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Friday, December 14, 2012

Chapter 34 - EDSA

Chapter 34

              Two huge mango trees serving as mute witnesses on the events unfolding in the stage used to stand solidly on the ground their weight reclining towards the clinic at the back stage of the schoolcampus. Still robust as ever despite numbers of furious and frenzied storm rampaging over the past decade that have seen many fruit trees and coconuts uprooted nearby, they too were once living testament of the  history unfolding in the country. For many years, these mango trees have indeed stood against the test of time braving even the ferocity of storms withering them away each time they wreck havoc on the campus. Some of its mature branches were sometimes felled to the ground but its main trunk remain standing tall against the challenge of the power of  the raging probably eye of the storm   all the way from Surigao City passing through Sorsogon of Bicol Region before proceeding Romblon through Masbate. Just how ferocious these storms are could be seen how  galvanized iron sheets roofing flying far and away  thrown in the air like Aladdin’s magic carpet.
            Over those thirteen long  years, their strength have not withered. Flowers once seen protruding throughout their stems and branches allowing bees and other insects had their day full  feasting on its  sweet nectar.  In the evening fireflies would lit themselves up and underneath their leaves while crickets sang merrily their hearts out as if in celebration ushering of another bountiful harvests of sweet mangoes.
            But gone were those huge mango trees now giving way to high rise school buildings to accommodate bigger students as the school once an Agricultural College morphed into a State University. Gone too was an old stage. In its stead stands newly built sophisticated multi-purpose stage with top of the line sound system.
            Traveling down the memory lane was fast for the group as they now joined the students celebrating their anniversary in time of the schools celebration of successful People Power revolution staged in Manila. Time is indeed as fleeting as the wind as they bonded and saw personally each other again this time with all those indications of time taking its toll. Gray hairs, receding hairlines, loss of teeth, bodies big and wide – all these were very pronounced.  All eyes however were focused to the stage where it was once the forum of important gatherings from seminars to workshops, student rallies to concerts. It’s where the young ones Driarco, Taklin de la Rosa and the rest of the gang had their baptism of fire  of their leadership qualities from holding of various rallies during student elections ventilating whatever platform they have, singing too as if their concert stage when they have to forcibly squeezed their lungs out for a song or two in an attempt of winning the needed votes to win an election. Who could forget too that historic chapter in the country’s history  when declaration of  Martial Law was held right there debated on by Mr. Paler catching many students captive audience wondering whatever happened stunned and disoriented.
            That was fourteen years passed almost. And today would be a redo of that incident, a second chapter to witness the threshold of their dreams, the paradigm shift from dictatorship back to democracy via Revolutionary  government of Cory Aquino, newly installed Philippine President through Peoples’ Power in Manila
        The remnants could only sigh deep bated breath of relief learning that militarization or dictatorship ended.  It was just like any  dream.  And as it was really bad, it was hoped that its evil would be exorcised  not to visit even in dream as it might instead dreamed away like any proverbial ghost flushed out from consciousness.
            From their seat, happiness could be seen spread right all over their many faces. Why not hearing and witnessing the good news that Marcos flew away to Hawaii for safety was unbelievable. For who could ever thought that it would end that way with all those innocent lives lost and sacrificed.
            “EDSA Revolution, unprecedented in world history is taking place right in our country,” Mr. Paler, the familiar sight on the stage broke the news obviously elated before his captive audience.
            “I can’t personally believe myself caught in the threshold of history again today! It was in this same venue and forum  I  once announced then the declaration of Martial Law many years past  sending you all students crazy back then,” he added as the crowd erupted into collective applause.  His gray hair now very pronounced probably the result of too many pressure on his work as College Principal. Putting on the video presentation, all eyes of the mammoth crowd were glued to the dramatic show of People Power footages taken few days ago with all yellow colors and capital “L” for  Laban sign seen all over raised while deafening ‘Cory, Cory, Cory” chanted by people  reverberated in the air featuring Cory Aquino and renegade generals Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos as usual with tobacco in his mouth.
            “You must believe this! It’s true,” the aging Mr. Paler  commented while the great show was on.
            “Now who was it who said that all 68 million Filipinos were cowards that we have yet to wait  a man to be born to challenge Ferdinand Marcos. They are dead wrong. They should be crucified right here right now for having erred in their calculation.  The answer is here and now. They miscalculated. For in the first place, it was not a man but a woman. . . , “ the crowd frenzied roaring in unison  before Mr. Paler could even pronounced the name.
            “Cory, Cory, Cory . . . ,” they chanted while pushing their Laban sign up into the air.
            “Sorry to tell and let’s accept  it in jubilation celebrating  that we Filipinos are the bravest animals in this planet of apes. Witness how our forefathers protected our country against foreign invaders from Magellan, American, Japs and Spanish Conquistadores and now rightfully against a dictator and his cohorts running scared their balls safely secured in between their legs in a bloodless revolution yet.”
            “Must be kidding. But tell me where in the world you could find a peaceful revolution as that.  Not anywhere else but only in this country,” he emphasized with feelings. Moving on, he cleared.
            “Sun Tzu was right in his ‘ The ‘Art of War’ that the best way and most effective way of capturing an enemy is by capturing them without firing a single shot. We did. Had he been alive today he would have come over and exchanged give-me-five gestures to each Filipino congratulating us for showing the way validating his strategy.”
            “But ladies and gentlemen let us not however close our guard leaving history to give us the final verdict.  For all we know the Apo and Imelda have many aces stuck right under their sleeves. Add their forever loyalists and you have an unpredictable scenario that could still pull up some surprises. Among others there seems to be an endless maze to recover their hidden loot to award the human rights victims of Martial Law.
            “Correct,” Monera commented. “Good Mr. Paler emphasized that. For you could not give all your trust to conjugal dictators,” she added.
            “With her stunning beauty, look how Imelda is so deceiving. Consider her velvety skin wearing her signature mestiza dress. Isn’t she an angel. . . ?” Monera whispered to Eliza nearby.
            “Children quiet . . . ,” Romulo fidgeted.
            “How  could a devil be an angel!” he mumbled.
            “Let it be then a strong reminder to all of us that great disparity between democracy and dictatorship .  It should be mistake anyone of  us should not mess and afford to commit or we will be relegated to the dustbin of history later. It’s easy of course to plunge into given our human frailly but it is hard to get rid from,”
            “Witness how we in roughly fourteen years were abused trampled, suppressed, tortured or summarily killed without even allowing our voices heard. Witness our institutions falling into pieces one after the other because of this abuse.  Common, let’s wake up! This is real and there’s no other better alternative than democracy.  It’s everybody else choice to live. But  we’ve got to pay the price for that choice.  History tells us that it was not given in silver platter.  On the contrary, we worked  it  hard giving credit to where it is due.  But above, we must practice it. For who else could serve as vanguard of our noble political system if not ourselves.  Forget Uncle Sam. He has his priorities, tinkering with other countries through his Benevolent Assimilation and Manifest Destiny. They been there all over and have seen influencing political events more for his own good.”
            “Remember ours is the only country we’ve got.  We are no mortals. Generations come and go but she remains forever till the end of time outliving all of us.  Let it be then our legacy sustaining her strength never bleeding her to death invigorating her with warmth and tender loving care taking charge of sustaining her Mother Nature all the way protecting her environment.”
            “Recall that there’s really no place like home.  I bet you all as I can see all in your face shining. God is really good if I may sound religious.  He allows us to pin the dictator and his henchmen down  not allowing us squeezing their throat to death. Vengeance is mine, He said. So He give it and Marcos got it. “
            “But I know reconciliation is tough as we have to draw the line yet between charity and justice. When you go home, kindly kiss your father. Remind him that the best gift a father could give to his children is to love their mother.  Tell him that God created her perfectly  that despite her human frailty, the country needs her above all else as in a home,” Mr. Paler  uttered showing that after all as a father he is also romantic.
            “She was like Mary, the one chosen to liberate the country from dictatorship. Truly heaven-sent!” he acknowledged.
            “In God, everything really is simply possible.  That she gets democracy and put back in place albeit  the claim of many critics that she’s merely a mere housewife dragged into the limelight by Ninoy,” is for now more than enough.
            “Now that she did very significant favor for all Filipinos, it is just proper to support and participate in all her program and projects.
            “To close this forum, I suggest that we hold a ceremony in honor and memory of many lives sacrificed and in thanksgiving to God for allowing the humble housewife Pres. Cory Aquino for restoring democracy hopefully  leading  us back to Promise land that is truly prosperous and blessed Philippines,” he uttered this time his voice becoming resonant as lighted candles were distributed around.
            “Amen, Amen and Amen,” the collective voices full of entreaty were heard.
            “Martial Law was no doubt had been a nightmare to Filipinos. Now that we have driven the dictator again, let an apt epitaph be embossed on its tombstone: here lies the Devil that is Martial Law. Let no one allowed disturbing this monster sleeping in perpetuity!” the Principal prayed his face and all those surrounding him radiant from the reflection of lighted candles. Soon all candles were put on the makeshift altar their light hardly extinguished  even as strong winds came rushing blowing them off away.
            How exactly Mr. Paler managed to staged that symbolic burial of Martial Law right on stage as clincher was amazing. One thing though is sure, it might be that  the spirits of those whose lives have been sacrificed some of whom might be graduates of the University prodded him to.
            “What if it would resurrect?” a student ventured.
         “No way or we would again summon God over there to purge the bad spirit,” another responded.
            “But to give you benefits of your doubt, I think yours is the best answer.  In other words if you can confuse the Devil that is dictatorship, good. But is there any better alternative than giving your own life for the love of the country!” the respond was direct and the message just sink deeper than what is expected.
            “Shedding blood for the parched country – this is the highest sacrifice one could ever make,” Fr. Driarco contributed.
            “Amen,” Erly corroborated.
            “As my final shot, let it be inched forever in our hearts as written in the blood of many Filipinos: Please “No more Martial Law,” Mr. Paler pleaded .
            “Once is enough! Yes for democracy,” Mr. Paler concluded.
            “May their souls  and the souls of all the departed rest in peace then,” Mr. Paler completed.
              “It seems like it was twice the thrill and nightmare of the blockbuster Friday the 13th movie. The fact is, it’s real and it did happen few days ago,”  Grace shared updated and overwhelmed too  by the euphoria of People Power.
             “It is just hoped that crime against humanity this part of the country will soon one day  see daylight. When would that be? You may be the one that could make it happen. As John Lennon sings: I hope someday, you’ll join us and make the world will be as one,” Mr. Paler intoned back.
            “As we just recovered it, I hope to savor myself the freshness that is democracy. Let us then renew our commitment of protecting at all cost against any tyrant and pretenders who might be suffering Messianic complex.,” he added  not yet finished with his commentary revealing all stones unturned.
        “We would soon be riding the popularity of revolutionary government.  I hope the transformation would be properly facilitated. Never mind how long it would take us there. The point is, the vision is already visible. Let us trace the path back towards peace until we have a new Constitution to guide us in our journey towards our complete liberation and fulfillment which is what Tita Cory intends to do. “
            “As we are caught by yellow fever, let it be that way and hope that would be our cue in addressing problems we have in government. Revolutionary government is the best time conducive in auguring desired changes.   Land Reform, purging of undesirable military officials, streamlining of bloated bureaucracy and that should be vigorously pursued at all cost.  The landless farmers, the urban poor, the carpenters, teachers and specially the ordinary Juan de la Cruz on the street should now receive their due. The government should re-direct their efforts to them addressing their problem.”
            “Having said all of these, I’m now thanking each one of you for your general listening patience. Today is the start of an authentic fiesta, a celebration of EDSA. This event is worth remembering. Therefore, to be sure that this event would not slip by away like any drifting sands in our palm, we prepared modest eat-all-can sumptuous feast as thanksgiving.  No limit but there should be no gluttony. May remind you it’s not yet the end of the world yet. Mabuhay Ang Pilipinas.”
The celebration was simply in its festive mood as jars of draft beers were installed all over the place with matching lechon and other menu. It was short of fiesta celebration as everybody have their day full in thanksgiving of the momentous event.
            Martial Law ghost simply refused to die down as each one revealed their own beef.
And how can you as each one could relate with the issue.
            “What makes the incident doubly outrageous is the collateral damage it spilled over among concerned families, friends and relatives,” Louie mumbled.
            “That practically explains the futility of waging war  between the military and perceived enemies. Worst, given this reality of having that orgy of  killing, the vicious cycle of civil strife continues on and on as Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago shows,” the heat simmers from the issue.
            “Tragedy as there will be no end of war as the conqueror continue vanquishing the powerless.  And who suffers most?”
            “Not them but the gullible, mostly the civilians as shown by statistics filing the already saturated long list of statistics of innocent casualties their lives sacrificed against their will.
             “Statistics are vital indicator of reality that excluding those not counted and registered. They are like bikini – bare, bold but hiding something essential,” a maxim would say.

             And speaking of numbers without going into hard figures, history is there validating for us that the 85% casualty involving the civilians far outweigh  those who are directly involved in the hostilities. That’s how glaring the first two world wars staring at us. That not only includes the vast but very prohibitive resources of war chest going down the drain that otherwise would have been used in many development projects that would have done good  in facilitating development related  projects for the people.
            “But the country is still in civil strife and this is not the time to debate on how much  resources is spent,” you might beg the question. 
            Maybe valid ground in engaging into war against the enemies.
            “But when would we ever learn? While there is still time or when we ourselves is blown to bits and pieces?”
             Many of the casualties on the first place did not see daylight because of how they were drag into  the issue  by those who love to kill to stop the killing not out of their own making. Paid mercenaries in other words that is the military arm of the government against their perceived enemies, whoever they are. 
            “Have we forgot that truth always becomes the first casualty in any enmity?”
            “In war there are no victors, only victims,”  Ninoy  even wrote  in his Testament from Prison Cell emphasizing categorically that as much as possible we should love peace live it, breathe it and practice it. He knows for he was there seeing and experiencing the intricacies of war. He himself was once a witness being a young  journalist covering  Korean War back then. A car he bought from the proceeds from such venture was a solace for him, he would reminisced.
            “Why all this division and war among and between people?”
 Ironically, the path towards war is relatively peanuts than peace. “It is easier to wage war  than forging  peace,” Major de la Rosa remembered then PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat wailed the sad reality of division as he fought for the restoration of Palestine from Israel back to his people.  But do we have any  other better way out than  living  at peace with everyone? None! In fact, it’s what God enjoins us to do. “As much as possible as it depends on you, live peaceably with everyone (Romans 12:18) – yourself, friends, enemies, nature, country, environment and with God,” Fr. Driarco ended.

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