A youth activist’s mother seeking the return of her child, once and for all, stood her ground on Thursday saying it is Kabataan party-list group that is making fake stories, as she shared how her daughter, Lorevie, ended up with progressive youth group while she was still studying at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP).
Responding to a statement of the Kabataan party-list Metro Manila chapter saying that a Philippine News Agency’s article titled “Weeping mom to Elago: ‘We are getting sick from worrying’” posted on its website on September 10, 2019, has a few erroneous details that have already been cleared up in Lorevie interviews on August 14, Mrs. Elvie Caalaman said no other person knows what happened to her daughter but her, as the mother.
“Wala akong dapat i-explain kasi anak ko yan eh, alam ko lahat yun (I don’t need to explain anything. I am her mother, I know what happened),” she said in an interview.
On Kabataan’s claim that it is not true Lorevie Caalaman is 16 years old because it has been used as fodder for troll farms to dramatize some form of injustice or crime.
“Lorevie is 19 years old. She became part of Kabataan Partylist when she was already 18 years old,” the group’s statement said.
Started at 16
Mrs.Caalaman, however, said though her daughter has turned 19 last July 2, she was already involved with Kabataan party-list while she was still studying in PUP as a Grade 12 student.
“16 years old po (si Lorevie) nung nag umpisa syang [in]doktrinahan. Nag full-time siya, August 26, 2018. Iniwan niya kami October 24 (She was 16 when she was indoctrinated into the organization. She went on to become a full-time [member] on August 26. She left us on October 24),” she clarified, adding that her daughter was 16 when she started with Kabataan while still in PUP during that time.
“They just waited for her to turn 18, and then she left us. That’s why it feels infuriating, they don’t know how hard it is for parents like us and they just dismiss us that way,” she said in the vernacular.
The group claimed that Mrs. Caalaman’s statement saying joining the youth group made a huge impact on her child’s personality, who eventually quit school and left home, is misleading because Lorevie graduated from Senior High School but did not even apply for college as she and her family were unable to process her papers to apply for university.
“She went from job to job —call center, fast food service, etc. She was already working and not in school when she joined Kabataan Partylist. She was even inspired to join the group because of her own hardships and the inequalities she experienced in her various jobs in the service sector,” the group added.
‘Refused to go to school’
Mrs. Caalaman said her daughter refused to attend school because the “spirit of activism” has taken over her.
“Bago gumraduate ng Grade 12, pina-exam ko na siya sa PUP. Ang exam niya (ay) first session pero pinasukan niya yung second session. Hindi niya sinabi sa akin yung sitwasyon na ‘yan (Before she graduated from Grade 12, I made her take the exam in PUP, too. Her schedule was during the first session but she went to the second session. She did not tell me about that),” she said, adding that it was Lorevie’s cousin who told her that she did not take the exam.
Her daughter, she said, then enrolled at Bestlink College in Novaliches, Quezon City and attended for a few days but she kept complaining about the school.
Lorevie also checked with Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila but wanted to go to PUP because a colleague keeps in contact with her there, she added.
“Meron daw na pwedeng Sabado ang pasok. Pero nakarating kasi sa amin [galing] sa pinsan niya na nasa PUP din na ang organisasyon pala ang inaapplyan nya doon, ‘yun pala ang Kabataan party-list, kaya pinahinto ko siya (They said she can take classes on weekends. But it came to us, through her cousin who also goes to PUP, that she was applying with Kabataan Partylist so I told her to stop),” she said thus, her suggestion for Lorevie to apply for a job, in the meantime.
She said her daughter tried working in a fast-food chain but quit after two nights, and she was not at home when a call center company tried to reach her for an interview.
No plan to work, study
“Wala talaga siyang plano na magtrabaho o mag-aral na, kasi nasa pagiging aktibista na talaga ang puso nya (She was not interested to work or go to school anymore because she was already decided to become an activist),” she said.
“Paano asikasuhin [ang papers], di nanaman siya nagpakita at ayaw na niya mag aral. Pinilit ko at yung pangalawa kong anak, pina pa-chat ko na mag aral siya, ayaw na raw talaga niya kaya anong i-process? Siya mismo ayaw niya mag-aral (What papers will we process? She was not showing up, we could hardly reach her. Lorevie said she’s not interested, so what will we process? She won’t go to school anymore),” she added.
Contrary to Kabataan’s statement that Lorevie is not missing but in fact, in constant communication with her mother, despite being sent hostile messages, Mrs. Caalaman said she only saw her daughter come home at least seven or eight times since she left to stay at the Kabataan headquarters since October 24, 2018.
“She was never missing as her own mother’s Facebook photos can attest to that. All-year-round last year, she goes home regularly. The latest and most notable events of her being at home are mother’s day in May, her turning over her crown in the beauty pageant in the barangay (witnessed by all of those in attendance in the barangay) in June, and her birthday in July,” the group said. “She was still even going home even after her mother started appearing on television (government station PTV 4 on July 17) claiming she is “missing”, to ask her why she is doing that. She was only met by the reply ‘stop what you are doing or I won’t stop.’”
Mrs. Caalaman has this reply, “Sa tanda ko, umuwi sya noong masakit ang ngipin nya, papacheck-up sya daw sya, tapos noong nag turn over sya ng crown sa barangay, at nung July 2 kasi birthday nya. July 3 ng madaling araw pasado alas kwatro, umalis din. Mas marami yung oras nya doon kaysa dito (As I recall, she went home when she needed to see a dentist because her tooth aches, she came home when she had to turn over her crown at the barangay, and on July 2 her birthday but she left at past 4 the following morning. That’s still almost all her time spent there and not with us).”
But right now, Elvie said, she hardly heard of Lorevie anymore.
“Hindi na sya sumasagot ngayon eh. Ayaw na mag reply, sine-seen lang. Pero hindi ko alam kung sya yun. Sana nga sya yung nagbabasa ng mga text ko. Hindi ko naman alam kung sya may hawak (She no longer responds to us. She won’t reply, our messages are just ‘seen’. But I don’t know if it’s her, maybe she’s not the one reading my messages, maybe someone else holds her phone. We don’t know),” she added.
Not used by gov’t
Mrs. Caalaman belied Kabataan claims that she is being used by the police and army to go against leftist youth organizations.
The group said Lorevie is afraid of her own safety and of her mother being exploited by police and military for what ends and to what benefits.
“Walang gamitan dito. Pursigido lang kaming mga magulang na makuha ang anak namin. At ganito kami ka pursigido kasi ayaw na namin na may mga magulang pang maranasan ang naranasan naming hirap, sakit, pagdurusa kasi di biro ang nangyayari sa amin (We are not being used here. We are just dedicated as parents to get our child back from them. We are this driven because we do not want any more parents to suffer the way we did, the way we are– it’s no joke),” Mrs. Caalaman said.
“May pangarap kami sa anak namin, may pangarap sila, pangarap ni Lorevie maging guro. Pangarap namin matupad ang pangarap nila (We have dreams for them, they have dreams of their own. Lorevie wanted to be a teacher. Our dream is to have their dreams fulfilled),” she added.
It is also an old trick of the party-list, she said, to play the victim and twist the story while avoiding the questions they should answer.
“Hindi naman yan [Kabataan] sumasagot kung ano-anong issue eh. Gumagawa sila ng bago para makaiwas. Kung alam namin na maganda ang patutunguhan ng Kabataan na yan, hindi namin sila kukunin doon pero hindi eh alam namin na kapahamakan lang (They never really answer the issue. They make up something else to avoid it. If Kabataan really helps our children, we won’t stop them but we can see that our children only end up in trouble),” she said in between sobs.
“Sila ang [gumagawa] fake news (They are the ones making fake news),” she said.
In a report released by Inquirer.net on August 14, Lorevie has refuted her mother’s claims, saying she was not kidnapped nor forced to stop schooling by militant activists.
The report said Lorevie was shocked at her mother’s appearance in a Senate hearing and clarified that “while she did not live at home, she made periodic visits and was constantly in contact with her parents.”
The older Caalaman, is a member of the newly-formed League of Parents of the Philippines, which expressed strong condemnation of the acts perpetrated by militant organizations, such as alleged brainwashing and controlling the minds of minor students.
The group earlier petitioned the Department of Justice for a writ of habeas corpus against Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago to produce the minors who were recruited into progressive youth groups. (PNA)