lean alejandro (1960-1987)

he was assassinated 26 years ago today.  soon after, i wrote this piece for the manila chronicle (via iskho lopez ).


When I heard that Lean Alejandro had been shot — my son had been watching That’s Entertainment when GMA-7’s character generator spelled out the news — my heart sank.

I never met Lean but I had encountered him often enough on television these last four or five years to feel like I knew him, and to be touched by his death.

The images are clar. In Marcos’s time, of an angry and audacious young activist. In Aquino’s time, of a recalcitrant critic.

Television didn’t tell me about the beachwalk slippers, but I might have guessed, given his upper torso’s usually nondescript look. Which I thought added considerably to his credibility as a spokesman for the colonially oppressed.

When Lean plunged into electoral politics last May, I read it as a sign of his willingness to work for reforms within the framework of Cory’s system. When he lost, and bitterly, I hoped he would recover. A couple of months later, I caught him hurling questions at the military about the ambush of Bernabe Buscayno, and it was good to see and hear him back in form.

Constant and consistent, and always up front, Lean registered as no other leftist did. In my wildest dreams for this dawning age of Aquarius, I had seen Lean eventually sitting down with centrists and rightists of his generation, together hammering out a nationalist ideology and program of government which would make our fragmented nation at last whole and dynamic and sovereign.

But he’s gone now. Which means a change of cast, which will in turn change, even if subtly, the final product. Unless, of course, Lean’s spirit is kept alive, his words and works remembered and shared, in time to be added to, enhanced, and brought to fruition.

Which is, I know, optimistic of me. In reality, I wonder if we’ll ever see Lean on TV again. In a film documentary, for instance, like we did Ninoy and Evelio. Or will he go the way of fellow leftist Rolando Olalia — already a fading, because unreinforced, memory.