Man on the edge

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Thursday, December 12, 2013


LAST Friday was a heartbreaker, to say the most.

I woke up to the news President Nelson Mandela has died.

When he was freed from 27 years of imprisonment in 1990, I was too young, too caught up in the drama of my adolescent years to notice how this man changed the course of his country and as a result changed the course of the world.

However, I have since then read his autobiography, "A Long Walk to Freedom" twice. And both times I cried. Not the demure cry but the kind that makes you ugly.

As a journalist, I believe we all have this dream to witness greatness.

Whether this is an event or person. A watershed moment which will define, not only your career, but your being.

I may not be as lucky as those who came face to face with the peace icon. But light, and he is light, cannot be contained and therefore, his life has impacted mine.

We are all prisoners of our own making.

We are prisoners of our jobs. We are prisoners of our ambitions. We are prisoners of our fears. We are prisoners of guilt. We are prisoners of greed. We are prisoners of ignorance. We are prisoners of pride. We are prisoners of arrogance. We are prisoners of anger.

Indeed, we are prisoners. More than we care to admit. And these lead us to despair.

But if there is anything Madiba has taught me, it is that we can break free.

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others," he said.

It is always easier said than done, I thought while I was reading. And then he goes on to inspire.

"I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself to despair. That way lays defeat and death."

If a man caged behind bars for 27 years, with just barely a window as his connection to the world outside, could still tilt his head towards the sun, could we not try?

But if there is one quote in Mandela’s book which I hold dear, it is this: “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”

In that moment, Mandela was talking directly to me.

"I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have take a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

You were not just the father of your nation. You were a father to the world.

-o0o-

Another heartbreaker last Friday was learning the Commander, another man on the edge, won’t be “home” today. Seemed Friday the 13th came early for me.

But as I mend my broken heart and lick my wounds, a sound “Congratulations” just the same for being designated head of Communications for helpPH.

There ain’t a better man for the job!

We said we’d be optimistic, positive. So I guess let’s just say Christmas will come late for us.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 13, 2013.

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