A Bangsamoro Millennial’s Reflections on the Plebiscite

The campaign period for the BOL (Bangsamoro Organic Law) Plebiscite has a lot of twists and turns for us. If I were to summarize some of the lessons I learned during the campaign period, it would be the following: 1. ‘What Works’ Overrides ‘What’s Right’  We may have an ideal way of persuading the public…

‘Allah Valley’ at mga Lumad

Wala pa ring katulad. Ang langit, isang karagatan ng asul. Nakakalat ang malabulak na mga ulap na minsa’y naghuhugis ayon sa lawak ng imahinasyon. Ilang dipa na lang ang layo nito sa lupa, halos abot kamay na ng mga tao. Pinapagitnaan ng bulubundukin sa kanluran at silangan ang mga sakahan ng palay at mga tirahan….

From the Frontlines of Marawi

The siege was already on its ninth day when my cameraman and I flew to Marawi. It was an assignment I was anticipating since the day firefight broke out in the city. Our defense reporter rode a C130 on the second day, and I was asked by the desk to replace her after a week….

No Monkey Business: Banana Farmers to Corporate Giant Lapanday

Like food for the gods, the Cavendish bananas of Tagum City, Davao Del Norte are spotless. Sealed with stickers to mark their perfection, they are being shipped to countries in the Asia Pacific contributing billions to the domestic economy. But what many don’t know, these bananas were grown on a soil soaked with sweat and…

Sulu: A Lost Paradise

Berwina Timbang, a grade six student in Sultan Jamalul Kiram Elementary School in Maimbung, Sulu, was diligently listening to her English teacher when I first saw her. I was in Sulu then for a one-day news coverage. Occasionally, she would glance outside the window, her eyes innocent and her face hopeful. In a class of…

The Death of the Bangsamoro Basic Law

Co-written with Ephraim Aguilar Just like that, the proposed legislation that promises peace in the South is dead. The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) died in a war — not of guns, bombs and barbaric grounds — but a war within the hallowed, civilized halls of Congress. The very same fruit of two decades of grueling negotiations is…

Inside the Barracks of the PNP Special Action Force

Heroes are not born; they emerge because of certain circumstances, often through hard work and sheer courage. Fate may have chosen the brave 44 commandos of the PNP Special Action Force when they offered their lives for the country last year. But their training inside Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa, Laguna has already prepared them for the worst….

The Unseen War of the Lumads Against Climate Change

Our indigenous people are waging wars on numerous fronts. It’s bad enough that many of the Lumads of Mindanao are fighting for the right to live, but some are also fighting an enemy that is both faceless and relentless: climate change. Take the Lumads of San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, for example. Dry spells in…

A Tribute to Visayas and Mindanao

It was the hottest time of day inside a rickety bus last April that I think I fell in love with Visayas. My skin was dark and burnt, having spent the last four days on polar ends of Cebu, and my forehead was dripping wet with sweat as we made our way from the Remegio…

Lumads of Davao del Sur: Students without a School

“Tak tak tak.” It’s the sound of a bolo hitting the chopping block, reducing rotten and rejected bananas from the plantation into small, circular pieces. The chopping would go on all afternoon until the sun turned golden and the shadows of the banana trees envelop the little town of Hagonoy, Davao del Sur. Three boys would…