Values acquired at home and nurtured in school form character. But it is only when these values are challenged under extremely trying conditions when we discover our new heroes.
Indeed, it is the test of fire that turns ore into fine steel.
Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada looked every inch an average joe. I just had to know what made him venture where others dared not. What shaped his mindset and his emotions? What makes up the essential Jun Lozada?
His number one hero is his father, but he was also deeply inspired and influenced by the lives of Jose Rizal, Apolinario Mabini, Konosuke Matsushita, St. Thomas Aquinas and Pope John Paul II.
For a well-read and obviously brilliant man (he took on the Palace mob with ease and grace under pressure, albeit with moist eyes), Jun is amazingly a simple man. He showed none of the affected superficialities of the social climbers and showbiz senators who are forever competing to make the sound bites that no one believes anyway.
After all the time I’ve observed our politicians up close and personal, I’ve been trained by experience to discern the pretender from the real deal.
What immediately impressed me is that Jun Lozada lives by the core philosophy of each of his heroes, his mindset formed by their superhuman feats of courage and fortitude.
Jun knew his Rizal and not only that — he has passed on that reverence for the Bagumbayan martyr to his children. Rizal to him is the epitome of what a Filipino heart and soul should be.
He admired Mabini for his courage and his great mind which provided enlightenment during a trying time in our history. In Mabini’s The True Decalogue (which was featured in my August 12, 2007 column), we can find many of the right prescriptions to our present problems.
Jun marveled at how the diminutive and frail Konosuke Matsushita, the Panasonic founder, managed to create a massive electronic empire built on human kindness. Matsushita’s dedicated efforts for community outreach have been adopted by many firms.
Jun said: “Matsushita taught me that if you serve the community, the community will serve you.”
It was from St. Thomas Aquinas that Jun learned that the worst form of corruption is the corruption of the best. Jun was inspired by Pope John Paul II’s exhortation that when we uplift the social conditions of the poor, we also help them from committing sin, a lesson some of our Bishops have yet to learn.
Jun Lozada had a lucrative career. At age 22, he was already making US$4,800 a month while working in Saudi Arabia and he shared the sunshine with his other brothers and sisters.
Jun believes that he was significantly strengthened by three near-death experiences. These jolting experiences were the fires that temper ore into hard steel, an ordinary citizen into a country’s man of the hour.
Right after college, Jun suffered from a disease that baffled doctors. He did not have stroke and was not even hypertensive — but he became paralyzed. Bedridden and fast losing weight and strength, he reached a point when he became drawn to reaching out to his Maker.
Jun fervently prayed to be allowed three wishes: To be able to say sorry to those he had wronged, to say “I love you” to those he failed to tell that to and to feel love in return.
Suddenly, Jun narrated, “It was like a switch on and switch off experience. One moment I was passing from this life and the next moment it was as if I had never been sick at all.”
Years later, Jun was afflicted with Hepatitis B — at a time when having this ailment was almost like a death sentence. Unable to produce the needed antibodies to cure the disease, Jun had another one-on-one with his Maker, this time really vowing to dedicate another lease on life for the Almighty’s greater glory. Again, he was saved. His body suddenly started producing antibodies.
Then, when his brother was mistakenly killed by government agents, Jun almost became another victim. For tenaciously pursuing the case of his brother’s homicide, Jun was intercepted one night on the road by a big man with a gun and with a look of murder in his eyes. Jun sped away from his assailant and the man fired and hit the back of his car seat. Miraculously, the bullet did not penetrate the upholstery.
Surviving that airport arrival abduction is something that Jun considers his fourth lease on life.
Knowing these experiences of Jun Lozada, we can now better understand and believe how and why he can rise above his fears and do what he felt must be done.
Having rare encounters with one’s Maker, a man can rise above his limitations. When a man has learned to surrender his fate to his Maker, he becomes an easy channel for grace and an instrument of the Almighty.