Monday, May 30, 2011
The Mutineer’s Wife
Despite of the bad weather, their plane landed safely at the runway of the San Jose Airport and that was early morning of Saturday. A little something for those who are not aware of this tiny trivia, our airport, also known as Thomas Mc. Guirre Airdrome got its name in memory of the US ace fighter pilot who crashed in Negros during the height of World War-II.
The couple came to Occidental Mindoro upon invitation of my elder (?) brothers and sisters in Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals or BCBP- San Jose Chapter. As I have told you before, I am an associate member of this community. They were invited as couple-sharer for our Grand Breakfast last May 28.
“Familiarity breeds contempt”, says an old idiom. With all honesty, aside from seeing our male guest in person, I am more interested in finding what his wife is made of. How she was able to stay behind her man during his time of trouble and chaos. Being once involved in the local media, I am already familiar with the life and struggles of Col. Ariel Querubin. How he took part in the 7-hour Fort Bonifacio Standoff, his protest against the irregularities in the 2004 presidential elections which was, according to him was “marred with fraud”. I read from all over about his achievements as a soldier. He graduated from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in 1979, completed the Australian command and staff course, and received his master's degree in defense studies from the University of Canberra. He ran but lost in his senatorial bid last election.
Querubin, co-founder of the Young Officer’s Union or YOU, is the most bemedalled officer in Philippine history, earning practically every award that the Armed Forces could give, except the Wounded Personnel Medal, which he could have received in 1989 had he been on the government side during the December coup attempt against the Aquino administration. YOU is affiliated with the earlier established Reform the Armed Forces Movement or RAM. He was given Medal of Valor, AFP’s highest award given to a soldier for heroism, gallantry in action and sacrifice. Yap, Col. Querubin’s life is already an open book especially among those people who are into politics specifically those who advocate for good governance. Just like yours truly. What about his wife? I do not know her. While most of our members are very eager to see him in person and hear the good officer’s life testimony, I am more curious about his wife. I asked my self while I was inside the (that day) crowded Conference Hall of the Sikatuna Beach Hotel and Restaurant that day: “What is this woman made of?” And that isn’t a contemptuous question as far as I know.
Formerly known as Ma. Flor Palacio Azcarraga is the better half of Col. Ariel Querubin but she was introduced to us by Dr. Pabs Lazaro simply by her nickname: “Sister Pong”. She related to us the trials she had as a mother of their seven children and the agony of raising them when her husband was incarcerated. She added that, “I felt the agony, it’s every inch, of the soldier’s wives depicted in the movie ‘We Were Soldiers’ where Mel Gibson as lead actor.” She is referring to the motion picture in 2002 directed by Randall Wallace about the battle of la Drang in Vietnam in 1965.
“Mommy, why is Daddy in jail? Is he bad? If he isn’t bad, why he is in jail?” Whenever these questions are asked, she tried to explain to the younger kids that their father is a good man, a man of integrity and honor. Pong joined rallies and mass actions. She stood by his husband’s principles and legal quests through peaceful means. The challenge in James 5:13 became his refuge, “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.” Mrs. Querubin admitted that during those times, their BCBP brothers and sisters are always there to bring comfort, spiritually, physically and financially. “When is Daddy coming home?” this question now is no longer being asked by the young kids. Their Daddy is a freeman now after 4 years in prison. At present, he is San Miguel Corporation’s consultant.
Pong Querubin is one of the, in Blessed John Paul II’s words, “brave mothers who devote themselves to their own family without reserve, who suffer in giving birth to their children and who are ready to make effort, face any sacrifice, in order to pass on to them the best of themselves.” (Homily for Beatification, 1994) To emphasize (Though I am in no way comparing Col. Querubin to Christ, my aim here is to highlight women’s bravery in biblical times), Sister Pong, like the women disciples, bravely came out to the open. They followed Him up to Jerusalem and stood by Him in His hour of suffering. Unlike their men counterparts who ran and hide!
We Christians not to hide our face from evil, not walk or toy around it, or pretend that it is not there or it doesn’t exist. Face it and fight even if it’s almost impossible, in spite of our feelings of powerlessness or insignificance (Col. Querubin did not receive his stars, remember?) and to become involved in transforming it. If our couple-sharers did not suffer, they surely cannot have the privilege of finding God’s compassion and grace.
Well, to summarize, this is what I’ve learned from the Querubins : Each member of a Catholic charismatic community like BCBP, is faith-bound to be a “mutineer” (or wife of a “mutineer”for that matter!) against sinful structures of society, and vice-versa…
(Photo : Grabbed without permission from Ms. Ellen M. Calugay’s Facebook album at BCBP San Jose Group)