“Marami kaming ginawang kalokohan, nagkayayaan kami minsan, di lang kami, actually magkakabarkada, magkayayaan. Tara ano tayo, stroll tayo. Tapos eventually nasa Baguio na kami. Dun na kami matutulog, wala naman kaming tutulugan dun,” (We were in a lot of mischief. Once, we and our friends were together so somebody proposed that we go for a stroll. We eventually ended up in Baguio with no place to sleep.) shared JL.
Jonas, a hybrid of activism and conservatism
Being the son of the late press freedom hero, editor and publisher Jose Burgos, and the conservative Edita Burgos, Jonas experienced the best from both of worlds. His parents, having different views, also had different styles of teaching their kids lessons about life.
According to JL, his father’s philosophy is to let them learn through the outcome of their actions. On the other hand, his mother believes that they should know the consequence of their actions even before they do something.
“Ang philosophy ng tatay, ko sige gawin nyo yan, later on marerealize niyang mali siya, at matututo siya. Ang nanay ko naman, ipapaliwanag na yung mangyayari bago pa man naming gawin, medyo tinatakot kami ng nanay ko, pero si Kuya Jay, pinipili laging subukan muna bago niya matutuhan” (The philosophy of our father was to let us experience things to learn from our mistakes. Our mother would explain the probable consequences of our actions to scare us from proceeding. But Kuya Jay always chose to do it anyway to see what would happen.) JL said.
JL related the story about the dragonfly.
It was one of those days when boredom got the best of Jonas so he decided to go to their backyard to find something exciting to do. He caught a glimpse of a dragonfly, was fascinated with what he saw, and decided to catch it. When he finally did, he went inside their house to show the dragonfly to their parents.
“Nung nakita nang nanay ko na hawak niya na yung tutubi, sabi ng nanay ko, O! wag mo kainin yan,” (When our mother saw him holding the butterfly she admonished him not to try to eat it. ) JL narrated, but being the adventurous kid he was, he ate the dragonfly, “sabi niya, O, wala na!” (See, it’s gone!)
Although Mr. and Mrs. Burgos see things in different ways, they never hindered their children from expressing their views on issues that affects the family. When important decisions are to be made, the Burgos family gathers in what they call as ‘family council’. Granting that their father always has the final say on things, the children are allowed to agree or disagree with their father’s decision.
“Nagkakaroon kami ng family council, kapag may importanteng desisyon, lahat kami ay may karapatang magsalita. May freedom talaga kami na mag-suggest at magdecide para sa kung ano mang nararapat sa pamilya. Isa yun sa klaseng dynamism ng pamilya,” (We always have our family council whenever an important decision is to be made concerning the family and everyone is allowed to express his or her opinion. That is the dynamism in our family.) JL shared.
The making of an activist
Jonas decided to take up Political Science in San Beda College in Mendiola, and during his stay there, he got himself involved in an organization called Solidarity, the youth counterpart of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), which aimed to provide assistance to farmers.
Jonas’s constant exposure to the plight of farmers made him decide to drop out from San Beda and transfer to Benguet State University where he took up Agriculture.
After graduating from college and being awarded for having the Best Thesis Paper, Jonas decided to be a farmer by profession, rejecting offers from big companies asking for his expertise on research.
“Jonas’s thesis was cited as the best when he graduated from college and he could have been a researcher in big corporations, but he chose to be a farmer,” Mrs. Burgos narrated.
Jonas moved to San Miguel, Bulacan when both of his parents retired, and he started to cultivate their farm land.
“Ang plano niya talaga ay magsaka, yun ang gusto niya. Makakain, merong sariling tirahan, Gusto niya lang kubo, yung may kalabaw, importante kase sa magsasaka yun,” (He wanted to be a farmer. All he wanted was to have something to eat and a place to stay. He wanted a simple hut and a carabao to till the land.) said JL.
There, he taught farmers new and innovative ways of organic farming, which was his thesis, and conducted special classes for free. Not long after he started his training program, he joined an organization called Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Bulacan, a local chapter of KMP, and eventually, taught the members of the organization about organic farming as well.
This was his role during the day, but come night time, he played the role of a tanggero.
“Mahilig siya uminom! Mahilig , gabi gabi umiinom yan, nasa kwan, kase, siya nagpauso ng gabi gabi umiinom kasama yung mga farmers, gin. Siya parati bumibili, siya pasimuno,” (He loved to drink. He would drink with farmers every night. He bought gin and took the lead in passing the glass of gin for everybody to drink.) JL shared.