MANILA, Philippines – Guess who is the latest – and arguably one of the cutest – child rights advocates? She is 8-year-old Yumi Burgos, only child of farmer-activist Jonas Burgos, one of the most recognizable desaparecidos in the country.
Yumi just won second prize in a national poster-making contest called Likhaang Bata, rendering a poster on “Ten Rights of Children” (see poster).
Likhaang Bata is a literary and arts-making contest for the youth and children.
Yumi was barely two when armed men took her “Tati” (short for “Tatay”, or father) and she was blissfully innocent of all that happened later as the family was caught in the maelstrom of searching for a loved one disappeared.
In the first few years since Jonas was seized by six people – accused by the Burgos family as military assets – on April 28, 2007, Yumi went from being quiet and sulking at times, to being a bright, articulate student very interested in the arts.
She never had any formal training in drawing, says her grandmother Edita Burgos, whose campaign to have the military surface her son has brought her to various forums here and abroad. “She just keeps drawing and lives to make greeting cards for everybody.”
All she knows is that “bad men” took her father, and seems to reflect the void in her young heart by frequently drawing “a family with her Tati [how she calls Tatay Jonas] as the most prominent figure. Very often, she portrays herself as a young girl holding hands with her Tati.”
Yumi’s photo, costumed for a school presentation as Muslim princess, reveals eyes and a look that is undisputably her father’s. At least that is something that belongs to her that “the bad men” can never take away.
Meanwhile, the young, happy heart just draws and makes cards for everyone, apparently having learned to keep to herself the poignant pain of loss.