FOR Valentine’s Day, I am writing about love in the midst of the struggle.
Our guide then was a document titled “On the Relation of the Sexes,” which explained the proletarian concept of love and laid down the rules to be followed by couples while in the pursuit of struggle. It followed the concept that the struggle is principal and the personal secondary. In that sense, relationships spurred, not hampered, the pursuit of the struggle.
The organizational structure is all about the collective. One should always be a member of a collective and adhere to its decisions. Thus, love, courtship and marriage are always guided by the collective. An interesting rule is that before one could court or be courted by somebody, he or she must seek the approval of the collective first.
When I was in college, I had a crush on Nena, a dentistry student who was active in the street parliament like me. We were together in rallies and barricades that, at that time, were frowned upon by the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. The most memorable one was the rally we held in front of the old White Gold store at the North Reclamation Area in the early ‘80s.
We students joined the other sectors who were protesting the demolition of the houses of informal settlers in the area to give way to the construction of what is now SM City and other establishments. We often stymied government efforts to clear the area until the police got tough. During that rally, the police attacked the rallyists and hauled many of them to Camp Sergio Osmeña.
Nena was among those arrested. When we got back to our school, one problem presented itself: How do we inform her parents? I was among those who volunteered to go to their residence in Banawa. It was an awkward moment seeing her father slump on the chair when we told him about Nena’s arrest.
That did not deter our participation in those anti-Marcos struggles. Instead, it intensified our resolve. Soon, we formed the Concerned Students for Human Rights to further advance our cause. During the first Congress, somebody told me that a fellow student activist was courting Nena. That prodded me to do my own courting without the knowledge of my collective.
I soon decided to go full time and was transferred to another task and another collective. Security concerns eventually forced the organization to deploy us to the countryside. Nena remained in the city. The extent of our relationship at that time was blurry because she did not answer me when I courted her. I got distracted by my new task.
In one of the meetings of the collective, the political officer kept teasing me about Nena and whether I had something to confess. It was then that I realized that she had told the others about what I did. I was forced to tell the collective that before I was deployed to the countryside I had courted Nena. The issue, which was hanging, was resolved in favor of the collective giving me the go signal to court her.
It was then that our meetings were scheduled. Suffice it to say that the courtship didn’t last long because she eventually said yes. But distance affected that relationship and obviously it eventually ended. She is now a dentist and is happily married to a friend, like I am happily married, too.