CAPTURED by Arlyn dela Cruz





April 15, 2009

The Round Table Discussion on the Role of Local Governments in Prevention and Resolution of Kidnapping was part of a series of related activities organized by the Congressional Internship Program
for Young Muslim Leaders (CIPYML).

The CIPYML offers opportunities for young people from Mindanao’s Muslim community to undertake internships in the Philippine House of Representatives, where they will have the opportunity to observe and gain first-hand experience in public policy formulation.

The internships runs for four-month and participants are recent graduates of colleges and universities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and other conflict affected areas of Mindanao chosen for their potential to assume leadership positions in business and government in the future.

The CIPYML Program also aims to enhance the commitment of young people within the ARMM and conflict-affected areas in Mindanao to democratic values and institutions by increasing their knowledge of the process of policy formulation and legislative processes;to expand the pool of young men and women in Mindanao who have a broad understanding of national issues and democratic governance;  to provide congressional representatives and staff increased opportunity to interact with articulate representatives of Mindanao's Muslim Community.

CIPYML is collectively sponsored by the Philippine House of Representatives, the Mindanao State University (MSU), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

It is managed by USAID’s Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program. (end)

Shooting for CAPTURED: Arlyn dela Cruz Reports' pilot episode...

"NAGTANONG, NAG-IMBESTIGA"---ito ang linyang magiging tatak ng isang programa, ko-produksiyon ng ADC Productions sa Net-25, ito ay ang pagbabalik ng CAPTURED, Arlyn dela Cruz Reports.

Kakaiba ang pagbabalik na ito ng CAPTURED sa puntong may mga Jr. Reporters na binigyang puwang dito. Kung lalawig ang kanilang karera sa mundo ng telebisyon at pamamahayag, masusulat na dito sila nagsimula at dun pa lamang, isang malaking karangalan na.

Dumating na ako sa punto ng aking karera bilang mamamahayag na ako naman ang magbubukas ng pinto para sa ibang nagnanais na maging bahagi din nito.

Returning the favor ika nga...

Kung di ba sa mga nagtiwala at mga nagbukas ng pinto sa akin noon, makapasok at makapamayagpag kaya ako?

Oo--puwedeng itinakda nga ng tadhana. Destiny, sabi nga ng kaibigan kong di Joel Monsalud, yakapin ko daw nang lubos. Pero hindi rin, naging posible rin ang lahat para sa akin dahil sa tulong ng maraming tao na nagtiwala, sumuporta at naging maligaya sa mga nakamit ko.

Sa pagbabalik muli ng CAPTURED sa ere, ipapakilala ko sina Angelo Pardon at Joyce Ilas. Sabi ko, mga anak-anakan ko. Si Angelo ay anak ng aking matalik na kaibigan na si Beth Marcelo, isa ring mamamahayag na di matatawaran ang kakayanan. Iskupera din ang hitad! (to borrow a term used by Cesar Apolinario, hitad, that is!)

Si Joyce naman ay nakilala ko dahil sa shooting ng Stalking Jihad. Si Wanda Lomibao ang nakahanap sa kanya through Friendster, kinuha ko siyang artista sa documentary na ipinalabas sa The History Channel. (See

Mula noon---naging ate na talaga niya ako. Maghahanap pa ba ako ng ibang bibigyan ng break gayung kitang-kita ko naman agad ang magandang potensiyal ng batang ito? Salamat din sa kanyang mga magulang na ipinagkatiwala siya sa aking mga kamay sa mga panahong nagpapaalam siya para sumama sa mga "karaketan" sa produksiyon.

Kung kailan eere ang CAPTURED Arlyn dela Cruz Reports---kasunod ng isang opisyal na MOA sa pagitan ng produksiyon at ng Net-25.

Ang anunsiyo kung kailan ay abangan sa espasyong ito. (wakas)

Meeting the Moments host herself...Gladys Reyes

16 February 2009

I saw her growth as a movie star.

I mean, I did literally see her grow physically through the years, from a distance though, just like millions of Filipinos, who witnessed her transformation from child actress to a teenage star, then to an adult actress.

But maybe in my case, her attachment to my memory is extra special in a sense that I am a big, not big...but a HUGE Judy Anne Santos fan! I am probably the biggest yet silent fan of Juday. Now, the secret is out. he-he! And face to face with the actress who made life hell for her most memorable and iconic role on Philippine television, I did dare tell "Clara" that I am "Mara's" ally through and through.

Oh yes---February 16, 2009 was extra special, a date that must be marked in red, for it was the day I "confronted" Clara for the sake of "Mara." No---there were no hair pulling, slapping or mud fight between the two of us...just a lively, unadulterated and very refreshing confrontation of ideas between two moms!

Yes--Gladys Reyes was in the house for practically the whole day to shoot for a MOMENTS episode about my life as mom to my two adorable and loving kids Katrina Greta and Dominique.

The reality of the matter is...while I declare alliance with Juday...she would not have been that effective in her portrayal of Mara if not for the very effective and convincing portrayal of her main adversary, Clara, essayed by Gladys. In a sense---if you go down to the pure basics--I am also a huge Gladys Reyes fan...there---an admission. (Umamin na rin!)

The day with Gladys in our humble home was actually just a continuation of an earlier shoot we did for the same episode for Moments. This time around, the kids, my kids are more comfy compared to the previous shoot we had with another production outfit, Hot Spot Films of Dubai, that also did a feature story on my family---7 years after the hostage episode that not just affected my life but our entire lives.

Moved on? We have---beginning from day 1, the exact day that I was released after 98 days of captivity.

But a mom's bond with her kids begins from the womb and there are really tons of stories to tell as far as this natural mom and kids bonding is concerned, not just in this mom's case...but in all moms for that matter. The bond is universal and nature and is innate and infectious, that moms everywhere could relate.

After the shoot, my eldest Katrina Greta told me..."Mom, I can't wait to see how it will come out on TV". My youngest Dominique made a quick follow-up---"Siyempre Maganda! Tungkol sa love yun eh...di ba Ma?"

Oh yes---the story of moms and kids---however you tell it, whoever is telling it, would always be the best love story ever told as far as human relationships are concerned.

To borrow a Tom Cruise line---"you (my kids)..complete me!"

MOMENTS is aired every Saturday at 6:30PM with a rerun at 10PM and replays at 11AM the following day, Sunday.

This episode that features my kids and I will be aired on February 21, 2009. (end)


15 February 2009

They needed a reporter for one scene, a real reporter. Make that plural---reporters. So that explains why suddenly, Jim Libiran and I are doing cameo appearance for Director Dante Mendoza's latest film entitled---(working title I was told!) The Execution of P. But one of the production staff who was there ahead of direk Mendoza told me, the title is CHOP-CHOP. But if you ask me...I like the first title better...the Execution of P.

It sounds intriguing and catchy.

Direk Dante as you all know, (at least movie buffs like us, those that sashayed in the indie filmmaking business) is the man behind the controversial and highly acclaimed SERBIS that starred Gina Pareno, Jacklyn Jose and Coco Martin.

I was not the original choice to do that cameo. My friend and fellow journalist, whose also an award-winning director, Cesar Apolinario (director of BANAL and the much awaited and highly anticipated PUNTOD (BABY'S TOMB), an ADC Productions presentation) --- was the one originally tapped for the cameo.But since he is a network talent and there are existing provisions on network talents appearing in other medium of media, on-cam, be it as actor or as journalists, he called me instead and passed the cameo role. I have long declared my independence as a journalist, still working with TV networks, but not tied up as before so that gave me a sense of freedom (real one) in exploring and pursuing other avenues of enhancing my craft both as a journalist and as a filmmaker.

Besides...I wanted to meet Direk Dante, Cesar has been telling me so much about him, and I'd been reading much about him myself that really intrigued me no end. Cesar's call provided an opportune time, so I said yes. I dropped one major appointment for this cameo apperance, not so much because of the acting part but the chance of maybe casually talking about possible collaboration in the future.

The bonus part was---I didn't realize that they too tapped Jim Libiran, an award-winning director himself for the indie-film TRIBU. Over exchange of messages via FACEBOOK, Jim and I were discussing a possible collaboration for a film about Mindanao. While waiting for the cameras to roll, we discussed the possibilities at length and managed to expand the many possibilities and areas of cooperation, artistically and profesionally, all that under the heat of the past 11 in the morning along EDSA.

I don't want to jump the gun but the impromptu planning and sharing of ideas that Jim and I did while waiting for the take was one of the most enriching conversation I had in a long time. This thing happens when you are talking to someone on the same frequency. No going around the bush, direct to the point, ---this is what we are going to do. Period.

And one more thing---I met the one person an independent and a newcomer in the film business needs to meet---an international distributor, more like a sales and marketing agent for films and documentaries made by Filipinos. To say that it was an eventful and fruitful--half day of February 15, 2009, is indeed an understatement.

That person, Ferdie, I forgot his last name, also wanted to view PUNTOD and we understand, that he was the one responsible for the promotion of Serbis outside of the Philippines in various international film festivals.

He did a good job for Serbis and his willingness to do the same for Puntod is enough reason to get extra excited. Although on our own, Cesar and I already submitted entries in several international film festivals for our movie Puntod, we just can't announce them yet...forthcoming but within the first quarter of the year.

Again, the cliche line---See? Everything really does happen for a reason.

As for Direk Dante---one thing I noticed was the fact that he really does his film the "indie-way", meaning, as if he's not there, as if he's just an observer executing the scene, distant but very involved, --- more of the guerilla type, that's why I said, the indie-way.

Very briefly, Jim introduced me to Direk Dante and in less than 2-minutes, we agreed to sit down one of these days, ASAP, after his latest film, and discuss possibilities.

Before I utter the same lines again..."everything happens..." let me rest my case. Indeed, doors are opening and I am just beginning to scratch the surface. (end)

Sharing these moments...for NET-25's MOMENTS

2 February 2009

It was first scheduled as early as late November, then moved to a December date, then again on the first week of January of 2009. And then January 24 again, then 30---then moved again, finally pushing through on the first day of February.

We planned to trek Mount Banahaw for this bonding moment but after consulting with my kids, Katrina Greta and Dominique, we changed our minds and decided to just go to the one place that we really love and very dear to our hearts. Olongapo City.

Bonding time was made extra special because we did it with their cousins Carla Bianca and Libay, children of their Tita Candie. The kids had a blast just by being together! As for me and my sister, well, we are the original best friends, and we will always be forever connected and so in love with each other for the rest of our lives.

It was really a time of living, loving and full of bonding MOMENTS!(end)

GROWING UP WITH MY KIDS:Ask me about my parenting style and I would probably have difficulty answering what it is. All I know is that each day is a chance for me to grow with them. My kids are my best friends in a sense that we do talk about anything under the sun. I learned in my youth that it was not cool growing up under a shadow of lie and many unanswered questions.When my turn came to be called MOM, I made a commitment to myself to always tell them the truth about us, about who we are. We are each others best friends!

BONDING WITH A REAL PRO: If you think we are the "celebrity" item here, nope, we are not. Tatay Kasoy is! He has graced many TV ads locally, feature and promotional TVCs too, including a full length feature about the Aetas on the National Geographic Channel. One artist even made a molded image of Tatay Kasoy and brought the image abroad for millions and millions to see and learn about how the first inhabitants of the Philippines live many, many years ago.

CONNECTING WITH THE BALETE TREE: A balete tree like this one became my luxury and comfort during several nights in the jungle of Sulu when I was taken hostage in 2002. I slept in the corner of the roots of this marvelous tree, and in the warmth of Balete's roots, I found my safe space. I felt then that the more I squeeze myself nearer the root, no one will touch me, and that anyone who would dare get near me would be crushed by the might of this tree. The tree heard my sobs, my cry for help. Nature provided me safe heaven and with nature, I decided to confront my fears and began my journey of faith and towards freedom after 98 days.

LOLO KASOY: It was my youngest Nica who really wanted to see Tatay Kasoy in person. I first showed her the picture of Tatay Kasoy in 2007 when we did the recreation scenes for Stalking Jihad, a documentary on the Burnhams aired over the History Channel. Since then, she would ask about Tatay Kasoy every now and then, especially about the many tales on Tikbalang, Maligno and life in the more than 10,000 hectare watershed forest area of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, probably, the last remaining protected forest in the country.

NOT IN CHARGE HERE: I allow myself only few instances to be the subject matter of a TV show or a feature segment for broadcast. But in Moments, I showed my other side so to speak that may come as totally unexpected to those who see me as the journalist with a resume of tough assignments in war and conflict areas in Mindanao. It was easy to simply let it out that day, for after all, I was caught on cam, bonding with my kids.

A DARE: It was a dare I made to Anita Ramos. I told her, "Gusto ko umakyat kami diyan sa lighthouse na yan, dun kami mag-extro". We had no prior coordination to the officers of the hotel and resort located inside the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. For a change, I went to Subic without coordinating with my friends who are mostly officers of key departments of the SBMA, including the tourism department. On the spot, almost nearing sunset, Anita took the challenge and asked permission. Atta Girl!---we made it, 100 feet above the ground for one interesting extro for the show that will be featuring my bonding time with my klds over NET-25.

Shooting with a Dear Friend: Anita Ramos, in light pink and jeans, is field producer for this guesting of my kids and I at MOMENTS, a show of NET-25 hosted by Gladys Reyes. The shooting became a walk in the park for me and my kids because they were shooting with their Tita Anita, someone who is a constant and comforting presence in our lives, in good times, especially, in bad times.

DRAGON, DOG AND OX: Nica was born on the year 2000, year of the Dragon, Lyn, born in 1970, year of the Dog and Kat, 1997, born on the year of the Ox. Sa aming tatlo, minsan nagbibiruan kami ng panganay ko, na ang bunso namin ang nanay namin kasi lagi kaming pinapagalitan, he-he!Parang nanay magsalita. Pero mind you, di naman nawawala ang po at opo kahit nagagalit sa amin. Seriously, ours is a relationship that is so out of the ordinary held tight and secure by one true love.

STRIKE A POSE, VOGUE: People come, people go. BUt when they stay in our lives, trust that it's always part of God's will and plan. Anita is one person who did not only stay in our lives but also went through the most horrifying experience and episode of our lives as a family--she is part of our family. I do not now if I have shown it enough how grateful I am for what she is to us, but I believe, showing it and affirming it every chance we get will never be enough. She is a third "sister" given to me by God.

Blaming the media...again.
MEDIA IN FOCUS guesting at ANC, 8 January 2009

For the nth time, the media in general is being blamed again for the controversy between the Department of Justice and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency or PDEA about the fate of the so called Alabang Boys, Richard Brodett, Jorge Joseph and Joseph Tecson.

To my face, minutes before MEDIA IN FOCUS aired hosted that evening by Tony Velasquez over ANC, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales bluntly told me, "You are the one who started it all."

How would you react to that? 

In my case, I simply gave a curious smile and said, "I hope you mean that in a positive way."

Then while Tony was there in front of us listening to the banter, I added, "Will you allow me sir to say on air that it was you who was my unnamed source then that revealed to me that it was the secretary of Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor that forwarded to your secretary the draft release order for the Alabang Boys?"

It was the secretary's turn to give a curious smile...and then the floor director shouted, 5,4, 3, 2,1...and then Tony began his opening spiel.

Was there really a spin here? 

Was there an attempt to use media by both sides?

This is my take: The Alabang Boys story is one story that doesn't need any ingredient of sensationalism for it is in essence, controversial and intriguing in itself. The facts of the case are very clear. The congressional hearing exposed the acts of people who should not be engage in the business of following up on the progress of the case. It would have appeared to be an innocent call if it was not established that the characters on the side of the DOJ and the private lawyers of the respondents were not known to each other.

But it was clear---there exists a fraternity link, a teacher and a former student relationship.

There was one question that Secretary Gonzales himself has not answered up to now, or maybe it was simply because no one has asked the question from him up to this time.

The question: Would you have signed the draft order if there was no prior report in the media on the alleged bribery to free the Alabang Boys?

To the lawyer of the Alabang Boys whom Gonzales personally met in his office, he said, "How could I sign this now with that article of bribery in the paper, my hands are tied."

But wait, should he be entertaining the lawyer's "over-zealous" act to see him and even  draft a memo for him to sign in the first place?

By the end of the program, it was Gonzales who said the controversy will not stop especially after he rules on the merits of the resolution by the prosecutors recommending the release of Tecson, Joseph and Brodett.

We could only deduct what would be Gonzales' decision and I bet your guess is as good as mine.

But that was last January 8, 2009.

As I tap in my laptop this entry, a radio report from a Palace beat reporter changes the scenario. The prosecutors from the DOJ were asked no less than by the President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to go on leave of absence.

It's Gonzales who is tasked to implement such an order with a clear message from the President, "make sure the fight against illegal drugs continue uninterrupted".

What would Gonzales do next?

We all wait with anticipation.

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata. (end)

HOT SPOT FILMS documents ADC for a story on Al Jazeera, 18,19,27 November, 01, 06 December 2008

Healing they say takes some time. Some even have this opinion that healing is a process that has no definite time frame.

It could even take a lifetime for someone to heal while in some cases, healing never takes place m

But healed totally or partially from a horrifying experience, as a person, as an individual and as a family, the most important step to make is to simply go on with life and face the day to day challenges life has to offer.

For after all, surviving an ordeal that could take away ones life in a snap is in itself an overwhelming motivation to find the road towards healing.

After April 27, 2002, the day that I was released as a hostage by an armed group with links to the MNLF Integrees in the province of Sulu, the so called Renegade Forces of Nur Misuari, life continued.

I moved on.

My family moved on.

But somehow, there were unresolved issues that were never addressed mainly because we simply decided not to talk about it.

Except for ABS-CBN's Magandang Gabi Bayan of then senator and now Vice President Noli De Castro's current affairs show which I was also part as a reporter/segment producer back in the 90s, I decided not to grant interviews. I turned down many requests even from my closest of friends and colleagues in the media industry.

Even the manuscript of my book, I still hang on to up to now, waiting for the perfect time to release it all.

I was waiting for only one thing, the sign that indeed, my family and I have all healed from that experience.

Six years after, looking back to those 98 days in captivity, a Documentary Team from Hotspot Films based in Dubai, a production house that does documentary materials for Al Jazeera Channel, came to our house and with conviction and with fresh approach, convinced us all to once again, go back to those days and remember.

For the first time my husband spoke about it. How it was for him and how he survived it. My kids too,  especially my eldest, spoke about it and recalled how it was for her and her sister, back in 2002, when she was just 5 years old and my youngest, just a year and six months old.

Talking about the ordeal at length from our individual perspective of surviving it for the first time presented itself as a genuine form of healing.

Hotspot Films field producer Maria observed that what she saw unfold before her eyes during the separate interviews were raw emotions, untapped, unexplored, untainted that it occured to her that we are all still in the stage of healing as individuals who saw that event from our own different perspective and as a family.

There's one more final act. And I see the time has come. It's just around the corner. Soon, the book has to come out. It's time has come.

"Releasing your book would be the one final act of healing, " Director Ahmed Omar told me during the second of three series of interviews on cam that I had wih him.

They say everything happens for a reason. We all waited this long, six years, before we decided, yes, we are ready to remember and bare our soul.

Healing is in progress and we see a bright road ahead.

This family is truly moving on, almost there...finally, finally HEALED in God's perfect and glorious time!(end)

Ahmed Omar's interview technique...

It was an interview session without questions---no interruptions, no follow up. no pause.

Ahmed Omar, the director for the series of documentaries for Philippines 1 sent by Hotspotfilms was not joking when he told me the first time that I would be the director of my own episode, meaning, the content of the documentary would depend on what I would reveal and how far would I open up and share, and not based on the questions that he would ask.

It was something that felt uncomfortable at the beginning. The first session was tiring, done at 10 in the evening in my house, but there was a second and third and final session, that eventually caught me on a different mood,  more relaxed and more open, more willing to talk, and more eager to release what's in my heart for the longest time.

Ahmed Omar sat there and allowed me to talk, talk and talk, as if it was a scene lifted from a session between psychologist and patient. It was exhausting but very liberating.

By the end of the final interview, I felt a sense of "freedom". something came out from a cave, a door was unlocked.

How far did I reveal my heart in that interview session? I really do not know. All I knew now is that, I talked, and talked and talked, and talked...until Ahmed Omar said---"Arlyn, the interview is did an excellent job, thank you very much"

Ahmed Omar's style prompted not just me to talk, but also my husband and my kids for the first time  about that episode in our lives some six years ago when I was held hostage in the jungles of Sulu for 98 very long days.

The reporter as the interviewee---that was a shift.

But to see my husband and my kids interviewed about their own take on what happened to me was a totally groundbreaking success on the part of Ahmed Omar who managed to solicit a yes answer from Edwin, my husband, who for the longest time, in the last six years, refuse to talk about the incident.

I was not around when the interview on them was conducted. It was something I requested and it was something that Ahmed Omar too wanted for his documentary, that the interview be done not the presence of the central character.

The documentary was about a very significant part of my life story but even I have no idea how it would turn out.

What my kids said and what my husband said, I have no idea.

All I knew is--just like me, something was released from their hearts and from their minds. Something the kept secret, deep into their hearts for a long time and for the first time, released it, freely, in an interview session that is not based on a question and answer technique but on a style of interviewing that proved to be more personal in its approach.

I can't wait to have a copy of the documentary tentatively entitled by Ahmed Omar as "To be a hostage..." because I am positively sure that the documentary released something from each member of my family that finally allowed me to utter a sigh of relief that comes with the realization that indeed, the healing process is almost complete...we're almost there...finally, finally. (end)



University of Santo Tomas, 10th National Campus Journalism Fellowship, INKBLOTS 22 October 2008

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Read-Aloud/Storytelling Session: Nellie E. Brown Elementary School, West Bajac-Bajac, Olongapo City, 17 October 2008

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The new challenge to campus journalists:Bataan Peninsula State University, Balanga Bataan, 16 October 2008

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Coming HOME to Sulu...

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