Chuck Baclagon

I find it especially interesting that I am writing this amidst the COVID-19 lockdown that has already gone for 4 weeks.

Today many Christians take pause for reflection on what is known as Good Friday which is part of the Holy Week Paschal Triduum that precedes Easter.

Many commemorate this day by celebrating the person who embodied a life of open healing and shared eating, of radical itinerancy and egalitarianism, of human contact without discrimination and hierarchies, of preferential option for the poor, and who was executed by Empire because of these…

I believe we should likewise remember and consecrate the lives of those who exemplified the same virtues.

Martyrs, some of whom we know by name like Gloria Capitan, Lorena Barros, Apolonia Catra, Macliing Dulag, Gerry Ortega, Leonard Co, Victor Danyan and the many whom we know only as statistics in the unprecedented number of lives sacrificed at the altar of preserving the oppressive the status quo.

Even more are the number of lives that are afflicted by the direct and indirect impact of the pandemic that has shown us that beyond the ravages of disease are unspeakable suffering that comes in an unequal society that gravely impacts the very people who are keeping society afloat in this crisis –the health workers who are risking their lives to take care of the sick, the farmers who plant our food, the sanitation workers who clean after us and collect our trash and those in the service sector who provide valuable services in areas of retail, delivery and agriculture.

Remembering them today also reminds us of the Cross standing in solidarity with the other crosses carried by the afflicted, the hungry, the oppressed and by those who commit their lives to something bigger than themselves. The Cross stands as a contradiction to the values and principles of the world. It summons us to change the way we see things. It calls us to look at our relationships with the natural world as well as with others. The Cross offers a life that counters the death offered by those who simply use people and the world’s resources for their own gain.

Good Friday tells the tragedy of death amidst struggle. But Good Friday is the necessary step to Easter. It puts in perspective the setbacks we experience in the loss of friends and comrades. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of any movement for life against the painful slow death of the planet. For in whatever defeat we may experience at the extinguishing of lives, we know that ultimately in the end our labor will not be in vain.

The light of renewal will eventually dawn.

Already we see its rays in the tremendous outpouring of human goodwill amidst this pandemic; in the contagious gestures of generosity; in the zealous calls for justice and accountability; in the voluntary food drives; in the outrage over unchecked privilege; in the thunderous applause for frontline workers; in bicycles reclaiming the streets; and the trending calls to oust despots —all reminding us that things must change, that they can change and that they will change if we are stubborn enough to imagine and live a life that detaches from the old world that brought us this crisis.

Let the light shine ever more brightly and may this be the beginning of our noble march towards the realization of our hopes and dreams of a better world.