LETTER FROM ROME: Invisible Army

ROME (MindaNews / 1 April) – Greetings from Rome. First a bit of good news. The number of new cases (4,050 today) has been coming down for the past three days, and if this trend continues we may have reached the peak. But it will take months to flatten the curve and over a year to find a cure.

Now for the bad news. The total number of cases has reached 105,792 (including Cardinal Angelo de Donatis – vicar for Rome), 12,428 dead and 15,729 recovered. So, I am glad to report that I am still alive.

Another sad news that affected me: my classmate, Dr. Dennis Tudtud, died yesterday after battling the virus and several days after his wife’s death, who was also a frontliner.

Dennis and I belonged to class ’71 of St. Alphonsus Minor Seminary in Cebu. He was a bright student and played the violin very well.

After graduation he decided that the priesthood was not for him and he went on to become a doctor.

He was the oncologist of our 85-year-old confrere, Fr. Hugh O’Donoghue. The last time he visited Fr. Hughie was last March 14. But he looked well then.

Dennis won’t be able to attend our class reunion when we celebrate our 50th anniversary of graduation next year. Out of 35 in that batch, three of us were ordained priests. I will be saying three masses for him.

Before I go here’s the first draft of a poem I wrote which was triggered by the news that some politicians and key leaders in the fight against the virus have tested positive.

Invisible Army

The unseen enemy is targeting the top brass.
From solons who granted him more power & money
to generals tasked to lead the war against the veerus.
Who’s next? The sick despot with gunpowder in his brain asks.

The commander-in-chief cannot lead an army.
He only knows how to curse and kill.
He’d rather take fentanyl and go to sleep
and wake up when this war is over
or when hell breaks loose.

The poor & powerless may die of hunger
but the rich & the powerful are the first to succumb
dragging with them their underlings
and the medics attending to them.

The veerus has breached the palace walls,
the halls of congress and the general headquarters.
They only know how to kill addicts & activists.
Their guns are useless against this enemy.

It won’t be long when the invisible army
overrun the entire country.
The inept rulers acted too late, not knowing the enemy.
Pray that this is only a nightmare or a horror movie.

(Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR is Executive Co-Secretary of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of the Union of Superiors General (USG-UISG) in Rome. He started his new work in January this year, after living a quiet life as hermit and exile since 2018. A native of Iligan City, Fr. Picx lived and worked in Davao City from 1995 to 2011 and was assigned to Manila where he served as Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Basic Ecclesial Communities Committee from 2011 to 2017. He went around the Philippines several times on bike or on foot, for peace and justice.)