Freedom Wall Mural, Paintings and Photo Exhibit:
People's Tribute to Leoncio Ka Parago Pitao

Part I    Part II  
 Part III     Part IV (Parangal)     Part V (Funeral March)

 

Davao City

 

June 29 - July 8,  2015

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July 8 2015
Ka Parago's image in Davao City's freedom wall

The image of New People's Army commander Ka Parago, smiling and waving towards children, depicting him as a father and revolutionary, was painted by graffitti artists in their "freedom wall" along Matina in Davao City. One of the artists named Jojo said they have respect for Parago for his being a revolutionary fighter. He said he has just recently heard of Parago's life but has admired the fighter's belief to stand for his principles against an unjust system.

"This drawing shows the heroism of Parago for defending the poor, and it serves to challenge the people to stand up and fight and not be daunted," said Jojo.  He said that artists too shared the same ideals of freedom for people, and as artists they too have to reflect the realities of struggles in society.

Parago or Leoncio Pitao was killed by soldiers while on medical leave in a safehouse in Paquibato District last June 28.

Parago has been with the revolutionary movement for 37 years, and was the commander of the NPA First Pulang Bagani (Red Warriors) Battalion based in that area. ###

--- Text by Kilab Multimedia
 

 
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Photos by Davao Today, Glades, HSABC, Jaja Necosia, Kilab Multimedia,
Lana Linaban and Tudla Productions as indicated by the filenames
           
     
     
     

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ELEGY from the peasant army, NPA,
for Comrade Parago
July 10, 2015

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines

After 37 years in struggle, you are finally laid to rest.
Comrade, teacher, friend.
Our warrior and our leader.
Defender of the oppressed.
The people’s beloved son.
You taught us who we really are:
That we are the makers of history
And united, we can change the world
And build a life where no man
Is beholden to another because
He holds the power to the land
Or arrogates the riches to himself
A world where man is truly free.
You gave us the gift of hope.

37 years of serving the people
and you are finally laid to rest
Can the mountains ever forget you?
Can the enemy arrogate the bases
And formations that we have built?
Can they delete the history of battles?
Can they erase the scars or douse the fire
that burns in the hearts of the oppressed?
How dare to think that the enemy
can kill you with guns and bullets
or with glib talk and false promises?
No they can never kill nor silence
37 years of serving the people.

And you are finally laid to rest
Our very own peasant warrior.
Truly we shall miss you. Each day
you were with us, empowered us.
Tireless, selfless, always ready to help
And never thinking of a reward.
We shall always cherish you, and
The warriors of your kind.
You gave us the gift of hope.
In the long rough road of people’s war
Your footprints will be our map
That will take us to victory.

-New People’s Army
Southern Mindanao Regional Command

 

     
           
     
     
     

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Ka Parago: Mandirigma ng masang anakpawis,
martir ng sambayanan
JULY 6, 2015


Pinakamataas na pagpupugay ang ipinapaabot ng Anakbayan kay Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao, isang mandirigmang gerilya ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB), sa kanyang pagpanaw at pagkamartir noong Hunyo 28.

Sumapi si Ka Leoncio Pitao, mas kilala sa buong rehiyon ng Katimugang Mindanao sa pangalang “Ka Parago,” sa BHB noong 1978, matapos patayin ng mga militar ang kanyang ama sa Loreto, Agusan Del Sur.

 

Nakilala siya at iginalang sa buong rehiyon bilang tagapagtanggol ng mga inaapi’t pinagsasamantalahan. Ibinuhos niya ang kanyang oras para tulungan ang mga magsasaka sa pagtatanim, pag-aani sa produksyon at nakipamuhay sa mas malawak pang anakpawis. Bunga ng kanyang buong pusong paglilingkod, labis na pagmamahal din ang isinukli ng masang kanyang pinaglingkuran kaya kinagiliwan siyang tawaging “Tatay” o “Ka Ago”.

 

Naging bantog siya sa kanyang kahusayan bilang mandirigmang gerilya at kumander ng mga matatagumpay na taktikal na opensiba laban sa militar. Kabilang sa mga pinangunahan niyang opensiba ang malaking reyd ng armas sa Davao noong 2007 kung saan wala ni isang gwardya ang nasaktan sa opensiba.

 

Taong Pebrero 1999, pinangunahan ni Ka Parago ang pag-aresto kila Army General Victor Obillo at Captain Alex Montealto dahil sa mabangis na mapaminsalang pagragasa ng tropang militar sa rehiyon. Nakipagtulungan si Ka Parago sa Negotiating Panel ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) para maisaayos ang pagpapalaya sa mga bihag ng digma sa International Committee of the Red Cross at mga opisyales ng gobyerno na sina Senador Loren Legarda at miyembro ng GRP negotiating panel na si Silvestre H. Bello III. Sa kanyang paglaya, pinapurihan ni Obillo ang makataong pagtrato sa kanila ni Ka Parago.

 

Inaresto si Ka Parago noong Nobyembre 1999. Sa isang press conference na isinagawa sa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo, ipinahayag niya ang marubdob na pagnanais na makalaya’t makabalik sa masang mahal sa Mindanao. Siya ay pinalaya on recognizance kay Supreme Bishop of Philippine Independent Church na si Thomas A. Millamena noong Setyembre 2001. Ang kanyang paglaya ay simbolo ng katapatan sa pagsusulong ng usapang pangkapayapaan noon sa pagitan ng gobyerno at NDFP.

 

Sa kanyang paglaya, muli niyang nakasama ang masang kanyang mahal sa Mindanao at mahigpit na tinanganan ang rebolusyonaryong gawain. Pinangunahan muli ni Ka Parago ang mga matatagumpay na pakikibakang gerilya laban sa pasistang atake ng militar sa kanayunan.

 

Noong 2009, dinukot, ginahasa at pinatay ng mga militar ang kanyang anak na si Rebelyn. Ngunit sa kabila ng kagalit-galit na ginawa sa kanyang anak, kahanga-hanga ang ipinakitang matibay ang paninindigan ni Ka Parago sa patakaran ng BHB sa makataong pagtrato sa mga bihag ng digma at maging sa pagtitiyak ng maayos at ligtas na pagpapalaya sa mga bihag na walang mabigat na pananagutang kriminal sa mamamayan.

 

Matagal nang iniinda ni Ka Parago ang iba’t-ibang klase ng karamdaman gaya ng diabetes, hypothyroidism, hepatitis, at altapresyon at hirap na rin siyang makalakad. Ngunit sa kabila ng mga karamdaman at mga alok ng mga kasama na magpagamot at magpahinga siya sa labas ng erya, pinili pa rin ni Ka Parago na manatili at makipamuhay sa masa.

 

Ginagamot siya ni Vanessa Limpag o Ka Kyle, na kanyang medik, nang paulanan sila ng bala ng mga militar sa ilalim ni General Ano. Nagawa ni Limpag na itaas ang kanyang mga kamay at sumigaw na isa siyang medik ngunit walang habas pa rin silang pinagbabaril ng mga militar.

 

Sa kabila ng maayos na pagtrato ni Ka Parago sa mga bihag gaya nila General Obillo at Captain Montealto, hindi iginalang nila General Ano ang karapatang pantao nina Ka Parago at Ka Kyle. Dapat igiit na maimbestigahan ang naging paglabag nila General Ano sa International Humanitarian Law, Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) at International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

 

Bukod dito, dapat ding maimbestigahan ang pangunguna ng mga yunit ni General Ano sa mga extrajudicial na pagpatay sa mga lider-katutubo, pagsasara sa mga paaralan ng mga Lumad, at maging ang pagkakampo sa mga paaralan at iba pang pampublikong lugar.

 

Nakikidalamhati ang Anakbayan kasama ng iba’t ibang organisasyon at ng masang anakpawis sa pagkawala ng isang dakilang rebolusyonaryo ng mamamayan, katangi-tanging kumander ng BHB, martir at bayani ng masang anakpawis, si Ka Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao.

 

Patuloy na magiging inspirasyon ng rebolusyonaryong kabataan ang buhay at

pakikibaka ni Ka Parago. Mananatiling buhay ang kanyang alaala sa patuloy na pakikibaka ng kabataan kasama ang malawak na mamamayan upang wakasan ang isang malakolonyal at malapyudal na sistema tungo sa isang tunay na malayang lipunan.

 

Mabuhay ang rebolusyonaryong diwa ni Ka Parago!
Mabuhay ang masa at rebolusyong Pilipino!
Mabuhay ang sambayanang lumalaban!

http://www.anakbayan.org/ka-parago-mandirigma-ng-masang-anakpawis-martir-ng-sambayanan/

 

     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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Karapatan Pid

Para sa Parangal kay Leoncio Pitao 
ISANG PAMAMAALAM KAY LEONCIO PITAO,
KILALA SA PANGALANG COMMANDER PARAGO
BAYANI NG MASANG PILIPINO
Ika- 9 ng Hulyo 2015
Ni Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Tagapangulo ng Karapatan
Binasa ni Cristina Palabay, Pangkalahatang Kalihim ng Karapatan

Una, gusto ko pong ipaabot sa pamilya ni Pago—laluna sa kanyang katuwang sa buhay at ina ni Rebelyn na si Evangeline—ang taus-pusong pakikiramay ng Karapatan sa pagpanaw ni Kumander Parago, isang bayani ng masang Pilipino. 

Nakilala ko po si Leoncio Pitao, na mas kilalang Kumander Parago, noong 1999 noong siya ay inaresto. Naganap ito sa kabila ng pangako ng gobyerno na maaring magsiuwi na raw ang mga kasapi ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas nang walang takot na sila ay huhulihin dahil mayroon naman daw usapang pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng gobyerno at ng NDFP; at napirmahan na ang Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees o JASIG. 

Ang pagkaaresto kay Leoncio Pitao ay isang malinaw na halimbawa ng doubletalk o pagiging tuso ng gobyerno sa usapang pangkapayapaan. Malinaw na ginagamit ng estado ang usapang pangkapayapaan para arestuhin at pasukuin ang mga pampulitikang pwersa tulad ng CPP, hindi upang maresolba ang mga batayang problema ng lipunan o ang ugat ng armadong tunggalian sa ating bansa. Inisip ng mga nasa pwesto na kapag nahuli nila ang mga lider ng sinasabi nilang rebelyon, mamamatay na ang kilusang ito. Ang hindi nila naiintindihan o ayaw nilang unawain na ang paghawak ng armas ng isang tao ay dahil sa mga batayang problema sa lupa, sa korapsyon sa gobyerno at dahil sa pangangayupapa ng mga nasa gobyerno sa imperyalistang paghahari sa ating bansa na nagsasadlak sa malawak na masa sa kumunoy ng kahirapan. 

Nawala lahat ang aking mga inilusyong katangian o itsura ng isang kumander ng NPA nang nakilala ko si Pago. Malumanay magsalita. Nahihiya nga siya bakit siya nahuli, kapag dumarating na ang mga tanong na ganoon. 

Hindi ko nakasama nang matagal si Kumander Parago. Pero alam ko na mahirap ang pinili nyang landas dahil anumang oras ay maaari siyang bawian ng buhay. Gayunpaman, mas pinili niya ang maglingkod sa sambayanan. Mas pinili niyang maibahagi ang kanyang nalalaman at kakayahan sa mga mahihirap nating kababayan laluna sa mga Lumad; ipinaglaban niya ang kanilang mga batayang karapatan, paglabang totoo at taimtim kung kaya’t siya ay ginawang kumander ng Pulang Bagani. 

Meron po akong gustong ibahaging karanasan sa pagsuporta kay Kumander Parago. Noong panahong nakakulong si Pago (siya po ay isang political detainee noong 1999), maraming kasong criminal ang isinampa laban sa kanya upang mapanatili siya sa kulungan ng mga naghahari-harian sa pwesto. (Iyan po talaga ang tunay na pakay ng mga panginoong maylupa, mga malalaking kapitalista na may mga pwesto rin sa pulitika. Pinagmumukha nilang kriminal ang bilanggong pulitikal para itago ang pulitikal na katangian ng mga aksyong ginawa ng isang political prisoner. Ganito na ang kanilang kalakaran mula pa noong Martial Law hanggang ngayon.) 

Sa isang hearing ng kaso ni Leoncio Pitao sa Regional Trial Court ng Quezon City, pumunta kami upang magbigay suporta sa kanya. Ito ang panahong nagbaba ng ruling ang Supreme Court na bawal daw ang mag-ingay sa malapit sa korte para daw naririnig ng huwes ang mga sinasabi ng mga kliyente at ng kanilang mga abogado. 


Sa panahon ding ito, lubhang pinahirap ng mga nasa gobyerno ang pagdalaw namin sa kanya sa ISAFP headquarters. Hindi kami pinadadalaw sa kanya dahil hindi naman daw kami kamag-anak.

Maagang natapos ang hearing ni Pago at gusto siyang agad na alisin sa korte ng kanyang mga bantay upang di namin siya makita at hindi niya rin kami makita. Sa kagustuhan naming magkita kami, patakbo kaming pumunta kung nasaan siya. Habang tumatakbo, may isang huwes na nakakita sa akin at sa isa pang kasamahan sa Karapatan na tumatakbo at pinigilan nya kami. Tinanong niya kung bakit kami tumatakbo at sino raw ba ang hinahabol namin. Nagpapaliwanag po ako nang bigla kaming sabihang kami ay may “contempt of court” at magpaliwanang daw ako sa korte. Ako ay nagpaliwanag (English po ang salita) at pinatawan kami ng P100.00 na multa. Yun lang pala! Hindi ko po ikinahihiyang ikwento ito dahil napakaliit na bagay lang itong nagawang tulong ng Karapatan kay Pago na isang higante sa paglaban ng mamamayan sa mapang-aping sistemang naghahari. 

Sa proseso ng kanyang paglaban, siya ay namatay. Lubhang napakalungkot ng mga pangyayaring ito, laluna kung iisipin na malaki ang ibinigay ni Pago sa paglabang ito. Mismong ang kanyang anak na babae ay pinatay at naging biktima ng extrajudicial killing noong 2005. Kahit napatay ng yunit ng NPA ang ilan sa pinaghihinalaang pumaslang sa kanyang anak, ipinagpatuloy ni Kumander Parago ang kanyang paglaban sa mga naghaharing uri. Batid niyang hindi siya nag-iisa sa paghahanap ng hustisya.

Sa mga nakadaupang palad ni Kumander Parago, patuloy tayong kumilos at labanan ang mga pagtatangka ng mga naghahari-harian dito sa ating lipunan na puksain ang hanay ng mamamayang lumalaban para sa kanilang mga batayang karapatan. Gawin po nating inspirasyon ang buhay ni Leoncio Pitao, isang BAYANI AT HINDI KRIMINAL na katulad ng gustong ipangalandakan ng administrasyong US-Aquino.

MABUHAY ANG ALAALA NI COMMANDER PARAGO!
MABUHAY ANG MASANG PILIPINO!

 

     
     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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BAYAN USA Salutes Leoncio Pitao, aka Ka Parago

       July 5, 2015

·      BAYAN USA

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BAYAN USA pays highest tribute and respect to Leoncio Pitao, also known as Kumander Parago, for his indelible contributions in his 37 years serving the poorest and most oppressed Filipinos as a revolutionary. We send our deepest condolences and sympathies to Tatay Parago’s family and loved ones for their loss.

We condemn to the fullest degree the Aquino government and Philippine military’s brutal, inhumane, and cowardly murder of Tatay Parago, who was ambushed and killed while being treated for illness by medic, Ka Kyle, who was also murdered. Such a manner of killing is cruel and in direct violation of the rules of combat outlined by International Humanitarian Law, which prohibits attacks against those who “are defenseless because of unconsciousness, shipwreck, wounds or sickness.”

Tatay Parago’s service as a great freedom-fighter will continue to inspire all who struggle for genuine independence and democracy in the Philippines, and for a bright socialist future. His life has inspired and will continue to inspire countless more Filipinos to choose the noble and principled path of armed struggle in the countryside.

For as long as the majority of Filipinos remain deeply mired in poverty and hunger due to a backward agricultural sector, face state repression under the mercenary Philippine military and its paramilitaries in the countryside; as long as a small handful of landowning families continue to control the vast majority of land in a country of where the majority live directly off the land, and these same landowning families dominate the political system through corruption– there will always be armed conflict in the Philippines.

There will always be those that choose to take up arms to fight for freedom, for a life of dignity.

Since the turn of the 20th century, US imperialism has always sought to control Mindanao for its vast natural resources. Despite its acts of aggression, US imperialism and the reactionary Philippine government have also always faced fierce people’s resistance to colonial subjugation in Mindanao, from the economically poorest people in the country.

Our tribute to Tatay Parago means we stand with and in defense of the people of Mindanao, who at present are facing escalating US military intervention, counterinsurgency and state repression by the US-backed Aquino government, which is selling off the island piece by piece to large multinational mining corporations, stripping Mindanao of its natural wealth and causing irreversible damage to the environment and the people.  We stand with ongoing people’s resistance in Mindanao and all throughout the Philippines.

It is US imperialism and its reactionary Philippine government that are the biggest obstacles to peace and democracy in the Philippines. Just and lasting peace can only be attained through people’s struggle. As long as the Philippines remains a neocolony of US imperialism, there will be more Paragos that will rise up to lead more battles.

Pinaka-mataas na Pagpupugay kay Kumander Parago !
Highest Salute to Commander Parago!

Mabuhay ang Diwa ni Kumander Parago!
Long live the spirit of Commander Parago!

Mabuhay ang Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya!
Long live the National Democratic Movement!
 

     
     
 
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POETRY: Legend

ByEric S.B. Libreon
June 30 2015

To the vow he made
not again to be captured alive
true he stayed.
And now he’s dead.

On the field of combat
breathed he his last.
His rifle held fast
breathed he his last.

Fearless and wily fighter,
symbol of a people’s anger,
seen by many as a defender
and a passionate dreamer.

By his pursuers vilified
yet, I suspect, grudgingly admired.
Their game of hunter and hunted
has now in a blaze of gunfire finally ended.

Alive, he sort of was a legend.
In death, his life becomes legend.
With admiration or vilification
his story shall be told again and again.

He now rests, to fight no more.
And we, who must carry on life’s struggle,
do hope, pray and implore
that one day soon and forevermore
legends like him would not be needed anymore.

(Eric S.B. Libre is a Mindanawon freelance development consultant who has done some work in a number of conflict-affected areas of Mindanao and occasionally dabbles in creative writing. He lives in Digos City, and is proud to be a senior citizen.)



Read

http://www.mindanews.com/mindaviews/2015/06/30/poetry-legend/

 

     

                                     BLACKWASHED
A day after the mural was finished, operatives of the military painted the entire wall black. Activists then painted Parago images and slogans on the blackened wall.

     
     
           
PHOTO EXHIBIT
           
     
     
     

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Maglana:

Marami pang Parago and a better Mindanao is possible

 Saturday, July 11, 2015
 By 
MAGS Z. MAGLANA

THE POINT BEING

THAT his death drew the attention and comment of people from different walks of life was not surprising. Perhaps it is because we prefer names, faces and stories to statistics, but the days following his death, taxi drivers freely commented about him to their passengers, and total strangers sharing jeep rides were drawn into conversations about his death. He was after all one of the very few faces of the national democratic revolutionary groups in Mindanao known to the public, Parago represented the New People's Army (NPA) operating in Southern Mindanao, and Oris is spokesperson for the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Mindanao.

Mindanawons exposed to mass media knew Parago to be involved in the NPA’s capture and subsequent release of Gen. Victor Obillo and Capt. Eduardo Montealto in 1999, the NPA raid of the Davao Penal Colony in 2007, and other tactical offensives against the military. He had been called berdugo in radio broadcasts, and depicted as godless, lawless and merciless on streamers hung along highways. His death on June 28, 2015, if the military’s predictions would have it, would demoralize fellow NPAs and trigger mass surrenders.

Leoncio Pitao--Ka Parago, Parago or ‘Ago--is no more. He was killed in a raid that also took the life of Vanessa “Ka Kyle” Limpag, the medic who had been taking care of him as he dealt with hepatitis, diabetes and hyperthyroidism.

The streamers and placards during the funeral march did not depict Parago and Kyle as victims, but as heroic martyrs. Perhaps it is a point of honor that Parago’s choice to fight it out to the death would be respected. It is said that Parago’s wife and family, although terribly saddened by his demise, had long been preparing themselves for this outcome given his 37 years-long choice of being part of a social revolution. But it is also said that the family would never be able to come to terms with the brutal and senseless murder of Parago’s daughter Rebelyn in 2009.

Rebelyn’s unsolved abduction and death was but among the many costs that Parago and his family paid. It is another matter with Kyle who, despite raising her hands in surrender and declaring herself as a medic at the start of the raid, had not been spared—in violation of customary international humanitarian law that said that medical personnel should be respected and protected in all circumstances. Parago obviously meant enough to the thousands people who turned out to pay their last respects. A number of them came from outside Davao City, many wearing garb indicating that they could be peasants, workers, indigenous peoples, or urban poor. Those who went to the wake or participated in the funeral march took the risk of having their identities and allegiances exposed, not an inconsequential and small step to take in places where such things spell the difference between life and death.

But how would the rest of Mindanawons regard him? There have been countless men and women in or from Mindanao who gave up their lives to address the challenges of their respective times, often with respect to changing the situation in their locality: from the Muslims, Lumads and settlers who resisted the different colonial forces and incursions against their communities, to those who fought more contemporary battles against dictatorship, development aggression and repression. And yet there are not many martyred Mindanawons who are publicly acknowledged and celebrated as individuals from whom we can draw inspiration.

Maybe Parago’s death is an opportunity to revisit and address this gap. Political lines and chosen modes of struggle aside, I hope Mindanawons would come to appreciate in Parago’s story many of the traits that we need to muster so that together we can continue to change our situation. That is, if we believe that a better Mindanao is possible, adapting the words of Fidel Castro to our realities. I am referring to Parago’s commitment to stand for the poor and marginalized, particularly workers, peasants, and indigenous peoples.

A quote attributed to him goes “Alang kini sa mga mamumuo ug mag-uuma ug mga lumad, kon nganong naa ta dinhi. Dili ug dili gyod kita mamahulay.” This standpoint and persistence is important so we can be relevant to these populations who constitute majority of Mindanawons today. I speak of his courage to pursue change and be unafraid of struggle. He had been subjected to countless military operations under six political administrations. He went through at least two major internal crises that threatened the strength of the national democratic movement. He was captured in 1999 and released in 2001. He could have been overcome by the many stresses and confusions of those times and given in, but he stuck to the vision and agenda in which he believed.

I mean his willingness to sacrifice and go beyond his zone of comfort for a very long period of time. In his seriously ailing condition he could have opted to leave behind revolutionary duties, but he shouldered on. Without necessarily endorsing Parago’s vision, and regardless of one’s chosen means of contributing to change, these are good traits to learn, imbibe and apply to the current set of challenges that Mindanawons face. The Parago that was the subject of military operations is no more.

But if regardless of our circumstances we find in our hearts the willingness and conviction to stand for the poor and marginalized, to be unafraid of change and struggle, and to sacrifice for what we believe in; and if we talk about these traits in taxis, jeeps, schools and wherever we are situated, then marami pang Parago, and a better Mindanao is possible.

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[Email feedback to magszmaglana@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 12, 2015.

 

     
     
           
     
   
           
           


 
           

 

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