By Abner Galino
“As long as the purpose of God in your life is not yet done, you are immortal. Hindi ka mamamatay. Pero ‘pag ang purpose ng Diyos sa buhay mo ay tapos na, you could die anytime, even in your sleep.”
Thus said Philippine legislator and opposition leader Rep. Gary Alejano before a crowd of Filipino Americans who came to witness the induction of the officers of the Samahang Magdalo International (US-California Chapter) in the City of Lakewood, a suburb in Los Angeles County.
Alejano, a former military officer imprisoned for his participation in at least two uprisings some years back, said he founded Samahang Magdalo in 2008-2009.
According to him, the need to form the volunteer group became evident when a fellow mutineer, former Philippine Navy Lieutenant SG Antonio Trillanes IV, won as senator while in detention.
“People granted as the mandate. It was a miracle. Thus we decided to open our ranks to volunteer Filipinos,” Alejano recalled.
Looking back, Alejano traced their group’s steps in deciding to run for government positions.
“In our desire to push for change – naghanap po kami ng mga lider na pwede naming maasahan. But they all fell short of our expectations,” Alejano said.
“We need to be inside in order to use that platform to influence people about good governance so we decided to join politics in the person of Senator Trillanes.”
“It was a hard decision, aware kami na maari kaming kainin ng politics.”
Alejano narrated that most of the officers and soldiers studied during detention through the help of professors from the University of the Philippines (UP). He said they were able to study behind the backs of their guards.
“We know that we need to equip ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually in order for us to change the country,” Alejano explained.
Alejano earned two master’s degrees, one of them on public management, from their group’s endeavors while in detention.
The comic relief in Alejano’s speech came when he revealed that three of his children were conceived while he was jailed.
“I have five children; tatlo sa loob, dalawa sa labas,” he joked, explaining that he and his wife gave birth to twins before getting inside the jail, and then, conceived three more children while inside jail.
“Huwag n’yo na lang tanungin kung paano nagawa sa kulungan,” Alejano quipped as the crowd burst into laughter.
Alejano recalled that his wife almost lost their twins over the tension that she endured and gave birth to them about two weeks earlier than the projected delivery date. It was the time when the mutineers were rounded up and brought to Camp Aguinaldo for detention.
Here is list of the Samahang Magdalo US-California chapter officers that were sworn in by Alejano: Remedy Medina, president; JC Sarmiento, vice president; Maimai Sianson, secretary; Tess Solis, treasurer; Vange Lara, adviser; Lilian Enriquez, auditor; Resti Bags, soc-med administrator; Abel Santa Isabel, public relations officer; Boots Canlas, membership relations officer; Jhun Conga, strategist; Eli Salvador, political analyst; Fe Koons, media relations officer; Rolando Velasco, Sergeant-at-arms and Gregg Asuncion; historian.
The induction ceremony was held at the Civic Center.