WHILE ON THE SEARCH for something uplifting, I heard of a Trappist monk who had started a different kind of a monastery somewhere in the Ilocos.

This was right after the yellow regime took over the Philippine government, and Marcos at this time was already a resident of Makiki Heights in Honolulu.

The trappist monk, formerly a diocesan priest in Nueva Segovia, led the group of marchers that made public the abuses of warlords in his place, including the burning of the Ora barrios in Bantay.

That was, of course, unthinkable in those times: only the powerful people held the key to truth, and those without power did not.

So the regime's Dobberman were after the head of the priest and the priest had no alternative left except to run away, run for his dear life. A warrior alive fighting for social justice was--is always is--better than someone going through a rigor mortis.

And he hid at the Trappist monastery in Guimaras, becoming a monk there himself, and raised those sweet, sweet luscious mango delights that would flood Manila at a higher price.

A Dobberman's bullet, especially like those PMA-educated guys but trained like dogs during the ruthless days of the regime, did not and never knew God so that even if one were a priest, one could easily fall flat on the ground, your blood to mix with dust and earth and 'bingkol.'

By the time that the yellow people came about strutting like victors, the priest came out, and at one point in my life, I went to look for him, and look for the monastery he had built in the middle of a dessert somewhere in the Ilocos South.

I went there, and lingered for a while, and spent the night, and I heard the oink-oink of pigs, and the moo of cows, and the still music of the sea waves.

The setting was romantic and I thought I could write there the greatest novel ever written.

But if one were a monk, you have to surrender to your God totally, and surrendering means being awake every two hours 24/7, and had to pray the cycle of the holy hours from the lauds to the compline, and then back again.

That meant I could not write, not at all.

I ran away from the monastery as soon as I could.

Goodbye monastic life, welcome writing life.

Or what passes for one.

19 Jan 2014

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