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Courage: The legacy of Huseng Batute

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Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

By Florangel Rosario Braid

 

“Courage is indeed a verb; and the noun is the Filipino people.” For when we lose our moral compass, then we tarnish the character forged by our forbears who sacrificed their lives before us to build a nation worthy of their children.”

This is part of the Introduction of esteemed professor and constitutional commissioner Ed Garcia’s latest book entitled “Courage” that was launched yesterday at the Arete of the Ateneo de Manila University.

In the book, Ed, well-known peace maker, educator, and activist, challenges the Filipinos to have courage and hope at this critical time in our nation’s history – one characterized by rising spread of fake news, partisanship, and radical political beliefs that have deeply divided the Filipinos. In the face of risks and threats, we must be able to do the right thing in the right way in the face of fears.,”he added.

Chapter I consists of essays on the general topic, “Keeping Hope Alive.”  Chapter II focuses on “Overcoming Politics of Hate and Fear.” Chapter III deals with “Drawing Courage from Inspired Leaders,” among them, former President Ramon Magsaysay, Senators Lorenzo Tanada, Jovito Salonga, and Jose Diokno, Vice President Leni Robredo. Chapter IV is on the topic, “Remembering the People’s Unfinished Journey” which deals with experiences during the People Power Revolution, focusing on the courage not only of some of the known heroes of the post-martial law revolt but also the entire Filipino people. “Remaining True to the Spirit of the 1987 Constitution” is the title of Chapter V. Here, the author shares his experiences as one of the framers of the charter, focusing specifically on the human rights provisions. Chapter VI, “Rediscovering a Brave Brand of Politics” – cites examples of men and women here and in other countries who introduced to the world a new kind of politics. Chapter VII, “Waging Peace Beyond Borders,” focuses on the peace builders of the country and their struggles in forging peace. Finally, he writes a “Post Script to the Successor Generation” before the Epilogue.

In the Prologue, the author raises these questions: What does it take courage of hope? Why is the citizen the central actor in today’s struggles?

And he makes this observation: In our country where our leaders seem obsessed by an interminable “war on drugs,” and the “proliferation of hate and fear,” I believe that we can put our trust in the hands of involved and concerned citizens.

Describing 2017 as the “Year of Moral Courage,” the author calls for the need to exercise resilience.

Among the notable guest invited to the launch were Notre Dame de Sion Philippine Superior Sr. Particia Fox, Bishop of the Diocese of Caloocan  Rev. Pablo Virgilio S. David, DD, UP Diliman Chancellor Dr. Michael Tan, renowned poet UP Dr. Gemino Abad who read his newly minted poetry, from Rage to Courage, Prof. Benjamin Tolosa of Ateneo University, and Jesuit Music Ministry artist, Mr. Tote Sorioso who read Fr. Manuel Francisco’s “Your Heart Today.” A representative of the successor generation shared thoughts on converting the launch as a platform of citizen courage.

The author draws from his experiences during here and other countries while serving as specialist with Amnesty International and International Alert and other peace initiatives.

***

On Friday, May 26, the Cultural Center of the Philippines celebrates the 86th death anniversary of Jose Corazon de Jesus with “Pagbabalik Tanaw sa Unang Hari ng Balagtasan which will be performed at the Huseng Batute theater. The latter, a black box theater, a new addition to the CCP’s venues for dramatic presentation, is named after the Filipino poet’s pen name, Huseng Batute. The event is free and open to the public. The CCP is honoring Huseng Batute for his works which exemplify artistic excellence, cultural values, Filipino aesthetics and our national identity. Arsenio Lizaso, CCP president, adds that in this digital age, we would like to introduce to the millennials traditional poetry. “Pagbabalik Tanaw,” done in cooperation with the Provincial Government of Bulacan, is performed in two segments with multi-awarded artist Vim Nadera and Louise Lopez as hosts of the event.

Huseng Batute or Jose Corazon de Jesus wrote his column, Buhay Maynila in verse for the Taliba for 10 years. His poems were published in six books – “Mga Dahong Ginto,” “Mga Itinapon ng Kapalaran,” “Sa Dakong Silangan,” “Ilaw sa Kapitbahay, and Maraming Basahan.” He translated the song, “Nuestra Patria,” to “Bayan Ko,” considered as our second national anthem. Aside from writing poetry and lyrics, Batute likewise excelled in performing in the Balagtasan . He won received numerous awards and won the title, “Hari ng Balagtasan.” Balagtasan is a Filipino literary form of debates where rhymes and verses are created in spontaneity under topics that range from Philippine politics to culture.

 

My email, Florangel.braid@gmail.com

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