Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Letter To Randy David

Dear Prof. David -

My name is Andreo Jab Buhay. I currently live in Las Vegas, NV. I've immigrated to the US a few years ago. in 1998, I walked the hallowed halls of the AS building as I finished my UPCAT exam and whispered to myself that one day, I will walk the same steps as a student of the Univerisity. I found myself in UP Los Banos a few months later, happily taking up a BA degree. Being a resident of Antipolo, I had an excuse to take GE courses in the summer in Dilliman. So to a certain degree, a promise to myself was met.

I am a professional now in Las Vegas. Working full time as a marketing consultant during the day, on weekends as a photographer for the Little White Chapel and every so often, taking up freelance photography jobs in and around town. I had a discussion a few weeks ago, with a contemporary from UP, about why I try to keep three jobs all at the same time, when I'm already in the US. Of course the explanation was far more than a simple sentence - it was deeper than that. The discussion and theories went on for a few more hours (we were chatting on Yahoo Messenger). We've discussed several social adjustments Filipinos had to undertake as we move and live in other countries. We really did not resolve anything that time.

During President Aquino's oath taking, I had felt a sense of pride and hope as I saw it live on the Filipino Chanel. My mother and her american husband was watching it with us. I personally, do not know what the protocol is, but when the National Anthem was played, I stood up and placed my hand on my chest and sang. The sense of pride and hope, Im sure was shared by many other Filipinos world wide. It reminded me of that November 2008 night, when I was ironing my clothes, while watching CNN when they officially declared Barrack Obama the president of the United States.

A few weeks after President Noys oath taking, I took an oath as well. I was sworn in, together with 64 other individuals as new American Citizens. I felt torn inside Prof. David. I felt like I was turning my back on the country whom I've shed so much tears for. The homeland whom I have so much dreams for. I had to take an oath and denounce any allegiance with my motherland. You are probably asking now, why I did it. It's because I have a girlfriend, a fiancee waiting there in Manila. I want her to come here, and this is the fastest way for us to get it done. Machiavellian as it may sound, that's my reason.

My girlfriend and I have plan of one day coming back home and creating cooperatives for farmers and fishermen. That one day, we will be able to help the urban poor by convincing them to move back to the provinces to run their own business through our coop, provide them with a home and education for their children. Our dream is that one day, we will make a difference, one family at a time.

I do plan to come home one day, Prof. David. I want to be a farmer - wake up early in the morning, sipping my home grown coffee, feeding the chickens and fattening my pigs in the backyard. I want to sleep in a kulambo, with the evening wind through the ventanillas caressing me to sleep. I want to wake up to the warmth and wetness of the morning and enjoy the peaceful countryside dawn.

I've been following your articles sporadically for the past ten years - I've always hesitated to write you a personal letter. I am doing this now because of my torn feelings. I feel like I've betrayed my beliefs and everything I had raised my left fist on during my years in UP. How does a man chose between his pride and the things he must do? How does a man get torn between two flags because of need and want. I am sure I am not alone in the world with this situation, but what is the right thing to do? What is the right thing to feel? I hope this finds you well Dr. David. Thank you for your time.

Jab Buhay

Friday, July 2, 2010


August 25, 1973

Fort Bonifacio


Mr. Benigno S. Aquino III


My dearest Son:

One of these days , when you have completed your studies I am sure you will have the opportunity to visit many countries. And in your travels you will witness a bullfight.

In Spanish bullfighting as you know, a man – the matador – is pitted against an angry bull.

The man goads the bull to extreme anger and madness. Then a moment comes when the bull, maddened, bleeding and covered with darts, feeling his last moment has come, stops rushing about and grimly turns his face on the man with the scarlet “muleta” and sword. The Spaniards call this “the moment of truth.” This is the climax of the bullfight.

This afternoon, I have arrived at my own moment of truth. After a lengthy conference with my lawyers, Senators Jovito R. Salonga and Lorenzo M. Tanada I made a very crucial and vital decision that will surely affect all our lives: mommie’s, your sisters’, yours and all our loved ones as well as mine.

I have decided not to participate in the proceedings of the Military Commission assigned to try the charges filed against me by the army prosecution staff. As you know, I’ve been charged with illegal possession of firearms, violation of RA 1700 otherwise known as the “Anti-Subversion Act” and murder.

You are still too young to grasp the full impact of my decision. Briefly: by not participating in the proceedings, I will not be represented by counsel, the prosecution will present its witnesses without any cross examinations, I will not put up any defense, I will remain passive and quiet through the entire trial and I will merely await the verdict. Inasmuch as it will be a completely one-sided affair, I suppose it is reasonable to expect the maximum penalty will be given to me. I expect to be sentenced to imprisonment the rest of my natural life, or possibly be sent to stand before a firing squad. By adopting the course of action I decided upon this afternoon, I have literally decided to walk into the very jaws of death.

You may ask: why did you do it?

Son, my decision is an act of conscience. It is an act of protest against the structures of injustice that have been imposed upon our hapless countrymen. Futile and puny, as it will surely appear to many, it is my last act of defiance against tyranny and dictatorship.

You are my only son. You carry my name and the name of my father. I have no material wealth to leave you. I never had time to make money while I was in the hire of our people.

For this I am very sorry. I had hopes of building a little nest egg for you. I bought a ranch in Masbate in the hope that after ten or fifteen years, the coconut trees I planted there would be yielding enough to assure you a modest but comfortable existence.

Unfortunately, I had to sell all our properties as I fought battle after political battle as a beleaguered member of the opposition. And after the last battle, I had more obligations than assets.

The only valuable asset I can bequeath to you now is the name you carry. I have tried my best during my years of public service to keep that name untarnished and respected, unmarked by sorry compromises for expediency. I now pass it on to you, as good, I pray, as when my father, your grandfather passed it on to me.

I prepared a statement which I intend to read before the military commission on Monday at the opening of my trial. I hope the commission members will be understanding and kind enough to allow me to read my statement into the record. This may well be my first and only participation in the entire proceedings.

In this statement, I said: Some people suggested that I beg for mercy from the present powers that be. Son, this I cannot do in conscience. I would rather die on my feet with honor, than live on bended knees in shame.

Your great grandfather, Gen. Servilliano Aquino was twice condemned to death by both the Spaniards and the American colonizers. Fortunately, he survived both by a twist of fate.

Your grandfather, my father was also imprisoned by the Americans because he loved his people more than the Americans who colonized us. He was finally vindicated. Our ancestors have shared the pains, the sorrows and the anguish of Mother Filipinas when she was in bondage.

It is a rare privilege for me to join the Motherland in the dark dungeon where she was led back by one of her own sons whom she lavished with love and glory.

I ended my statement thus: I have chosen to follow my conscience and accept the tyrant’s revenge.

It takes little effort to stop a tyrant. I have no doubt in the ultimate victory of right over wrong, of evil over good, in the awakening of the Filipino.

Forgive me for passing unto your young shoulders the great responsibility for our family. I trust you will love your mother and your sisters and lavish them with the care and protection I would have given them.

I was barely fifteen years old when my father died. His death was my most traumatic experience. I loved and hero-worshipped him so much, I wanted to join him in his grave when he passed away. But as in all sorrows, eventually they are washed away by the rains of time.

In the coming years, I hope you will study very hard so that you will have a solid foundation on which to build your future. I may no longer be around to give you my fatherly advice. I have asked many of your uncles to help you along should the need arise and I pray you will have the humility to drink from their fountain of experiences.

Look after your two younger sisters with understanding and affection. Viel and Krissy will need your umbrella of protection for a long time. Krissy is still very young and fate has been most unkind to both of us. Our parting came too soon. Please make up for me. Take care of her as I would have taken care of her with patience and warm affection.

Finally, stand by your mother as she stood beside me through the buffeting winds of crisis and uncertainties firm and resolute and uncowed. I pray to God, you inherit her indomitable spirit and her rare brand of silent courage.

I had hopes of introducing you to my friends, showing you the world and guide you through the maze of survival. I am afraid, you will now have to go it alone without your guide.

The only advice I can give you: Live with honor and follow your conscience.

There is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength.

Son, the ball is now in your hands.



Thursday, July 1, 2010

10 Years of Opinions

Roughly around 10 years, ago, give or take a year, my friends from UP (my classmates back then), had always enjoyed a fellowship over coffee, breakfast, a view of our beautiful campus and the major daily broadsheets.

Our nook was Homespun. It was on the 3rd floor of the Vega building outside of the UP Los Banos campus. It had wide open windows which allowed us to enjoy the panoramic view of our world. Homespun was a family run business that served breakfast, lunch and dinner - canteen style. It had bucket seats and tables and at that time, 1999 - sported one of the fastest dial up internet connections and yes, they served very decent food.

There was always someone who came in with the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star. For some reason, we enjoyed both papers. Some went straight to the Horoscope section - most went straight to read works by Amando Doronilla, Randy David and our favorite, Conrado de Quiros. We talked and argued about our different ideas on topics ranging from socialism, democracy, Rizal, our gay professors, punctuations, grammar, music and many others. Sometimes we would talk for hours and just stay there till we get our next meal for the day. By the time we are ready to leave our coveted spot with the view, there will be acquaintances who would gladly take over and continue the mental masturbations.

This was the time when the actual generation of post Martial Law babies, the Eraserheads generation had started sprouting out of their shells and are engaging with world with their tenacity and individualism. This was the time when Erap was just hailed into power, and taken down a few months later. This was the last century. This was the time when companies like Google and Apple were not heard of yet and a walkman was still a common thing to have. This was 10 years ago. Oh how things have changed - and oh how other things have remained the same.

Now I find myself reading through the same sections in the PDI online (, looking for the same familiar names with the same familiar tone of writing. Granted, we've all aged and our attention span a bit shorter, but there's nothing better than a good column that coincides with your feelings and thoughts.

Today I read Professor David's message to the people and the new president. It spoke of hope and renewed spirit while providing the wise words that not only speak to Mr. Aquino, but also to each and every person that reads it. Part of it goes:

"TODAY BELONGS, OF COURSE, TO OUR NEW president, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. That means it is also the first day we don’t have Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as president. What a great difference that realization instantly brings! It is as if a heavy curtain of demoralization is suddenly drawn, and quickly we regain our bearings...

That means basically: don’t lie, don’t steal and don’t cheat. Don’t enrich yourself while in office. Follow the spirit of the law, more than its letter. Do not ask your lawyers for advice on how to interpret the law in order to get what you want. Ask them rather what is right and what is just.

Talk to the people and listen to them. Take time to converse with the youth, know their dreams and anxieties. Live and travel simply, remembering always that it’s the people’s money you’re using. Work hard, but be frank about what you can and cannot do. Public service is a shared burden. Tell the people how they can help the government. Lead by example."

Now the world that I am in does not have the wooden bucket seats, the view nor the contemporaries whose smiles, laughter and opinions I miss. It is a cold, quiet cubicle with artificial lighting and a monitor. I am fortunate enough to still get a chance to read my David's, de Quiros and Doronillas every so often. I guess I am also fortunate that I am able to share this with whoever wants to read it.

So here it is - read on. Enjoy.

(read: Prof. Randy David / Public Lives / Decency and the presidency)