Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

That Joma Sison is urging Duterte to revive peace talks indicates that he & comrades must be feeling old, tired & anachronistic----good prospect for peace. Book of Genesis tells how God was pleased with His creations, but not for long, as man was not always good custodian---a timely reminder in our search for ways to use our incredible mineral wealth the way we ought to: equitably and with justice for all.



A pundit recently noted that even revolutionaries grow old. I'd add that perhaps they also feel anachronistic, that revolution has passed them by. 

This predicament seems to be true of my humanities classmate at UP Diliman in the early ‘60s, Jose Maria Sison, our longtime revolutionary on self-exile for decades now in Utrecht, The Netherlands, the roosting place for a number of Pinoy leftist leaders. Joma and his campus sweetheart then, Juliet de Lima, and I were classmates in various humanities subjects, along with many other colorful campus figures such as Lino Brocka, Behn Cervantes and Ishmael Bernal, who were to carve their names in drama and film, as well as Carolina Malay (who eventually became Mrs.Satur Ocampo) in journalism.

Our generation of UP students came under the tutelage of some of the greatest names in Philippine Literature---among them Francisco Arcellana and NVM Gonzalez,  dramatist Wilfredo Ma.Guerrero  and Josefina “JD” Constantino (who was better known as a fervent essayist and became an institution in the English Department, along with another legendary lady professor, Ching Dadufalza).  It was a fabulous generation at the UP then---both of professors and students. 


Joma Sison joined the English Department of the UP for a while after graduation, but he subsequently founded the Communist Party of the Philipines and eventually feeling the heat here, he soon left with Julie de Lima in the late ‘60s for the more hospitable shores of Utrecht; they have stayed there ever since, except for rare visits to Manila. Thus, when I read in PDI last Feb. 11 that Joma is advocating the resumption of the stalled (abrogated?) peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front, of which he was the chief political consultant, I concluded that---like all his contemporaries--- he must be feeling the merciless onslaught of age. He probably now longs for some peace and quiet and normalcy in life. 

Moreover, the lure of communism or even just socialism has passed, as some of the most rabid countries that had gone Communist in previous eras, such as Vietnam, and socialist countries in Europe, rival the most capitalistic of neighbors today.  Joma and company must feel kinda anachronistic where they are, in very prosperous Netherlands. 

It’s truly time to come home, Joma, before all your hair is gone, as otherwise we your classmates won’t recognize you anymore.


Sen. Loren Legarda also added her voice to the growing plea to President Duterte to resume the peace talks between the two panels, and the clamor is getting louder for good reason:  fellow Filipinos ought to stop killing one another and concentrate instead on building this nation of over a  hundred million into a just, equitable and humane society.

I throw my voice, too, to the growing clamor among fellow Filipinos to continue talks between the government and the Left. Let’s talk and wrangle with one another over terms of agreement, BUT LET'S ALSO STILL THE GUNS OF WAR that are slaying both AFP militia and leftist cadres in the remote areas--- the cream of our manhood on both sides---even as we sue for peace. Our folk in the rural areas should be serenading the ladies (nearly all Pinoys are good singers), dancing in the plaza and making love--not war.


Perhaps I have more right than many other people to advocate peace in our country for I have seen the sorrow and the suffering that war brings. In 1986, soon after Cory Aquino became President, my husband, then a brigade commander with rank of colonel and assigned in Cagayan, figured in an encounter with the NPAs just outside Tuguegarao. He survived the two-hour gun-battle, though badly wounded all over, but his deputy commander, Lt. Col. Alberto Sudiacal, perished with one gunshot wound in the forehead, leaving a wife and four young orphaned children.

A good number of soldiers were also slain in that encounter, and this was what prompted me later to found the “Alay sa Kawal Foundation” that until now comes to the aid of widows of slain AFP enlisted personnel.  Weeks after the ambush I ran into then NDF Chief Horacio “Boy” Morales and he apologized about the encounter that nearly snuffed my husband’s life. He looked like he really meant it.

What’s good is that the Duterte administration is open to resuming the peace talks with the Left, imposing a few conditions to make it happen. We have one of the longest-running revolutions in the world. It's time we stop killing fellow Filipinos and instead channel the many billions of pesos that go into armaments of war to the welfare of our people---a thriving economy, decent hospitals and quality schools.


The readings of last week’s series of daily mass in Catholic churches were all filled with stories from the Book of Genesis, regarding the fascinating epic of the creation of man and the universe.  The word “Genesis” was taken from the Latin Vulgate which St. Jerome---the only saint whose remains are buried next to the Sacred Spot where Christ is believed to have been born in Bethlehem--- translated from the original Greek. In the Book of Genesis God surveyed all the works in His Creation and was pleased.  He then placed man (personified by Adam) as the regent, the custodian of all His creations, so that he and his descendants---who would be as numerous as the stars and the sands of the shores--- were to partake of the bounty of creation.

As time went on, so goes the Book, God became very displeased with the way his stewards handled their responsibility toward nature, and He decided to destroy His creation. He ordered a holy man named Noah to build a super-ark where he was to place samples of all the animals in it, and then God sent the great floods that destroyed every living thing except those in Noah’s Ark. Afterwards, however, God promised never again to destroy the world in that manner, and he created the rainbow as symbol of that celestial vow. The descendants of Noah multiplied and took reign of all creation.


The Book of Genesis is good to recollect on, as our country is at a most significant crossroads on how to handle the incredible minerals that lie in the belly of our archipelago. After all the shouting, the question of what to do with this incredible mineral wealth boils down to this:  How do we make them work for the benefit of all Filipinos and not just for the rich and mighty, and the opportunistic?

Perhaps at the dawn of creation, the Lord had placed all these minerals beneath our earth to handle and enjoy, for as Star columnist Satur Ocampo noted, Philippine mineral wealth is estimated at US$840 billion (P41.9 trillion). Mining authorities stress that PH contains the third highest deposits of gold, fourth highest in copper, fifth in nickel and sixth in chromite. In fact, said Satur, of PH's 30-million hectare total land area, about nine million hectares have high mineral potentials.


That we have been blessed with so much mineral deposits is incontrovertible.  I recall some years back Cecile Alvarez and I interviewed Dr. Carlos “Caloy”  Arcilla, who obtained his doctorate degree in geology from the University of Chicago and taught there for about 10 years, and now heads the UP Institute of Geology. Dr. Arcilla was nearly tearful as he described to us the mineral wealth found in Surigao, how gold, silver and copper are layered generously there one on top of the other.

The question is, if we're so rich in mineral deposits, how come so many parts of our country remain so poor and undeveloped? How did other countries transition from poor to First World through the mining of their minerals?  

(to be continued)

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