Cookie is now abroad working like many Filipnos do to maninly for family. It has been I think two decades since we last saw each other. That was when he was still working with Atlas Mining in Toledo City and I spent the night in their house in Minglanilla. Atlas has been closed for a time and that is probably the reason why he brought his family abroad.
Cookie left the seminary and went full time in the struggle against the then Marcos dictatorship. I think that was in the early eighties. We stayed together in a boarding house along Urgello St. together with Jovito Plaza, who would later be killed by a suspected deep penetration agent in the hinterlands of Cebu City.
Because our allowance was meager, we made do with fish, dried fish or ginamos. One time, while we were eating, he recalled their days in the seminary and how food there overflowed. That made us decide to go to the seminary and ask some seminarians to get raw food for us to cook. We had chicken that day.
I can’t recall now when Cookie decided to leave countryside organizing and go back to normal life with the family. When you get old, you forget. Besides, many other important events interferred and those are the ones that has stuck in my mind. But he was like many others who, while raising the family, haven’t forgotten the principles we were willing to die for then.
I actually have some good memories with some of those seminarians. We used to join rallies at a time when authorities won’t allow them. The clashes with the police and even the threat of arrests strengthened our bond. I would frequent the seminary and talk with them, sharing experiences.
This is the reason why when I go to SM City at the North Reclamation Area, I sometimes recall that time the rallyists destroyed a billboard in front of the Mabolo police station and fire station. The Cebu City Government were demolishing squatter shanties in the area then and we joined the protests of the residents.
I would admit fear would visit me everytime there was a confrontation with authorities. Thus I admired those who were daring enough, like another seminarian, Tito, who carried the hammer and climbed the billboard even if an armed civilian warned him not to. But in instances like this, it is the number that strengthens your resolve.
That was years ago. There were times when I asked myself where Tito, who is an Ilonggo, is now. Until I read an anti-communist publication that had his column in it. Funny how things change when you grow old. But then people follow the direction that life offers. I for one, like Cookie, have chosen work and family over everything else.
–Candido O. Wenceslao
November 15, 2006