Thursday, March 1, 2012

Horacio Boy Morales

May kasabihan sa amin na ang mga mabubuting tao daw ay kinukuha mula sa buhay nating ito sa gitna ng mahiwaga at dalisay na pagkakataon. In my country, there is an old belief that good people are taken from this life during enchanted moments. I don’t know if BossMan Boy Morales was waiting for his turn to tee-off in Camp John Hay when he was stricken but I am having a difficult time thinking of a better way to check out of this coil.

BM lived an enchanted life. After acquiring expertise only the University of Oklahoma could offer in the late sixties, Boy rose through the highest ranks of the New Society technocrats until one evening, hours before he was to be recognized as one of the ten outstanding young persons in the country, he joined the communist underground. Marcos was apoplectic. The Development Academy of the Philippines which Morales headed, was the crown jewel think tank of the dictatorship. Marcos could only count on US support so long as he maintained his staunch anti-communist credentials. It did not matter to the US leadership at that time that the Filipino people were under a corrupt, brutal authoritarian rule. Marcos portrayed himself as the ultimate US firewall against communism.

Boy understood it was never an ideological problem. Filipinos were hungry and malnourished. The educational system was largely irrelevant, human rights routinely suppressed. It was not a matter of renouncing religion, capitalism, democracy. BM simply crossed to the side of the Filipino people. And here, he distinguished himself forever. Because by committing himself towards justice, he renounced his possessions, his family, his liberty and his life.

We can only wonder what went on in Boy’s mind during those six years in hiding. All those dark, dangerous, lonely nights in the mountain jungles and anonymous safehouses. The close brushes with the police and the military. And what about those terrible years in prison where he endured torture?

Boy Morales took on life without fear. He was always engaged. He hooked me up with his son in law, also my fraternity brother, who is now my partner in medical practice. He enjoyed golf, was curious about Buddhism, and without being demonstrative, loved his family deeply.

We will remember Boy not for his accomplishments or his failings, his wisdom, nor his political savvy. We will always remember Horacio Boy Morales for what he tried hard to do to the least of his Filipino brethren.