GOMBURZA and Watermelons

Yesterday, February 17, was GOMBURZA day, in honor of the three priests who were accused of supporting the Filipinos’ struggle for national independence, and were garroted by the Spanish colonial government.

Jose Rizal has been quoted as saying that “Were it not for Gomburza, I would have probably been a Jesuit.”

Remembering this yesterday, the ICM nuns at St. Theresa (mostly senior citizens like me) shared a mischievous chuckle. Should we be thankful that Rizal did not become a Jesuit, or should we regret it?

I was invited to St. Theresa to give an orientation on urban agriculture, not the usual topic for me or for them.

Many of the ICM nuns were familiar faces, proudly acknowledging their history of social activism. We had no time to check, but most of them were probably part of the Christians for National Liberation, which our generation of Christian activists launched with a march-procession to the Gomburza monument on February 17, 1972.

That’s 40 years ago.

A short pause to give thanks, that we are still alive. and not just biologically.

I recall reading that all human beings, without exception, share two common desires: To live long. And to live well.

I used a Filipino version of this for Inay who died three years ago at age 89. Maraming salamat para sa isang mahaba at makabuluhang buhay.

For most of us in the lecture hall yesterday, living well and meaningfully had been associated with our commitment to social justice and taking sides with the struggles of the poor and oppressed. I referred to that at the start of my talk, adding that the symbolic color of our cause is red. During the martial law years of repression, the color red represented not just resistance but revolution.

But we were meeting to initiate a new conversation about urban agriculture, and the broader cause of sustainable development.

Another cause, another color – green. No, not as in the 1960s “green revolution,” but green nonetheless. Closer to organic agriculture but not exclusively so.

I chose to tell them about urban agriculture by tracing my own learning process. Like them, my involvement in agriculture was indirect, focused on social justice issues rather than productivity, agrarian reform rather than crops, credit and markets. Not even organic agriculture.

So, were we about to switch colors from red to green?

Not quite. Our commitment to social justice remains. So with our “preferential option for the poor.” But it is now linked to and enveloped by our commitment to sustainable development, not just in the distant future, but now.

“Let’s think of ourselves as watermelons,” I said. “Green on the outside, but still red inside.”

My presentation on urban agriculture was not about the technical aspects of production. It was an initial orientation about its principles, followed by a scan of possibilities for a large urban compound like the St. Theresa campus and the ICM residences. I ended with a challenge to them to discuss and decide on their priorities among the many possibilities.

So, other than the date, is there any connection at all to Gomburza and CNL and our cause of national liberation?

I think there is, but that is for another blog.

Explore posts in the same categories: Food Security, Renewing our spirit, Sustainable Agriculture

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