Batuhan: The redeeming power of “Les Misérables”-A A +A
Friday, January 25, 2013
SEN. Juan Ponce Enrile is someone who at once fascinates and intrigues me. I have observed his career in the spotlight, from his days as the iron enforcer of Marcos’ martial rule, to his moment of redemption as one of the pillars of the People Power Revolution, and then his backslide to glory hunter as a vilifier of Cory Aquino, to being the elder statesman in the Senate who seems to have subordinated personal gain for the public good— culminating in his impartial, deft and exemplary handling of the Renato Corona impeachment trial.
Having grown up thoroughly abhorring what he initially stood for in the Marcos era, I rejoiced at his resurrection as the man who stood up for what is right, despite all the pressure to look the other way. By objectively orchestrating the high-profile trial of one of the highest officials of the land, he gave hope to a nation so jaded in its regard for public officials, and restored trust to the nobility of public office.
Which is why, the recent furor over Senate funding that has him at the center of the controversy leaves me with a heavy heart, for the man I thought had regained his humanity, may have lost it again and succumbed to the temptation of power and privilege.
I must have seen “Les Misérables” in at least three incarnations now, and I always marvel at how my focus in the story shifts, depending on my life circumstances at the time. As a fairly young man, I attended a showing in London’s West End, and all I seem to remember back then were the strains of revolution, and the call to action by the student rebels at the barricades. Perhaps then, despite an already international management background, my heart was still left behind in EDSA, and the unfinished struggle of the people in the country I left behind.
In my second viewing, as a fairly wiser man with some idea of his success in the world, all I can remember are the sub-plots of the love stories—of Eponine’s undying yet unrequited love for the student-rebel Marius, and the latter’s ethereal and everlasting love for Cosette.
Today, in its latest and popular incarnation as a movie of star-studded proportions, all my attention is turned to the angle of faith, hope and redemption. The story of the bishop, and his dispensation of God’s divine mercy to a down-and-out Jean Valjean suddenly jumped at me as being the single most pivotal point of the whole story, and something that all of us must take heed of in our lives, including the esteemed senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
We will all have our “Jean Valjean” moments, when God allows us by his grace, but through our own free will, to redeem ourselves from the burdens and mistakes of our past. Valjean recognized this moment when he was, despite his guilt, accorded the undeserved forgiveness of the bishop. He never looked back, and from that moment on, he became a shining light to everyone he met, and whose lives he touched.
JPE has had those moments too. In EDSA, and recently in the Corona trial. I regret that he failed the first one, but I would like to believe there is still time for him not to lose the second opportunity. But maybe, in order to steel his resolve, he ought to spare some time to see “Les Misérables”.
Is there still goodness left in the human heart? Is humanity yet within redemption? Is there any hope left in the world? Sometimes we wonder.
But if we occasionally need reminding that change and conversion, even for the eternally damned and condemned, is still possible by the grace of God, maybe watching a movie can help us see the light. Yes, “Les Misérables”, the movie. In it, a single act of kindness spawns an entire galaxy of charity, generosity and love, uplifting and giving hope to a time of such impenetrable darkness and despair. Go and watch it now, but be prepared to come out of it as changed men and women, renewed in faith, and imbued with the conviction to do good in the world.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 25, 2013.