Press Release
January 30, 2015

"So much love, so much loss"
Senator Pia S. Cayetano on the "Fallen 44"

Just got home from Camp Bagong Diwa where the remains of our SAF lie in state. Words cannot express the pain and sadness etched on every face.

One by one the caskets were brought in along with two members of the family. All I could do was offer a few words of sympathy, extend my hand, and a shoulder to cry on. Later, when I was asked if would I view the remains, I felt that the least I could do to honor them was to know their faces and their names. I looked at every one, whether there was a body, or just a uniform or in some instances just a white cloth covering the body where the faces could not be restored.

And then I looked at every picture that was in a frame on top of every casket and I tried to remember their faces as they looked before they died: Young and strong and full of hope.

The families asked me questions I could not answer. But when I asked them questions, they shared their lives with me. I learned so much in a few hours.

Strength like no other...

- A pregnant wife who told me anecdotes about her husband and smiled all throughout while rubbing her very pregnant tummy. She said she wouldn't cry because her husband wouldn't want that. But she broke down when a group of female SAF who were in the same camp as her husband came to pay their respects and were all crying.

- The pain on a brother's face when he told me he called his younger brother only to speak to his brother's killer.

- A soft-spoken father who happily recounted his last conversation with his son. And then barely two days later gets a call from a relative abroad that his son's name was on the list flashed on TV of those SAF who were part of the encounter and died.

- A young widow who is also SAF, and who just lost their twin babies a few months earlier.

- A father who wistfully describes his son to me then adds "baluga ang anak ko." And I had to ask, "Ano po yung baluga?" And he breaks into a toothless smile and says, "Yung taga-bundok! Baluga ang anak ko!" And he laughs and laughs. And his wife starts laughing too.

So much love, so much loss.

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