DILIMAN WAY: New horizon for new beginnings
“To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are to weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause”
-The first half of the song, “The Impossible Dream” in the musical, MAN OF LA MANCHA
This song has captured the minds and hearts of several known personalities in this country who dreamed to be President – Vice-President Salvador “Doy” Laurel, Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. and Congressman Evelio Javier. They loved this song. They sang it publicly with a lot of passion. But they failed to achieve their dream.
I love this song, too, but not singing it in public for fear of meeting the same fate that befell these dynamic personalities. In private – yes! In whispers – more so!
This article is in response to comments of three of my friends and readers on my previous article on system change since I cannot make an individual response on the space marked Reply – Benjamin Tiu Contreras, Evangeline Sarenas Mitton and Vic Cabanag.
On who’ll carry the torch: Benjamin Tiu Contreras makes very perceptive, interesting and provocative comments to my DILIMAN WAY. One of those is the following: “Who’s going to carry on with your ideas when you are gone? How many out there think the way you do? For those who have nothing or less in life to those who have already the world in their hands, they think of money and more money. They probably thought that patriotism cannot feed the stomach. But I wish you the best in your dreams, Bono. You can always be that little spark that could ignite a conflagration of radical ideas.”
Response: Thank you, Ben, for this enthusing provocation. Who’s going to carry the torch long after I’m gone? The next one will have to wait for a long time before I pass the torch. With God’s blessing I’ll be live and kicking in this country for quite sometime. My father, Pedro Adaza, Jr., the legendary mayor of our town, Catarman, Camiguin, died at the young age of 96 – and I’m still a parallax away from that. Moreover, the history of the world is replete with precedents of personalities who had radical ideas which became the accepted guides for so many countries in the world.
The communist duo, Marx and Engels, who researched in the gloomy halls of the British Museum for their masterpiece, The Communist Manifesto, must never have thought that their ideas could enflame the hearts and minds of people in the world and build countries on the power of their ideas – from Russia to China, Cuba to Vietnam, North Korea to Venezuela.
Similarly, in the lonely rooms at his residence in Montecillo, Thomas Jefferson, could never have imagined that his masterpiece, The American Declaration of Independence, could spark a conflagration which established democracy as a way of life in many countries in the world – America to Britain, France to Germany, Philippines to Japan, Malaysia to Indonesia, Australia to New Zealand, India to Singapore, many countries in Asia, Africa, Middle East, Europe and Latin America.
Our Constitution has enshrined in two provisions the germinal ideas of Jefferson’s American Declaration of Independence – in Section 1, Article II which provides that “The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” and Section 1, Article III which provides that “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws (sic).”
These are indelible precedents in the history of successful march of ideas in the world and I have no doubt that the ideas I have expressed in my previous column on system change could and will move mountains of inequality, injustice, oppression, lawlessness, corruption and criminality in this country.
Spark: Ben, you used the word “spark to ignite a conflagration of radical ideas.” Strange as it may seem, that word was the title of the publication of the Russian revolutionaries which ignited the Russian Revolution. Modesty aside, I am not new to creating sparks which ignite conflagrations.
When I was age 22 as Editor-in-Chief of The Philippine Collegian, official student publication of the University of the Philippines, I asked many members of the UP Student Council, including its President, Fernando “Nanding” Lagua, to join me in a call for a demonstration to compel the UP Board of Regents to elect a UP President. They all refused saying that UP students will not join because it’s December of 1956. Undaunted, I came out with three extra issues of the Philippine Collegian with the headline STRIKE asking UP students to demonstrate to force the UP Board of Regents to elect a UP President.
The impossible happened. One cold December morning in 1956, in the first day of the misa de gallo, young UP students, most of them women, were lying down in the street leading to the UP Diliman campus, twenty meters long, prevented all buses and other vehicles to enter the campus, resulting to all units of the UP from Diliman to Los Baños, Tarlac to Cebu and to Iloilo staging similar demos.
End result –Christmas vacation was declared early by two weeks, the traditional Christmas Festival in the UP Diliman campus was cancelled for the first and only time and a UP President got elected. For leading the demonstration, the new UP President and the UP Executive Committee penalized me by not allowing me to March in the graduation exercises even though I have graduated in the top ten of my class, refused to give me my diploma and deprived me of graduating with honors by giving me grades of 3 which resulted to plunging me to number 8 in the graduating class when in the last semesters twp pf my classmates and I were fighting to graduate valedictorian.
But UP lost in the fight because I gained headlines and front page treatment in all the Manila dailies; an audience with President Carlos P. Garcia in his office in Malacañang where I exchanged views with him on my case and on national heroes; Senator Emmanuel N. “Maning” Pelaez delivered two well-applauded privileged speeches on the floor of the Senate on my defense and berating UP authorities for violation of academic freedom; a privileged speech by Congressman Fausto “Totong” Dugenio of Misamis Oriental in my defense; a month long coverage on my case by mainstream media; my passing the bar examinations despite the objection of UP authorities.
It was a roller coaster ride but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Marcos martial law years: I spent one year, six months and eleven days in the Marcos political detention centers in Camp Crame and Fort Bonifacio on the claim of government martial law enforcers like Defense Minister Juan P. Enrile that I was a subversive. I was not a subversive then, I might just become a subversive in defiance of a system that has brought nothing but misery and oppression to our people.
But I am not a believer in settling issues through the force of arms. I am a true believer in the settlement of issues through civil debate and intelligent conversation – with the use of fundamental constitutional tools. That’s me – the peaceful true believer.
And in the loneliness of the Marcos prisons, I started finalizing my vision of a New Horizon where the country and its government advocate and work for a just, equal, free, caring and progressive society.
The impossible: It was impossible for me to be set free from the political prisons of FM. The impossible happened – I was released from the Marcos political prisons thanks to Secretary of Public Works and Highways Antonio Raquiza. It was impossible for me to become Governor of Misamis Oriental against the formidable forces of President Marcos and Vice-President Pelaez but I got elected Governor – thanks to the intelligent and courageous people of Misamis Oriental. It was impossible to impeach and oust FM from the presidency with his invincible forces. But the impossible happened with the help of my mouth in Parliament in the words of First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, the United Democratic Opposition (UNIDO), Defense Minister Enrile and PC Chief Ramos, Jaime Cardinal Sin and the people of Metro Manila who rallied behind UNIDO presidential candidate Corazon “Cory” Aquino.
Will the New Horizon ever come? The answer is in the womb of emerging developments. But if precedents were to be the basis for an answer to that question – it probably will in no time.