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Passion Principle

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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Gov. Agustin “Tuting” Perdices is a changed man. He is burning. He is possessed with a burning desire to live with enthusiasm. Now that his body is 76 years old, harried by time and cancer, Tuting talks with confidence and conviction of finishing his three-year term. The confidence he anchors in God, the conviction his own. After what he calls his “touch-and-go” moment at the hospital, he is a man possessed with the passion principle as he holds the governorship as a gift from God.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (Colossians) 3:23-24).

That is how, in effect, Tuting has assessed his life situation at a year-end conference in the presence of the Dumaguete Media. Little did I know, that in that press conference, he has given the Negrenses a priceless Christmas gift. I only have had an inkling when I began to think, reflect, and write this column. What struck my eye easily were the photo-ops after the press-con. What stuck in my mind is the frame wherein Tuting had the photo-op with the beautiful ladies of the Dumaguete Media. This reminds me of his tale about his father Gov. Mariano Perdices. While interviewing him at City Hall, he told us that once as a young man he chanced upon his Dad having a conference with a bevy of beautiful young women at his office. He thought mischievously as any normal passionate young man would do, “unsa kahay gihunahuna sa gulang karon.” When I visit Dumaguete again next year, I will have the opportunity to ask him what’s the difference. Scent of a woman. What is the difference to the young, to the old? I know I now smell the roses and embrace my wife in a new way.

Whether by coincidence or by cosmic design, under Tuting’s stewardship the provincial government approved the construction of Helix Spire to serve as a modern technological Christmas Tree at the Sidlakang Negros this year. Shade of Jacob’s Ladder with images of angels descending and ascending to Heaven. If for a moment we convert it into a Conic Spire, we will have a fair idea of a geometric figure with the greatest circle at its base and smallest at its apex. The shrinking radius from the base all the way up to the apex tells the story of man not conformed to this world but is transformed by renewing his mind as he spirals his way to Heaven. When young, he is wild. It is a badge of honor to be rebellious. He strays away as far as he may from the center, away from God. Gratifying the self is all that matters. Young is forever. Young is immortal. Until he grows old or stares at death’s face. He realizes he is not in control after all. God is in control. Then he may make a turnaround in the way of the shrinking radius until he is one once again with the Creator from almost a lifetime of alienation.

No fear now even if he is counting his numbered days. No regrets. Tuting, unlike Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in a movie, has no complicated Bucket List. The move tells the story of two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-do’s before they die, before they kick the bucket. The movie stars’ bucket list includes skydiving, Mustang driving, pyramid-climbing, flying over the North Pole, eating dinner at Chevre d’Or in France, visiting the Taj Mahal in India and the Great Wall in China, and going on a lion safari in Africa.

Tuting goes for the matter of the heart, no socially prestigious bucket list for him. He is getting it right with God. Like us he has marginalized God as Jesus was marginalized at His birth. There was no space in the public Inns, only a manger for Immanuel. He is now putting God at the center. He made the confession during a year-end presscon at the provincial capitol. He said it in a few words. “Karon nga gihimo mo akong gobernador, nganong dali ko nimong kuhaon.”

One day at a time, Tuting is seizing the moment to fill it with love in reaching out for the marginalized. The provincial government has just acquired two cargo trucks to bring farmers’ produce from the hinterlands to the poblacion and city markets. More important than the material benefits is the love and care that the provincial capitol is extending to the poor farmers and their families who are marginalized by the peace and order problem.

Tuting hopes to stamp that trademark in his remaining days–a love fellowship with his people as manifest of his love relationship with God. “Carpe Diem, Carpe Deum.” That is a matter of the God-shaped heart. There ought to be a heart of any human-conceived matter–a stewardship of righteousness, a reality of the heart.

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