My Grandma and my Great-Aunt Ellen had been friends since my grandfather died over 35 years ago. Everytime my Grandma would come to the U.S. to stay with us for a bit, Auntie Ellen would take care of matters in the P.I. for her and for my family. I remember every year on my birthday, she would send a boxful of my favorite Pili-nut candies (you can't get them anywhere else except for the town where my mother grew up) that she would have handmade and hand packaged just for me.
Her son and my mother grew up together in a little town in the Philippines. My grandfather was the Mayor of this town for two terms and since his own father had died when he was young...my Uncle followed his footsteps and became Mayor a few years ago. My Uncle is up for re-election this month. And yesterday, in broad daylight, as she was heading off to my Uncle's campaign headquarters to help out, someone shot my Great-Aunt Ellen thru the forehead. One shot.
My mother just came home and told me about this 5 minutes ago. And now she is left with the hard task of telling my Grandmother that her best friend of 4 decades is dead. Not because she was hated. Not because she was a bad person who deserved it. But for the simple fact that she had birthed and raised the man who just happened to become Mayor.
I don't write this just for me...I write this so that all of you may understand that in places like the Philippines, this kind of vigilante guerilla "warfare" still exist. Where it doesn't matter if what you stand for is the right thing or the wrong thing. Where even in a tiny, almost inconsequential little town up in the mountains, people take issues into their own hands and to hell with the government. I'm no good at this stuff...talking about things I don't know. But I do know this, the next time you decide to complain about the government, the next time you complain about the President and whether or not you like them. The next time you decide to complain that this country is on it's way to hell and back, remember that it is for the simple fact that you live here...in this very country that you are a citizen of...that you are given the right to voice your opinions as much as you want without fear of repurcusions much less of being gunned down in the middle of the street.
I will be accompanying my family to a special memorial here in the States for her this Sunday. Her nephew, another Uncle of mine, is a priest at a local church in a city close by. Please pray for her soul, even if you don't believe in prayer. And please pray that whoever did this will be brought to justice (as much justice as possible given the nature of things down there).
R.I.P. Auntie Ellen....
from left to right: my Grandmother, my Uncle the mayor, Aunt Ellen, my dad, my mom, the Vice Mayor...