Philippine Advocacy Through Arts-Canada (Patac): New arts group to promote kids’ rights

General Aug 16, 2007 at 4:44 pm

By Ramon O. Grajo

Mika Valenzuela carrying Baby Niccolo; Benson and Bela Corpuz, and Ging Palmaria Luciano.

Mika Valenzuela carrying Baby Niccolo; Benson and Bela Corpuz, and Ging Palmaria Luciano.

BANDANA band: John, Levi and Ricky.

BANDANA band: John, Levi and Ricky.

On July 28, over thirty Filipinos and Canadians, including some from as far away as Hamilton, gave up their Saturday morning slumbers to be at the first event of new local organization Philippine Advocacy Through Arts-Canada (PATAC).

The event “‘Her name was Grecil …’ Filipino Children and the State of the Filipino Nation,” included a screening of the documentary “Today is War Day” — produced by the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (Philippines) (CRC) —, a brief presentation on the Philippine situation and its impact on children, and introductions to the goals of PATAC and work of the CRC. (See accompanying article on the CRC.)
The mood was punctuated by beautiful performances by PATAC singers including the pure tones of 14-year old Belinda Corpuz, a new composition by recently arrived singer-song writer Levi Abad, Jr., the sweet harmony of the UKPC band, and the new trio Bandana.

The event ended with a lively and fertile discussion by all those present on ways of advancing the rights of Filipino children. Supporting the event were the Ugnayan ng Kabataan Pilipino sa Canada-Toronto and SIKLAB-Toronto.

PATAC came together as an all-volunteer organization on May with concerned parents, church people, artists and human rights activists. PATAC’s mission is to promote art for the people, use the arts to educate the Filipino community and advocate for their rights, especially the children. PATAC’s first project was to be a concert “Touch a Life, Help a Soul”, tentatively set for Dec. 8, with all proceeds going to the CRC in the Philippines to support it important work.

This July 4, however, PATAC received an urgent request for help from the CRC to raise funds to help in the autopsy of little nine-year old Grecil Buya-Galacio. The April 16-30, 2007 issue of the Reporter recently covered the case of Grecil. In this case, AFP Brig. Gen Carlos Holganza stretched credulity to brand little Grecil a child soldier. As CRC Executive Director Ma. Esmeralda de la Paz-Macaspac, in the above letter, points out both a UNICEF supported fact-finding mission and an investigation by the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) put such claims to lie. Furthermore after the Justice for Grecil Campaign by human rights organization Salinlahi, the AFP changed its story from the above to one of Grecil being caught in the cross fire between the AFP and NPA. That strange flip flop was enough to raise suspicions over what really happened but the AFP had to one up itself further. As Ms. De la Paz-Macaspac points out, “Lately, however, the military has backtracked once again on their statement and is now contesting the CHR findings. They are also pursuing another unsubstantiated data that Grecil was killed by a bullet coming from the side of the New People’s Army.”

It is “to determine truthfully the circumstances surrounding Grecil’s death … [including] the conduct of an autopsy of Grecil’s body [of which] formal request … have fallen on deaf ears at the CHR level” that the CRC is asking for help with funds. It is to this request that PATAC preempted its December concert with the July 28 event.

If you wish to generously contribute to helping find out the truth behind little Grecil’s death, or to help with your time, energy and talents to PATAC’s December concert to raise funds for the CRC, please contact Joyce Balisi at 416-879-8921.

Ramon Grajo of Damayan

Ramon Grajo of Damayan

Cynthia Palmaria

Cynthia Palmaria

Sol Pajadura

Sol Pajadura