Stairway to Heaven

Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms.  This article was published in Business Mirror April 4, 2007 edition, p. A6

Holy Week puts me in a religious mood.  It makes me think a lot about salvation.

I pondered Mike Arroyo’s answer to why he spent so much time doing charitable works.

He had said, “I do it to gain points in heaven… for ‘pogi’ points in heaven. At least I know I make points with God.”

I thought, is this what Ignatius Loyola, the patron saint of Ateneo de Manila, meant by being a man for others?

My son unintentionally answered the question when he began to sing the opening lines of a Led Zeppelin song,

There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.

When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.

Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven.

I realized you can’t bribe your way into heaven. So I left Mike to his own devices and turned to the foremost graduate of the Assumption Convent for guidance.

I recalled what she told Time magazine in 2003:

“All day long I’m talking to God. I’m asking God, ‘What are You trying to tell me with this situation? What do You want me to do at this point in time? What do You want me to do with this problem?”

Surely, I thought, she can show me the stairway to heaven.

I decided to call her. But, as I was dialing her number (by the way, I got her number from Garci), my wife tugged at my sleeve and reminded me of something else Gloria said:

“Sa aking buong karera, mula nang ako ay naguumpisa pa lamang, kinilala ko ang discernment, papano maka-discern (In my whole career, even from the start I have recognized discernment, how I can discern). What does God want to do for you.”

My wife added, “Gloria also said, ‘I believe that I am here now because that is the plan of God for me and for us.’”

I replied, “So?”

In the background, my son was singing the second verse of the Led Zeppelin song,

There’s a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.

In a tree by the brook, there’s a songbird that sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.

Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it makes me wonder.

And that’s when I began to see what “Sir” Jun Ducat the hostage-taker meant by, “Don’t rely on politicians for your future. No one can help you but yourselves.”

But I was not ready to give up. If the Queen and her consort cannot help me, maybe a prince of the church can.

I went to the prince’s palace in Mandaluyong. I had with me a lamp to symbolize my search for the truth.

I knocked on the palace door and asked the footman, “Can you ask the prince what is good and what is evil?”

The footman replied, “He’s busy counting his blessings.”

So I held the lamp to his face and told him, “But I’m searching for the truth.”

And he said, “Oh, that.”

And he went to a stack of papers by the door and handed me one.

“Here. So many people have been asking the same question so we printed handouts,” he said, irritated.

At the top of the sheet of paper were the words, “Movable Feasts.” Right below the title, the movable feasts were enumerated:
{mospagebreak}
(Begin)

The Feast of Corruption

“What I’m worried about is the truth. The truth is GMA is not the only president linked to corruption. There are bigger, bigger fishes. That is why I’m interested in the whole truth. This is only piecemeal.”

The Feast of Human Rights Abuses

“What is happening in the Arroyo regime today is so tiny it is a mere speck of the human rights abuses committed then under Marcos.” (END)

By sheer coincidence, a Rolling Stones song was blaring from a sari-sari store near the prince’s palace:

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many man’s soul and faith

And I was around when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed His fate

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name

Ah, but what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game…

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners’ saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
cause I’m in need of some restraint

So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste

Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I’ll lay your soul to waste, um yeah

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, um yeah

But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game,
Woo, woo

I ran away from the palace as fast as I could. But I had nowhere to go—except maybe back to Sir Ducat the hostage-taker.  At least, I consoled myself, he was not afraid to speak truth to power. However, I hesitated because I believe what he did was wrong and he has to take responsibility for it.

That’s when my wife reminded me of something else Gloria said two years ago:

“Over the years, our political system has degenerated to such an extent that it’s very difficult to live within the system with hands totally untainted. That is the truth. We are collectively to blame….”

So, good and evil are movable feasts and we cannot be held personally accountable for our sins.

I was despondent and near despair.  I cried out to God, “Where is the stairway to heaven?”

God works in mysterious ways. He didn’t show me the stairway but he pointed where not to go through an AC/DC song, which, incidentally, would make a wonderful anthem for the current regime:

Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme
Isn’t nothing I would rather do
Going down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too

No Stop Signs, Speed Limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down
Like a wheel gonna spin it
Nobody’s gonna mess me ‘round

Hey momma, look at me
I’m on my way to the Promised Land
I’m on the Highway to Hell

Happy Easter.

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