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REFLECTIONS: Atin Ito Christmas Convoy to Ayungin: My Personal Chronicle

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 19 December) — During our journey to the West Philippine Sea (WPS), I wrote four running articles online, published short notes with pictures, and also took video footages to mark where we were and the things we were exactly doing.

This article chronicles our entire journey, to immortalize our historic voyage to the Ayungin Shoal in the WPS. This is historic because, for the first time, a civilian-initiated resupply mission was undertaken for our frontliners and fisherfolk there.

Various events in the country prodded me to participate in a voyage to Ayungin Shoal. My obsession to go there developed when then President Rodrigo Duterte adopted his policy of submission to China in shameless vulgarity.

I was so angry and so ashamed at how the President was painting the image of a Filipino on the global stage: coward, unpatriotic and traitor to his country.

I really wanted to go to Ayungin then to prove to the world that Duterte does not represent the wondrous virtues of a Filipino who is intrinsically gallant, patriotic and willing to offer a great sacrifice at the altar of freedom and dignity.

While my fervor to go to Ayungin kept burning in my heart, I simply did not have the financial and logistical capacity to make that voyage. So I wrote some of my comrades and friends in Manila to come to my aid.

My plan then was to go back to my hometown in Patnongon, Antique and recruit my relatives, marginalized fisherfolk who have been battling the hostile seas all their lives. They are sailors in their own right. Their savvy in the sea can awe even the pirates of the Caribbean.

Expectedly, no one came to my aid, and I knew exactly what my comrades and friends were thinking of me then, that I must have lost my sanity.

I was forced to give up my plan. But something within me was revolting. Eventually, I accepted certain realities of life. But my soul remained restless.

Christmas cheers

Recently, I accidentally watched on YouTube the press conference of Atin Ito Coalition where Senator Risa Hontiveros discussed the plan of the coalition to bring Christmas cheers to our frontliners and fisherfolk in the WPS.

The Atin Ito Coalition is composed of Akbayan, Akbayan Youth, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), Center for Agrarian Reform for Empowerment and Transformation (CARET), Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Mamamayan sa Kanayunan (PKSK); Pambansang Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA); Team Manila Lifestyle and Concerned Artists.

That plan, as has been articulated during the press conference, was to conduct a Christmas Convoy to Ayungin Shoal for three major purposes: to honor our frontliners who are members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines stationed in BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal and Lawak Island; to distribute food supplies and other essential items to these frontliners, including the fisherfolk there; and to assert the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the WPS.

Former Secretary Ronald Llamas, Presidential Political Adviser under then President Benignon Simeon Aquino III, sent through Messenger pictures of the billboards of Senator Risa Hontiveros and of Senator Manny Pacquiao, among others, calling good-spirited citizens to extend support to this civilian-initiated historic journey to Ayungin.



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