May 3, 2010
I finally reached Leah by telephone.
The last time we had spoken, she had mentioned she would be sticking close to home until after the May 10 elections in the Philippines. There was “unrest” on Mindanao. I had tried calling several times and received a recorded message that stated the “subscriber was not available.” Originally I was calling to ask if she’d had any news about her appointment to a teaching position at the public school. As the days passed and I wasn’t able to reach her, I just wanted to hear Leah’s voice and know she and her family were OK.
When we finally connected, Leah told me it was brownouts that cut the cell phone service. No electricity. No cell phones. And they were without electricity every other day.
She had great news. She has received a public school job, as a substitute in June and July for a teacher who’s going on maternity leave. Leah believes that she will receive her own classroom when the academic year resumes in August. She said she cried when she learned the news. She said this is the job she’s dreamed of all her life. I told her I was so happy for her and so proud of her.
She will receive nearly triple the salary she’s made at the private elementary school the past two years. When she becomes a permanent hire, she’ll get benefits and she’ll have a job for life. Another bonus: she can walk to her school–no transportation costs.
November 28, 2009
Here’s the latest news on the massacre from an article by Carlos H. Conde in the New York Times, posted in the Dallas Morning News online.
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Most or all of the 22 women among the at least 57 people massacred Monday in the southern Philippines were sexually mutilated, authorities said Friday.
“It was horrible. It was not done to just one,” the justice secretary, Agnes Devanadrea, said on national television. “It was done to practically all the women.”
While work continued to identify all the dead, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said it appeared that 30 journalists and their assistants had been killed.
About a dozen of the victims were the relatives, lawyers or supporters of Esmael Mangudadatu, a local politician whose determination to challenge the entrenched Ampatuan clan in a gubernatorial election touched off the violence, investigators said.
I called Leah tonight to talk with her about the killings and violence.
“I’m fine, Cheryl.”
“It’s horrible,” Leah said. “More than 30 are from the media, television, radio. They were very very innocent. It was horrible.”
“It’s far from my place,” Leah assured me. How far? “A whole day’s travel from my place.”
I told Leah on the map it looks close.”Really?”
“It was politics,” Leah said.
In the shadow of the sexual mutilation and the massacre of women, Leah leads her simple life, teaching her students and taking care of her family, a day’s travel from the madness.
For now, I am happy that Leah is well and happy. She’s enjoying her teaching. She’ll have two weeks of paid vacation starting December 18. These are things to be thankful for, to celebrate.