A commentary by Vicente Romano III of Black and White Movement

Yesterday, April 10, Microsoft launched their new wave of technologies in the Philippines using their global theme, “Heroes happen here.”

I can’t help but think how inappropriate the theme is for our country.

After reading Fr. Intengan’s ZTE Primer document, I find it hard to imagine how heroes can ever happen in this country. In the guise of shedding light on the controversial deal, Fr. Intengan suggests 3 things:

1) That Jun Lozada lied when he claimed he was abducted; this, of course, assumes that the government account of the incident is true

2) That Jun Lozada’s and the other whistleblowers’ testimonies are all hearsay and therefore have no value

3) That the Senate hearings should now be stopped and charges in court should be filed instead.

Under ordinary times, Intengan’s primer might resonate among peace-loving and decent people. But when you have a president embroiled in serious charges of corruption and cheating, and who uses stonewalling, lying and deceit to respond to these charges, it takes an extraordinary leap of faith or supreme naivete to expect relief from a dysfunctional judicial system.

I have three simple questions for Fr. Intengan: If the First Gentleman threatened you by shouting in your face “Back off”, will you have the courage to make it public, considering that he is the husband of the most powerful person in the country? Will you file charges of grave threat in a court of law? Or will you wait for a signed confession by FG or affidavits by others present during the incident attesting to the truth of your charges before filing a case in court?

Incidentally, the ZTE Primer was distributed to students of Fr. Intengan’s class on Sexual Ethics at Ateneo some time in March. During the class, Intengan declared that Lozada was part of a destabilization plot and his kidnapping was a hoax. He also played the wiretapped conversation between Jun Lozada and Joey de Venecia. And to think that Intengan advocates the rule of law in his primer (see the last paragraph of the attached primer).

What saddens me is the fact that there are actually some people who believe Intengan. And for what reasons? Because Jun Lozada is always smiling when on TV? Because he seems to be enjoying the limelight and his newfound celebrity status? Because he is going around the country to share his story? Because he has gone beyond the Probinsiyanong Intsik image that has endeared him to the people?

Because of these, you are all too willing to gloss over the truth he has revealed and the heroic sacrifice he and others before him had to go through as the price for the truth.

And yet, we are quite liberal in making heroes of other people with less than noble purposes.

We reluctantly accepted Chavit Singson as a hero, because he conveniently supported our desire to rid our nation of an immoral president. But we cannot accept Jun as a hero, because we’re not ready to rid our nation of an amoral president. Why? Because GMA’s successor could be worse. Because the economy is doing well, at least on paper. Because 2010 is just around the corner. Why can’t we just wait? And these, even if we believe that she probably cheated, that she and FG are probably involved in corruption, and that she and her cabinet members have lied brazenly to cover up the truth.

We routinely make a hero of taxi drivers who return oodles of money left by passengers in their cabs. It is the most unnatural thing to do in this country, and is therefore considered heroic. But we cannot make Jun a hero for telling the truth at heroic costs, even though that too has become the most unnatural thing to do in this country. Why? Because it might lead to a regime change. Because GMAâ€s successor could be worse. Because…

We proudly call our OFWs our modern-day heroes for their heroic sacrifices, although I have yet to hear an OFW say, “I will work abroad so I can help make the country better”. For the most part, they do so for the survival of their family. But we cannot proudly call Jun a hero, even though the easiest thing for him to do for the survival of his family was to keep silent. And yet he spoke the truth, precisely to do his share in making this country a little better. Why can’t we make Jun a hero? Because the country may not end up getting better. Because GMA’s successor could be worse. Because…

We lavishly praise Pacquiao to be our hero, for indeed he gives pride to our country every time he wins. But he trains and fights hard to win, mostly for the prize money (that’s what professionals do), and reaping pride for the country is an incidental, though happy, consequence for our nation. But we cannot praise Jun, not even scantily, to be our hero, even though he inspired pride for our country amongst the youth for rejecting the prize money offered him in exchange for his silence. Why? Because it’s possible we may not be proud of what happens after a regime change. Because GMA’s successor could be worse. Because…

I share with you Jun’s reflections two months after he came out (see attached document) so you might understand a little better the sufferings he continue to go through as the cost of doing the right thing. I echo Jun’s challenge: before you judge him, you should ask yourself — “What have I done for the country?”

If you say you contribute to the well-being of this nation by, first, being a good provider for your family, and then, by contributing to the community through Gawad Kalinga and other civic projects — that’s well and good. And you might even add, let’s not get involved with politics or anything that might imperil the perceived stability of our government.

Jun, too, could have done the same thing — avoid the Senate at all cost so he can continue to be a good provider for his family, so he can help the underprivileged through his work at PhilForest, and so he might not shake the perceived stability of our government. That would have been well and good. But he decided to go beyond what is good. He decided to do what is right by exposing the evil and demanding accountability, even if it meant instability to his life, to wake up a people in stupor — ready to accept evil, thinking that doing good will drown out the evil.

And so I ask the final question — If you were in Jun’s place, would you have done good or right?

The advertising application of Microsoft’s launch theme is quite interesting. “Heroes happen here” is usually followed by a pair of curly brackets like this { }. Visually, the brackets are used to frame an ordinary person, to single him out of a crowd. The message is simple: ordinary people can do extraordinary things when equipped with the right tools (of course, from Microsoft).

That can very well apply to our times. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things, propelled by the right heart and mindset — to do, not just what is good, but what is right. And it starts with you and me.

Are you ready to put your name inside the curly brackets?

Heroes happen here { }.

God bless,

Enteng

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