REMEMBERING THE FALLEN | 32 black pens with red ribbons were offered by members of the Negros media last year at the Marker for the Fallen Journalists at the Bacolod City Public Plaza to remember members of the press who were killed in the November 23 Ampatuan Massacre | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles

(This was the article written November 2010 by Julius Mariveles who was then president of the Negros Press Club during the first year commemoration of the Ampatuan Massacre. We are re-posting this on the celebration today of World Press Freedom Day. Let us not forget!)

It used to be lonely dirt road, narrow and winding, stretching several kilometers to the place of the carnage, the last leg of the Ampatuan 58’s ascent to hell.

Days before the massacre, a digging equipment that has now become a symbol of the killing was seen making its way through the trail that had once served as solitary road for carabaos and other four-legged creatures.

And days before the bloodbath, two-legged beasts, monsters thirsty for blood, could have surveyed the place, choosing it for its near-seclusion.

They could have lain in wait for days, weeks and only this trail, once wet by blood, now sanctified by tears and prayers, had seen them.

But weeks before the commemoration, it was paved, widened to almost thrice its size to give way to the lumbering Humvees and Fortuners of the new rulers of Maguindanao and their friends who were to climb the hill where Reginald Dalmacio’s sister, Leah, and 57 others were killed.

“I could not forget the stench when I got there,” he said in a matter of fact way, recalling the first time he went to the massacre site November 24 last year to identify Leah.

“I had a few bottles that night and while I was heading home, I passed by the neighbourhood toughies at the basketball court and they were looking at me in a strange way, they looked sad,” he said.

“When I got home, my mother was hunched over, she was crying; patay na si Ate mo (your sister is dead),” he recalled but the thought “did not sink in at first.”

It used to be a lonely dirt road, leading to the hilltop where a tree used to grow, a mute witness to the unspeakable horror that took place.

But even that tree is gone now. It was cut when the trail was widened so the lumbering Humvees, Fortuners and motorbikes could park on the gravesites where the victims were dug up.

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About Hannah|JuliusMariveles

English instructor and broadcast journalist



  1. 😦 What’s the development now, sir?

    Posted by Movie Lover | October 23, 2011, 2:57 pm
  2. Napakasakit naman ng pagkakasulat… sanay mabigyan ng hustisya ang nangyari.

    Posted by Anna May | October 23, 2011, 3:14 pm
  3. the ampatuans r 2 powerful. don’t think justice will came soon. great read. heartbraking fotos… sir…

    Posted by Tin2 D | October 25, 2011, 5:05 am
    • Thanks, Tin2. I hope to be back there this November. The Ampatuans are still powerful. No doubt about that. I hope that it is not only the community of journalists who will move for the attainment of justice for the victims but everyone. I hope people will realize that the killing of journalists is something that should concern them, too. Enjoy the long weekend ahead of you and hope to see you often here. 🙂

      Posted by Hannah|JuliusMariveles | October 25, 2011, 6:47 am
  4. Sir, ask lang why wala po kayong watermark sa fotos u. Kasi po ang gaganda ng kuha, baka kunin ng walang paalam.. tanung lang po. by the way, gandang-ganda ako sa pics. bibisita ako dito olweiyz… salamat!

    Posted by RickY | October 25, 2011, 5:26 am
  5. My favorite professor once told the class that due process of law is one reason why there is minimal progress in the case of the Ampatuans because it protects the rights of the accused.. I thought about it, how can due process of law be so useful for the rich and powerful but when the poor ones need it, it seems to be nonexistent?

    Posted by meCOLEE | October 25, 2011, 12:29 pm
    • One of the private prosecutors in this case once told me and several other journalists that a skilled lawyer knows how to delay by exhausting remedial measures. And that is actually legal. But if it will help in the speedy disposition of justice, apparently it does not. You are really right there, Mecolee. Justice is not really blind, as they would like us to believe. It does have a class bias. It has contempt for the poor and looks with favor on the rich. We’re happy to see you here again. 🙂

      Posted by Hannah|JuliusMariveles | October 25, 2011, 1:37 pm

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