mayang and marcial,grassroots citizens

mayang and marcial taldo are grassroots citizens. i admire them for their citizenship. mayang comes from a poor family in davao and worked her way to become a librarian in our women’s resource center, isis international. marcial came from a poor family in bohol and drived his way to serve several international ngos : oxfam, save the children, and ford. his last job was driving for Luz Ilagan, the Gabriela party-list representative.

november is the month when all of us remember and honor our dead. yesterday, i went to honor marcial and wept with mayang and her son norcel. marcial was the first casualty in the Batasan bombing. marcial was fetching luz ilagan who just finished a legislative session. a bomb exploded while he was in the car and killed him. luz was wounded and nine other people as they were coming out from the building. representative akbar died later from fatal wounds. but marcial taldo was the first to die in the line of fire.

i hugged mayang when i saw her at the wake. she had not slept nor eaten for 24 hours. she went to the blast site and waited for many hours to get marcial’s body. the police authorities prevented mayang and her family from seeing marcial because they just started investigating. it took them four hours to bring marcial to a hospital and when it was clear marcial was dead, the police took his body to the military camp – camp crame for more investigation. mayang was only able to claim marcial at 10 am the next day and prepared him for the wake. the funeral chapel where marcial lay was quiet. the first to gather were people from his urban poor community. they sat there quietly. there were no flowers, no wreaths, no mass cards yet so i brought out my paper mandala cut-outs and told norcel and nanay bising (mayang’s mother) to arrange the mandalas on marcial’s coffin. as we were laying down the mandalas, i explained to them they were prayer offerings so that marcial can cross peacefully into another life. a few of the mandalas moved liked butterflies and i interpreted it as marcial’s thanking us.

when i look back at many wakes i attended, i could not avoid comparing the wakes of those who died serving and those who simply died (presumably their life had purpose but not obvious). marcial taldo was a citizen- driver. he served many non-government organizations by being their reliable driver and he knew many prominent people in civil society. he did not finish a degree in college but he knew by heart the principles and goals of development and sustainability. he was proud of mayang when she graduated from the adult high school of miriam college. he encouraged his sons to finish vocational courses because that was their way of rising above poverty. but his eldest son norman was killed while studying with farmers and it broke marcial and mayang’s hearts. now that marcial is dead, mayang has only one son left, norcel. the two will have to carry on the dream that someday, our elected leaders would serve the citizenry. for marcial, norman,mayang, and norcel are citizen activists. both marcial and norman served in the line of fire and they deserve the homage given to citizens who dedicated their lives to doing good.

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