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Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Lenten musing: I miss mother!

Shafts of golden rays of the tropic sun pierced through the half-shaded glass door leading to the veranda of the Speaker’s conference room, in one corner of which I spent the warm night stretched out on a narrow sleeping pad on the wooden floor. It’s 6 am, and in the past 43 nights, I have woken up to the penetrating sunbeams reflected on the white wall upon which paintings of past Philippine presidents at work hang side by side.

Today is the 45th day that we, the “Batasan 5” – the prime objects of political persecution by the Macapagal-Arroyo government – have used the conference room of Speaker Jose de Venecia as our sleeping quarters. Since Feb. 27, we have been holed up in the House of Representatives under its protective custody from the threat of illegal arrest (sans warrant from a court of justice) by the Philippine National Police with the sanction of the Department of Justice.

Eagerly, or anxiously, each one of us – Liza Maza, Rafael Mariano, Teodoro Casiño, Joel Virador and myself – await news on whether we would be allowed by the Court of Appeals to go home to our families, or, we shall remain here for still an indeterminate period of time. Last Thursday (April 6), through our lawyers, we filed a motion for certiorari with prohibition with the Court of Appeals. We ask the court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the DOJ and the PNP, ordering them to desist from arresting us without a warrant duly issued by a court only after the determination of probable cause to put us on trial for the crime of rebellion.

At this point, we have not been formally charged in court. The three complaints against us – to be sure, these are trump charges based on concocted allegations –
are still on the stage of preliminary investigation to determine the existence of probable cause that shall justify the filing of a formal charge.

We cry out against political persecution because the Macapagal-Arroyo government has publicly declared us to have already committed rebellion and wants us thrown into prison even before we are charged in court.

On Monday, the Lenten Week began. The TV news since that night reported lengthily on the exodus of people from the metropolis to the provinces. Each person interviewed expressed the wish to return to one’s hometown, there to observe, with family and friends, the annual religious rites about the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.

The thought that I would not be able to leave the House during the Lenten Week brought me a deep sense of sadness. Not that I am so religiously-inclined as to profoundly feel being deprived of my right to fulfill my socio-religious obligation, although I was brought up in a large peasant family keen on observing the rites of Lent every passing year and, I must concede, the solemnity of the rites and the utter devotedness of my townfolk to such rites never fail to move me. But that I can afford to miss this year.

What saddens me is the thought that I wouldn’t be able to see my mother, all of 95 years now. I will not be able to comfort her with the assurance that I am okay, and that her brood of 12 children, all living, would become whole one more time: within view of her failing sight, her hearing our familiar voices that are music to her, as she gives us her tender loving caresses and blessing.

I am, after all these 67 years of my life, a son with a strong impulse to go back to my mother’s bosom that had nursed me as a baby. I yearn to sit by my mother’s side and listen to her again talk of the years gone by in those vast expanse of rice fields where I grew up as a farm boy. She would muse always with an infectious mirthfulness that never fades. At 95, my mother is ever youthful-sounding and youthful-feeling in her reveries.

This Lenten week, I’ll miss her the most.

(An undated photo with my mother and my grandson Dalan. Courtesy of Sipag Pinoy newsmagazine)

If we're Voltes 5, who's Zuhl?

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales made a monumental blunder yesterday in comparing the Batasan 5 to Voltes 5. Old as he is, he probably didn't know that for an entire generation (mine, particularly), Voltes 5 symbolized the triumph of good over evil, democracy over tyranny.

As a Voltes 5 fan, I thank Sec. Gonzales for the honor.

I remember my first taste of state repression when Marcos banned Voltes 5 because of its message that with unity and struggle comes justice and liberation. Now the same evil of tyranny and dictatorship stalks the nation. It’s time Voltes 5 strikes back.

Here’s the English translation of the Voltes 5 theme:

Someday the suns of light shall fill all the earth
The morning of justice shall have come to its birth
So we shall wave our banners high and free through the air
For the love and glory we can also share

Soldiers come reunite, fight, fight for peace

Hand in hand like eagles thru the breeze
Over land and over seas

Voltes V we come to you

Flashing thru with wings of steel
Fates of foes are what you seal
With swords of laser light

Over land and over seas
Onward, victory!

Just a parting shot: if we’re the Voltes 5 team (Ka Satur can be Steve Armstrong, Joel can be Mark Gordon, Ka Paeng is Big Bert, I can be little John and of course, Liza is Jamie Robinson), guess who makes up the evil Boazanian Empire?

Sec. Gonzales, for one, certainly looks and sounds like Zuhl, Prince Heinell’s one-horned sycophant whose main mission in life is to defeat the electromagnetic super robot Voltes 5. Gonzales' first name, Raul, is uncannily similar to Zuhl. In the end of the series, Zuhl is executed after betraying his prince.