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Rapture and Angelica

MANILA, Philippines—If you’re reading this, then the world did not end yesterday or early this morning.

Yesterday, the Jimenez clan held another of its weekend “Flores de Mayo” gatherings at the small farm and resort of my cousin Liselle and her husband Jay Santillan in Tanay. You wouldn’t think we were facing Armageddon as we feasted on a lunch prepared by the Pascual and Santillan branch of the clan, and even went home toting baskets of farm produce and special patis that Jay’s family manufactures in Malabon.

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Over lunch, we talked about what we would do if the world was indeed coming to an end. As is usual among our fun-loving clan, we ended up thinking of pleasures to indulge in—food being first on the list, followed by sex—until someone reminded us that we should all probably seek penance afterwards from my brother Father Boboy before facing Our Maker. And to think this ribald conversation was taking place under the loving gaze of Mama Mary, whose image has been with the clan since before the war.

Father Boboy himself talked about the so-called “rapture” that was supposed to take place and reminded us that there were many ways of achieving “rapture” or unity of body and spirit even if the Day of Judgment wasn’t approaching. And one such instance of “rapture,” he said, would be gatherings like our “Flores” weekends, drawing together several generations of the clan who gather from all points of the metropolis during May to continue a tradition started by my Lola Pacita in Bohol.

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LAST SUNDAY, May 15, we celebrated the “Flores” in quite a unique manner, with a “benefit dinner” prepared by my cousin Loy Jimenez followed by a mini-concert by three young scholars of the Philippine Opera Company.

The dinner and show were meant to raise funds for the construction of a chapel in Barangay Tuyom in Carcar, Cebu which the Ebisa brothers—Father Bobby, Father Loy and Keno—are spearheading. In the years we have known him, Father Bobby, a member of the Divine Word community like Father Boboy and general manager of Radio Veritas Asia, has become a true friend of the family, ever ready, willing and able to help out with any member of the clan in need. It was the least we could do to “pass the hat” and help finish the chapel.

What made the evening even more special was the performance of the three young singers: Camille Tecson, Bryan Correa and Hanna Laurel who enchanted us with numbers drawn not just from the classic repertoire (including kundimans) or Broadway musicals, but even from pop tunes and ditties. The three had also performed previously in Cebu for a bigger dinner-fund raiser for the chapel.

Maybe you could say everyone that night achieved “rapture,” too. And all for a good cause!

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IN RELATION to a story about “Angelica,” an OFW presently confined in a prison in Dubai, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ed Malaya wrote to clarify some issues raised about Angelica’s case and what government agencies, including the DFA, had been doing for her.

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In the interest of fairness, here’s Malaya’s letter:

We wish to clarify some issues regarding (an) overseas Filipino worker named Angelica, whose plight was referred to in your column last 11 May 2011 (“Missing Hillary and helping Angelica”).

We certainly appreciate your focus on gender issues, and join you in the advocacy to provide better protection and equal opportunities for women. Thus, we here at the DFA and in our 94 Embassies and Consulates General around the world work hard in ensuring that the rights and welfare of Filipino nationals overseas are well protected, particularly women who are more vulnerable to abuse.

Even before Angelica’s story was reported in media, the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai was already extending assistance to her. Consulate personnel constantly visit her in jail, follow up on her case with local authorities and continually work for her release. She is also aided by counsel and assisted by Consulate representatives in her court hearings.

As she confirmed with Consulate officials, an Iranian she met (at) a party in December 2010 took advantage of her, and called in another Iranian posing as a police officer who also took liberties with her.

Her money, phone and camera were taken by these two malefactors, and she was told by the bogus police officer that she can claim them at a police station. What is tragic is that when she went to the police station, she was taken into custody on immorality charges, for being with adult male individual/s not her husband or relative, which is strictly prohibited under local laws.

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HOWEVER, THE media reports that she continues to be raped while in detention is not true. Angelica herself denied that before Consulate officers and family members whom she later spoke to. Consulate officials have reasons to believe her, as it is also highly unlikely that anyone will be sexually abused in that particular prison. Female detainees have separate sections from male detainees, are guarded and supervised by an all-female prison staff, and the facility itself abounds with security cameras.

Angelica’s case has progressed along. The Iranian who posed as a police officer was apprehended and is currently in jail, while authorities are hot in pursuit of the other Iranian malefactor. Angelica is facing charges, but a court verdict is expected soon. Immorality offenses usually carry a penalty of three to six months imprisonment.

Even if the expected penalty is relatively light, it is not right that she is where she is at present. Thus, our Consulate in Dubai has been working double time to secure her release, and continually prod local authorities on the apprehension of the other suspect and both their prosecutions to answer for their dastardly crimes.

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TAGS: Angelica, Family, Flores de Mayo, OFW, overseas Filipino worker
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