July 5 is supposed to be ordinary for me. It is a day after the American’s celebrate their Independence Day while we Filipinos joined them in celebration of our own D-Day until it was reverted to June 12.
But two years ago, that date, which I usually keep on my calendar reserved to be the anniversary for my special someone became totally different. It is the date that my father Fernando Baldomero while he was about to fetch my brother to school was felled by two bullets from two assassins riding in tandem on a motorcycle.
We expect the worse, but never imagined having him gone all of a sudden. He has many dreams for his youngest son, turning 13 next year, and his political plans since he was re-elected as a town councilor. He was about to finish his own house in our barangay from his savings, and how to further the cause of Bayan Muna and the movement after Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza failed to make it to the Senate.
He is always the one on-call when Ka Satur, Congressman Teddy, and Neri go to the province, serving as their bodyguard. He is the Tatay of many young comrades having financial, family, and personal difficulties, not to mention the one that goes to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session hall, the Governor and Congressman office asking for financial support for anyone, not only from our barangay in need of medical help or payment for their bills at the Provincial Hospital.
We may not be that close personally, since I have grown-up up as a man with my grandparents since for two decades he was at the mountains fighting for what he believed is right. He was arrested, incarcerated in prison for many years and after all, cases were dismissed he ran for barangay councilor and won. He later joined back to the fold of struggle this time in the legal arena as a member of Selda, and later Bayan Muna as its provincial chair.
Things and ideologies father stood for has been an alien thing for us the four siblings that at first did not understand why we have to grow up without father and mother, and be a no permanent address children going to and fro from our grandparents to various Uncles and Aunts until we became activists ourselves not because of our father’s influence but because it happened that the call for activism is close to our heart.
My oldest brother even became a Philippine Marine Academy (PMA) cadet, me an officer of ROTC, dreaming to be a soldier, luckily, patient activists in Iloilo and Aklan taught us the right path, since it would be unimaginable having a father as a rebel and his son’s reactionary soldiers.
He is a father to me politically since for years I have discarded the usual views of children about family. When he went to our grandparent’s house, we talk about politics, sometimes boxing, but when he is with comrades he can also crack up jokes about showbiz like other progressives his age.
He advised me on things, although I still stood up for what I believe is right he is always patient for years even asking comrades for intervention whenever his sons do not communicate with him for personal conflicts. It is no wonder since we grow up separated and only knew him personally when I’m already at high school.
But losing a father still takes its toll. We in our family lost a person that can neutralize the differing opinions of his siblings, as well as help us what to do with our lives when things get desperate. He slowly adjusted from being a ranking rebel commander to a father in the few years we have spent together and with that I and my brothers missed him.
We have accepted that he is gone. But I can never accept that his death, the lobbing of grenades at our house, the stabbing of my aunt will be an unsolved case. Memories of decades ago come back, when police/military killed of my second cousin and my uncle, in front of our house, and my relatives hunted down like animals just because they are activists.
Memories when the military raided our house looking for weapons but instead carted away old coin collection of my grandmother, the present state of my grandmother remembering the days when he took my eldest brother on our rooftop fearing military men will get him as a ransom for my father’s surrender.
I still remember when my mother’s niece was raped, her breast slashed and thrown by the military at the falls in Madalag, and nineteen of my relatives on my grandmother’s side became martyrs because of the injustice, inequality that we still face today.
It is always unacceptable that despite the funfair, the media mileage of forming Task Force Baldomero, the declaration of Noynoy Aquino in his state of the nation address that my father case is 50% solve when for two years the case remain archived at the courts and the suspect charged remains scot-free.
It is always unacceptable that after Tatay, 76 more activists were killed, nine became missing and the government headed by the son of a victim of extrajudicial killing is mum on the issue. Moreso, he never confronted the military or the police, or their paramilitary wing to stop the insanity of killing unarmed civilians in the guise of their American-imposed Counter Insurgency program.
It is also unacceptable that the spate of killings remains unabated, since, with the archaic and questionable method of a police investigation, unreliable witness protection program, the sluggish and unfair justice system, victims and their families themselves need to look for their evidence for the case to prosper. The sad thing is since military elements are implicated they too are being subjected to harassment, demonized, and tagged as rebels and terrorists. Even human rights defenders are not spared. Impunity remains an alarming issue but how many are listening?
Two years ago, is no longer an ordinary day, and yes, it changed my schedule too. I need to go out with many people who are like me believes that the government needs to change, the inequality and injustice needs to stop and overhaul the system that has corrupted us for so long since it is the only way that justice can be served to those who died fighting for that cause.