Monday, July 26, 2010



Raul Manglapus died last Sunday, July 25th. We attended his first wake service in St. James Church, Ayala Alabang. The church was fully decorated with fiesta buntings for it was the feast of its Patron Saint

St. James the Apostle. I could not help wonder whether it was sheer coincidence that Raul died on the feast day of his parish or it was God’s way of making his departure to heaven a joyful occasion.

On the way home, the car radio was turned on Pres. Estrada’s State of the Nation Address. Estrada said, "We are now poised to fly and, as we used to say in school, fly high." The school he was referring to was the Ateneo de Manila and he was quoting the song Raul had written for his school – "Fly high, Blue Eagle Fly and carry our cry across the sky!" Again was that pure coincidence? The President of the Republic quoting the words of a song Raul had written during his wake services! We have always believed that the coincidences are God’s way of catalyzing events. After Raul’s services last Monday, we also got convinced that sometimes. It is also God’s way of dramatizing an event.

A third, but minor coincidence was that my last column was on the Casino Espanol’s celebration of the feast of St. James, who also happens to be Patron Saint of Spain, and I mentioned the Age of Chivalry. And that is where Raul properly belonged – the Age of Chivalry.

Only his contemporaries knew Raul Manglapus. We were schoolmates in the Ateneo and he was always on the very top of his class. When the war broke out, Raul was arrested by the Japanese Kempetai and tortured in Fort Santiago. HE was tried by a military court and sentenced to imprisonment in Muntinlupa. There, he was rescued by Col. Adevoso’s guerillas and continued to fight in the hills. This is the reason why he had the distinct honor of witnessing Japan’s formal surrender to the Americans aboard the US Missouri.

In 1972, Raul was the leader of Progressives in the Constitutional Convention. When martial law broke out, soldiers were sent to his house to arrest him. Fortunately, he just left the country for a speaking engagement abroad. With him was Carlos P.Romulo. Both agreed that they would both stay in the United States as exiles and fight the dictatorship from abroad. But Romulo added that he would first go home to attend to some unfinished affairs. Romulo went home and became one of the most ardent supporters of Marcos dictatorship. Manglapus remained in exile till the EDSA Revolution.

There is no doubt in our mind that Raul was one of the authentic heroes of our times. But we are also aware that due recognition will take time. The present generation has isolated itself from history – even contemporary history.

Today’s concept of a hero is a movie star. They say that no man is a hero to his valet. What they mean is that one cannot be a hero to one who does not understand heroism. Raul has left us a legacy of patriotism. Cronyism will never replace patriotism. But it will take time before this fact will be recognized.

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