Our country recently lost a great son
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-10-09
Your Chair Wrecker had referred to him in past columns as the eminent Professor Emmanuel Q. Yap. His 79 years on earth were dedicated to nationalist ideals and propagating the historical truth. Many of our leaders had tapped his insights and perspectives to national issues and economic planning.

Prof. Manoling Yap was one of the finest resource persons for enlightenment on what and who really brought our country to our present sorry state. A US Foreign Policy Adviser for Asia-Pacific, former US Navy CINCPAC (Commander in Chief for the Pacific) Admiral Ron Hays (now retired), once described Prof. Yap as a “Philippine national treasure” despite the fact that Manoling had consistently denounced US exploitation here.

Many of those who offer us history lessons and political analyses today would appear as mere charlatans if folks heard what Prof. Yap had to say. That’s because many of these so-called historians and political analysts merely provide trivia and data but cannot connect the dots.

Manoling’s biggest disappointment in life was that few of those who sought his wisdom possessed the political will to fight the good fight — the real emancipation of the Filipino from foreign domination and the making of a strong Filipino nation.

The perilous emerging conflict in the region surrounding the Spratlys was forecasted by Manoling years ago. He warned that unless Filipinos stand united, set aside their petty differences, and form a strong nation — then we run the risk of being exploited by powerful countries, possibly even be dismembered. The dire scenarios that Manoling had predicted are now threatening to happen in strife-torn Muslim Mindanao and we’re far from being united as a strong nation.

At 8:09 p.m. of September 26, Manoling Yap passed away. Following his wish, his family had his body cremated and no wake was held.

One good way to appreciate the value of a deceased person is to hear what some of the people closest to him has to say. Let us ponder on some of the insights that Dr. Josef Yap, Manoling’s son, shared about his father after he passed away. Manoling was called Apa by his children — Helen, Dave, Leah, April and Josef.

“Apa was a natural-born leader with a razor-sharp intellect, remarkable foresight, and exceptional memory. Just as an example of the latter he did not use the phone book in his mobile phone. He memorized the numbers of the contacts,” Josef shared.

He added: “One of his major traits as a leader was that he was very decisive. He was also very practical, and had great intuition and instincts. He was able to quickly synthesize complex issues. He had good organizational skills and had the ability to motivate people. His integrity was also beyond reproach. He would sometimes enumerate all the opportunities he had to amass wealth — from the time he was helping build Angeles City, to his stint as head of the Congressional Economic Planning Office (CEPO), and to the post-Marcos years, especially when he was an adviser at the MWSS.”

Josef delved into the pro-people character of Manoling: “He was also a very generous person and his first impulse was always to side with the underdog, particularly the ‘masa.’ Please note, however, he would not hesitate to criticize the lumpen proletariat when warranted. What is more fascinating is that he lost almost everything after the declaration of Martial Law: his job, his prestige, his influence, even his passport. Our standard of living plummeted (which, by the way, is also evidence of Apa’s integrity). However, he would still give to others what he could.”

Josef admits to some of Manoling’s downside: “All great leaders have some less desirable qualities. In the case of Apa he was oftentimes impatient and had an authoritarian streak. Another way to put it is that he was stubborn, sometimes to a fault. This was exacerbated by his quick temper, a trait that he and his brothers inherited from their father, Lolo Jose. His impatience, particularly with his peers, in our view, stemmed from having dealt more intimately with older and wiser people.”

Josef names people who inspired his Apa: “During his days at the Ateneo, Apa was inspired by Father John Delaney, Father John McCarron, Father Horacio dela Costa, and other Jesuit priests. He was mentored by Old Man (President Jose P. Laurel) Laurel and later worked with Speaker Laurel.”

Josef added: “During the 1960s, Apa, with the help of the Laurels and the Lavas, was able to build a solid nationalist base. This was epitomized by the Magna Carta of Social Justice and Economic Freedom that was enacted into law in 1969.” Per Josef, “Apa actually epitomized the Ateneo dictum of being a ‘man for others’”  

Josef noted that his Apa travelled to China in 1967 and 1972. He said: “Later in his life, he would proudly state that he laid the groundwork for diplomatic relations between China and the Philippines. These forays were meant to cement the independence of Philippine foreign policy.” Manoling was one of the few who recognized as camouflaged rape what many Filipinos like to think is a romantic interlude with the US.

Josef narrated that Manoling had analyzed that “the configuration of the global economy was not sustainable because of the way the US abused and misused the role of the dollar as an international reserve currency.” In a 1998 article, Manoling wrote: “Globalization policies which actually evolved from earlier free market, free trade policies and imposed by the stronger economic interests upon the weaker nations, especially the so-called Third World countries, have pushed the whole world economy today on the verge of a global depression which can be more devastating than the 1929 Depression.” Again, the current financial quagmire that the US and Europe are in confirms the correctness of Manoling’s analysis.

Josef rued that in recent years his Apa’s message “did not elicit the same response as before and failed to get the traction he expected. He had a brief renaissance with the People’s Patriotic Movement (PPM) but this was compromised by persons with vested interests. Apa was also saddened by the failure of the Philippines to develop as rapidly as its neighbors and attributed this to the lack of nationalism.”

Per Josef, “The growing frustrations both warranted and unwarranted took a toll on his health. His stubbornness prevented him from seeing a doctor about his diabetes. But lest we use his frailties to judge Apa as somewhat of a failure, let me point this out. His “negative” reactions to his frustrations simply showed how much he cared — how much he cared for his family, how much he cared for the Filipinos, and how much he cared for his country.”

Filipinos keep yearning for that one knight in shining armor who would lead us to the Promised Land. Manoling Yap was one such knight but, alas, we as a people did not appreciate his greatness. We revel at the victories of Manny Pacquiao but we do not heed the wisdom of a gifted genuine nationalist like Manoling Yap.

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