Thursday, November 30, 1972

On the day of the signing of the Constitution, the headline of the Daily Express was “FM tells the Military: I want Free, Open Discussions on Charter Provision.”

What lie! What double-talk! Hitler seems to be alive again! But many people were somewhat comforted by these pronouncements of President Marcos. Being allowed to open the window of freedom somewhat after having been deprived our civil rights for more than a month now, is great.

We do not really value our freedom until we are deprived of it. Then we understand why throughout the ages, men have fought for their freedom as an important ingredient of human dignity.

An air of excitement was in the air at the session hall. The delegates, in spite of everything, seemed to exude a sense of history—whether a famous or infamous one, the future will tell.

The roll call of delegates for individual signing of the Constitution in English and Pilipino was somewhat unruly. President Macapagal kept on banging the gavel, asking the delegates to sit down.

Sig Siguion-Reyna whispered, “Macapagal should have shown this force a little bit earlier, not now; I myself thought that he should have at least presided over our meeting last night if only because it was the last session, but, sadly, it was Vice Pres. Abe Sarmiento who did.”

There were some congressmen who had entered the hall. Speaker Villareal was there, and so were Congressmen Sanchez and Caram and Solicitor General Titong Mendoza (UP Law Class ’52) who had phoned the Con-Con that I had been taken into custody by the military. Yesterday, Titong told us he had a conference with Justice Undersec. Taling Macaraeg (Class ’52) about my arrest. Taling’s suggestion was for Titong to guarantee me and take me into his custody.

Sig Siguion-Reyna learned last night that our colleagues in detention are to be released for one day today during the signing of the Constitution. He said he wanted to make sure of this so he had relayed the message to President Macapagal.

True enough, before we could finish our conversation, Nap Rama, who is detained at Fort Bonifacio, dramatically appeared at the session hall. He is no longer sporting the same macho hairdo. Rather, his hair is somewhat dishevelled and bears the untypical look of not having been creamed for sometime. How un-Nap-like! He also sports a mini-mustache now.

Two minutes later, Joe Mari Velez, also an inmate of Fort Bonifacio, appeared. Unlike Nap, Joe Mari is wearing a thick mustache curved sideways at the edges. He came in a blue t-shirt, looking quite healthy.

Nap Rama’s usual swagger seemed to have deserted him. After only two months in Fort Bonifacio! Joe Mari, on the other hand, looked defiant.

Joe Mari immediately told me that the news in his camp is that I have also been taken. He gave me the unnerving information that if I have not yet been arrested I would be—very soon.

I could hardly catch my breath. I thought my ordeals are over.

Both Nap and Mari expected me to join them soon—and in the isolation stockade of Fort Bonifacio, not in the relatively more comfortable Camp Crame stockade.

My heartbeats pounded like a gong.

Nap said that they had long expected me to be detained because their information was that I was marked by the military from the beginning as an enemy of the regime.

He talked about their own ordeal. In the first two days, the military had really sought to break them. The soldiers had put barbed wire fences higher than their windows all around their barracks. Poor Nap does not know until now precisely what he is being apprehended for.

Nap sounded desperate. Like the others, he seemed resigned to the present political situation. He will cooperate, if necessary, if this would give him back his liberty.

I inquired about his SSS loan and the reported foreclosure of his mortgage. “Yes,” he replied sadly. He has received a telegram saying he has ten days within which to pay the loan or else his house will be foreclosed. That is why his house is now for sale.

Nap did not sound bitter but he was clearly on edge. He said that it is ironical that the same reforms that we have been fighting for seem to be now under implementation by the martial law regime.

I inquired about Teddy Locsin. Teddy, Nap said, is quite bitter. Teddy says that he had fought so much for these reforms and now the military has put him in prison rather than awarding him a medal for his crusade.

Romy Capulong was with me while I was talking to Nap.

Nap gave us the shocking information that our meetings at Pepe Calderon’s place had been completely monitored by the military.

God! I gasped.

Could it be that some delegates went there with tape recorders in their pockets? After all, Romy said, in some of the meetings there were 30 or 40 delegates in attendance.

Still, I could not imagine how anyone in our Independent-Progressive group could have betrayed us.

Romy thought that it was possible that either one or two delegates who were present during one of our meetings could have done it; after all we also have counter-infiltration on the other side.

Out of sheer curiosity, I asked Romy who they were, and Romy said, “I don’t want to tell you because it might poison your mind and especially because it may not be true. But someday I will. One of these is a woman,” he said tantalizingly.

I overheard a delegate saying that Joe Concepcion and Tito Guingona were in the Steering Council room on the 13th floor and that they were waiting for President Macapagal.

“You better go down already,” Joe Feria told me. “I am just fetching Macapagal.”

President Macapagal was, for a while, busy entertaining Speaker Villareal, who had come in shortly before 11 o’clock. In the meantime that this was happening, Titong Mendoza came along looking for a copy of the new Constitution.

While Titong and I were in Macapagal’s room, I noticed former Central Bank Governor Cuaderno lying on his side on the couch, writhing in pain. Nobody seemed to be looking after him; nobody seemed to mind.

I was alarmed. I ran towards the governor and fell on my knees.

“Governor, is there anything wrong? Are you sick?”

“It’s my asthma.”

“Shall I call a doctor?” I asked. I gathered from his murmur that a doctor has been sent for.

“Air, air,” he murmured.

I opened the windows.

The doctor took long in coming. I thought it was heartless of many delegates to see him there and not to do anything to help him. Of course, they had other excitements today, but….

Then came the Convention doctor; we were not sure, however, of his competence. I was hoping that a physician delegate would come. Then Tony Velasco, himself a medical doctor, came in.

I went to the session hall looking for Dr. George Viterbo; I trust him most.

Two minutes later, Tony Velasco was in the session hall, doing what everybody else was doing—asking for the autograph of delegates. He asked me to sign his copy of the proposed Constitution. “But what, about Cuaderno? What have you done?” My concern was great.

“Oh, it is only asthma. The doctor is taking care of him. The medicine has already been brought in.”

President Macapagal was already with the detainees when I arrived. Tito Guingona and Joe Concepcion, among others, were asking him to make representation on their behalf with President Marcos.

President Macapagal kept on saying, “Yes, yes, yes, I will take it up.”

“I think tomorrow is the best time to discuss this,” I chipped in. “President Marcos will be in a good mood; this will really be good for national unity.”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Macapagal nodded in agreement.

Joe Concepcion wanted Macapagal to do more than this. He kept on asking whether or not they would be allowed to see President Marcos tomorrow. Macapagal said he could get another clearance for them. Of course, he would not talk to the President about any single one of them. He could only ask that all delegates be invited—including those under detention.

The detainees present were Joe Concepcion, Tito Guingona, Ernie Rondon, Bren Guiao, Pepito Nolledo and Natalio (Taliox) Bacalzo. Nolledo was standing at the back, somewhat lost!

Joecon whispered to me that the one in most pathetic condition among them is Nolledo. He seems to be on the verge of a breakdown.

Ding Lichauco is, likewise, not in good shape. He has contracted pneumonia and was taken to the hospital this morning. He is in a pitiful state. He has no children and his wife, Nita, is now alone.

Macapagal bade the detainees good-bye. “You know it’s good to meet with you… even just to be together for a while,” he said. “But I must now go up and attend to the Convention.”

Bebet Duavit arrived as Macapagal was leaving. “Here is the man who can help you,” he said as he left.

We all finally got Duavit to promise that he was going to talk to President Marcos. When the detainees told him that Macapagal had already talked to Marcos, he dismissed Macapagal: “Wala ‘yan.” Macapagal is too proud to talk to Marcos. He only sends letters. He does everything in writing. He said that as past president of the Philippines, he should be in a position to talk to President Marcos for the detainees. Bebet intimated, the detainees should not expect Macapagal to be able to do much for them.

President Macapagal’s ego is monumental, Duavit added. When he and Macapagal were with Flores Bayot, one of Marcos’ assistant executive secretaries (who was in the session hall yesterday; Sed Ordoñez, in fact, was asking me why? What was he monitoring?), Duavit said he had told Bayot, “You tell your President that my President is arranging with the postman for the delivery of the Constitution in Malacañang.” Duavit saw Macapagal’s face light up, he was all smiles, and he seemed to have grown two inches taller.

Duavit promised to talk to President Marcos tonight and follow it up with another talk tomorrow morning.

Joecon and Tito Guingona asked Duavit to tell Marcos that they can help in the implementation of the program of the New Society.

Duavit promised to try to persuade Marcos again, as he had done in the past, to release them. President Marcos had, in fact, told him at one time that Duavit should talk to the military and tell them that he would guarantee them.

But Duavit expressed reluctance to guarantee anyone. “Baka naman e-escape kayo,” he said sheepishly.

“Why not divide the responsibility?” I suggested. “You guarantee X, Ven Yaneza guarantees Y.

            Eh, kung umescape kayo.” Duavit has misgivings.

Tito Guingona then spoke up. “Yes,” he said, “political amnesty is the best.”

In the beginning, the detained delegates present had all come from Camp Crame only and so Tito, Joecon and the rest talked about amnesty for them… because they were presumably not charged with as grave crimes as the detainees in Fort Bonifacio.

But later, Nap Rama from Fort Bonifacio dropped by. They then agreed that the amnesty should include all delegates.

Bren Guiao tried to pin down Duavit on whether he would visit them. How else would they know the result?

Duavit promised to visit them tomorrow.

Later, as we were leaving, Joecon lingered around to talk some more with Duavit. Duavit then said he would tell President Marcos that it would be good for the Rizal delegates to be released because they would especially need to get “Yes” votes from Rizal—the oppositionist district.

What a paradoxical figure this Duavit is! So much a lackey for Marcos, yet warm, possibly even affectionate towards his colleagues—even to those in the opposite side of the political spectrum. Is he a good man at heart—who is possessed? If so, he needs an exorcist! Or is he a marionette? What is he really?

Joe Feria, Naning Kalaw and I invited the detainees for lunch at the Sulo Hotel. Later, Romy Capulong and Raul Roco joined us. Still later, while we were eating, Ric Sagmit came by and spent a while with us, particularly with Bren Guiao.

Everyone has his own story. Bren Guiao said that on Saturday night, he had dinner with Tito Guingona, but Tito did not tell him then—and Bren turned towards Tito reproachfully—what he, Tito, may have already known.

Tito was with General Rialp. Tito had asked Rialp if he was in the list. They went over the list alphabetically. “Letter G… Guiao, etc., no Guingona. You are not in,” Rialp had confirmed.

But in the meantime, the name of Guiao had already been read aloud and Tito did not warn him!

When Bren phoned his house Sunday morning, he discovered that about 40 Metrocom troopers had surrounded his house. So he did not know what to do. Finally, he decided to talk over the phone with the commander. The commander said he was being invited for interrogation. So Bren answered, “I might as well meet you in Camp Crame.”

He thought he would be interrogated, then released immediately, but when he got into the Camp he was not allowed to get out anymore.

Romy Capulong and Raul Roco’s houses were raided at 10:00 o’clock on Saturday—the very first day. Romy and Raul would have been ahead of Guiao in the stockades were they not able to run out of their houses earlier that day.

It was on the sixth day—on Friday—as Tito was talking with Bobbit that he, Tito, was arrested.

Taliox Bacalzo said he was interrogated at the stockade for his radio broadcasts going back to 1949 (sic).

The detainees still kept their sense of humor in spite of their obvious anguish. They were complaining of each other’s behavior, like little children. First, they picked on Pepito Nolledo.

Joecon said that in the first two nights, Nolledo would suddenly go up to his fellow prisoners and ask, “By the way, are you a spy?”

Bacalzo swore that one night, Nolledo came to his bed and stared at him for three minutes without speaking. He (Bacalzo) got scared. After three minutes, Nolledo asked Bacalzo, “Brod, are you a spy?” Bacalzo was terribly shaken!

There was a near fight in the camp. Nolledo was at the lower bunk while the hard-hitting columnist Louie Beltran was on top. One day, Beltran’s watch got lost. He searched everywhere, swearing and cursing as he went. Finally, he found the watch in the bag of Nolledo. Apparently, the watch fell down from the upper bunk and fell right into the open bag of Nolledo.

Nolledo was peeved by the remarks of his friends about him.

“Joe Concepcion’s behavior was worse than mine. He was always crying during the first two days” he attacked.

Joecon blushed. When his children came, one of them rushed to him and cried, so he started wailing also, he explained.

Joecon said that one of the worst things that can happen to a man is to lose his freedom.

I was reminded of my note to Raul Roco on his birthday a couple of weeks ago—that we are prone to take our liberty for granted; it is only when we are denied it that we realize the real value of personal freedom.

Joecon, who is a close friend, then turned towards me and said complainingly that he now realizes who his real friends are…. I did not even visit him!

Of course, they all know that I was interrogated; that I was in the secondary “list,” that were it not for my long friendship with Enrile, I could have been in the stockade with them.

Joecon admitted that the officers of his corporations have been going there for meetings with him every week. I had also learned from Vicente (Ting) Jaime, that Joecon has been getting passes because his mother is sick. Also, at one time, he had procured a pass to attend a board meeting of his company.

The detainees feasted as on nectar and ambrosia. In no time, we had cleaned up the plates. We horsed around for a while in an atmosphere of complete carefreeness.

This was the first time they have had a good meal in weeks. Also the first time that they were in an air-conditioned room.

Tito Guingona complained that the terrible thing in the stockade is like being in a sauna, he said; the gym is as hot as hell!

I asked then why Conception Industries did not install an airconditioning unit there. Of course, Joecon said, if they would allow it for two months, he would have it done. But the gym was so huge.

I told Joecon I did not recognize him because he no longer looked like a bouncing baby. He had lost at least five kilos. Besides he was not wearing his famous two-way transmitter in his belt anymore.

He said that he was dictating on his Philip machine but even that was taken from him. And he was heartbroken because his two-way radio is no longer allowed.

Bobbit Sanchez came later and said that he had talked to Duavit for some few minutes more after we had left. Duavit was supposed to have said he was going to see the President today and tomorrow and the detainees should have an answer one way or the other in 15 days. In any case, Bobbit said, possibly, after the ratification of the Constitution they would be freed.

Joecon wailed “No, no, no, that is too long. Tell us if it is 15 days, it is 15 days. Then at least we can hope. Magpapasko ba naman kami doon?

Joecon then proceeded to mention that he knew someone who was going to commit suicide during the first few days because of the loss of his liberty.

Bobbit reported that Joe Mari Velez refused to be included in the proposed amnesty. He left him in the session hall waiting to be called because he wanted to deliver a speech. Even if there is hardly any audience anymore.

But, he said, the session was already over last night, he would certainly not be allowed to speak. Indeed, it is foolish and senseless waiting to speak when the session is over.

Bobbit said that Joe Mari said he would stay in the stockade even if it meant staying indefinitely. Joe Mari is very bitter.

One of the delegates whispered that part of the bitterness lay in the fact that Voltaire Garcia had voted “Yes” in the transitory provisions when he could have voted “No” because he was only under house arrest (after he had already been released from the stockade).

In fairness, however, I knew that Voltaire fell ill in the stockade; I had seen how pale and thin he was when I met and embraced him upon his release.

“I am worried about Voltaire”, I had told Ding afterwards.

“So am I,” he said. He had watched Voltaire as he entered to vote.

Raul Roco said that we should really understand that the environment of Joe Man and Nap Rama in Fort Bonifacio is different from that in Camp Crame. In Bonifacio there is a group of defiant people like Ninoy Aquino, Pepe Diokno, Chino Roces, Teddy Locsin. This is the reason Joe Mari is defiant; he has been influenced by his environment.

Taking a cue, Joe Mari made a doomsday statement. Based on their reading of history, he perorated, they would either be executed or they would one day seize political power.

“Correct, correct,” Bobbit Sanchez nodded in assent.

“Except that Nap Rama seems to have a different frame of mind,” I teased. “Nap has acquired a Camp Crame mentality. He has shed his Fort Bonifacio mentality.”

“True, true,” the naughty Bobbit blurted.

Poor Nap flushed and we laughed freely. What was it Thomas Gray had written in his Elegy in a Country Churchyard?

            We look before and after
And pine for what is not;
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught…

Nap quickly recovered his composure and took over with a vengeance. Last night, at 12:30 past midnight, he had received a call from President Macapagal. Awakened by the call, he abruptly got up. This is it, he thought. I’m going to be executed. He fell on his knees to pray.

Of course I remember that Nap was a seminarian. I could imagine him reciting his Hail Marys:

Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee….

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour…

Joecon butted in. He recounted how President Macapagal had called him up after the call to Nap. The result was that he had hardly slept because Macapagal talked for three hours—until 3:30 in the morning. Either Macapagal was incoherent or he was just too sleepy, Joecon confessed, but he didn’t understand what Macapagal was talking about. That was why he rang up Joe Feria to find out what this was all about.

Joecon added that Nolledo had excitedly woke up Ding Lichauco.

“Ding, Ding, si Macapagal.”

Ding jumped out of bed. “Nasaan ang punyetang Macapagal?”

Nolledo explained that Macapagal was on the phone talking to Joecon. Several minutes later, Ding got up again and shouted, “Nasaan siya? Nasaan ang punyetang Macapagal?”

Joecon explained that it was Macapagal who was arranging for this one-day freedom and they should be grateful.

All the delegates then started their litany of complaints against Ding, his picayunes and foibles. Affectionate complaints against a comrade in suffering?

Ernie Rondon quipped that Ding Lichauco is so used to royalty he had decorated his bed with different varieties of blankets so that his bed looked like a royal bed.

They were all afraid to get near him, they said, because he is irritable. (Not to mention the fact that he was a boxing champion at Harvard?)

            Katakot-takot ang punyeta at punyetero,” Joe Concepcion and Taliox sighed. “Talo pa si Quezon.”

They were picking on Ding now, but all of them respect him as a patriot, a nationalist, one of those rare guys who really have the courage of his convictions. At the back of their minds they all knew this and respect Ding for it. But this did not deter them from getting more and more juvenile.

“I am one of Ding’s friends but many times I can not talk to him.” I was now contaminated by their degenerate mood. “Do you know that at one time, when I was with Joe Romero at CEPO, Ding appeared? Upon seeing his friend, Joe, without any provocation, he said: ‘Romero, if the revolution should succeed, your head will roll.'”

“I’m sure he was kidding,” I added, “but do you know how Joe took it? He was visibly unnerved.”

“But wait.” I was not yet through. “Upon seeing me also there, he went on with his offensive: ‘Also your head, Caesar.'”

“But enough of his good qualities. Let us talk of his foibles.”

Little Bobbit was a teen-ager again, in his barkada mood.

“Okay,” one of the detainees said. “Do you know that whenever Ding received his food, he would eat without making any gesture of sharing it with the rest of us?”

“This is only a cultural pattern; after all, he had spent seven years at Harvard, where this is the norm,” I was now defending Ding.

Still, barbarian Taliox from the wilderness of Cebu could not understand this. In a burst of mischief, he said: “But then when somebody else is eating I notice that Ding would even steal some cookies from this somebody.”

“Oh, come on.”

Everyone laughed.

Poor Ding. These friends had to make merry. And they just happened to pick on Ding because he was not present. They seized the opportunity of making fun of him because they would otherwise have been afraid to say these things to his face.

In the process, our friends forgot their sorry plight—for a moment, at least. Indeed, for a moment, they were like little children. And the rest of us, too.

My heart went out to these friends. They were a pathetic sight. We had fun, of course, while it lasted. It was really a celebration—a celebration of their temporary freedom. And I was happy that we made them happy, thanks to Joe Feria and to Naning Kalaw, who had taken the initiative to organize this dinner.

Our eyes were moist as we escorted them back to the long line of Constabulary guards who were all heavily armed, as if Joecon and Taliox, Bren and Pepito and Tito too—these harmless peacemakers—would not run away at the explosion of a bawang firecracker.

Raul Roco, as usual, pretended to be nonchalant.

“At least, these guys do not have to pay for their gasoline,” he said. He had the look of a shyster as he laughed. Typical.

Tito Guingona, however, looked so forlorn. He was a study in brooding silence. He was desolate.

“Everyone is in revelry, Tito,” I comforted this man who has been a sincere and gallant partner in our struggle for decency, fairness and freedom. “You alone seem so despondent.”

Tito lifted his eyes and spoke his parting words: “Do not forget us, Caesar.”

“Forget? Tito, how can we forget?”

Our hearts went out to our colleagues as the soldiers came forward; they were to be returned to the stockades.

“Do not lose hope!” Joe Feria, Naning Kalaw and I chorused as we waved at them.

Not lose hope? Did we really mean what we said? But today, the 30th of November, 1972, did we not really lose hope ourselves? On this day of infamy, did we not bury our dreams?

The Con-Con is over. Finished.

“I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith,” Paul had written to Timothy. But as for us, did we tight the good fight, really, or did we simply capitulate?

The Constitution has been bastardized. Authoritarianism has been legalized—but surely not legitimized! Where is that acceptance by the population of rulers imbued with superior moral, intellectual and political capabilities which Antonio Gramsci says, is the hallmark of legitimacy?

Up to now, our democracy, at best, has been a fragile one. But even this as yet imperfect—because clientelist and elitist—democracy has been cruelly snatched from us by this coup from above. Will the political institutions of this fragile democracy someday be restored, perhaps even nurtured to ripen into an authentic democracy? But democratic institutions can only be sustained if they are part of a democratic culture; even free institutions may not create a free society. Can we look forward to a time when the next generation may be able to cure the defects of a facade democracy and really see a participatory society with the incandescent idea enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence—that all men are created equal—at least approximated?

But even these reflections should be set aside for now. At the moment, one anxiously wonders whether this dark night of repression that has descended upon all of us will last for a long period? Or is this going to be a mere aberration in our 70 years of constitutional development—a nightmare whose memory will vanish soon enough?

But vanish it, perhaps we should not. For if we fail to remember our past, pride will dominate our politics and history.

I now close this diary of the Con-Con which depicts the strands of a complex fabric of contradictions—of indecency, bad taste, dishonor, betrayal, cowardice—compounded by some acts of selfishness, too, even of sparks of courage among a few.

Our actuations in the Con-Con reflected vividly the tragedy of man in his pride and his vulnerability.

I remember that 27 years ago, the philosopher Karl Jaspers had addressed his fellow Germans in searing terms, whose words I can not now exactly recall: “We did not go into the streets when our Jewish friends were led away; we did not scream until we, too, were destroyed. We preferred to stay alive on the feeble, if logical ground that our death could not have helped anyone… we are guilty of being alive.”

I feel guilty of being free; thousands are in the stockades, some of them tortured. And two of the “super-radicals” at our Asian Leadership Development Conference (ALDEC)—with whom I had some violent quarrels on the night that martial law was declared—have been shot and killed, I heard.

Could a certain respect for higher principles above our own personal existence have saved our people from so much pain and suffering? Don’t ethical and moral dimensions in political decision-making count anymore?

Should not our people—perhaps the next generation, who knows?—not confront our national guilt someday?

Will this story of guilt and betrayal someday be unravelled and the judgment of history brought down upon our heads? I, for one, hereby vow that at the very first opportunity, when the dawn of freedom shall have brightened again the skies of our darkened land, I will have this diary read by our people. They have a right to know how their delegates performed and behaved at the Con-Con during the decisive last three months of its tragic life; our development, whether for progress or retrogression, is blurred enough by too much anonymization.

Withal, some halting doubts assail me as I close the Con-Con story: What if martial law was not declared? Could the Con-Con have framed a Constitution that would have brought about basic changes in our social structures, minimized inequality in wealth and political power? Could we have conquered massive poverty among the people or accelerated growth that would ameliorate the harshest aspects of poverty of the present and bears the seeds of decreasing inequality in the future? If those of us who call ourselves democrats have had our way in the Con-Con, could we have ushered in a more just society, a more participatory polity?

I do realize even as I close this diary that this is one of those great “ifs” in history. Nevertheless, I cannot help but wonder: Could the Con-Con really have effected a social revolution through constitutional means in response to the desperate need of our people for greater social justice, if only some of us, myself included, had stood up for the harder right instead of the easier wrong?

Of course there is no way to test the big decisions of history, as the Czech writer, Milan Kundera, says, because there is no way to go back and see what the opposite choices would have brought. Indeed, how can we know for certain that those of us who had experienced detention or been suppressed in the exercise of our freedom of expression during the Con-Con would not follow after the footsteps of our oppressors if it should happen that someday it may be our turn to wield political power? Would we not, then, precisely fulfill the role set by Paulo Freire in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed?

I do not really know what to think of these things; perhaps I can never know. Indeed, often in life we have to face serious and difficult questions where no one really knows the answers. But it does not really matter, as Max Frisch has once said; the important thing is to raise the questions nevertheless. Then, in the end, everyone must answer in his own way. Some, no doubt, would answer with their own lives.

Manila. Three hours past midnight of November 30, 1972.


Tuesday, November 28, 1972

The Daily Express said today, in an article written by Primitivo Mijares, that the draft Constitution was approved last night without any dissenting vote.

But this was a blatant lie. I had voted “No”; so did quite a number of others.

It is not without reason that my friend Tibo Mijares has jokingly called himself “the Goebbels of Marcos.” There is an element of truth in this.

I was almost lost in my ruminations on the sad fate of the Con-Con when I entered the session hall. As I did so, someone handed me an envelope.

I looked at the man. His face was somewhat familiar. He started getting out the letter inside the envelope and showing it to me. I noticed that it was from the Armed Forces. With some trepidation I began to read:

HEADQUARTERS
5th Military Intelligence Group, ISAFP
Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo
Quezon City

M56P

24 November 1972

Subject :        Summon for Investigation

To :                 Dr. Augusto Caesar ESPIRITU
6th Floor, Ramon Magsaysay Center
1630 Roxas Blvd., Malate, Manila

Pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081 of the President of the Philippines in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines dated September 21, 1972, and pertinent implementing General Orders and Letters of Instruction, you are hereby invited to appear before the Office of the Group Commander, 5th Military Intelligence Group, ISAFP at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City on 24 November 1972 for investigation/interview in a case of subversion of which you are involved.

Your immediate compliance is hereby enjoined.

(Sgd.) MARIANO G. MIRANDA
Lt. Colonel PA
Group Commander

The dreaded moment has come at last! I was being “picked up”—as I had half expected for some time now!

I immediately thought of getting in touch with Johnny Ponce Enrile through Edong Angara. Edong was not yet in, neither was Sig Siguion-Reyna, Enrile’s brother-in-law. I asked Cecing Calderon for Johnny’s telephone number. He said Pepe Calderon has the number of Johnny at his house. He gave me Pepe Calderon’s number. I tried calling up Pepe but his phone did not ring at all. I spent more than 15 minutes trying to get Pepe. Then Cecing started to assist me.

Tony Tupaz passed by. I asked him for the telephone number of Edong Angara. He tried to remember the number.

“Why?” he asked.

I told him I had received an “invitation” from the Armed Forces.

“This is probably just an interview,” he dismissed it forthwith.

I showed Tony the paper. “Well, it is only an interview, it is not a warrant of arrest,” he started. But then he kept on reading the summons… “for investigation/interview in a case of subversion.” He got alarmed.

Bakit ‘subversion of which you are involved?’ Masagwa ito,” he got worried. “Masagwa ito” he repeated.

I asked for the number of Johnny Enrile but he didn’t know. He said I should talk to Edong Angara; he is the one who can help.

“In the possibility that I am taken in, will you do something on the Malacañang front?” I asked.

“Of course, I will go upstairs, Brod.” Tony tried to reassure me.

I called Romy Capulong aside and took him to President Macapagal’s room. I asked him if he knew the phone number of Johnny Enrile and he said that he has no direct line to Johnny. As I was talking to Romy, Cecing Calderon, who had been trying to do something, came in and said, “Nandiyan na si Edong.”

I called Edong aside and led him to the office of Macapagal. I showed him the letter. The first thing that he noticed was that it was dated the 24th of November. Today is the 28th. He asked me if I had made any speeches lately. I answered in the negative.

I started thinking that this might have something to do with my letter that was taken by the military from Haruna. Yes, that international seminar of the Asian Leadership Development Center (ALDEC)!

Edong was locked in thought. Then he started tracking down Johnny. In five minutes, Johnny was on the line.

“I am here at the Constitutional Convention. Nandito si Caesar Espiritu. Meron siyang summons for investigation dated November 24 but he received it only now.”

“Do you want to speak to him directly?” Edong turned to me, handing me the receiver.

Sige na, ikaw na.” I was in no position to discuss this matter coherently.

They had a short conversation.

“Johnny said that this is just an interview; there is no need to worry,” he consoled me.

Upon my reentry to the session hall, I told Rebeck about it. He advised me to report to the military officer as soon as possible. He warned me that even if it is only an interview, this may take two days. He said many of those who have been interrogated stayed for two days.

I quickly collected the clothes and papers to bring with me to the stockade. I tried to call up the house but there was no answer. Just send a note, Rebeck counselled.

Rebeck coached me on how the questions were directed to those he knew had been previously interviewed and who were subsequently released. The general sense is that the military wants to elicit assurance of voting for the draft Constitution and willingness to help in the building of the “New Society.” He advised that I should take the posture of willingness to help in the approval of the Constitution.

As if in a trance, I went with the soldider who gave me the letter, he with the familiar face.

But he was friendly. He tried to put me at ease. He started telling me in confidence that one of the interrogating officers was a former student of mine.

He introduced himself: Sergeant Rosales. He has been one of our security guards at the Convention for 16 months.

Small wonder, I knew his face. And he showed great respect towards me.

When I arrived, I was introduced to an officer who, later on, told me that he is First Lt. Conrado Gerzon.

He started by saying that the report about me said there was a letter written in blue ink. He then read the name of the addressee and the salutation. I was quite amused. He said the letter was taken from Mr. Haruna.

“Yes,” I said, “I knew Mr. Haruna. He is a Japanese pastor working at the YMCA in Japan.”

I told him that I have many international contacts who come in and out of Manila and that I have the habit of sending letters through them.

He asked me why such code names as Sascha and Karina were used in the letter. Also, why did I write that “some of the brightest and most patriotic citizens were being arrested and that I, too, might be arrested?” The military was puzzled and so he was asked to “confront” me with these.

“In the first place, you are admitting that this letter was yours,” he continued his interrogation.

“Yes.”

“Did you know that it had fallen into the hands of the military?”

“Yes.”

“Why did you not take it from the military?”

“It was not important, it was routine.”

“What was Sascha?”

I laughed. The lieutenant started murdering the German names and words written in my letter.

“Karina?”

“This is Karen in Danish, Catherine or Katharine in English, Katrina in Russian, Katherina in Central Europe. These were the editors of my two books we were putting out, Economic Growth in World Perspective and The Responsible Society.”

My interrogator was somewhat awed by all of these.

“While I am a Filipino and I consider the Philippines my primary country,” I said, “I also think of the U.S., West Germany and Switzerland as some kind of second countries. My friends in these countries are by the dozens. It is normal for me to have good contacts in these countries just as I have good friends in our own country.”

“I thought so,” he said albeit a faint note of suspicion in his voice betrayed his inner thoughts.

“Why did you write that about 13 people have been taken by the military and that one of your brilliant friends was taken that day? In fact, according to your letter, you were advising him, in case he was going to be taken in, not to run away, but to give up peacefully because his chances of survival are better inside the stockade than if he were to be in hiding.”

And why was I writing as if I, too, were expecting to be arrested?

“You put yourself in my shoes. Every day two or three of your close friends are arrested. Wouldn’t you feel apprehensive too? In fact, the whole Convention has been shaken by the arrest of these delegates. Frankly, everyone is somewhat afraid of being taken in.”

“You continued in the letter that international communications have been cut off but that you would send a message, ‘FREE’ or ‘IMPRISON.’ Why?”

“Well, I have been critical of both Marcos and of martial law,” I said. “I’m a Democrat. I believe in individual freedom and human rights. Wouldn’t you feel the same apprehension if you were in my shoes?”

“Yes, I would be,” he said with a show of sympathy. “For a while, I was confused about the air of apprehension in the Convention,” he added.

“Look at the date,” I pursued my psychological offensive. “The letter was written two days after martial law but it was not until one week later that this fell into the hands of the military. This means, I just gave the letter to the Japanese as a matter of routine knowing he was leaving for Tokyo a week or two later.”

Looking somewhat convinced, he grinned and asked me rather sheepishly whether I have taught at the Far Eastern University. I answered in the affirmative. “For several years.”

“I think I was your student.” His whole demeanor had changed.

I was not sure what I should say.

“I was thinking you were familiar but it seemed you have grown older since. Yes, you must have been my student for one year.”

“I think for two years,” he corrected me in his monotone.

I tried hard to put a glint of recognition into my eyes. “Ah, yes, I remember you, but of course, you are much older now.” My mind was in a whirl. I searched for a clue.

“I had two years of law school under you but I did not finish my studies.” He was quite subdued now.

“I am going to say in my report that it was a routine letter that you were writing to your editors in Europe,” he shifted back to the subject of interrogation.

We talked about my friends who have been taken in. I mentioned the names of Lichauco and Guingona. His face lit up when I mentioned Lichauco.

“Is he the one you mentioned as brilliant?”

“Yes,” I said, “he is the one. He was sitting beside me the day he was taken. And he is not a subversive, he is not a Marxist. He is just a nationalist—an anti-imperialist.”

“I am also a nationalist,” I confessed, “and a democrat. That is the reason I’m frequently held under suspicion.”

“Our society is so much in the right,” I lectured. “It is so much easier in our society to be a conformist than to retain one’s integrity. But there is so much injustice in society. We need to alter structures of power, institutions and of economic benefits. We need to be on the side of the poor and the weak.”

“The only difference is that Lichauco is more outspokenly anti-imperialist than me,” I continued. “But I, too, believe in national integrity. I do not like our foreign policy which Recto has called a foreign policy of mendicancy. I believe in justice and equality for all nations, and for all people in our country.”

I told my interrogator about my travels. “I’m invited to something like five seminars, workshops and conferences every year in Europe. In a way, I might be called a nationalist internationalist.”

“Oh, yes, Sir, I remember you were travelling a lot.”

“Yes, I have been attending seminars on international development as well as on human rights.”

“And I believe, Sir, that you are a Recto follower,” my interrogator is now deferential.

I responded by saying that Lichauco was influenced by Recto even more, and so have many of other young people.

He said casually that Lichauco would be interrogated tomorrow.

I cautioned him that they should remember that I consider Lichauco a patriot although I do not agree with all of his views.

Earlier, before my interrogation, Roquito Ablan, an assemblyman who reportedly had access to Marcos’ bedroom, came along with a visitor’s tag. I was surprised.

“Hello, Brod!” he boomed.

“Hi, Brod,” I answered. “Are you the kitchen-in-charge here? Or the detention mayor?”

I thought of Sed Ordoñez’ earlier story about Ninoy Aquino having been ousted as kitchen-in-charge at Fort Bonifacio. But apparently I made a mistake. Roquito is not under detention.

“I’ll see you in the interim Assembly, Brod.”

“I’m not sure about that, Brod.” I chuckled.

He briefly spoke to me in Ilocano and I answered him in Ilocano. He then warmly waved good-bye and breezed away.

Ammoyo gayam ti Ilocano (so you know Ilocano),” Gerzon said approvingly.

            Bassit (a little),” I replied, then casually proceeded to speak again in English and it was then he said he is from Nueva Ecija.

“Oh, you are my provincemate. Rebeck is your delegate.”

“Yes,” he responded, “Rebeck is my delegate; I come from Cuyapo.”

Our conversation lasted for 45 minutes. In the end, he said that was all. He “invited” me to return tomorrow so he could introduce me to his commanding officer.

“Of course. Would 10:00 or 11:00 o’clock be okay?”

“Oh, anytime at your convenience.” He was casual and deferential.

We were getting to be teacher and student again.

The session was about to adjourn when I returned. There were fireworks because Ambassador Quintero was going to speak.

Tony Sison, chairman, explained the action taken by the Committee on Privileges with respect to the investigation of the famous Quintero expose of Marcos payola in May 1972. He reported that his Committee had found “no scintilla of evidence to prove the charges of Delegate Quintero.” (Quintero had charged that he kept on being sent money in envelopes by Marcos to vote along certain lines.) Sison then moved that all the persons mentioned in the expose, including the first lady, Imelda Marcos, be exonerated of the charges against them and that the case be deemed terminated.

The motion was approved overwhelmingly. This is, indeed, the world of the absurd!

Quintero tried to stand up. He was very angry.

But he was not allowed to speak. By then partisanship was running so high. The delegates had lost their reason.

The session ended almost in an uproar.

Delegates Bongbong and Jaime Opinion were very angry too—at Quintero. Do executioners really get angry with innocent victims?

“They had very guilty feelings,” Rebeck commented.


Sunday, October 15, 1972

I gave Sisters Fely and Elizabeth, at the Sacred Heart headquarters, the list of delegates who have been so far apprehended by the military. They were classified into those in the primary list and those in the secondary list.

Among those in the primary list were Nap Rama (already apprehended), Boni Gillego (at large), Raul Manglapus (abroad), Sonny Alvarez (at large), Tonypet Araneta (abroad), Joe Mari Velez (already apprehended), Romy Capulong (at large), Ding Lichauco (already apprehended), and Raul Roco (at large).

Among those in the secondary list were: Pepito Nolledo, Natalio Bacalzo, Tito Guingona, Joe Concepcion, George Viterbo, all of whom have been arrested and detained. A few others like myself, my brother Rebeck, Nene Pimentel, Naning Kalaw, Erning Amatong and Lilia Delima have so far been only under surveillance. We did not know whether Sonia is in the list. Of course, Lilia wondered how Sonia could possibly be in the secondary list when she has been in Rome for quite a while now.

What kind of a State is this that regards its citizens first and foremost as security risks?

Sonia wanted to know whether she should resign from the Con-Con or should not come back anymore. I advised the nuns that perhaps she should not make any decision yet; the situation is still fluid. She should stay abroad until I am able to let them know of new developments.

The problem is how to convey all these to Sonia. Sister Elizabeth told me that when she returned from the U.S. two days ago one American lady with her was detained at the airport because she was carrying some films and apparently the military is suspicious (even) of films. So Sister Elizabeth is going to course the message through her sister in New York, or possibly, through the Papal Nuncio’s office. Sister Fely showed apprehension over my situation and said that she was going to pray for me.

From the Sacred Heart headquarters, I proceeded to the Manila Hotel, to the luncheon meeting of the International Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines where Dr. Manuel Lim was going to preside. Defense Sec. Johnny Ponce Enrile was going to be the guest speaker. It would be good to meet him; I want an assurance straight from the horse’s mouth!

I was registering at the Petal Room when Johnny passed by. I greeted him. He returned my greeting cordially.

At the end of his speech, I remembered with a start that I have a teargas pistol in my house.

I have always dreaded firearms. The only weapon I have given myself in the past ten years is a teargas pistol that is supposed to paralyze but I have, in fact, forgotten about it until then. Come to think of it, I have not seen my teargas pistol for so many years. I do not even know where it is.

Fearfully, I inquired from Johnny Ponce Enrile whether or not teargas pistols were supposed to be surrendered also.

Johnny smiled at this innocence. No need to surrender teargas pistols, he replied with a twinkle in his eyes.

In the Con-Con, we were fearing for our lives and our liberty. Understandably, for the businessmen gathered there, the most pressing problem is when they would be allowed to travel. Johnny said that they will be allowed to travel, but these businessmen must convince the Department of National Defense that their trip is really necessary and legitimate.

At least there is a promise that travel could be allowed. Of course, this is not good enough for some businessmen who want to pursue their business interests abroad, unfettered by clearances and checkups.


Wednesday, October 11, 1972

Malakas ka pala, tinanggal pala ang pangalan mo sa ‘wanted’ delegates.”

Cicero (Cecing) Calderon said that Sig Siguion-Reyna had told him that my name has been removed from the “wanted” list. He said he himself had been exerting; efforts to see Enrile and that he actually saw him on behalf of his brother, Pepe Calderon. Actually, he said, Pepe was not in the list. However, his political enemies had somehow contrived to get Pepe’s house searched for hidden weapons. In fact, he said, Enrile has these people now under investigation.

Anyway, it’s good to know that Pepe is not in the list.

            Malakas kang talaga, he repeated as he walked towards his seat.

When I sat down, there were talks, according to Pabling Trillana, that Raul Roco has been arrested and detained. I anxiously asked him for his source and he said it is Ben Rodriguez. I sought out Ben because I am very worried about Raul. Ben is quite convinced that Raul Roco is now in the stockade.

Joe Feria told Lilia Delima and me that two nights ago Raul Roco and Romy Capulong, who are in hiding, had surreptitiously dropped by his house to hear the latest developments.

Feria also said that he has seen the list of the 12 “wanted” people from the Convention supposed to be arrested. In the list are Sonny Alvarez, Tonypet Araneta, Romy Capulong, Voltaire Garcia, Boni Gillego, Bren Guiao, Ding Lichauco, Raul Manglapus, Nap Rama, Ernie Rondon, Raul Roco and Joe Mari Velez.

Another list has also been seen personally, Lilia said, by Tony Alano from Babes Navarro. (Babe’s father, Congressman Navarro, is chairman of the House Committee on National Defense.) The list contained 32 names.

Babes Navarro remembered some of those in the list: the 12 already mentioned, plus 20 more. Among those 20 are Bacalzo, Guingona, Concepcion, Nolledo and Viterbo, all of whom have already been arrested; Delima (the only girl), Occeña, Badoy, Sanchez, the Espiritu brothers, Pepe Calderon, Kalaw, Father Ortiz and Amatong.

Lilia Delima believes that this list of 32 is quite accurate. So there is reason, Lilia stressed, for us to keep quiet and not force the issue.

What did the brothers Berrigan say during the Vietnam War? I remember it was something like this: They came for someone across the street and we did not raise a finger to stop them. Next they came for our next-door neighbor and we didn’t scream. Then they came for us.


Tuesday, October 10, 1972

Julio Ozamis sat down beside me. At the precise moment that Tito Guingona was arrested last Friday, he said, Bobbit Sanchez was talking to him.

I am glad that Bobbit has not been threatened with arrest. At most, he may be under some kind of surveillance.

When Bobbit came in, he confirmed the report of Julio Ozamiz that he was speaking on the phone when Tito was arrested by the military last Friday. He also confirmed that he had phoned me when he learned about my being in the list two weeks ago.

It would seem that the report last week that our colleague, Dr. George Viterbo, was taken in Capiz is true. However, George was released immediately afterwards.

Why George was arrested at all is so hard to say because he is one of the most sober and level-headed delegates. His integrity is well-known, his character beyond reproach. I understand that one officer saw a book in his library entitled The Ecumenical Revolution and triumphantly announced that George is indeed a subversive.

There are now 11 delegates to the Convention who have been taken into custody. Of the 11, the two who have been released are Voltaire Garcia and George Viterbo. The nine others who are still inside are: Nap Rama, Joe Man Velez, Bren Guiao, Natalio (Talio) Bacalzo, JoeCon, Ernie Rondon, Pepito Nolledo, Tito Guingona and Ding Lichauco.

Possibly, six or seven more are in the list of wanted delegates. These are Raul Manglapus, who was able to get out of the country before martial law was proclaimed; Antonio (Tonypet) Araneta, over whom there was no reliable information as to whether he is inside or outside the country; Bonifacio (Boni) Gillego, Sonny Alvarez, Romy Capulong and Raul Roco, all of whom are in hiding; and possibly Pepe Calderon, whose house was raided by the military the other day.

The agreement was that the format of the Sponsorship Council shall be used by the Steering Council in writing the preliminary provisions. Thereafter, the Sponsorship Council will make the first draft of the Constitution. Afterwards, the group of 106 people, namely, the members of the Steering Council, the members of the Sponsorship Council and the panel of floor leaders will go over this and actually put the stamp of approval on the first draft. This will then be presented at the plenary session. This way, it is expected that the Constitution will be finished in no time.

In the afternoon, Monet Tirol invited Gary Teves, Fanny Cortez-Garcia and me to the Sulo Restaurant for a brief meeting. The major item in the agenda was what kind of speech he should deliver during the sponsorship of the articles on the national economy. Another item was what improvements we might be able to make at the last moment to the materials that were given to the Steering Council. Are there inconsistencies in these economic provisions?

From the way it looks, the improvement that can be done are to shorten the chapters on auditing, on the budget and on public works. I shall go over these tonight.

On the way to Sulo Hotel, Monet and I were talking about the arrests. He was surprised, of course, that George Viterbo was taken at all, although gladdened to know that he was later released. It may be, he said, that in the case of the others, their language had been somewhat personal and bitter. He has noticed for several years now, that Tito Guingona has really been hitting Marcos. The strongest attack was during his farewell speech as president of the Chamber of Commerce in 1968.

Monet wanted to be kind to me. He said it would be difficult to imagine that someone like me would be arrested by the military. My criticisms have been of high level, my language temperate and refined.

“Your discussions and commentaries have all been based on principles, not on personalities,” Monet consoled, “I’m sure you will not be arrested.”


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.


Tuesday, September 26, 1972

Michael Mastura was going to discuss the Christian-Muslim conflict in Cotabato at our ALDEC religious gathering. We were frantically asking Pastor Jun Lagunsad and Louise Palm to fetch Michael. I knew that he has become very reluctant about his speaking engagements because he, also, is afraid. He confided his apprehensions to me yesterday: he could be in the dreaded “list” (of those to be arrested by the military) because he has been critical of the government. There was an item in the Daily Mirror in which he was reported to be blaming President Marcos for the Christian-Muslim conflict.

I calmed his fears. There would be no problem because this was a group of earnest Christians trying to find out the truth in order to understand our realities—that’s all. They were young Christian leaders from some 12 countries who were caught by martial law and could not fly over to Cotabato for an actual look into the deteriorating relations between Christians and Muslims there.

Finally, Michael arrived at 11:00. By then, I had sacrificed my attendance at the Sponsorship Council meeting of the Con-Con.

Two hours later, at the Con-Con session hall, Ding Lichauco looked at me with gratitude for my concern. He seemed quite tense. He said that he was not sure whether he would be arrested or not. He has been half expecting to be taken since last Saturday.

I told him that if he was going to be taken into custody at all, he might as well give up and not entertain any thought of hiding because his chances of survival would be greater by giving up.

I felt sorry for Ding. Ding is not guilty of subversion.

“I am peeved at the straitjacket methods of some of our activist students. I think they have a pretty shallow analysis of the situation,” I comforted him. “Of course, I believe in their struggle for human liberation, but I work for liberation from a Christian perspective not in terms of a violent revolution.”

Ding was emphatic that he did not believe in Maoism either. In fact, he said, these “radical” students are guilty of adventurism. He said that his article on imperialism, precisely, was not Marxist in analysis or approach. He said he has done more to arouse nationalism among our people with his paper on imperialism than the activists have done with their Maoist slogans.

We felt that many Maoists in our country are both adventurists and romanticists who actually are far more dogmatic with their doctrines than we had supposed them to be.

“How long would the detention last, if it should come?” There was a faint note of desperation in Ding’s voice. “Tito Guingona has told me that martial law would last forever.”

Ding, in his agitated state of mind, was losing his rationality.

“Don’t believe Tito. After the government shall have caught the people it would like to catch, martial law would probably be lifted. And you could always read and write in the stockade,” I comforted him.

“But what if it should last for a year?” His voice trailed off.

“No, I don’t think it would last that long. Besides, you are not guilty of any crime.”

After about 30 minutes of our conversation, I said as a parting remark: “In the remote possibility that you are taken, Ding, send an SOS. I may be able to help you in some way.”

“Yes,” he replied sadly.

I left Ding and went to Bobbit Sanchez and Caling Lobregat.

Ten tense minutes passed. Suddenly Caling came to me and bent towards me.

“Ding has just been taken by the military.”

“What?” Unnerved, I slumped on my seat.

Sig Siguion-Reyna came to me and whispered that he was with Defense Minister Johnny Enrile, his brother-in-law, last night. These people mean business, he said. While he was with Enrile, they talked about a news item that Roquito Ablan was seen at Forbes Park. Sig said that Enrile himself ordered his soldiers: “Well, let’s put him immediately in the stockade, otherwise the people might say we are playing favorites with these people. We must get him in immediately.”

Likewise, when he was with Enrile, there was a phone call from President Marcos asking Enrile whether Mrs. Gordon, the mother of delegate Dick Gordon, was in the list. Enrile answered that she was in the first list but that he had already taken out her name. Enrile told Marcos he didn’t know why she was arrested by the military in spite of the fact that her name had already been taken out of the list.

But who prepared the list of politicians, student leaders, newsmen and dissenters to be arrested? It could not be Enrile because he knows me quite well. He knows I’m neither a Communist nor a man of violence; simply a practicing Christian who believes in the need for democratizing wealth and economic power in a society whose hallmark is that of distressing social and economic inequalities. Indeed, if we should really want to achieve development, we have to institute radical changes in our social structures, even as we should work for far-reaching changes in the structures of the world economy.

Sig warned us that there are many people in the list, and that the arrests have only started. He has also heard over the radio that according to President Marcos, mere speculations and rumors are punishable.

“In other words, do not speculate, do not spread rumors, do not think.”

Pabling Trillana interrupted our talk. He told me in a subdued tone that he had just signed a manifesto passed on to him by Tito Guingona.

“What was it about?” I asked.

“The manifesto opposing martial law, similar to the Diokno manifesto I signed and passed around four days ago.”

“You must be careful,” I advised him like an elder brother.

He became visibly afraid. He pleaded with me to talk with Tito Guingona and persuade him to try to “hold” the document that he had signed.

I continued advising Pabling Trillana. This is not the time for these things. We are now under difficult conditions.

He repeated his plea for me to talk with Tito.

I went to Tito. He was tense. He showed me the manifesto. He asked me to sign it, but I demurred.

“In fact, for your own safety, you should not release that,” I chided Tito. “Mrs. Trono has just told me she was worried about you because you are in the ‘list.'”

Mrs. Trono, although a Marcos supporter, showed genuine concern. “Guingona is innocent and is a good man. To all of you, young people who are innocent, please keep quiet. What can you do?”

Here was a rabid Marcos partisan—a political enemy—now showing sympathy for us. The springs of human compassion are indeed inexhaustible!

“Ninoy Aquino is so powerful but where is he now? What can you do? And you, Caesar, please don’t get involved. You with your transparent idealism, you should be serving your people, not be languishing in jail. And please tell Guingona not to get involved.”

I related all these to Tito, but he seemed ready for martyrdom. “We might as well express our last words before being taken in.” There was a note of bravado in his tone of voice.

“But there is no sense trying to be a martyr by courting detention. And what do we achieve? If we have to speak out, and risk our lives, let us do so. But let us be sure of our objective. Let us act at the right moment.”

“After all, we would just insert it in the records. He would not read it before the Convention.”

“Tito, you are a patriot. You and I are about to be arrested. Should we also get our friends involved?”

Could this be a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Is it not better to be a live coward than a dead hero? I salute Tito. Indeed, there are moments in our lives when we are compelled to certify what we think and what we believe.


Monday, September 25, 1972

I was getting worried about Sonny Alvarez. I phoned his house to check.

“How is Sonny?” I asked. “Is he safe?”

“Yes,” said his brother.

“Is he staying alone?”

“No, he is not alone,” was the reply, “but he has just phoned that he is safe.”

“You mean to say that he is not in the stockade?” I asked in pleasant surprise.

“No, he is not in the stockade, he’s free.”

I proceeded to call up Ding Lichauco’s mother, “This is Caesar Espiritu, may I know the situation of Ding? Is he safe?”

His mother answered: “He is at his house.”

“You mean to say that the military has not taken him in?”

“No,” she repeated, “He is at his house.”

“I am very happy to hear that. Please give me his telephone number.”

Mrs. Lichauco dictated Ding’s number to me, then said, “I am going to be there in 15 minutes. What’s your number?”

I gave her my telephone number.

“Thank you very much for your concern. I will tell this to Ding.”

I told Julio Ozamiz at the session hall that Ding Lichauco was not in the custody of the military. Ozamiz told me that he had just received a phone call from Sonny Alvarez. We were happy to learn that neither of them is in military custody.

In the meantime, rumors have spread that Mayor Estrada has been shot by Metrocom troopers. Erap shot? But he cannot die; he is not supposed to. He wins every gun battle in the movies, doesn’t he?

Activist UP pastor Jim Palm and Asia World Student Christian Federation Sec. Moonkyoo Kang appeared at the gate. They invited me to join them for coffee with Louise Palm and Pastor Dave and Cory Sobrepeña over at the Nordik Restaurant.

Dave recalled, as we sat down at the Nordik, that Cecille Guidote was crying while watching the dance at the Cultural Center with them because Cecille was preparing to appear on TV very soon with Joseph Estrada. She said that “Erap” has been shot and is dead.

We were quite grim. Jim’s usual levity was gone.

We moved for dinner to the Taza de Oro. Upon our arrival at the Taza de Oro, we saw (former Governor) Wency Vinzons, Jr. who told us the same dreadful news: Joseph Estrada is dead! Wency also said that he had heard from his sister that Soc Rodrigo, who had earlier resisted arrest, died that afternoon at the hospital.

There were all sorts of rumors. Grim ones.

We were in gloom. Soc Rodrigo was a good man… or lay brother, if such a one could exist. Didn’t Mabini say that the true man of God is not only he who wears a soutane?


Saturday, September 23, 1972

It was strange, I thought. There were no newspapers and no radio broadcasts in the morning.

At about 8:00 a.m., the Korean, Moonkyoo Kang, and Pura Calo, a Filipino, who were jointly running the ALDEC, visited me at my house and asked me how I felt. I told them that I was quite disappointed last night with the SCM in that in trying to set a new reading of the gospel, they seemed to have given a Christian organization, the Student Christian Movement, a neo-Maoist strain. I believe in a theology of liberation, I hastened to add; but liberation in Christ, not through a forcible overthrow of government.

“Obviously, you have not heard the news,” they exclaimed. “Martial law has already been declared.”

I nearly fell off my seat!

Martial law declared? Impossible!

“Yes, it is true. That is the reason why there are no newspapers and why radio stations are not in operation.”

Forthwith, I rang up my friend, Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza, to find out if this were true. Titong was out of the house but his wife, Rosie, said this is probably true. She added that Defense Minister Enrile was ambushed yesterday afternoon. By whom?

I told her that I was, in fact, preparing to address the meeting of the Christians Concerned for civil liberties at the St. Joseph’s College today. Rosie advised me to stay home and not attend the meeting.

I immediately tried to reach my friends—Sonny Alvarez first, but Sonny’s phone was busy. Next, I tried calling up Sonia Aldeguer but I was not successful either in contacting her.

I got Pres. Pro-Tempore Sotero (Teroy) Laurel on the phone. Teroy confirmed that the news is true. He had it from good authority: from his own brother, House of Representatives Speaker Jose Laurel. He added that two of our fellow delegates have already been arrested, namely, Nap Rama and Joe Mari Velez. Teroy suggested that we just meet more or less socially but that in the meantime, we should lie low.

I called up Raul Manglapus; we have to plan on what we should do next.

I was informed that Raul had left for the U.S. a couple of days ago.

Next, I tried calling up Raul Roco, but Raul was out of the house. Fearful for his safety, I rang up the home of his father-in-law, Congressman Malasarte. I was able to get his wife, Sonia, who said that Raul had “gone out.”

I rang up Alejandro (Ding) Lichauco, but Ding’s phone was busy.

I went to the Convention Hall. The streets were almost deserted. By late morning there were still no newspapers, no radio broadcasts. In Quezon City, I saw two cars of soldiers with one civilian on the front seat in each of the cars—obviously taken into custody.

There were some soldiers at the checkpoint near the Quezon Memorial Circle, but the soldiers didn’t molest anyone.

At the Convention Hall, there was a note of hushed excitement, frustration and resignation. Now the reality is sinking into our consciousness. Martial law has been proclaimed!

Rumors were rife that our most outspoken activist delegates, Voltaire Garcia, Joe Mari Velez, Nap Rama, Ding Lichauco and Sonny Alvarez have been arrested. I met Convention Sec. Pepe Abueva and he informed me that this was what he had also heard.

The whole day, practically, was spent by us tensely waiting for some news. All sorts of rumors were floating around.

It was repeatedly announced that President Marcos was going to give an important message at 12:00 noon. Twelve o’clock came and went, and there was no news; there was only an announcement that this was going to be made later. At 2:30 p.m., a new announcement came: this would be done at 3:30 p.m. Then it was announced that due to the fact that documents were still being looked over by the President and that TV sets were still being installed at Malacañang, the message of the President was going to be later, between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The people could hardly wait. At 7:00 p.m., over the radio, during dinner with the ALDEC seminar participants, we heard President Marcos explaining the grounds for declaring martial law as well as the general orders given to the secretary of national defense, Juan Ponce Enrile, and to Press Sec. Francisco (Kit) Tatad. Tatad’s big face popped out on TV. He read for more than an hour, in what seemed to us sinister monotone, the full text of the presidential proclamation.

“Big Brother is watching us,” exclaimed one of the participants while looking at Tatad’s face which filled the TV frame. But this is not 1984! George Orwell showed up too early in the Philippines.

Tatad was continuously pouring out words that seemed to seal the fate of our people. We sat there and listened in mingled fear and confusion.

Sadly and fearfully, we speculated on the possible fate of our militant friends who had spoken at the ALDEC seminar, yesterday and day before yesterday. They must have been taken into military custody already. Ding Lichauco must surely have been arrested, we conjectured, and Dante Simbulan, likewise. Possibly also Dodong Nemenzo, we thought. The Korean, Moonkyoo, tried to cheer us up. He has a tape of Ding Lichauco’s lecture and he said he would tell everyone that he has the last lecture of Lichauco before he was arrested.