EVERY time I see Carol and the others on Facebook, I am reminded of youthful exuberance. I am older now. But it is always like this when we look back at those formative years of our lives. We feel young and reinvigorated. Carol reinvigorates me even more because we grew up together in the struggle.
Carol was one of the Theresians who inspired us. I was an engineering student from a “lesser” campus and they were among those who joined the rallies of old. They were brave and courageous in the face of government suppression. That sight prompted us to try to be brave and courageous, too.
I remember the first rally I attended at Freedom Park in the Carbon market. A group of soldiers appeared, confiscated the leaflets and banners. Their officer, using a megaphone, told us to disperse. I cowered in fear until the late Fr. Rudy Romano got hold of the microphone and urged the rallyists on. Amid the shouts of defiance, a group of Theresians grabbed a guitar and sang songs of protest. I had thrown away, in fear, the leaflets I was holding. I felt guilty, cursed myself for my cowardice and vowed to make amends in the next rally.
The next march and rally started at the Redemptorist Church grounds along Gen. Maxilom Ave. and ended at Fuente Osmeña where a firetruck or two was positioned. I was slated then to speak in a rally for the first time, but the program got aborted when firemen trained their hoses on us rallyists, specifically on Fr. Rudy. Instead of scampering away, we and the others formed a wall to shield Fr. Rudy from the water. I was no longer afraid.
The catch-and-mouse game we played with the government dispersal unit sped up the raising of our awareness to principles like human rights. It deepened our understanding of the structures used for suppression and of the need to struggle for our rights. Soon we participated in the struggle of the other sectors like the urban poor. I remember how the then mayor used violence at times to clear the North Reclamation Area and give way to the construction of SM City Cebu.
In every activity that we participated in, friendships were developed and memories were shared. So much so that every parting became harder. When I was finally given a task outside of the youth and student sector, Carol and the others made parting such “sweet sorrow.” And that contributed to the maturation process we went through.
That is why I am saddened by reports on Carol’s health problems although I am glad she is putting up a valiant fight. I remember another good friend, Juvy, doing the same thing months ago. I visited him at the St. Vincent General Hospital where we talked about the good times. We used to do that while on a drinking spree. And we felt good every time.
We did talk about the future, but not about the utopia we dreamed of but about life within an unchanged status quo. In our old age, many of us are back to leading normal lives still hoping to realize the utopia we shaped in our younger years.