Wednesday, July 11, 2007

lean sa mamamayan

The girlfriend, thinking it was a play which bore the same name, was able to secure tickets for last night's Lean: Gabi ng Pag-alala at the PETA theater. I just came from a lecture of PR Guru Max Edralin at the Hotel Intercon in Makati which spanned hours, and was antsy to rush to my father who will have a kidney operation on the next day -- going to a play I've never heard before was, understandably, the last on my priorities.

But the girlfriend was excited to go and I didn't have the heart to turn away from a thing I unmindfully said yes to a couple of days ago. So amid the unexpected heavy rains and EDSA traffic, I deftly maneuvered Kewl (the car) from Makati to PETA in hopes of making it before the first act.

We need not have worried. What we thought of as a play turned out to be a gathering to remember the 20th death anniversary of Lean Alejandro -- student activitst, militant, leader, hero. He lived a short life -- he was 27 when he was assassinated -- but he touched so many lives, influenced thousands of minds, and dedicated his life to a cause that even two decades after his death, people still come from all corners of the globe, from all walks of life, to remember him.

It turned out to be a pleasant gathering. Old grizzled warriors, their hearts and minds as sharp as when they were in the forefront of battle, greeted each other with warmth, camaraderie, a few tears quickly brushed off, and yes, perhaps even love.

The girlfriend and I were obviously outsiders to this group -- everyone knew everybody else. Catching snatches of conversations while I went around the room pawing those tasty popped beans, I was witness to old ties remade, of friendships remembered, of struggles shared.

Reading some of the write ups accompanying the many pictures of Lean plastered on the walls, and hearing that beautiful piece read by a friend of Lean (the girlfriend says she's a famous journalist), I was faced with a fact I knew before but managed to forget: Behind the images of violence and incessant shouts of "ibagsak ang US-insertyourphilpresidenthere imperyalismo", these people are one of the most passionate you could ever meet. They laugh, they cry, they fight, they love as if the next minute they could die -- because that was the truth of the lives they led.

We went home shortly after Cookie Chua and Noel Cabangon sang Lean (from the play). On the way home, however, I couldn't help but wonder just how different I am compared to Lean and other leftist freedom fighters.

We both see something beyond the reality of the lives we live in, and aspire to reach that vision. We both believe with all our hearts, but even more, we question and test to evaluate the validity of our beliefs. We try to teach others to see this vision, this truth that is so evident to us.

He died for his beliefs. I'm struggling to live for the God whom I serve.

This sense of brotherhood aside, I left the gathering both impressed and prayerful about the people we saw there. They have dedicated their lives to an ideal, and lived every moment, picked every choice according to that ideal. It's hard not to be impressed by people that strong.

May peace descend upon them and their houses.

Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

- Dylan Thomas (Do not go gentle into that good night)

* Lean Alejandro photo from
** Lean mp3 from