I am writing this piece on my youngest daughter Lilac’s eighth birthday, on a balmy Saturday morning when the mists bringing the cool December air were still riding on the crests of and hiding Mt. Makiling in Sto. Tomas.
I am seated on my foldable easy chair, near the window where I can see my black Labrador named Zorro and my one-year old Japanese chow-chow—baptized Mizuki by Lara, my eldest—caressing each other lazily.
As usual, they eye me as I write, perhaps wondering what the click-clack sound on the computer keyboard means. Their playful rumble punctuated my writing. Unlike humans, my dogs don’t suspect that it is during this period of sitting—alone and undisturbed—that I compose the stories and views that see print on the pages of the Romblon Sun. Dogs don’t know that writing is watching dogs carousing.
It is November 29, the eve of Andres Bonifacio’s birth anniversary, and my thoughts were meandering on the important observation that historian Ambeth Ocampo had about the Supremo.
In an article, ‘Remembering Bonifacio’, Ocampo wrote that “anyone who knows Philippine history will understand why Bonifacio is remembered on his birthday, Nov. 30, rather than the date of his death, May 10, 1897. Unlike Rizal who was executed by the enemy, and other heroes who died in battle, Bonifacio was executed by fellow Filipinos”.I could only imagine Bonifacio’s execution, which was the result of the bitterest of envy masked by the officiousness of an unfounded crime: treason. The circumstances behind Bonifacio’s death continue to be debated to this day, but what is certain is that his death, engineered by General Emilio Aguinaldo and his henchmen, remains a dark mark of Cain in the forehead of all Filipinos, a sign of our collective guilt.
Mt. Buntis in Cavite, where Bonifacio was shot like a dog, will forever remain in our history as the horrible situs of the downfall of a plebian who has, in our time, justifiably become the icon of mass struggle.
My daughters, our dogs, and Bonifacio seemed to be unusual starring characters in a column that is supposed to be about my readers.
The intention is deliberate. For my daughters read. My dogs, too, but not in the manner that you think. Zorro and Mizuki read the wind, not the printed pages, so that they know when food is coming, or when an askal—asong kalye—is about to pass by our house.
And Bonifacio? Well, we know that Bonifacio read Alexander Dumas, Jose Rizal, Victor Hugo, and Eugene Sue. He owned copies of ‘The French Revolution’, ‘Noli’ and ‘Fili’, ‘History of the French Revolution’, and five volumes of the Bible. He also read the books ‘Religion Within the Reach of All’, ‘Wandering Jew’, ‘International Law’, ‘Civil Code’, and the ‘Ruins of Palmyra’.
My readers also read, I’m happy to report. Hep hep, hooray! At the very least, they read this weekly column. I know, because since I started pushing pen in the Romblon Sun, I have been receiving numerous text messages commenting on my comments. What do you know? I have developed a fan base, and I am glad.
A few messages expressed praise that I am writing again. Others told me to shut up. Still others expressed disagreement with my views.
One ‘texter’, from Romblon, excoriated me for comparing Odiongan with the capital town, saying that Romblon is not parochial, as I have allegedly written. This was about my statement that Odiongan now is more cosmopolitan.
Well, this ‘reader-texter’ read me wrongly. I never said Romblon is parochial. I said that the air in Romblon is. But because the reader is king, OK. I apologize. Romblon is not parochial. But you are. Eat your heart out.
There was also this reader who urged me to write something about some anomalies in the Odiongan town hall, allegedly something about loans for the public market. I dismissed the ‘texter’ as a prankster because when I asked for proof or some documents, the reply was: “Baoy sa munisipyo.”
I can understand the ‘texter’s enthusiasm to get under the light of public scrutiny alleged misdeeds in government. But I cannot understand his or her laziness to supply the details or more concrete proof if he or she has the goods, or if he or she really cares about Odiongan. I am sure Mayor Boy Firmalo will do something about it if it is brought to his attention.
And then there are those message senders who asked if I am married. Readers will now understand why my daughters started off in this piece. No need to answer that query.
To ‘reader-texters’ who solicit money or jobs, I have a textbook answer. Please spare me the worry. I am a writer, not an employment agency or a bank. For financial or employment help, go to the governor or the congressman. They might have something left after buying votes in the last election. I am sure there’s plenty more from their fat commissions.
This is not to say I don’t love you, dear readers. Didn’t you know? You are king. Without readers, newspapers are dead, and writers would be left scratching their heads to kill lice, if not time.
What supremely irritate me, though, are readers—and they are numerous—who have something to say but could not lend their names and identities to their ideas. They hide in various covers and refuse to be quoted, using a lot of excuses in the book to remain anonymous. I am suspicious of people who have an excellent idea or something meaningful to say but refuse authorship for it. They might just have borrowed the idea, or they might be just extremely shy. I hate to say ‘cowards’ because the anagram of the word is ‘as crowd’ which could mean all of us. See?
Thank you, dear readers, for making Wilig-wilig, Liong-liong a weekly reading fare. I have just started to write, I promise, and will continue to try to deserve your company. If what I write provokes thought, fine. If it pokes the sensibilities of some public officials, there is surely a reason for it and I assure you I am a reasonable man. I just would like to let you know that I write because I cannot endure the injuries afflicting us.
Not to write about these injuries and oppression would be tantamount to perpetuating them myself, something which I shall be held accountable by the Maker who taught me how to write.