Apr 212013

COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo


Living at the edge

Here’s an open letter I wrote for Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo at early dawn on the first day of March this year.

Dear Ka Satur,

Greetings!  It was good to get a glimpse of you at UP Tacloban yesterday, February 29, 2008, but I came too late to hear you speak at the forum.  Why, your built and gait just reminds me of my brother who once taught at the GraduateSchool in that college.  You were still being interviewed by some media people and I could have listened then but I guess I’d prefer to have a more private interview with you.

I was just thinking that it’s time to get a biographer. Or you can write things down yourself – you’re a journalist once – in telling your life story for it manifests the possibility for change.  Your life shows the triumph of the spirit of man in the search for justice, in the fight for freedom, and in trying to build a more humane society for majority of the oppressed.

You’re a great visionary and that your stands and causes which are on the margin or considered idealistic or only for socialism can be woven into an otherwise rigidly structured Philippine society that entirely lacks social justice.  That one doesn’t have to remain stalled in the protracted struggle towards infinity.  That one doesn’t have to die fighting in an unfinished war.  That one doesn’t have to live in exile to stage his fight.  And, that one doesn’t have to surrender and be coopted by the system he wants to change.

Ninoy Aquino once said that “the Filipino is worth dying for.”  Equally true is that the Filipino is worth living at the edge – at constant battle with state apparatus that defies human dignity, risking life and limbs and sacrificing family life, while struggling for an ounce of share of the Rights of Man for a great multitude of subjugated humans.

You have shown that an idea of the extreme left indeed reflects the collective unconscious and that it can be raised thru the mainstream of society and brought into law.  The Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill and Anti-Torture Bill are steps towards the maintenance of a civilized Filipino society especially since enforced disappearance and torture are dark practices of foreign import.  Actually there’s nothing idealistic or even communistic with the fight for human rights (e.g. not to be subjected to torture, freedom from fear and want, to self-determination.)  Those who have power, money, and status are enjoying these rights and privileges except that many more others are deprived of the same entitlements.

At times I held you suspect, for all through these years you have survived still taking the same stand and singing the same song of justice and freedom.  Many others have come and gone.  In the seventies you were already Ka Satur and thru the succeeding decades, indeed, a lifetime of struggle and commitment.  Strong and resilient.  Like the molave.

You must be blessed by the heavens above; for having a soul that cries for others, for having a sharp mind and an indomitable spirit.  Your life shows courage, determination, and power.  Your life indeed shows that engagement is not surrender, captivity (even if imprisoned), or defeat.  And, that a space can be created and made for those who will it.

                   Mabuhay ang Pilipino!







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