April 23, 2024

In the years past, Baguio has had the supposedly sacred “Holy Week” not to herself but with visitors who trek the road to spend the supposedly solemn moments of the son of Yahweh partying, going to the sites or just goofing around.
There was a time when the police at the Kennon Road checkpoint made a headcount on the number of cars passing by and we all had our share of friends and family visitors. Business for local traders was good and there were the moments when visitors were welcome and not bashed on the Internet in these modern times.
To their credit, our parents tried to inculcate into our naughty hard heads the significance of Christ’s death with the Way of the Cross, Holy Thursday’s washing of the feet of the apostles, the Good Friday processions, the Black Saturday vigil and of course, the Easter Sunday rebirth of Christ where the real treat was having Coney Island ice cream at the old 19th Tee at the then American base, Camp John Hay.
I remember riding in the Oldsmobile driven by my father for the visita iglesia that brought us to, starting in my birthplace at Trancoville where Don Bosco Church stood over land donated by my grandparents – Mendoza side, then off to Aurora Hill’s Immaculate Concepcion, Pacdal’s St. Joseph Church, Campo Filipino’s St. Vincent, Kisad’s Our Lady of Lourdes and finally the ultimate, Baguio Cathedral.
For the first time in our lives, this pandemic has caused all of us to spend Holy Week quarantined at home, most of the time trying very hard to act, to look busy doing nothing. The good news is that it gave us moments to reflect on life, on the why trials and tribulations, despite the goodest of intentions come like summer rain and bring feelings of rejection, despair, frustration, and emptiness.
Summer last year, all the chutzpah for the self to achieve the goals, wants and desires went pfffft in just one sweep of the magic wand. If I were Hebrew and Yiddish, people would have been entertained by my audacity, insolence, impudence, gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible guts, presumption or even arrogance.
Dean Ikong Reyes always said, “Be fierce as a lion,” and even before that, I did what I had to do to best I knew how believing that if I was not me, everything else was going to be shaky. The fall was hard and hurting and suddenly, the “Nothing or no one can stop me cosmic attitude” became a mere forever nagging thought. I am sure though that like others facing their own crisis, I have no monopoly of the sorrow that Jesus felt on the cross crying out “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?)”
On the third day though, Jesus rose from the dead and there is resurrection and hope for everyone, me included, down but not out. Today we realize that real strength is not found in grand displays of richness, power and fame but in a person’s indomitable commitment to do good, lead and serve his fellowmen from the heart.
Privilege speaking then in Congress at the World Scouting Parliamentary Union forum, I ended my talk by quoting an unnamed author who said, “When we are good to others, we are best to ourselves.”
Thus, I now realize to walk the talk of that very quote and as long as there are people who choose to continue to believe in me, we shall have more courage to be selfless and most compassionate in the face of fear and uncertainty. My good chutzpah remains “what you see is what you get.”
Standing up for what one believes in continues to be a good measure, but now there will be a time and a place when one has to yield his principled stance on a matter for the greater good. Then I can do a Cuban “Fidel Castro” or “Che Guevarra” and proclaim, “la historia me absolvera!” – history will absolve me.” This is the meaning of my and our Easter – hope will never dim. Sigh.