Friday, April 15, 2011

Busy Bisi

This does not concern his politics nor his personal life or even his love life (if there’s any!) or anything outside of his being a writer. All I want to highlight is how this man, despite of his immobility, became one heck of a writer and may his story as a writer inspire our youth, those who are feeling tired or sick whenever the need for writing comes their way. The story of Rodolfo Meim Acebes as a writer and the great writers before him (and a little bit like him) are really worth telling and re-telling especially to struggling, budding writers of Occidental Mindoro. To those who keep on writing and writing, like a clock letting time pass by keeping its hands busy.

Tomorrow, April 17, is Acebes’ natal day and I am inviting everyone to stroll around the writings of this jolly good fellow who wielded his pen with fearless might but protected with battle-tested armor of social responsibility and service.

Ka Bisi writes from his bed after that fatal accident in 1988 which paralyzed half of his body. In an interview for the Inquirer in 2008, Ka Bisi recalled, “After the accident, I went back to reading and writing to keep my sanity. I worked on a borrowed manual typewriter placed on top of three pillows on my right side.” He made more than two dozen of letters to the editors of various broadsheets and magazines. Maybe, just maybe, if he did not went through this trial, his writing potential would forever be imprisoned by his erstwhile happy-go-lucky attitude.

“You cannot write if you do not read,” my late teacher in English Composition at Occidental Mindoro National College (OMNC) used to tell her class. Since college, Ka Bisi is already a bookworm. He is into reading especially the most sought after materials those days. “I was brought to the world of books by Ed Apigo. He was first to acquire books by COD from bookstores in Manila … We also read Alfredo Saulo’s “Communism in the Philippines”, William Pomeroy’s “The Forest” and the guerilla warfare diary of Ernesto “Che” Guevarra,” Acebes recalled in his column for the Divine Power, a Souvenir Program for Grand DWCSJ Alumni Homecoming 2000.

Acebes’ present situation reminded me of another great intellectual named Marcel Proust of France. Proust, was asthmatic and dying, who could write well only when, bedridden, he lay half-suffocating in a room hazy with inhalations, his bedclothes serving as his desk. I’ve learned that Blaise Paschal and Lucretius too were at their best in writing their respective masterpieces and not eaten up by their severe illness, solitude and destitution. Such situation did not hinder these great men of science and prose to concentrate. They have special gifts that are easier to cherish than to describe.

Ka Bisi, now 61, despite this physical handicap, has made his life fully busy and productive by writing historical and biographical articles and editing local news papers. He was my editor then at Mindoro Guardian. His latest work, “Mindoro sa Panahon ng Digmaan” is one gem of a book written by this Pandurucan-born historian. By the way, in case you are interested to know, Mr. Rudy A. Candelario, equally distinguished historian of Occidental Mindoro already migrated to the United States last March.

To allow you to glance at Ka Bisi’s life story, read it directly from the horse’s mind through his grand prize winning entry in the National Book Store and Globe Telecom’s “If My Life Were a Book 2007” essay writing contest. The piece is about Acebes’ thoughts on finding the meaning of life after becoming a paraplegic entitled “Finding the Meaning of Life and Becoming Free” published in Philstar three years ago.

Ka Bisi figuratively deserves waving of palms and laying down of coats for his literature. He rides on a donkey like a humble writer on a peace mission. At present, I was told, he is working on another book about 100 prominent residents of Pandurucan and I wish him the best of luck for his another noble project.

There is much more to say about the courageous historical and biographical writer who could be our youth’s inspiration for creative and intellectual works like research and writing. But this much can be said with confidence: this man already left a lasting legacy in our community and society that many of us, able men and women of this particular time and space, are afraid, too lazy or too busy to walk across…

(Photo: Acebes at work. Image from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

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