“It’s the soldier -- not the reporter -- who has given us the freedom of the press.Although I know Choy de Quiros to be an intellectual, he is not usually like some are--a heartless intellectual. But seeing as he has chosen to debunk the rude inscriptions we find above, on an intellectual level on his own turf, and there is no one to express what those who wrote the above inscriptions might have felt and thought in doing so, let Choy have a little tit for tat now. This Pen must joust with his own, because the Swords he disdains are yet grasped by cold, defenseless hands which though mute themselves may speak through this humble and perhaps unworthy blog.
It’s the soldier -- not the poet -- who has given us the freedom of speech.
It’s the soldier -- not the politician -- who ensures that we live freely and peacefully.
It’s the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is eventually draped by the flag.”
He attacks the line about politicians by counterexample, pointing to Jose W. Diokno, Lorenzo Tanada, and Jovito Salonga as politicians that he says have done more than any general or foot soldier he knows to secure our peace and freedom. Well I suppose he never heard of General Gregorio del Pilar who fought the Spaniards and commanded many nameless foot soldiers that we today call the Katipuneros, which I suppose Choy never heard of either. And what of General Vicente Lukban who led the Samarnon foot soldiers of the Katipunan in its most victorious battle against the invading American Expeditionary Forces of Gen. Arthur MacArthur-- the Battle of Balangiga? Mr. de Quiros has apparently also not heard of General Vicente Lim, beheaded by Japanese invaders during World War II, whose body never even felt the warmth of the Philippine Flag draped over his never-found body. Nor I suppose, has he heard of the foot soldiers who fought in that War to liberate the politicians!
Next Mr. de Quiros suggests that "public school teachers" do more than soldiers in a "spiritual" way, saying, "The soldier only protects the nation’s body, the public school teacher protects the nation’s mind."
I think we should honor the contributions and sacrifices of both professions instead of making such fine distinctions as metaphysical as that between "body" and "mind" so as to somehow pit them one against the other. Notice that line 4 of the Soldier's Poem does not mention public school teachers at all. It only emphasizes the fact, that soldiers, unlike all other citizens, are duty-bound and most willingly so, to give the full measure of their beings, to lay down their very lives as a downpayment for the lives and freedoms of others. Moreover, if a soldier protects your body, he also protects your mind, which cannot live outside your brain. But if a teacher gives you homework, in order to improve your mind, they are not at risk of losing their own lives thereby, and there is absolutely no guarantee that by doing so usually from error-filled textbooks, that they have protected your body at all. Perhaps it has to do, again with the logical priority that proceeds from the phrase that defines liberty as our Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, necessarily in that order!
Mr. de Quiros however, reserves the bulk of his pen's mighty ink to violently disagree with Dead Soldiers Poem and their dumbstruck grieving kin, over their claims of priority over poets in preserving the freedom of speech, and over reporters (including pundits) in defending the freedom of the Press. He violently disagrees and is even insulted, he says, that such a claim would be made by mere body protectors. After all, he says that "scores of reporters who have been murdered who are not being given the kind of burial the soldiers are."
But the reason is crystal clear to most us, if not the Pundit, why those scores of reporters do not get the kind of burial that soldiers do. Reporters are true enough, murdered for using the Freedoms of Speech and of the Press, often enough to defend those rights. But even more often they are killed because they abuse those rights; or they double-cross the wrong sorts of clients; or they accept bribes to write favorable stories or unfavorable stories.
It is actually a rare reporter murdered because he was defending the Freedom of the Press as such, and not merely using (or abusing) that freedom.
But "the soldier" has no such choice in the purposes and uses to which his profession may be placed. When soldiers are ambushed, murdered and beheaded, as they were in Tipo-tipo, Basilan, and Maimbung, Sulu, by the MILF-MNLF-ASG-JI-AQ, they are not merely using freedom speech and of the Press, but literally defending all of our freedoms with their very lives.
As for poets we are even lower than Pundits and even more beholden to soldiers in that we actually take liberties with the Freedom of Speech and the Press, --har har! -- and only ever write and emote about their deaths!
It is but puny compared to your sacrifices -- you dead soldiers -- but this is my humble thanks to you all for this Life, for this Liberty, and for this supreme happiness -- to salute you!
MY LIBERTY IS YOUR LIBERTY!