Monday, May 21, 2007

Clamp down on a Stand out?

In our highschool batch e-loop, I made the mistake of announcing I wanted to nominate Arthur Garcia as outstanding graduate in our class.

Arthur Garcia is a shadowy highschool memory. He didn't make waves back then. He was absent from the campus political scene. All I remember of him are smiling, chinito eyes, prominent nose, crew-cut hair and .... I guess that's it. Later, when I checked out highschool memorabilia, I found him in the official photo of the Torres Torch editorial staff.

In the early years of martial rule, when I was starting a family, a Kumander Arthur was being bandied about almost in same breath as Kumander Dante (Buscayno) in the dissident movement. I vaguely recall a clash between them -- I am not sure now. Anyway, I didn't associate Kumander Arthur with anyone I knew.

Not too long after, a news story announced Arthur Garcia, aka Kumander Arthur, was found dead. Apparently salvaged.

The report carried a picture. A face of a man not yet in his prime. Chinito eyes, high nose, close-cropped hair.

I tried to deify him in my Marcos-hating mind. Or what's a hopeless romantic for?

I filled up blanks in his life I didn't know and couldn't browse about.

After highschool, went to a university. Got recruited by KMU. Was taught ideologies that hit home. Dropped out of college, abandoned family, took less-travelled road to NPA territory. Left soft bed for mosquito-infested bushes. Traded "promising-young-man" dreams for country's "dictatorship-free" future.

In a word: namundok (fled to the hills; went underground).

In my mind, I concoct a final scene up in the hills just before he was killed.

As the sun sets on the hilltop, splashing the sky with mournful colors, the young man -- with sweat on his brow and dirt on his feet -- huddles with a group of kapatid (ideological siblings) under a tree, beside a brook.

"Someone has to go down to tell Ka Enteng the killings have to stop," an elderly says.

The youth's teeth shines white in his sunburnt face as he quickly replies: "Then I will go."

"No, not you, this mission is too risky," the old man retorts as the others chime in: " Stay here. We need you here." "Don't you know you're most wanted?" an anxious woman asks.

In not so many words, he tries to convince them he knows what he was about to do. "I will go tomorrow," he concludes , as though it were non-negotiable.

If his companions looked close enough, they might have seen the glint of terror that briefly passed his eyes before he shrugged and walked away.

He was, after all , not much older than a boy.

He goes down to the poblacion the next morning.


And that was how I imagined Arthur Garcia gave himself up to his fate.

When I decided to nominate Arthur Garcia as outstanding in our batch, I thought it was going to be a walk in the park, not a climb uphill.

Nothing prepared me for the vehement protests it drew among batchmates.

58 comments:

Abaniko said...

Kinilabutan ako. This reminds me of a good friend back in High School. She was from another school who I met in several regional events. We met again in UP. I heard she joined a leftist school organization and was an active social volunteer. After a while, I just heard she was "caught in a crossfire." I never got to know the details. If we have to vote for an outstanding graduate in our batch, I'd definitely choose her. She was a selfless person, full of dreams and hope for the country. She was very intelligent pa naman. Sayang talaga! I suddenly miss her.

sasha said...

I can't relate, tita. :) I don't know anyone who's been (or still is) a leftist. Ang circle ko di mahilig sa anything involving the government :(

Happy Monday, tita!

jerry said...

If Arthur Garcia were with the establishment, and was as brave and committed a leader there as he was underground -- I am sure nobody will protest his nomination as outstanding alumni. Sad!

auee said...

annamanila, why would they vehemently oppose your nominee? Personal reasons or because of what he became? Baka naman kasi ibang-iba ang gauge nila ng "outstanding".

snglguy said...

My uncle, who is now an engineering prof in Bicol University, didn't know he had a batch mate who was a member of the NPA. So imagine his surprise when --- after EDSA 1 --- he found out that the quiet, and timid person he once knew turned out to be one of the top NPA leaders in Bicol.

His name? Popoy Lagman...

diogenes said...

I hope some thing 'nice' is going to come here. Where is Aurthur. Has he read this ;-)

houseband00 said...

My two cents:

I believe, Anna, that a man's worth is based on the goodness of his spirit. It doesn't matter what his ideologies are.

Your friend joined up probably because he saw that this was the only way to help others.

Nominating him was the least you could do.

exskindiver said...

I admire your spirit.
You have looked outside of the usual paradigm of what is considered outstanding.

Was Arthur Garcia subversive or was he heroic?
In a time when corruption was not second nature to our society--I would venture to say heroic.
In those days people fought for ideals. Perhaps they were called leftists because they left everything they had to fight the Marcos regime before corruption became the norm.
Out of curiosity, have any of these batchmates gained a foothold from the 20 year dictatorship?
I wonder. If your answer is yes--then that would explain the almost violent protests.

pining said...

Imagine that... good on you to nominate him, unfortunately some people obviously don't share the same opinion, so good luck...

ladycess said...

bitin! what exactly did your batchmates say? meron bang agree sa iyo? anong sabi ng mga may violent reactions? sino ba ang may violent reactions? (i agree with chesca). kwento pa :)

fence said...

I have nothing but admiration for folks like him. I have lots of friends and relatives who've gone to the hills in pursuit of an ideal. Some made it out of the mountains alive (but constantly on the lookout for comrades who felt betrayed, while some were never heard of again. I think Arthur Garcia, just for taking the high road, should automatically be considered an outstanding graduate. Unfortunately not all folks see things this way.

Major Tom said...

I always read men like Arthur and see on evening television but never knew a person like him close hand. But you did and knew such from years ago.

A had always imagined how some young men and women do such things---often irrational for most of us and clearly risky.

Maybe, Arthur can help us understand why.

I think he should win the recognition.

kate said...

it's surprising how narrow some people's minds can be at times. or maybe it's because where bonch and i come from, we've learned to respect people with similar ideologies, kaya parang it's almost unimaginable why people would oppose a proposal like that.

tita, i hope he wins the award. i think he deserves it - people that willing to take great risks for the sake of what they believe in are hard to come by these days.

lazarus said...

i too, have friends who joined the struggle. I was surprised when I met one in ayala mall. I heard that he's currently a high ranking officer. I can surely remember him as that timid boy in college who always stammer (and seems stunned) when his name is called out during class recitations.

But I can understand the sentiment of your batchmates. I guess the underground is no longer appealing these days.

the philosphical bastard said...

sad.

Annamanila said...

Abaniko!

Wanted to be vindicated with my nomination of a leftist. And the first response had to be yours who knew and admire a female (and younger) counterpart of Arthur Garcia! You don't know how good that made me feel.

Basta alam ko if we had more people brave enough to turn their backs on material comfort for country's sake ... there is hope.

Annamanila said...

Sasha!

Ok lang. I know a lot of people might not be able to relate .. that's why I turned it into semi-fiction. Oh, that's less than honest. It is semi-fiction also because i dont have enough materials for a full-length blog piece. :)

Annamanila said...

Jerry!

That's the conventional criteria for 'outstanding' -- someone who achieved in mainstream society.

Annamanila said...

Auee!

Well some of my batchmates think that anyone wanting to overthrow government by violent means cannot be exemplary.

Annamanila said...

Singlguy!

Talaga? I wonder if Ka Popoy Lagman -- for all his fame -- ever made it to outstanding whatever anywhere, posthumous or when he was still alive.

Quiet din pala ano? Tutuo siguro yung quiet waters than run deep.

Annamanila said...

Diogenes!

Something good must have come out from the death of this young person who was cut down before he reached his prime. :)

Annamanila said...

HB!

Exactly. We take different roads to our goals. Who can say who made the better choice?

Annamanila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annamanila said...

Ex-skindiver!

He tried to subvert what he thought was evil ... that makes him heroic, no?

Thanks for an eloquent vote for Kumander Arthur!!

Annamanila said...

Pining!

Tama ka din dyan. I shouldn't impose my standards on others. But I stand pat on my nomination of him. Teka wala pa akong form ah.

Annamanila said...

Lady Cess!

Well let me see, in that loop, one agreed with me. Three did not -- and two of them most empathically. One had an uncle killed by the NPA.

Annamanila said...

Fence!

Oooh splendid! Arthur and others like him 'should automatically be considered outstanding for taking the high road.' But alas, others would disagree.

Thank you!

P.S. Can't access your site though I tried twice.

Annamanila said...

Major Tom!

Thanks for another clear strong vote for Kumander Arthur -- and from a member of the military, no less, a major. :)

Annamanila said...

Kate!

Wow panalo na talaga si Kumander Arthur. (heh, muntik ko nang isulat King Arthur LOL). Imagine, a very young, idealistic writer ... recognizing his struggles!

Annamanila said...

Philosophical B!

(Hirap namang isulat ng second part ng blog name mo. :) )

Sad ba? Oo nga very.

Chateau said...

Hi anna!

Choose your battles and fight them. I guess this one is worth fighting for, so go get a nomination form na! :D

Annamanila said...

Chateau!

Very well said Chats! We are going to have an executive committee meeting of the alumni associaton end of month. By then i should be able to fill up the form.

Annamanila said...

Lazarus!

Omg, another quiet boy who grew up to be a fearless activist!

The underground may not longer be so appealing. But one must judge a person's work in the context of his time. After all, if Arthur wins thw award, he does so posthumously.

myepinoy said...

this is my version:

after all the troubles that marcos brought him, he moved his family (8 children)to mindoro. Settled there as ordinary normal but still with an activists heart. Organized the poorest of the poor, peasants, fisherfolks and the marginalized.

had a small business that went bankarote because it became the poor people's bank in times of their need.

to support his children, worked as a rural bank employee and gone farming on the side.

all his siblings graduated from college but two of them followed his footsteps. the older of these two, after being a rabid activists for years became an ofw to support his three kids while the younger one went missing for more than 5 years only to be found at a jail in a remote town with trump-up charges.

Ka arthur is now an old man full of wisdom living his life with the poor people of mindoro who he considered his own parents, brothers, sisters and children.

Annamanila said...

Myepinoy!

Your version uncannily sounds the life (Kumander) Dante Buscayno led after coming out from the undergrund. He led a farmers' NGO, didnt he?

Or did you write about your own father?

If that was the twist/turn my classmate Arthur/s life took, would he be considered -- without too much opposition -- a standout?

But, Rolly, your version couldn't have happened. You see, Arthur was really salvaged or at least gunned down. I didn't invent that part.

Annamanila said...

P.S.

I wonder whether myepinoy is still in pinas. :)

rhodora said...

Anna dear, I agree with Auee. Iba ang gauge ng mga classmates mo on what is "outstanding".

For them OUTSTANDING means, someone who OUTSTANDS others in their so called great achievements in life which are mostly pecuniary related.

On the other hand, Arthur, STANDS OUT not because of his achievements, but because of what road he chose to tread.

Either way, I guess your batch should have come up with some criteria or categories in choosing outstanding batchmates. Just my piece.. hehehe...:)

Gypsy said...

Life is surprising this way. You never know how your classmates would turn out to be. I am actually quite surprised with how my own classmates turned out to be after all these years..as you did, I would sometimes fill in the blanks to analyze how they ended up to be who they are at present...

Gina said...

Arthur Garcia certainly deserves to be the honored as the Most Outstanding Graduate in your class. After all, how many people die fighting for what they believe in?

zeroimpact said...

I find this man outstanding, and in a way that not many would do or so to speak can or even dare to do
I guess they are just ignorant

Annamanila said...

Rhoda!

Well said Rhoda! You're saying he eschewed pecuniary benefits, activities that he would bring him riches. And instead took a thankless, rewardless road -- and for him a oneway road .. di ba?

Thank you.

Annamanila said...

Gypsy!

Very hard to predict the twists and turns our old friends and clasmates will take no? There are no absolute indicators or predictors. But I guess that's why life is so exciting, because it gives us so many surprises -- nice and not so.

Annamanila said...

Gina!

Thats what I thought .. he died for what he believed in ... what he is convinced is good for his country.

Thanks for your vote, Gina.

Annamanila said...

Zeroimpact!

I hesitate to say they are ignorant .. since they intelligent, and are achievers, and very beautiful persons in their own right. Maybe conservative? Convetional? Uhmmm

SexyMom said...

you did not make a mistake in nominating Arthur Garcia, dear Anna, everyone is entitled to one's opinion. He may have gone renegade, but it was foa cause. how many of us and our classmates just give an "i do not care attitude"? he must have been better than all of us in that he cared, he was even ready to die for what he believed in. bless his soul (and i like the way you concocted his seemingly, for me, heroic final moments.

Annamanila said...

He cared -- yes. He died -- oh yes! He stands out head and shoulders over most of us his batchmates -- I think so but some don't agree.

This will be resolved in time and I will be glad to give you and the othes an update when it happens.

Heart of Rachel said...

Hi Anna. I guess it's not always easy to come up with something which everyone will favorably agree on. Sorry to hear that you received vehement protests. It was just a nomination. They still have the option to vote for him or not so I wished they respected your personal decision.

BTW, I know you've been having some problems commenting on my site. I'm afraid, I still haven't figured out how to solve the problem. :(

Belle TH said...

anna, that is what i admire about you, you see the goodness in a person whom the majority considered an underdog, a person who is unlikely to win. whether Arthur gets the outstanding award or not, you already made him one proud guy.

Annamanila said...

Rach!

It isn't easy to make unpopular decisions, 'no. However, there haven't really been a shot of hands. These expressions of opinions took place in a Yahoo group/loop. I guess only those who felt strongly about the issue spoke out. The rest have kept more or less quiet. Anyway, at the association, we have designated a committee to take care of awards -- i expect the criteria and forms by end of month when we meet next. I try to gather more data on Arthur. Then I nominate him officially.

And you know what, I will append this blog peice and responses to the blogpiece to my nomination of him. :)

Annamanila said...

Rach!

P.S. I haven't tried to comment lately. But my comment early this week went in -- i think -- after I persevered. :)

Annamanila said...

Belle!

I guess I -- like a lot of people I know -- tend to root for the underdog. But I probe into myself -- its not really the underdog thing but what I see as brave and committed and unselfish. Never mind right or wrong ... as there is ultimately no right or wrong choice as long as motivated by love. Needless to say, we just need to accept the consquences of our choices.

sheilamarie said...

he was fighting for something he thought was right. for something he believed in. that does amount to something, doesn't it? unfortunately nana, it doesn't conform with the norm. hence the "protest" that received your nomination.

at least you tried to make people see the other side of the coin =)

faith said...

Hi Ms Anna,

I missed reading your blog so much, so here I am, having abandoned a futile search for a ride home.Ortigas on a Friday night is hell.

Let me just say that you remind me of me 10 years ago. And that I feel sadness too about all the Arthur Garcias in our country(I knew several from the College Editors Guild way back in college). IMHO, they and their orphaned children, are the ones who've been sorely let down by what the movement has become.

gibbs cadiz said...

hi anna, am more interested in the substance of your batchmates' protests against your nomination of mr. garcia. what was it they didn't like about the idea, or if not the idea, about the man himself? that should be interesting, don't you think? :)

Annamanila said...

Sheilamarie!

I think so -- NORM is the keyword! And he strayed from the norm. The norm is to excel in government, in corporate world, in business, in the NORMAL professions and fields. Arthur did his feats out of the 'box', no? But for me the more I'd salute him.

Annamanila said...

Faith!

So you were with the College Editors Build! Wow. The creme de la creme. Yes, many of the college editors were left leaning as they feel painfully aware of the inequalities of society. Have they been disilussioned? I guess you have been too.

Annamanila said...

Gibbs!

Let me check my email for what exactly they said and go back to you.

faith said...

Hi,

Saling pusa lang ako dun, kasi associate editor lamang.

Yes,there was a time when I was enamored with their ideology (to my dad's consternation).

Loss of innocence is always sad, I guess.

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