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Betrayal and Renewal

For a country whose population is more than 80% Catholics, Holy Week is definitely a very sacred time of the year as the faithful commemorate the sacrifices and resurrection of Jesus Christ.


It is a time when Filipinos troop to the provinces—to visit families or vacation with families. But some stay put in Metro Manila to enjoy the relatively quiet and traffic-less streets of our urban jungle.


This temporary break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life affords us an opportunity to clear our heads, hoping that, just like Jesus, we will experience a rebirth the week after Easter in order to face life with renewed faith and vigor.


The downtime should also provide us with valuable time to reflect. Reflection means looking back and making sense of our past experiences. As human beings, we learn by experiences and mistakes. But we can only learn if we question ourselves about what these experiences mean to our lives, especially as we move forward.


I remember when I was young, the other kids in my neighborhood would be playing outside but I would always find myself lost in thought by our window staring at the sky. My mother, Nanay Curing, would ask me, “Ano ba iniisip mo at mukhang malalim?” But I thank Nanay Curing for letting me be. She allowed me that time to just be alone with my thoughts. We should all use this Holy Week reprieve to reflect on the life and sacrifice of Christ and how it can shed light on our own lives.


April 17 is Holy Wednesday. According to the Holy Week timeline, this is the day Judas Iscariot decided to betray Jesus. Matthew recounted this event to us (26:14-16):


One of the 12 disciples — the one named Judas Iscariot — went to the chief priests and asked, “What will you give me if I betray Jesus to you?” They counted out 30 silver coins and gave them to him. From then on Judas was looking for a good chance to hand Jesus over to them.


This is one of the most powerful stories in the Bible. It is probably the most famous betrayal in history along with Brutus’ betrayal of one of his closest friends, Julius Caesar, which popularized the classic line “Et tu Brutus?”


To betray someone means to break a trust, contract, or confidence of another as in a husband breaking the vow of fidelity to his wife. It can also mean aiding the enemy as in becoming a traitor to an organization’s or country’s cause. The Makapili of our own history come to mind. Betrayal can also include breaking a promise to someone or breaching one’s confidence.


We all have experienced betrayal in our lives. Sometimes from our loved ones, at times in our work. In politics, betrayal is considered commonplace. I remember when I was still in politics, there were many people who would profess loyalty to you only to knife you in the back when you no longer served their self-interests. It’s the same thing in business or in the workplace. Somebody might take credit for a job you did, or someone might break the terms of a contract you just agreed on.


My experience in both the worlds of politics and business has taught me one rule in dealing with betrayal: learn from it, let go, and move on. You have to deal with the pain of a broken trust of course, but it should also give you the opportunity to understand your weaknesses and the character of the people around you. Remember, what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.


But the most important thing is to let go and move on. You cannot live your life in perpetual misery. You need to accept that while people are fundamentally good, some make bad decisions. So you need to make a good decision to move on. Life is too precious to be spent sulking. Each betrayal I experienced made me a more astute politician, a smarter businessman, and, more importantly, a better person.