Pandan Antique Philippines

Appeal to Atty. Cornelio Aldon

January 2, 2001

Atty. Cornelio Aldon
San Jose, Antique

Dear Atty. Aldon:

This is the first letter I am writing for the year 2001, and this may either be the most important letter I have written for the year or the most regrettable one for the rest of my life.

I am writing to you because I represent the voice of the Pandan Antique Foundation, Pagtatap USA and Pagtatap Philippines whose members were born and raised in Pandan, Antique. Even if we are spread all over the world and have traveled to many different places described and promoted by travel brochures as exciting and majestic, we still consider our hometown Pandan as unsurpassed in its beauty and grandeur. That’s why we formed the Pandan organizations to make sure that our town doesn’t lose its innate charm and dignity. We provide programs and projects that help improve the welfare of our families and relatives in Pandan. We established a Pagtatap e-groups website so that we could communicate with each other quickly and expediently. We always make sure that the province of Antique is identified with our organizations because we want other people to know that we are proud to be called Antiqueños.

I understand that you are an Antiqueño too. When I was growing up in Pandan, I already heard that the province of Antique was associated with “sacadas.” Even at an early age, I knew that the label didn’t have a good connotation. I vowed to myself that someday I was going to help change that stigma. When I came to the United States, most Filipinos I knew didn’t have any idea where Antique was. What was worse was that some Visayans didn’t even know our province, and the ones who knew (like the people from Negros), still carried with them the “sacada” lower-than-us attitude. That rankled!

A lot of Filipinos in our county (Kitsap) came as professionals, most of them with teaching degrees from the Philippines and had taught in the Philippines. But up to this time, I have been the only Filipino teacher with a college degree in the Philippines that got hired in Kitsap County. There are 71 elementary and secondary schools in the county altogether, and I made sure the Filipinos knew that I came from Antique.

I fought and worked hard to make a name for Antique. I even earned another master’s degree in education in the United States with the best of them to prove to my fellow teacheers that I was their equal. When I retired from Bremerton High School in 1997 with seven other teachers, in my retirement speech, I said, “Thank you for accepting me as one of you and as your equal.” There must have been 400 adults in the room, and I more than half of them cried when I said this.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I want to appeal to your sense of pride as an Antiqueño. I am talking about the garbage that MMDA wants to dump on our Semirara Island. I am talking about our priceless heritage. I am talking about our sense of responsibility towards our islanders who cannot defend themselves and are relying on us to help them save their island. I am talking about your sense of justice as a lawyer and as the defender of people’s rights. I am talking about human dignity and preservation of property. I am talking about Antique carrying the stigma as “the basura capital of the Philippines.” Above all, I am telling you this because you have the power and the influence we need to support our cause.

Please help us stop the dumpsite on Semirara island. It is not our garbage. We don’t deserve the death sentence from MMDA. Antique will only be freed of victimization if the Antiqueños themselves refuse to be victimized. As an Antiqueño, be one of us instead of being one of them.

Truly yours,

Washington, USA