Pain Be­trayal

The Freeman - - LIFESTYLE -

There’s a part of my ex­pe­ri­ence with The Free­man that I don’t like to re­mem­ber – but just can’t for­get. It’s about be­trayal. It con­tin­ues to hurt me very deeply to have been stabbed in the back by the very peo­ple I trusted.

In the years when the peo­ple’s dis­con­tent with Mar­cos was wide­spread and es­ca­lat­ing, The Free­man’s pop­u­lar­ity soared, be­ing the only news­pa­per in Cebu – and one of very few in the whole coun­try – that fear­lessly ex­posed the true state of af­fairs in the Mar­cos gov­ern­ment.

The pub­lic liked The Free­man’s “fair and fear­less” stand early on. Mar­tial Law saw the Philip­pine me­dia getting more and more in­tim­i­dated by threats of clo­sure or gov­ern­ment takeover. Any re­port not fa­vor­able to Mar­cos or to the gov­ern­ment was con­sid­ered sub­ver­sive. In fact, many me­dia peo­ple were ei­ther in jail or in hid­ing for fear of be­ing jailed.

The Free­man was not anti-Mar­cos, how­ever. It was sim­ply be­ing fair and fear­less in its news. Peo­ple who were ben­e­fit­ing a lot from their close­ness with Mar­cos did not like our re­port­ing, and one of those big ben­e­fi­cia­ries had busi­ness in­ter­ests in Cebu.

The Mar­cos crony, to please his boss, launched a covert at­tack against us. He or­ga­nized a group to put up and run a new lo­cal pa­per to counter our ex­poses on Mar­cos. He se­cretly ap­proached the best peo­ple around – my own peo­ple at The Free­man, of course! My peo­ple were given of­fers they couldn’t refuse. Many quickly threw their loy­al­ties and prin­ci­ples away.

It’s hu­man na­ture to be eas­ily daz­zled by a big­ger take, to be lured by what seems to be more rosy prospects. This I can un­der­stand, and can let pass. What I can­not com­pre­hend – and prob­a­bly never will – is the big­ger act of be­trayal.

The peo­ple who were tak­ing the big­ger bait in­ten­tion­ally kept their plans of leav­ing un­der wraps. They wanted to sur­prise me, to leave me to­tally help­less on their way out – not sim­ply on my knees, but with my face flat on the ground. Judas was a more mer­ci­ful traitor, be­cause he pre­ceded his be­trayal with a kiss. My peo­ple caught me com­pletely by sur­prise.

The mass de­fec­tion was planned for months. My key peo­ple were reg­u­larly sneak­ing out of the of­fice to over­see the set­ting up of their new pa­per. I be­gan to no­tice my top guy’s fre­quent go on cer­tain routes, to go some­where to work, to go to school, to run er­rands etc. Wher­ever they go, there’s al­ways art of some kind to see. Those who are open enough to see it would swear it saves their san­ity from the in­creas­ingly mind-blow­ing traf­fic ev­ery­where in the city these days.

There’s art to see of the mush­room­ing mod­ern build­ings around. There’s also art in the hum of ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic and of hu­man con­ver­sa­tions. More eas­ily no­tice­able are the ‘works of art’ that have since emerge by the road­sides – graf­fiti on walls along cer­tain city streets.

Graf­fiti are these painted or drawn pic­tures or words on walls or build­ings. These of­ten fea­ture vi­brant col­ors, hand-drawn letters, or some out-of-this-world graphic illustrations. Graf­fiti ‘artists’ any­where use the walls and aban­doned build­ings as their can­vas. Some have a mes­sage to con­vey, oth­ers do it just for the fun of do­ing it.

Dif­fer­ent peo­ple view graf­fiti in dif­fer­ent ways. To some, graf­fiti is a sore sight; while oth­ers are amazed at the mag­nif­i­cence of the over­lap­ping col­ors. Per­haps ap­pre­ci­at­ing graf­fiti for its artis­tic value is an “ac­quired taste” that one doesn’t just get ab­sence from his desk, but I never sus­pected some­thing sin­is­ter was brew­ing. I trusted the guy; I wouldn’t have put him in a key po­si­tion if I didn’t.

There’s a story I was later told about those dark days. Upon the in­cep­tion of the whole plan, two of my rank­ing peo­ple were re­lax­ing in the of­fice one night as the pa­per went to print. In their chitchat, one blurted out, “I won­der what will hap­pen to The Free­man if we all sud­denly left.” Right at that mo­ment, the framed pic­ture of Papa Int­ing that was hang­ing on the wall be­hind the fel­low fell down, nearly hit­ting him on the head. My fa­ther was al­ready de­ceased at the time.

On the very day of their de­par­ture, the de­fec­tors hit me one more time. It was the hard­est blow of all. The birth of their new pa­per and their de­ser­tion of me was fi­nally out in the open. The story was told right on the front page of The Free­man! I was fried in my own lard. I couldn’t think of a more bit­ter be­trayal than that.

Over the years, I’ve tried to push the mem­ory of this sad ex­pe­ri­ence to the back of my mind. The pain has some­what sub­sided, but I’d be ly­ing if I said I’m to­tally over it. Ev­ery time you see the scar, you re­mem­ber how painful the wound was.

On the very day of their de­par­ture, the de­fec­tors hit me one more time. It was the hard­est blow of all. The birth of their new pa­per and their de­ser­tion of me was fi­nally out in the open. The story was told right on the front page of The Free­man! I was fried in my own lard. I couldn’t think of a more bit­ter be­trayal than that.

right away.

In this era of new me­dia, young peo­ple are quite at­tuned to the art of graf­fiti. They see it as a per­fect back­ground for their pho­tos. They find graf­fiti as In­sta­gram-wor­thy.

Graf­fiti is a re­al­ity in many ur­ban cen­ters. Cebu is catch­ing up. More and more road­sides are be­ing over­taken by this mod­ern ‘art form’.

Call it boon or bane – it seems graf­fiti is here to stay. For young peo­ple who have some­thing to “say,” graf­fiti is a good av­enue; as well as for those who need some­thing fun to do. The idle walls and aban­doned build­ings are wait­ing.

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