Treasured values

Art Borjal - The Philippine Star

Have you noticed how delicadeza is slowly vanishing from today's society? This is apparent, especially in the corridors of power. Gone are the leaders who made delicadeza a part of their lives and a requisite in their agenda of governance.

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Fortunately, though, there remain some figures in the Philippine landscape who give premium to the virtue of delicadeza. And what makes them even more admirable is the way they conduct their lives. To them, simplicity, honesty and humility are hallmarks of greatness. Yes, they are so different from most of the people who now dominate the country's political life.


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In my book. Walking Through the Pathways of Life, which was formally launched yesterday at EDSA Shangri-La, with Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as principal guest, I wrote an essay on one noted personage in our society, whom I consider as the paragon of delicadeza, humility and honesty. He is Hilario Davide Jr., the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.


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I was a bit sleepy when someone, with streaks of silver hair and as humble and unassuming as he has always been, tapped me on the shoulder at the Mactan International Airport. I had not seen him for several years, and I thus did not recognize him immediately. He was still youngish-looking, although he had gained some pounds.

"Are you based here?" I asked, not yet recognizing who he was. Suddenly, I felt a rush of embarrassment as I realized that I was not talking to an ordinary stranger but to a highly-respected and most admired personage. The ordinary guy at the Cebu airport turned out to be Associate Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. of the Supreme Court.

He had no bodyguards, no aides to carry his luggage, no frills, no perks. He was so unlike many elective officials who are surrounded by a coterie of alalays and who board the PAL flights at the tarmac itself.

"You have no aide, Justice?" I asked. "None at all and I don't need one," he answered. I was to find out that as a student at the University of the Philippines, Justice Davide worked part-time, undertaking janitorial duties. Which is probably one reason why he is so humble, so unassuming, so likeable and so respectable.

During that hour at the ramshackle Mactan domestic airport, Justice Davide and I talked about the past, the present and the future. There are some items which I will not write about -- for ethical reasons and for delicadeza. But there were some things that Justice Davide took up which I can write about in some future columns -- as a means of helping move our nation forward.

When the PAL flight landed -- surprisingly ahead of time -- at the Manila Domestic Airport, and while the 143 passengers were waiting for their checked-in luggage, I noticed Justice Davide patiently waiting for his own luggage. And when he finally retrieved them from the carousel and put them in a cart, he walked towards the airport security aides who were collecting the luggage tags.

I gushed in quiet admiration as I watched Justice Davide pick up his three pieces of luggage -- a travelling bag, a folding bag containing the Barong Tagalog he used in his school's (Abellanosa High School) alumni homecoming, and an old milk carton probably containing some pasalubong. Yes, Justice Davide was doing everything by his lonesome -- no aides, no bodyguards, no alalays. Did he take a taxicab? I wondered as I myself walked out of the PAL terminal building.


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Walking Through the Pathways of Life also contains an essay on Betty Go-Belmonte, whose death anniversary is being marked today. The memory of Betty, who put up the Philippine STAR with Max V. Soliven, Tony Roces, and me in 1986, still lingers vividly in my mind, and this is what I wrote when she passed away:

She had talent. On cerebral issues, she could prevail over the best of the debaters. Her recent appointment as a member of the University of the Philippines Board of Regent was an acknowledgment of her intellectual mettle.

But I would like to remember Betty Go-Belmonte as a lady overflowing with heart. I would even think of her as all heart. For in everything she did, her heart was always there -- for the poorest of the poor, for a friend in need, for a stranger crying out for help, for a victim of injustice, for God's little children.

I think Betty was all heart because she was God's messenger in this world. She spoke God, she thought God, she acted as God's apostle all the time. Probably, it was God Who made decisions for her. If she succeeded in almost everything she did, it was becayse God was always behind her.

Betty has passed away, but she will not be gone. She will forever be there, as guiding light and inspiration. On Wednesday, her remains will be interred on this earth, but only as a prelude to her formal meeting with God in heaven.

A meeting with God is certainly an occasion for great rejoicing. And I am sure that the joy of that encounter between God and Betty will spill over to all of us whom she has, for the time being, left behind. There is no need to shed tears, for heavenly joy is what Betty's passing away from the earth is all about.


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Salvador U. Cucharo of 444 B.P. del Rosario Ext., Cebu City, was a contractual employee of UP Cebu when he became totally blind in 1994. His blindness came before the effectivity of the GSIS Act of 1997. Under the law, non-regular or contractual government employees are entitled to full benefits if they become disabled or incapacitated for work. However, the law has no retroactive effect. Thus, Cucharo has not enjoyed disability benefits.


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Cucharo, to whom I extended some financial help when he underwent abdominal surgery in 1998, wrote to appeal to the legislators to amend the GSIS Act of 1997, by giving it retroactive effect. "Let them make the GSIS Law more socialized and welfare-oriented," he said. By the way, Cucharo's blindness resulted from internal bleeding of both eyes. Bleeding began in 1988, while he was a contractual government employee. He was forced to resign in 1990, after which he became totally blind in 1994.


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PULSEBEAT: International Master Rogelio "Banjo" Barcenilla, who is currently campaigning in the United States, continues to make waves. Last January 14, he participated in the Tucson Open and won second place. And on January 21, he emerged champion in the Pacific Coast Open held at Wyndham Hotel, Los Angeles, California.... Here is an interesting item about the world-renowned Philippine eagle, as relayed to me by BSimpao777 of San Leandro, California: A New People's Army commander from Misamis Oriental caught an eagle in the wilds and brought it to the Philippine Eagle Foundation. The eagle was named Kabrian, which was also the NPA rebel's name. Kabrian was paired with another eagle named Jag, and the end result was Pangarap, which was the first eaglet to be hatched by artificial insemination. . . . Col. Mariano Talag (ret.) of Eisenhower, Greenhills, San Juan, wrote to back up the hardline stance of DILF Secretary Fred Lim and PNP chief Panfilo Lacson against criminal elements. The armed criminals cannot be handled with kid gloves, Talag said.


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