Diary of Augusto Caesar Espiritu

Saturday, September 30, 1972

I did not sleep well last night, not even in this other place where I am hiding and filling out my diary for today.

I anxiously sought out Edong Angara and requested him again to ask Enrile to scratch out my name. Edong replied that while the heat is on we might as well tide things over because in any case I have nothing to worry about. “We should wait perhaps a few weeks,” he said.

I was crestfallen.

In my gloom, I had a chance encounter with Ernesto (Ernie) Rondon. I asked him if the military had not tried to arrest him. He said not. But then, when I was talking to Edong an hour earlier, Edong was very certain that Ernie was in the primary list. “In fact,” he had told me, “if I could see Ernie again, I should warn him.”

The list! Always the list! Who could have prepared this list of the damned?

There was some intermission to break the tension.

I had to read on Teilhard de Chardin for my speech in the afternoon before the United Nations Association of the Philippines. Prof. Emy Arcellana of UP spoke on the government aspect, while NEDA Sec. Vicente Valdepeñas spoke on the economic aspect of de Chardin’s works. O.D. Corpuz of UP did not appear but Mrs. Hizon of St. Joseph’s College pitched in for him and talked about education. Afterwards, I made a summary of the papers presented and my interpretation of Chardin’s general vision.

My former English professor, J.D. Constantino, T.O.C.G., of the Carmelite Order, was ecstatic about my presentation. She announced that I was her candidate for president of the UP. She told the audience that I would be excellent for president. Later, she told me in confidence that last year, when there was talk of S.P. Lopez resigning as president of the state university, she had batted for me. She addded that some people had thought that I was too young for it, but now she said she would put me up again for the presidency.

It was very gratifying. Miss Constantino and I had always been quite close. She is a highly spiritual woman.

Letty Ramos-Shahani, that very intelligent foreign affairs official, who graduated from Wellesley College and the Sorbonne, gave me a tremendous buildup in her introduction. In fact, the introduction was unduly flattering and unmerited. But the lecture was very well received. I was so happy over this that for a while, I even forgot, my problem with the military!

As I was leaving the session hall in the afternoon, I heard somebody calling me, “Caesar! Caesar!” It turned out to be Nita Lichauco, Queen of Ding’s household. Surprisingly, she appeared to be in very high spirits.

“You know, Ding is having a ball in the stockade. Everyone seems to be well-treated in the stockade,” she blurted. She thought they will grow stronger because the lights are out by 10:00 o’clock in the evening, and they have to get up at 5:30 o’clock in the morning for their exercise. The food is good and they live in the gym in several bunkers.

“What are you trying to tell me?” I asked in jest. “That Ding’s nocturnal escapades have come to an abrupt end?”

“I also saw Joe Concepcion in the stockade drinking his Royal True Orange,” Nita laughed, then continued, “Last night, the home of Father (Pacifico) Ortiz was raided; according to rumors, he would be arrested tonight.”

Didn’t Rizal write that laughter is the best means of concealing pain?

And why should such a civic-minded do-gooder like Joe Concepcion be there? I mused. He might break down. He is a boy scout. He would have some rightist tendencies, all right, but then he is a business tycoon, after all. But he is also community-service oriented, striving to be a Christian in his own way. It seems to be quite unfair.

I related the story to Rebeck later. He was also taken by surprise. How could Joecon be possibly arrested? Possibly because he has been undertaking so many opinion polls and surveys?

Our concern for Joecon was soon superseded by sad musings over our own fate.

If guys like Joecon could be taken, Rebeck said, it is quite possible that many of us will be taken, too.

Now my poor brother is almost resigned to the possibility of joining Joecon and Ding in the stockade.

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