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Melissa Roxas
June 24, 2009
By Jean Teodoro

A person can expose their true self
by showing what they do when facing death
you showed us who you were
when you prepared for your end

But what you didn’t prepare for was to let go
you didn’t let go of your integrity and self-determination
not even when fifteen minions dragged you from your will
with your hands on cuffs
and their hands on your neck

You ceaselessly yelled your name
holding on to the only thing they could not take away
your soul, your spirit

No punch, no gun, no word, no force
could keep you from yourself
not even in nakedness inside an evil dark cell of a women’s barrack
not even in the black heart of the empire you were confined in

Because inside, you discovered that you carry a light
a light that remembers infants with hands the size of a thumbnail
a light that knows their conditions are deeper
than typhoid fever, cholera or malaria
it’s being born into poverty and oppression

A light that understands the need for a powerful hand
one that will usher this light and share it to the people
so that the children of our future will bear hands stronger than ours

You refused to betray this light and you brought it to us
while this empire has spent billions and billions to turn you off
to keep most people from knowing or even caring
and keeping many to cower, hide and fall behind

This light would be the force that pushes this movement
for genuine freedom, just peace and true democracy

You won an incredible battle to bring it here
even with the cost of your life
but winning the war needs everyone to carry this light as you did

Beautiful sister, how do you keep glowing?
when you were drugged to your slumber
to wake up blindfolded in absolute darkness
with no sense of time or place
as sentient eyes dwell in the night, watching you
how did you sense hope?
and continue to draw strength from it?

I wonder if I can carry this light like you
would I have done the same if I was taken into oblivion?
would the rest of us have?
will the rest of us do what it takes,
even if it means being where you went?
even worse, involving the people we love?

How much do we truly value freedom peace and democracy
over our individual selves?
how strong can we remain when we’re brought down
to levels we’ve never imagined?
how long can we keep ourselves from madness and corruption?

I wouldn’t know, not even about myself
I want to tell you I will fight like you
but who else is best to tell but my actions?

Your story will carry this struggle
It deserves countless poems and words
it deserves to ring in everyone’s thoughts
to empower those who believe
and to haunt those who want you dead

I will not make a promise
promises are more room for lies
but I will let you know, as I’ve shown before
that I haven’t dodged this struggle

And that I’m willing to be tested
so that one day I may know if I can fight like you

Because your story is nothing but a story
unless we keep it in our hearts
behind every action.



Melissa Roxas is a Filipina-American human rights activist who is a college graduate from the University of California, San Diego. She was on an exposure trip to the Philippines, providing medical aid to local children in need in Tarlac, Luzon. On May 19 2009, she was kidnapped, tortured and interrogated by the Philippine military. She refused to give any further information about herself except for her name. After five days, she was released by the Philippine military as they discovered that she is a US citizen. The Philippine military knew that there would be a huge outrage if she was killed, as different family members and organizations were searching for Melissa's whereabouts and refused to be subtle about it.

Melissa is currently recovering from the incident. She is being supported by many community members and human rights organizations as she pushes to spread the word about political killings and disappearances in the Philippines.

It is no secret that the Philippine government has been eliminating all threats to their operations to control the wealth of the country; even people who are simply serving the citizens with health care and resources because this exposes the government. They have been executing human rights activists, writers, community and religious leaders who choose to raise awareness about them. It gets deeper. The US government is a huge sponsor of the Philippine government. It's not hard to see that the US government is funding the Philippine government because they want to continue their occupation in the Philippines.

The question to ask every reader is, "how much does this reality matter to you?" Should one care, even if this situation does not directly affect him or her? As a US citizen, does it matter much to you if your government taxes are funding another government that is ordered to kill? Should one believe in global reciprocity and our responsibility to each other as humans? Or is this too much for us, as we are needed to stay busy fending for ourselves? Is being informed enough? Are we informed enough? What can a person do? Can our actions really make a difference? Is Melissa just another name whose truth is for us to accept as simply a part of a design? Or is she finally a wake up call for us to realize, "hey, this shit is fucked up!"

For more info, check out this video.

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