By Philip Suzara
Pondering… as I sit here at the edge of my mythical life pond.
One can see many things happening at the edge of life’s pond, as in any pond. Decisions are made there, life changing decisions, defining moments… to get in the pond, or not. The pond is encircled by its edges in different forms and kinds: straight, jagged, rough, rocks, pebbles, sand, soil, or mud. Very much like people. No matter the differences we have, we all belong there… around the life pond, inside, outside, at the edge, but there.
Mornings are the most welcome part of my day - as with most people, every day. Mornings signal the start of our day, it is that time when we come to realize that the night had just ended, providing us with our much needed respite and recharging us with renewed energy for the morrow. I thank God for the new day and pleasantly allow it to slowly unfold its mystery to me, as it does to countless others.
There are mornings that come and go unremarkable but the other day was definitely not. An artist friend had sent me a message early morning asking for an update about my friend Chito Gascon. I was not aware of anything that may have happened to Chito since the last time he and I communicated. I read my friend’s message and the attachment that showed Chito’s name with an emoticon of a broken heart on a black background – I was jolted from being half asleep and half awake and rushed to call and verify with friends. And, yes, it struck me like a lightning bolt, Chito has gone on ahead an hour or two ago. Gone.
For a moment there, the world stood still.
I remember the first time I met Chito sometime in 1986, I was still “newly” released from detention then, when we were together at a Bandila conference at the Club Filipino. He was elected to be the head of Bandila’s Human rights Desk with me as his alternate. We would, since then, be bumping into each other at SocDem gatherings and became good friends/comrades.
Chito then moved on to be one of the youngest framers of our 1987 Constitution articulating the demands of the youth, fighting for provisions on social justice and human rights, people’s participation, and the party-list system. He also gave importance on the issues of education, communication, and accountability – certainly not an insignificant feat for a young agent of change!
Chito had worn so many hats thereafter but what always stood out were his advocacies on social change, civil liberties and democracy, and human rights. He was passionate about Social Democracy in the country as well as an avid audience to the ongoings of Social Democracy in other parts of the globe. Part of his legacy on this area was effecting the publication of two books on Social Democracy in the country; SOCDEM, and Stories of Struggle –SocDem Narratives, in cooperation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. I would not be surprised if there are other books that he saw print.
While he gave great effort and focus to getting the SocDem forces together, he would be a champion to having engagements with the NatDems, that they, too, are part of the struggle for liberation and social change.
He was so courageous, yet gentle; his stint at the Human Rights Victims Claims Board, including the last post he brilliantly and valiantly headed, the Commission on Human Rights. He continued to boost the arduous struggle for human rights in our country, considering the adversarial conduct of this current administration towards civil liberties, democracy and freedom.
Even with all of his achievements and tasks, Chito was a man so passionate about love, for his country, for his dear wife and daughter, for his family, for his friends, for his comrades, his fraternal brothers, his music and his ubiquitous Coke. He jokingly says that a D might be able to kill him, but definitely not the other d.
Let me take you on a journey with a song by Michael Jackson… listen to the words, so moving, so touching.
Gone Too Soon
Like a comet Blazing 'cross the evening sky Gone too soon
Like a rainbow Fading in the twinkling of an eye Gone too soon
Shiny and sparkly And splendidly bright Here one day Gone one night
Like the loss of sunlight On a cloudy afternoon Gone too soon
Like a castle Built upon a sandy beach Gone too soon
Like a perfect flower That is just beyond your reach Gone too soon
Born to amuse, to inspire, to delight Here one day Gone one night Like a sunset Dying with the rising of the moon Gone too soon
Gone too soon
Songwriters: Larry Grossman / Buz Kohan
You have fought the good fight and finished the race, Chito. May your life of service be a shining example to inspire others in their struggle for a better tomorrow. The nights will now be further brightened by your star.
He is gone, but his life will have meaning beyond his passing.
Hasta la Victoria, siempre!
Pondering, as I sit here at the edge of life’s pond.
Creature of God. Child of the Universe. Global Citizen. Lover of Life. Freedom Fighter. Agent of Change. Lone Wolf. Occasional Consultant for Strategic Communications.