I was arrested by government troops for the second time in November of 1988 (the first one was in, if I recalled it correctly, in May of 1987). The first time, I was jailed at the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center, posted bail and then jumped bail. The second time, I was locked up in a military camp, first under solitary confinement.
How does it feel to be alone most of the time in a room for more than a month? It was difficult. The uncertainty gnawed at me. I couldn’t even listen to music; it brought memories that pained me. I couldn’t eat well. My body so weakened that when I was allowed out for the first time, I almost fainted.
One of the things that propped me up was hope and writing. I asked for a notebook and wrote. In the first page of that notebook I wrote this short introduction. Every time I read it now, my eyes get moist. Because the words I stringed here sprang from the depths of a tormented soul. I titled it “A New Chapter,” and here it is:
I have reached the end of a long an tortuous road. A new path is right before me. I look back at the past and slowly inch forward. What will come is something only time can answer.
Many times have I faced life’s test. Previous years were replete with stories of sacrifices I went through–hardships I wouldn’t have met had I followed the normal course of life within the present setup. But idealism is in my veins and contentment is a quest that prods me onward.
I do have some misgivings. But there were also things that the past offered. It taught me what man’s society is all about–the conflicts, the beauty, the whys and wherefores of mankind’s historic reign in this our tiny portion of the universe.
I learned about life and death. I saw a comrade’s smile turn into pain and then the permanent stillness. For thousands of times the question of life and death haunted the depths of my being. And slowly, painfully, I learned that life is fleeting and because it is fleeting, I must cherish it.
I learned to love humanity. The downtrodden taught me the value of every individual; that everyone must be given the chance to develop his/her potential and to share the world’s bounty.
And I discovered God in a different light. No, I discovered God in His fullness. The second time around brought me closer to Him. The development of my theories through the practice of the movement made me look at God in a sober and mature way. My Mind’s better comrehension of Him placed my heart’s love for Him on a solid intellectual foundation.
And I stopped searching for perfection. Every theory, every ideology, every society has its imperfection. Perfection is an ideal. And it will remain forever as such: an ideal.
Today, I am trying to look as far away as I can. But the fog of uncertainty is covering the future that I am trying to reach. An old chapter has ended. A new one has, perhaps, begun. And if given the chance to move onwards I have the lessons of the past to guide me.
And I have this pen in my hand and the Muse in my heart—they are my crutch, my shield, my sword.
–Candido O. Wenceslao