By LUIS ADRIAN A. HIDALGO
MANILA — Nearly two years of detainment has tested his spirit, but that didn’t stop poet-activist Ericson Acosta from standing by his cause and principles.
A week after the trumped-up charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence, Acosta found himself in the midst of friends and supporters in a small gathering at the Conspiracy Bar last February 12. It was a night of poetry and music in celebration of his regained freedom – a victory shared by Acosta himself and the people who fought for his release.
The artista ng bayan looked well in his black printed shirt and pants; his long hair tied at the back. Just a few days before, he was discharged from the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City, where he has been receiving treatment for nephritis.
That evening, no one saw an ailing Ericson Acosta. Onstage was a free, principled man, eager to continue from where he had left off before his arrest. Through his songs and poems, he continued his cause even in the face of detention.
“My experience being jailed has contributed so much to my art. My firsthand experience of things I once read and observed, such as human rights violations, terrorism of the state, and fascism, gave me a deeper understanding of the truth,” he shared in Filipino.
In his continuing struggle Acosta chose art as his weapon of choice. His voice, guitar and pen became his tools in forwarding his cause.
Writing was not an easy thing to do behind bars, the former Philippine Collegian literary editor admitted.
“It was not easy for me to write in that kind of condition but I continued to push on,” he said. “Eventually, I learned to get by and write, and considered writing as my task while I was still in prison. I treated it as my weapon in revealing what is true, in struggling against state harassment, as well as spreading the experiences of other political detainees.”
To an artist such as Ericson Acosta, art is a “sharp reflection of life.”
“Art is not simply ‘art for art’s sake,’ which is a mindset that art is merely for the creation of art or solely for the individual’s wish to express the self,” he explains. “To many artists and writers, art is one way to show the truth to society and to express their cause.”
The time Ericson Acosta spent in detention made him seem like a legend to many, seen only in posters, protests, and petitions. Now, he is once again a free man, back with his friends and family as if he was never stopped, albeit temporarily, from the path he chose.