Free after years of imprisonment: Two faces of prison women
MANILA, Philippines – Gloria Ordista and Teresita Tresvalles, both 75 years old, will soon walk away from the prisons which served as their homes for the last decade. Circumstances that brought them there are very different but equally compelling.
One went to jail for killing her husband, the other volunteered to a life in prison to be with her husband.
Love inside prison
81-year-old Avelino Tresvalles was jailed in 2004 for frustrated homicide and homicide committed in his hometown of Virac, Catanduanes. He was among the 27 elderly inmates granted pardon and commutation of sentence by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Up until the awarding ceremony at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on Tuesday, March 7, Avelino was still maintaining his innocence.
"Hindi ko ginawa 'yan. Pinadampot nila ako, kaya nga 'yung papeles ko 'nung dinala ako dito hindi ko pinirmahan kasi hindi ko alam e, kung ano ang pangyayari. Para akong kinulong na hayop, dinampot sa kalsada, pinagkaisahan nila ako e, yung mga nag-complain sa akin," Avelino said.
(I didn't do it. They just picked me up, that's why I didn't sign the transfer documents because I really had no knowledge of the crime. I was jailed like an animal, an animal they picked up on the side of the road, they all ganged up on me.)
When he was brought to jail in Virac, his wife Teresita followed him. When he was brought to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, Teresita left her life behind and found a hut near the minimum compound to be close to her husband.
"Siyempre, walang aasikaso sa asawa ko, kapag walang dalaw nandun ako sa kubo ko, kapag may dalaw nandun ako sa kanya. Nagtiyaga lang, lalo na noong araw hindi 'yan makakakain kasi naka na-stroke siya ng dalawang heart attack yan," Teresita said.
(Who else would take care of my husband but me? If it's visitation day, I'm there with him, if not, I'm in my hut. I endured it all especially back in the days when he couldn't eat by himself because he suffered from two strokes.)
She stayed behind her husband the entire ceremony, and rode with him in a prison car back to the minimum compound while Avelino awaited his freedom.
His commutation of sentence means he still has time left to serve, but that's only a few weeks to a month.
"Salamat sa Panginoon, gabi gabi na nagdasal ako na makalaya na kami," Teresita said.
(Thank the Lord, I prayed every night for us to one day be free.)
'Playboy siya e'
Ordista from Davao City has been jailed in the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong for the last 16 years. Her crime? She shot dead her husband.
According to Ordista, her husband was a serial womanizer who also physically hurt her when she fought back.
"Pangalawang asawa ko siya, biyuda ako noon, nag-asawa ako ulit. Playboy siya e, nag-away kami, naka desisyon ako na mabuti pang mawala na lang sya sa akin, para maputol na ang problema ko. Minsan sinasaktan niya ako kasi lumalaban ako," Ordista said.
(He was my second husband, I was a widow then and I remarried. He was a playboy, we fought one day and I decided it would be better if he was gone, so my problems would stop. Sometimes he'd hurt me because I'd fight him back.)
Ordista said she regrets taking the life of her husband, not because he deserved to live, but because of the life she missed out on.
"'Yung mga minahal ko sa buhay hindi ko nakasama, malayo sila sa amin, siyempre nagsisi ako, kung alam ko pa lang ganito kahaba ang sintensya ko, sana pinabayaan ko na lang," Ordista said.
(I wasn't able to live a life with the people I live with, they were far away from me. So I regret that. Had I known that I was going to be in jail for this long, I would have let it pass.)
Ordista, like Tresvalles, was granted commutation of sentence. She will have to wait a little more until she walks a free woman.
"May kabuhayan ako nang konti, may palayan, konting tanim, niyog, lanzones. Nagpapasalamat kami kay Presidente, Mayor Duterte, na nasama ako sa kalayaan," Ordista said.
(I have a modest livelihood, I have a ricefield a few coconut and lanzones trees. I thank the President, Mayor Duterte for granting me freedom.) – Rappler.com