Last of two parts
Coming to my friend and compadre Bayani Abadilla’s necrological services, I was not expecting any extraordinary event. But, upon arrival at the Funeraria Paz that evening, I was awed by the crowd, complete with video shoot. Topping the luminaries present was then House Representative Satur Ocampo, who on several occasions was a guest in our house for some important meet with either the CPP Politburo or the CPP KTKS (Komiteng Tagapagpagganap ng Komite Sentral) but who upon realizing it was I he was shaking hands with abruptly withdrew the handshake, like dropping a hot potato; he knew I was a Rejectionist (of the Jose Ma. Sison Reaffirm).
Anyway, the incident sort of humored me. Here was a crowd continuing to glorify in the romance that was the First Quarter Storm, and as I had long reckoned it, the romance had gone.
In any event, easy death is preferable to torture. And I would have much preferred to have blasted myself with the grenade assigned for me to blast the police in that US embassy rally in 1971 where Manila Police Chief Col. James Barbers got only wounded by shrapnels from pillbox bombs thrown by other activists. Had I done so, I would not have gone through this terrible torture of knowing how we all have given our best to the cause but realizing now everything’s been just to our great cost.
For some, getting thrown out of the revolutionary cart became a welcome event. Sheer chutz pah enabled them to succeed at ventures hardly expected of elements steeped in Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought. For example was one member, now deceased, of the original Armed City Partisan of the NPA who during the heyday of the overseas performing artist business in the 90s bragged of owning the two largest agencies for exporting entertainers, mostly concentrated in Japan. That was the infamous age of Japayukis, that breed of Filipino women who, for all the flak they got from self-righteous sectors of Philippine society, were actually into some kind of noble performance for the nation. It was on record at the time that Overseas Performing Artists Sector (OPAS) accounted for a large portion, if not the largest, of the country’s dollar reserves.
At the helm of the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA), the government agency in charge of OPAS, at the time was Fr. Ed de la Torre, the famous activist-priest in the seventies who got into the revolutionary cart upon the declaration of martial law and became a stalwart of the National Democratic Front (NDF) together with Fr. Luis Jalandoni and student leader Edgar Jopson, etc. Another member of the original NPA armed city partisan headed the OPAS office during Fr. Ed de la Torre’s TESDA watch.
I myself was into that interlude, acting as TESDA Testing Officer for Dance, while another member of the original ACP was consultant for the overall program.
But for many (setting modesty aside, ourselves included), they got thrown off not because they lost their hold in the cart but because the cart broke. In 1991, Jose Maria Sison issued the Reaffirm Our Basic Principles, actually a purge mandate which effectively splintered the Communist Party of the Philippines, the NPA, and the revolution they led. Purged were revolutionary elements advocating a truly winnable revolutionary option counterpoised to Sison’s never-ending, non-ending protracted people’s war.
Among these many, we found ourselves picking up from the dirt on the roadside. Oh, the agony of just pining day in and day out for revolutionary what-might-have-beens.
And then came that afternoon. A casual acquaintance, who knew who I was, called on my cellphone. Would I care to join a new group for Binay aforming?
“Name me some in the group,” I said.
“Gary Olivar, Luzvimindo David, Jinggoy Alcuaz, Victor Corpuz, Peter Mutuc…”
“Okay,” I cut the guy short. “When?”
Reunion with Jojo
I was the last to arrive at the meeting that had been set, so I was pretty sure nobody else but me among the attendance drew near the Vice President when he entered to take the lone vacant seat at the center of the table in the main Coconut Palace lounge.
I completely forgot to remember he was already vice president of the Republic of the Philippines. All I recalled was the diminutive but fiercely fighting lawyer who was counsel for KAMAO at the time of our strike at the Araneta Center and who on various occasions got me out of trouble with the police. So force of habit had me addressing him, “Jo” as I gripped his hand.
Slightly perplexed, he fixed a stare, making out who I was. It had been very long since we last saw each other, that was way back in 1977. He was then into some activity connected with the anti-dictatorship struggle, Ninoy was still on a binge of slamming Marcos in speeches all over America, a long way still to Ninoy’s return and assassination, to the snap presidential election and the civil disobedience campaign Cory unleashed by virtue of it and by which virtue in turn got herself installed as President. All throughout Jojo’s subsequent terms as Makati Mayor, I never found reason to disturb his attention to public service.
So when I was called to his office that afternoon, time and events must have erased a lot from his memory – but for a name. And I spoke that name, “Mao” as I gripped his hand, whereupon he smiled, returned my hug, then announced to all and sundry, “Kakosa.”
For a long time by then, I had already grown a distaste for elections. I lost two successive attempts at winning the mayorship of Antipolo, squandering in the process hard-earned money that would have been better off set aside for the family’s sole private consumption thereby getting me complacent as I wait for my rest.
But there’s precisely this pestering pretty romance of the First Quarter Storm that’s the culprit of it all. It’s a push or a tug you can’t repel, or an itch you just can’t stop scratching, because the more you scratch, the sweeter it feels.
The call that one afternoon was one more sweet scratching that I couldn’t resist. Instantly it evoked images of truncheons and police sticks whacking on backs, heads and torsos, boys and girls, men and women, old and young in mammoth crowds of militant rallies and demonstrations, placards and streamers, posters and leaflets flying in the midst of melees condemning the imminent declaration of martial law.
That one word statement by Jojo, “Kakosa” enthralled everyone in the gathering. Everybody turned quiet, like savoring the nice vivifying feeling of being made young again, raring to fight again, but this time with the big difference that with Jojo as President we will, at long last, win.
In a subsequent meeting, the group officially adopted the name: Barangay Binay. I was given the honor of designing the group’s logo which, with the readers’ indulgence, I am introducing here.