Portia Placino

Repository of my thoughts and images of art, literature, travel, and life.

Day 16, for Mary Jane

Tomorrow, Mary Grace Veloso will die by firing squad in Indonesia.

She was poor and desperate. She wanted a better life for her children. She, like many women before her and many women after her, fell for the same scheme—a promise of a job overseas, a promise of money for her family, a hope for a better future.

She risked everything for those promises. And she will pay with everything that she has.

Some say that she’s a drug mule, that she deserves her punishment, and that she deserves to die.

She does not deserve to die.

She does not deserve the life she was forced in to.

She does not deserve to suffer.

She does not deserve to be hungry, to be hopeless, to be desperate.

She, like many others, is a victim of human trafficking. Her trust was betrayed by the people around her. The lining of her luggage was filled with illegal drugs. She was used by a drug syndicate as a mule for drug trafficking. And she will pay for this with her life.

She was betrayed by the government. Five years passed by and they did nothing. The Philippine government abandoned her. She awaits her death, with few people to speak for her. Only in the past few weeks, with the help of Migrante and the media, that the Filipino people hear of her story.

It’s a heartbreaking story.

This is the result of the human export policy by the government. Being an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) was publicised as a solution to all problems. Instead of developing industries and creating jobs for the Filipino people, the government encouraged human exportation. The government languished in foreign remittances. They peddled the term “Bagong Bayani” (“New Heroes”) to compensate living away from ones’ family, living in dire conditions, unprotected from abuse.

This is the story of so many Filipinos.

Tomorrow, Mary Jane Veloso will die and nothing will change.

Some rallied for her, in front of the Embassy of Indonesia. And our own government responded by sending three truckloads of policemen, complete with anti-riot gear, to stand them down.

They have placards. They lit candles. They prayed.

And the government sent an overkill of policemen to stop them. To repress them.

In Indonesia, our own government stopped Mary Grace Veloso from seeing her counsel. She is there, waiting for death.

I, like so many Filipinos feel helpless. I, like so many others are crying.

Our hearts are breaking.

Twenty years ago, Flor Contemplacion suffered the same fate in Singapore. The Filipinos were angry. The Filipinos raged. The Filipinos rallied.

But the Filipinos still left to be OFWs. The government encouraged it, they were their most profitable export—human export, labor export. For a lot of OFWs, they felt like it is the best choice.

Now, most Filipinos are not even angry. Some don’t care. Some blame the victim.

The nation has lost the revolutionary fire. They no longer feel anger. Or love. Or empathy.

It is a time for change, but I wonder if that change will ever come.

The revolutionary fire is easy to lose in a selfish capitalist system. But its time to wake up. Its time to get it back. Its time to fight back. Its time to fight.

Do not go gentle into that good night

Dylan Thomas1914 – 1953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

25 comments on “Day 16, for Mary Jane

  1. BellyBytes
    April 27, 2015

    what a tragic story. Sadly the governments of developing nations give least importance to their most valuable resource – human beings.

  2. baliinfoblog
    April 27, 2015

    I feel your frustration. I live in Indonesia and its breaking my heart to see these young people going to the firing squad. It is not a solution, it will change nothing, and will only cause pain to the relatives left behind.

    • Portia Placino
      April 27, 2015

      Death penalty is not a solution. The best way to prevent crime is to create a society where people are safe and happy. Death penalty should not be a legal punishment anymore.

      I feel more frustrated with the Philippine government for encouraging labor export. Filipinos are exposed to human trafficking and abuse. In cases like these, they are also exposed to inhumane punishment such as death penalty. Our government should be taking care of our people but they fail to do so.

  3. Jerrod Anielle Lopez
    April 27, 2015

    Yes! I am terrified with the news. The news is breaking here in the Philippines! I don’t like it!

    • Portia Placino
      April 27, 2015

      I am too. Beyond Mary Jane, I hope our government would stop their labor export policy and focus on creating jobs for the Filipinos inside the country.

      • Jerrod Anielle Lopez
        April 27, 2015

        Yes! That is why many Filipinos are put into trouble. We, Filipinos, are victims and the government does nothing! I would pray that the Phil. government would be better. 😦

        • Portia Placino
          April 27, 2015

          It’s really a time for change. It happened before. It’s happening again. Yet, the government still does nothing for the betterment of the people. They are blinded by corruption and greed.

          • Jerrod Anielle Lopez
            April 27, 2015

            Yup! I am sick with this government system. The Aquinos (previous ones) gave us freedom and the freedom we are using now is use in a very bad way.

            • Portia Placino
              April 27, 2015

              Because we were never really free. We live in a neo-colonial, semi-feudal society. We are still ruled by the oligarchs, Aquinos included. The oligarchs and politicians amass wealth while the middle class and the poor suffer. They call it a democracy but we’re not democratic.

              • Jerrod Anielle Lopez
                April 27, 2015

                We are very famous… in corruption and greediness. I just pray someday… this will change. Someday…

                • Portia Placino
                  April 27, 2015

                  We also need to act so we can create change. We need to make change happen.

                  • Jerrod Anielle Lopez
                    April 28, 2015

                    That is right!

  4. HumaAq
    April 28, 2015

    Sad and tragic.. You write it so well it gave quite a picture. The lives of humans in developing countries are worthless in front of their cruel government

    • Portia Placino
      April 28, 2015

      I want to get the message out there, even in my own small way. And yes, the government is indeed that cruel. They should put the lives of the people first, but they are too corrupted to do anything well.

      • HumaAq
        April 28, 2015

        I appreciate you creating awareness..it helps

        • Portia Placino
          April 28, 2015

          Thank you for reading and commenting. Its good to know that there’s someone, somewhere out there that listens. Our government makes us feel that we are not worthy of being listened to.

          • HumaAq
            April 28, 2015

            I can only encourage you to write the facts and let the world see you the corruption behind the beautiful place you live in. Someday, your small effort will become bigger. You never know!

            • Portia Placino
              April 28, 2015

              Thank you for your kindness and encouragement. There is always hope. Maybe someday, someway, we can bring about change.

  5. Pingback: Day 17, Fears and Dreams | Portia Placino

  6. TK
    April 29, 2015

    Thank you for writing about this. Until today, I had no idea of what had gone on and why and who were convicted. Death penalty is never the answer and never leads to change. I could feel your pain and frustration through this post.

    • Portia Placino
      April 29, 2015

      Thank you TK. They delayed Mary Jane’s execution, a small victory for mass action and solidarity.

      But they still executed 8 others with her. I hope that someday we will have a world where death penalty doesn’t exist.

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This entry was posted on April 27, 2015 by in Portia's Narratives and tagged , , .

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