Tag Archives: Martial Law

The spirit of EDSA lives on

Its cathartic power continues to provide relief and refreshes hope. The over arching and encompassing spirit cannot and will never be domesticated. Its mystery remains unspoiled, not completely unfolded.

These three insights summarized my series of reflections on EDSA and Lent during the Silver Anniversary of People Power Revolution in 2011. I was still  struggling with my health condition, at that time, making me vulnerable to depression. A pastor friend  had encouraged me to blog as part of my healing process. Thereafter, I experienced the miracle of blogging.

I have decided to repost these insights as my contribution to the 28th Anniversary of  EDSA Revolution today with the theme “Kapit-Bisig Tungo sa Pagbangon.” For  the historic event was instrumental in changing  my life’s direction. 

The Cathartic power of EDSA

Image credit: The Philippine Star Editorial Cartoon 2/25/2013

Nobody will ever deny that EDSA Revolution had provided relief to wounded and bruised nation, captive for decades by an abusive rule. Although debates over extent of healing still looms, it does not diminish the magical power of the historic event. I continue to experience this power while recalling my half a decade involvement in people’s struggle in the local context as part of the national call. Inevitably, haunting past events involving comrades, friends and the basic masses characterized the slow and painful process undertaken until that victorious day.

The feeling of gratitude to God for my survival and the thoughts of my contribution in shaping the history has been cathartic. Although my involvement pales in comparison to the intensity and period suffered by nameless and countless faces. The cathartic power of EDSA also refreshes my hope to attain full recovery from lingering illness. Chronic heart ailment, compounded by nerve disorder, has constrained my active life of service for three years now. The delay of complete healing makes me vulnerable to discouragement and depression. But recalling EDSA Revolution gives me new drive to conquer, if I will not give in to despair.

EDSA’s over arching and encompassing spirit

Like Lent, nobody can domesticate the EDSA Revolution. Even the so called EDSA heroes cannot claim exclusive right to the historical and mystical event in the Philippines. For the spirit of EDSA is inclusive. It is above all and encircles all.

What happened in EDSA 27 years ago reflects the truism of systems theory. The key concepts of the systems theory are wholeness, relationship, and homeostasis. The beauty of systems theory is represented by the rainbow. While there are only three primary colors (red, yellow, blue) there is a multiplication of colors when these link, interact, and overlap. Try to separate one from the other, and the beauty of rainbow is gone.

Image credit: cbclawmatters.blogspot.com

So with EDSA. It is a culmination of respective struggles participated in by the basic masses who since time immemorial always take the lead as they are ones affected. Then comes various sectors of diverse orientation, status, political and ideological leanings, colors and shapes. Youth, professionals, church people, businessmen and women, government officials, military and others. All have contributed their share in shaping the Philippine history. Try to isolate one, and the beauty of the event is gone.

Such inclusive spirit should have been the focus in celebrating EDSA and in sustaining its gains and the struggle for change. Most often, movement for change and development in any field of endeavor is often hampered by bigotry and exclusivism. Essential issues are sidetracked or left behind to give way to the struggle for supremacy misled by an illusion that one has the sole reservoir of truth and best approach in any given situation. It is only when one realizes the need to link with each other that the beauty of unity in diversity is seen like that of the rainbow.

The unspoiled mystery of EDSA

Twenty eight years after, the mystery of EDSA has not been fully unfolded. Analysts from various socio-political persuasions attempted to explain the event. Some had to come up with new concepts as EDSA Revolution departed from any of the standard categories. While new testimonies from living participants came out every year, they just shed light to understand the pattern of events and contributing factors. But the mystery still remains.

EDSA bloodless Revolution defied logic. For how can you explain this phenomenon: “When guns and tanks of a dictator melted before the flowers held out by priests and nuns, by millionaires’ sons and squatters’ daughters, by ordinary men and women and by young and old alike; when… a new day was ushered in by ordinary Filipino common tao who rose to heroic heights that won the admiration of the whole world…” The quoted description was that of Jorge Lorredo, Jr. in his article “Four Days that changed History” published in Bulletin Today exactly 28 years ago, as cited by Douglas J. Elwood in his book, Philippine Revolution.

The hand of God was there…” was the explanation of the late Dr. Quintin Doromal, former PCCG commissioner & president of Siliman University. Quoted by his friend Douglas Elwood in the book, Doromal, an Ilonggo leader, was a witness to the event, having joined his old friend Fidel Ramos at Camp Crame and stayed there with him throughout those critical anxious hours.

Indeed, God acts through people, as surely as he speaks through people, and that he uses the sometimes complex interconnection of human forces to serve his larger purposes.


On Placards and Strained Voices

Guest blog post by Dazen Dawn P. Lariza*

Article first published  on Central Echo, October 2012 edition.

Under the striking heat of the burning sun they stand clothed in sweat-drenched fabric and glistening faces that speak of courage and anger. With fists held high, they fight oppression, not with grenades and bombs and nuclear weapons but with their right to be loud, their right to be heard, their right to be free etched in placards and streamers that cry “CHANGE” and “JUSTICE.”

Activism has become the reason for enlightenment in many dark periods in our history such as Martial Law. As the government resulted to all sorts of actions in order to suppress their freedom, a new revolution was created through groups of Filipinos, especially students, who fought for their rights. The death of thousands created a ripple of events that brought forth a peaceful war of words and prayers which ended the dictator’s reign, hence, the reason why student activism still prevails in our present society.

Some may wonder why students choose to become activists and do things that may be considered “acts of rebellion.” Well, you’d have to think like an activist and learn to sympathize with what they fight for in order to understand what they do. Oikos Ecological Movement and League of Filipino Students (LFS) member Jan Pachoco didn’t understand the reason why student activists resulted to such actions until he got to know them and the reason behind their actions and eventually decided to join in the crowd.

Actually at first, when I see activists on the streets I wonder why they do such things and why they question and blame the government for all the crises faced by our society. But when I got to know them, my mind was opened to the sad realities they see,” he said.

The life of being a student activist is not an easy road. People misjudge you; your time has to be divided, and you have to keep secrets from people close to you if they turn against you and your beliefs. Student activists have far greater issues than picking an outfit for College Night of leveling up your character on League of Legends.

According to Jan, being a student activist has its demands. One of which is sacrificing time to study the different issues which confront the present generation. “We cannot make a concrete analysis and solution to the problems if we do not know the issue,” he said, adding that such a sacrifice is not a big deal because “if we were truly committed to the principles we would not hesitate to sacrifice a little for the good of every Filipino.”

Aside from that comes the pressure of some parents on their children to stop involving themselves in student activism. Jan said it is the greatest issue most of his colleagues have to face. They have to make their parents and families understand that such actions are note merely for their own good but also for the family. With this, Jan quoted a line from Renato Constantino saying, “If parents of today do not march with the youth, they will be left behind and will deserve only the censure of history. If the youth fail to enlist the active participation of other sectors of society, their movement will suffer from a fatal distortion.

Other than those stated above, student activists have to face the watchful eyes of their own Universities’ administrations especially on those coming from the LFS who oppose tuition fee increases and the likes. Various administrations such as those in the University of the Philippines take extra effort in trying to get rid of them.

In a statement posted on LFS.ph in December 7, 2010 by then UP Aterisk member Dino Pineda, he had said “We thought we were dying. We thought student activism had gone down the slope, and had become irreconcilably ‘uncool’ for the generation.” Dino stated actions which their administration did to silence them and their efforts in fighting against this. He ended his statement with this line, “More and more, we are seeing how this Administration is trying to kill us. Yes, we are dying. But we are not dying without a fight.”

Contrary to what others believe in, their efforts in fighting for social change are not useless. From rallies, State of the Youth Addresses, writing in print to spray painting stencils of a hangman tied to a yellow noose and more, these student activists may not always get what they want but their voices and opinions do get heard a lot. Through thousands of students marching against budget cuts on Education, a raise on budget happened. According to Jan, the Anti-No Permit, No Exam Policy bill is already being recognized by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the latest protest against the Cybercrime Law has been issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). So who’s to say that their screams of rage go to waste?

Yes. They are often a common sight. You find them in clusters on streets, government centers, and business firms screaming out their rebellion, fighting for what they believe is right in an unjust society. Whether they be frowned upon by society or be understood by those who sympathize with what they feel, they wouldn’t really care, because activism is not meant to be understood by people who remain ignorant to what they believe in. Activism is meant for those who feel the need to be heard by a society that remains deaf to those who cry for freedom and equality. Activism is for those who believe that freedom is not an option.

Freedom is a gift. Fight for it.


*Dazen Dawn is News Editor of Central Echo. She is 2nd year BS Psychology student of Central Philippine University, Iloilo City, Philippines.

A poem for DZ Querubin Patriarca on her birthday

 Angela: The Rainbow of my Life

Like a rainbow. . . .
   you come, after the storm
        you accept me just as I am
            you let the sun shine through
                ……I am no longer the same.

Like a rainbow. . . .
   I wish the luster would stay forever
      inevitably, at times it disappears
   But I don't have fear
       I know its presence is still there
          to appear again after another storm

Like a rainbow. . .
   our relationship looks like a compromise
     between the storm and sunlight
       my life’s clouded with rainstorm
   	yours is brilliant as daylight.

Like a rainbow. . . .
   Our love will glow
      to prove the paradox of life,
         how contradictory forces harmonize
           to show the beauty in life,
             when unlike poles unite.

I wrote this poem for my sweetheart  in 1987. Inspired by the newly established relationship, I spent my day in making  a poster to dramatize the change in me by such relationship. Instead of joining the usual activity associated with the Martial Law in the Philippines every September 21st, I became  engrossed in my work . After giving it to her, the poem  has found its way to various places:  in literary corner of school publications, office table, walls and other venues including the current web.  But my sweetheart   Angela ’s true identity remains a secret.

Yesterday, while looking for  meaningful quotes in our memorabilia which  I plan to post on facebook  to greet my wife in her birthday today, I found the  poster  instead.  Tattered,  I realized how  time and circumstances  made a difference in its form.  It has survived  both life’s figurative and literal storms with subsequent  flood which ruined most of our important documents. Its form has diminished.  But the message remains in tact, readable, real  and relevant .

Yes, twenty five years have passed,  my love for Angela  continues to grow. Times and circumstances  never  alter our commitment. Rather they have galvanized  our  relationship. Married now for  20  years,  blessed by three charming and intelligent  kids,  I still consider  Angela  the rainbow of my life. And my wife knows that and likes the poem, as well.

Hence, on her birthday today,  I send this poem to her through  the web to dramatize how I love her.  And  to publicly reveal  the identity of my former sweetheart, Angela Noble, to whom the poem was addressed 25 years ago.

Happy birthday, Prof. DZ Querubin Patriarca, my wife, from whom Angela Noble got her name. Querubin (Angela) and Patriarca (Noble).         I love you very much.  No storm will ever  curtail our rainbow.


Unexpected answer to long- time question

Today marks a shift in my service at Central Philippine University. Our department chairperson filed a one year leave and recommended me to take her place. She returned to her previous public service endeavor in the government’s social welfare agency in the region. Similarly, this is also a sort of resumption of my previous position for almost seven years prior to my stint as director of the University Outreach Center. Thereafter, I experienced almost two years of hiatus caused by my chronic heart ailment with almost year of sick leave.

Both the university and I are put in a position with limited choice. There are only three of us working full time in the department. The other one has filed a leave earlier. While the administration has still reservation on both my health and my association with the previous president, there is not enough option to choose. In my part, despite my health condition and mutual reservation I cannot bear to leave the department in limbo. This is the department that gave me another chance to prove my worth after being banned from my previous theological studies due to technicalities and my political leanings.

My involvement during the martial rule in our country was a taboo in our religious denomination. Hence, apart from neglecting my studies to give way to my commitment in service, ultimately quitting school few months before my graduation, I was included in the blacklisted pastors which ruined my image and even future. But the Department of Social Work accepted me “just as I am” and gave me the opportunity to complete my social work course and subsequently theological studies, too. Thereafter, I served the department as faculty and later department head especially when the old guards either retired or resigned to seek new challenge or greener pasture. My wife, also a social worker and colleague in the university at that time, was my partner in sustaining the department during the transition period.

However, this is not the main reason for blogging on this topic. It is my previous painful experience that left some questions unanswered by God. It took almost 7 months to date that I finally find the answer . I now understand why God allowed me to be deprived of the sabbatical leave privilege despite my need, earnest prayer, benefit to His ministry, and corresponding favorable conditions. Why I have to undergo the pain of failure when my health was still very volatile due to prejudicial decision of the selection committee. For if I availed such privilege earlier, what would happen to the department?

Indeed, God sees what is best not just for us but for others. At times, He may appear to disappoint us by delaying the response or denying our request, even making us experience failure and defeat. This does not necessarily he does not love us. It is because it is not the best for us, as well as for others. I even have the feeling that this resumption is a sign of my complete recovery. For he will not allow me to get this post which is far from my dream or desire, unless he sustains me with strength. Indeed,His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither His ways our ways. Glory be to God!

(Next post, details of the prejudicial decision of the Sabbatical Leave Committee)