Sony Maramba keeps light of Edsa shining bright | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Freedom where we can get it
Sony Maramba keeps light of Edsa shining bright
Sony David Maramba in pink with former students —TRACY SANTOS

Sony David Maramba almost had me convinced her time was past, as writer, editor and author. For one thing, she said, she couldn’t keep up with the new technology, could not learn it, not being wired for it, unlike her grandchildren. Me—I haven’t stopped trying to learn, although I must say the education is indeed frustrating.

Sony has often threatened, and never in jest, it seems to me, that everything she did was the last of it. She is all of 91 and feels it, she said. I am only seven years younger.

On April 26, she launched her book, “Six Filipino Women for Justice.” She conceptualized, organized and edited it, the fourth and, she said, again, the last in a series. The first three were “Six Modern Filipino Heroes” (1993), “Six Young Filipino Martyrs” (1997) and “Seven in the Eye of History” (2000).

It was a sold-out launch. The Asian Institute of Management hall was packed with former students, fellow writers, activists, family and friends. Sony was absolutely glowing, looking thoroughly attentive, in a bright pink dress and sporting short hair.

Leila de Lima, former Chief Justice Chit Carpio-Morales and Sister Mary John Mananzan, three of the six subjects, were there. Before addressing the audience, each one was introduced and given her copy of the book by the writer who did her story. Leni Robredo, Maria Ressa and Sen. Risa Hontiveros gave their messages by video. The presence of three of the six was enough to fill the hall with patriotic fervor and energy—imagine if they all had been there!

My husband, Vergel, who wrote the afterword for the book, was surprised when he was asked to say something himself and obliged stingily—so stingily that when I looked up he was done. I heard from others who caught his very few words that he simply thanked the six women for “making him braver and more hopeful.” When pressed at home to say more, for my column, at least, and for old times’ sake, he obeyed: “If anything good happened during Duterte’s term, it was those six women.”

Sony, in her turn, shared an anecdote that showed how consistent she’s been all these years. Barely a month after Ninoy Aquino’s assassination, on Aug. 21, 1983, she submitted an article to Eggie Apostol for her Mr & Ms: “A Call to all Closet Nationalists.”Closet heroes

In fact, with every book in her series, that’s exactly what she has done, though she not only repeated the call but answered it herself, in her own way. She’s been trying to keep the light of Edsa shining. After all, it was there, in that moment, that we all became heroes. But she suspects that more need inspiring out of their closets.

I knew Sony from way back. We were in Maryknoll College at the same time. In fact, our graduation pictures appear in the same yearbook, she from high school, I from grade school. She and I also became Theresians at the same time. After Maryknoll I went to St. Theresa’s in Quezon City, for high school, she to St. Theresa’s in Manila, for her AB And BS in Education.

After high school, I went to Spain for two years of precollege studies. When I came back, I enrolled for an AB in Journalism at St. Theresa’s in Manila, and Sony became my teacher in English Literature, particularly Shakespeare. She was still single, and was the youngest college teacher there, probably anywhere.

We reconnected through her columns in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which I thoroughly enjoyed, particularly her progressive take on Church issues. Only a layperson so steeped in the faith could discuss it with such depth and breadth. When I myself started writing every Sunday in this section, we became each other’s fan. Her last column appeared on March 31, 2020. I’m still writing.

She was among those who complained to me early on about missing me when my column started coming out more often online than in print. It took me long myself before I learned how to share it with my low-tech or absolutely no-tech readers like Sony.

She has received awards and recognition for her books. Her books and writings on Philippine literature have contributed to the awareness and appreciation of it in light of “our immersion in western literature.”Her books on contemporary history, among others her “Ninoy Aquino, the Man, the Legend” and the more recent series, the fourth of which she only recently brought out, has helped in securing their subjects’ place in Philippine memory and history. Sony’s own place is itself secure in the “braver and more hopeful” hearts of many Filipinos, if I may borrow the phrase from Vergel.

Speaking at the launch, she scarcely missed a step, notwithstanding her age. She urged us all to “walk together from one campaign to another, from one election to another and in everything else in between!”

That afternoon, in the presence of heroes, self-revealed and closeted, she was the star! But no amount of praise and raves can change such a humble, self-deprecating character. If she feels tired, and beaten sometimes, it’s just the unkind combination of age and technology. INQ




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