A few of us met at Pepe Calderon’s house for our small prayer meeting. This was necessary because of the kind of dilemmas that we have been facing. Moreover, it is really true that in spite of our supposed religiosity, most of us, perhaps, if not all of us, have not really allowed God to illumine our minds in this Convention. Did not Isaiah say that they who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength?
Present in this small group were Fr. Ortiz, Joe Feria, Cecing Calderon, Totoy Nepomuceno, Pepe Calderon and me.
Ortiz said that it is now too late to turn back. There is no bucking the head wind now and it seems too soon to scent the deluge if it should come. We are really caught in a dilemma.
Joe Feria prayed hard for divine guidance because, he says, presumably the problem is that we have already rationalized our own positions and now we talk about seeking God’s will on this matter. It is difficult to accept certain things when our minds are no longer open to God’s will. Based on our understanding of human history and of all past experiences of many nations, we are now creating a dictatorship in this country and we are participants in the seeming betrayal of the people. Yet it may be that God has a purpose beyond our will and understanding at the moment. What if God is saying to us that we have failed and He is using Marcos now to effectuate the kind of reforms which we had failed to do?
This is the kind of torturing doubt that is in the mind of Joe Feria.
Joe was asking for some kind of a miracle, some kind of a direct answer from God, something like a bolt of lightning, as it were, in the coming two days.
But God does not only work in such ways. God works in many ways—even using human reason as well as individuals as channels of his will. Joe seems to be living in the days of the Old Testament.
Cecing said that since our God is a God of history, he should know the consequences of our actions and we should be accordingly guided.
Totoy was more or less concerned with what our role should be now. He is also concerned with the fact that there are no more leaders in the opposition in the country today. Does God want us to pass this by? Does God want us not to take any role here? Docs not God expect us now to make the fullest sacrifice because this is what is expected of us as Christians in this country?
I prayed for our colleagues in the stockades and for those who are in exile abroad. But above all, I asked for guidance and for courage so that God may be able to use us. “It is really a very great dilemma we are in; enlighten our minds so that we can discern Your will, and grant us the courage to obey,” I prayed.
This was an emotional moment. Was God hearing our supplications?
We exchanged some thoughts. Ortiz felt, that it is necessary that there should be at least some kind of symbolic opposition to the Constitution.
But supposing it turns out that this Constitution would carry the country forward to greater progress? Even then, it would not be treasonable on our part if we should have voted “No” or abstained.
We have different circumstances, Father Ortiz said. In a way, he is lucky that he has no family to worry about. If it should become necessary for him to stay in the stockade he would still be useful there.
Cecing Calderon said that he has again talked with Toto and Toto said that now a new condition shall be imposed, namely, that a delegate should vote on the new Constitution both on second and third reading in order to qualify for the National Assembly.
Cecing was quite convinced that his brother, Pepe, and I do not really have much choice.
He related what happened when he went to Nueva Vizcaya last week. At the airport, the military had to check the names of people who could take the plane to Nueva Vizcaya. They did not find the name of Cicero Calderon, but the names of Pepe Calderon and Joe Concepcion were there. In fact the military men had asked him if his name was Joe Concepcion.
Poor Joe Concepcion. Or poor Cecing Calderon.
In the case of Caesar, he said, everyone knows the military is just looking for an excuse to get him. He has long been a thorn in the neck of Marcos. Under the circumstances, he thought, it is quite difficult for Pepe and me not to vote “Yes.”
But Joe Feria is right. The important thing is not going to the stockade or being in personal danger. Ultimately, the important thing is the country.
Echoes of Froilan’s idea. And how easier said than done. Do we have the courage of our convictions?
“He who would come after me must take up the cross and follow me,” Jesus said. But was it not Simon Peter who had vowed, “Even if it should cost my life, I shall never leave you”? But the cock did crow three times, after he denied his Lord.
But the other problem in our minds is the consequence of our signing the Constitution, if we should so decide. Could this mean we are recommending the approval of the Constitution?
Cecing repeated to us that he had confronted again Toto de la Cruz, with whom he has a certain warmth of relationship. (Toto was a participant of the Asian Labor Development Education Center when Cecing was director of the Center at the UP.)
He said that Toto has reaffirmed that in order to qualify for the Assembly, one must have to vote “Yes” to the entire Constitution both on second and third readings. That is why he, Cecing, could not go home to Dumaguete. But he repeated that the cases of Pepe and me, are different; we should only vote “No” if we are prepared to spend the next months in military prison.
This kind of talk instills more and more fear into me. What should a man do?
We proceeded to the session hall—confused, downcast.
I talked to the floor leader, Taning Fernandez, on how I could insert my amendments into the records. The proper thing for me to do was to speak in opposition and then manifest my intention to have my amendments inserted in the journal, he counselled. I therefore registered for amendments.
I have mentioned to Aying Yñiguez that this was what I was going to do and he said this was the proper thing to do. I had also mentioned this to Atoy Barbero, and he had agreed.
In spite of the fact that we usually vote differently, I have a good working relationship with Aying and Atoy—two Marcos stooges who are friendly with me. I can speak out my thoughts to them and they to me, although still, for the most part, our ideas are poles apart.