Defensor: “This is when we’ve done somethng good”
Majority floor leader Art Defensor was already in the College of Law when I entered the University College at UP Diliman in 1961. I remember him well because he boarded at Rm 124 of Mayon (now Narra) Residence Hall, a room opposite Rm 125 where I boarded for ten pesos a month (which was a big amount then because the daily wage was P4). He was a good student, studious and possessed of good character and conduct that everybody would say he would be a very good lawyer and public servant later. The same thing was also said of the Collegian editor then, Reynato Puno, also of the College of Law, and other student leaders like Edcel Lagman, Leonardo Quisumbing (who was a summa from UST and went to UP Law), Salvador Carlota (who became Collegian editor and later Law Dean), and many bright young men, like Henry Voltaire Garcia, a really palaban editor at a time when the Vietnam War was an issue.It was logical to hope that they would help lead this country to prosperity and justice and peace decades later. Randy David, who was next room neighbor, and I and many other freshmen would avidly read the Collegian for their columns and articles.
At the time we entered as freshmen we caught the tail end of the CAFA (congressional Committee on Anti-Filipino Activities) hearings, which was a witch hunt of supposed communists at the UP.Joma and SCAUP had led protests that we. as Freshmen, fresh from the provinces (in my classes, more than 90% came from the provinces) did not pay much attention, focused as we were on our classroom studies.
It was only later in the late 60s when I rediscovered Joma when I passed by the old Doroteo Jose street original bookshop of Popular Book Store, saw and bought a book called “Struggle for National Democracy”, which led me to study for an MPA (Master of Public Administration) at UP Padre Faura. I did not last more than 4 semesters of night classes after my work as electrical engineer at San Miguel Corp because I thought that the M in MPA was not good enough to make this country prosper — it had to advance to the next character in the Roman alphabet to solve our problems then..
Well, now, almost 50 years later, we are in even bad situation and dire straits. And there are still Lagman and Defensor and people of similar track records who are great defenders of the status quo. It is a good thing that we have Puno and a few others, including the next character in the alphabet.