March 2009


Juanas body is welcomed home by family and Migrante International
Juana’s body is welcomed home by family and Migrante International

A ‘Strong Spirit’ Returns Home

by alex felipe, Special to the Star (21 Mar 2009)

MANILA – After six years, Juana Tejada finally made her long-dreamed-of-return to the Philippines yesterday afternoon.

But instead of walking into the arms of her parents, Tejada’s family watched as a forklift delivered her body, in a cardboard box, from a warehouse at the Manila airport. The nanny who became a foreign workers’ advocate died of cancer in Toronto on March 8.

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My recent run in with the military has resulted in a concern from people both in Canada and here in the Philippines.  Even the NGO peeps I work with that deal with this sort of situation all the time have been asking whether I’m ok, whether I was afraid.  People have even gone to call me brave.  Very strange.

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Jocelyn Polborido’s family home.

It was 4am, the sun was still a long time from rising, and rain was falling when I woke up to make breakfast with the one other guy in the group.  We were in Balinak, Ligao, Bikol, a town at the end of the road—literally.

The single paved lane wove around the rolling hills of the land around Mt. Mayon, it ended at the basketball court of Balinak, a simple village that still consisted of many nipa hut homes, a village with a sad recent story.

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The rains came and went for the few days I was in Bikol. The bus window showed evidence of this less than seasonal weather. It was dusk, and the sky was finally clearing, the clouds in my mind had also started to break.

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I lived here in 2001 with my family. The simple house of corregated iron, plywood, and cinderblock was by active traintracks.

I lived here in 2001 with my family. The simple house of corregated iron, plywood, and cinderblock was by active traintracks.

I’ve been in the Philippines a few days now with the Kilusan Collective and I am lost in a sea of conflicting thoughts, much of it stemming from an inner debate as to my responsibilities as a balikbayan [returning Filipino living abroad] and my purpose in this project.

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