Tatay’s faith

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    FEW people can recall the spiritual journey that came with the political struggles of the late former Sen. Nene Pimentel and his family. A different perspective would point to their faith which unraveled in stunning ways.

    His widow, Mrs. Bing Pimentel, gave a moving account on the last night of ‘Tatay’ Nene’s wake last Friday night. Repeated incarcerations of Pimentel by the dictator Marco left his family nearly indigent. There was no money left for the enrollment of their six children at Maryknoll College (now Miriam College) and at Ateneo de Manila University.

    Two weeks before school registration, the Jesuits offered free tuition for her two male children along with daily allowances. They said they believed in what Pimentel was fighting for that called for their support. A group of businessmen who had kids enrolled at Maryknoll got together to put up the money for the enrollment of their four girls. It was the activist nun, Sister Christine Tan, who handed the cash donations to Mrs. Pimentel from “friends” who would rather remain anonymous for fear of political reprisal from the regime.

    At the height of the dagdag-bawas scandal that threatened candidate Koko Pimentel’s chances of landing in the winning circle, transporting the contested ballots from Marawi City to the Comelec headquarters in Manila would cost P200,000. The family’s bank account was practically zero as Mrs. Pimentel wondered despairingly where in the world would they get that money. Pimentel simply remarked, “Just pray and ask the Lord.”

    Well, even before, the Lord has “not left them or forsaken them.” Someone whom Nene did not know came up to him and left a calling card saying he would like to help. Koko met up with the guy who handed him an envelope containing P200,000 in cash.

    During the last night of the wake, little was heard of God’s evident provisions and mercies for Nene during the very trying times in his life. It was Mrs. Pimentel who quoted repeatedly the Biblical verse, “Those who humble themselves will be exalted while those who exalt themselves before me will be humbled.”

    In his eulogy, former Sen. Orly Mercado called it Tatay Nene’s “unpretentious humility” when the latter chose to step aside for Salvador Laurel to become the running mate of then presidential candidate Cory Aquino before the snap elections in 1986.

    Indeed, an almost beguiling sense of humility would show Nene’s selfless heart every time he advised his children and grandchildren “to be the best they can be to serve the people.”

    It echoes God’s command straight from the Bible “to love others as yourself.” It is also Jesus Christ’s’ second great commandment that flows from the first, “Love God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength.”

    Indeed, Tatay Nene became the guardian and protector of so many, especially those who were going through oppression and injustice, caring about them so deeply that had “surpassed our human understanding.” He could have turned his back during the “worst of times” in our country’s history, but he did not, unlike those who escaped the Marcos military and flew to the US to become known as “steak commandos.”

    During the Senate necrological rites for his father, Sen. Koko Pimentel seemed overcome by the amazing truth of his father’s unbridled selflessness and could not control his emotion, saying: “I am so proud to say many consider themselves adopted children of our Tatay.”

    During that day, a long line of current and former senators had alluded to Tatay Nene as their father, forgetting that his fold was bigger that they thought and, included the marginalized, the abused, the hungry, the neglected and the oppressed. They, too, were his family.

    ***
    Unlike those before him, Brig. General Romeo Brawner, Jr., PMA Commandant of Cadets, seems truly determined to stamp out hazing at the beleaguered premier military school. He has announced he will undertake a deeper psychological assessment of current and incoming cadets which should also include all officers involved in the cadets’ training and academics. He will most likely find out that those with high IQ have lower EQ (emotional quotient) which makes them incapable of controlling their aggression and violent tendencies.

    Many children abused by their parents physically, sexually or verbally have turned their seething anger against their neighbors and schoolmates. The more intelligent ones devise more harmful schemes, along with uncanny abilities to evade being caught and penalized.

    Their emotional trauma and sense of superiority turn them into school or office bullies against their co-workers, hapless subordinates and classmates. The cadets will not be inclined to make complete disclosures of their humiliating and embarrassing psycho-social problems.

    Brawner may have to expand his tests to include interactions with parents to also ensure renewed and regular family bonding which should be welcomed as a game-changer of sorts.

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