“SA CLTV36, kilala niyo ba yun? Si Sonia Soto, ‘yong maganda? Iyon.” (On CLTV36, do you know her? Sonia Soto, the pretty one? She is the one.)
No. One Rolando Asuncion, reputed to be made establishing distinction of the regional director of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, did not pay paean to Ms. Soto’s pulchritude during Tuesday’s forum at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, her very hometown.
Asuncion made the establishing distinction of Ms. Soto as Exhibit 1 of his claim of 31 media personalities in the NICA list of alleged members of the communist rebel movement. No, Asuncion did not name any other nor said if the list obtained only in the province, in the region, or nationwide.
Ms. Soto’s reaction in her Facebook page: “Yes, I am now officially a victim of red-tagging and you know what? I am not even proud that I am no longer the firebrand that I used to be! Sobrang bait ko na nga simula nang magtrabaho ako sa gobyerno ng 4 na taon, naniwala ako sa reporma. Sus!”
“I believe in reform.” Alas, the precise lamentation I heard of Ms. Soto nearly 12 years to the day as articulated here on Sept. 28, 2007 under the head The struggle continues.
A SQUARE peg in a round hole.
Mayhaps on a dare or on a plea, she immersed herself in an established order diametrically opposed to her lifelong conscientization, struggles, and advocacies that ever-adhered to militant nationalism and democratic populism. In this wise, disregarding – if that is too strong a word, setting aside then – the basic precept of the greatest of all isms on the “history of all hitherto existing society.”
In Marxist dialectical praxis, she made the thesis to the antithesis that was the very milieu she engaged herself in.
Where the critical call was to buck – stress on the “b” though another letter would have been most appropriate – the system, she plunged into it.
For all the fire and brimstone she heaped upon the system, she was yet one more romanticist – I thought so then – probably enamored with the notion that she could effect radical change from within.
Her principled politics naturally impacted on a calcified order of compromise and accommodation. Most naturally too, that order, established as it is, resisted and fought back.
So she was routinely and variably demonized as an avenging virago, as a cadre at the vanguard of a red army that took over city hall, even as that classic stern classroom-terror Miss Tapia.
The relentless assault on her person did not even dent her determined mission to make a great difference. And to an extent never before seen at city hall, she succeeded in whipping up a pro-actively working bureaucracy, instilling in its very psyche the article of faith of her superior, the very end of governance itself: Magsilbi Tamu.
Her populist mind-set found manifest in a multi-sectoral governance council that furthered people participation in running the affairs of the city.
Practically overnight, city hall became a beacon of ideal governance, reaping accolades from local, national and global political institutions. Much too much to itemize in this limited space. Hizzoner got even heralded as fourth best city mayor in the whole world. Truly a tough act to follow.
Ever shunning the limelight in favor of her superior, her efforts though were not unrecognized.
That she is the first – and up to now, still the only – Associate Fellow of the prestigious International Solidarity for Asia is an irrefutable testimony not only to her competence but to her excellence as Administrator of the City of San Fernando. This is an incontrovertible truth that no amount of political mudslinging however coated in legalese can ever negate.
So sadly now, with a sense of resignation, she intimated: “I did not fit into the system.”
Marx’s disciple in me would have retorted: “Who ever said you or anybody could?”
But I simply said – not commiseratively now but so matter-of-factly: “The system did not fit you.”
A system that opens to mere elementary and high school graduates political positions from the lowly barangay kagawad to the highest echelons of Congress, and even the presidency itself, but bars college undergraduates in the bureaucracy is not worth serving. It is not even worth keeping.
That system of governance is never meant especially for one as progressive, as nationalist as you.
And so my dear comrade Sonia Soto, the struggle continues.