It’s been 53 months since I rejoined the Philippine STAR in November 2006. I was there with the original Op-Ed columnists of the STAR when we became newspaper number 22 after the 1986 People Power Revolution restored press freedom, among others, in our country. I had to give up my AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR column in January 1987 when I joined the Cory Aquino government.
In all that time since rejoining the STAR, I have not really taken a break from my three times a week column. There were a couple of columns which I missed submitting and that was when I was hospitalized for a major surgery at the Makati Medical Center. But a vacation break from column writing, I have not asked for one in the last 53 months.
You don’t really need a break if you love and find fulfillment from what you’re doing, especially that aspect of my work when I get the opportunity to help address the Information Gap in our country and promote new ideals like the Focolare Movement’s Economy of Communion. However, even missionaries do need a break. The toughest soldiers need a break. Jesus Christ also took a break and went to the wilderness.
In my case, the pressure to take a break was not so much the writing job itself but an accumulation of health issues over the last three months. One after another, I seemed plagued to experience just about every ailment known to man, except perhaps STD, AIDS and similar embarrassing afflictions emanating from a promiscuous lifestyle.
The osteoarthritis on my knees would act up, usually induced by delicious foods with high purine. Barely recovering from that, my asthma would get into the act and that keeps me at home tied up to my oxygen machine. Not to be left out of the party, even my occasional spinal stenosis (back pains) and hyperacidity decided to revive.
Is this a conspiracy to unhinge your Chair Wrecker’s mind? The thought did occur to me.
Unfortunately, I cannot escape, albeit temporarily, from my physical realities. It’s either I address these health issues properly or risk encountering the dire consequences.
Earlier today, I told our STAR President, Miguel G. Belmonte, and our Editor in Chief, Isaac G. Belmonte: “For over three months now, I’ve encountered a series of health issues. While most of these are not life threatening per se, still the continuous series of ailments are eroding my morale and affecting my disposition. I badly need a one-month break to recharge my combat-fatigued soul, walk in the garden, rediscover love, intimacy and all that with my wife and live a different routine temporarily.”
Miguel reacted: “Sorry to hear about your health problems, Uncle Billy. Go ahead and take your much needed break.” Isaac supported Miguel and said: “Yes, I agree wholeheartedly.” I cannot thank Miguel and Isaac enough for their support and understanding. Thus, we will not be touching base again in this column until July 3 when I shall return with a vengeance.
You know that you need a break when it feels like a major lifetime endeavor to do what would otherwise be classified as a simple daily chore. You know that you need a break already when you reach a point that you have to force yourself to do something that you used to love. My health issues took such a toll on me that I was thus forced to take this break from column writing.
Sans the occasional furlough, warriors who have been in battle for too long will suffer from combat fatigue and start losing their energy, focus and drive. I had to impose that furlough on myself in order to prevent experiencing the effects of combat fatigue.
Fond memories of Anding
May I utilize this opportunity to express my heartfelt sympathies to the family of the late Alejandro “Anding” Roces, an esteemed personal friend and comrade-in-arms during the fight against the Marcos dictatorship. The loss of a great man like Anding Roces diminishes all of us.
The last time I touched base with Anding was during one of the famous Curry Tiffin Friday lunches, around three years or so ago, at the Manila Club, where Anding and I used to go. We would bump into each other there with our respective lunch companions. Anding would visit my table and proudly demonstrate his cast iron stomach - indeed a rarity for a man of his age. He would challenge me to poke hard his tummy just to prove his mettle.
Anding was actually more amazing than that cast-iron tummy of his. To be a favorite topic of National Hero Ninoy Aquino in his speeches would underscore the qualities of Anding Roces.
Anding Roces did not only write about history - he was a player in our contemporary history. More importantly, Anding was there fighting for the cause of freedom during the darkest period of martial law, when only persons of the finest qualities - like Anding Roces, Napoleon Rama, Soc Rodrigo et al - could stand up to the tyrant, while many other Filipinos cringed in fear and would rather not get involved.
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