The Law of the Sea

Arturo M. Tolentino: I wish people will remember me for The Law of the Sea

Spiritual Retreat (1987)

My father had been under sever pressure for many months before and after the snap-election. He was 75 years of age, intelligent, in tremendous physical shape and an expert Constitutionalist. But he was also human and had been subjected to so many criticisms from many different sources including some of his family, that I suspect he was beginning to wonder if his judgment was as sound as it used to be.

“It is the very intelligent people who are most difficult to give spiritual guidance to”, the preacher told me. “They question everything, there must always be an answer and as a result there is very little room, if any, for faith. We must pray for your father, he needs our prayers if he is to find that direct line to God. Your just being here will helps.”

Later during the retreat, I suggested that it may be better if I leave for a while and stay with my mother. “Maybe that will give you a chance to be by yourself and do some thinking”, I said. “Daddy, I went on, I am not here beside you to try and influence you in any way, even though other people may think that. Sooner or later when I the time comes, I have to go back to North Vancouver. You know I will support any decision you make. It hurts me to see you like this and I thought that maybe you would prefer to be by yourself.”

He remained silent for some time before he replied, staring out yet seeing nothing. Patiently I waited for his reply.

“Baby,” he said kindly, I’ve never been so close to God as I have been these last few days since we arrived here. I really appreciate the things my friends tells me, but there are still some aspects that I can’t understand and because I can’t understand them yet, I cannot make a definite decision. The law and constitution, I can handle well but there is something more to this that I just cannot see right now.”

I asked him if he was afraid to die now, should his fate bring an end to his years in public office. He said, “I am 75 years of age, most of my colleagues are all gone. No, I am not afraid to die.”

“The preacher says,” I began, that we must not have fear, because that is when the devil works best; when we are fearful. The preacher said; “We must trust in God because He is the one who wrote the script we are all playing. All of us have a roll we must act. Your father’s role is not to be the President of Philippines. Factors and reasons maybe delaying the role God has planned for him. I know and admire him very much. I also know that his reason for teaming up with Marcos was an honorable one and that everything he has ever done was within the law. But it is not God’s will that these things should happen.”

I prayed a lot during those ten days, not just for my father but also for myself as I too was feeling the strain of the past few months.

On reflection the retreat was a wonderful experience. Not only did it give my father a chance to become closer to his Creator, but it also gave us the opportunity to get to know one another again. We talked a great deal during this time when we received no visitors or telephone calls. On one occasion I asked him if, now that he had done everything he possibly could, he was able to put his trust completely into God’s hands.

My father’s answer showed just how wise the preacher was. “I am”, he said, “but I still have to weigh which is which. I don’t want to be used anymore. I have been used too many times already”. This does not sound like my father and I knew that he was struggling within himself.

After lunch, that day I repeated my offer to go and stay with my mother to give him time alone. He answered,” why don’t you just come back after dinner?” I did, and we stayed the remaining days gaining spiritual and physical comfort from the retreat.

When we returned to the house, everyone commented on how well my father looked…all things considered.