Two Years Later: Remembering Pepe Manegdeg

We’re publishing the reflections of Dom-an Macagne-Manegdeg on the killing of her husband Jose “Pepe” Manegdeg. Pepe was an NGO/church worker who was killed in Ilocos Sur two years ago. His case remains unsolved and according to this update, Dom-an and her family are now facing threats apparently because they continue to seek justice for Pepe.

Gloria and her ilk will, of course, deny that activists are being killed in the Philippines but these killings are real.

Thanks to our good friend, Florence Umaming, who forwarded her niece’s reflection to us.

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Thoughts from Pepe’s Friend and Widow…
By Dom-an/Florence Macagne-Manegdeg

A friend asked me to give a message in line with the second death anniversary of Jose “Pepe” Manegdeg III. Indeed, what is there to say or in what and how shall we fittingly remember a person like Pepe?

The request once more put me in a space and a moment of deep SILENCE, a moment to pause amidst the churning and spinning of the looms weaving tapestries of dreams and relationships that we once and continue to cherish and nurture…

SILENCE…how could I ever say enough words for silence? I asked a journalist. And he said, not many people understand silence. A clay sculptor says, just do it.

May we then take a few moments for literal silence… let us feel the rise and fall of our chest as we breath…and in this moment…we could hear the beat, the pulse of our heart and even our neighbor’s heart beat. And let us celebrate the rhythm that we hear… da-dub…da-dub…tap our feet on the ground and connect with the breath that continues to connect us with those who have gone ahead…like Pepe, Albert…and many more…great men and women whose lives and deaths continue to remind us of the passion for truth, liberty, peace, love… translated into service in simplicity and humility…and the happiness it inspires…in us and in others as well…

It is now two years since Pepe was executed…since that dark night in November 28, 2005 amidst tobacco fields in Ilocos Sur. When Capt Joel Castro decided to mercilessly pull the trigger of his deadly weapon and ignore the pleas of mercy by an unarmed peace loving and gentle human being. The murder was another triumph for a cold steel gun that overpowered the human heart of an assassin, a soldier loyal to the command of his commanders of equally steeled hearts.

Pepe completed his earthly life cycle in 37 years. Nurtured by his parents with the fruits of their labors in the lands and seas of Ilocos, Pepe too fulfilled a mission to live a life that preached and worked in accordance to life-giving virtues of integrity, equality, simplicity and humility with liberty as well as responsibility. A life cherished, shared and nurtured as son, husband, father, friend, brother…A life rooted in individuality and blossomed in community.

Today, even as we are deeply wounded by the tragedy not only of Pepe’s death that continues to highlight the reality of the viciousness of the cycle of senseless violence in poverty and war…

Let us also celebrate this moment that reminds us of the preciousness of the Sacred Breath that no one has the right to take but the very Source of Breath…

Let us commemorate not the once bullet riddled fragile sacred human body that is now blended well back into the bossom of the earth, but the spirit of the beautiful love and life that Pepe and many others have sown in the fields of our hearts…in the communities of farmers, workers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, churchpeople, children, youth, elderlies, women, government leaders, local and international partners, warriors and peacemakers…etcetera…who share a humane vision for genuine and lasting peace… In this way, their death would not be in vain…and their spirit live forever in us.

Therefore, let us move forth and reclaim the joy…resolve to live in victory as we are guided by the life lessons and eternal love that the spirit of Jose “Pepe” reminds us…even as we cradle the sorrow with grace, wisdom and strength…as we seek to heal the woundedness in our war and greed ravaged lands…Indeed, crucial to the healing process is to seek truth and reveal it…for it in turn sets us free…

May we live forever with courage and people’s victory as we endeavor to flow with sensitivity and purity…along the journey in peace with healing…

Kasiyana…kasiyana…death brings new life…dawn ushers in a new day… Live long…live fully…in every breath…every moment…NOW…

(Written at the office of Asian Human Rights Commission, Mongkok Kowloon Hongkong) Dom-an traveled to Hongkong November 27 and back to the Philippines on December 10, 2007.)

PHOTO CREDIT: Cordillera Peoples Alliance

5 Comments
  1. Bill, how can this case remain unsolved when a certain “Capt Castro” was already identified as the one who pulled the trigger? How can Pepe’s family attain peace when up to now, they’re constantly under threat from a government that’s supposed to protect them? Certainly I’m not advocating REVOLT but there’s got to be a point when enough is enough and it might be the only solution. No one wants to be in his shoes, not the Arroyo’s, Puno’s, Ermita’s and the rest of her minions.

  2. Hi Trublue,
    Natakot daw ang witness is what I heard; so walang testigo, laya yung gumawa ng krimen. Tapos tinatakot pa pamilya ng biktima.

    That’s the frustrating thing about the Philippines; you cannot depend on your government to protect you. At the same time, the groups advocating for revolution have not shown themselves to be above corruption. No wonder a lot of people say that this is a hopeless country.

    Thanks.

  3. To Florence:
    Life doesn’t always work as well as we’d like, and despite our greatest efforts, sometimes our best-laid plans go awry. It’s at times like these that we must believe in ourselves more than ever. We have to tie a knot in our dreams and hang on tight, choosing to believe we will make it through, past, or over any obstacle; determining that no matter what, we will succeed. For dreams only become reality for those who will not let them go or settle for anything less.

    May you always be willing to hang on to your dreams.

    And may you always be aware that you are loved beyond measure and a cherished blessing to all of us.

    John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

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