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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chapter 33 - Coming Home

Chapter 33
Coming Home

     “I’m coming home to your loving heart.You’re the one that I adore though we broke apart.  I want you.  I need you.  I know it’s true I made you cry.  I must get back to you somehow.  So now I’m coming home to you.  My life is nothing without you.   Please let me stay. . ."

It’s Tom Jones  old time classic favorite’s “I’m Coming Home” providing soundtrack as Fr. Driarco was aboard the Cruiser Ship sailing from Manila towards his home Marble County.
“You’re right it’s such a beautiful heart-rending ballad from a lover who having realized how long he has been away, decided to go back home hopefully for good,” his creative subconscious seemingly playing with him listening the song played.
“What an apt music playing the soundtrack of his life reliving those exciting beautiful memories together down the memory lane,” Fr. Driarco thought his eyes set on beautiful sunset melting away from the horizon while occasionally staring on how fast the foam of the ocean is blown away as the Roro boat gathered speed away from highly peaceful and orderly Batangas port.
“Love is never love until you give it away and returns back to you,” the thought playing in his mind now as his yearning to be home is given a fitting close.
“What a sentimental journey it has been  indeed reinforced by the nostalgia invoked through that song probably only this great singer with resonant voice could  best deliver the message with aplomb and  justice,” the thought continue engrossing him as fresh and biting sea breeze caressed his face sending long and straight  hair flinging  in the air.
Constantly gliding against normal cascading waves, the Roro boat continues  sailing Tablas Strait the sun gradually losing its luster as if bidding him goodnight after hard day’s grueling journey from Mindanao  finally setting engulfed by dark clouds  in the horizon. This as his journey played back those dramatic and beautiful memories together as if too soon gone by.

. . . . . . . . . 

"To the General as well as other military officers who participated in the dirty work,
the dental strategy was the best thing that happened to Martial Law.
To them, their tooth loss was the government’s gain.”
Robert Ja. Basilio Jr.

Ah September! That ninth month of the year ushering in cold breeze gently caressing our faces sending our hair flinging into the air reminding of Christmas and all the bliss it brings among employees and lowly paid workers in private companies sending our hearts into fleeting joyful anticipation of windfall that comes as early as second week of November.  Not indeed a bad premium now that we are nearly reaching the last quarter of the year.  Try more reminiscing the fantasy that comes out of September.  Green grass, love so tender, the Brother’s Four would tell us; brand new day sending some romance and fantasy, September morn will always be this way, jazz singer Neil Diamond in his resonant voice would sing.

"What many beautiful thoughts we could  associate with September.  But back to sanity, that’s only part of it unless we would allow  history later condemning our bigotry," his thought reminded him its importance.

"Though we could also associate significant events for September like the holding of first meeting of Congress in Barasoin Church on the first day on 1896; if you wish, add Erap’s declaration of an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf Group on the 16th never mind the implacable skyrocketing exorbitant fuel prices as big fuel companies are planning for another two pesos hike anyway, momentary media blackout on military’s campaign in Jolo, and the death of San Lorenzo Ruiz on the 28, the impact of Martial Law paving the way for ruthless fourteen long years of dictatorship far outweigh them all."

No question about these events.  They are all significant.  But for our children and great grandchildren’s sake, we should not forget Sept. 21 of 1972 as the day of infamy, an editorial of Daily Inquirer would remind us. And rightly so. Consider the evil that the monster Martial Law brought to our people.  There are too many of them from massacre or ambushes to assassination, illegal detention to cronyism in effect, institutionalization of graft and corruption and the most celebrated of them all – torture par excellence and all other military and paramilitary abuses. 

"Want to experiment one? Manila and Cebu’s answer over the weekend was very emphatic and resounding: Never again!"  But I’m just a Martial Law baby back then, you might keep bargaining wanting to come closer out of a heck of it to the thought of what is to live under dictatorial rule.  Then brace yourself for harrowing experience satisfaction guaranteed. How? Simply request any military to employ systematic torture like maybe forcibly extracting your tooth squeezing you to the last drop of your blood  confessing your  sins you never even thought of committing in the first place.  After your first and only experience, tell me if you would not readily answer “Never again” at the top of your lungs wanting the whole world to hear your confession.

And call it coincidence if you want as there’s no parroting here, “Never Again” too slips through his mind like globules and was used by people staging rallies driving home the message that is Martial Law. Manila protesters led by Sen. Teofisto Guingona, Charito Planas and many other familiar faces had already staged their protest under the “Never again” slogan.  of this article is my very honest answer for Martial Law having witness the ruthless rule of the camp. There’s no need experiencing it. We have already seen its barbarity with our bare eyes, heard its horrors like nightmares in our dreams driving each one crazy over radio and word of mouth giving and doing great more harm and damage than good. So never mind Martial Law. Let’s buried it on the past and never it allow to resurrect. And if by some miracle manages to survive, offer oneself as sacrifice for the restoration of democracy. That’s what we did on EDSA.

Fr. Driarco has been alluded its barbarity in his speeches and homilies  but let it be said once more with feelings if only to drive home the message he is  driving across: God forbid. No more Martial Law. It was just like Damocles blade hanging and then falling among hapless Filipinos on that fateful day of September 1972, twenty eight long years ago. To those who survived and able to tell the tale from that incident once is more than enough."

"His metaphor for dictatorship is a needle swiftly planted into our cranium sending indescribable pain in our senses or call it conscience if you wish. That Senate and Congress jointly embarked on collecting literature, data, journals about Martial Law is definitely a welcome development notwithstanding too late the effort. The Jews did it to avert another genocide and in fact, even goes some extra mile by hunting Nazi butchers overseas through MASSAD. Cambodia on the other hand, had mountain of files of skeletons to remind them of the horror of the past and to exorcise the ghost of the barbarity of Khmer Rouge Pol Pot’s reign on 1975-79."

"When would we do our share? While there is still time or when we would also be blown into bits and pieces." the question he posed.

"Torture was just one of the dreaded feature of Martial Law. And that experience alone send tremble down our spine. So you want Martial Law? Better answer “Never again”. And hope it’s not just a rhetorical answer as you should stand ready to defend and be judged by your answer and if need be, fight for democracy many Filipinos have already shed their blood defending and restoring it.. . . " the clincher that take him back to sanity this as passengers were preparing their belonging as the boat would soon dock Odiongan port.
It was like a dream come true indeed going  home  at last after those long years of  wanderlust bringing his political beliefs in different parts of the country.  Thus, an excitement surging  as he disembarked from the huge metal gangplank from the RoRo boat arriving at the port of Odiongan, Romblon.

“Home at last!” he felt like shouting overwhelmed by the familiar sights beckoning on him - the parola on the beach its light illuminating darkness afar. And lo and behold  what a  vast and marked  improvements feasting his eyes looking around.
“Must have really been long years since I did not visit my beloved Marble County.”  True enough given roughly three decades of drama living like fugitive shaking out every dragnet set by authorities forever living like any freeman enjoying satiated from the lust over   the beauty that is life.
The port was excellent  what with all those improvements put in place. Unlike before where you have to fight it out and finding your way against wild and  onrushing passengers and laborers giving you headache wishing you did not travel anymore. Today order is seen all over making  traveling practically like a breeze. But to his surprise the motorcycle fare was prohibitively sky-high more than ordinary taxi fare  as he paid arriving home. Understandably maybe because the arrival was already past unholy hours  midnight.
Just how long he’s been away. “Well if how then magnificent Araneta Coliseum imposing its towering grandeur against Cubao skyline but now mercifully dwarfed by condominiums in the background is the cue, then it is truly long as if far bygone years,” he thought. The vacation was therefore welcome development and definitely colorful traveling back down the memory lane reminiscing those good old days again.

But all were gone now as Marble Country morphed into a progressive and competitive province teeming with sky-rocketing commercial buildings.  Houses like castles like in fairytales changed mostly the residential landscape of the municipality. This was made possible because of the competition of the remittance of Almighty Dollars among the sons and daughters of the homeowners who are mostly Overseas Filipino Workers. Constructed integrating marbles from balustrades in the entrance  to sala, kitchen and sleeping quarters and chandeliers you would mistook as hanging giant lanzones in the night when lighted indoors, could make  your night sleeping the longest sending your stress and worries away. The colorful ice-cream like flavor given all those sweet looking  mixture of  yellow, green, scarlet and various color combinations, makes you wonder how Odionganons are agog in exploiting maze of combinations like any rainbow hunters for color.
The town is relatively peaceful now, and cleanliness and order are felt and seen all over as you walk around.
“The roads are mostly  paved too. It’s almost all concrete pavement all over in all circumferential road of Tablas,” Julie, Driarco’s stepbrother enthused and confessed meeting him in the port. As usual, superb marble products Romblon is famous could be seen all over. Marble figurines from exquisite dancing swans and galloping horses to colorful key holders among other marble products are still on display.  But not anymore on makeshift shanties but on permanent display centers dramatizing the premium provincial government is giving promoting exquisite marble industry, Romblon province is  known for.
It’s sad to note though that politics however is still taking its toll from the province.  Gauging from the scandalous and vulgar thread in Facebook and UTube washing dirty linen in public probably dragging the good name even those who carved a niche in the country’s literature the likes of NVM Gonzales and other Romblon  greats is annoying.
“Why all this crab mentality mindset have not changed for the better of the Province?  This what we get engaging in dirty politics,” Driarco reflected.
“How in God’s name they could not be more sober and professional in dishing out services to the people when she’s all what we’ve got?  What a sign of immaturity giving disservice instead to next generation.  Who could afford not giving his best shot for the Province?” the question reverberating in the air.

Blast from the past was soon rekindled as he was on his way visiting his once beloved Alma Mater wondering how many from among his cliché would attend today’s Anniversary. Aromatic scent of palay, classmates unrepentant voices as they lend their helping hands planting rice at  his farm in RSU, coco beer  constantly overflowing in cans and containers once upon a time, afternoon spent away listening and sharing anecdotes and serenading in the evening comes vacationing  beautiful ladies from Manila, fishing catching all those fishes by the nets –once  regular fixture of yesterday when they were young and innocent cohesive bands of adventurous students sent him fleeting contentment as he smiled hearing banters inside the still Aling Nita’s Refreshment Parlor.  Smiling and for sure waiting many happy songs to be sung.
True enough wave of catcalls erupted as he stepped in.  This was followed by the collective rendition of the group’s favorite ditty – “Ibon man may laying lumipad, kulungin mo ma’t umiiyak.  Bayan pa kayang sakdal dilag .. . .” This time however a descant was added by Driarco saying “Mindanao O Mindanao.  Mindanao Na bayan ko.  Ikaw ay nasa puso ko, Mindanao ikaw ang buhay ko!”
It’s such a fitting refrain as the group reminisced the good old days again. Mostly so far were sporting formal attire diametrically opposing the good old days.  Hairs were noticeably trimmed.  Bodily improvement getting bigger is also noticeable.  Natural development.  Three so far were taken ahead by the Lord – Josie, Lino and Rona – but otherwise, the group still remain intact. What a grand eyeball to eyeball celebration savoring all the thrills and experiences of each one living to the fullest.  Some dangerously brought about by the nature of their work but most importantly, by the vision and dreams of joining the National Struggle for liberation restoring back democracy – this Driarco feels the sweetest of them all.
Hugging, shaking, kissing after gestures of give me “Five” were all seen all over renewing bond of friendship.  This didn’t escape the enjoyment of each one.  And one among the happiest was between Fr. Driarco and Major Taklin de la Rosa each one thought would never see each other again alive.  Wrong, they were among the two warm bodies present!

The Flight     |     EDSA

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