Marxism and Other Holy Week Thoughts

ONE sure sign that the Holy Week is here is the heat. Kuwaresma.

The trisikad driver was sweating and huffing while pedaling us to the highway in Minglanilla. There, we chose the right side of the multicab not reached by the sun’s prickly rays. In the office, the blinds gave me with a glimpse of the hot day. A really good time to reflect.

I always feel strange during Holy Weeks, probably because I grew up in a family and society that strictly observed the rituals. Radio stations would play biblical soaps, and my father Tiyong had one rule for Good Fridays: don’t stray too far away from the house. Radio was the more powerful medium then, so we learned about Christ’s passion from it.

We children wove our own beliefs, picked up here and there. Like it’s not advisable to take a bath on Good Friday. That wounds suffered on that day won’t heal. And by the same token traveling was dangerous. Of course, those beliefs didn’t have any basis. But these pushed us to respect the day more than any other Fridays of the year.

And these stick to the subconscious. Thus, when the popular game show was aired even on Good Friday, many people criticized the network for the irreverence. I think that it was months after that a stampede happened because of the show, killing many people. To some, it was gaba, although those punished were the innocent ones.

There are actually many issues to tackle this week, considering that we are right smack into the campaign period and the world has not stopped turning. The suspension orders on Mandaue City Mayor Thadeo Ouano and Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Arturo Radaza still hangs. A Citom man was shot dead in Mandaue. A fire killed a kid in Oslob.

But I prefer to take a break, a detour. I was once a Marxist and took to heart the teachings of dialectical materialism, historical materialism and political economy. In that setting there was no room for a God as Christians know Him and Christ was human. My favorite line was, “God did not create man; man created God—or the concept of God.”

That does not mean, though, that a godless ideology can’t be humane. I would say our practice of Marxism had, to a certain extent, Christian flavor. This is the reason why even some Filipino priests either became Marxists or allies of Marxists. But even when I outwardly professed to be a Marxist, deep inside belief in God was not totally eradicated.

Thus, becoming a believer again several years later was not difficult. Now, with a wife who religiously follows the rituals, I am determined to raise my kids into good Catholics. I think inculcating in them Christian values will prepare them to face the kind of society we have. Which reminds me of these lines from “Used to Be,” a song by Stevie Wonder (with Charlene Duncan):

“Can your teacher pray, does your preacher pray/ Does your president have soul?/ Have you heard a real good ethnic joke today?/ Mama took to speed and daddy ran away/ But you mustn’t lose control/ Let’s cut the class, I got some grass/ The kids are wild we just can’t tame ‘em/ Do we have the right to blame them?

“We fed them all our indecisions/ We wrecked their minds with television/ But what the hell, they’re too young to fail pain/ But I believe that love can save tomorrow/ Believe the truth can make us free/ Someone tried to say it, then we nailed Him to a cross/ I guess it’s still the way it used to be.”

–Candido O. Wenceslao (I wrote this for my April 4, 2007 column at Sun.Star Cebu)

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