Essence of Shame 2: What Really Happened in Maguindanao, Southern Philippines

Self first heard of the massacre from hubby.  He learned of it while trolling the internet. Then, a few days ago, Dearest Mum contributed a few more details:

They say they dug the holes a month before. Huge holes, because they even buried the victims’ cars, with the victims still inside. Then, they used bulldozers to flatten the ground. In other words, they had planned everything beforehand.

So, there were 100 shooters sent by Ampatuan to kill his political rivals. Self finds it interesting that two of the 100 spilled the beans.  It’s too bad their consciences couldn’t have bothered them before, rather than after the evil deed.

Yesterday, after a long day braving the crowds at Costco and corresponding with son over his grad school applications, and tutoring students at the Writing Center, self opened her e-mail and there was an article Luis Francia had written for The Philippine Inquirer. Below are excerpts from Luis’ article, “Try Again, Fail Better.” (Note: Ismail, the electoral opponent of the incumbent governor of Maguindanao province, lost his wife as well as several other members of his family.) :

    The victims were herded to a grassy hilltop where they were shot in cold blood, not far from where their cars were pulled over. Two vehicles that happened along were also stopped, and their occupants killed as well. The bodies were buried in a shallow grave, as were three of the vehicles. A backhoe, property of the provincial government, may have been used to excavate the shallow grave and dump earth on the bodies, thus deepening suspicions that the provincial authorities were involved.

    * * * *

    The slaughter included an estimated 30 journalists; Mangudadatu clan members, most (if not all) women, of whom there were 22, including Ismail’s wife, Genalyn; lawyers; and passersby.

    * * * *

    According to a New York Times report written by Carlos Conde, “the women’s bodies had been separated from those of the men and bore evidence of mutilation.” Aside from the wives and children, two of the women worked with Gawad Kalinga, a humanitarian housing project.

With thanks to Luis for allowing self to quote from his excellent article. Author bio: Luis Francia is an editor, essayist, playwright, and poet.  His books include Eye of the Fish and Museum of Absences . He writes a monthly column for

The earth of Maguindanao weeps, dear blog readers. It weeps for everyone.

Burma and Western Ignorance/ and the Value of Women’s Presses

Self’s article “Burma and Western Ignorance” is on-line now, at Women=Books, the blog of the most excellent Women’s Review of Books.

Why not consider a gift subscription for the holidays? This is such a fab publication, dear blog readers, and not just because it’s for and about women, but because it’s thought-provoking! And cutting edge!

And while you’re at it, why not consider buying a book from Calyx Press?  Because they are one of the oldest women’s presses in the country, and because they have discovered the following women writers, at a very early stage in their careers, and continue to support women, valiantly, from their tiny office in Corvallis, Oregon :

Chitra Divakaruni  *  Jean Hegland  *  Barbara Kingsolver  *  Ursula K. Le Guin

Not to mention the fact that, self still gets royalty checks for Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, self’s first book, which Calyx published almost 20 years ago. Truthfully, if not for that book, self doesn’t know what would have happened to her. To her life, she means.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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