Free Ferdinand Castillo

Thoughts on the occasion of Valentine’s Day and One Billion Rising

On these occasions, I find it fitting to pay tribute to my wife, Nona, all the wives of political prisoners in our country and the women who will participate in One Billion Rising, a global movement against tyranny.

My wife and I have been together for 37 years, nearly five years as sweethearts and 32 years of marriage.

As a couple we have very different personalities. I am the reserved and circumspect type of person while Nona is outspoken and frank. She can face diverse personalities unfettered. We have our share of disagreements and crises but because we were able to hurdle all these, it further strengthened our relationship. We trust each other because we continue to be faithful to our vows of marriage.

I was a heavy smoker for many years and this was a major source of irritation between me and Nona, a staunch health advocate. Thankfully, I was able to quit smoking in 2002. Through the years, we learned how to listen to each other and respect each other’s opinions: criticize each other for mistakes we make.

I am grateful to my wife for standing by me despite my frailties as a person, husband and father. She carries the responsibility of providing the family financially when I continued my full-time work as activist. When I turned down the offer of a teaching job at the Math Departnent in UP Diliman and the corporate job offers after I graduated in actuarial science in mathematics, she respected my decision.

We both regard our own participation in the struggle against the Marcos fascist dictatorship and the current tyrannical and fascist regime as our humble contribution for social change. We adhere to the principle of simple living. Our lives revolve in providing service to our people. However, these principles unite us in a more profound level of love.

We both like the outdoors and love to travel with our daughter. We both practice and advocate a plant-based diet for almost three decades now. She recovered from many illnesses in the past through this lifestyle since 1991. When I contracted rheumatic heart disease in 1995, she nurtured me back to health under the guidance of a generous doctor friend. I was immobilized for two weeks due to very painful migratory joint pains. With the help of another lifestyle medicine doctor, we have been jointly managing my hypertension in prison through a plant-based diet and a regimen of physical exercise. I am deeply moved by her almost daily provision of vegetables and weekly supplies of rice, beans and other food items.

As one of the few International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) in the country, she has to take difficult periodic exams and has to undertake self-studies for these. She is well read on many studies and researches about chronic diseases and related subjects. She has helped thousands of lactating mothers, including activists, nurses and doctors, through her direct services and advocacies. Hundreds of thousands more benefitted from such projects as lactation stations in malls.

She is exemplary as a writer, speaker, educator, event organizer and campaigner. Since my arrest in February 12, 2017, my wife has posted articles in the social media and has granted interviews to the broadcast and print media about our love story, our struggles against the problems of society and several articles and a petition about my personal background. I was not used to this kind of publicity but Nona convinced me that it will not only help in the Free Ferdinand Castillo campaign and the campaign of political prisoners but it will also present some humane aspects of the lives of activists like me.

My wife is a patriot, environmentalist and a human rights advocate. She is brave and independent and knows fully well the dangers of her advocacies. She works very hard but manages her time for rest and leisure.

I admire my wife’s courage and achievements but one thing that made her really precious to me is her passion to serve and help people and nurture the earth.

On a more romantic note, we both agree that we are so independent that we can exist without each other. However, I feel complete with her presence and I know she feels the same way.

More power to my wife and to all the wives of political prisoners!

Statement of Ferdinand Castillo on His Second Year of Imprisonment

My Struggles in Prison

Ferdinand Castillo, Political Prisoner
Metro Manila District Jail Annex 4
February 12, 2019

Imprisonment exacts a heavy price to political prisoners and their families. I know because I am now two years in prison. We struggle every single day to transform this negative experience into something positive in order to survive. For instance, my wife and daughter, despite these hardships, laugh at the thought that they know where to find and visit me anytime. During their first visit, upon seeing my standard yellow T-shirt for MMDJ Annex 4 prisoners, they exclaimed, “Dilawan ka na pala!”

We are about 200 political prisoners and NDF consultants persecuted by this fascist Duterte regime while more than 300 have been languishing in jail under previous administrations. This regime consistently instigates malicious criminal tactic of “legal offensive” like the AFP/PNP templates of trumped up criminal charges, general John Doe warrants, planted evidence and other insidious tools to arbitrarily arrest and unjustly detain anyone on false charges. For NDF consultants, this could mean traitorous arrest or assassination like the murder of fellow consultant Randy Malayao.

That is why I am very grateful that despite these dangers that we are all facing, you are here to show your support to my family: our lawyers from PILC, former colleagues in work, fellow activists in UP and friends.

I now have more time for reading and study. We take up various issues and manifest our support for people’s struggles. We confront local prison issues and take these up to the local jail authorities in a manner reciprocal to their readiness or refusal to engage in good relations. We engage in arbitration of disputes and help improve the welfare of political detainees. We collectively study the cases of political detainees and the related laws and court rulings and put forward proposals to lawyers. I can write more and it gives me great satisfaction that my occasional messages and letters are read and disseminated. Some articles and poems are published at Manila Today online newspaper.

During my one month of detention at the holding area in CIDG-NCR, I participated in daily prayer meetings of male and female detainees three times a day! I saw this as an opportunity to explain the need not only of spiritual but also social salvation to truly change the society and oneself. I tried to explain to them the ills of society and the program of the revolutionary movement. Soon, I was designated as an adviser.

I helped in the study of the UN Standard Minimum Rules on Treatment of Prisoners (SMRTP) and its writing into a primer in Filipino. We have yet to publish the primer. We finalized the code of conduct for political prisoners and posted these in every political prison cell. We have negotiated a set of common rules of conduct with non-political inmates in our ” brigada” or wing. Non-political inmates seeks our opinions regarding their legal and personal problems.

I have no other recourse but to prepare myself for a long haul in prison, but I do not lose hope that the release of political prisoners may come soon especially when people’s resistance to fascism and tyranny surges forward. And to keep this spirit burning, I could play the guitar and sing more often the Bob Dylan song ” I shall be released”, which is fitting for prisoners who have been unjustly detained on false charges.

My struggles in prison are part of the greater struggles of political prisoners for justice and freedom and the fight against fascism and tyranny of the US-Duterte regime.

May I propose what you can do to help:
*Further strengthen and widen the campaign for the release if political prisoners against political persecution and criminalization of political offenses.
*Press for the immediate release of the elderly, sickly, women and long-detained political prisoners for humanitarian reason.
*Campaign to encourage the judges trying the political prisoner cases to assert their judicial independence from the Duterte regime.
* Encourage increasing number of lawyers to take up as pro bono the cases of political detainees.
* Campaign to pressure the Duterte government to implement the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners especially in the National Bilibid Prison, Correctional Institute for Women, and the BJMP jails nationwide.
* Organize more visitations of friends and mass organizations especially from the detainee’s previous assignment.

Again, my heartfelt gratitude to everyone!

Please listen to Bob Dylan’s I Shall be Released

Lyrics:
They say everything can be replaced
They say every distance is not near
So I remember every face
Of every man who put me here
I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released
They say every man needs protection
They say every man must fall
So, I swear I see my reflection
Somewhere inside these walls
I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released
Yonder standing me in this lonely crowd
A man who says he’s not to blame
All day long I hear him hollering so loud
Just crying out that he’s not to blame
I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released

For more information on Ferdinand Castillo and the campaign for his release, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/FreeFerdinandCastillo/?ref=br_rs

Free Ferdinand Castillo