Solitary Confinement

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

3 Responses to Solitary Confinement

  1. Earl Parreno says:

    “And I stopped searching for perfection.” How very true! We were taught in the movemement that Man is perfectible. That’s the very essence of Marxism. Man’s perfection was only distorted by the emergence of classes, that’s the theoey. It’s a very nice theory but as I see it now, not very well grounded on practice, on the reality of this world.

  2. Evan says:

    Hi, let me start by greeting you a happy new year! I did not know blogging could be this fun. It is just like having an interactive diary.🙂

    Anyways, let me just comment on that same line “And I stopped searching for perfection.” that made Earl profoundly reflect on the lies underneath such highly sought for goal by most idealists, perfectionists or maybe, idiots?!!? My God! you must be getting very old! I can smell wisdom in your string of thoughts. Good for you guys!!

    On the serious side, I, too, have stopped searching for perfection. (I must be getting old myself!) In my experience, seeking perfection is like chasing your own shadow. It doesn’t get you anywhere, yet you end up emotionaly frustrated, physically drained and mentally exhausted. Not to mention the dizzy spells and nausea that come with the strong urge to throw up! Sorry, I did not mean to be graphic. But isn’t it true, though?

    We have are own cups to fill, big or small. Life is short but we think that perfecting it would make us happy so we put our lives under a microscope so we can magnify our imperfections and dig them out. It is a painful, self-inflicting process yet we continue digging like a bunch of masochists. And of course we always find what we are looking for – the imperfections. So, always in the end, our lives become miserable, turned upside-down and inside-out as if hit by a level 5 tornado.

    On second thought, maybe there is nothing wrong with searching for perfection. Maybe the problem is that in the process of our search we come face to face with the imperfections of our lives and the people around us, and lose sight of our original purpose. And worse, we forgot that perfection cannot exist if we root-out imperfections, hence, the “unity of opposites”, right? The same way that we will never know sweetness if there is no bitterness, right if there is no wrong, etc.. etc.. etc..

    A coin has two sides and it will always have two sides. In the same way, every thing or event will always have its good or bad side, depending on who is looking at it. It is neither good nor bad in itself. But we can decide for ourselves which side is the perfect side for us. That’s the beauty of free will. If only we can learn to magnify the side that is perfect for us, for sure we can find true joy. But then again, it is easier said than done.

    Sorry is this comment is getting too long, but boy! it has been a long time since I get this mental exercise. Keep up this blog and more power!

  3. cebuano says:

    Happy New Year, Van. Hope you can start your blog, too. Looks like you have the time to do it now that you’re a family woman.
    It’s good to do some mental calisthenics from time to time. It is not only good for you but for others who will be enlightened by your thoughts.
    Anyway, I am glad that particular entry in the blog sparked some soul searching of sorts. Maybe I will have to discuss more about “activist” topics in the blog for this year so I will be true to the theme “Rebelmind.”
    To you, to Earl and to all former comrades who pass by this blog, let us continue being analytical, which is one of the positive things Marxism taught us.

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