By Leo Ramirez
17 December 2010
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM: TIGLAO’S SISYPHEAN TASK
Tiglao has a problem. No matter what he does he can’t get himself fully trusted by the military and the ultimate kingmakers, the US.
You see, once upon a time he was an activist, and he happened to have married an activist, since deceased, with a longer background and deeper loyalties than him.
Basically he was swept along by the activist tide at the time, known as the First Quarter Storm of 1970. He didn’t really know much about the movement and was just briefly in the underground. And even then he was infatuated more with Trotskyism, not exactly something to recommend him among Mao adherents, though a familiar jumping-off place for the Right.
When he was detained in the early martial-law period, he wrote a pessimistic letter to comrades. He was already broadcasting at that time that the revolution had failed, blaming the line, leadership and so forth, for which he was tagged with the sobriquet “Jeremiah”.
He became a follower of the Indian “mystic” Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, known for a profligate lifestyle, whose devotees wore ochre robes and could be mistaken for Hare Krishna.
He also became an academic researcher and an aspiring journalist. At that time he said that Danding offered a certain Alex a brand-new car to just write any major story about him. It turned out that Bobi was the one who wrote the cover story in FEER, so who got the new car?
When he was still a cub reporter for Business Day, he would interview his classmates in Ateneo who had become successful in their bourgeois careers. He claimed to be the bright boy of his class and blamed his erstwhile activism for delaying or hampering his climb in the career ladder. But that is strange reasoning as he presumably was old enough to decide for himself and had joined of his own free will and volition. Nobody forced him and he could leave at any time.
Quite a number of youth activists if they do not go full-time, when they start a family, do eventually have to earn a living and undertake a conventional career, although not a few retain their youthful ideals, appreciate and look back with warm feelings at the glorious enterprise of their radical activism, and remain progressive political and moral supporters.
Bobi became drinking buddies with GMA when she was still a senator. She would have the extreme good fortune of being next in line to the bumbling Estrada, and Bobi latched on to her. He stepped on the gas, rocketing from presidential spokesman to chief of the presidential management staff to chief of staff! This time he had the satisfaction of looking back at his old classmates in the rear view mirror.
Alas, he got outmaneuvered in the Palace snake pit – what with his “activist” background to, if not bludgeon, at the least undermine him with – and consigned to lovely Greece. But that wasn’t so bad, no?
Forward to the present and possible futures: having tasted and gotten addicted to the trappings of bourgeois power, he wants to get into the good graces of whoever is in or jockeying for power. Now this is his dilemma: he may not be really trusted by them, so he has to keep asserting his bona fides, keep proving himself as loyally reactionary again and again.
Vouching for Miclat’s anti-communist diatribe provided an ideal opportunity.
Being vouched for by somebody who was the spokesman, press secretary, management staff head and chief of staff of what many consider arguably the worst Philippine regime ever is not exactly sterling credentials. But hey, we’ll settle for what we can get.
It sure doesn’t bolster Tiglao’s credibility that he beats up on an organization fighting against all odds and sheds crocodile tears for an event several decades ago but served as the principal apologist for a recent ruling regime notorious for rampant political assassinations and some say the most extensive fleecing of the public till in Philippine history.
You know, many idealistic people joined the struggle in their youth, especially during the heady late 1960s and early 1970s. Some persevered, some became supporters, some left and became passive, some even went over to the other side, but few would change their feathers so entirely like Miclat and Tiglao and seek to exploit and distort what they underwent so as to attempt to discourage and dissuade and turn people away from the struggle to change society.
There must be a special place in hell for people like them.
One last word. Monico Atienza was a figure beloved by activists in his time and his later students and co-workers (though unequivocably not by Bobi today, but who can blame him, seeing how his bread is buttered). He was one of those most severely tortured so that he lost his mind for a time. He was not only physically battered and subjected to all kinds of inhuman punishment, but suffered the psychological torment of threats of rape and violence to his wife and children at the same time he was being physically tortured. Amnesty International and Senator Jose Diokno took up his cause. After his release and as he was engaged in legal and parliamentary struggle, he was ambushed by military death squads and pieces of shrapnel thereafter were lodged in his body until he died a few years ago. Tiglao has only done him further violence and injustice.