THANK YOU

“MALAYANG MAKAPAGPAHAYAG” Ezekiel O. Estojero, 17 yrs old 15” x 20”, oil pastel on board

Thank you, Itay. You are the one who made Inay and me alive with colors.

Your comrades and I know that while you were still alive, you valued and loved them as you valued and loved Inay and me. That’s why even during those times when you failed to get home, I was always sure that one of your comrades has sheltered you.

Thank you so much, Itay. We will never know the kind of pain you endured while they tried to force a confession out of you… your crushed fingers… your bloodied face… your broken bones… you wanted to escape that pain but you weren’t able to because of the inhuman way they treated you body, as if you’re a pig being butchered in a slaughterhouse. You almost died of pain, feeling as if each breath you drew will be your last.

They put you in a drum that served as your coffin, which they nonchalantly threw into the river. The people who did this to you are harsh, cruel, and ruthless.

Inay cried when you disappeared, at a loss at what to do. I cried too in a dark corner, feeling like my future has crumbled because of your disappearance. We didn’t even have a body to mourn over. Not even bones. They are heartless, Itay. Heartless and soulless.

My fervent hope is that we find justice for you while all along remaining true to our fellowmen and our country – just like you.

People will be blinded if they pause to look at the wealth of your experiences as an activist. I take pride in that. I am proud of all the good you have shown. It gives me great pleasure to listen to our neighbors talk about all the things you have done.

I thank you, Itay. You have left us with beautiful memories that inspire me and Inay and your comrades in our struggle for societal change. You are the reason we go on fighting for what you believe in. this fight is for you, Itay, and all other victims of enforced disappearance.

I salute you, Itay. Even in your absence.

Jaime Lopez, Jr.

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