Bayani “Ka Bay” Abadilla
There was something in the air, the lethargic calm seemed unreal yet ominous. The whole day of May 14, ’08 was uneventful – & he was perplexed why it was so. Until a text blipped the inevitable: Ka Bay had passed on to the light… It didn’t however come as a shock; he even perversely felt relieved that this son of a famous poet, Ka Bay himself a poet, would no longer suffer, a consolation that was knife twisting in the heart of his bereaved.
Once, Ka Bay asked me for some readings on Habermas, the while gifting me with a book on monopoly capitalism. He was keen on extending his intellectual range toward Western discourses, without losing his grip on local hermeneutics. He intimated he would be continuing his research on the Filipino identity, through a mix of history, anthropology & literature so as to penetrate the psyche of the Filipino working class.
But fate would be unkind. His friend of the same ideological zeal, Nic Atienza, would be struck down a year earlier – who would have thought he would follow suit?
I still could hear his giggly banter when once we shared a round of beer at a shack just behind the PUP wall along the Pasig river. His laugher would still echo in my ears.
He confessed, his face enveloped in an air of cool insouciance, that once he tried to touch a former companion for assistance to some progressive project & the subject of his anecdote would instead blurt out like any retiree amused at a juvenile prank: “You’re still at it?” (“Andiyan ka pa rin?”)
The guy has gained, among today’s campus cadres, a reputation of acceptable radicalism, even accidental heroism, during the Marcos kleptocracy.
Ka Bay simply grinned the incident away.
Yes, they did honor him with the publication of his poems. He preferred the cover to be illustrated with a clenched fist I thought was stereotypical – but the essence of his resistance was there. & summed up his life.
Today, I have some appointment to meet – the young people I’ll be sharing memories & tea with don’t know him. But he wrote for them in his vernacular texts: he had such optimistic faith in the possibility of the future.
Actually, the word is out on Luis V. Teodoro’s probable setting up by the usual suspects masquerading as political analysts.
The allegation that he used to write for Ang Bayan, an underground publication, among other militant sins, is fatal signal reminiscent enough of the fate of Karen Empeño & even Jonas Burgos: after all, these are dangerous times & to be imputed as a card-carrying commie is to “be invited,” in the words of Vladimir Nabokov, “to a beheading.”
But the poor academic, a high-profile press & campus pundit since the ’60s, only requested his fellow bloggers to observe, like any Journ 101 student, responsible discoursing with defensible proofs of their hot advocacies…
Instead, he is called names when he merely pleads for a verifiable (call it even objective, although Chandra Mohanty would find that philosophically untenable) dialogue in the context of an information system that has opened wide its gates. But the hysteria has, more often than not, clogged the digital lane.
Time was when a red-baiting Manuel Luis Quezon III of the defunct Daily Globe alleged that the Teodoros (Ninotchka Rosca was a complementary target) scampered to Pasig River, kilometers away from the Quezon City abode, to dump what, for the so-called Explainer, was incriminating stuff during the early days of Martial Rule – a morbid fascination with anti-left gossip that could have spelled trouble for any civilian anyway.
Now a certain Dean Jorge Bocobo is on a warpath with his colorful diatribe that barely hides his dare for mayhem (a Freudian reader is wont to call it the atavistic “slaying of the Father” motif), not an exchange of ideas that should put one over the debate between Sartre & Camus on the Algerian question decades ago.
But this isn’t the order of things for today’s Americo-centric intelligentsia. When lines were opened up for any Kulas & Tomas to make their spiel, logic & decorum flew out the computer window.
Since then, many “typists” have smugly been quick to the draw, as it were, but the pedestrian prose & constipated bluster have morphed into fashionable ego-tripping. &, worse, tabloid postulating.
Of course, all bloggers, without exception, are actors of modernist IT subliminally longing for celebrityhood (the electronic slumbooks revive the society page so maligned in another time, but now marketed as the symbol of egalitarianism of the airwaves, democratization that works for both the elite & the underclass.)
But some do it badly; others reveal more than their state of cerebral disarray. After all, every text is a slippage, like air bubbling from a watery grave.
Quirk of id showing?
A case of bad childhood?
Skewed family history?
Fair reporting is no longer the issue; toppling this “figure of dissent” is: Luis V. Teodoro must have been a nightmare that haunted somebody’s late adolescence.
Thus, all denials are veritable affirmation.