Wednesday, 4 April 2012

They Live On!

      Some of the published works of Ernesto M Valencia



Though we did not have the opportunity to be acquainted with each other, he nevertheless, became my “idol”, or in teen-age language, my “ultimate  high school crush”.

For Ernesto was not only intelligent -- he was brilliant. His articles as gleaned from the pages our high school newspaper, were more than what was expected from a high school student: they were erudite, showed a deep grasp of language, familiarity with wide ranging issues, and incisive analysis of events.  

Even then, his articles showed the author’s growing commitment to social change. He studied physics in college and took a doctorate in economics.

He was a nationalist economist and wrote extensively on the ills of Philippine society, most especially its semi-feudal structure.  

He envisioned an egalitarian society where each man is given his worth commensurate to the work he contributes, the opposite of the current structure of Philippine society where 10% of the population control 90% of the country’s wealth.

Popoy, as he was fondly called by his friends, fought his battle, for his dream, with his pen.  

As an economics professor,  I am sure he contributed in no small way to opening young minds  to seek  alternative  explanations to the economic problems of the country, and was instrumental in producing young nationalist economists  who would  work for and espouse economic solutions, not only to make the country  prosperous , but most importantly, to create  to  an egalitarian society as well.

Ernesto died from heart attack at 56, way too young for a man with such lofty dreams and who tirelessly worked for the emancipation from poverty and human indignity of his beloved countrymen.

As I honor Popoy, I also honor Eli, classmate and personal friend. Eli  passed away at a young age, his life snuffed abruptly in an encounter with Marcos forces in Laguna during martial law.

He  talked so fast that  I called him “ Mr Rapido”.

Maybe because he had many things in his mind that he wanted to express.  He would get exasperated every time I would knit my brows while listening to him, “hindi mo na naman ako naiintidihan”, he would say.  

He was a man in a hurry: impatient at less committed individuals (like me) , wanted fast results, and acted on his convictions promptly. I guess he knew the consequences of his actions, and was ready to die for it. Perhaps a certain death was more acceptable to him than living with the uncertainty of piece meal or incremental reforms. 

Perhaps like fallen heroes in our history, he believed his blood would contribute to the early flowering of a society that he envisioned . Although Eli and I disagreed on so many things, there was a bond of understanding and friendship between us which transcended ideology.

So, a toast to these two distinguished Filipinos who now join the pantheon of heroes for freedom.

Both fought the same battle, but treaded different paths:  one fought with the fierceness of his pen, the other with the might of the proverbial sword,  like Rizal and Bonifacio. 

Two great human beings : one person, I admired from a distance; another I knew up close and personal. 

Both, however will be forever etched in my memory, together with all the fond memories and lessons from people and things past, which have dotted the landscape of my life,  reminding me to be true to myself, and not to be afraid to  take  the straight  and narrow path, for  my convictions and beliefs.

(Dr EMMA P Valencia, MD, is a Health Policy analyst, writer, poet and journalist, who shuttles between Manila and California. She once worked with Senator Eduardo J Angara to assist him on important health policy legislations.)

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