Diary of Augusto Caesar Espiritu

Tuesday, November 14, 1972

The Daily Express reported this morning that a move to change the name of the Philippines to the “Republic of Maharlika” is snowballing among the 166-man body of the Special Committee of the Constitutional Convention.

Of course, it is not true that it is snowballing; most delegates have never heard of this move. Nevertheless, I have a strange feeling about this. This feeling of uneasiness has been heightened by my reading of Don Carlos by the great German poet and dramatist Friedrich Schiller. I even saw the play in Munich. Don Carlos was the “incompetent” son of Felipe II. Why should this country be named after an undistinguished King of Spain? They were the Spanish branches of the Habsburg line in Vienna. We were indirectly a part of the Habsburg Empire—of the Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic Nations, with Vienna as the capital, which existed from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

I do not know whose brainchild this is. I am sure it must have come from Malacañang. But who in Malacañang started this? I would suspect that a nationalist like Adrian Cristobal, or, even, possibly also Blas Ople, might be behind this. In any case, it might be a good idea. Indeed, some 30 of us rather eccentric personalities—I must admit—were promoting the adoption of a new name for the country—Rizalia—in the Convention. Our real leader here is Don Salvador Araneta with people like Justice Paredes very actively involved. As might be expected, there has been a resistance to this on the part of student activists, on the ground that our national hero, Rizal, was an elitist. Many activists would rather promote the status of Bonifacio, having come from the masses. They would downgrade Rizal.

I remember that even the annual Rizal lecture two years ago by Renato Constantino at Fort Santiago dwelt on this. In any case “Maharlika” is a beautiful word except that Marcos has prostituted it. It now symbolizes not only Marcos’ guerrilla outfit during the war but his authoritarian rule as well.

Greg Tingson, an evangelist, is proud of the fact that there are daily invocations in the Convention. He says there is divine guidance prayed for everyday.

However, I feel funny about these daily invocations. Is the righteousness of a nation to be gauged by the number of invocations? If so, we are a very righteous people! But why does God seem to be answering our prayers the wrong way? Could it be that He has gotten tired of seeing us perform the daily prayers recited by rote by a people who do not have the faith of even a mustard seed?

I feel that the ultimate fruit of our religiosity should lie in Christian discipleship, in fighting injustice and oppression of all kinds, in working for human liberation.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good,” the prophet Micah has written. “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

One provision that is a distinct improvement in the Malacañang version of the Constitution is the restoration, to some extent, of Pilipino as the official language of the country, together with English. The wordings are quite intricate but, nevertheless, it is a compromise which, at least, puts the national language on a status equal to that of English.

Pinsan Manolo Cruz said last week that this is his special contribution to the Steering Council. If this were true, he has rendered service to the cause of our national pride. I love English and I’m sure it will stay as an official language here, but I would have been very much ashamed if the Constitution should say that the official language of the Constitution is English only.

I went to the session hall this afternoon only to find again the same situation that has existed since Thursday of last week. There is no session. The Steering Council is not yet through with its revision.

This is getting to be an impossible situation. No one seems to know what is happening. Tio Pindong Calderon is a member of the Steering Council but he could not find the other members of the Council. Presumably they are meeting in some hiding place. This means he may not be in the inner circle of the Steering Council.

I asked Dr. Leido of Mindoro what he knew and he said that he was also in the dark.

Later, Vic Guzman joined us and told us that he had visited the delegates at the Camp Crame stockade last Sunday. He said they were all okay, except that Tito Guingona was complaining that they have already been cleared by the military, so why wasn’t the Convention doing something to free them?

This is a valid question. Why doesn’t President Macapagal do something about these delegates? After all, he is the president of the Convention and these are his people!

Dr. Leido opined that it is because President Macapagal belongs to the minority party. Although he is quite unhappy about this situation, he does not relish the idea of having to see President Marcos.

But I countered that under the circumstances it is his obligation, morally if nothing else, as president of the Convention, to take some initiatives. Are we just going to abandon any delegate who may be taken in?

While we were discussing this, Virgie (an employee of the Con-Con) came to tell us that Mangontawar Guro was “picked up” by the military yesterday at the session hall. The alleged charge is gunrunning.

We got rattled.

I mentioned that according to Francis Zosa, the delegates in the stockades have not been allowed to vote. Dr. Leido was surprised. He said that, according to the terms of the resolution, there was no expiry date given for those absent to vote. Vic Guzman urged us to do something—possibly oust the members of the three-man committee?

Even Dr. Leido, who is an old Nacionalista and a supporter in many ways of Malacanang, thought that the disqualification of delegates in the stockades from voting was bad. “We should sink or swim together,” he said.

Later, I asked Monet Tirol what he knew about when the Con-Con would meet in plenary. He said he is not in the know either, but there are good chances that by tomorrow the Steering Council might be able to meet to finish its new draft.

I asked him what he knew about the spreading rumor that the delegates might be ex-officio members of the Convention together with the incumbent senators and congressmen. He replied that the Steering Council had a meeting with the leaders of Congress and that Senator Puyat had proposed that the present senators and congressmen be made members of the interim Assembly with the Convention delegates as ex-officio members. He thought that Puyat was apparently also interested in being the Speaker of the interim Assembly.

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