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A book makes perfect birthday present

By Julia C. Lagoc
South Carolina-USA
February 17, 2017


          Sunday, February 12, was a joint birthday celebration, hence double candle-blowing for Sheila Estandarte-Mescal and Lordinio Castillo.

          How do you gift two birthday celebrants? Knotty question for me who have just met them. Me, a first-timer at Sheila’s residence, courtesy of Alvin Arcayan, president of FAABC (Filipino-American Association of Beaufort County) in South Carolina. I brought with me Raissa Robles’ MARCOS MARTIAL LAW NEVER AGAIN, my donation to the Fil-Am association. Well, just give the first blush of the voluminous book to the birthday girl and birthday boy. Gifting problem solved!

          Expect a raucous gathering when Pinoys gather. Hugs, banter and laughter flourished. No tears. The tempting smell of Pinoy cuisine was afloat in the air, from the barbecue pit in the backyard to the freshly-cooked pinakbet (my favorite), dinugu-an, pancit to slices of tempting cow liver, etc., etc. Yummy-yummy. The palate was never more delighted. The iconic Pinoy lechon was missing, however; to be the center piece in native terra firma some other festive party time.

          After the stomach development and the sing-along, I was given the privilege to speak about my “birthday present,” rather, my donation to the Fil-Am association. FAABC Pres. Alvin introduced yours truly. Recipient of a national and regional awards for her columns. No need to elaborate any further—this media person has her modesty still intact, he he. But then, I was all-out in my intro about book author, Raissa Robles, a magna cum laude in the University of the Philippines Diliman, our beloved alma mater.

           Couldn’t miss out on the sentimental value of the book to me. Brief narration how my husband Rudy, a human rights lawyer, was incarcerated for six months by the Marcos dictatorship. And how our kids, in their tender years, had to visit their father in the stockade.

          The book MARCOS MARTIAL LAW NEVER AGAIN will go the rounds of FAABC members. Be mesmerized how the brutal, horrifying, evil atrocities of the infamous Marcos regime had smothered Philippine society. Whether you are from Ilocandia’s so-called solid north or wherever in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, you’ll get a detailed account of one dark episode in the history of Bayan Ko that Filipinos must not gloss over, millennials especially—a citizenry emboldened by a strong will and determination that Martial Law must never ever happen again.

          The birthday bash at FAABC was my fourth presentation of this tour de force—repeat, a tour de force—of a book in Philippine history. Launched in UP Diliman last April 2016, it is now available for purchase, P350/copy, at the National Bookstores in our country. I’m not sure if you can get it via Amazon for your own family library. It is heartening to note that Senator Risa Hontiveros has donated this book to public schools in the Philippines.

          As it was in the after-lunch talk at the office of Congressman Jerry Trenas in Iloilo City, I opened up saying that I didn’t come as a Liberal or a Nacionalista, just as I didn’t come as a Democrat or a Republican in the FAABC party. Let me just say that I belong to the Party of the People—in pursuit of a truly just, egalitarian, democratic society whether in the Philippines or in the U.S. of A.

          Addendum: Written with finesse, Raissa Robles’ magnum opus came about with the participation of two dear friends: The Foreword was written by Rene Saguisag, icon of the EDSA People Power Revolution. Ricky Sobrevinas, a Wharton Ivy Leaguer, headed the Board of Editors. juliaclagoc@yahoo.com

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