FREEDOM: LOST AND FOUND
In Greek mythology, there are two feminine characters that stand out according to their attributes. There is Aphrodite, a picture whose face could only describe beauty, charisma and flawlessness. It has also been said that she could bind all the impulses of men together in social communion. And then, across the mythological field, we have the submissive Hecuba, who stands as one of the supreme examples of the suffering womanhood. Accordingly, she saw her sons and husband killed, her infant grandson murdered, herself and her daughter enslaved. Both mythological figures captured the essence of a Filipina in her finest and distressing quality. Poise under pressure and serenity in the midst of chaos. The Filipina as the quintessential Asian and the Filipina in her most typical posture.
What better way to describe the struggling Filipina as she ascends in the 21st century than to have a glimpse if only for a while on the life of a judicial client. She is Maricel. She is not our typical woman in the ordinary sense though but how she dealt with her life, there is something typical and extraordinary. Maricel may be spelled and pronounced as miracle but what happened to her is outside of it. She was government’s ideal lady, intelligent, full of aspiration, assertive and self assured. Government gave her the breaks and opportunities. She grabbed it and she was on top. At a flick of a hand, however, the same government would hound her even in the farthest bowels of the earth. She must have tempted if not angered the gods. Human beings myths tell us must never approximate greater powers or else they would be doomed. Argus was transformed into a peacock for not watching over what the gods wanted him. The peacock’s tail reminds us of the many eyes which failed him. There was Cassandra who could foretell the future but who defied the gods, and was consigned to a figure no one would believe any of her statements.
Maricel like those brilliant women in mythology has a lovely face that favors her ambition. She could see poetry in every chance. She has the intellect that could grasp the finest points in every idea. The universe is her playing field; and, she lived on the fast lane. She wanted success in bold letters and she was never contented in mediocrity. As a matter of fact, she abhors it. Surely, she may not have noticed it but she has completely made the gods envy of her trails. And for this she must suffer. But she would enjoy the initial ride. As the saying goes, what the gods wish to destroy, they make them madly comfortable first.
While riding on the crest of triumph in her career, she would also witness the dwindling of luck. A sort of warning. But she would never take heed. Then, she would be estranged from her husband and her children would move from her towards her parents. Notwithstanding, she knew that one day, her struggles would repay not only for her but for her loved ones as well. But first, she must concentrate in conquering the world around her. From the rustic neighborhood of Nueva Viscaya to the cosmopolitan city of Baguio, she began to carve her profession.
Opportunities would present itself in tempting offers. She was inundated with prospects and lots of possibilities. She would hop from a wad of bill to bundles of it. From the lonely nook of the academe as a clinical instructor, she waded through the rough seas of marketing as a medical representative. To be one requires the highest form of persuasive ability. No one survives the field unless one is a demigod in selling. As it has been in the local scene, a detail man must sell a pinch of sugar and through wiles push the product as a life saving medicine. She was one among these trained brokers and she was one of those who succeeded. She went further founding an agency for travelers. It could have been the higher level of being influential, of sending people to far away land, of coordinating with the most complex government institutions, mixing it up with sinister beings hovering in every corner of foreign affairs. She accumulated so much to the point of luxury and prosperity. She may have the proper rules but competition and intrigue can pull every virtuous conduct down to the pits. Her hands were full and the gods got their fill. She was sent spinning from one blunderbuss move to another. She was charged and summarily prosecuted. She kept her silence, contemplated in retreating, went back to her roots in the province and waited. The courts through her fledging lawyer went for the jugular and found her guilty. Amidst the charges that were dropped one after another, a case stood out for mishandling. As a consequence, she was sentenced in absentia, she never knew what hit her but she was aware that she committed a ruse and she knew that she indeed has angered Olympus. A woman should know where she must belong. Not above but somewhere below. But she got there and it was for her a glorious achievement.
Penalized for violations of the law, she was detained. She could see herself rolling and sneaking from the pedestal of success to the pit of humiliation. Desperation could lead people to commit themselves to the flames of extreme anxiety. Some would train their violence against themselves; others would be hostile against others until they perish. Despair would already have encumbered their thoughts. Hopelessness and despondency would have wreck havoc to their minds. Life would be a miserable existence. But not for Maricel. She would still express her plaintive smile. Her cool composure would still be the same. In the filthy bends of jails and the unadorned corners of prison, she would be found appreciating the landscape. She may not belong in these quarters, like those incarcerated professionals that dot every cell block in mindful activity, but she has to accept her fate as decreed by law and surely as pronounced by gods as curse to those who dare defy them. Gloom and depression have no place in her heart. Wretchedness and melancholy are alien to her. She knew that one day; the power of love would conquer every tinge of unhappiness and desolation. Her faith keeps her outlook all aglow. The gods may have confiscated her freedom through the criminal justice system but they failed in defeating her heart.
In prison, she found her life expressly committed to service. It is an occasion when will is tested, when determination is tried and resolve is sent to an ordeal. She knew that the grinding routine of headcount, the all too familiar environs, the telling arrogance of supervision, would subsequently reduce a person towards dependency and eventually warped. She may have skipped the mundane and the mediocre in her previous spell, but in an enclosed and perilous facility, she had no way of ignoring these instances. She must be one among the undemanding, the so called masses, the unpretentious, the modest and the self effacing. She was learning slowly what nature and humility means not in the field where she could divine power, but in a place drained and exhausted from pain.
She was to give a decade of her worthy existence not on the fast lane anymore. Prison, in the perception of those who have gone through, was built to waste and serve time in the most disgraceful manner. And it is in prison where she must spend her final stage, an interlude for what she would describe as her ultimate term. She knows that she would one day be discharged from incarceration, she would eventually be granted clemency, and what would remain thereafter would be her concluding encounter with the gods. Her faith dictates that humans like her are definitely more powerful than curses. She maintains, despite the flings and arrows, despite the challenges and disputes that love will see her through.
She knew that freedom will be regained eventually and along with it is the realization that good works springs forth from love and in deep contemplation, in whatever beliefs she would adhere, she would quote from memory a biblical passage, “wherever your treasure is, there will be your heart.”
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