An irate texter reacted to the column I wrote in Sun.Star Cebu recently that was favorable to the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) by dredging up my past. The texter’s line: “to think that you were an activist before.”
I don’t want to get lost in the effort to define activism. My stand on the CICC was based on conviction, not on some ideological line. But there is some grain of truth if the texter thinks my standpoint has changed, after all I am no longer with the national democratic revolution.
It has been 18 years since I was arrested and months later got back into society’s mainstream. I am now a salaried man with and a family, no longer a full time cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines. In a sense, the workplace and the mainstream shaped my current approach to certain issues.
Or shall I say I have gotten out of the Marxist straitjacket and have become an independent mind. And for me, that many not be a negative development. I am freer because I no longer have to hew to a certain organizational viewpoint.
But don’t get me wrong, I am still a believer in the national democratic principle, although that belief has already been shaken by the information revolution and the reduction of the world into one village (Filipinos are everywhere in the world now). No problem with the democratic goal. It is the nationalist ideal that is being tested by these developments.
But I better leave the expounding of that to the ideologues. What I am concerned now is the shift in standpoint.
When I got back in the mainstream of society in the late ’80s, I promised to hold on to the humane values that were shaped by my joining the communist party and participation in a mass-based revolution. But mainstream culture and my detachment from the greater mass have admittedly eroded a chunk of those values.
Last Christmas, a number of people–children and old folks, even families–passed by the house in Minglanilla asking for money and other forms of gifts. They were the needy ones, the same classes of people I organized and entrusted my life with when I was in the countryside for seven years.
Funny but there were times when I got angry with the visitors and gave them something only grudgingly. I went through several hours of reflection, of reaching back to the old days, before my treatment of these people changed for the better. That this has become a struggle for me showed how much I have changed.
This is also probably the reason why I now find it difficult to understand the rage of the people against President Arroyo. Esconced in my ivory tower, and mainly concerned now with the welfare of my family, I can no longer find the emotional bond that once connected me to the marginalized. I can no longer feel their anger.
But then that is the dialectics of life. I have changed and that’s it. What I will have to do now is to to find ways to merge the old principles with the reality of life I am now in.
Thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis. What I am now is the anti-thesis. What I was before was the thesis. Merger of the positive aspects of my two selves–the past and the present–should result in a meaningful synthesis.
–Candido O. Wenceslao, January 7, 2007