By Sedfrey A. Ordoñez
They say life starts at forty. Not really. It starts, to many people like justice secretary Ordoñez, at eighty. As life span gets longer and longer, people will ask, "What will I do when I'm eighty?
Dedicated to those who will turn eighty in a few years or so. Facing the sunset of life is perhaps the most rewarding, the most beautiful, the most fulfilling stage of man's brief sojourn on earth. And it is the most important because it bridges our being mortal with meeting our Creator, indeed a singular gift of God to Man.
This is a memorable photograph of some of our own literary giants: (left to right) the late poet and author of Life Cycles, Sedfrey Ordoñez (Justice Secretary and permanent representative to the United Nations); doyen of Philippine contemporary poetry Ophelia A Dimalanta, Hortencia Santos Sankore, Larry Francisco, and the late national artist and poet Jose Villa. Like Secretary Ordoñez, the late Dean Dimalanta and Jose Villa left invaluable lessons in life to the younger generations.
Today the first of September
In this year of our Lord
Nineteen Hundred Ninety-One
I am clear-minded seventy
And ten years from now
As tumultuous twentieth century
Slip away like a leaf in the wind
I will be, God bless me, eighty.
I will not count the coming years nor be
Worried by calendars thrown away
Because I will be very busy –
Not engrossed in counting y blessings
For these are blazed in the brain
But work figuring the ways
Of loving humanity,
Striving to be human,
Making peace and avoiding war.
When I reach eighty
You and I will date our letters
Two thousand one A.D.
But have you ever pondered
What is a mere two thousand years
Beside the life of a universe?
Merely simply contemplating
The enormity of the tasks ahead
Urges me to start right now
And fill my last ten years
With the wisdom,
With the daring,
With the vision
Of the Master.
The late Sedfrey Ordoñez served as Secretary of Justice, Human Rights Commissioner and permanent Philippine Representative to the United Nations. I have had the rare opportunity of meeting him as a writer and friend.