#DearPopeFrancis: An Open Letter to Pope Francis by political prisoner’s daughter

by Nikki Gamara


Dear Pope Francis:

Warmest welcome to the Philippines!

Like many Filipinos, I have been anticipating your visit to our country. But I have a very particular reason for this excitement: hope.

In November 2013, I wrote you about my father, Renante, who’s been illegally and arbitrarily jailed since April 3, 2012 , and about my mother, Amelita, who is also facing trumped up criminal charges. That letter was inspired by your exchanges with a fellow young one earlier that year. I had the idea that ordinary people like us can take the chance at drawing your attention and good intentions to the conditions and struggles of many others like me here in our country through a letter.

Now that you are visiting our country, I cannot help but wish I could personally give you my letters; for that may be the least I could do to help let you see how troubled our land is. Your visit will be a grand occasion, prepared for all too well; but more importantly, may it be an opportunity to make our government see what they are actually missing in their buzz of preparations: authenticity to your visit’s theme, Mercy and Compassion.

Our family has always looked forward to your exhortations and other teachings. Not only because I grew up with a spiritual family background, but more so because we see in you a strong ally on our belief that the grieving and struggling majority can reclaim its rights and dignity.

I grew up witnessing how good my parents are, not only to us, their children, but also to others’ children and to other parents like them. Though my father was often away, he showed me how he valued our family with his unwavering commitment to help struggle and build a brighter, more humane and peaceful future for us.  With all these, my heart and mind could not comprehend how a government and society can jail, nab or even kill people who challenge economic structures and system that perpetuates poverty and despair.

My father’s unjust imprisonment of almost three years has been too long and unacceptable, so I pledge to take on whatever is possible to help fight for his freedom. I have been to courts, authorities’ offices and out on the streets countless times. I have sought support from friends and thousand others. I have even written hundreds of letters and appeals addressed to the authorities but were only piled up over with insensitivity and impunity.

Now, I am writing this another one.

But this one, I think, is most special. Because attached herewith is neither a case file nor a notarized document, but a renewed hope that another one, His Holiness, nonetheless, will join our struggle to free my father, to free all political prisoners, to find justice for all the victims of human rights violations and, most of all, to bring about dignity, justice and genuine peace to every Filipino family, to our society.



Nicolette ‘Nikki’ Gamara