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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

Archive for the Philippines Category

Interview on KPFK Pacifica Radio

March 17th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 2 Comments »

On Monday, March 17, Emmy-Award winner Lila Garrett aired her interview with me on her popular radio show, “Connect the Dots,” on Pacifica Radio’s KPFK about US military activities in the Philippines and Guam.

Click here to hear the 20-minute interview, which aired in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. I am the second guest, minutes 28 through 45. Lila named me her Grassroots Hero of the Week, but that honor really belongs to the women and men who are fighting every day to regain their families and countries. I was honored to meet them.

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Good Morning, America

February 26th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 6 Comments »

“Yes, I sued the president today,” said lawyer Harry Roque. Having sued my own president, I was quite impressed. “But we’ve impeached her before,” he added dismissively.
pict0077_16.JPGOur delegation is here at a propitious time: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, or GMA, as she’s referred to by the acronym-dropping Filipinos, is in trouble. Her administration got caught in a scandal while courting the Chinese government. Thousands of people marched in the streets earlier this month protesting graft and corruption, and several demonstrations were held today during the national holiday celebrating the end of the Marcos regime. (more…)

Maneuvering Manila

February 26th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 1 Comment »

I paid for the bus ride – the spinal adjustment was free. For an hour and a half, my bus driver played out a staccato rhythm between the horn and the accelerator, whiplashing drowsy passengers in a choreographed wave.
The public transport through Manila is not for the faint of heart – or spine. Jeepneys, tricycles, shared vans and air con and ordinary price buses all compete in one snarled sea of exhaust.

Buses feature impressive young fare collectors who surf the aisle, making change and small talk, dispensing tickets and directions, leaving the driver’s attention to bullying a path through the laneless traffic. (more…)

Category: , Philippines


February 25th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 3 Comments »

“She wanted to fly so high, she could see all the people on earth,” Dina Valencia says of her daughter. Six-year-old Crizel died eight years ago today from leukemia likely caused by the toxic wastes the US left behind when it formally closed Clark Air Base.
Crizel leaves behind a portfolio of vibrant drawings of psychedelic butterflies, floating hearts, lush flowers and dancing vegetables. Her mother thumbs through a scrapbook of Crizel’s artwork, proudly showing off her daughter’s colorful spirit.
She also leaves behind a year of painful memories for one frantic mother and a legacy of media interviews as the face of the impact of American military presence in the Philippines. (more…)

Maraming Salamat

February 18th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 1 Comment »

Thank you to the Eurotel Hotel in Manila, and especially to manager Heidi, for making me feel so welcome. Your generous spirit and comfortable rooms made my work in Manila much more successful! 523-5164

Category: , Philippines

“No Money, No Honey”

February 16th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 1 Comment »

I spent this Valentine’s evening exploring Fields Avenue, the seedy, glittery red light district outside the now closed Clark Air Force Base. Paunchy white men wearing Hawaiian shirts pulled as tightly over their tummies as the spandex skirts that cling to the upper thighs of their young Filipina escorts strut the rutted streets.

The scene is so ubiquitous, I have to get a photo. One man, white pony-tail trailing down his black t-shirt that reads No Money, No Honey, refuses my request and invites me instead to join his date at the Atlantis, where he’ll take my photo. I politely decline.
But Galvin from Australia, positions himself under an overhead light for me, joking, “Oh, National Geographic!” as he poses with his date, Rose. “I have a daughter named Kelly,” he enthuses, putting his arm proprietarily around my waist after I introduce myself. She must be so proud of you at this moment, I think, inching away from him and turning my attention to the beaming young woman holding her wrapped Valentine’s roses like Miss Universe.

Hustling starts early on Fields Avenue. A girl not more than six or seven pursues me for half a block to buy her roses. “They will still be the same color tomorrow,” she says seductively, grazing my elbow. How does a girl so little know how to be so suggestive? (more…)

Brother Arrested to Silence Sister’s Activism

February 13th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 5 Comments »

She starts dispassionately, telling her story that she has retold time and time again: “There were four men who entered my house by jumping over the fence. I looked through the window and saw a man wearing a white T-shirt and brown shorts. He held up a gun and told me to open the door. They entered the house, all four of them, looking for Lenie.”
Lenie is Lolita Robiños’ daughter, her “activist” daughter.

She didn’t know these men, “but if I ever saw them again, I’d know them.” (more…)

“I Don’t Have Anything Left to be Afraid Of”

February 11th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 5 Comments »

“My father was taken in broad daylight!” says Lorena Santos, who was 24 at the time. “He was abducted in northern Mindanao. It was 10:00 in the morning, while he was walking across the street.” That was February 19, 2007, a year ago next week.

Leo Velasco was 53.pict0271_4.JPG

“A van stopped abruptly in front of him and men threw him into the van. At first, it was two men, but he struggled, and so more men came,” Santos, whose friends call Aya, reports. “These accounts came from witnesses: a security guard at a building and a cigarette vendor from whom my father had just bought cigarettes. Immediately, the car sped away.”

“That was the last time anyone saw him,” she says softly. Steely. She’s told this story before. (more…)

Aboard the Lady of Good Voyage

February 11th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

The weekly ferry from Puerto Princesa to Coron is much bigger than I expected. And safer. I was patted down twice, an eager dog declared my bags acceptable, and I passed through an airport-style X-ray and several ticket inspections.

I chose the cheapest ticket – 834 pesos ($22, about $80 cheaper than the biweekly flight) – non-air conditioned, non-food – and was met with surprise by the cheery Super Ferry man who shuttled me aboard and assumed I’d be in the air-conditioned orange section.
Instead, I’m up on the top red deck, lying on the top bunk in open-sided, airy quarters. It’s a pleasant, overcast day and the seabreeze is gentle. Downstairs, in the more expensive air-con section, people lie cramped in their windowless bunks. Cheap prevails!

But, then, a familiar, annoying sound breaks through the TV showing cartoons and the loudspeakers playing soft rock.


Roosters! Who ferries roosters? And where are they in the evacuation pecking order? Women and roosters first?
John Martinez ferries roosters. Three of them. He’s on leave from the Navy and heading back to his province outside Coron, bearing breeding roosters he hopes will bear even more roosters. The birds are in marked boxes with air holes; their feathers crest through the cardboard cracks. Box after crowing box tantalizingly line the boat’s railing. I fantasize about fowl play.

There’s a restaurant downstairs that serves fairly unappealing beef in gravy over rice, hot bowls of boxed soup and dumplings the size of baseballs. And there’s a cell phone charging station on each deck. More text messages are sent in the Philippines than anywhere else in the world, I’m told repeatedly. Even my Super Ferry reservation was conveyed via text message from the Super Ferry office clerk to some unseen centralized operator. Filipinos are aghast that I’m traveling without a cell phone, textless and alone.

I spend an uneventful day sleeping, reading and writing…and wondering where the roosters roost in Coron.

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Category: , Philippines

Puerto Princesa Diving Something to Crow About

February 9th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 1 Comment »

Word got out: Every rooster in Puerto Princesa knows where I live and feels an obligation to greet me. Whoever said roosters “cock-a-doodle-do” romanticizes. They have a forlorn, throaty err-erer-er-EEEERRRRRRRR that is contagious to every other rooster like a gargling cough among phlegmy old ladies. And they feel the need to serenade me, continuously, from 4:00 in the morning. (more…)

Category: , Philippines
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