Of genuine patriots and pretenders
In his piece, “In defense of Myles Albasin,” (Opinion, 3/12/18), yet another University of the Philippines graduate caught by the military in the wrong place, Teddy Casiño made it look like there is no other option aside from living and fighting with the “oppressed,” joining the “oppressors” or simply living an uninvolved and self-centered life.
He forgot there are patriotic and well-meaning Filipinos who serve the country the best way they could throughout their lives. Those who take this path are best exemplified by the late Dr. Juan Flavier, who threw away the chance for his poor family to have a better life when, after becoming a doctor, he chose to live and work with barrio folks for 30 years. Unlike Albasin and Casiño himself who went to farflung places in the name of a movement, Flavier went to the barrios in the name of service to the country, not to give promises for a better place to live in for Filipinos at an undetermined future time, but to labor to improve the lives of the people then and there. Perception that he was there for some hidden purpose other than what was apparent was not one of his problems because with him, what you saw was what you got. By contrast, Albasin is regarded with distrust because she belongs to a group suspected of being an enemy of the state and worse, went to a place where rebellion already exists. Casiño said that as a fresh graduate 25 years ago, he also went for immersion in a rural area and would also have suffered the same fate as Albasin’s had the military chanced upon him then.
Needless to say, if all educated Filipinos—who at some point in their lives feel the call to serve the poor—are of the same mold as Flavier, this country would be a better place. Less fortunate Filipinos in the countryside would welcome them with open arms and people in the metropolis would cheer them on.
Albasin is now facing charges filed by the military; practically nobody is calling for her release from prison. In fact, Casiño’s piece was meant to defend her from bashers. By contrast, Flavier was eulogized endlessly and grieved by the country when he died in 2014.
Before that, the country had the chance to reciprocate Flavier’s years of loving and devoted service to poor Filipinos and gave him an overwhelming mandate as senatorial candidate, landing No. 2 in his reelection bid in 2001 despite the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ all-out campaign against him for his promotion of condoms. In fact, at one point, he was even considered as presidential timber.
Casiño? Despite his formidable qualifications, his productive stint in Congress and yes, his vehement assurance to the electorate that he is not a communist, only a leftist, he landed No. 22 when he ran for senator in 2013. The Filipino electorate has a way of telling the genuine patriots from those who use seemingly patriotic acts like passing propoor laws to forward a cause all their own, the people who serve for sake of service, and those who use service to mask a narrow agenda. In his piece, Casiño referred to a radical change in the system as the purpose of his immersion during his time and a “better world for all of us” as the intent of youths like Albasin. He did not give details as to what kind of world Albasin, he and their ilk have in their minds, but it is clear that such utopia has no appeal to most Filipinos based on Casiño’s dismal showing in the senatorial elections, as well as similar performance of other leftist leaders in the senatorial contest before and after him.
I dare say that intuition is at work in the lack of sympathy from the general public for Albasin and other UP graduates accused by the military of being part of the revolutionary movement.
ESTANISLAO ALBANO JR.,firstname.lastname@example.org
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