No one could have known. Nothing could have been expected. Until Divine Providence wrought a spellbinding synchronization of the amazing choreography of our country’s destiny in the unfolding of the Philippines people power revival.
The night of January 16th of year 2001, Tuesday. The world await with agonizing excitement for the opening of an envelope that contained evidences of questionable bank accounts for the impeachment trial of no less than the highest authority of the land, the President of the Philippines, in an overwhelming three-hour debate which exhaustively ended into a vote. The die was cast. Eleven senator-judges voted “no” and blocked the driveway to truth and justice. The following day a commentator, with mock amusement, announced to the public through broadcast media, “Here’s a country that stumbled over an envelope, and now everyone has a copy of its contents!”
In 1986 a high-ranking military triumvirate (one later became President and the other two became senators), narrowly escaped the claws of a tyrant who wielded power for twenty years. They found refuge from the citizenry in the world-acclaimed Philippine EDSA people power – a bloodless revolution that ousted the President after a snap election that ended Martial Law and a 20-year one-man rule, and installed our first woman president. This time, 15 years later, the people consciously took the cudgels and the military came in for support, and for the second time, a woman took the reins of Philippine governance.
The famous showbiz idol turned Philippine president was ousted in 2001 and faced charges on betrayal of public trust, plunder, perjury and graft and corruption, matched with allegations on his being a womanizer, a drunkard and a gambling lord.
In the course of the impeachment trial made public on live television, the world witnessed in awe and amazement the critical roles of six remarkable women:
CLARISSA (Kissa) OCAMPO - She delivered the “smoking gun” and identified the red-handed culprit. She testified on the bastardization of the banking system by no less than the highest authority of the land with impeccable candor and unwavering resolve, that the world stood awestruck. She’s known for the line “I was one foot away.”
EMMA LIM – She opened the door of the Lion’s Den and went inside to identify who devoured the largest slice, as she testified with calm confidence and relentless patience on how illegal money reached the pockets of the state executive.
JASMIN BANAL - She left a high-paying job for a very humble one in favor of idealism, defying a career path young professionals normally pursue. She then testified on the documentation of a dummy corporation which funds was set to smokescreen illegally acquired wealth.
CARMENCITA (Menchu) ITCHON – She risked her marriage in the defense of truth, as she resolutely made her decision against her husband’s will to testify on the flow of illegal cash collections from the gambling lords to the one who lorded over all of them.
LUISITA (Loi) PIMENTEL EJERCITO-ESTRADA – She was a martyr accomplice of the betrayals that victimized herself and the nation she, her husband, and the whole country owe allegiance to. While betrayal of wedding vows were being scrutinized as fiercely and as openly as betrayal of public trust, she stood by the man she married relentlessly and faithfully.
LOREN LEGARDA-LEVISTE – She knew with a poised resolve what she was there for. She drew out the most painful truths and the worst fears from the witnesses the whole nation sought to know. As senator judge, the strength and wisdom cloaked with gentleness she displayed in the way she raised her questions reinforced the conviction of the witnesses, rendering the agony sanctifying.
They are our living heroes. They risked all they are, all they have, all they hope to be – that truth and justice may prevail. They bet their lives, sacrificed wedding vows, deferred motherhood, and gambled their careers to stand by their principles and ideals and show the world the stuff that women are made of.
The Broadway performance entitled “The Night of January 16th” written by Ayn Rand showed neither prima facie evidence nor credible witness on the cause of business tycoon Bjorn Faulkner’s death, leaving the verdict for the jury (chosen from the audience) to conclude whether it was suicide or murder. During the court trial, it was the mistress’ word against the wife’s word. But Faulkner was dead. No amount of truth can set him free anymore.
As the Philippine President Erap dishonored womanhood, women dishonored him in return. He took and hurt women to his rise, but women dragged him to his fall. How much amount of truth concealed had spared him? What goes around comes around, so they say. Wife or mistress, religious or whore, a woman is God’s creation. If Bjorn Faulkner could come back to life, he should have relayed this mother’s piece to his chauvinist followers: “BECAUSE OF ALL THAT I HAVE DONE, REMEMBER ME IN LIFE, OH DEAR! KEEP THAT PROUD BODY FINE AND FAIR, MY LIFE IS MONUMENTED THERE. FOR MY LIFE, MAKE NO WOMAN WEEP … FOR MY LIFE, MAKE NO WOMAN CHEAP! AND SEEN YOU GIVE NO WOMAN SCORN, FOR THAT DARK NIGHT WHEN YOU WERE BORN…” Former USA President Bill Clinton knows this piece so well. And we women will forever wonder why a woman, even if she is as impeccable as Hilary Clinton or as flawless as Sandra Bullock, is never enough for a man.
Kissa, Emma, Jasmin, Menchu, Loi, Loren, Hilary, Sandra – different faces of the same specie … womanhood. Theirs is the power and the impregnability that simultaneously translates the dignity of the brain, sheds the essence of the heart, and dictates the spontaneity of the conscience. They are the living testimonies of destiny’s perfection.