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[Ponderings] I Wanna Be Free

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.

One of the iconic songs of the mid-60s is I Wanna Be Free, performed by the Monkees, written by Bobby Hart and Tommy Boyce in 1966. It is still a simple yet beautiful song about simple freedom, deep and meaningful in its simplicity – just like real freedom. There is nothing complicated about freedom; you feel it when it is there, and that feeling gets to be very glaring when it is not there. The situation is worsened when it is the freedom fighter that loses their personal freedom.

Our very own Senator Leila de Lima, who has spent four years of her term in detention, is suffering such fate at the hands of her foremost accuser and tormentor. The supposed chief administrator of this government is out to exact his pound of flesh from the indefatigable Senator who has earned his ire when he was still a mayor of Davao City, accused and suspected of being involved with the Davao Death Squad (DDS), and Chair Leila, in conduct of her duties as Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission in the name of Public Service which was investigating the Human Rights Violations of the supposed DDS group.

Senator Leila is concurrently serving her official term as a distinguished Senator of the Republic’s 17-18th Congress and her unlawful detention in Camp Crame which is solely based on trumped up drug charges, and fabricated evidences from extremely dubious witnesses.

I have been incarcerated, myself, for almost a good six long years during Martial Law. I know the feeling of an agent of change that has lost his personal freedom. We were freedom fighters waging a war for truth and democracy. I was arrested, went through some torture under tactical interrogation, and indefinitely detained. However, I was also fortunate to have been released from detention immediately after the victory of EDSA People Power by the late President Corazon C. Aquino, whose husband, Ninoy, was a co-accused in the case against me and a number of freedom fighters with the April 6 Liberation Movement.

Yes, I can surely empathize with Senator Leila on her peculiar predicament.

A person who is detained suffers for the loss of his liberties – it is amplified when you know, deep inside, that you have not committed any act of transgression against any law, person, or property. You know that you are not guilty of anything and that you are, therefore being persecuted.

The persecution that she is going through is really painful, the simple things you may have taken for granted like being with a loved one, spending both precious and idle time with them, just being together, crossing the street, going to the corner store or the grocery. Millions of seemingly trivial stuff but special treasures to someone deprived of liberty. One can’t just go to visit a relative or a dear friend anymore – it is just not possible.

The suffering becomes less painful to a person who has been found guilty, beyond reasonable doubt, of an act that one was arrested and imprisoned for.

I don’t think her colleagues at the Senate and at the House of Representatives have fought enough for her – I feel that the Legislative Branch has been bamboozled into quietness by both the Executive and the Judiciary. To my mind, it should not be business as usual. The issue should be addressed to the other two branches of government telling them that “We have an esteemed colleague who is being persecuted on trumped up charges and we are protesting her persecution. I didn’t/don’t see them angry enough!

And, what about our Juan de la Cruzes? Aren’t they even scared knowing that if the state can ride roughshod an incumbent Senator, the worse could be done to them. Aren’t they angry enough yet, having witnessed what the state has done to Senator Leila?

It just baffles me that many of our kababayans have not yet felt her pain. I really hope that we will, one day, all feel like we are one people, that we have one body – then empathy can be real. It is that pain you feel in your body when your toe stubs against something.

Leila de Lima is suffering – and, still fighting!

De Lima filed her Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for the Senate on the last day of filing on Friday, October 8.

"I will not let prison and persecution stand in the way of the fight against Duterte's evil regime," the senator earlier said upon announcing her re-election bid.

I particularly like what she told her foe in Pilipino – more emphatic and powerful:

Ang pagkulong mo sa akin ay lalong nagpalakas sa akin. Dumoble ang aking pagsisigasig na ibalik ang hustisyang niyurakan mo. Walang silbi ang lahat ng pakikipaglaban ko sa talamak mong pamamalakad kung uurong lang ako sa hamon ng pagtakbo muli," said De Lima.

Kaboom, that’s the way to lay it down!

(Sending me to jail only strengthened my resolve. I was even more motivated to work harder to bring back the justice you have trampled on. Everything I have fought for would go to waste if I would turn my back on the call to run again.)

Just listen to the words of this nice and simple song and feel one’s yearning for that freedom. Feel Leila in the song, feel her longings and her desires for the people she loves, feel the pains and the longings of the people who love her …

I Wanna Be Free

“I wanna be free Like the bluebirds flying by me Like the waves out on the blue sea If your love has to tie me Don't try me, say good-bye I wanna be free

Don't say you love me, say you like me But when I need you beside me Stay close enough to guide me Confide in me, whoa-oh-oh

I wanna hold your hand Walk along the sand Laughing in the sun Always having fun Doing all those things Without any strings to tie me down I wanna be free

Like the warm September wind, babe Say you'll always be my friend, babe We can make it to the end, babe Again, babe, I've gotta say I wanna be free I wanna be free I wanna be free”

Try getting out of your comfort zone and walk with Leila on her journey, she need not be alone.

Pondering, as I sit here at the edge of life’s pond.

Philip Suzara

Creature of God. Child of the Universe. Global Citizen. Lover of Life. Freedom Fighter. Agent of Change. Lone Wolf. Occasional Consultant for Strategic Communications.

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