By Rudy A. Arizala
Santiago, Chile 10 October 2015
“Oktoberfest” is generally defined or known as “as an autumn festival in Germany that involves merrymaking and drinking beer. To me, while October is a month for merrymaking (not necessarily drinking beer), the month has great significance nevertheless. On 9 October 1964, I was married to Ma. Loreto, the woman I love; 16 October 1969, our second boy was born; while on 29 October 1971, our third child and only girl was born. Our first child, a boy, was born on 16 September 1965, the advent of Autumn.
But I will not speak of marriage and births in Autumn. I will speak of another significant date and event when I was still in the high school- - the 14 October 1943 Message to the Filipino nation of a leader Dr. Jose P. Laurel during the dark days of the Second World War in the Pacific.
I still recall the faint echo of that message which have died down and vanished through the corridors of years but its significance remain etched in my heart and soul. It is said that the heart is the window of the soul and the mind make us capable of recalling the past and dream of the future. And if one stops dreaming of the future or recalling the past, he dies. And when one dies, nothing is left except the soul.
So, this Autumn allow me to reproduce hereunder the October Message of 1943, hoping it would rekindle in us the dying embers of that Message amidst myriads of problems facing our nation today. What kind of leadership and people we should have; the kind of leaders we need. Many of our people seem to have forgotten the echo of their past existence or history, lost in the maze of globalization; climatic change; poisoned fields, rivers and lakes; polluted air and dessertifications of our farmlands and aquatic resources. Let falling Autumn leaves give new promise of hope and a brigher tomorrow.
Excerpts from the Message
To refresh our memory, hereunder are the salient points or excerpts from said inaugural address which are valid and relevant today as they were yesterday.
Need for Moral Consciousness & Loyalty
There is need of awakening the moral consciousness of our people so that they may be able to face their new responsibilities with added vigor and enthusiasm. We should evolve a new type of citizen who would be ready and willing to subordinate himself to the larger and more vital interests of the State. The Constitution guarantees to every man that modicum of personal liberty essential to his enjoyment of relative contentment and happiness. But more transcedent importance than his privileges, are the duties which the individual owes to the State. The Constitution gives precedence to those obligations and consonance with the fundamental idea that man does not live for himself and his family alone but also for the State and humanity at large. The new citizen, therefore, is he who knows his duties even to the extent of sacrificing his rights.
Loyalty to duty should be exemplified by our public officers and employees who receive compensation from the State. Simple honesty demands that they earn their pay by rendering the full measure of service that is expected of them. Public service, in order to be deserving of popular faith and confidence, must be infused with new meaning and based on the highest consideration of morality. Government employment is neither a sinecure nor an instrument for self-enrichment, but a noble calling for service to the people. Dishonesty, bribery, and corruption have no place in government and they shall be eradicated without quarter. Our public functionaries shall be faithful servants of the people- tall, strong men and pure, self-sacrificing women who will safeguard the public interests like vestal fire.
B. Education as Catalyst for Morality
Our educational system must be renovated and due emphasis place on the moral objective laid down in the Constitution. The other aims decreed in the fundamental law like the development of personal and collective discipline, civic conscience, vocational skill and social efficiency should be subordinated to the cultivation of moral character as the handmaiden of an intransigent nationalism. Character formation shall be the mainspring of all educational enterprise born of a telling realization that scholarship destitute of character is worthless, that religion deprived of morality is mere fanaticism, that patriotism devoid of honor is only a posture. . .Redefinition of purpose and reorientation of curricula would be futile if they were not brought to bear upon the great mass of population.
Elementary instruction must not only be free and public as required by the Constitution, but attendance at least in primary grades must eventually and as resources permit, be made compulsory for all children of school age. . . .Only by strengthening the moral fiber of our youth and casting them into the heroic mold shall the soft metal of their minds hardened into maturity, indelibly impressed with unswerving to the country that gave them birth.
The work of our schools should be correlated with and supplemented by wholesome and substantial homelife, in order to afford the young practical pattern of social behavior and a working demonstration of group cohesiveness. It is imperative that we forge and rivet the links of family solidarity. The family is the basic unit of society and the breakdown of the family can only result in the disintegration of society. The consolidation of authority of the paterfamilias, the cultivation of the Oriental virtues of filial piety and obedience,. . . this is the tripod which should hold fast and elevate the family under the Republic. . . .The Filipino woman must incarnate the purity and tenderness of Maria Clara, the solicitude and self-sacrifice of Tandang Sora, the fecundity and motherly love of Teodora Alonzo. . . .The home more than the school, should be the nursery of the mother tongue. . . .the home must do its share so that our children may learn from the cradle those folksongs and folklore transmitted by word of mouth from generation to generation and which form the repository of our common unperishable tradition.
Need for Unity
The new citizen, is he who knows his rights as well as his duties, and knowing them, will discharge his duties even to the extent of sacrificing his rights. At no time in our history is the demand for unity amongst our people more urgent or more compelling. Only by presenting a compact and undivided front to all vital issues of the day can we hope to erect the foundations of a strong and enduring Republic. I consider as rallying centers of our national unity: the Flag, the Constitution, the National Anthem, and the President of the Republic. The Flag, because it symbolizes the sacrifices of our heroes and synthesizes our common imperishable tradition. The Constitution, because it expresses our collective and sovereign will and embodies the sum of our political philosophy and experience. The National Anthem, because it epitomizes the trials and tribulations, and crystalizes the longings and aspirations of our race. The President, because he is the chosen leader of our people, the directing and coordinating center of our government, and the visible personification of the State.
The main lesson learned from the 14 October Autumn Message is about citizenship and leadership which reminded us: “man does not live for himself and his family alone but also for the State and humanity at large. The new citizen, therefore, is he who knows his duties even to the extent of sacrificing his rights.”
More than half a century later such kind of leadership and citizenship found echo in the words of Pope Francis when on 21 September 2015, a Cuban student leader asked him what kind of leadership we should have. The Holy Father replied:
“A good leader is one who is capable of bringing up other leaders. If a leader wants to lead alone, he is a tyrant. True leadership is fruitful. Each one of you has the seed of leadership. . .The leaders of today will not be here tomorrow. If they do not plant the seed of leadership in others, they are worthless. They are dictators."
E n d