Think about it

A taste of unfreedom

By Jun Velasco

We received yesterday an e-mailed prayer by Archbishop Desmond Tutu with its head, “Disturb us Lord.”

It came from a friend from long way back whose compassion for mankind is beyond question.

We thought that in this period of gathering hopelessness, the high priest’s reminder is very relevant. Here goes:

“Disturb us Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves; / When our dreams become true because we dreamed too little; / When we have arrived safely because we sailed too close to shore./ Disturb us Lord, when, with abundance of  things we possess,/ we have lost our thirst for the water of life;/ When, having fallen in love with time, / we have ceased to dream of eternity;/ And when, in our efforts to build a new earth, / we have allowed our vision for a new heaven to grow dim.

Stir us, O Lord, to dare boldly; to venture on wider seas, / Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars, / In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes/ And invite the brave to follow Him.”

* * * *

The prayer is a wake-up call to most of us who have stopped reaching for the stars, to many of us resigned to mediocrity in exchange of cheap comfort and to some of us who have shunned the limitless vistas of our God given potential.

Thanks to our friend who across time and space has accessed us to a moving nugget of wisdom.

* * * *

Whatever was your reaction to President Arroyo’s directive to make June 9, a Monday, a holiday in observance of Philippine Independence, we were brought once again to another circus of speeches and rhetoric in praise of our supposed love for freedom and independence.

And so we went all over again expressing our doubts if we are truly free and independent. The fact that we have doubts should only mean   that we are not free, that we are not independent. This is graphically shown by our living conditions reaching all-time low levels. The tragedy is, we are helpless in righting the wrongs because, as Bishop Tutu has bemoaned, “we have allowed our vision for a new heaven to grow dim.”

* * * *

 In a rare  visit to the embattled National Press Club Wednesday night, we reminisced  our days  as two-time director of  the club with past president Louie Logarta and his  closest buddy Jun Cobarrubias, both hot shots of the Tribune.

We wanted to know the club’s action on the conviction of Louie’s boss, Tribune editor Ninez Olivarez, and the more recent capture allegedly by Abu Sayaff terrorists of Ces Drilon and her crew from ABS-CBN in Sulu. We joked Louie that the NPC was being outglamorized by the activist National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

We thought that probably Father Time has caught up with our two buddies and us, too, and so we sought everyone’s rejuvenation by pondering Bishop Tutu’s prayer.

Earlier we sought former Press Secretary Toting Bunye on why Malacañang has not acted swiftly and correctly on the many cases of journalists getting slain like nobody’s business. Our friend who has lately been promoted to a seat in the Monetary Board said “some” if not many of the killings had nothing to do with their news papering job.

Which reminds us of a treatise we submitted to a national press congress that journalists should not expect a pat on the back when they are on the warpath with known masters of graft and corruption. They should expect retaliation; hence, we in the Fourth Estate should know how to duck when the enemy is firing.

* * * *

We recalled our detention by the Martial Law regime for 30 days in the Lingayen barracks and Camp Aquino on the nation’s observance of Independence Day.

We were barely 20 then when we had a taste of terror and deep sense of helplessness.

How come the police clamped us in jail? They mistook our dreams and hopes for a progressive and free Philippines as subversion.

We thought that unless the police and the journalists read the same books, they’d remain forever suspicious of each other. When we wrote poetry, they thought we were sending a coded message.

What were we as young militants of Pangasinan were doing then? There we were with Ermin Garcia Jr., Nestor Pulido, Manny Cornel other impatient youths fighting jueteng, corrupt politicians, smut and other crooked values.

And in Quezon City, we were churning Marx ideas with Al Mendoza and Dan Nino. At Camp Aquino, we were munching a happy mix of poetry and ideology with Sammy Bangloy, Pablo Rotor and Jimmy Lucas. Later, once set free, we formed with Armando Ravanzo the New Pangasinan Alliance which appeared  almost daily  in the pre- martial law Manila Times thanks to the late Danny Florida’s Dagupan-datelined dispatches on the fishermen’s  march to Malacañang.

Did you know that the night before Sept. 21, 1972, then “greenhorn Congressman” Joe de Venecia brought us to the Manila Overseas Press Club? When he brought us home, he said, “the military are moving in.  Be more careful now.” The following day, all newspapers and radio stations “were” shut off.

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