Ora et mura?

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RENE SAGUISAG

LAST Friday, Prez Duterte received awards from San Beda at its annual law homecoming, which I avoided for fear of being EJK’d, or Extrajudicially Kissed, the way he did Mayor Erap’s hand. Nice. Unifying. From one Tsikboy to another.

I read that after his more than one-hour extemporaneous speech the Prez was named “Bedan of the Year” by our common alma mater. And why not? He succeeded where Ninoy Aquino, Monching Mitra and Raul Roco failed (while I, totally without ambition, never really aspired to be anything; things just happened, willy-nilly; I work with all my might, pray with all my heart, and the rest I leave to God—Prez Cory’s mantra).

Digong was presented with a bust, carrying his image, in recognition of his “exemplary national leadership,” conferred by lawyers Aveling Cruz, my Pasig townsman, and Benedicto Malcontento, Justice Nick Acosta (ret.), and our Rector and President, Fr. Aloysius Ma. Maranan.

Digong, citing the last part of his prepared text before going extempo, urged his fellow alums to “join hands with the Filipino nation in leading the way for change and progress.” He said: “As we move forward, may all of our achievements enable the college to remain as a great learning institution committed to its mission of providing excellent and quality education guided by the Benedictine principles of values and principles. Pati pag-mura (even in cursing), he said, eliciting laughter from his schoolmates (Manila Bulletin, November 26, 2017).


I wouldn’t have laughed at the transmogrification of our sacred ora et labora to ora et mura. Disrespectful, I am afraid. I had not wanted to be a killjoy, party pooper, spoilsports or a wet blanket. I do not go to any event I have not been invited to and which, here, I learned only from Larry Mendoza, Class of ‘57, a diamond jubilarian, No. 13 in the bar. He told me he’d attend the event; the following evening, as we supped, he said that Spanky Perez, his classmate, No. 8 in the bar, attended, along with ex-congressman Pinong Javier, another Pasig townsman.

I was a decade ahead of Digongat Mendiola where Prof. Ed Caguioa stressed, lo cortes no quita lo valiente. Courtesy does not detract from valor. Digong now says he killed someone as a teener in a rumble. I trust some journalist would track down whether he was telling the truth or again, making our top comedians fear Palace competition.

Pinoy Olympic Gold

Good that Prez Digong invited last Friday the NCAA basketball champs from San Beda. It was an annual ritual to invite champions to the White House, but which certain Golden State Warriors personalities would have snubbed now that Trump is Prez (the White House withdrew the invite). It is sad that when Victoria Manalo made a sentimental journey home a dozen baker’s dozen years ago, I heard no news about her being received in Malacañang. In 1948, this daughter of musikero Teofilo of Orani, Bataan, won two golds in diving in the London Olympics.

Not true then that no one with Pinoy blood has ever won an Olympic gold. I tell everyone and his mother visiting San Francisco to visit the two-acre park in downtown named after her (Victoria na, Manalo pa). I did, in 2013. San Fran is on most any West Coast route but if one had the time, also to go to out-of-the-way Cheyenne, where the Bells of Balangiga are. I did, in 1992.

The Dutertes’ fist-bump gesture, which has its background in Hitler’s Germany, continues to be depicted here by the Davao dynasts and the polite or intimidated domestics follow (including Gen. Dionisio Santiago, who was unfairly shamed and sacked anyway). Good that Digong did not ask, or did not succeed, in getting Trump & Co. to follow the egregious gesture or we would have been slapped all over, and felt antsy.

House impeach hearings

I am antsy watching the House impeachment proceeding notable to me for certain attendees eating heartily, detracting from the solemnity of the proceedings. Can they not eat out of camera range if it would be too much to ask the House to have a lunch break to let the radio-TV people rest? It seems too much to ask the preening House to suspend its alleged “dog and pony show” (maybe cruel and unkind to pets?) for lunch breaks.
It is beyond my shallow intellectual reach to fathom why the House does not just transmit the studied articles to the Senate instead of initially denying CJ Meilou Sereno the right not to attend, as in any preliminary investigation, to her loss. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder here and would hardly help her but it would deny the House valuable radio-TV time. In the case of Erap, Speaker Manny Villar pretended, maybe with the best of intentions, to pray but was disingenuously transmitting the Articles of Impeachment na pala, without any recorded voting on something important, nay, historic. I lamented that I would never know how my Pasig Cong would have voted; Henry Lanot was thereafter assassinated. Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, a failed KBL senatorial bet in 2016, we see, is now a household word beyond his own household.

Learning a lesson perhaps, the other extreme we now see; the current House won’t let go. What radio-TV can do to energize lawmakers. There was even sad talk of arresting CJ Meilou before saner elements intervened to abort throwing her under the bus. If impeachment is truly a political exercise, she would have been a political detainee, like Sen. Leila de Lima, on whose case Digong continues to comment, raising the specter of a possible mistrial.

Civilian supremacy carried the day

Release all political detainees was our pre-EDSA ‘86 battlecry or shibboleth. The military was heard, through Defense Minister JPE and AFP Chief of Staff FVR. Uncle Jovy Salonga chaired the Committee on the Immediate Release of Detainees and we met at Club Filipino and Camp Aguinaldo in late February 1986. We insisted on immediate release. Manong JPE said with some emotion that he could not explain it to his boys. Civilian supremacy carried the day though even if blood would be spilled over and over, for principle, that institutional arrangements be preserved. But, the economy kept growing, tourists and investors kept coming to the point that my wife, then a Mondragon executive, was finding it hard to book hotel space for business. Then the devastating 1989 coup. Flat from then on. Our economy could have kept growing at the time, on which FVR could have built, on top of having the anti-subversion law repealed.

All Prezs, like most everyone, commit errors of the minds but get a free pass as long as they are not errors of the heart. And good faith is always presumed, in this land of party animals.

Happy Birthday, Freddie Webb (Manila Golf, last Saturday) and Conrad Limcaco (Filinvest Country Club, last Sunday). Kamandag Freddie, with his animal appeal, was with us in fighting the dictatorship, in Pasay. R, a son of Conrad, shocked me with his presence when Sen. Lorenzo Tañada and I, clandestinely, met high-value fugitive Boy Morales, who had gone underground. Happy Bday, Ninoy, on November 27, who told us that the Filipino may be likened to the carabao, very slow to anger, but once provoked, watchout.

Traffic angers but what can we do? The other day, it prevented me from getting to Araneta for Game 2 of the Ateneo-La Salle title duel.

But, denied I won’t be.

This Sunday, the whole enchilada. I plan to watch Game 3 even if ducats would cost a little fortune. But, my Jr., Rebo, we call him, is UAAP commish and executive director. I expect to be let in free. Paternity has its privileges.
Eat your hearts out.

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