“To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause”
– Half of the song in the musical
MAN OF LA MANCHA
This song has captured the minds and hearts of several known personalities in this country who dreamed to be President – Vice-President Salvador “Doy” Laurel, Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. and Congressman Evelio Javier. They loved this song. They sang it publicly with a lot of passion. But they failed to achieve their dream.
I love this song, too, but not singing it in public for fear of meeting the same fate that befell these dynamic personalities. In private – yes! In whispers – more so!
This article is in response to comments of three of my friends and readers on my previous article on system change since I cannot make an individual response on the space marked Reply –Benjamin Tiu Contreras, Evangeline Sarenas Mitton and Vic Cabanag.
On who’ll carry the torch: Benjamin Tiu Contreras makes very perceptive, interesting and provocative comments to my DILIMAN WAY. One of those is the following: “Who’s going to carry on with your ideas when you are gone? How many out there think the way you do? For those who have nothing or less in life to those who have already the world in their hands, they think of money and more money. They probably thought that patriotism cannot feed the stomach. But I wish you the best in your dreams, Bono.
You can always be that little spark that could ignite a conflagration of radical ideas.”
Response: Thank you, Ben, for this enthusing provocation. Who’s going to carry the torch long after I’m gone? The next one will have to wait for a long time before I pass the torch. With God’s blessing I’ll be alive and kicking in this country for quite sometime. My father, Pedro Adaza, Jr., the legendary mayor of our town, Catarman, Camiguin, died at the young age of 96 – and I’m still a parallax away from that. Moreover, the history of the world is replete with precedents of personalities who had radical ideas during their time which became accepted guides for so many countries in the world, before and now.
The communist duo, Marx and Engels, who researched in the gloomy halls of the British Museum for their masterpiece, The Communist Manifesto, must have never thought their ideas could enflame the hearts and minds of people in the world and build countries on the power of their ideas – from Russia to China, Cuba to Vietnam, North Korea to Venezuela.
Similarly, in the lonely rooms at his residence in Montecillo, Thomas Jefferson, could never have imagined that his masterpiece, The American Declaration of Independence, could spark a conflagration which established democracy as a way of life in many countries in the world – America to Britain, France to Germany, Philippines to Japan, Malaysia to Indonesia, Australia to New Zealand, India to Singapore, many countries in Asia, Africa, Middle East, Europe and Latin America.
Our Constitution has enshrined in two provisions the germinal ideas of Jefferson’s American Declaration of Independence – in Section 1, Article II which provides that “The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” and Section 1, Article III which provides that “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the law.”
These are indelible precedents in the history of successful march of ideas in the world and I have no doubt that the ideas I have expressed in my previous column on system change could and will move mountains of inequality, injustice, oppression, lawlessness, corruption and criminality in this country.
Spark: Ben, you used the word “spark to ignite a conflagration of radical ideas.” Strange as it may seem, that word spark was the title of the publication of the Russian revolutionaries which ignited the Russian Revolution. Modesty aside, I am not new to creating sparks which ignite conflagrations.
When I was age twenty-two as Editor-in-Chief of The Philippine Collegian, official student publication of the University of the Philippines, I asked many members of the UP Student Council, including its President, Fernando “Nanding” Lagua, to join me in a call for a demonstration to compel the UP Board of Regents to elect a UP President. They all refused saying that UP students will not join because it’s December of 1956. Undaunted, I came out with three extra issues of the Philippine College with the headline STRIKE asking UP students to demonstrate to force the UP Board of Regents to elect a UP President
The impossible happened. One cold December morning in 1956, in the first day of the misa de gallo, young UP students, most of them women, were lying down in the street leading to the UP Diliman campus, twenty meters long, prevented all buses and other vehicles to ender the campus, resulting to all units of the UP from Diliman to Los Baños, Tarlac to Cebu and to Iloilo staging similar demos.
End result – Christmas vacation was declared early by two weeks, the traditional Christmas Festival in the UP Diliman campus was cancelled for the first and only time and a UP President got elected. For my leading the demonstration, the new UP President and the UP Executive Committee penalized me by not allowing me to March in the graduation exercises, refused to give me my diploma and deprived me of graduating with honors by giving me grades of 3 which resulted to my plunging to number eight in the graduating class when in the last semester three of us fighting to graduate valedictorian.
But UP lost in the fight because I gained headlines and front page treatment in all the Manila dailies; an audience with President Carlos P. Garcia in his office in Malacañang where we exchanged views about my case and on national heroes; Senator Emmanuel N. “Maning” Pelaez delivered two well-applauded privilege speeches on the floor of the Senate in my defense and berating UP authorities for violation of academic freedom; a privilege speech by Congressman Fausto “Totong” Dugenio of Misamis Oriental in my defense; a month long coverage on my case by mainstream media; my passing the bar examinations despite the objection of UP authorities. It was a roller coaster ride but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Marcos martial law years: I spent one year, six months and eleven days in the Marcos political detention center in Camp Crame and Fort Bonifacio on the claim of government martial law enforcers like Defense Minister Juan P. Enrile that I was a subversive. I was not a subversive in the sense that I joined the armed revolution – I did not. I was a subversive in the sense that I was against the declaration of martial law as it had no factual and constitutional basis.
In a dictatorship, the ruler defines the meaning of words and his definition is indisputable. It is like Big Brother in George Orwell’s famous novel, 1984. Thanks to mindless enforcers like Juan I had to languish in their political prisons for a long period, more than that of any other politician except for Ninoy Aquino and Senator Jose W. “Pepe” Dioknow who spent longer periods than me.
But I do not count the wounds and the scars because in a genuine fight for the country – everything is a part of the game. And my long political imprisonment is a part of the game. It is also the law of life based on historical experiences of men like me in many countries who have to agonize to fight for justice, freedom, equality and a better life for their people.
Drift of events: After a year of stay in the Ipil Detention Center in Fort Bonifacio, I decided to define a timeline when to escape from detention – and that was two years. I started talking to my guards every time I was allowed to go out of camp whenever I had a pro bono court case. I already convinced them to join me in the planned escape and I was waiting for the coming of the defined timeline as President Marcos told Secretary Antonio Raquiza, my friend and client, who was begging him for my release as he already released persons who attempted on his life Eddie Figueras but Marcos replied that I had to spend more time in detention as I was an imponderable factor.
Thanks to my friend, Secretary Raquiza and the Divine Providence, Marcos mysteriously included me, in the last minute – in the words of PC General Campos, to an agreed list of only twenty detainees which included Politburo members of the old Communist Party – Angel Baking, former Editor-in-Chief of the UP Philippine Collegian and Sammy Rodriguez, Associate Editor of the same paper during Baking’s term.
My plan to organize an armed revolution from Mindanao after my planned escape was aborted. As John Steibeck had it in his novel, Of Mice and Men, the plan of mice and men often go astray – as it did with mine.
Next episode: My detailed answer to the questions of Ben and my veiled reply to his tantalizing speculation will come in the next episode together with my answer to Vic Cabanag and my advice to Evangeline Sarenas Mitton. Another twist for the next episode is an enthusing invitation of my friend and classmate in the UP College of Law Class of 1958.
This is enough for now with spice from some of my favorite lines of Robert Frost in Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening –
“The woods are lovely dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And mile to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep.”