Book 16: Kiss and Bite

CHAPTER 1.  By Arabian curse, we live in historic times


            ARABIANS are experts in curses, “May a thousand fleas infest your armpits!”  Or worse, “May you live in historic times!” historic times being times of change, of ferment, of instability, of conflict, of bloodshed even.

            My favorite Makati judge observed that ours is a historic time — meaning that of Diosdado Macapagal, Komong Sumulong, Teddyman Benigno and Anding Roces.

            We were born when Quezon and Osmeña struggled for political independence.  We suffered through the Japanese Occupation and World War II.  We were there at the time of Independence on July 4, 1945, and the imposition of Parity Rights, Free Trade and Military Bases on us by Uncle Sham.

            We witnessed the birth of the nuclear bomb, antibiotics, LP record, space travel, transistor, tape recorder, television, color TV, jet plane, satellites, birth control pill, organ transplants, DNA and genetic engineering, laser beam, computer, videocam — all of which changed our lives beyond recall.

            We have survived many economic crises, cold and hot wars like Korea, Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, and the Middle East, the final collapse of the Communist “evil empire” and the end of the Socialist Dream.

            And we were there when the Twelve Apostles of Freedom in the Senate finally lifted the yoke of Western colonialism from our necks.

            To my youngest child Rosanna, now an executive in a multinational company, events and people we consider modern and contemporary are ancient and antique — Magsaysay and Recto belong to the age of Rizal and Aguinaldo — the propeller driven airplane, the 78 rpm record, ether anesthetic, sulfa drugs and penicillin, the slide rule and the mechanical calculator are as primitive as the camera obscura and the silent movies — World War II, the Yom Kippur War, the Korean War and the Bay of Pigs Fiasco are as unreal as the Spanish American War.  Nelson Eddy, Mario Lanza, Robert Taylor, who dat??

            Yet history only seems like yesterday for many of us. I met Quezon, Osmeña and Aguinaldo when they had lunch with my grandfather at his house.  I met every president since then, Laurel, Roxas, Quirino, and served three of them, Magsaysay, Garcia and the great Macapagal.  Cory served us coffee when we visited Ninoy with whom I was a candidate for the Senate.

            I had tea with Ike Eisenhower, and personally met Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer (father of the Atom Bomb), even Nelson Eddy and Ingrid Bergman.  At school I met Peter Black, inventor of the LP record; Edwin Land of Polaroid and the instant camera; Norman Wiener of Cybernetics and the computer; Thomas Edgerton who invented the stroboscopic light and electronic flash; Natalie Kalmus widow of the inventor of Technicolor; Lillian Gilbreth, widow of Frank the pioneer in Scientific Management.

            I met and am still friends with Ka Luis Taruc and Commander Dante, both giants in history of the dissident movement.

            At this point in time, I am proudest to have The Magnificent Twelve, the Apostles of Freedom as old friends from way back.  I met Teroy Laurel and Jovy Salonga when I was in MIT and they were in Harvard, and I baby-sat for Teroy’s child.  Rene Saguisag is married to my first cousin, a close associate for a long time.  Butz Aquino used to make ligaw to his wife Popsy who lived in our house, and I still require him to make mano to me when we meet.

            Ernie Maceda replaced me in the cabinet as PACD chief and went on to greater heights.  Tito Guingona was a close colleague since we headed the Chambers of Commerce and Industry together.  Victor Ziga’s mom was a colleague of my mother in the women’s lib movement.  Nene Pimentel was my hero since he was incarcerated by Marcos in Bicutan.

            Bobby Tañada is the son of my greatest living hero and good friend, Lorenzo Tañada.  Orly Mercado was the professor of my daughters in UP MassCom.  Johnny Ponce Enrile and I have many common friends.  And Erap Estrada will always be my movie idol.

            We thank our lucky stars for being around in the 20th century, our lives touched by its greatest people, and participating in a small way in the shaping of its destiny.

            Our regret is that our beloved Cory who came into power by toppling the Dictator, could have ended her regime gloriously by ridding us of the last vestige of Western Colonialism, and giving reality to Quezon’s dream of “total, immediate and absolute independence.”  For that she might have turned out to be one of our greatest presidents.

            Today, with faggots and freaks managing our economy, with traitors and crooks running our government, with clowns and morons infesting our elective offices — with corporate greed and personal avarice dissipating our resources and destroying our environment, our armed forces making war on our people in behalf of a foreign power — and God striking us down with the most awful calamities — under the two worst administrations in our history, we Filipinos are like lemmings heading for self-destruction.

            Will the next generation be able to cope and overcome?

October 10, 1991