Charles Dickens in a Tale of Two Cities wrote that it was the best of times and the worst of times. Dickens was describing the condition of the times under which his characters lived.
Well, the Dickens’ line is highly descriptive of the Philippines of our time. It is the worst of time for our people and the best of time for President BS Aquino 3rd and his KKK – kapatid, kasabwat, kakapal ng mukha. To those unfamiliar with the national language of this country – it simply means sibling, conspirator and shameless. I do not have to identify them. It is a matter of common knowledge.
So, why Diliman Way? This was the title of my column in my two terms as editor-in-chief
of the Philippine Collegian, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, when being the Collegian editor was a badge of honor and a medal of distinction. They were the days when the editor-in-chief was invited for breakfast by no less than the President of the Philippines.
Thus, it is a pleasure to return to memory lane. It is always a delight to think of revival – sometimes bringing tears into your maudlin eyes. But more than memory and revival, it is pragmatic to consider the darkness enveloping the country today – mind boggling graft and corruption, numbing criminality in various levels, greed in all levels of Philippine life, overwhelming pretense among our public officials and corporate leaders of economic giants, absence of human values, immersion of love for oneself and family at the expense of the community and worse – incompetence, ignorance and stupidity in all levels of government and mainstream media.
It is a blessing to return to Diliman Way – the path to train great national leaders, to preserve and promote the tradition of excellence in every field of human activity and to honor the only aristocracy worth preserving and celebrating, which is the aristocracy of the mind.
It sounds pretentious and highfalutin. It seems beyond reach. It
appears impossible to achieve. But the word impossible exists only on the level of the mind. The only limit to man’s achievements is God and man himself. I know I have been there in the thick of the fight and in the swirling dust of battle. Not to achieve personal goals but the goals needed to be achieved for country and our people.
Allow me to lift my chair. But I cannot cite convincing examples beyond my personal experience.
When I was a kid at the University of the Philippines, and the politician members of the Board of Regents refused to elect a UP president because they were preparing the election of a devout Roman Catholic as the new president, I sounded off my friends in my capacity as editor-in-chief of the Collegian that we should demonstrate to prevent such a destructive infusion of a foreign element to the life of the University. Don’t get me wrong, I am a devout Roman Catholic up to this day. But to inject a religious element into the academic life of UP will destroy the concept of UP independence.
My friends told me, it was impossible to do it because the University students could not be moved to do it. It took two special issues of the Collegian and 14 days to produce a demonstration which cancelled the famous UP Lantern Festival and advanced the Christmas vacation by two weeks. The impossible happened. The demo resulted in the election of an independent-minded UP president.
When I was an Opposition member of the regular parliament known as the Batasang Pambansa, my companions in Parliament told me I was suicidal because I denounced on the floor of the Parliament the unexplained wealth of personalities in the Marcos administration, orchestrated a historic impeachment move against Marcos and was the last man standing in the canvassing of results of the 1986 elections. They told me after the canvassing of the results of the 1986 snap elections I would surely go back to the Marcos political prisons.
In seven days in February 1986, Marcos was spirited out of the country. The impossible happened. Formal democracy was restored in the Philippines and the rest is history.
In December 2000 at the gathering of a number of journalists at the Sulo Hotel in Quezon City, the chairman of the forum, the late Julius Fortuna, asked everyone whether President Erap Estrada could finish his term. He got a unanimous reply that he would finish his term as it was impossible to remove him except for a lone dissenting vote coming from me.
I told the group that Erap would not be there for the election in May 2001.
Everybody almost died laughing at my bravado. The impossible happened. Erap was escorted out of the Palace by the man and hero of the hour, CSAFP General Angelo “Angie” Reyes – the brave patriotic warrior.
Impossible? I do not know the meaning of the word. Presumptious?
Maybe. As the cliché goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
The nation is agog over elections in 2016. I am not, because I have a proposal, which I will unveil before the country one of these days. It is a proposal to create a Constitutional Transition Government – with the approval of all possible sectors of the country. I will invite 30 to 40 people, at my expense, to attend a dialogue on the need for organizing a Constitutional Transition Government to reeducate and reorient our people and our leaders; to install leaders who do not only have balls in their brains but brains in their balls; leaders with a vision, discipline and unbending commitment to our country and our people; leaders with goals and a program of action defined in specific terms not by grandmother statements but specific solutions to our age-old problems.
Can it be done? Don’t tell me it’s impossible because as I wrote earlier I do not know the meaning of the word. Or, maybe you believe in what President Erap once said: Weather-weather lang yan. My reply is – That’s for ordinary leaders. Great leaders create their own weather, their own seasons, and their own time. Only time will tell.