Monday, April 25, 2011

On Ericson

by Amy Padilla

on Friday, February 18, 2011 at 12:43pm

Ericson and I spent a few years together as writers and later as editors for the Philippine Collegian in the '90s. My memories of him would always be filled with laughter. Most of us called him Acosta, Bading or Dingbat.

Ericson as Kultura staff and editor always stood out for his rambunctious ways. He spent nights writing, drinking, singing and making a lot of noise in the dead of the night from the fourth floor of the Vinzons Hall (where the Collegian office is) and onto the sunken garden.

We would spend presswork nights (that'd be a Saturday) eating cholesterol-laden burgers in front of the Narra hall courtesy of the late Manong Bogart, buy cheap ala carte food in front of the College of Educ and eat by wrapping plastic in our hands, and of course engage in drinking sprees that almost always ended up with him (and some others) drinking too much and we'd only hope he'd throw up at the proper place. On occasions when we had some money, we'd board a tricycle to Tandang Sora to eat goto or mami at midnight.

He'd initially delude probees (probationary writers) into thinking what a hellhole Collegian was and how they had slim chances of making it as regular writers. That or he'd find a way to borrow or ask money from them (or from us) for his regular fare of Tanduay or Gin bulag. (This is where I "'honed" my drinking skills and tolerance for alcohol.)

Ericson savored pretending to berate a news staffer, Alex Valino, who was feisty and refused to be cowed by his crazy ways. Similar to a sitcom, he'd "castigate" her or engage her in inane debates and end up mimicking Alex that we'd all end up laughing.

He and another editor (okay, the EIC), along with other equally crazy male editors and staff, spearheaded a lampoon issue of the Kule with a spoof of the Oblation, posing butt naked in the sunken garden.

He serenaded a friend of ours in the wee hours of the morning, waking up a good number of dormers in campus, and running away from campus policemen in the process.

He was once rushed to the UP infirmary for stomach pains. Later on, hospital staff went on looking for him because he simply checked out on his own. He left because he said he just wanted to. I couldn't recall now if he did so in his hospital garb.

On a personal note, he would interrogate me for keeping a relationship with a PMAyer then - whom he'd derisively refer to as Baguio Oil -- and would go on to "market" another editor who happens to be his sparring partner in booze, music, writing and what have you. I scoffed at him for being so weird, chaotic and carefree. He brokered talks between his friend and me and then would leave the two of us. But that's after he managed to goad us into buying burgers and softdrinks for him in the first place. I ended up marrying that editor. And Ericson our wedding singer. His mother made my gown.

When I graduated from UP, I would only hear from him occasionally but I knew he stayed on in the student movement and especially engaged in cultural work where he best excelled. His many talents, his quirks and bizzare ways included, were now channeled to a purposed objective of being part of the national democratic movement. I am happy to have seen this metamorphosis and how much influence and inspiration he has left to the younger generations of Collegian writers, cultural artists, student activists and more.

For a time I really did wonder what direction he'd be taking given his notorious ingenuity. His mother would tell me, during our visits to their house then, to talk some sense into Eric when he started becoming active politically. That's when I moved to a research NGO and appeared to have an earning job and she'd compare what her son was doing in UP. I would tell her in a nice way that what Eric is doing is sense despite the ever-present financial limitations faced by activists.

Later on when Ericson chose to directly serve the people by living with them in the rural areas, he would occasionally contact me via SMS whenever he was in Manila just to check on me and his friend, and our children. I remember he never failed to ask how our children were doing. He did the same for our other friends and comrades.

Last night when upon reaching home my youngest daughter asked us why we came home late, I had to tell her that her father and I came from a meeting about our friend Ericson, his arrest and how we can campaign for his release. I realized it was the first time I had mentioned him to my child. And I didn't know where to start because she had never set eyes on her Tito Ericson in all of her 10 years. Because that's how long (and more) her Tito has gone to pursue a more dedicated level of commitment in serving the people.

I tried locating pictures of him at home, and I couldn't find a more decent one that didn't have him in his crazy poses, including one inside a cabinet shelf contorting himself.

As a full-time activist myself for 17 years now, I throw my hats off to Ericson. I know he would remain steadfast because he has found his home, his solace in the arms of the people he has chosen to serve. Now the government is labeling him as a terrorist, a criminal perhaps, but to us and the people he has been giving a good part of his life all these years in service, he is a poet, artist, writer, comrade and a dearest friend --- -all 101% of his funny and inane ways notwithstanding.

from arkibongbayan

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