We shook hands before settling in a coffee shop of the mall. Jun (not his real name), who was with his wife when we met recently, is now a doctor practicing his profession in a city in far off Mindanao. His wife showed me photos of their three children, one of whom is already a teenager.
The years. I looked at the two of them and pictured how I now look in the mirror. The telltale signs of age is visible in the wrinkles that are starting to show on our faces. But then it seemed like yesterday when we last talked in the early ’90s.
I was just out of a prolonged detention then and Jun was rebuilding his life after he was incarcerated for a few weeks. He was married and needed a job, and so ended up continuing a study interrupted by our participation in the revolution. I could sense he is now doing good.
In Southwestern University where I took up Chemical Engineering (later shifting to AB Political Science when activism took much of my time), I was the first to go full time in the underground. I would like to believe my decision had an influence on Jun, who later left his medical studies to work full time for the movement.
When I went underground, all I did was pack a few of my things and then leave a letter to my parents explaining my decision. I visited our house months later and found out the impact of that decision. I was met by my teary eyed older sister and my father asked me to go back home. I did not.
Jun’s father was a former policeman and a disciplinarian. That only strengthened his resolve to leave. One of the precious possessions he spirited out of his house before he left was his guitar. The instrument did become useful especially in the mountains where music was an integral part of organizing and living.
Jun and I never became part of the same collective, though, because we chose different lines of work. I was mainly based in the countryside while he stayed for the longest time in the urban areas. But it seemed like our paths were destined to be parallel. He was nabbed only months after my second arrest.
After our talk, I asked to be dropped at the crossing to the South Coastal Road. I watched as they drove back to the city, the memories of the days past still being replayed in my mind. Then I remembered my wife was waiting for me at home and we needed to prepare for work.
Jun and I are in a different kind of struggle, monotonous and ordinary. Our families are now our main priority. In a way, he is better off than I am in terms of lifestyle, but I am sure not much has changed in our views of life. Sometimes this is true: once an activist, always an activist.