I am but a simple educator living at another extraordinary time in recent Philippine history. A time when some people have apparently risen above their natural tendency to seek their comfort zones, and the misleading security of obscurity in numbers, and make another stand for the Truth to prevail in our land. Living in a southern city several hundreds of kilometers from the busy streets of Makati, I had to content myself to watching last Friday’s rally with interest but only through the confines of a television screen. And yet I felt that I was there in spirit. I felt the same way when I saw footages of the Mass for Truth and sang silently within my heart when the mass goers sang “Bayan Ko” at the end of that Sunday service. I felt emotions and convictions that were there 22 to 25 years ago when I, together with millions of other Filipinos, joined the funeral march for Ninoy Aquino and the anti-Marcos rallies from 1983 to 1986. Can Jun Lozano’s apparent abduction at the NAIA airport last month and his disclosures regarding the NBN-ZTE deal signal the start of another people Power revolution that will continue the work the we began in EDSA I? Sure people have rallied against GMA before. But Malacanang’s resolve to stay in power at all cost proved to be too much for a people who were still reeling from the frustrations brought about by EDSA II back then. At this point in time it is really still too early to tell. The movement for truth may soon falter and ground to a stop. But somehow it feels different this time around. As in EDSA I, it almost feels like there’s a guiding force out there that is making the right things fall in place at the right time. Jun Lozada’s story speaks of a man who was too involved in shady government deals and a man too afraid to stand out for the truth. But God may have other plans for Jun Lozada. Like Moses, Lozada seems to be a timid man forced by the Lord to serve as a spokesman for the truth at a trying time. His message then to the Egyptians seems to be directed to Malacanang this time around. That message was “Set my people free”!
More importantly, after hearing this call to stand for the truth once more, I ask myself “what should a simple educator like me do? Should we just watch the people in Manila, including the La Salle brothers stationed there, to keep the spirit of EDSA alive from the comfort and safety of our homes? Shouldn’t we, as Christians rise above our comfort zones and actively participate in this growing movement for moral renewal in our land? Should we not go beyond just praying “Lord let me be the change I want to see”, and see to it that changes do occur and soon? Should we not allow the Holy Spirit to transform ourselves to be sparks for change just like Jun Lozada? I write this open letter with humility as I too have been too busy with my class lectures and midterm examinations to take time out and discuss these important events with my colleagues and students. Perhaps like some bishops I too have been guilty of playing it too safe and seeing just where this movement for the truth will end before committing myself to the tasks at hand.
Shouldn’t we set some time to gather as a community and discern what these recent events require from us as individuals and as a collective? Shouldn’t we discuss the Lozada disclosures to our students and children and make them see just what has happened to our nation? Should we not heed the strong feelings from within our hearts and heed the bishop’s call for collective discernment and action? Or would we rather heed the call of the Arroyo government to refrain from being too emotional and let lawyers and government functionaries to resolve the crisis as they see fit? There is a time for cold rationality and a time for passion. What is being asked of us right now?
I write this essay with no clear answer in mind. But I do feel that something should be done from our end as well. I am disheartened by the lack of discussion, the lack of direction. I am concerned that we may be at fault for sitting back and watch others do what we ourselves should be doing right now. Will we wait for the movement to grow large enough to be significant before committing ourselves? Certainly there are risks involved in making a courageous stand right now. The greatest risk is that of failure. What if we do make a stand right now and nothing comes out of it? What if the movement falters and dies before we make the necessary changes for the common good? But the movement may just falter and die if we do not do anything right now. We may be beset with guilt in the near future if we know that we could have done something about the corruption and lies in Philippine society but did nothing. Jun Lozada has done and suffered enough. It may be time for us to do our share as well.