The avid supporters and propagandists of two mayoralty candidates in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro last May still couldn’t find time to move on even over a week have passed when Mayor Romulo “Muloy” Festin and Vice Mayor Rey Ladaga, including other elected and re-elected officials of said municipality have sworn in into office, although held in two separate ceremonies. Festin and Ladaga came from two opposing political yards. Mayor Muloy’s oath was administered by Judge Cornelio Sy of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) last June 26. On the other hand, I’m not privy to Ladaga’s oath taking. But it did happen I am sure as prescribed by law.
In the past few days, the most used and abused quotation, which is actually the title of President Manuel L. Quezon’s speech delivered for the Collectivists Party Convention at Manila Grand Opera House on February 17, 1922, was this: “My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins.” But to some quarters, the message is never a two-way street.
A book titled “20 Speeches That Moved a Nation” edited by Manuel “Manolo” L. Quezon III and published by Anvil Publication last 2002 was “turned over” to me for free by a bosom buddy by the name of Jose A. Norella, Jr. who ran but lost for mayoralty race in Magsaysay town but that’s another story. In the introductory part of the book, journalist Manolo Quezon wrote, “Read. Learn. Journey to the past, so that you may be better armed to play a constructive role in the present and our future.” But it was only after May 13 that I was able to find time to read that gem of a book.
Unknown perhaps to the people who uttered these words in caucuses and radio broadcasts recently, the speech analyzed directly how power may be gained and how far it may be wielded or utilized. This is what Manolo Quezon told his readers on his grandfather’s oratorical opus. Not only that, the grand old man Quezon, the controversial former provincial fiscal of Mindoro in the 1900s and later became the first president of the Philippine Commonwealth, had exposed the use of manipulative public opinion by some political quarters. This reminds me of the two warring media groups and personalities in this part of Tamarawlandia. Only few of them have realized that their personal opinion and the things or hearsays only relayed to them through text or private messages are not undisputed facts. I have written a voluminous entry about this concern since I started this blog but to no avail. I am so frustrated.
Another speech, actually a prayer, quoted in the book I think relevant in the context of the political situation of San Jose today was rendered by a priest. A clergy named Fr. Pacifico Ortiz, SJ who happened to be the personal chaplain of President Quezon during World War II was later became delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention. Ortiz’ prayer for the nation was delivered in the form of an invocation at the opening of the Philippine Congress in 1971. Not unlike those times, we too today are at the point of no return, to quote Ortiz, “[It] is a point of no return: it is a moment of truth that can either remake us as a people or unmake us into mob.” Ortiz concluded by reciting, “Grant us, O God, that we may have the courage of wisdom to forget the past with all its partisan bickering and recriminations – knowing as we do that each of us, if not by design or malice, certainly by apathy, cowardice or gain, has been responsible for the ugly things of the past.” We are all responsible why these things are happening around us either by adding insults to injured egos of our sisters and brothers or by adding logs to the fire inside each one of us, both citizens and netizens.
In that same speech Quezon vigorously declared something similar to our aspiration as people of Pandurucan, referring to both his political rivals and party mates he said, “There is no reason in the world why we cannot consider ourselves as brothers.” This grain of truth given 72 years ago must remind our present politicians and their supporters, government employees and members of the media, political personalities, those posting and commenting in social networking sites, how should we understand and look into political parties or groups the moment election is over: “It is not the unity of the party that should be sought. It should rather be the unity of the people. Partisan struggles should never be involve bad feelings and personal hatred. We can and we should remain as we have been, brothers that we are.” Owning deaf ears to such call after elections or beyond is a dishonor to the heroism, memory and political philosophy of Manuel L. Quezon!
Mature people do not ever toy with the idea that unity or cooperation is to succumb to other group’s opinion and principle. That’s not a call for unity neither cooperation. That’s an assertion for surrender!
If we are to convey partisan political opinions without being open to friendship and solidarity as citizens and netizens even among those we consider as political antagonists, we are just giving lip service to Manuel L. Quezon’s legacy and ideals. He who was one of the pioneers in statesmanship long ago emphasized with full hope in his famous speech this unfamiliar but detailed nugget: “What a beautiful spectacle for the country to behold political fights limited to discussion of principles and eliminating personalities! What a magnificent spectacle for the people to see political opponents eating on the same banquet tables, united by the same links of affection and friendship!” You people must make this elusive unity and cooperation happen if not today maybe the day after tomorrow.
Being both legitimate sons of San Jose, Festin and Ladaga, two men that I both respect, could initiate further development and momentarily forget their political affiliations and let their loyalty to the people begin. Judging them both at this early stage is unhealthy. Let us allow them to lead us to progress and not to put a wall made up of senseless intrigues between them, at least until the next election. Or until if the protests of the “un-proclaimed” candidates from the municipal level are legally settled before 2016 and if ever the verdict would swing to their favor. If Festin and Ladaga including their colleagues just fight objectively in a friendly manner in the spirit of the principles of check-and-balance and participatory governance, we will be able to move even farther. That’s how the non-aligned silent majority perceive all of these.