*About the poet: Manuel ‘Lolong’ Lazaro is a Marcos loyalist. Known popularly as Justice Lolong, Lazaro was one of the trusted men of former President Ferdinand Marcos. He served as government corporate counsel for 10 years with the rank of presiding justice of the Court of Appeals. He was the legal counsel for 79 government-owned and controlled corporations which included, among others, the Government Service Insurance System, Philippine Airlines and the Philippine National Bank. Marcos appointed Lolong as the presidential assistant for legal affairs with the rank of minister.
Thrust into the national limelight on a murder charge
Evoking odd questions, siring mixed emotions;
Undaunted, he patiently reviewed behind bars
And awed the nation by topping the Bar.
His liberty and future perilously balanced,
Before the Supreme Court of the land,
He argues the weightiest plea of his life
To secure his acquittal as well as his future:
And the Marcos saga as a legal scholar began.
He fought in Bataan with heroic courage,
Still at the prime of his youthful zest for life.
Borne aloft on the wings of idealism and patriotism,
He was badly wounded, captured and tortured,
But he survived the infamous Death March
With a daring escape to astonish the enemy:
Spreading the chronicle of his guerilla exploits
‘Round the Marcos epic as a bemedalled soldier.
As the war ended, FM excelled in legal combat;
Legal victories brought him fame and fortune
Till politics beckoned, beseeched and beguiled;
Meriting recognition as a cerebral congressman
He spoke with the fiery eloquence of a polished orator
Crossing wits with the country’s brightest minds;
Creatively crafting and refining the nation’s laws;
Engraving his niche as a great parliamentarian.
Enamored by the beauty of a demure lass,
FM captured her heart in a seven-day span
And wedded the charming and lovely Imelda
Long after envied, hated, loved, admired:
Imelda was FM’s strength and shield
Against the arrows of envy, hate and revenge,
A pillar of strength, Imelda fearlessly vindicated
FM’s name and honor in a catena of cases.
Luminous as a meteor in its ephemeral glory,
FM blazed in the political firmament:
Topping the senatorial elections, soon to scale
The zenith of the Senate presidency,
Elected twice by the people as President
He humbled the oligarchs, dismantled vested interests,
And freed the poor from the bondage of the soil,
Carving his historic place as the great soil emancipator.
Sailing on the nation’s crest of Chief Helmsman
Pursuing his clear-eyed vision of national greatness,
He steered the nation to safety from turmoil
By proclaiming martial law to reform a society
Reinventing government, for the common good;
Charting and controlling the changing events
Sans the vanity of politics and the phalanx
Of spurious interests, to uplift national pride.
Others learned from him the art of governance
Under the aegis of his vision and supervision;
FM transformed the blueprint of his lofty ideals
Into global achievements and social infrastructure,
With lasting impact for the people’s welfare.
Progress coasted along the path of stability;
Though marred by some dubious interests
Decisions were enfiladed with national interest.
But there is an enigma to greatness
Like a classic tragedy unfolding;
FM was ousted by his own trusted allies,
Shanghaied to Hawaii by Americans;
Robbed of his dignity;
Barred to return, humiliated here and abroad,
Charged with a catalogue of chimerical cases
Conceived out of virulent hatred, greed and vengeance—
Ecce homo: Marcos, victim of injustice.
No greater legal mind than FM has inspired,
A host of achievers: a tribute to most, an affront to some;
Perceived as evil by those who detested and hated him,
Yet a paradigm of good to those who understood him.
A relative he helped and molded to military heights
Grudgingly allowed the return of his corpse
To lie in state for years and await burial rites fit for President
That a worthy successor deemed right to accord.
In life and in death FM remains a riddle:
Contrasting an embodiment of hate, love, contempt and respect,
Magnetizing contraries and contradictions to himself;
A hero to admirers, a heel to the hostile and hater.
Those who rob the dead of that blessed peace,
Burdened with uneasiness of consuming hate
Can never efface the iconic greatness of FM—
FM the corpus is dead, but FM the legend lives!
MANUEL ‘LOLONG’ M. LAZARO