Valentine Memoirs

A deluge of comments flooded in from Inquirer readers to the column “Eraser senator?” (PDM, Feb. 12), which swirled around a suggestion that Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile—who turned 90 on Valentine’s Day—rewrite his two-year-old book.

This 754-page book recalls JPE’s achievements. But it blacks out stuff ranging from kickbacks, which Thursday’s hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee debated, to the padding and shaving (dagdag-bawas) of votes in 1995. “Can he do it before his term ends in 2016?”

Revising his memoirs won’t help, e-mailed ApoNiLolo. A lot of historical documents contradict his claims. In old age, it’d be wise just to “come clean.” Write the truth according to what he knows, not what he wants people to believe. It will be up to future generations to judge his “immortality.” His book could become “a useful historical reference.”

“Happy birthday, Juan Ponce Enrile,” MarianoRenatoPacifico wrote. “God blessed you with long life. You must have done something right where many Filipinos only see something wrong. So, tell us your secret to long life…..  May you have more PDAF to come.”

Why bother to rewrite a fictional story like JPE’s book? Bjdc scoffed. “Wasn’t that written to make people laugh?” DonQuixoteDe Rizal, however, offered a “modest” revision: “Burn all the copies of Enrile’s memoirs. Let it not be part of Philippine history. I don’t want it to be a model for crooks in the future. We already have a surplus of them in the Senate and [the House].”

“Was that why they put erasers on pencils?” Viewpoint had asked. Wrote UrHonor: “No. They put lead in those pencils to rewrite intentional errors. Hand it to Enrile. Although he’s now pushing into the 90s, his mind is still sharp at boondoggle….”

Enrile did erase a lot from his book, wrote Ernesto Honey Mantelano. Take the massacre on Sept. 15, 1981, of 45 men, women and children in Barangay Sog-od, Las Navas, Northern Samar. That was perpetrated by the “Lost Command.” Was it coincidence that security for Enrile’s San Jose Timber Corp. was headed by a Lost Command colonel? Enrile erased this event from his memory. “But we Samareños will never forget.”

“Wisdom is the gray hair unto men, and an unspotted life is to old age,” wrote Cry_Freedom. “Not for Juan Ponce Enrile, though. What a pity.”

“At 90, one must ask: When the time comes, as it does to all men, will Enrile’s body be shrouded in a Philippine flag?” asked Descarte5E. And will he have an honored place at the Libingan ng mga Bayani?

“JPE’s long life influenced many younger politicians, like Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, Gringo Honasan and others,” tra6Gpeche wrote. Joseph Estrada is also having a long life. If Marcos Senior did not scram to Hawaii, would he have lived longer? Imelda Marcos is now pushing 83. Are they right in hoarding so much money? “They think they will live forever”—well almost…“Too bad for Filipinos.”

Many applauded Enrile’s decisive acts during the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, wrote Tagasugod. He was then on a “legacy mode.” He intended to rectify whatever wrong he did when he was younger and thus leave a lasting impression that he is a good man. “A gullible public almost believed him. I did…”

But even the evil are capable of doing good, when it serves their purposes. Black or white characterizations are outdated. And more see people as complex beings capable of good and evil. The vast majority of the human race lies in a gray area. This doesn’t mean to say evil people never do anything good. “No. Enrile can only rewrite his memoirs if he finally tells the truth. And time is running out [on] him. Truly, a brilliant mind is not always a reflection of a good conscience.”

“‘May you live a thousand years’ is a Chinese curse,” e-mailed TinimbangNgunitKulang. “If we wish the same to Tanda, on his 90th birthday, he’d have to endure the shame and hatred of his countrymen for a long time. Early death can sometimes be a blessing.”

“But how do you greet this man on Feb. 14?” asked Ulipur. “May you realize the meaning of Valenswine Day!” “Indeed, God gave Enrile long life to give enough time to repent,” commented Nothandsome Nottrue  “But it seems that God needs another hundred years.”

There are two possibilities to explain the flawed autobiography of Juan Ponce Enrile, Juanaguanta2 wrote. One is revisionist history.

“This is  a convenient way to evade responsibility and for self-glorification.” The second is more humdrum, namely “misfiring of neurotransmitters on account of old age.”

Senility is unlikely but the former is more convincing. And here are reasons why. Enrile was one of the members of the “Rolex 12,” a dozen Pinocchios whose job was to manufacture reasons to justify the declaration of martial law. In fact, many historians assert that Enrile was the real architect of martial law, from which he benefited lavishly. Also, the late former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. “accused Juan Ponce Enrile directly of trumping up the charges against him during his captivity.”

“Enrile does not need to rewrite his memoirs,” Jun de la Cruz wrote. “He just needs to add a subtitle that goes ‘Beware. Major parts are not complete and are just fiction.’”

“May Enrile live long enough to see how justice grinds exceeding small,” prayed Rey Domingo. “Brilliant minds are nothing without love for his fellowmen,” wrote Ronald Fuentes.

As comedian Will Rogers cracked: “When you put down the good things you ought to have done, and leave out the bad you did do well, that’s memoirs.”

(E-mail: juanlmercado@gmail.com)

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