MANILA

Bunye: Five Hundred Years Without Love

Speaking Out

THIS is the title of the new book written by bestselling author Alex Lacson, and which was officially launched last August 31, 2020 during National Heroes' Day.

It is a gripping novel that takes a comprehensive and holistic view of the country's present-day social cancer, 133 years after Dr. Jose Rizal wrote his "Noli Me Tangere" in 1887. Through the life of Anton Hinirang, a young lawyer born to a poor family, and the struggles and misery of the members of Anton's family, the writer painstakingly tries to expose the various root causes of our country's social malaise at present, which result in the continuing massive poverty, powerlessness, and misery among the majority of the Filipino people.

The book is also about the story of the Filipino in the last 500 years. It is about why we are what we are today. Why the Filipino is who and what he is today, in the eyes of his children, and in the eyes of the world. There is so much history of the Filipino in the novel.

The book is about love in its core, particularly love for the least and last. It is about how we can build a country with love, brethrenhood, and the common good as its foundations. It is about how we can make the Philippines a better country, and make the Filipino great and respected in the global community. The book zeroes in on the social cancer afflicting our people -- greed, lust for power, abuse of power and position, immorality.

What I find uplifting in Lacson's masterpiece is that the book not merely exposes the problems or the social ills of our nation. It also offers a possible cure or solution. In a very fitting metaphor, Anton helps Miriam, his long-lost childhood sweetheart, to overcome cancer through a combination of change of environment, diet, lifestyle but most of all through his loving care and an abiding faith in God.

In the final chapter, Anton writes an essay "A Dream Philippines." It is a vision of a developed, prosperous, and more humane nation which can be achieved if we can implement a package of reforms, mostly economic. These reforms are based on the successful policies and programs of 12 countries that could serve as model countries for the Philippines. Like Miriam, we too can conquer our cancer.

A Filipino of Faith

I first came to know about Lacson from the late Philippine Star founder and columnist Max Soliven in 2005. According to Soliven, his new car broke down in the middle of Ayala Avenue in heavy Christmas season traffic. Soliven became frantic because he had to catch up with a Malacañang function later in the evening but he could not hail a cab. In the nick of time, Lacson pulled over and asked if Soliven needed assistance. Soliven requested to be dropped me off at any place where he could grab a cab.

By coincidence, Lacson was also going to WackWack, near Soliven's residence, to give a talk at a company Christmas party. The company earlier purchased 1,000 copies of Lacson's book entitled "12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country." Inside Lacson's car, Soliven noticed a few copies of Lacson's book and Soliven asked if he could have one.

Four days later, Soliven wrote a newspaper column entitled "A Filipino of Faith," where he described his momentous meeting with Lacson, who impressed him as a patriotic, idealistic and eloquent young man, who practiced what he preached. "I noticed he never broke a traffic rule. I was tempted, in my selfish agitation to get home and get my tuxedo for the State dinner in the Palace, then dash over to Malacañang, to cut corners, such as push into the opposite lane when stuck not far from the Buchanan Gate, in order to sneak into the gate. But Lacson calmly awaited his turn in traffic. Obey the law and obey the rules were obviously the bedrock of his "12 Things" credo. 1) Follow traffic rules. Follow the law..... 5) Respect your traffic officer, policeman and soldier." The column went viral in social media. The book, which has already started to create ripples even before the Soliven "rescue," became even more of a best seller.

A lawyer by profession, Lacson never fails to devote time to his other passion -- writing. Lacson's other works include a poem "Our Dream Philippines" (2010), "12 Little Things Our Youth Can Do to Help Our Country," "12 Little Things Global Filipinos Can Do to Help Our Motherland" (2011), 8 Principles of Success for the Filipino Youth (2011), and "12 Wonderful Things about the Filipino & Our Motherland" (2012).

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