The author (left photo, center) receives from presumptive first lady Louise ‘Liza’ Araneta Marcos and APPCU President Jeffrey Ng the Award for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding. The book, China The Way, The Truth and The Life, for which the author was awarded the APPCU. PHOTOS FROM AUTHOR’S FILE
The author (left photo, center) receives from presumptive first lady Louise ‘Liza’ Araneta Marcos and APPCU President Jeffrey Ng the Award for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding. The book, China The Way, The Truth and The Life, for which the author was awarded the APPCU. PHOTOS FROM AUTHOR’S FILE

ACCORDING to an anecdote, as a boy, Nelson Rockefeller was asked by his father to jump from the window of their house. Despite his fear, the boy believed his father who, with his arms spread, assured him that he would catch him. But just as the boy was hurtling down, the father withdrew his arms and Nelson went crashing into the ground. Said the father: "That's one lesson you should learn in life. Never trust anybody." And armed with that advice, Nelson grew up to be a materially successful man to whom, as one account puts it, "the mere making of money never interested him much, perhaps because he had always had such a surfeit of it. His money — combined with the power and influence the family name carried with it and the energy and easy charm that were characteristically his from boyhood — helped him get pretty much everything he wanted: great art, high office, other men's wives."

For months, I had delayed the launch of my book China The Way, The Truth and The Life, just for one reason: I had always wanted Bongbong Marcos to be the guest of honor at the event. During the ceremonies for the Awards for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding (APPCU), I seized the opportunity to invite him, knowing that with the relative relaxation of his schedule, he could find time for the invitation, "before your inauguration." And the president-elect agreed, instructing me to coordinate the matter with his public relations man.

It so happened, however, that in coordinating the matter with Bongbong's public relations man, I had to go through somebody else who had a forum of his own, call it Forum 2, and he proposed to have the book launch conducted instead in his own venue. I did not see anything wrong with the idea. The important thing was that we finally got Bongbong to agree and Moderator/Organizer of Forum 1 could proceed with the preparations despite the change in venue. The book launch was set for last Thursday, and the Sunday before that, I discussed the matter with Moderator/Organizer of Forum 1 who did not raise any objection to the idea of holding it in Forum 2. But what do you know, two days to the scheduled date of the event, upon checking on how preparations were going, I was told by Moderator/Organizer of Forum 1 that the only thing he was prepared to do was come to the event as a guest — not as the overall organizer, throwing such a responsibility to the Forum 2 moderator/organizer. On the other hand, Moderator/Organizer of Forum 2 maintained that his offer was only to provide for the venue, and as to the preparations and all, those responsibilities were mine. Fine time to tell me. Only two days to the event, how in the hell would I do it! Besides, holding media events has never been my expertise. I would certainly bungle the affair, and to think that Bongbong would be coming. As General Parlade said, "Ang galing ng launch mo. Incoming prez ang guest."

That's why I quote the anecdote at the start. I felt I was the boy Nelson whom the father asked to jump from the window, and in good faith I did and like the boy found myself having no one to catch me. The problem, however, is that in the case of the boy Nelson, he had a good number of years to learn the lesson taught by his father while in my case, being 81 years old, I doubt if I could still have that much time learning mine.

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It would do well for Moderator/Organizer of Forum 1 to try and take a look at the movie "Flight of the Phoenix," initially made in 1965 and redone in 2004. It tells of an oil rig digging team returning from their job in Mongolia and their plane crashes in a deserted area from where they had to get out at once or they would all die from thirst and hunger. The only way they could do it was reconvert the damaged plane into a new one, a job only one of them was capable of doing. But this one wouldn't do it because the military officer leader of the team unflinchingly asserts his say on matters. In the end, the military officer finds the heart to surrender his conceit, recognizes the competence of the aviation expert, who proceeds to convert the aircraft into a new one capable of flying them back to safety.

What was important about the book launch? I believe that at a time when there is a perceived rise of Sinophobia among Filipinos resulting from the country's dispute with China in the South China Sea, launching the book would help defuse the tension. I did not win the APPCU Award a week ago for nothing. Considering that Forum 1 Moderator/Organizer is a co-winner of the award, might it not be enough motivation for him to have proceeded with what was actually his commitment but for the fact that circumstances dictated the affair be held in Forum 2 instead of in his own Forum 1? And especially considering his oft-repeated assurance that he would hold the affair anytime and any day Bongbong was available to attend. But no, for all of Bongbong's assurances that he would grace the occasion, Forum 1 Moderator/Organizer raised all alibis to get out of his oft-repeated earlier commitments. If this were the "Flight of the Phoenix," the plane crash victims would have perished then and there, and all because of the military officer holding high his pride and conceit. Wherever, then, does promoting Philippines-China understanding figure in this scheme?

Much to my chagrin, I had to cancel the event. My apologies to President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. for this faux pas. I will just wait for the time that I would be financially capable to launch the book on my own. Or, if that time does not come at all, I can just content myself with the orders for the book coming from here and there in the country, the recent ones being from Davao City, Southern Leyte and Malolos. In case any of you, dear readers, would like to have copies of the book, just let me know through my mobile number 09151915460.

No regrets here really. I had long been on the job of promoting Philippines-China understanding in my own quiet way until opportunist pretenders thought of cashing in on my effort. As one other movie, "Rashomon," proclaims: "Damn it! Everyone is selfish and dishonest. Making excuses..." Thus, as the film's powerful message that nothing is true in the world and that what truth is to people are consequences of things that work to their favor, the alibis raised for not proving true to words committed in the launch of my book are nothing but petty pride and crass conceit.