(Notes jotted down by a Colegiala in September 14, 1968, before the First Quarter Storm of 1970; oh, even yet before the Agrifina Circle Demonstrations of 1969. She passed on to eternal life in September 14/15, 1978. Her name: Verna Yu Golamco Avila. I ran right smack into these notes today, September 15, 2022. I thought that they manifested this way for a reason – to be shared at last. So, here goes…)
Most girls like me do not care about their neighbour because of their ignorance. College girls do not see the need and misery of their fellowmen. I remember what Charlie told me, that our real neighbour is that one who smells. There is much truth in this funny statement. Now I know.
I feel frustrated because I cannot communicate with the common tao. How can I reflect their joys and sorrows? I don’t know. Take the farmers, for instance. I tell stories about them. But when I come face to face with a farmer, bones, flesh and blood, I don’t know how to talk with him. Sure, I have many things to say but – no tool! Oh, I’m frustrated.
I’m all mixed up – Catholic yet Anglican, Filipino yet Chinese, nationalistic yet selfish. I want to be a good instrument, Lord. You ask so much of me. You want me to go to others yet I don’t know how to. You ask me to share the farmer’s insecurity, yet I hit back at you. ….
I want to be strong all the time. I don’t want to fall by the wayside. I have only one life, and it better count. It better.
I’m going to be a teacher. I know that’s a big challenge: to give strength to kids. I want to make them see that creating a piece of art is excellent, that it requires much self-confidence and inspiration, that, in the long run, money and good looks do not count, but the creation does.
There is much flabbiness in school, even in my Student Council. Many of the students regard me as a strict-uncompromising Council Chairman. It’s because I don’t want their flabbiness. It’s because I want to be myself. I don’t know if I’m being a good leader. Sometimes I sit back and think if it’s worth all the planning and meetings.
My idealism is cut down by realism. It is lonely to dwell in the house of ideas, to serve all and be a friend to none. Yet I do have friends in school and they take me as I am. I need friends. ….
This morning’s Mass was beautiful, beautiful because we played the guitar. The music was faster than usual. Somehow it reminded me of “our” age – fast, fast, fast. Yes, youth is impatient. I am very impatient.
As I played my guitar, I was convinced that I truly love this instrument. It has become a faithful companion to me. It is one instrument I rely on to give a better worship to my God. I can pray with my fingers as I move them up and down the frets, and my thumb, when I strum. Indeed, heaven must have guitars, not only lyres.
I am thinking of the farmers in Laguna. I’d give anything to see their faces when President Marcos signs the Land Reform declaration for the first district of Laguna. I have waited for this event for many weeks, confident that it will come and I shall drink in their joy.
I have played a big role in this Laguna project. And somehow, it has added more self-confidence to me. Moreover, I have gained true friends in the process. I thank God for the personalism of Ilo Echevarria, the comradeship of Evelyn Manding and Susan Chou, the idealism of Frater Ed de la Torre, the dedication of Charlie, the intensity of Father Mooney, the leadership of Dean Montemayor, the friendship of Tony Quimson, Dale Noval and countless others. I am rich.
And yet, this victory is not one to boast about. It is one to share and feel warm about. Some fellow students approached me and congratulated the group for work well done. I smiled because I am happy, not violently happy, but with that joy that is deep and calm.
I remember that night when Frater Ed and I went to the Free Press to turn in my manuscript. It seemed to me such an important mission. But Mr. Locsin barked at us to give in manuscripts through mail, the “usual” way other people turn in their works. I was crushed. I felt like telling him that this manuscript is different – weightier, more urgent, more personal. I wanted to say – I’m sorry for being so enthusiastic but you can’t stop me. But we didn’t say a word. Ed and I were quiet. I wanted to really cry, really scream! But then I saw the buses with their glaring front lights, and I checked myself. It was over in two minutes. I won.
And this interview with (landlord-politician) Chipeco. Boy, did I have fun. I felt the strength of youth. I was not afraid to question the big man sitting smugly behind his huge baroque desk. I was not afraid because I knew I was clean. I knew he knew I was clean. I had cards on the table – no spots, no bribes, no graft. I looked him straight in the eye. He did too.
This work with and for the farmers has given me a sense of real duty even when I do my student council work. I wonder if people around noticed a certain surge of nationalism. I think they do. I’m rubbing it in too much maybe as far as school is concerned. I have really changed these last few months (since the seminars given by Charlie and Ed). I’m not sure what this work will get me into. Somehow I’m scared. But I do know one thing – it is making my life more meaningful.
Lord, I have accepted the fact that most students are weak. It is an unpleasant fact. I’ll have to work with what is. Yet, how can I change them when I get steamed up? My temper is short. I am impatient. I am proud. I am quick to demand, to get angry. Yet, I must demand from them, with encouragement and understanding. How shall I go about it? Should I go against my nature and cater to their whims? Should I go as I am, angry at their emptiness? I don’t know how to strike a balance, Lord. I don’t. …..