from execution. She was accused of being a drug mule. 

Three young political prisoners are named in two “palayain” streamers: Miradel Torres, four-months pregnant when she was arrested, and Guiller Cadano and Gerald Salonga, both UP Pampanga alumni.  They have been in police custody since last year. According to Cadano's father, who was at the Plaza Miranda event, his son and Salonga were not subjected to physical torture. The young men are charged with illegal possession of firearms. 

The empty baby stroller beside the sagala could have been incidental or an intended metaphor. It was under the arch with the streamer seeking to “Ilitaw ang mga desaparecidos!” 

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