LAST Monday, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo filed an P11-million libel suit against me for my column titled How do you solve a problem like Mike Arroyo?
Soon after, I was deluged by text messages, phone calls and emails. Friends and kin who know me well cheered me on with words of support and encouragement. Those who knew me only from my columns expressed not just support but also concern that this might stifle me.
To High Ground followers and readers, worry not. Fat chance I will be stymied from writing what I see as truth. Certainly it will take more than a Mike Arroyo and his cronies to intimidate me.
Why, Mike tips the balance as a heavyweight at only 200 pounds but I knock over the scales past their 300-pound limit! Being so immense, I have to consciously make an effort to keep people from thinking that I am intimidating. But gentle as I try my best to be, it doesn’t mean I will allow myself to be
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bullied. Mike made his move. That’s his choice. But I also have my options, counter moves and remedies.
I fought Marcos when fighting Marcos was not yet in fashion. Mobilized into ‘active service’ against the dictatorship by my good friend Nap Rama, now Bulletin publisher, we both tried to get others to ignore their very legitimate fears and instead join us to fight the dictatorship. “This is not the time to be safe,” we told them. When I eventually became head of the Cory Aquino Media Bureau during the 1986 Snap Elections, little did I know then that the struggle will one day culminate in a confluence of providential and man-made events that would be known as the victorious People Power Revolt.
I fought the Communists when they were at their nastiest peak during my stint in the Local Government Department in 1987; then under the late local government secretary Jimmy Ferrer. Credit the disintegration of the most strategic Communist political fronts and the restoration of people’s trust and faith in the new Aquino government to our countryside development program. After all, fighting communism is a political, more than a military effort. The tremendous people support which catapulted a mere housewife with no obvious political or economic interests to power broke established Communist theories on politics and power. After that, the Communists were never the same again.
Even at that time when I agonized under the horrible torment of the hemodialysis procedure three times a week, I fought the Estrada regime harder than I fought my personal physical pain and discomfort. In September 2000, Chavit Singson approached the Council on Philippine Affairs (COPA), of which I was then chairman, to seek our help on how he should expose his juetengate bombshell in the midst of death threats. When I crafted the strategy for Chavit’s expose, little did I know that I was also hatching the seeds of what was to become EDSA II. COPA had been fighting the Estrada regime since 1998, long before juetengate made it fashionable to do so.
Having been transplanted with a new kidney and subject to a lot of physical restraints, I continue to be in the thick of the fight against the evils in our corrupt system. I proudly bear all the scars of my previous political wars and battles like a badge of honor and a thousand Mike Arroyos (God forbid!) will not stop me from conveying truth.
My parents have nurtured and conditioned me to fight the good fight. Some of my friends say that I am genetically predisposed to the warrior standards of my Scottish forbears. The “M” that intersects my forename and surname stands for ‘MacGregor’ – the very same name that bore Rob Roy, one of Scotland’s fiercest Highland warriors.
The Scottish clans were very similar to the native tribes of the United States of America. The biggest clans – MacDonald, Stewart, Campbell, – were the counterpart of the big Sioux nation. The MacGregors were considered the Apaches – there are not so many of them but you would do well not to mess with their lot.
Romanticized by Hollywood, Rob Roy the movie, which starred Liam Neeson, downplayed his machismo. But history bears out Rob Roy MacGregor as one of Scotland’s foremost macho figures, with William Wallace (of movie Braveheart fame) being the other. For a nation always at war either among themselves, with the English or as mercenaries during the Hundred Years War, being regarded as a symbol of machismo must indeed be the ultimate compliment.
Among the military heroes the MacGregors produced were Lord Clyde of Balaclava fame (whose real name was Colin Macliver, a MacGregor), Gen. Gregor MacGregor who served with Simon Bolivar in the Venezuelan War of Independence and Admiral Samuel Grieg, the father of the modern Russian Navy.
When Samuel Grieg was a commodore and still living in Scotland, he had under him a fellow Scot who eventually became the father of the US Navy – John Paul Jones. Jones gained fame by winning the sea battle during the American War of Independence between his ship, the Bon Homme Richard, and the far superior British warship, the Serapis. Having battered the Bon Homme Richard and thinking he had won the encounter, the British commander asked Jones if he was ready to surrender. John Paul Jones replied: “I have not yet begun to fight!” And proceeded to win the battle.
So, my valued followers of the High Ground fear not. Like the famous protégé of one of my maternal ancestors, “I have not yet begun to fight!”