Friday, November 28, 2014

Start of Martial Law (September 1972)

From a personal account of the late Raul M. Gonzalez:

"Before the declaration of Martial was made public in the early evening of 23 September 1972, there were rumors of arrests of prominent anti-Marcos elements, student and labor leaders, political oppositionists, journalists and newspapermen, owners of media outlets, and persons known to be anti-administration.  Then Pres. Ferdinand Marcos came on the air in what was obviously a taped broadcast.  The decree declaring martial law for the whole country was ante-dated 21 September 1972.
"In one single stroke, Marcos cancelled the Constitution, abolished both houses of Congress, and placed the Armed Forces and the police under his direct command like his own toy to play around with.  He usurped the powers of duly constituted authorities and installed himself as the only authority in the land. 
"I felt disgusted with this turn of events.  I resigned all my positions in government and even my teaching position in the Philippine College of Commerce, a public educational institution.  From then on, I helped human rights victims by providing legal counsel and services for free. 

"I still continued with my legal office, which sustained me throughout my freelance days.  Among my clients were the Yangs of Manila who were the owners of downtown theaters Roxan, Odeon, Maxim and Miramar, among others.  The Yangs figured in the Carmelo-Bauermann real estate case.  The Bauermanns owned the lot in C.M. Recto Avenue where Maxim and Miramar stood, under a lease contract with the Yangs with an option-to-buy clause.  The Bauermanns sold the lot to another party instead.  The Yangs went to court in which I was their counsel, and we won the case up to the Supreme Court. 
"I was aware that Marcos was twisting the precepts of the law in order to show the country and the whole world that martial law was legitimate.  While he closed down the legislature, he maintained the Judiciary to make it appear that there was some form of due process still in effect.  There was no place to go but the Supreme Court, to lodge complaints and hope to be heard.    

"I petitioned the High Court to declare the Marcos decree imposing martial law as unconstitutional and was one of the first private citizens to do so.  I was in my law office together with a friend, Napoleon Dilag, who in the post-Marcos years became a judge in Cavite.  I composed a petition questioning martial law which was later given the file title: 'Dilag vs the Executive Secretary.'  I filed other petitions with the Supreme Court, one after the other, in my capacity as chapter president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

"I waited for results with confidence in the law of averages that soon one of my petitions would inevitably surface and be tabled by the High Court.  I wanted to put on record the fact that several petitions were filed in opposition to martial and questioning its legality, yet most of those petitions were unceremoniously rejected by the High Court.  I took comfort in the hope that the Justices would realize that history would also judge them." 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Work with Chief Executives and Legislators (1962-1972)

From a personal account of the late Raul M. Gonzalez:
"Antonio 'Yeba' Villegas, the vice mayor who took over after Mayor Lacson’s death, asked me to stay on and continue with my work as prosecutor of graft cases, the unofficial Manila city Ombudsman.  Young, tall for a Filipino and quite talented, he copied the gait and macho ways of the late mayor.  A brilliant lawyer, Villegas indiscriminately stepped on a lot of toes in his desire to eradicate graft and corruption in the city government, much like Lacson.           

"While still with Mayor Villegas, I was temporarily 'lent' to Sen. Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon from Iloilo, as a legal adviser.  Roding and I shared a political heritage.  While my father served as the last mayor of the town of Jaro before it was made a district of Iloilo City, Roding’s father served as the first mayor of the expanded City.  Ganzon was a man driven by his ambitions.  Although his family was not rich, he persisted in his studies and worked his way through law school, as a laborer and a jeepney driver.  Graduating with honors, he topped the bar exams in 1953.  This made him a kind of folk hero and catapulted him to various political positions in the city and finally as a senator of the Republic. 
"Not long after that, I was again lent to Sen. Genaro Magsaysay of Zambales for the same position and likewise taken in as counsel of the Liberal Party while I was also doing part-time work in the office of Senate Minority Floor Leader Gerardo Roxas of Capiz.  In between these jobs, I was named executive secretary of the Board of Censors for Motion Pictures, another part-time job under the Office of President Diosdado Macapagal.  When President Marcos succeeded Macapagal in 1965,  I was appointed as an Executive Member of the Board of Censors with voting privileges.
"After Villegas, Atty. Ramon 'Bombay' Bagatsing took over the mayorship of Manila with wounds still fresh as a result of the bombing of the Liberal Party’s miting de avance at the Plaza Miranda in Quiapo in 1971.   Bagatsing was from Sagay, Negros Occidental, an Ilonggo like Lacson and me.  The friendship we established was instant, as we were both lawyers and he appreciated what I did, for he also pursued an anti-corruption campaign during his second term as a Congressman of Manila in 1961-1965." 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Exposure to 'Arsenic' Lacson of Manila

From a personal account of the late Raul M. Gonzalez:

"While I was working for Iloilo Governor Zulueta, there came an offer I could not refuse.  Manila’s aggressive mayor, Arsenio ‘Arsenic’ Lacson (1912-1962), wanted me to join him, and I bid goodbye to the Iloilo governor.  Lacson was one of a kind.  A fiery political figure and a straight shooter, his grit and courage was legend.  He was a no-nonsense administrator, and called a spade a spade.  His religiously chronicled tantrums were not pretense, and he was a man of the masses.  He spoke from the heart, and had the courage to stand up for his beliefs, principles and advocacies.  Some of his firm views soon rubbed off on me, and we had a productive relationship. 

"Lacson’s favorite picture was the one that showed him walking that macho Lacsonesque walk, in dark pants and printed sports shirt with sleeves rolled up showing muscled arms and with the trademark sunglasses to accentuate his ensemble.  This picture decorated my work table, as it did the tables of Lacson’s favorite lieutenants at City Hall.

"In his desire to cleanse his administration of grafters, I was hired by Mayor Lacson to be the watchdog and prosecutor of erring Manila City Hall employees.  Lacson was a born reformer, and he worked with transparency to demonstrate to his staff what a public servant should be as a guardian of the people’s rights and resources.  Guided by Lacson’s directives, I ploughed through scores of graft cases and prosecuted a good number of them. 

"Lacson got as much exposure in the media as national officials, and he toyed with the idea of a presidential excursion to see how far he could go.  One day in 1960, Lacson and his supporters were stomping through the towns in the province of Bulacan and Nueva Ecija when they were interrupted by a drunken Philippine Constabulary (PC) officer in San Miguel, Bulacan.  The officer pestered the crowd that attended the caucus, and it reached a point when it was useless to continue as the soldier was getting all the attention.  Lacson, fed up with the antics of the drunken soldier, rose, confronted the intoxicated fellow, and asked him to leave.  They stood there, toe to toe, Lacson with hands akimbo, the PC with his .45 caliber pistol.   The soldier slowly lost his composure, probably remembered who Lacson was, and shuffled his way out of the crowd.

"The Arsenic was my enthusiastic teacher.  He found an eager understudy and I gladly absorbed all his inputs.  This was an education with free tuition and an excellent professor.  We prepared for the presidential elections, as Lacson immersed himself in the fight.  But he failed to get the necessary numbers among convention delegates who would choose the party nominee, and the front-runner, Diosdado Macapagal, asked him instead to manage the campaign against incumbent president Carlos Garcia.  Macapagal won, and there were talks of a possible tandem in the next presidential elections.

"I continued to work closely with Mayor Lacson in prosecuting erring officials.  I was up to my neck in investigating anomalies and providing legal assistance to the mayor.  Among those I successfully prosecuted were three police majors who were found guilty of corrupt practices.  

"The Arsenic who left behind a deep impression on me died on 15 April 1962.  His death left a void in my world.  I was emotionally devastated because his death was so sudden, so permanent. The mayor who died of a stroke never had the chance to forewarn us of his sudden departure from this world.   We had many plans on the drawing board, so many projects to launch, so much unfinished business to settle.  Many of those projects and plans had to be shelved, a pity because they were so beneficial to the poor of the city."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Initial Law Practice and Governor Jose Zulueta

From a personal account of the late Raul M. Gonzalez:

As a budding member of the Bar, I continued to refine my knowledge especially about the procedures and rules of court.  My time spent in the academe as a lecturer of law subjects gave me the opportunity to hone my knowledge of the craft, the many intricacies of Philippine jurisprudence, and the application and interpretation of various edicts.  As much as I loved teaching, there came a time when I had much less luxury to attend to its rudimentary demands.  The call for me to give priority to the practice of law had become clear in my mind. 

I first signed up with the law firm Syquia and Francisco, and after a few years, I had the confidence to go on my own.  My circle of friends in Manila comprised Ilonggos who encouraged me to go solo, and I tapped their enthusiastic support now and then.  My uncle, Feliciano Gonzalez, was chairman of the Board of Censors, a precursor of today’s Movie and Television Ratings and Classification Board (MTRCB), and he invited me to join him as his secretary.          

I also worked with Dr. Manuel Buenafe of the Bureau of Census who recruited me for an advisory position.  It was merely an honorary post but it looked good on my resume, a welcome break for a neophyte.  It was a door that opened other doors of opportunity, and before my Census job was finished, I received another offer, taking me to the next level.

Gov. Jose C. Zulueta (1889-1972) of Iloilo was already in his twilight years as a political leader.  An astute politician respected by his opponents, he was a pillar of strength and a guiding light for the Liberal Party.  During the Pacific War, he was a member of the Executive Committee under the supervision of the Japanese, and he was accused of collaboration with the enemy.  After being cleared of the stigma, he was elected again as Congressman of the 1st district of Iloilo, and was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1945.  He had served as a member of the national legislature since 1928.

At the invitation of President Manuel Roxas, Zulueta assumed in 1946 his former post as Secretary of the Department of the Interior, and promptly clashed with rebel groups known as the HUKBALAHAP.  Afterwards, he was elected to the Senate in 1951, and became Senate President in 1953.  After the end of his Senate term in 1957, he ran and won as governor of the province of Iloilo in 1959.

His name resounded in the halls of power since his youthful days not only in Iloilo but on a national level.  Zulueta was a political force to reckon with, and as governor he recruited me as his protégé.  It was a learning opportunity and a productive relationship.  Zulueta used to give me valuable tips and advice that helped me steer out of troublesome waters in the world of political intrigues.  Best of all, he drilled me in the art of statesmanship.  Our collaboration was short but well-spent, memorable and fulfilling. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Teaching and Continuing Education (1955 - 1970)

From a personal account of the late Raul M. Gonzalez:

After passing the Bar in 1955, I went back to Manila, to my alma mater, the UST, and taught a number of law subjects.  I also taught at the Far Eastern University (FEU), the then Philippine College of Commerce (now the Polytechnic University of the Philippines), the Assumption College, the College of the Holy Spirit, and the Philippine Normal College Graduate School.

I was in school not only to teach but also to take post-graduate courses, and I completed seminars at the Institute of Public Administration of the University of the Philippines.  Those public administration seminars were sponsored by the city government of Manila from 1960 to 1961.  Still at UP, I completed the required seminars on Constitutional and Labor Laws at the Division of Continuing Legal Education.  I also completed a course on Credit and Collection Management through seminars conducted by the De La Salle Graduate School of Business.  Taking the other side of the podium, I also lectured at the UP Law Center, Division of Continuing Legal Education. 

One might think that, after years of study,  one would get tired of the sounds and rigors of school.  But my love affair with the academe started when I realized that you could reach your goals in life through study and more study.  I was attracted to the academe because of its youthful dynamism and its regimented atmosphere.  Studying gave me much pleasure, discovering new ideas and concepts, and doing mental calisthenics alone or with a group.  One had to learn to be always on your toes lest your teachers or students catch you flatfooted.  In school, you stay on a progressive plane of self-development, and the more you learn the more you desire to learn deeper thoughts and profound ideas.  My thirst for knowledge simmered and did not want to cool down.

In the early ‘70s, I left teaching as my world expanded.   My commitments and time no longer allowed me the pleasure of correcting test papers and to look deep into the young minds of my students.  I find students today far different from those I taught.  I see many students today who want to be spoon-fed, and they tend to memorize lessons instead of internalizing them.  But of course students were fewer in the past.  There is at present a tendency for mass education, like the pace of an assembly line.  As a result, students with lesser mental talents are outpaced easily by their better classmates, and teachers often close their eyes to or ignore those weaker ones.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Student Life (1945-1955)

From a personal account of the late Raul M. Gonzalez:
When peace time came, I spent my days wandering in the fields of my youth, finding pleasure in the sights and sounds of the countryside.  In fair weather, I would traipse along the river banks and sometimes dive into the waters in my clothes which caused me to lose several pairs of shoes.  Whenever I got hungry, I would go to the carinderia and charge it to my mother which always surprised her.  
In 1945, I took a refresher course and graduated from sixth grade and went on to high school.  I studied on my own without the help of tutors.  I was transferred to Panay College in the district of La Paz where Uncle Alfredo Gonzalez was the Academic Director.  He was a respected scholar and had written books of philosophical essays called the Bamboo Flower and Call of the Heights and a translation of Jose Rizal’s “Mi Ultimo Adios.” I finished my secondary studies there.  I took my pre-law studies at one of the oldest academic institutions in the country, Iloilo City's Colegio San Agustin, which later became a University.  I was a Rector’s scholar and edited the Varsitarian.
In my youth, I preferred intellectual pursuits rather than sports.  But I also liked some socializing.  I loved to dance the current dances.  I learned how to move around in ballrooms and taught some of my Jalandoni cousins the intricacies of the waltz and the swing.
My father, Delfin, was a strong and compelling influence on my political orientation.  He was active in the city’s political intramurals since the 1950’s.  This was at the back of my mind when I decided to become a lawyer.  There was no urging from my parents and it was solely my choice.  I went to Manila and enrolled at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) where I finished my law studies in 1955.  I took the Bar the same year and attained a grade of 99% in Remedial Law, and 95% in International Law.
Completing four years training as an Honor Star Medalist, I was commissioned as 2nd  Lieutenant in the reserve forces of the Philippine Military in April 1953 and was given the serial number 0-86095 INF.  After taking the Bar exams, I topped the Judge Advocate General’s examination in the same year, but was disqualified because I was not yet a full-fledged lawyer.  I could have become a Judge Advocate if I persisted.  I was drawn to the military because it was the “in” thing in campus, and also because of the machismo, the pomp and pageantry attendant to its image.  The military had a strong appeal to young men who looked forward to the discipline and adventure it promised.

Friday, September 26, 2014

War's End

From a personal account of the late Raul M. Gonzalez:

“The day came when American soldiers landed in Iloilo.  They were welcomed everywhere while the Japanese soldiers fled to the mountains of Antique and Capiz and the shores of Aklan.  Pocket groups of stragglers dug in and made a valiant but futile effort to thwart the advance of the Americans.  The Japanese Imperial Army faded into the night and lingered only as a memory of a senseless war.   

“Our family went back to our residential house in Barangay Quintin Salas in Jaro and found it in ruins.  The guerillas used the house as its headquarters and Japanese soldiers targeted it, as they abandoned Iloilo City.  After the Japanese fled, the guerillas stripped the house of whatever useable furnishings they can lay their hands on and left the house in shambles.  In the days that followed, Sergio and I went back to the farm to see what remains of our property.  Everything looked normal and even the pile of harvested palay called tumpi looked untouched, slightly leaning to one side probably because of the wind.

“We went about our business and went home for lunch.  Unknown to us, there was a Japanese soldier hiding inside the tumpi waiting for a chance to get away.  Realizing that there was no way he can slip away undetected, he decided to end his misery, took out a match and burned the pile of palay with him in it.  The people soon realized what happened and they stood guard around the tumpi

“It was a pitiful sight, knowing that a man was burning inside.  The smell of burning flesh lingered in the air for hours.  The straggler likely thought that it was the best that he could do.  If he got caught, who can say how the bitter guerillas will treat an enemy?  In the town of Barotac Nuevo, the angry populace butchered all the Japanese soldiers they could find except for the cook who was able to flee.  To the Japanese, there is honor and nobility in taking one’s life in the face of defeat.

“Life was coming back to the Iloilo City.  Residents returned from their mountain lairs.  It was time to pick up the pieces of their lives.  American servicemen mingled with the natives freely and a brisk barter trade flourished for lack of credible currency.  Filipinos snatched up American goods including cigarettes, K-rations, coffee, corned beef, balls of cheese and, yes, chocolates.  These were the memories of liberation days. 

“Warmed by the euphoria of peace, children were like unbridled ponies, running all over the place.  This was how it was when our youngest brother Mario, at 7 years of age, was hit by a military jeep driven by an American soldier.  We rushed him to a hospital where doctors announced that his arm must be opened up.  He died of an overdose of anesthesia.  His death was so unnecessary, so meaningless, at a time when war had finally ended.”

Friday, September 19, 2014

Brutality of War

This is a personal account of the late Raul M. Gonzalez on the brutality of members of the Japanese Imperial Army during their occupation of Panay island in 1942-1944.

“I remember an old sea captain who was captured during a lightning raid of Japanese Imperial Army forces on our village.  An evacuee, he was hopeful that the soldiers would spare him because of his age.  But they somehow got wind of his son who was an ROTC cadet at the Colegio de San Agustin in Iloilo City and who was one of the guerillas who broke the Japanese blockade in the Corregidor Strait as they brought rice supplies to Bataan aboard the SS Regulus.  The ship was later sunk by the Japanese but they blamed the aging seaman for the involvement of his son and turned to him for revenge.

“At 12 years of age, I witnessed with my own eyes the indescribable abuses and atrocities of the Imperial Army which lingered in my memory.  I saw how the invaders, young and vicious, would tie a prisoner to a post and beat him with whatever was at hand until he died.  The methods of torture used by them were so barbaric that it defied description.  Suspected guerillas were kidnapped never to be seen gain.  Women were raped and food supplies were sequestered with force.  It was the height of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.  I developed a hatred for violence and abhorred the thought of bloody confrontation.  But if the situation presented itself, I would fight back with all the survival instincts I had learned during those dangerous years.

“In the course of the war, heavy fighting broke out in Barangay Buntatala, the last barrio of Jaro across the river from the town of Leganes and a village away from the place where the family evacuated.  The guerillas controlled the bridge effectively stopping the Imperial Army from marching north towards the towns of Leganes and Zarraga.  Although possessing much superior firepower, the invaders were stymied by the guerillas, and fighting raged on for days. 

“The deafening roars of bazookas and the staccato sound of machine guns and rifle fire filled the air with terror, and forced the people to flee to safer grounds.  The enemy was everywhere while their reinforcements were already tramping the rice fields towards the battle site, killing every one they encountered with their bayonets and samurais.  The soldiers were on a murderous rampage, angered by the resistance of an inferior force.

“The whole family fled into the rice fields, merging with the terrain with only the tall stalks of rice as cover.  It was raining hard when suddenly I spotted a group of soldiers coming our way.  There was no time to hide, and communicating with hand signals, we burrowed into the mud and prayed to God to save us.  We held our breath for a long time as the soldiers, afraid to lose their footing in the paddies, passed our group who were just a few meters away buried in the mud like mudfish.  

"Breathless seconds passed before we lifted our heads from the mud and gulped for air.  By this time the soldiers were already hurrying away unaware of our presence due to the noise from the rain and the wind.  Our faces were full of mud but we were triumphant for evading the enemy yet another time.  We were thankful to God for saving us for the umpteenth time.  We crawled along the rice paddies and slipped away to safety.”

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Condolence Letter of Dr. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

September 8, 2014

Dear Doctora Pacita and family,

On behalf of our family and the Arroyo cabinet, Mike and I express our profound condolences and offer our fervent prayers on the passing of our esteemed Raul Gonzalez, my Secretary of Justice.

His decades of public service, especially in upholding the rule of law in our land, have left a legacy of justice, stability, and development in his constituencies, the national government, and the Republic.

We most admire and appreciate particularly his staunch defense and advocacy for what was just, rightful and lawful in the face of partisan and even subversive agitation as well as media attacks.

His mettle was on full display during destabilization attempts and in the 2004 congressional canvassing, when he stood his ground against efforts to delay and derail the election tally and provoke a constitutional crisis.

Raul was so devoted to the demands of state and politics that sometimes they stood in the way of his family life and affection.  I fondly recall times when Doctora Pacita would phone him while he was at a cabinet meeting and, to the amusement of the cabinet members who observed it, Raul would whisper into the cell phone to cut short the conversation so that he could return his undivided attention to the meeting.

If the phone calls from Doctora Pacita he would parry during cabinet meetings were amusing, a more alarming conflict between his devotion to duty and accommodating the concerns of his family about his health came to a head when his children visited me one day to ask me to fire him in order to save his life because they feared that if he continued his work, his serious kidney condition would kill him.  That was the time when a kidney transplant was prescribed for him.

Seeing how he loved his work, though, I felt that if I accepted his resignation, that would kill him, too.  So the compromise I thought of was to force him to go on an extended leave of absence for surgery and recuperation.  He went on leave as I urged him to do, but he returned to work much earlier than his family and I judged to be for the good of his health.

Though he went back to work earlier than for his own good and our peace of mind, we surely cherish the extra years that his forced leave of absence and his transplant allowed him to serve his country some more and then give his time to his family before last night, when Mama Mary called him to join her Son for her birthday.

In his own way, the man who argued and orchestrated our cases before Congress and court was most solicitous and caring toward kith and kin.  I saw firsthand how he helped his sons in public service achieve success in their careers.

I was literally witness to the special 45th wedding anniversary he and Doctora Pacita celebrated in Iloilo City, and I still have the beautiful blue gown they gave me to wear for that occasion.  No one knew then whether Raul would reach their golden anniversary.  We thank the Lord that Raul's extra years stretched until their 50th anniversary and beyond, and gave the opportunity for their whole family to travel together, including the grandchildren.

May the memories of those extra years of Raul's life after surgery soften this moment of sorrow.  This is our prayer as we join the Gonzalez family in sympathy.  May the memory and legacy of Raul the fond father of the family and the consummate public persona lift our spirits, inspire our lives, and advance our Republic as he had always sought in his time with us.

God bless Raul and the Gonzalez family.

With deepest condolences,

(signed) Gloria

Friday, September 12, 2014

Condolence Letter of President Aquino

Malacanan Palace

September 9, 2014

Dear Dr. (Pacita) Gonzalez,

In this period of deep personal sadness for you and your family, please accept my sincerest condolences.

Though your late husband and I may have had our differences, I will never forget, just as our nation will always recognize, the service he rendered during the dark days of Martial Law.  In seeking justice through our legal system, at a time our Constitution was set aside to accommodate the personal whims of a dictator, your husband was one of the many who had the courage to keep the spirit of resistance alive, and by so doing, continued to champion the democratic cause.  His participation, later on, in the restoration of democracy after the EDSA Revolution will always serve as a badge of honor and distinction for him and for your family.

May God grant his soul eternal repose, and may His light and grace comfort you and your loved ones in this time of affliction.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Raul M. Gonzalez (1930-2014)

With gratitude for the gift of 83 years of the life of Raul M. Gonzalez (RMG), his family announces his departure in obedience to the ultimate call of our Creator.  He was a responsible husband and father, an indulgent grandfather, a loyal friend, and a courageous public servant.  Please remember him in your prayers.

Raul Gonzalez has served the Filipino people as an active opponent of dictatorship during the darkest days of Martial Law.  He was the youngest lawyer of Sen. Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr. during his incarceration and trial under Military Commission No. 2.  He represented Ninoy’s mother, Aurora Aquino, in an urgent plea to the Supreme Court to invalidate the Military Commission’s death sentence and to transfer Ninoy’s case to a civilian court.

Gonzalez supported the Cory Aquino – Doy Laurel partnership during the 1986 special presidential and vice-presidential elections, and he admired the sacrifice of Salvador Laurel in agreeing to be Aquino's running-mate, for RMG believed that Laurel was more prepared for the presidency.  After the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos thru the February 1986 “People Power” event, Cory Aquino assumed the presidency and appointed RMG as Tanodbayan (Ombudsman), a responsibility he exercised until September 1988.

From 1995 to 2004, RMG served as Congressman of the Lone District of Iloilo City.  He was one of the prosecutors of the House of Representatives during the impeachment trial of Joseph Ejercito Estrada.  From 2004 to 2009, he headed the Department of Justice in the administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Raul M. Gonzalez was born in La Carlota, Negros Occidental, on 03 December 1930.  His father, Delfin Gonzalez, was the last mayor of Jaro, Iloilo, where RMG was raised.  He passed away at around 10:45 in the evening of September 7 owing to multiple organ failure.  He died peacefully, surrounded by his wife, Dr. Pacita Trinidad Gonzalez, and their 3 sons and 2 daughters, after they prayed the holy rosary, his favorite prayer, and recited prayers for the commendation of the dying. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Delfin Gonzalez in the Guerilla Movement

From the manuscript of Ken Ishikawa:

“After the Pacific War broke out and the Japanese Imperial Army succeeded in overrunning the last bastion of the US-Filipino forces on the island of Corregidor on 09 April 1941, the Japanese began their expansion to the south. On April 16, the Japanese landed on the island of Panay.  They began occupying the districts of La Paz, Molo, Jaro, and downtown Iloilo City, and started turning schools, civic buildings, and large houses into their garrisons…

“In order to raise the morale of the populace in Panay and to keep peace and order amidst enemy occupation, Tomas Confesor established a provisional provincial government. Because of his background in leading farms and haciendas, Delfin Gonzalez was named by Confesor as his Food Administrator for Jaro and Leganes, referred to by the resistance forces as Zone 9. 

“It was Delfin's duty to make sure that agricultural production continued in his territory despite enemy occupation and that the people living in the area and the guerillas operating in the sector would not want for food.  Delfin travelled across his area through rice paddies, carefully avoiding the dirt roads where squads of Japanese soldiers patrolled.  He would visit outlying farms where crops were being covertly grown.  When he was not travelling, Delfin tended his own farm with crops he used to supply the resistance.  Delfin chose to give the bulk of his harvests to the guerillas and the needy.  His son, RMG, remembers that the family subsisted mainly on lugaw or rice broth, seasoned only with either sugar or  salt, during the length of the Japanese occupation.

“Delfin did not lack for help in providing nourishment for his family; his sons, Sergio and Raul, learned how to forage for food.  They went to rice paddies, hunched, scanning the surface of the mud for mouths of tilapia or catfish.  Their tenants taught them the proper technique of catching catfish without getting stung by their barbs, a skill the boys happily applied in dozens of afternoons along the ditches and mudflats near the farms.  When villagers harvested mung bean in a field somewhere, Raul and Sergio looked for unharvested seeds along with other children and womenfolk.

“As if the routine his job demanded of him was not dangerous enough, Delfin would, now and then, get missives from his fellow guerillas inviting him to meetings.  Couriers from Confesor stashed orders and information meant for him in a hollow stalk of bamboo at a grove in a secret location near his house.  Once Delfin has memorized the instructions and the meeting places, he assigned Raul to hide these clandestine papers in the holes in the stilts of their house.  Whenever he set out for these gatherings, he would normally take someone to accompany him. One such companion was Sergio who walked with his father to Tacas to meet guerilla leaders there.

“Delfin knew that his role under Confesor's resistance government doubled the dangers for his family.  Aside from being responsible for his wife and brood of five children, he also had to worry for his sister-in-law Anita, her husband and her two children.  Because of this, Delfin was very careful not to rouse the suspicion of the Japanese.  Through his vigilance and caution, he was able to keep his guerilla and patriotic activities a secret.”

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Delfin Gonzalez, Last Mayor of Jaro

From the manuscript of Ken Ishikawa:

“During the Commonwealth period, Delfin Gonzalez, the father of RMG, became a leader of the local branch of the Nacionalista Party.  It was the largest, political party in the country.  Its membership included Sergio Osmeña, Manuel A. Roxas and Manuel L. Quezon, an illustrious group which had managed to negotiate with the U.S. Senate the terms of Philippine Independence…

“The year 1940 was a divisive one for the Iloilo Nacionalista branch, as the brothers Eugenio and Fernando Lopez engaged in a bitter feud with Governor Tomas Confesor.  Three years prior, in the election of 1937, the Lopezes supported Confesor's governorship bid.  During his term proper, however, Confesor refused to provide the brothers concessions like the lifting of the bridge toll, which was hurting the Lopez-owned Panay Autobus.

“It was in this political atmosphere that Delfin's bid for the vice-mayoralty of Jaro found itself.  Using their political clout, the Lopezes sought help from Manuel L. Quezon against Confesor.  Quezon schemed to remove Confesor's political support from local party mates.  To this end, he sent Manuel A. Roxas to meet with local Nacionalistas.  Roxas came to Jaro and stayed over at Don Maximiano Jalandoni's mansion.  From there, he sent for Pablo Bion and Delfin Gonzalez, who were running mates.  Roxas relayed instructions from Quezon, who was their party's national chairman, to drop Confesor and instead opt for Dr. Timoteo Consing for the governorship of Iloilo.

“Delfin was faced with a difficult choice.  If he did not do as Quezon ordered, he was given the warning that they would not be able to sit as mayor and vice-mayor.  Should they support Dr. Timoteo Consing, they would only be ensuring that Iloilo's economy would fall to the clutches of the Lopezes.  Despite the conditions they were threatened with, Gonzalez and Bion, chose to side with Confesor, and made good their earlier promise to support him.

“Riding on a populist platform, the two charged into the campaign for Mayor and Vice-Mayor of Jaro. They raised their hands and charged with the battlecry “Gugma kontra Kwalta” (Love vs. Money).  The common people of Jaro believed in the changes Bion and Gonzalez promised and gave them the mandate.

“A few months into their administration, Pablo Bion left his political seat, making Delfin Gonzalez mayor of Jaro.  Quezon made true his threat and expanded the territory of Iloilo City to cover Molo and Jaro in 1941.  Jaro lost its status as a town with Delfin Gonzalez as its last sitting mayor.  Delfin would tell RMG to shun the fate of the reed swayed by the wind, and thus
a signature virtue of RMG is loyalty, which perhaps he sometimes bears to a fault.

“Delfin was promised by the incumbents a position as a councilor in the expanded Iloilo city but that never materialized.  Although it was a major blow to Delfin's career as a politician, he did not allow it to bring his family down.  The Gonzalezes would need to stick together as they were going to face a bigger storm; one which brought a rain of bullets, the thundering of artillery bombardment, and the lightning flash of bayonets.”

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sergio, Milagros, and Mario

We continue with excerpts from Ken Ishikawa's manuscript about Raul M. Gonzalez (b. 1930):

“Raul’s older brother, Sergio is known as the joker of the family.  He was the warmth to Ester's coolness.  Unlike his elder sister, Sergio loved to talk and to entertain guests.  His amiableness and outgoing nature, he got from Estrella.  Despite, having contrasting qualities with some of his siblings, Sergio was not a belligerent big brother.  Like his mother, he loved supporting his siblings in their endeavors…

“After Raul came Milagros and then Mario.  Milagros was the youngest girl of the family and therefore the three older siblings were protective of her.  For all her life, she's been called Baby.  As a little girl, Baby would often be at the tail of his brother Raul, hoping to be included in his latest adventure.  However, Raul would leave her behind because he often investigated the paddies and the fields for tadpoles, catfish and tilapia.  Mario, on the other hand, was always holding the hem of their mother, as he was too young to venture on his own…

“During the early days of the resumption of classes [after the end of the Second World War], Sergio, Raul, Baby and Mario were crossing the road.  The siblings were rushing to the other side because of the rains, and Mario got left behind in the middle of the crossing.  He got hit by a US army jeep.  The soldier immediately drove him to the Mission Hospital where he was tended by American doctors.  According to their diagnosis, Mario suffered from a dislocated shoulder because of the bump.  However, the overzealous physicians, in their desire to let the boy suffer no pain, injected him with morphine.  Whatever dosage it was that they used for the 7-year old Mario would prove to be a deadly one: the boy woke up no longer.

“It was a tragedy that tore the hearts of all family members.  Were they awarded with survival from the war only to suffer this cruel joke in the end?  Estrella took Mario's death most painfully.  After the burial, she would hold the boy's picture and cry for hours.

“From then on, the Gonzalezes' faith in the science of medicine was shaken.  They avoided hospitals, developed a distrust for doctors, and reviled painkillers and anaesthetics.  Whenever one of the children got sick, Delfin and Estrella asked a relative, Dr. Piamonte, to make a housecall.  If they were the ones who fell ill, they took their pain in stride.  One of Estrella's fingers once got broken but she never asked for a doctor to come to mend it.  That finger would stay crooked for the rest of her life.  Years later, Delfin would die of thrombosis.  Although his was still a treatable condition, Delfin allowed it to go worse until it killed him.

“Like his parents, Raul became suspicious of doctors and medicine.  Many years later, whenever his own children had to be hospitalized, he admonished against the use of anaesthesia.  Mario's needless death taught him that even experts make mistakes.  It was a physician’s lack of precision and forethought that killed his youngest sibling.”

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Young Ester and Raul

Today’s entry is directly taken from Ken Ishikawa’s unpublished manuscript on the life of Raul M. Gonzalez.

“Family members referred to Ester as Inday because of her being a responsible eldest sister who looked after the four other children.  It was also obvious then that she was blossoming into a lovely girl.  Despite these graces, she did not overreach herself, but maintained a quiet and reserved exterior.  At first glance, people thought her to be 'suplada' – stand-offish and a little anti-social…Calm intelligence was a quality she shared with her father.  Her reserve and her intelligence combined to produce a mien that extended relatives would come to believe as a Gonzalez attribute…

“Like Ester, the boy Raul took after their father and his pensive aura.  However, Raul possessed an intelligence fiercer than his father's…It was this curious mind that would push the young Raul to constantly explore the world around him to the point that it got him into trouble with Delfin in more than one occasion.  Even when it was already time for the Angelus, six year old Raul would still be outside playing.

“One time, when Raul was seven years old, Ester garnered the honor of being the princess of their school festival and was therefore required to be in Iloilo city for a parade.  Estrella took Ester and Sergio and left little Raul behind in Jaro.  Raul, however, had other plans. With three centavos in his pocket, he rode a double-decked bus heading into the city.  His plan was to look for the family car and hope that his mother and siblings were there.

“Iloilo City in 1938 was already a large network of banks, warehouses, establishments, roads and side streets.  Raul wandered around that pulsing, concrete web until 11 in the evening, sometimes stooping and bowing his head, hoping to find coins that some passerby might have dropped.  Meanwhile in the house, Delfin and Estrella were frantic with worry.  His father was already coordinating with the police.  It was fortunate that Raul had found a taxi which brought him home.  Raul may not have found some shimmering coins but his father gave him two shiny beet red globes attached to his buttocks after the spanking was over.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Delfin and Estrella Gonzalez

The father of RMG, Delfin Gonzalez, did not finish school owing to the poverty of RMG’s grandparents.  Delfin’s mother, a Chinese mestiza from the Kimbiong clan, wove cloth to contribute to the family income.  Despite his incomplete education, Delfin was recruited by the American colonizers to teach in one of the public schools they were building.  After a few years of teaching, he decided to try his hand in helping manage haciendas outside Bacolod, Negros Occidental.  

At the haciendas, Delfin would recruit workers and toil close to them under the sun.  When he transferred to another hacienda, most of those workers would follow him.  Delfin would take breaks from his work to return to Jaro.  It was during one of those breaks that he met Estrella Jover Maravilla.

Before she met Delfin, Estrella was busy earning a living as a teacher and raising her five siblings, Jose, Juaning, Hector, Loleng and Anita.  They were orphaned in their youth with the death of their mother, while their father abandoned them to be with another woman.  The courtship of Delfin and Estrella was short, and he promised that he would also take care of her siblings.

Estrella was a pious woman who prayed the rosary and went to church regularly.  Estrella taught and required RMG and his siblings to pray the Angelus at noon.  After supper, the family would be on their knees to pray the rosary.  Throughout the years, praying the rosary would be a devotional practice of RMG.  During the summer, the house of Delfin and Estrella became the meeting point for lay leaders to settle the details for the Flores De Mayo which Estrella helped organize.

Estrella would share the household food with the workers of Delfin.  And when he came home at noon for lunch and then siesta, he would lay his head on her lap while she plucked away his white hairs.  He would thus fall into a restful sleep.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Raul M. Gonzalez (RMG)

Today, we begin a series on the life and thoughts of my father, Raul Maravilla Gonzalez (RMG).  This series is partly based on the unpublished research manuscript of Ken Ishikawa, a writer and an Asian Public Intellectual grantee.

Raul Gonzalez has served the Filipino people as an active opponent of dictatorship during the darkest days of Martial Law.  After the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos thru the February 1986 “People Power” event, Cory Aquino assumed the presidency and appointed RMG as Tanodbayan (Ombudsman), a responsibility he exercised until September 1988.

From 1995 to 2004, RMG served as Congressman of the Lone District of Iloilo City.  From 2004 to 2009, he headed the Department of Justice in the administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Raul M. Gonzalez was born in Hacienda Caiñaman in La Carlota, Negros Occidental, on 03 December 1930.  His father, Delfin Gonzalez, was the administrator of the plantation, which was Spanish-owned.  Delfin was from Jaro, Iloilo.  His wife, Estrella Maravilla, worked as a teacher at the Colegio de San Jose, Jaro.  Delfin and Estrella had 6 children: Ester (Inday), Sergio, Herman, RMG, Milagros (Baby) and Mario.  Herman died as an infant, Mario died in childhood, and Ester passed away in 2001.