Wednesday, March 28, 2012

CROSSING BORDERS

by Linda Bansil

When I was in college my teachers would always tell the class that the real world is harsh , that its not the same with the safety confines of the school. That sooner when we graduate we will be among those who will look for work and that we will lose our idealism and become like everyone. We will be earning bucks for a job done and be consumers like the rest. Not that its a bad thing but being in school grounds the individual to idealism for some period of time (until one moves on to the much dreaded real world they say) . I didn't have to really go far away from the school confines to discover this and it wasn't really that exaggerated except the real world is just much like the world if there is such a thing as another -world.

My thesis in my senior year was about content analysis of violent front -page photographs in local newspapers in Zamboanga City. In the study I had to search around piles and piles of newspapers at the library. I would have never seen so much gory photographs in my life if it weren't for the study I was making , not to mention sorting them according to crime (from stabbing, hacking, shooting , bombing etc.) These photographs were taken for just a 1- year span what more if I used more? . By looking for samples of photos I had to also check all other issues in past years, some of the photos did not even have names of the victims and no story accompaniments. I began to think how lonely it would be to die in a drowning incident and being photographed too. It seemed cruel to be in that photo looking bloated and lifeless, but the photo helped the relatives to identify the victim which was actually helpful and the complete reverse of what I was thinking and then I thought- in the real world this photo helped.

I began to realize that the job of a journalist is not easy one as every topic especially crime related ones will always leave a visual mark in his head perhaps even forever. Maybe I am too soft and maybe these images were already getting into me as I found myself stressed day by day. This stopped however , after I had my final defense and passed. And I swore I will never be a police beat writer and it became a mental mantra of some sort. I wish I knew better.

I worked as a production manager for a cartoon project with the Ateneo shortly after that . I began writing scripts for values education . But a year before this my sister and I began video documenting demolitions when our house was included in a demolition that included 70 families. My mother , who is a Moroccan looked like a homeless statistic in the footage I cannot believe this could be happening. Talk about attracting social issues to my own life and giving the slogan "personal is political"  a brand new meaning . The video with a working title " a year of demolitions" was literally a documentary about one year of demolitions . I learned how demolitions were rampant and how homeless people suffer .Not only that they lose structures or roofs but they also lose their dignity in the process. Much like the shattered window glasses, cemented walls and everything that binded the house together , families also lost their livelihood . But more than this is the effect of demolitions to the children who had to stop school due to this, which is something that cannot be measured. While missed classes is something that can be addressed the psychological trauma caused by seeing homes shattered to pieces is another story.

One day a fire swallowed hundreds of homes in Camino Nuevo in Zamboanga, a friend of mine who lives in a dormitory there went home to her parents and left all her things there. We had to rush to her room to save her things. A day after the people were temporarily sheltered in a nearby school where they could sleep and place the stuff they saved. Losing a home made me more sensitive about others losing theirs.

Days passed , one sunday afternoon we went to look at the area which looked bare and there were wires all over that meant that the people were not allowed to go back there. Long before talks about a demolition was soon on the way according to residents. But there were some families who began building small shelters made of wood and tarpaulin roofs outside of the wire cordon. One of the security guards who was said to be drunk that time started to shoot with his gun. Our jerky camera footages of this incident is a mirror of how we felt , scared to death as we lay on the ground hoping not to be shot at. 


The rights to adequate housing at that moment I thought paled in comparison to the right to life that we were about to lose. But like sea gypsies we knew that this wave is not the strongest and we went on following each demolition as it happened where it happened in the city. Some of the people's suffering that we heard had also a cathartic effect to me personally. I felt losing a home is the most natural thing on earth as I met more and more people with the same predicament. After almost being shot and watching homes upon homes being destroyed I think it somewhat takes a toll.

What would we do after having around 16 rolls of footage and a year of demolition caught on tape? Its just a time to detach to the material. I began doing other things going from one workshop to another radio production , human rights , writing etc. then I packed my bags and left Zamboanga and went to Manila, only to be welcomed by familiar looking fruits in supermarkets. Durian and mangosteen from Sulu grace fruit carts here , at first I thought are these following me? Huh! This one made me smile for what reason I don't know. But I am glad this to me is good news, something better than bombing stories.

My next job is a complete opposite of what I was doing before I am now a front desk staff at a wellness center or day spa, where the sound of serene music fills the air with almost silence from trickling sound of water and birds. An ambiance that spells comfort and luxury and promises an end to aching muscles and joints. I give a run down of wellness services and how to get a total pampering experience to every guest coming in. keeping calm is a great challenge to me, to making sure that to see other people's needs and wants is the center of my attention. I wake up everyday knowing that one of the events to look forward to is guiding a guest toward the new center of the world it seems -the jacussi , steam and sauna.

And like journalism I have to be accurate, brief and credible when I describe a foot therapy, knowing that what I can say has a big effect my listener's decision. Now I have added problem solving skills which includes pacifying guests complaining about ill- fitted bathrobes and towels, not to mention chipped nails. You might think I hated my work for lack of grandeur or excitement or that chipped nails is too small a problem to worry about although I am sure that there are bigger problems elsewhere say Sudan , Ethiopia ,Burma or Mindanao where I came from.

But to me every day is a chance to prove myself, that I am not only capable of documenting problems I can also help in solving them may it be removing stress out of people's lives. My job now was to keep customers satisfied with every visit and make sure that they get de-stressed. I never heard of such a goal before for myself or others. 


Sometimes I think how dedication can lead to almost perfection, not bad even if its just cleaning your own window so you could see the view better. Someday when I meet my teachers again I will tell them that the real world is no different with the ones they warned me about , now I think thats a mix up. There are only two kinds of worlds the safe and unsafe one , and truth for that matter depends on where you stand.

Ah life makes me feel like a hundred year old, but sooner I have to work on editing the demolition footages and find the right venue where it can be viewed. Sooner I have to leave the country to cross a new border to rediscover my mom's roots and my other cultural heritage. When is that I am not sure but  I am sure there will be some mangosteen and durian from Sulu in supermarkets or being carried in the back of camels in the Sahara. 




February 2, 2007 
Allah has a big shiny name
by Linda Bansil

I need a red rose to look at
God made something red without boxes
some of them are yellow too
and white ones for all the mothers who died before

staring at the blue sky I write my name in mysterious clouds
that can be chased by the planes

God made the biggest name
Allahu Akbar
its so big and shiny
its so big and shiny

Its so big and shiny
and its not even gold
-its more
it has diamonds and its real.

I pray to God that if I see him
make my eyes better so I wouldn’t
hurt  these eyes for he is too bright
and his big big one hundred names or 99.





April 2, 2008

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pure Words are tears of the Soul

by Linda Bansil


I would have wanted to be as quiet as the feather falling from air, but I am experiencing life as it unfolds but then its easier to stare at roads when the vehicle is moving and I enjoy not knowing anybody, not touching anything , a solitary passenger uninvolved and thinking . Yes, what makes my day is when the sky tries to darken to my favor, as this makes me excited.  I am very happy when there are dark clouds ahead. I prefer to write  as I need not  be as clear as I can  but I can hide from symbols and become whatever I want to be and that is to be -everybody and anything. I can be an inanimate object and act as if I have a life. More so, I can say something without apologizing or taking it back. I can be as intense as my contradictions and be as extreme without halting . Pure words are tears of the soul. Without it , I die a little and this is without screaming so . This isn't about whining , this is about expressing.






April 2010
Sun and Rain
Linda Bansil


I daresay that the sun had a story
and it said that it was a graceful dancer
until the rain peeled its costume
who dances naked in daylight ?
The sun learns how to be ashamed
The rain made its way to the day
apologizing but not to its nature
how can the rain regret the darkness
as darkness has its own color
a beauty the sun doesn't have




Dew
Linda Bansil


Our lives are as simple as the wind 
that made us into grains of our universe
Tread lightly as if we match the feathers
a smoke that brought us here
Bring us to the lightness of each ray
the sun will not take it against us 
Be pure as if water did not exist 
but let it flow like a dew slowly
as dew cannot be caught 
as it came to be with our sight

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Meeting Johan Galtung

February 9,2009

Last saturday I attended a forum on Peace at the Asian Institute of Management . The speaker came from Norway. His name is Johan Galtung .He is  among the first proponents of the Peace Research . His matrix on peace (especially in peace and conflict journalism ) has made a great impact to bridging the gap between truth and what is so called "truth" in guise of propaganda in the news. I am so glad to meet Johan Galtung (married to a Japanese woman ) reminds me of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. He had many interesting insights about global conflicts.He studied in North America and founded the Oslo Research Institute on Peace . His writings are used around the globe by media practioners,peacemakers,negotiators, academics to name a few. Being there was a profound experience. His matrix as core in the book authored by Jake Llynch and Anabel McGoldrick. 

Some thoughts about how to name Issue makers such as the MILF ,MNLF ,Hamas and the like . Avoid branding them as terrorists , insurgents , separatists or rebels instead use the term "movements" . This will give them a more human face than demonizing them as the "other ", which will make the writer more balanced and non -prejudicial. Galtung also talked about points he got from holy scriptures (Judaeism, Christianity, and Islam).Don't use terms that people or these groups do not use themselves or want to be called , he adds. So, the next time you hear a certain group think about them as movements after all nobody wants to be called a -terrorist. 
Moonless 
by Linda Bansil

wave why don't you find me 
and shove so hard to blind me
more than water than it fills
shade of the sky pour some more
let them wander to the door
drown me before I do it myself
this is a great escape 
I call fear when it shall begin
swallow me up and hit the cliffs 
with your wave
wave don't desert me
you can strangle and hate a fish
but it squirms from within
wave bring me forth
I am lurking at the moonless sky
waiting for the wave



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sands 
by Linda Bansil

I have been walking in the shores and trampled
the sand its been flying in midair 
reaching my eyes until it pained them
and the waves are hitting the stones even harder
as old wounds open up and bleed
teeth clenched they are falling
salty,hot 
painful
its trying to rhyme with the splashes
I hear they were all  imposed by the tides
no more surprises this is my prayer 
no more surprises no mud no stone
no gusty winds , no whispers and hard surfaced stones
reach this cheeks
no more emptiness 
walking in the shores trampled by unforgiving waves
all wrapped up with a series of deceits

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Peaceful sleep
by Linda Bansil

God takes you away 
in the window of my dream
one day it was so vivid 
two bearded men wearing long garbs
come faintly speaking in Arabic
looking for you
but before this 
you said your first lie , father
a lie I haven't heard before
you said "if anyone looks for me say I am not here"
Then you went in the house and hid
These two men came 
looking for you
I say you are not here 
but they come in uninvited, shining dutiful 
They get you  and carry you  in 
your most beautiful 
most peaceful sleep
its a sacrilege to envy your peace
I stay

Monday, March 19, 2012


drift wood 
Linda Bansil


I lay here motionless
withering in despair
clinging on nothing
like a leaf out of its branch 
lost in the sea
breathless, suffocating in mid-air
struggling, withering
waiting to reach the shore
where you are
where the calmness would surface
and lift all these waters away

Sunday, March 18, 2012




Bohe: Sons of the Waves

Samal Palau or commonly known as “Badjaos”, are the second Sea Gypsies in the world. Driven out from the sea considered to be outcasts and the lowest among tribes, meek , vulnerable and displaced. They hail from the Southern parts of the Philippines to escape from conflicts and constant abuse.This is a story about those who found an island of hope they  call " Badjawan Island", a tiny patch of land in Southern Luzon. In this Island 5 badjao boys (Harun, Rasul, Manel, Jamil and Carding) save the day . They learn from elders the value of mangroves and plan to save their island from sinking due to harsh weather and other man-made causes.  Lacking the money to buy the needed seedlings and frustrated they decide to steal them at the sanctuary. Little did they know what they are about to lose. Will these seedlings become their trees of hope or will this be an elusive dream for a stable home far from the conflict which drove them away. 


Directed by : Nadjoua Bansil
Asst. Director: Linda Bansil
Screenplay: Mary Honeylin Alipio
Cinematography: Paul S. Ignacio
Video Editor/ Sound: John Marx Diego
Sound Engineer: Mohammed "DJ Medmessiah" Bansil
Interpreter: Faridha Jahra Maulad

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Akin ang buwan
by Linda Bansil


Huwag magtaka kung di mo masilayan ang buwan ngayong gabi
nahihimbing ito sa aking kwarto at nagtatampo sa mga kapitbahay


A camel's journey


Linda Bansil
There's a camel which tracks traversed the desert 
to make such a lovely picture of it's feet
shaping a hundred rainbows the sun was glad
the soft sands never forget











fishball
Linda Bansil

kapag ako'y nalulungkot 
iniihahagis 
ko ang sulat mo sa dagat
upang dahan-dahan itong 
lumubog
na sinasalubong ng buhangin
inaaantay na lamunin ng isda 
ang iyong mga salita 
upang maglakbay ito 
at mahuli ng mangingisdang
magbebenta sa intsik
sa intsik na factory ay hahaluan ng arina
at ibebenta ng mamang may kariton
na piniprito ang bolang sinawsaw 
sa sukang may paminta
paminta at sibuyas 
at sa iyong pagkagat ay maalala 
at magunita ang ating alaala
na tatawirin mo ang dagat pabalik 
sa atin. 

Monday, March 05, 2012



7000
Philippines 

by Linda Bansil

Just today I woke up
from the sounds of choppers
flying above our pathetic roof
these I know is the third coming
of green monkeys .....brutes

They never consulted me
An easy wizzy cold prey
now I am reduced by these choppers
these choppers will be chopped
bravely and unwisely motivated
by these drastic looking men in green
but we here, are people too
before we acquire the deficiency
syndrome to understand
leave our bushes....in peace.


Bayani Magazine 
January 2005 Issue
  




clip art from clkr.com