While in Medical City earlier tonight, I met her. A few minutes into the conversation, while I do not even remember how the talk went there, she mentioned quietly that her brother was one of the 58 victims of the Ampatuan massacre.
She said it with no expectation nor theatrics. She just said it and shrugged. I told her not to move and I ran down to get a magazine from my car. Coincidentally, I had two copies in the trunk that’s been there for over two months now. It was the UNO Dec 2010/Jan 2011 issue with Iza (Calzado) on the cover. I was well aware that Pat (Evangelista) had a 3-page spread about the Ampatuan massacre and that this particular issue was to mark the first year of the tragedy.
I handed her the magazine and told her that while it may not be a pleasant read, it may help us (who merely watch from afar) tell them (who felt the raw cut up close) – that we grieve the loss and we will continue to remember. It was our way of saying we beg for justice alongside them. She said she will give the other copy to her father.
Tears welled up a bit as she recounted the last time she encountered her brother. It was that particular Monday morning (Nov 23, 2009) when her car literally met up with her brother’s car along the highway and they honked their horns twice in hello.
I drove her to her hotel and we talked a bit more. I found out that her brother Anthony Ridao was not a journalist, he was not part of that official convoy. He just happened to be driving the road on his way back to Cotabato City from Marbel where he spent the weekend celebrating his child’s birthday the Sunday before. Anthony was not part of the beneficiaries of funds raised for journalists (since he wasn’t one) and he wasn’t on any one’s list – as a matter of fact. Just his family’s. Just his sister’s. But he is now part of ours.
I immediately called Erwin (Romulo) the Editor in Chief of UNO and then subsequently called Pat to tell them that the work that they do has the power to comfort people when they least expect it and when they most need it — on ordinary days after the loss of a loved one.
Bravo, UNO Magazine – for lending the space to publish their story. It made a family from afar feel heard and subsequently remembered. If I’m not mistaken, that is exactly the point of media.
Strength and support to the family of Anthony Ridao. Innocent.
10 March 2011