Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Tribute to My Loving Brother JONJON and a Fight for Justice!

My loving brother, Roberto Cruz Jr, 38 year old and father of five kids, bravely fought for his life for more than four hours and slowly bled out to death last June 9, 2014 at 5:20 am at the Malolos Provincial Hospital (Bulacan Medical Center).

(a heartfelt special video tribute made by "bunso" our youngest brother to celebrate the life of his kuya.. It took him several days to finish this video tribute.. Your kuya loves you so much bunso..)

    *kuya - term of endearment for older brother in the Philippines

He met his tragic death as a direct consequence of multiple and unfortunate series of event: 
  1. From the traitors and heartless cold-blooded killers who denied his future existence with multiple gun shots fired right at his own home
  2. From the absence of rescue operation starting from the immediate Barangay  (Marungko, Angat, Bulacan) who denied immediate rescue support to the absence of immediate response from the local PNP of Angat; 
  3. From the five hospitals who turned him away without providing adequate medical assistance or first aid; and 
  4. From the poor handling, insensitive, and lack of appropriate medical intervention of the last government hospital who finally admitted him but made despicable remarks and conscious disregard of the substantial needs of my brother in his critical condition. 
My brother was struggling and fighting to live! He was taken to various hospitals using barangay vehicle and accompanied by the Barangay Sulucan Tanod rescue and his live-in partner. Unfortunately, he never receive compassion from some heartless medical personnel who turned away a patient in critical condition without first aid or proper referral:
  1. Sto. Nino, Hospital in Bustos [private] - (this is the place where my brother was born which made my mom really emotionally devastated) She came back there and ranted at the nurse station... I could almost experience her cries and pain...
  2. Castro Hospital in Baliwag [private] (where my parents and grandparents seek for hospitalization services) who turned him away for having no surgeon on duty (The surgeon-on-call, also our parents doctor, later disclosed that he wasn't completely informed about it. He claimed he was very much willing and ready to attend to his medical needs. How ironic!)
  3. Marcelo Hospital in Baliwag [private] - the first hospital who provided initial first aid upon my request (I was pleading as I got opportunity to speak on the attending nurse on the mobile phone) They sent him off to the next hospital for they claimed not to have the facility including the required surgeon)
  4. Our lady of Grace in Pulilan [private] - (where my cousin serves as a nurse but was off duty that night; her nurse colleague-on-duty told her that should she have known he was her cousin,she should have made arrangements to contact a surgeon, isnt that more painfully ironic?);
  5. Plaridel Hospital [Government]- (Again I have the opportunity to speak on the phone as I was already hysterical-on-the-phone begging for mercy to the nurse-on-duty to transfer him on an ambulance with medical staff to take him to East Avenue in Manila) but instead they decided to bring him to the Bulacan instead for immediate blood transfusion since the Red Cross blood bank is in Malolos.
  6. Bulacan Medical Center in Malolos [Government]- At first, the hospital personnel refused to take him complaining the absence of referral from Plaridel hospital. They finally admitted him at 3:35 AM but the hospital personnel kept on complaining for lack of referral. My mother immediately sought necessary requirements for immediate blood transfusion.. Unfortunately, he died at the emergency room without any blood transfusion at 5:20 AM.. My younger brother witnessed how his kuya Jonjon died fighting for his last breath. He saw his Kuya's tears falling from his eyes... 
One Tragic Night.

I received a text message from my brother’s live-in partner at 1:07 AM, July 9, 2014, that he sustained multiple gunshot wounds. She allegedly called for help and sought police and barangay assistance but she claimed to no avail. From Manila, my sister and I made immediate contacts and strategic calls and even explored facebook messages for emergency assistance from nearby friends in the area. After what almost seems like an eternity of pleading for help, we were able to secure rescue assistance from the nearby barangay which is also our original home barangay (Sulucan, Angat, Bulacan).

The barangay rescue from Sulucan recalled how immediate Barangay Tanods from Marungko refused to help them move my brother to their rescue cab citing fear of "obstruction of justice" from the Angat Police who did not arrive at the scene of crime. It will only take not more than 15 minutes by private car from Angat to reach my brother's apartment. (please note that my brother is ALIVE and there is NO obstruction of justice by saving a person's life!!!

It took almost 45 minutes before he was taken to the hospital. From then, my brother suffered more blood lost being passed around in five different hospitals who turned him away without providing adequate medical assistance, proper referral or immediate first aid. Was it really the lack of surgeon or limited facilities even among private hospitals which boast of its advance facilities? or is it more like avoiding potential court cases by admitting such patient as insinuated by the accompanying Sulucan barangay rescue team? 

My brother fought for survival for more than four hours until he slowly bled out to death last July 9, 2014. He died at the emergency room of the sixth tertiary hospital who finally admitted him but neglected to provide him immediate blood transfusion and appropriate medical intervention from 3:35 A.M. to 5:20 A.M.!  It seems as if he was only admitted at face value BUT THERE WAS REALLY NO INTENTION OF HELPING HIM SURVIVE!!! 

Ironically, among my brother's last few words when he was shot were "Mhei, bakit nila ako Binaril? Bakit nila ako binaril?" at "Ospital, Ospital!" as recounted by their neighbors. In his desperate moments, he even asked his youngest son to seek for our mother and bring him to the Hospital. 

His 5 year old son, Payoy, shared his post traumatic experience of how his daddy instructed him to seek help to "Mama" (their grandmother) and bring him to the hospital.   Payoy recounted how he was holding the hand of his 3 year old baby sister reminding her what their dad said about safely walking in the street while looking for mama. I found it ironic that my brother was left without a choice but to seek help from his very young children for survival... I can only imagine the traumatic experience of witnessing a bloody incident especially from a 5 year old boy who took it upon his shoulder means to ask help for his father's survival. 

According to our younger brother, his kuya Jonjon remained strong. He can even managed to walk and talk, giving his usual "thumbs up" sign to reassure him throughout the painstaking process of seeking appropriate medical intervention. Jonjon even walk and stand at the xray room. His vital signs were ok. I was monitoring calls to my friend whom I called to go with the rescue team. We were assured my brother will survive given the presence of a surgeon which was the reason cited earlier by hospitals for his non-admission. He was finally admitted at the last hospital at 3:35 AM. He doesn't deserve to die at the emergency room waiting for the right intervention until 5:20 AM!

When Jonjon was admitted at the hospital (3:35 AM), the doctor said "masama ang lagay ng kapatid mo, pwedeng matigok na iyan" or "you're brother looks bad, he will likely die." (matitigok is a very insensitive termed used for dying) My accompanying younger brother, Jomar, responded "Gawin nyo muna po ang magagawa nyo at pakibilis lang po kasi baka maubusan ng dugo." Jomar noticed that the doctor responded with a display of arrogance and insensitivity. There was no sense of urgency every time he made pleas for follow up medical intervention call.

Jonjon was still communicating to our younger brother (Jomar) who kept on pleading for follow-up for medical intervention. Jomar was pleading emotionally for pain medications and blood transfusion for his kuya but hospital staff were hardly paying attention saying there was no doctor’s advice. Jomar even offered his own blood (he have the same blood type with kuya Jonjon) but the doctor only smirked and said "hindi basta-basta yan, kailangan ng testing dyan" ("that's not just done that way, you need to test your blood") My brother responded "then test my blood just give my brother blood transfusion."

From time to time, our younger brother would go to his kuya Jonjon to give him assurance that everything would be fine, that the entire family were there and that he was receiving medical interventions just to strengthen his kuya.

He then saw the blood pack intended for his kuya. He immediately followed up but they responded again there was no doctor's advice. They only came to him when they were prompted to provide him CPR as he was already going through his last breath experiencing cardiac arrest. When my younger brother asked for a defibrillator (shock machine) to revive his kuya Jonjon, the doctor simply smirked at him saying "Wala kami dito non at hindi iyon basta-basta ginagamit iyon" or "We dont have it here, It's not being simply used."

Why??? no defibrillator on a tertiary hospital??? I am really so furious upon learning this from my brother.

My brother may have cheated death with multiple gunshot wounds but he slowly bled out for hours. He died at the emergency room of a tertiary hospital waiting for appropriate medical intervention. They did not even bother to provide him a blanket when he was cold... but they provided him one to cover his expired body...

Jonjon left us with so many questions regarding what really transpired and caused him this agonizing and cruel death. The last time I talked with my brother, he told me he was preparing for his medical requirements to go back to Saudi. He even hugged me with his sweetest smile and kissed me on the cheek while reminding me about taking care of my health... and how he wanted me to have my own family like him... I miss you so much my loving brother...

(Jonjon with our loving mama... He loves mama so much.. he was the kind of son who will always hug, kiss and say I love you to my parents. Whether it is good or bad days, he will always end up hugging and loving us.. there is no one like you my dearest brother...)

On the day before he was brutally shot, he spent long hours with my mother, sharing about his activity to report the next day to his agent for another Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) contract in Saudi. They spent long time at our swing sharing his future plans for his kids and what he wanted to buy for my mother when he goes back to Saudi. He talked about good times and rough times and so many other things until he left our place around 8pm. My mother can't hardly believe it will be the last time he will share bonding stories with his first born son...

Why??? Why did you kill our brother?? Why did you kill his future and the future of having a loving father to his five children?? Why did you kill the love he have for his family?? 

WHO ARE YOU TO DECIDE THE FATE OF A PERSON'S LIFE??? Will you feed his family? Will you give the same love and dedication to his five children??? You OWE these kids their future with a loving father to guide them..

(My brother's skype video recording with his children on Christmas day while in Saudi Arabia working for two years as a Cook. He took multiple jobs to support his 5 kids including cooking Filipino foods on special occasions, personal image sketching work and many other odd jobs so he can send special gifts to all of us...)

(When he returned from Saudi, the first thing he wanted to do was to bring his five kids to a movie date. He then asked me to take pictures of them. I was a happy witness to their father-children bonding moments ...)

My brother is not perfect but he is not a bad person. I have always admired him for his humility in accepting and apologizing for his mistakes. My brother has been a living testimony of how a person can change for the better... His life struggles wasn't easy but he persevered and strived harder to become a better person. I have always been proud of his achievements from being a hard working OFW in Saudi until he reached for his dream working at a cruise ship in Australia. He has been been an inspiration especially to his younger cousins on how to strive for their dreams.  My loving brother does not deserve this cruel death!

(He have always dreamed of becoming a seafarer like our father. His life was never easy but he persevered even with so many difficulties and discouragements, he endured all challenges and finally land a job in an Australian based cruise ship... We were so proud of him.. and we miss him so much...)

Jonjon, you are our greatest cook (next to Mama), our most affectionate, sweet and loving sibling, our artist, our loving Jonjon. 

(Just months before the tragic incident, he have been thinking about his first love as an artist. He is great with painting, drawing, molding, and even creating house furniture!...)

You are a loving father to your kids.. You don’t deserve to die this way, you don’t deserve dying without a fighting chance for survival. You have proven until your last breath your love for us, fighting and still trying to cheat death to be with us…

We love you Jonjon… I share your many hopes and dreams for yourself and your kids...

I am not prepared for your untimely death. I cannot accept how you died with cruelty, poor rescue efforts and lack of compassion from expected rescue and medical intervention. These cruel system... these people also killed you. It is so painful to find out on my way that you were gone.. I was assured you’re going to live but now you are gone…

I am appealing and pleading for help, both personal and systemic, to address issues of injustice, lack/absence of effective rescue coordination, access to appropriate medical and gender sensitive intervention. Let all the individuals and families who experience these unfortunate situations come together. Let us work and address these challenges of keeping our family safe and restoring our faith in humanity! 

Those who have good heart to help raise educational funds for his five children. please support us through the fundraising link established by our loving cousin Chachung ... Those who have lead information for these criminals or to those kindhearted advocates to assist our fight for social justice, I plead for your help.. 

Thank you very much for taking time to read this post.. May God bless your heart and keep you and your loved ones safe from this worldly dangers and harm. Amen.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pro-active & Preventive Measures for School Security & Shooting Incidents

I feel troubled and sad for what happen *always happen :( *  to vulnerable students and teachers when a psychopath decided to take over another person's world as his/her own. There are many things to talk about -- from the point of view of parental duty to raise healthy kids, school security and disaster management, state obligation and related policies, to crafting community based solution towards addressing this crisis.
Since its been a recurring incident, I think its high time that US also became more vigilant with a preventive scheme of managing incidence of classroom related violence.
I recently emailed my cousin exploring possibilities of how her group can come up with creative pedagogies with the end goal of creating classroom schemes/ set up for emergency and disaster management such as these recurring shooting incidents. In the same principle that we prepare for natural disaster to save lives, preparing for classroom emergency and disaster plan should also be kept in mind. 
I'm sure this is not the first time people talk about it. However, recurring incidents also tells us there is probably a need to revisit and evaluate guidelines towards a more wholistic and integrative approach to school security and disaster management.
Instead of being reactive and looking for a place to seek cover/conceal, maybe there is also a need to redesign the classroom setup with emergency rooms/space and emergency buttons as signal for others on what to do. Final security design should remain confidential information for school authorities. These recommendations can be done through a participatory problem assessment workshop and creative objective setting which can be initiated by a collaboration of national security machinery, school authorities and CSO with the same capacity. The idea is to cascade these security preventive measures/guidelines to every school.
Creative pedagogies help a lot in terms of processing emergency crisis especially among traumatized children. We can learned a lot from the experiences of managing children-in-conflict situation.
Thank you for taking time reading my spontaneous thoughts. I just need to think about something... other than feeling traumatized for witnessing how beautiful lives became wasted when a personal crisis ends with a deadly tragedy through a single act of violence. Again, these actions can also be attributed to the bigger issue of perpetuating intergenerational reproduction of gender inequalities. 

I share my moment of silence and prayers to the grieving families and all victims of violence.

Friday, July 31, 2009

In Solidarity with Tita Cory

You will be lovingly remembered by the Filipino community, President Corazon Aquino. You have not only helped us restore our once lost democratic rights but also continue to fight tyranny till the very end. Thank you for sharing yourself to the Filipino community. We will continue the good fight in solidarity with the basic sectors in our society.

A Grand Salute and a Warm Applause to the Woman who brought a different meaning to the color of democracy in our beloved country!

*Former President Corazon Cojuanco Aquino passed away at the age of 76 from cardio-respiratory arrest at exactly 3:18 a.m. today at the Makati Medical Center. She has been diagnosed with colon cancer early in 2008. For the first time in our history, the Filipino nation expressed an outpouring prayer support for the healing of Tita Cory. More than just a nation's President, Tita Cory is a family to the Filipino people. We will truly miss you Tita Cory...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Not a Victim, But a Hero!

Its been a year now after my last blog.

But when I read the story of Assiya in Newyork times, I felt I have to spread the word. This is the least I can do to support her lifetime cause for justice which I knew will move beyond her time. What you will read below is an adaptation from the nytimes article written by Nicholas Kristof.

Assiya was kidnapped at the age of 16 where she endured a year of rapes and beatings from two men. These two men happend to be implicated in a gold robbery so they negotiated a deal with the police where they handed over Assiya along with a $625 bribe. They agreed to frame her on the gold robbery.

When she was finally turned over to the police, Assiya she was repeatedly raped again by four policemen including the chief police. When her family learned about her situation, they appealed for her release on court. The court granted their petition and sent a bailiff to get her out. However, the police tried to hide her and even locked up her 10 year old brother to harass the family.

After a series of threats and negotiations and bribery, the bailiff decided to free her. Her freedom outside the prison is just but a mere start of her endless battle for harrassment, death threats and social persecution- only this time, it involves her entire family. They are now in perpetual hiding, forcing her younger siblings to stop schooling.

This difficult situation never dampen her young spirit. She decided to fight with the help of Mukhtar Mai through the mercy corps program.
Muktai is also a young woman from this remote village who was gang raped in 2002 on the orders of a village council. Mukhtar decided to prosecute her attackers. When she won her case, she used the compensation money to start a school.

When people read about
Mukhtar's story in NY times, they donated to her through the Mercy Corps. She has used the money to provide more access to social justice through legal aid program, ambulance service, women’s shelter and a telephone hotline to help similar situations.

Let us help spread the good work of Assiya and Mukhtai! Stop women oppression! No to Gender based Violence!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pictures, Vlogs and more! :)

Day 4: Social Reconstruction of
Filipina Image Online
Reshaping the image of Filipinas online are "Sexy Mom" and the "Mother of Digital Philippines"

Meet a whole bunch of Filipinas
who will promote the same cause!

more stories soon! :)

Friendship Video Blog!


Today is the fifth and final day of our Women and ICT training. Maybe for some of us, this training became a temporary relief from the rigorous work we do in our office. I will definitely miss the kind smiles, shared laughter, yummy food (oh, do I have to mention the most yummy part??! ;) internet surfing & blog galore, and the warm camaraderie shared by the group :)

I want to thank everyone for sharing your time, skills, friendship and smiles :) I hope that our last day in this training is not the end - but the start of a beautiful partnership towards a common goal of uplifting the lives of marginalized women- especially among the poorest of the poor.

I made this MTV rush so I wasnt able to render the music well. There was a little turbulent part in the beginning but it smoothen out till the end ;) The music is from Kamikazee who did an Apo Hiking song remake of "Do Bi Doo." I still need to rehash this video but if you want to have a copy, feel free to drop me a line ;-)

This is my 'best effort' send off gift to everyone, I hope you enjoy it! :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nose bleeds!

under construction! coming soon! :)