BLIND SPOT: What would Mabini say?
“TO sum it up, the Revolution failed because it was badly led; because its leader won his post by reprehensible rather than meritorious acts; because instead of supporting the men most useful to the people, he made them useless out of jealousy. Identifying the aggrandizement of the people with his own, he judged the worth of men not by their ability, character and patriotism but rather by their degree of friendship and kinship with him; and, anxious to secure the readiness of his favourites to sacrifice themselves for him, he was tolerant even of their transgressions.” “God grant we do not forget such a terrible lesson, learnt at the cost of untold suffering.” (malacanang.gov.ph) These are words written by Apolinario Mabini from “The Philippine Revolution”, referring to Emilio Aguinaldo in the failure of the Philippine Revolution. (and I thought this was referring to present Philippine setting). It has been a while since there was something on the media about Sen. Leila de Lima who had said that “the criminal charges against her are “nothing less than a politically motivated act” to silence any vocal opposition against a policy supporting extrajudicial killings to deal with suspected criminals.” (www.philstar.com) Actress and singer Aiza Seguerra had been appointed as chair of the National Youth Commission for a three-year term. While his “wife,” Liza Diño, was named chair of the Film Development Council of the Philippines and would also serve in the post for three years.” “Diño is the daughter of Martin Diño, a party mate of the President.” (entertainment.inquirer.net) “Entertainer-turned-blogger Mocha Uson was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.” “Uson’s post as MTRCB board member is deemed relinquished due to her new appointment to the PCOO.” (newsinfo.inquirer.net) “Duterte said he was paying back Uson for believing in him during the campaign period. “Utang na loob ko yan sa kaniya because they offered their services for free,” Duterte said. “It’s my time to believe in them.” (news.abs-cbn.com) On erroneously terminating public officials wrongly accused of corruption, the President says, “I would rather make a mistake…If my suspicions are almost equivocal, I’d rather choose the path that – though it’s a mistake, so it stops,” (www.rappler.com) But isn’t still a mistake? Shouldn’t mistakes be corrected and not tolerated? Prevented and not proliferated? Well, anyway, I guess some things don’t change since 1899. We are remembering Apolinario Mabini whose birth anniversary is on July 23 which coincidentally is marked as culmination of the week long National disability Prevention and Rehabilitation NDPR Week (Couldn’t they think of a shorter name for a celebration for Filipino persons with disability?), which starts on July 17. Because according to Proclamation no. 361, Mabini’s “exemplary and dedicated heroic acts during the Philippine Revolution has greatly influenced the declaration and observance of the disability prevention and rehabilitation which in effect, has become an outstanding icon for persons with disabilities (PWDs)”; for the purpose of “propagating the plight of persons with disability” (Can’t we say that more specifically”?) (https://advocacine.wordpress.com) Interestingly, Apolinario Mabini did not advocate for the rights of Filipinos with disability. He was selected as an “icon” of Filipino PWDs because he is a prominent PWD figure in Philippine history. Or should we say, he is the only person with disability in Philippine history. Okay, maybe there’s some obscure revolutionary figure with some impairment who is not as popular as Mabini; but if there were any, we’d be scratching our heads, and mumbling, “duh…” at the mention of his name. So, we have Apolinario Mabini as an icon. That realization just got me thinking of pre-colonial and colonial Filipino society’s attitudes towards persons with impairments and then unnamed disorders. This particular sector of society seems to be ignored and relegated to the sidelines or oblivion, if not for the representation of the prodigy lawyer from Batangas, well towards the end of the 19th century. Apolinario Mabini is the classic Filipino born in a poor family, with a peasant father, a market vendor mother and second child among seven siblings, who supported his own education by serving as a houseboy and tutoring children, until his graduation with a Law degree at the University of Santo Tomas. (Wow! Pinoy na Pinoy, pang-MMK.) His mother wanted him to be a priest, but he opted to be a lawyer because he wanted to help the poor. (wow ulit. Pinoy nga talaga.) He had been a member of the reformist organization La Liga Filipina and later took a revolutionary stand and joined Katipunan. At age 30, he was struck by poliomyelitis which eventually incapacitated his legs. He was sought by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, and asked him to serve as adviser of the revolution. Play that scene on your mind; a military leader asking the help of a man with orthopedic handicap for advise in war. Philippine history may have no other PWD icons, but this historical event is a strong stand that the Filipino psyche has long ackn owledged the potential impact above and beyond the paralyzing impairment. Apolinario Mabini, a Filipino with disability was the intellectual impresario of the revolution and resistance against foreign powers. Now, if he were alive today, what would Mabini say? “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29