Friday, February 22, 2013

EDSA Revolution: A shift in my direction (Repost)

Article first published February 20,2011 on the same blog. My third post after the baptism into the blogging community.

I have never shared this experience in public to keep the mystery of my past involvement in pre EDSA struggles in the local scene. Likewise, to protect the bond we had established especially during those trying moments after the EDSA euphoria and political enmity resumed once more in the Cory government.

As part of my commitment to the “learn- from- life” ministry, I am doing my share in the learning process. Hope the younger generation including my children will value the contribution of church people in solidarity with the struggling masses. Three decades are more than enough to hoard the riches of experiences and valuable lessons of the past.

Yes, Protestant Christians, or should I say Baptists, were participants in the struggle, too. Some of our youth and pastors who dared to brave the “darkest nights” were gone without seeing the dawn. Their contribution was never documented, neither appreciated by the Baptist community. Others continue to live with the stigma of the haunting past.

Unlike others, we were not there in EDSA to experience the birth pangs of restored democracy and jubilation in winning the battle. But we were with the group of peasants, workers, student activists holed in Sta. Teresita Church, Iloilo City for some days. At that time, there was a stalemate in constant clashes between rallyists and government troops. Cornered, the former found refuge in the church and started to appeal for help from middle forces. I was among those who responded, representing the church sector. Bringing blankets, food contributed by seminarians, pastors, church members, and some CPU students and faculty, I was not able to leave the place due to security risks brought about by heightened tension. There, we served as negotiators, peace keepers, counselors, planners for the ecumenical services and prayers, advocates to get more support to sustain the needs.

My political conversion took place some years earlier while doing pastoral ministry to political detainees in Camp Delgado. Raised up in seemingly apolitical environment, my primary motivation was to witness for Christ. I remembered even entertaining a wild dream at that time to serve as chaplain of the NPA, if that was the will of God. Ironically, I found myself converted to their commitment, dedication, courage and strong resolve in the service of people. I felt humbled to think that these people who were not so much concerned about their faith in God or the lack of it have this kind of love to the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters. Unlike us we who confessed and professed to be followers of Christ but failed to put such faith into practice.

Thereafter, I became interested in studying Philippine realities, attending symposium, forum on human rights, joining prayer rallies, organizing seminarians and pastors. At times, I enrolled part-time in the seminary to have more time doing volunteer work in church-related organizations. In 1984, with only one semester left before graduation, I decided to work full time doing solidarity work during the intensification of the people’s struggle.

After the historic EDSA '86, I decided to go back to the seminary to resume my studies. It was then that I realized the price I had to pay. For technical reason my return to the seminary was disallowed. Upon our dean’s advise, I shifted to Social Work and return to the seminary upon compliance of the requirements.

My first year was sort of a test on how to survive the isolation from Christian community because of past experiences and the trauma attached to my involvement. With the help of my family and my beloved and the support of significant people, I finished my BSSW degree and employed in the University. As such, I was able to complete my B.Th degree. Gradually, I recovered from the isolation and was given more opportunities including masteral study at UP Diliman. It was also within those period that a major split and bloody rift among former comrades began to intensify. Having no group to choose, I tried to find other means to continue my commitment to serve the people. Hence, the shift in my direction.

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