Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for February 20th, 2006

20 Years After 30

Posted on February 20, 2006 by jimparedes

Guess who I wrote and answered back? Twice! Paolo Coelho! Yes, the writer of Alchemist, Veronica Decides To Die, Eleven Minutes, etc,, I found his website and wrote to him about 4 years ago commenting on a character whom I found so fascinating in his book Valkyries. He answered back within minutes. Anyway, 4 days ago I wrote him again just to leave a comment about how great his works are. The very next day, lo and behold! he answered me again.

‘Dear Jim,

My sincere thanks for your kind email.

Your thoughts about my work are important to me and I am grateful for your

May love be your guide in every moment of your life.

Paulo Coelho



What a thrill it is to communicate with a person of his stature. And it is quite a testimony to the man that he takes time to answer letters from his readers.

This is the season of EDSA and I am again being swamped by the media for reactions, guestings, comments, etc. More than a months ago, I taped the Inquirer TV Special on EDSA and it was shown on ABC 5 Monday night at 8:30. There will be another special this Sunday at 9PM on ABS-CBN and this one is interesting since new facts about the historical events will be disclosed for the first time. I am hosting this together with Bianca Gonzales. I have not seen it yet in its final form but I think it will be good.

Also, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) interviewed 20 people for the 20th Anniversary of EDSA issue and I was chosen to be one of the interviewees. My comments on the podcast are making waves around certain circles since I seem to have come on too strong. One comment I made is, ‘We should have knocked off a few people’ when asked about what went wrong with EDSA. Another one was something I said metaphorically, and actually in jest which went, “ I want to take a break from being Filipino” to explain why I am migrating. But there is a grain of truth there and it is that it is so dispiriting and stressful to be assaulted by bad news and endless political bickering daily, not to mention the burden of living with the ‘inertia of unchange’ that we seem to be trapped in here in the Philippines. This coming weekend, a very extended version of my blog entry entitled ‘Yes it’s True” will be then cover story in the Sunday Inquirer.

I seem to be all over the place and it is not something I am easily comfortable with. I just did not realize that my leaving is causing a little stir among some circles. I did not mean to discourage anyone especially to those who are staying put in this country. As I said in my blog, my leaving is as much about personal growth as it is about my disappointment with the political situation. Allow me some room to grow. I’ve also always said I will be back to fight another day.

Allow me to post some thoughts about EDSA.

Every year, the whole question of whether EDSA was a good thing or other questions to that effect is posed by writers and socio-political commentators to us. EDSA to me was a great moment when we expressed the best in us, and it continues to be a source of inspiration to be a better Filipino. Sure, people may argue that in many ways, the situation had deteriorated after EDSA and I will agree. But to say it is a failure based on what transpired after is a bit off. To many who were there, it was a real moment of transformation, a time when we left our petty minds and selfish hearts and heeded the call of greatness that had beckoned. It was a magical, mystical experience that excited our imagination to consider that we as a people can become much more than what we thought we could be.

The politicians, the leaders of many of our institutions, and the rest of us bstrayed EDSA. EDSA showed us the way but we chose another. EDSA did not fail us. To say it did is like saying Jesus’ dying on the cross was a futile exercise because the world today is still ruled by bad people. EDSA is a shining beacon for us that affirms our inner goodness and reminds us of the power we have, to change for the better.

I have no regrets about having participated in it, and I would wholeheartedly do it again. But I would change a few things: this time, I would make sure I spoke in a louder voice and did more actions AFTER instead of leaving it all to the politicians. For a few examples, I would have worked hard to convince the government to negotiate the national debt to zero, push the justice agenda, jail a few people, and partner more with the people in pursuing the agenda of real change more than kowtowing to the military, the politicians, the trapos, the businessmen and the other so-called power centers. The people gave the new government the mandate to change society. In many ways, it ignored the people and embarked on a restoration project that put back in power the other side of the elite that Marcos spurned. Soon even the old cronies were back in power. Somewhere along the way we forgot that it was a revolution of the people, for the people, by the people.

Of course, I do recognize that I am being simplistic here, and that hindsight is indeed 20-20. In EDSA’s case, monday quarterbacking may not even be possible yet. I remember a comment by a French historian on his thoughts about the French Revolution which transpired three hundred years ago. He said, “We are still trying to determine what really happened.”

Twenty years may still be too short.

Do you recognize the singers? Some of them do elicit double takes, don’t they?

As a parting gift, I am reprinting the lyrics of a song that merely used me to express the spirit of what happened 20 years ago. If you wish to listen to it, I believe it is downloadable in Limewire. Otherwise, try this link.

Handog Ng Pilipino Sa Mundo

‘Di na ‘ko papayag mawala ka muli.
‘Di na ‘ko papayag na muling mabawi,
Ating kalayaan kay tagal natin mithi.
‘Di na papayagang mabawi muli.

Magkakapit-bisig libo-libong tao.
Kay sarap pala maging Pilipino.
Sama-sama iisa ang adhikain.
Kelan man ‘di na paalipin.

Handog ng Pilipino sa mundo,
Mapayapang paraang pagbabago.
Katotohanan, kalayaan, katarungan
Ay kayang makamit na walang dahas.
Basta’t magkaisa tayong lahat.

Magsamasama tayo ikaw at ako

Masdan ang nagaganap sa aming bayan.
Magkasama ng mahirap at mayaman.
Kapit-bisig madre, pari, at sundalo.
Naging Langit itong bahagi ng mundo.

Huwag muling payagang umiral ang dilim.
Tinig ng bawat tao’y bigyan ng pansin.
Magkakapatid lahat sa Panginoon.
Ito’y lagi nating tatandaan.

(repeat refrain two times)

  • February 2006
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