Teofisto Guingona and His Fight for the Filipino

July 5, 2008 § 2 Comments

 When police arrested former Vice President Teofisto Guingona in 2007, he was brought back to his cell at Camp Bicutan. It was in 1972 when he first got a taste of prison life. Thirty five years hence, he’s back in prison, now with one of his daughters, Marie.

Thirty five years ago, he was fighting a Madman who wanted the country all by himself. Today, though in the twilight of his life, he’s still fighting a more lethal enemy. He’s fighting the daughter of a man whom he once served. And he’s struggling against the backdrop of a pseudo-democratic state.

That slice of his slice he wrote in his memoirs, “ The Fight for the Filipino”, shows you the character of Tito’s struggle. After having taken part in some of the most historic events of this country in the past 35 years, Tito realized that nothing has changed. Despite his humble yet shining contributions as a government technocrat, a legislator and a Vice President, the same old societal problems still exists. He still saw poverty in his midst. There is still repression against Filipinos. Fighting still rages between Christians and Muslims in his adopted province. And people still suffer under an apathetic government.

Tito wrote that we need change, not only in the echelons of government, but moreso, in empowering people. “ What we urgently need here, “ he says, “..are basic reforms not only in the echelons of government but also in the empowerment of the Filipino. That means devoting the land, the seas, the resources for him, for his own economic advancement. It entails enriching his culture, his literature, his kundimans, depicting a vision he can shape into reality, a legacy he can build for the children—a national strife into the heart and mind, a dynamic leap into the soul of the Filipino!”

Such words coming from a man who has seen it all—the heyday of trapo politics, the ravages of martial rule, government bureaucracy, legislative debates, tear gas and water cannons— makes one sit and ponder. Was change foremost in his mind when he headed the Commission on Audit? Yes, he made his share in enriching government procurement processes. Was change still on his mind when he headed the Justice portfolio? Indeed, he did helped those victims of injustices.

Was societal change still raged within him as a Senator and eventually as Vice President? Yes, he tried making some inroads by serving as one of the most honest Foreign Affairs secretary of our time. 

After all his sacrifices, his struggles, his street fights, was it there a time when he thought of making that ultimate sacrifice of serving his country by joining those in the mountains? Edjop made that leap and died a Patriot. Tito’s contemporary, Ninoy, was killed by the hooligans of the state.  His sacrifice paid for whatever freedoms we enjoy now.

What about Tito? Will he suffer the fate of an Aguinaldo, a forgotten patriot who suffered and paled under the shadow of Bonifacio?

Some would say that Tito Guingona belongs to a vanishing breed of patriotic politicians. I would not agree to that.

In all honestly, Tito Guingona is not in the twilight of his career as a Patriot. No. In fact, he’s just starting to get a feel of things.

He’s just beginning his career as a True Patriot. He has seen everything, met the enemy of change face to face and firmly concluded that real change is what we truly need.

We must change –  not only the constitution at the proper time but also a nation reborn with faith and freedom, to speak the truth and spurn deception, to work honestly and  strengthen our own for a better future of our children, to govern firmly and fairly for the true welfare of the people.”


But what kind of change, and what mode of struggle was he suggesting? Tito says that in time, Providence will again guide the Filipino towards real, meaningful, change. But how to go about it, Tito? God helps those who help themselves.

You, yourself, have said that we still have’nt learned the lessons of EDSA and Martial rule? Are you talking with your fellow politicians of times past or are you talking with us, your people?

If you’re talking to us, Tito, the People have learned their lesson, that is, never trust those who speak in political pulpits. The People heard the petitions of those who want peaceful change and found them wanting.

The Fight of the Filipino is a struggle not just against governments but against themselves. As we speak, the struggle is being refined, like separating mercury from gold. You’re right, those who made that decision to “mag alsa balutan” or go to another country, are beginning to consider “mag-alsa” as a viable solution.

Yes, the Filipino OFW is starting to comprise a class, a creative one. They will be the ones who will bring back the glory of this country. However, they will do so only through a violent revolution. It is time that this country go through another turbulent era so that peace, true peace, can be achieved, not only for this generation, but for our children.  


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