I met two girls. Both 15 years old. Both pregnant. They were prostituted by cops since they were 12 years old—locked in a room where men take turns using their bodies. Threatened, they couldn’t resist. No one stopped the cop. He carried a revolver.
I met a girl. She just turned 15 years old. She was wearing a white wedding lace dress. In her country, she is a full-fledged woman trained to cook, weave, and take care of the home. If she does not marry at 15, she becomes a nun.
I read about a girl. She was less than 15 years old. She was killed by two men riding a tricycle, who were targeting her grandfather who was an alleged drug pusher.
I saw a photo of a woman. She was beyond 15 years old. She was holding the dead body of her lover accused of selling drugs, acid tears running down her grief-stricken face. Threatened and killed by cops, they couldn’t resist. No one could stop the cops. They carried revolvers.
I heard about an Australian missionary gang-raped and killed on the 15th of August, 1989. The current president, who was a mayor before, said, "When the bodies were brought out, they were wrapped. I looked at her face, son of a bitch, she looks like a beautiful American actress. She was so beautiful. I thought, the mayor should have been first.”
I know that in the parade of Philippine presidents, there was no deliverance on the 15th. Nor was it followed by peace, with the current 16th administration mandating the bloodshed on alleyways in the slums where the poor and desperate are persecuted nightly by the cops. No one could stop the cops. They carry revolvers.
I was taught the 15th meant deliverance, followed by rest.
But I also know that on the 15th day of every month, contractual workers get paid below-the-minimum wages. There can never be rest.
And so, with this last set, my gun series comes full circle. I infuse 15 revolvers with lace and its attending narratives—her wedding dress she was made to wear by force, her blouse bloodied while embracing a loved one killed, her handkerchief soiled by the daily toil never compensated enough, her panties torn in violence.
With these 15, I lay bare the culture of rape and repression that has silenced every woman. Threatened and killed by patriarchy, gender prejudice and poverty, we must resist together. No one else can stop the bigot mob. We should carry revolvers.