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Partera Blog

The Torturer and the Tortured

2 years ago

Frank Chikane was a member of the South African Council of Churches when the system known as apartheid separated out the races …


Worlds Colliding

5 years ago

Author’s note:  October 2012.  While a lot of time is spent in training sessions, it is important to me to do the …


Worlds Colliding

6 years ago

Author’s note:  October 2012.  While a lot of time is spent in training sessions, it is important to me to do the …


Violences and Counter-violences: Postcard #5 from the Philippines

6 years ago

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the Philippines’ civil war. In tonight’s dinner conversation with a former leader of the New People’s Army, I hear some things I did not know before. I think I’m from a part of the world that, when People Power got rid of Marcos and his well-shod wife and the much-loved, sainted Cory took over, all was well. And we quit paying attention for awhile. My dinner companions cite one statistic after another to make their point: Cory was in many ways was as obedient a puppet of U.S. interests as her predecessor ever was.

Corazon Aquina thwarted as many bills meant to rein in U.S. plunder; extrajudicial killings escalated sharply, with more journalists killed during her years in power than during Marcos; it was her military on her orders who fired on a march of peasant farmers demanding real agrarian reform, killing 13 of them outside the gates of Malacañang a year into her presidency.


The Games of Life: Postcard from the Philippines #4

6 years ago

I awaken to the early morning sounds of garbage removal workers outside my window. From the sitting room of the CPU hostel, I look out the window to see men in overalls tipping the week’s rubbish into large open containers on wheels, expecting to see amongst the driveway détritus the emaciated and bloodied corpse of one of the gang of felines engaged in the caterwauling Malthusian struggle of the early evening hours. The air remains heavy from last night’s downpour, which likely put an end to the growling, screaming cacophony below. The clothes I hung last night to dry on my jute clothesline, strung from one grated window to another, have barely lost a drop of their moisture through the night.


Ankle Walks and Village Games: Postcard #3 from the Philippines

6 years ago

1 October, Part II
The site of the training is a short tuk-tuk ride from the pension house. It becomes clear as we begin that there is a diversity of languages in the room. We spend some time trying to figure out which – Tagalog, Ilonggo, Cebuano or Subanon – is common to all. Even the young Subanon women can get by with Cebuano, so that’s what we go with. Faustino, a veteran of our 2009 training and a Subanon pastor, is pressed into translating.
Entire days are spent in economic literacy training, interrogating all of the proffered justifications for violence or conflict – tribe, religion, history, culture, politics; though all are factors and drive violence, it is economics we discover at the root of all the stories.


Return to Mindanao: Postcard #2

6 years ago

The rain is pouring down, obscuring the passing landscape. Our minibus roars its way first along the coastal road, where sunshine earlier displayed the waters of the Sulu Sea and the modest Nipa leaf-thatch-and-bamboo-slat huts of fisher families. I think of their Sri Lankan neighbours whose homes, of undoubtedly similar construction, and livelihoods and, for tens of thousands, their lives, were washed away with the tsunami of Christmas 2004.
Now we are climbing, wending our way through a wet green landscape of palms, bamboo forests and rice paddies in various stages on the way to harvest, punctuated occasionally by the large brown-black hulk of a carabao, the bovine workhorse of this part of the world. The driver reduces speed but ramps up the horn-honking as we pass through village after village of colourful houses, shops, tuk-tuks, flapping clotheslines and uniformed school-children caught in the downpour.


Civil War Show & Tell: Postcard from the Philippines #1

6 years ago

In the centre of the large room, there is a small table, draped in the colourful weaves of the east Pacific. A Bible is open and a candle is lit. Amidst the folds of the cloth is the image of a woman, carved of dark brown Acacia from here, the Philippine Island of Panay. She is kneeling, her lower body wrapped in the indigenous skirts of the Visayas. Her hands cover her eyes, perhaps in tears, perhaps in prayer. Her naked breasts lie atop the protruding belly of an expectant mother. Though I have given her an African name – Emzarah, meaning Mother of all life, she is from here. And this is a group in labour.


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