Monday, July 26, 2010


By Amado S. Lagdameo ,Jr.

Member, National Directorate, Lakas NUCD-UMDP-Kampi

(Eulogy delivered at the necrological service for the late chairman of the party Raul S. Manglapus on July 30 at the St. James Chapel, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa)

How does one take the measures of this man, Raul S. Manglapus who, like Michaelangelo’s statue of David, was poised, ready to pick up a stone and put it in his slingshot to slay his Goliath? Or who, like Michaelangelo’s epic status of Moses, sits in judgement over his people and is poised, ready to stand up and throw down in anger the two Tablets of the Law given to him by God?

With Raul as our David ready to slay our Goliath, or as a Moses, ready to lead his people to the Promised Land, where down one begin to tell the story? Where does one end it?

Friends have made accounts of their personal encounters with the man. Speakers have covered the historicity’s of his life. Perhaps what we can do is try to say something about some of the ideas which fired him, and the sentiments which made him the soul of social and political reform in our day, the way Jose Rizal himself was the soul of Philippine Revolution in his day.

Without doubt, Raul courted disaster, while fortuitously avoiding it, in the same way that Rizal courted it. While Rizal did not escape the disaster that eventually overtook him, Raul had the fortunate blessing of a peaceful death in the bosom of his family. But this does not make Raul any less heroic, for he too went through his own crucifixion for his love of country, democracy and freedom.

Agrarian Reform

From the time Raul delivered his famous oratorical piece, Land of Bondage, Land of the Free in 1935 before the presence of President Manuel Quezon at the Metropolitan Theatre in Manila, to today when we take for granted the existence of the Department of Agrarian Reform , some sixty year have passed. Yet, the history of agrarian reform is tied to his own historicity.

In 1967, together with like-minded reformers, he launched the Christian Social Movement which eventually spearheaded the move to call for a Constitutional Convention and which actually took place in 1971. He was in that Convention and later historians will relate the exact nature of his participation in that assembly.

What is little known is that prior to the launching of the CSM, a small group of Filipinos met at Mirador, the retreat house of the Jesuits in Baguio, to explore ways of implementing the social teachings of the Church, especially Populorum Progressio byPope Paul VI.

And here we find the key idea which fired Raul, who was in that small group: the idea that the social teachings of the Church – from Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII, down to Populorum Progressio – can and should be the guiding principles in creating a just and humane society. But how does one translate these principles into practical social, economic and political terms?

Later developments showed that his basic idea of bringing the social teachings of the Church into the mainstream of Philippine political life can be done and has been dome. The present Lakas-NUCD-UMDP Kampi, originally founded in 1984, is a logical expression of this basic idea, and it is the only viable idea that can articulate a distinction between this party and the other parties in our land.

In 1972, Raul and Michael Mastura prepared the first Muslim-Christian Manifesto, but its publication was delayed by several years because of the intervention of martial law. But that manifesto also had a logical outcome, namely, the emergence of 1986 of the United Muslim Democrats of the Philippines (or UMDP), as the joint partner of the National Union of Christian Democrats (or NUCD) founded two years earlier in 1984 when, in 1986, both merged into one political party. For once, this event recognized the true role of our Muslim Filipinos in the governance and development of our country.

Human dignity is inviolate

Some of the basic ideas which were quite revolutionary at some point in our past included the idea that human dignity is inviolate, including the dignity of the unborn from moment of conception. There was the idea of property as not being absolute, but that its ownership carries with it a social responsibility.

There was the idea that political parties must articulate their philosophical positions out of which they should devise their programs of government so that the electorate can have real choices. There was the idea that an electoral system should not be held hostage by political parties through a lopsided election-inspector system. And so on.

And from whose oratory did these ideas find expression in our consciousness? From the oratory or Raul. As well as from his deeds.

But all these were not just food for oratory. Raul was not content with just what is proper or not. If so, then propriety would simply be the consequence of behavior, and behavior can be learned. Neither was he content with just what is correct or not. If so, then an idea would simply become a question of hypothesis and proof, and therefore a question of science and technique, and this, too, is still within the horizon of the pragmatic.

What he was after is to answer the question of what is morally right and what is morally wrong. Then, the issue becomes one of ethics, and therefore, an issue of conscience. And once an idea becomes an issue of conscience, then to espouse that idea would require character, courage and a large degree of heroism, all of which he had in great abundance.

It is this heroism which made him an iconoclast. And in words of Impossible Dream from Man from La Mancha, one could see Raul in the songs as Don Quixote pursuing his quest:

"To dream the impossible dream;

To fight the unbeatable foe;

To bear with unbearable sorrow;

To run where the brave dare not go;

To right the unrightable wrong;

To love pure and chaste from afar;

To try when your arms are too weary;

To reach the unreachable star.

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