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Josie

Josie
Ronald Roy

Unknown to most people, some years back the Concerned Citizens Group (CCG) was founded by three of civil society’s militant ladies, the late Josefina Trinidad Lichauco (probably the country’s greatest campus mix of beauty and brains in the mid 50’s), Bettina Legarda and Marily Orosa. Theirs was a shared sense of imperative to awaken a docile citizenry still steeped in stupor arising from the euphoria of a power grab at the expense of a duly elected President, Joseph E. Estrada.
Time passed with escalating unease and waning popular support for the fake President Gloria Arroyo, as the notion progressively crystallized in CCG’s psyche that she had taken them for a ride, that she was incorrigibly corrupt, and that she had an exceedingly voracious appetite to forever remain as the country’s top political honcho. Alas, civil society had created a monstrous tyrant, and the CCG had to move fast! Along with UP Law Professor Harry Roque whom the “tres Marias” had tapped as an indispensable pro bono legal arm, the four agreed to serve as CCG’s conveners. Thus unfurled a series of fora sponsored by the four opposition stalwarts.
The fora were occasions for interaction between invited guest speakers like leading politicos on the one hand, and CCG’s members on the other. The format was a hit even if the fora were never kept secret from Malacañang, whose moles were often seen in attendance.
Sadly however the CCG was not making much headway in its surging movement to press for the usurper’s resignation. Its protest marches, vigils and other activities of open defiance were no match to an immovable evil force in the person of a small woman who blasphemously insisted she had had a conversation with God who directed her not to resign because only she could lead the distressed nation. It was her desperate way of playing with the people’s religiousness which, she hoped, would get them to accept her as God’s chosen savior for a country in trouble. She trained her sights at opposition politicians and the CCG started to lose steam against the tyrant.
It was at this point that the irrepressible tres Marias started to host regular dinner-meetings at the residential penthouse of Josie with prominent politicians and select groups of media friends, usually columnists like herself and this writer. The idea was to build what one would call a calibrated truth machine to repel the devious machinations of Arroyo’s perfidious regime. The results were better than expected even if the conveners felt more had to be done. Josie then asked me how I felt about renaming the group (CCG) as a concerned citizens movement (CCM). I told her it was an excellent idea, for after all it had always been a movement. At least it would now be clear the group wanted to involve citizens nationwide.
As of this writing, the CCM has around 1, 170 registered members, although Filipinos are deemed members if they are willing to contribute personal time and effort, no matter how modest, for the rescue of a nation weighted down under a tyrant’s yoke. And now that the elections are in the offing, the CCM as ever remains against the endorsement of political parties and candidates. It’s been a policy among the conveners and their close associates to respect one another’s electoral preferences, in accordance with CCM’s own advocacy of free choice that was stifled in Edsa dos and the elections that followed.
Sometime in November last year, I asked Josie who she wanted to succeed Gloria Arroyo. With an impish smile, she said, “Gloria. I think I’ll give that answer to people who ask me. You know naman I hate arguments; so if I give that answer to ten people, those same ten people will criticize me. But that’s alright because that will mean they’re on my side and the CCM is working. Ha ha ha! ”Then there was a time, forgetting my bad back was acting up, she gently scolded me in public for “ordering” my wife to get me some food from the buffet table, and when I said, “yes ate”, she retorted “and don’t you ever call me ate again. From now on, you’re older than me, okay?” Who will not miss Josie Lichauco?
Last January 30, I texted Josie to ask her about the Smartmatic-TIM machines, and this is what she replied in her texting idiolect “M in HK with my kids and grandkids. Left Thur, wich, by the way was my nth bday. Wonderful to spend it with the kids hu showed me an absolutely gr8 outpouring of luv. The political idiocy prevailing in our stricken country has been a given. Wont bother me at all. Ha ha ha!“ The following morning at 2:30am, I had a bad dream: Josie was lying unconscious on a bloodied pavement. She was felled by a stroke that same day after lunch and returned to the loving embrace of her Creator two weeks later on Valentines Day.
In the language of heaven I ask, “Absque tua Josefina amica nostra, quo vadimus?”(Without you Josefina our dear friend, where do we go from here?)

(arnydolor@yahoo.com; Tel # 7106701, Cel # 09186449517)

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