Virtual marker for a freedom fighterBy Malou Guanzon-Apalisok
Cebu Daily News
Tomorrow we remember the day 40 years ago when the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos placed the country under martial law.
It’s been 26 years since his overthrow from power and a marker in the Plaza Independencia will be unveiled to remind us of the dark years and in memory of those who risked their lives fighting the dictatorship.
It’s a belated move on the part of the Cebu city government and I wonder if the executive committee who drew up the project opted for an “inclusive” marker rather than dedicate it in honor of those who stared the dictator in the eye, like former assemblywoman and interior secretary, the late Nenita “Inday Nita” Cortes Daluz. Inday Nita led the democratic struggle in Cebu by galvanizing people to oust Marcos through peaceful mass demonstrations called “parliament of the streets.”
After her death in 2007, I have been advocating that we give Inday Nita official honors because it was through her fearless broadcast commentaries that the cause of freedom was waged in Cebu and in many places in Visayas and Mindanao. Inday Nita’s voice penetrated the conscience of the people and through her they found the courage to make sacrifices for liberty to be won.
When I raised the idea of dedicating a city strip to then Cebu City mayor Tommy Osmeña in 2007, he did not find it problematic at all. Indeed, there are many city streets named after flora and fauna, so that all the idea needed was a push from the City Council. At the time, Inday Nita’s son, Councilor Joey Daluz was part of Tommy’s Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan and I thought the passage of a council resolution would be a matter of time.
To my surprise, the council did not even give it any attention and was I naïve to even think it mattered for them. Notice that in talking to the media about unveiling the marker, some politicians are even careful not to mention Inday Nita’s name, as if she was absent during those terrible times.
I can only think of one reason for this: politics. A memorial for Inday Nita will have the effect of upping his son’s political currency and now that he is part of Team Rama and intends to run for Congress, wa na gyuy chance kahatagan og pasidungog si Inday Nita in an official manner.
Still, it is in the people’s recollection that she continues to be honored.
Last month, I had the rare opportunity to bump into one of Inday Nita’s admirers and supporters. In the mall, I almost didn’t recognize the lovely Lilia Luque, who now permanently resides in Iceland. I knew Lilia in the ‘80s because she served as Inday Nita’s production assistant. At the time, she was anchoring a commentary program over station dyKC, where I used to work as production chief.
Lilia shared with me many anecdotes about her idol, who she described as a courageous woman who derived strength from her religious convictions. Opening her program with a prayer seemed natural for Inday, who was a devotee of the Santo Niño.
After the fall of Marcos, Inday went on to become secretary of the interior and local government but despite her closeness to then president Corazon Aquino, the freedom fighter didn’t win any elective position after democracy was restored.
I guess it’s just well because politics has a way of smearing one’s reputation. After her Cabinet stint and two failed political bids, Inday went back to broadcast. She was critical of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo post the Hello Garci scandal, even if most Cebuano politicians paid her homage.
By sharing anecdotes about the freedom fighter, Lilia makes Inday’s Nita’s memory relevant and enduring. In that sense, the virtual marker for Inday Nita stands strong in the people’s collective and grateful memory.
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In a previous column I wrote about the media recollection that the Archdiocese of Cebu gave Cebu journalists ahead of this year’s Press Freedom celebration. The half-day program was an opportunity for me to observe the new Cebu Archbishop and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and he impressed me as one who shuns formalities. This self-effacing manner is evident in the way he described the spiritual activity—“friends at work.”
The challenge of the Church to the media in this part of the world is to become effective bearers of the Good News, but Msgr. Joseph Tan, who delivered the main talk, did not use the formal language that usually flows out of the pulpit or from the Vatican’s official proclamations.
He asked Cebu media to “think beyond the headlines.” Almost instinctively, I expected that chasing positive stories instead of highlighting corruption, political intrigue and crime stories in the front pages will be the next subject.
As we know, some sectors blame media’s supposed taste for crass sensationalism and commercialism for the very same ills that they report every day, so I was struck when Monsignor Tan led us to a different theme, i.e., to look inwards and consider the value of faith in our daily lives.
The danger, in his words, “is to be limited by superficial preferences in this life and remain driven to pursue every single similar attraction until the day we die.”
The message comes as Cebu media ends ts 18th Press Freedom Week celebration. The widespread use of new gadgets, social media and the Internet has changed our lives and can no longer be stopped.
The challenge for traditional media is to remain grounded and focused in its fundamental role of seeking truth and justice, because new media platforms are here to stay and even multiply.
As I said in my recent status, traditional and social equals change so sweeping that it’s overwhelming and irresistible at the same time.
More from this Column:
- Giant killer of Talisay City
- Euro garapals
- Easter Triduum
- Lessons from Danao
- Lapu-Lapu Liberals and a pocket paradise