By: CHERYL L. DAYTEC-YANGOT
(This was a message I wrote on the occasion of the 73rd birthday of Atty. Romy T. Capulong in 2008. Today is the 3rd death anniversary of Ka Romy, first President and founding member of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers.)
This is not intended to be a eulogy but it probably sounds like one that will be delivered at Atty. Romeo Capulong’s burial fifty years from now. It is our belief that it is better that it is articulated while he is alive to appreciate it today on his 73rd birthday.
A life consecrated to the defense of the oppressed, to challenging the status quo when it is antithetical to the interest of the masses, is a life that will never end. As Andres Bonifacio breathes out the inspiration we keep drawing from for his great example of dedication to the cause of revolutionary struggle, so will Atty. Romeo Capulong remain alive long after he gives up the ghost.
Romeo Capulong spent his years on earth in selfless service to the people. In the best of times, in the worst of times, and in the times in between, he has been a standard bearer for the rights of the oppressed, the marginalized, the downtrodden, the rejected. In being so, he has been compromising his and his family’s well-being and even his very life, a risk well within his grasp. But to him, to choose a life of comfort without regard for the welfare of the masses is wrong, if not outright disgraceful. And so overriding his own fears, he kept marching and still marches with the enlightened masses to confront with unwavering courage the goblins and evil forces that shrive human life of essence and meaning.
Atty. Capulong’s record is a torch that shatters the deepest darkness. It is a torch that brightens the path of us who, inspired by exemplars of greatness and heroism, have chosen to tread his trajectory, the trajectory less traveled but the right one nevertheless. We realize that in the context of things in the here-and-now, the only noble life is one of consequence to the liberation of the masses from the dungeon of poverty and tyranny. The only noble life is one that bears close semblance to Atty. Capulong’s.
Since Martial Law, never has our country been as shrouded in darkness as it is now. We live under a reign of terror, a reign that nurtures no reverence for human life. Freedom itself languishes inside walls, liberties are obstructed by fences and barbed wires, the forces of greed are at their strongest, guns are pointed to heads that entertain thoughts of dissent, our mouths are clamped to deter us from speaking the truth. Our days are as dimmed as our nights. Silence and sleeping are very safe, very convenient. Sadly, many have embraced convenience as the hands of tyranny operate under the cover of darkness to push the nation to the pit of wretchedness. But hope does not die when there are people, like Romeo Capulong, who elect to stay awake, struggling in the dark to impede the slaughter of the essence of life: freedom – from hunger, from oppression, from bondage, from terror, from anything that diminishes humanity. That there are persons of courage like him at such a time as now is itself a miracle, like a determined bud shooting from the bone dry, barren earth. It is a miracle worthy of celebration.
What we do for ourselves die with us, but what we do for others will endure even after our death. In a country plunged in obscurities, this much is certain: Atty. Capulong will live beyond his years on earth.
We in the Cordillera are one with the Filipino masses in wishing this great champion of the oppressed a very happy birthday and many more to come.