CAPTURED by Arlyn dela Cruz


April 30, 2009
Posted 11:50 AM

Even before it saw print, the alleged rescue mission by Magdalo soldiers trained by former Special Forces members from New Zealand and Australia, I already received a text message about it from a long time police source.

I did not pursue the story not because I do not trust the source, but because judging from the content of the initial information he forwarded to me which he claimed also came from another unit in the law enforcement agency, my first impulse was it's nothing but a product of one's very fertile imagination.

As I was briefed about the full content of the alleged rescue mission, it dawned to me that what I am hearing is nothing but a juicy story plot perfect for a Hollywood movie. Is Jerry Bruckheimmer in town? I wonder...

But alas--the source of the information was revealed, the Office of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) through Executive Director Mariano Villafuerte.

The PAOCC was once a very powerful agency in government under the previous administration of former President Joseph Estrada but since that time, little is known about the undertakings of this office. The truth is, it's a revelation that it's still existing. As far as I can recall, say in the last 4-6 years, this is the only time again that this agency is mentioned in a news paper article.

The reemergence of this agency into public consciousness is highly suspicious. What have they been doing in the last 4-6 years? And why come out only now and with this fantastic tale of destabilization angle pointing to the usual suspects---the Magdalo, senator Antonio Trillanes and Brig. Gen. Danny Lim?

Would any group especially those critical of the present administration gain anything by pulling this alleged rescue mission of Trillanes and Lim from their detention cell inside Camp Crame, home of the headquarters of the Philippine National Police? Certainly none.

And if the scriptwriter of this scenario only cared to observe, the political trend now points to 2010 and the very personalities they want to drag in this latest destabilization scenario are all pinning their hopes on the next elections.

Take it from me---Danny Lim has no plans of bolting out of jail much less expecting to be extricated from where he is now. I speak from the point of view of someone who has known the man behind the principle of doing what is right, what is good and what is just.

If there's one thing that consumes the general these days, it's that period of contemplation and discernment on what is the next big step that would take his love and service of country to the next level.

Even the former president, Erap, the one this specific scenario points as the most likely financier has been doing the rounds, consulting local leaders, feeling the people's pulse so to speak, if he is still that popular among the electorate. If only the plotters of this scenario care to observe, they would realize, why there are practically no believers of this rescue mission they exposed in the media.

Only one former member of Magdalo was among those allegedly training to rescue Lim and Trillanes. And if we care to dig deeper, we would learn that many of the enlisted personnel who were released ahead of the Magdalo officers, have in fact pursued careers as security guards, consultants, the so called mercenaries, in different military camps in Iraq and Afganistan. This, in essence and in reality, is what this is all about, a personal business interest of someone who wanted to control that shooting range in Clark, Pampanga.

From what I gathered, it's actually Villafuerte who should be investigated for using his position in government to go after a rival business interest, a Blackwater-type of security agency providing consultants and personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Villafuerte by the way is the son of Representative Luis Villafuerte, a known ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. I wonder too if this expose of sort pulled by his son has something to do with the mission impossible to push through with charter change in Congress.

But, hey! Did I just say mission impossible? I almost forgot, newly installed representatives, mostly, administration allies, were already sworn into office just the other day. The numbers game here may in fact make that mission impossible---possible and done via fast break.

It seems to me that this father and son tandem have no qualms in using their connections in Malacanang to pursue their respective and very personal agenda.

If the congressman's son thinks he'll simply get away with this strategy disguised as an expose on an alleged destabilization plot, a rescue mission inside the PNP Custodial Center, wait for the counter move, one that will really expose what should be exposed: a senate investigation on the very expose he revealed.

I expect no less than an exciting and truly revealing senate inquiry should this one push through. (end)


May 1, 2009
3:11 PM

It's about time.

From GENEVA, the World Health Organization announced it will would stop using the term "swine flu" to avoid confusion over the danger posed by pigs. This decision came a day after Egypt began slaughtering thousands of pigs in a misguided effort to prevent swine flu.

According to WHO spokesman Dick Thompson the agriculture industry and the U.N. food agency had expressed concerns that the term "swine flu" was misleading consumers and needlessly causing countries to ban pork products and order the slaughter of pigs.

Egypt began slaughtering its roughly 300,000 pigs Wednesday even though experts said swine flu is not linked to pigs and not spread by eating pork.

"Rather than calling this swine flu ... we're going to stick with the technical scientific name H1N1 influenza A," Thompson said.

The swine flu virus originated in pigs, and has genes from human, bird and pig viruses. Scientists don't know exactly how it jumped to humans. In the current outbreak, WHO says the virus is being spread from human to human, not from contact with infected pigs.

China, Russia, Ukraine and other nations have banned pork exports from Mexico and parts of the United States, mainly because of the swine flu fears.

This move of the WHO is proper and correct in a sense that the problem of swine flu virus is nothing news. In the Philippines, there were cases of swine flu virus recorded in recent months, but nothing close to what was traced in Mexico.

(insert here...)

WHO raised the pandemic flu alert to phase 5 beginning Wednesday, one step away from the highest level indicating a global outbreak.

WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda said Thursday there were no indications in the past day that would prompt the U.N. body to raise the alert further. To move from pandemic alert level 5 to level 6 means that WHO believes there is evidence of big outbreaks in at least two world regions and a pandemic is under way.

(insert here )


April 27, 2009
Posted 11:50 PM

In a few minutes, this day would be over.

I waited this time to post this piece to be able to write in silence, undisturbed, uninterrupted by the many concerns and things that needed my attention.

My kids are now sleeping, soundly, looking forward to be a very important lunch date tomorrow with someone very important in our lives. I told them to sleep early so we could leave the house tomorrow --- 9 o'clock the earliest to avoid the traffic along EDSA and reach the venue at least an hour earlier to help prepare for the arrival of a few guests we invited to share with us an intimate and very informal moment with someone very dear to us.

My kids prepared for this occasion in their own little way. They were bothered with one thing though and they asked me questions about it in the past few days before tomorrow's date, rendezvous with this special person. A meeting decided, a venue set, a lunch date to look forward to.

"What do we give her? Can we give her anything? Will she like it? Is there anything she doesn't have yet?"--These are some of the questions they asked me and to these questions, I only told them one thing: give what you have and give within both the limitations and abundance that they have. They're bright kids. They understood what I meant.

My eldest Katrina Greta wrote a letter for her, this special person. Kat says she will hand it to her and maybe read portions of her letter aloud, or maybe just tell her in person, face to face what she wanted to tell her for the longest time. It was not the first time she would be meeting this person. It's just that, when she met her back them, some years ago---seven years ago to be exact, she still has no idea how to thank her, how to express the overwhelming happiness she felt that day. Now older, wiser and more confident of expressing herself, my eldest found the right words and put them into writing. I saw the letter and was even surprised to see some of the contents of that letter. I never knew she felt that way.

My youngest Dominique went to her table and began drawing a very stunning image of a queen, in long gown, long hair, with round eyes that sparkle, a quaint smile on her lips, the person's name written at the bottom of the white bond paper, a masterpiece or art from a budding sketch artist. Nica was so focused on her drawing, a gift she will give to this very important person, that for the first time, she intentionally passed on watching her favorite shows on Disney Channel, Cory in the House and That's So Raven. This is also not the first time she's meeting her, but the last time---she barely knew what was happening. The truth was, she did not even recognized me at once when I hugged her the minute I saw her that very same day---7 years ago.

To say that my kids are excited to meet her is an understatement.

They love her, I told them the story as I know it to be true. Unedited. The full story. Beginning to end. Telling them how it progressed, how I saw it from my end of the long waiting game of 98 days.

Knowing the story by heart at their very young age made them fully embrace what this person represents to us. Yes--it's all about them, my kids. It was all about them from the very beginning. When you face death right in the eye, what is it that one thing that would pull all your will power to survive? All mothers knew this truth and a mother herself not only saw and understood my predicament. She came to rescue me.

A mother reunited to her children, what could be more important than that? No amount of wealth can equal that reunion many thought would never happen.

But for those who thought it's impossible, boy they were proven so wrong! God's overflowing mercy and love reigned and put a happy ending to this one particular story of one's journey of self-discovery and strengthening of faith.

This person, the one my kids are excited to meet and spend time with, was undoubtedly, one of the instruments used by God in helping us during that most difficult time of our lives.

The truth is, there are many people to thank. There are many people to give back love and affection but this person stood out because her boldness and ability to take risks, deciding to pursue a selfless decision that places her own life in danger eventually made the difference, an act that ended my 98-days of captivity in the hands of an armed group of Tausugs, with ties to the military in the conflict torn province of Sulu in Muslim Mindanao.

Even my godmother, Ninang Cherry Cobarrubias, the one person who kept the lines open by communicating with my kidnappers, speaking and dealing with them in the most sincere and compassionate manner, turning Lakandula's frightening threats to "Opo Ninang" ("Yes Ninang"), told me never to forget what this person did for me so I could be reunited with my kids. My Ninang Cherry told me, "Don't ever forget to look back with gratitude to this person. No matter what other people will say about her, do not forget, she was there for us, for you."

It was my Ninang Cherry's voice that kept me strong, reminding me of who I am -- a mother above all else, kept me grounded and faithful to the fact that I am nothing without God and I could be everything and do everything, only with God.

But it was this woman's voice I heard that very early morning of April 27, 2002---1 o'clock in the morning to be exact, telling me with certainty from someone who weathered all obstacles just to get me out alive---that I will be going home only in a matter of hours from the time of her call. "You're going home now Arlyn, stop crying, I am going to pick you up, I'm on my way now to Sulu, just be patient, you will be freed, just wait for me,"---these were her words. How could anyone forget that assurance and how could anyone forget that what she said was the absolute truth? An answered prayer. God's mysterious ways manifested in the voice of someone I know, someone I look up to, an idol, a mentor, a colleague, a friend---none other than LOREN LEGARDA.

Gratitude is never measured. It will always be there, come what may, we will never tire uttering and expressing the words of thanks in many different ways.

We have moved on---oh so very long ago, a step that actually began the very day I breath the air of freedom as I run towards the waiting arms of Loren Legarda at the airport in Jolo, Sulu, the very morning of April 27, 2002.

We have moved on indeed---but in moving on, we will never, ever, forget.

Tomorrow we will see her again---the whole family, Edwin my husband, and my two kids, Kat and Nica.

We never forget to say thank you to the people who helped us. Never , ever---and we shall do that---remember with gratitude for as long as we all live.

Looking back, seven years after, feeling as if everything happened just yesterday, we felt it's about time to at least celebrate the gift of life and freedom by being with the one person who took the risk for us so that we could be a family again.

Tomorrow---we shall break bread and share the gift of life and freedom. (end)


April 22, 2009
Posted 2:36 PM

Heartbreaking to say the least.

Any person in Ted Failon's shoes right now would really break down, cry for help, seek for a way out of the emotional and mental anguish he and his family is suffering at the moment. For how long the pain will remain, there's no certainty and no guarantee that it will go away at once, in one click, in one snap of a finger.

One could only wish that everything that is unfolding is but a scene in one movie, that everything is for reel so that when the cameras stop rolling, the tears will stop, a cue that everything is just but a figment of a screenwriter's fertile imagination.

But this is not the movies. This is not a TELE-NOVELA. This is for real and it is happening in the life of one man who has been in the public's eye for more than two decades.

Celebrity or not, we all have our pains. The natural tendency for anyone is to keep the pain private. As much as possible, that pain must be secured, locked even, away from the prying eyes of others whose intentions may only be to aggravate the situation.

But this private pain breath a life of its own when it was exposed to the public by one single incident that shocked many last April 15, 2009.

Trinidad Etong found with a gun shot in her head, fought for dear life for 48 hours at the Intensive Care Unit of the New Era General Hospital, then later succumbing to death, an investigation in progress on whether the gun shot was self-inflicted or was it done by someone else...suicide or parricide, the Philippine National Police earlier said, insinuating the obvious, that Etong's husband, Ted Failon himself is a possible suspect in what may have been a foul play committed---all these factored in---who would not say this is simply too much. Unbearable. Is there a way out?
In his eulogy at the Arlington Memorial Chapel in Quezon City this morning, Ted spoke of a deep misunderstanding within their family--specifically, on the side of his wife, Trina. He did not give details, but the general statement he volunteered in his eulogy to his wife may have unintentionally opened more questions that may prolong the agony they are already experiencing.

Ted and his eldest child Kaye said that Trina's death should serve as an opportunity for everyone in their family to set-aside and settle long standing differences and unite as one family. When this very private matter was exposed by Ted himself, the curiosity of the public grew even bigger.

At one point, Ted hinted that the misunderstanding maybe so deeply rooted that there's a possibility that anyone of the family members of Trina may raise doubt on the circumstances of her death.

Amidst the tragedy in his family, Ted Failon, in his most vulnerable moment in public said, he thought of shooting himself, saying this is probably the easiest way to solve his problem.

"Minsan po, iniisip ko, ito na ang pinakamabilis na solusyon sa problema ko ngayon.Magbabaril ako sa ulo ko. Kayo na lamang ang magpalaki kay Karishma. Sobra na ang pinagdaraanan ng pamilya namin ngayon. Isa lang po ang magsabi sa inyo na may pagdududa kayo sa pangyayari, sasakyan po at sasakyan ng mga galit sa akin" ("Sometimes I am thinking that the fastest way to end my problem is to shoot myself in the head. I will leave Karishma under your care. Anyone of you who may raise doubt on what really happened, my enemies will surely take advantage").

He thought of shooting public he said that--disturbing, devastating. A statement that could lead to more sympathy and deeper understanding of the emotional roller-coaster he is is going through. Yet at the same time, what he said was a statement that is open to a lot of speculations and invites more questions.

On hindsight, I am taking the statement seriously in a sense that what he said was in fact a statement that may only come from someone who has a suicidal tendency. To say, one is considering to end ones life is not an ordinary thing. To muster the courage to even say this, much less in public, is something that should be taken seriously. It's a cry for help from Ted and someone should take it seriously.

The reason why a person ended up saying this declaration must really be a major source of depression. Is it not that most of the times, our thoughts become our truth? Kung kaya nating isipin, kaya nating gawin. If we can think about it, we can do it. Translate the thought into action, that is always a possibility.

As a colleague in the media, I am very worried for that statement of Ted. It would have been better if Ted kept the thought to himself. But then, who am I to say this?

The truth is, no one can really measure how deep the pain he and his family is suffering right now. Grief is something one cannot measure. Grief does not even have a time frame. Moving on and moving forward is something that may take time.

Ted told colleagues in the media, "Tao muna kayo bago kayo naging reporter," ("You are human first before you became reporters"). That was Ted's plea, begging for understanding, space, and in not so many words, he wants colleagues to simply leave him alone.

Inquiring into the story further, finding the answer to what really happened to Trina Etong leads to the inevitable task of digging deeper into the cause of the reported suicide or in that sense, digging deeper into the other angle that it may have been a case of foul play, homicide or parricide. Either way--it's going to be painful for Ted and his family.

Painful as it is, the truth will eventually come out sooner or later. Suicide or parricide, the process of probing which is which to get to the bottom of it will still be painful--perhaps even more painful that it is already is.

But there is a task ahead. For the authorities, in this case, the National Bureau of Investigation as lead investigating agency and in the process Ted's colleagues in the media, in reporting the details of the investigation.

Ted in his moment of reflection and contemplation knew this is the bare truth about the industry---that no matter what, no matter who, his colleagues in the media has a responsibility to fulfill to the public.  There's a choice to keep silent, leave the story alone, and there's always the option to seek the truth. (end)


Abril 22, 2009

Ganito sinukat ng kanilang kasamang mambabatas ang bangayang senador Panfilo Lacson at senador Manuel Villar.

Sabi kasi ni senadora Miriam Defensor-Santiago, kung suntukan daw ang labanan, panalo si Ping. Kung wrestling, si Manny ang panalo. Kung barilan, malamang, patay silang dalawa. Tawanan ang kasunod sa sagot na ito ng senadora na kilala sa kanyang walang prenong mga pahayag.

Ang ganda nga namang pakinggan di ba? Nagbibiro ang senadora at ang totoo, sa totoo lang ay gustont-gusto ng media ang mga sagot na tulad ng ganito mula kay senadora Miriam.Ito yung tipong soundbyte na tiyak na patok na patok sa mga newscast kinagabihan.

Ang sarap panoorin, aminin. Pero aminin din, sandali lang ang ganyang pakiramdam. Ang mas mangingibabaw na pakiramdam---nakakaalibadbad.

Pero alam kong alam din ng marami na simula pa lamang yan. Nakabuwelo na sila, bubuwelo din ang iba, alanganan namang silang dalawa lamang?

Sinong iba ang sinasabi ko?

Eh di ang iba pang mga presidentiables na karamihan ay nasa senado. Wag na nating isa-isahin ang mga pangalan---lahat naman sila pasok sa banga ika nga. Yung iba nga lang, talagang hanggang pangarap lang, walang chance, samantalang ang iba, may pag-asa, di ba nga't mataas naman ang rating ng mga utaw?

Pawang may karapatan at puntos sina Villar at Lacson na isulong at isumbat sa isa't isa ang mga isyung kanilang kinalkal sa isa't isa. Kung hanggang saan ito hahantong, aba matira na lamang ang matibay.

Ang punto ay ito---umabot na sa ganitong uri ng labanan ang pulitika sa ating bansa. Ang dating napakarangal na mataas na kapulungan ng kongreso ay nabahiran na ng mga personal na usapin, ng batuhan ng putik, ng paglapastangan sa karapatan at katayuan ng bawat isa sa kanila na kung tutuusin, pantay-pantay lang naman di ba?

At kung pupuntusan pa natin--kaya lamang naman sila kagalanggalang kung tawagin ay dahil na rin sa tiwalang ipinagkaloob sa kanila ng sambayanang Pilipino, ang mga bumoto sa kanila at nagpahayag ng kanilang tiwala na sila ay katawanin.

Sa unang tingin -- sabi ko nga, nakakatuwa, aliw baga!

Subalit sa kabuuan, sa dulo---ang talo dito, ang sambayanan dahil kahit anong katwiran ang ilatag dito, anong lohika ang ikambal dito, iisa rin ang lundo, na ang lahat ng galaw ng ito, pag-postura na sa eleksiyong 2010.

Daig ng maagap ang masipag sabi nga--kaya hayan--naguunahan na sila sa pagpapakitang gilas sa publiko, dangal ng isa laban sa dangal ng kabila.

Darating at darating ang 2010----wag naman sanang madaliin. Pipili at pipili ang sambayanan ng kapalit, huwag nga kayong mainip.

Ilang buwan na lamang ba ang igugugol ng mga mambabatas sa pagtupad ng tunay nilang gampanin? Napupunta na naman sa mga usaping mas mabigat ang pakinabang sa posturang pulitikal kaysa sa pagsusulong ng mga batas na kailangang pagtuunan ng pansin.

Mabuti na lamang at tila miron, miron lamang si senadora Miriam. Nakikikantiyaw sa puntong ito. Paano kung siya rin makihalo na sa away? Aba giyera patani ito?

Pero sa isang banda---kung pumasok siya at di lang basta mag-miron at ----baka mabahag ang buntot ng iba? Sino ba naman ang gustong makipagsabayan sa labanan kay senadora Miriam?

Pinalalabo ko ba? Ano ba talaga ang punto?

Ang punto---ito na. Sila na ang uri ng mga mambabatas natin ngayon. Umabot na sa ganyan.

Batuhan ng putik, kulang na lang ang talagang aktuwal na basagan ng mukha.

Nagmimiron ang lahat, sa pula, sa puti, habang ang tunay na trabaho, naiiwang nakatiwangwang. (wakas)