Thursday, February 28, 2008

Letter from Jun Lozada

Dear Ma. Ceres,

This is my first time to write to a journalist and the only reason I am doing so is to express my appreciation for your advice that I should rise to my full height and to be braver than I think I am.

Until now I am still wondering why I am here in this situation, I have always thought that I am not fit to even be the spark to begin a light, but for some strange reason I am here. I am doing my best to play the part by sticking to the truth that I know and speaking with malice to no one.

I am not one to go into the rhetoric of false humility nor am I one who basked in the falsehood of egoistic rapture. I am simply out to tell the truth that I know, harassment and threats and failed attempts to my life notwithstanding.

I was not prepared to carry this cross, I was arguing and pleading that I don't be the one to carry it. I guess one of my friends put it succinctly for me, that it’s God who chooses our cross lest we choose the gold ones or the light ones. I am now carrying this heavy burden of living up to people's expectation, fending off the harassments and threats, facing off my legal battles in the courts, tending to the needs of my young family, assuring my wife that we still have a life to live even during these extra-ordinary times and even after the glare of media and the public has waned. All of these are heavy loads especially now that I am out of my home and living out of donations from well meaning Filipinos.

But rest assured, I will rise to my full height with the grace of God and the love of the people, just give me a little time!

Sincerely yours,

Jun Lozada

P.S. you have my permission to use this letter as you see fit.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rise to your full height

Imagine grown men bickering over undershirts and formal attire on nationwide TV while the nation was in the throes of war between good and evil, truth and falsehood.

While I have no reason to doubt the gist of the revelations of Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada on the ZTE-NBN multi-million-dollar deal that implicated public officials and private individuals, and his alleged forcible abduction by police and airport officials; while I do not question his motive to “save my soul” and by doing so, also “save the soul of this nation”, I have some observations to make of his behavior that tends to undermine his credibility.

I make these observations not to chip away at his credibility (why on earth should I do that and gain the ire of his fans) but so that he does not further erode it himself.

Okay, the gravity and magnitude of his accusations have made us sit up and listen and act. Hundred million plus dollars that translate into billions of pesos for “commissioners”, big names, big players, big deal. But while listening to all these since Day One of Lozada’s testimony at the Senate hearing, press conference and TV appearances in assorted venues, I could not help noticing chinks that I find annoying, disconcerting and exasperating. Things that make me wanna say out loud to him: Look, I believe you and wanna believe you. Could you please do it well and right, in a manner that befits your dignity and the gravity of your revelations?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

‘Permissible zones’, bukol, guavas

The phrase “permissible zone” has been bothering me these past few days that witness and whistleblower on the ZTE-NBN deal Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. has been in the media and the eye of the storm.

I must say that his revelations have discomfited me. No, not the alleged much-coveted multimillion-dollar commissions he has been talking about (so, what’s new?) although these are really staggering amounts, and greed has no limits. What I found discomfiting is that while with all candor Lozada has revealed what he knew he also admitted that he has tread what he called the “permissible zone”. That was after Sen. Miriam Santiago brought up what she had dug up on Lozada.

I felt sorry and I thought, why can’t anyone be really squeaky clean? Why do whistleblowers also have to have some mud on their person? I am not questioning their motives for coming out and I admire their spilling the beans. In the case of Lozada, he could indeed be experiencing enlightenment and divine inspiration.

But I just feel let down upon realizing that it is difficult to find someone who is willing to tell all and at the same time is also beyond reproach. I wanna shout, “Yes I believe you, but sana…”

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fr. Geremia forgiving Norberto Manero

What was it that drove a man to such bewildering heights and plunged him to such lonely depths? What voices did he hear? What lights, what darkness had he seen? What visions, what dreams?

Fr. Peter Geremia, a man so outwardly driven yet so inwardly drawn, had written in a diary his experiences, thoughts and more importantly, his painful prayers during his years of missionary work in this country. I was fortunate to be allowed to read his diary which was later published as a book (“Dreams and Bloodstains: The Diary of a Missioner in the Philippines”, Claretian Publications).Long before the book came out I did a magazine feature titled “The Diary of Fr. Peter Geremia.”

Through his raw diary he very reluctantly, almost wearily, let some of us see his core, the shreds of his life and whatever was left of himself. His diary was also an oppressed people’s bitter story, distilled and kept in one man’s prayer cup.

Geremia continues to walk with all of us. In his younger days he waded through the floods of Laguna, the squalor of Tondo and the blood in Mindanao. He has plumbed the bowels of this land.