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Letters to the Editor

Of genuine patriots and pretenders

/ 05:00 AM March 24, 2018

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.

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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.

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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.,[email protected]

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TAGS: Juan Flavier, Teddy Casiño, UP
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