I recently got a comment from Maricor Castrence-Urbiztondo to a recent blog post and when I saw her name on my computer monitor, I was immediately hurled back in time more than 20 years to the Cebu City of the early 1980's.
It was a dark, turbulent time for the country. The dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos was in its waning years but the pivotal events that led to the eventual ouster of the regime of the strongman from Ilocos were still to happen. Marcos' grip on the country's political and social institutions remained strong despite his fading health and a worsening political and economic outlook for the nation.
Legal and non-violent opposition to the Marcos regime was finding its voice in the college and university campuses all over the country and as a young political science student I too was caught up in the fervor of the times. Match the idealism of the youth with their innate optimism and unshakable belief in their own invincibility and you have an engine for change that is tireless as it is resilient and implacable.
To many of us, it was, in many ways and despite the risks to our liberty and physical well-being, an intellectual game played in real time. As students, we felt privileged to have drank deeply from the fountain of knowledge and we felt we had the obligation, by virtue of our superior knowledge, to help lead the country from the darkness of authoritarian rule to the light of democratic change. Quixotic and extreme intellectual arrogance it may have been from hindsight now but at that time it was something that seemed not only logical to us but also imminently achievable and doable as well.
In the student rallies, demonstrations and all forms of protest actions that we all joined, started or led, there are many names that come back to me. Names like Nick and Chris Malazarte, Jade Ponce, Gerry Carillo, Homer Sayson and Rico Tautho. Their names together with the names of so many others bring back memories of friendships and camaraderie forged under the heat of clandestine meetings and planning sessions, intellectual debates and discussions, and actual participation in the mass actions and street demonstrations that defined and flavored the anti-Marcos student movement of that time.
There were also, of course, the handful of young women, political science students also in a course of study then dominated by men, who shared those times with us and whose names come back to me even from across the gulf of more than two decades. Maricor Castrence-Urbiztondo has reminded me of some of those names with hers at the top of the list. Evelyn Navarro, Liberty Hortelano, Gwen Labitad and Margaret Ople.
I have lost touch with most of the persons who bear these names in the more than twenty years since I left the university and came to live my life in Lianga. Yet I still remember the persons and the faces. I treasure the memories that the names stir and bring up from the deep well of consciousness within all of us where we store the mass of reminiscences and recollections that have immeasurable value and which define us as the persons we are today.
Today in truth, I have lost much of the illusions and false idealism of my youth. But I never regretted the many roles I played in the defense and unwavering support for what, in the glorious innocence and myopic vision of my youth, constituted the truth and vision of what, I felt, was right for my country and the world.
That was why I am very thankful for Maricor and her words of remembrance. She reminded me once again, and I do need to be reminded often in these pessimistic and cynical times, that there was a time when I was willing to totally dedicate my life to fighting for something I believed to be greater than myself and my own petty interests.
That there was a time when I too was young and flushed with the boundless energy, reckless bravado and gleeful enthusiasm of youth. When I, like many of my generation, had our chance to to answer the challenge to try tilting at windmills and found glory and purpose in what may seem now and even more so to the more cynical minds and the Sancho Panzas of that long lost time, a lost cause and hopeless crusade for fools and the foolhardy.