CSWCD Faculty Members Join the Launch of the Free Hedda Calderon Movement

| Written by CSWCD

The Free Hedda L. Calderon Movement was launched last November 16, 2018, at Hedda’s alma mater, the College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD), University of the Philippines Diliman. The CSWCD faculty members who were present at the launch were Prof. Mary Lou L. Alcid, Prof. Jocelyn T. Caragay, Assoc. Prof. Yolanda G. Ealdama, Chairperson of the Department of Social Work, and Professor Emeritus  Angelito G. Manalili.

Hedda De Luna – Calderon is a B.S. Social Work graduate (October 1976). She and four others were arrested in Sta. Cruz, Laguna on October 15, 2018, and charged with illegal possession of firearms. When a Laguna judge dismissed this charge, the authorities filed a new case, i.e., illegal possession of explosives which is non-bailable. The five are currently detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, Metro Manila*. 

Hedda is 63 years old, and suffers from “….hypertension, constant pain and swelling of her ankle and leg as a result of a biking accident in 2016, and a dental disease (periodontitis) that requires regular medical attention”**. 

The launch was an intimate gathering of friends, classmates, and colleagues from various peoples and women’s organizations. They shared stories, poems, and testimonies about Hedda as a classmate, a friend, a mother, grandmother, and as a political activist. Hedda committed the past four decades of her life as a human rights activist, organiser, project evaluator, and consultant of NGOs such as the Center for Women’s Resources, the Management Advancement Systems Association Inc (MASAI). At the time of her arrest she was a consultant of  Gabriela Party List Rep. Emmie de Jesus  on women and children.

The Free Hedda L. Calderon Movement is a campaign for the release of Hedda and other political detainees. On December 7, 2018, it will hold a solidarity gathering at the Ugnayan Garden of the Commission of Human Rights  from 4:00-6:00 pm to mark the observance of International Human Rights Day and call for the release of all political detainees.   

Free Hedda Calderon!
Free all political prisoners!

* For more information about the campaign, follow @freestacruz5 on Facebook.
** For more information about Hedda, visit #stacruz5: Hedda. 

Message to Free Hedda Calderon Movement launch

First of all, my heartfelt thanks to you all for the warm support. No words would be enough to express both my joy and gratitude.

It’s been almost a month since we were arrested and imprisoned last October 15. It feels like ages to me. I guess it may be because for a 63-year-old, adjustments and getting used to new ways takes extra challenge and time. Well, that’s part of the game.

After two weeks in the CIDG Holding Prison in Camp Crame, we were “committed” or transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City in the afternoon of October 31. The four men to the SICA Annex 4, if I recall correctly–that’s the male dorm for political prisoners. And me to the Female Dorm of Taguig City Jail, also in Camp Bagong Diwa.

This Female Dorm of Taguig City Jail is a regular jail with more developed rules and regulations regarding prison management. It has 320 female inmates kept in four dorms and one cell called “Infirmary”, where we three female political prisoners stay. All the cells or dorms are on the 4thfloor of a building also shared with male prisoners on the other wing.

As in most prisons in our country, we are congested here. Many are sleeping or occupying the floor of the hallway as the dorms are filled to the ceiling. Most of the detainees here were arrested n Taguig area for various crimes from murder, frustrated homicide, drugs — all sorts, illegal possession of firearms, arson and other crimes.

The female political prisoners before me have worked and fought for the “privileged” cell we occupy now. As I mention earlier, it’s called Infirmary, located down or at the end of the hall. This corner cell, which actually is intented for sickly, pregnant, senior, in short “infirm” inmates, has two sides with windows. Hence, there’s more air and sunlight. The political prisoners who came first worked that the political prisoners be confined here–together. Thy have set up steel and wooden beds (tarima), solicited electric fans, thermos, and other privileges for political prisoners. Political prisoners are usually the leaders in this cell. We are currently 16 in this cell, of which only three are political prisoners (Update: As of November 26, another political prisoner, 68-year-old Virginia Villamor, was transferred to the cell for political prisoners at the Female Dorm). Politiical prisoners are priority to stay here.

In general, the stories of non-political women prisoners here are familiar. Stories of love and betrayal, anger and revenge, remorse and desperation, dreams of a better life among others. Often they are poor, often pushed to the wall to commit a crime.

On the other hand, we political prisoners are detained because of our political beliefs. We face charges such as murder, arson, illegal possession of explosives. They criminalize political activism, to make sure we land in jail, and therefore silence us, which can never happen because hundreds of thousands will carry on.

Anyway, as for me, the mind keeps busy making sense out of the pieces of humanity and struggle here in prison. The work for rights and justice is alive — rights to better food, health services, better visit terms, among others. The government has not adequately provided for good conditions in prison. The wheels of justice grind so slowly specially for those with less money. But the only choice is to wait for justice to be finally served.

The struggle in the small confines of prison is evidently linked with the broader struggle of the Filipino people — for peace, justice and freedom.

Free all political prisoners!

Let us stay toether in this fight!

Let us fight till freedom!

 

Once again, thank you.

Hedda Calderon

P.S.

May I also please request you to buy or sell the handmade products of my co-political detainee, Miradel Torres. She’s been here for four years accused of murder. She makes cards, crocheted coin purses and plastic flower beads. What she gets from the sales help support her two young children.

 

Hedda Calderon

6 November 2018

Female Dorm, Taguig City Jail

Camp Bagong Diwa

 

Poems by Hedda Calderon

Day 1 (November 1) in the Female Dorm of Taguig City Jail. I felt so bad, a lot of personal things were confiscated. I just stared outside the window, borrowed a ballpen and paper and the following poems just came. (Introduction to the poems, written by Hedda Calderon)

Spaces

 

Spaces are rough

Tight

Almost none

Spaces that link are void

And forbidden

Only bodies, heating up spaces

Bodies in endless motion

In spaces that are none.

Imprisonment

 

Steel bars

Frame my painless view

Of a world standing still

The world froze

When chaos and thunder roared

And left the mind in constant

And tireless motion.

Hedda De Luna – Calderon is a B.S. Social Work graduate (October 1976). Hedda committed the past four decades of her life as a human rights activist, organiser, project evaluator, and consultant of NGOs. She is now a political prisoner.

To support the campaign, sign the online petition: Free Hedda Calderon!