Friday the 13th

EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

It’s long been considered jinx, a harbinger of bad luck, this Friday the 13th – usually at the center of plots in 19th century novels or 20th century films of horror, with shuddering and frightful scenes.

Even Christianity points to 13 as an unlucky number. Thirteen guests attended the Last Supper – Jesus and the 12 Apostles, and the next day, Good Friday, Jesus was crucified.

But the jinx of Friday the 13th of 2022 was not enough to stop an epic day of hope and magic, at least somewhere in what was once hilly Katipunan, a Quezon City avenue named after the Philippine revolutionary society founded by our forefathers, anti-Spanish colonialist Filipinos in 1892.

Katipunan, short for Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan, was initiated by Filipino patriots led by Andrés Bonifacio when Jose Rizal was to be banished to Dapitan. It was a secret society that led to the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution.

There was no revolution last Friday in Katipunan, but the revolution was one of hopes and dreams, and change for a better Philippines, not for 14 million or 30 million, but for every Filipino.

At a rally at the Ateneo de Manila University, outgoing Vice-President Leni Robredo, the defeated presidential candidate, acknowledged her loss and enjoined her supporters to accept the election results, but bared that her work isn’t over.

She and her campaign organizers, she said, would launch an Angat Buhay non-government entity to assist those in the margins through the “widest volunteer network” in the country’s history.

Pinks & yellows

I find hope in this because there’s a lot of work to be done for millions of Filipinos. The new administration needs all the help it can get.

It’s about time Filipinos feel they are getting helped and not just during campaign seasons.

We all need to do our share in really striving to change people’s lives – especially those in the margins. This must be the biggest lesson from this election.

The Liberal Party, founded in 1946, in the aftermath of war, must regroup and shed its elitist ways – as what it has become known for – in the latter years. It’s time they listen again to the disenfranchised and the marginalized, to hear the peoples’ voices, their hopes and dreams.  The Left, too, must figure out its place in today’s world beyond rallies and demonstrations and amidst an era of lies and disinformation.

Friday’s rally, to me, sends a message that we all must buckle down to work. There’s a lot to do to move our country forward–from improving people’s access to education and social services, and yes, to uniting a deeply divided nation.

Let the Filipino people be the real victors in this unfolding new chapter in our country’s history.

UP’s blaze of glory

Speaking of victory, Friday the 13th of 2022, the only one for the year, will now be forever synonymous to the victory of the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, the men’s basketball team that played their best at the University Athletic Association of the Philippines. My biggest salute and congratulations to the UP team.

“Twelve thousand, nine hundred and eighty-three days.

In agony, University of the Philippines endured that long and winding stretch. It looked bleak, like there was no end in sight, spanning generations and bridging millennia,” wrote The STAR’s sportswriter John Bryan Ulanday on UP’s epic win.

UP never lost hope, he said in his story, and more importantly, belief, that it could finally snap a long 36-year drought.

“On Friday night, history finally beckoned on the Fighting Maroons, as not even the jinx of a Friday the 13th could spoil that long-coveted bid...”

Sports patrons

The UP Fighting Maroons would not have made it this far without the generosity of its sports patrons led by tycoon Robina Gokongwei, the eldest daughter of the late retail magnate John Gokongwei.

The journey

The journey to the championships was no easy feat.

For decades, UP students, alumni, and supporters across generations longed for this moment when history would repeat itself – 36 years ago UP won the championship against the UE Red Warriors.

What was true then is still so true now:

“A generation of fans bereft of UAAP glory,” was how the great Lito Tacujan, our former sports editor, described the 1986 crowd in ULTRA.

On Saturday, as the whole UP community celebrated its win, I stood with the crowd as the UP Fighting Maroons lit the bonfire.

It’s really about having the most real and intense experience in these very surreal times. It is believing in something when you’re running out of things to believe in these days.

There was a waxing gibbous moon above when I looked up, but for a moment, it hid in the clouds to give way to UP’s blaze of glory and the UP spirit reverberated beyond the campus. It felt like we could live forever. It was such an honor to stand in the crowd. This is what it means to be alive; this is what it means to be UP.

Our hearts are burning with Maroon pride and the flames won’t ever go away.



Gonzales’ email address is [email protected].

Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at eyesgonzales.com


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