A Child’s Birthday Wish: Freedom For Her Mother

It appeared like any other birthday party of a child, except that it was celebrated inside a prison camp.


MANILA — Her fourth birthday seemed ordinary. She had cakes and spaghetti. There were a few balloons around and her guests enjoyed some parlor games. Only, Trixie Gab’s birthday was held at the narrow receiving area of a detention facility. She is the daughter of Jane Beltran Balleta, one of the Morong 43 detainees.

The 43 health workers, now collectively known as the Morong 43, were arrested during a health skills training in Morong, Rizal on Feb. 6. They were under military captivity for almost three months before 38 of them were transferred to a regular detention facility at Camp Bagong Diwa.

A birthday banner made of recycled poster adorned the narrow receiving area of the female detention cell. Trixie Gab’s grandmother Ofelia Beltran-Balleta, daughter of late labor leader Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, brought the food for the party as well as party hats, some game prizes and toys for the other children.

The jail guards did not allow pictures to be taken during the whole celebration except when Trixie Gab blew the candles on her cake and sang the birthday song.

But Trixie Gab’s birthday wish is not-so-ordinary. If other children her age long for toys or clothes , Trixie Gab said she only wants freedom for her mother.

“She visits her mother at least once a week, and on that day, she would report what she did in school. Jane would help her in her assignments and review her on her lessons,” Ofelia said.

Trixie Gab has been used to traveling from San Mateo, Rizal to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. Jane said she always looks forward to her daughter’s visits.

“This is not only a celebration of my daughter’s birthday but also an occasion for our families to get together, and for our children to feel that they are not alone in being a child of a political prisoner,” Jane told Bulatlat.

“Their celebration of Trixie’s birthday inside the jail is her way of giving comfort to her unjustly incarcerated mother,” Ofelia said.

“When we were still young, we get to meet the other children whose parents are like ours (activists) through other activities such as summer camps and somehow we understood what our parents were doing. Now that we are in this situation we also want our children to understand and, like Trixie, to feel that she is not alone in aspiring for our freedom,” Jane said. (Bulatlat.com)

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