Two lessons: faithfulness and rebirth in the aftermath of the May 9 elections
Two images come to mind in the aftermath of the May 9 elections and the Marcoses’ return to power.
The first, oddly enough, is the final scene from the 1975 movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” with Jack Nicholson playing Randle McMurphy as the only sane person in a mental institution who leads several inmates to escape, this burst of freedom eventually ending in their return. One inmate is towering Chief Bromden, part Indian and mute witness to Nicholson’s vain efforts to lift a huge water fountain in the garden. One day, the Chief overcomes the bullying head nurse and makes his getaway after lifting the water fountain in homage to a now-lobotomized McMurphy.
The second image is simply that of Sarah in the Old Testament, who laughs in disbelief upon learning that in her old age she will bear a son (Genesis 18:1-14).
Fifty years ago, martial law turned my world upside down, jailing my husband and killing kin and colleagues. I did not count on a Marcos redux, but here we are, in the throes of a Marcos restoration.
Sarah’s tale tells me that a new world is aborning, even through our weary souls and bodies. To quote one University of the Philippines professor, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. won the elections, but Vice President Leni Robredo captured the hearts and minds of people, especially the youth. The future cannot forever be held hostage by the past. True, decades of trolling and fake news have created a grid of fake reality (quoting Segundo Romero), which has in its grip majority of Filipino voters, young, old, middle-aged. But for how long? When the promises turn empty and the myths fray at the edges, what then?
True, it was mostly the youth and the middle class that powered the pink tsunamis, taking Metro Manila and elsewhere by storm. But listen to the story of the BBM diehard, who gave a free ride to VP Leni on his motorcycle and, long story short, tried to seek out the truth on conflicting allegations from both sides. He and his wife voted pink.
The truth will out sooner or later, and with assiduous and astute organizing and learning hard-earned lessons (e.g., the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) on one hand and an unraveling of the infrastructure of lies on the other, the grid of fake reality will start to crumble. This is not foreordained. We will have to do our part, failing eyesight, aging bodies and all. But if Sarah laughed, first in disbelief, and later in faith, so can we.
And those who said “sayang”? Take heart, nothing is wasted. The outpouring of love and joy and hope in the mammoth rallies must now turn to a steely resolve to be wiser, craftier, and to aim for the long-term and bigger picture. And not to drown in despair, bitterness, and, worse, cynicism. Yes, many young professionals now seek jobs abroad, and many youths are shaken to the core, uncertain that there is truth and justice in the world. We, elders, must tell them: take heart, keep faith.
Brawny Chief Bromden was rendered a seeming deaf-mute by past traumas and bullying. But thanks to the escapade, the Chief has come alive again to sunshine and sea spray, crazy camaraderie, and an unshackled future.
Nothing is wasted, even the tears and the mourning. At a ripe age of 75, I can tell our young’uns, all this shall come to pass. And then, we shall lift the burden from off our backs. The future beckons—that is the Gospel promise—to Sarah, to Chief Bromden, to you and me, that all things shall be made new.
By way of postscript: “One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest” is based on a true story; equally true is Sarah’s tale.
Jurgette Honculada, Zamboanga City
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