The Truth of the Matter


HENRYLITO D. TACIO

Mr. Tacio, who hails from Davao, is a correspondent of the Asian edition of Reader’s Digest. He is the first and only Filipino journalist to have been elevated to the Hall of Fame in science reporting by the Philippine Press Institute. In 1999, the Rotary Club of Manila bestowed him the Journalist of the Year award. He is also East Asia’s contributing editor of the People & the Planet based in London.

For comments, henrytacio@gmail.com


Frank Mihalic, the man behind The Next 500 Stories, featured this story in his book:

A famous clergyman was preaching one Sunday in the summertime and noticed that many of his audience were drowsing. Suddenly, he paused, and then in a very loud voice, related an incident that no connection whatever with his sermon.

It went like this: “I was once riding along a country road and came to the house of a farmer. I stopped for a bit when I saw a stranger than I had ever seen in my life. There was a sow with a litter of ten little pigs. She and her piglets had a long curved horn growing out their forehead between the ears.”

At this point, the clergyman stopped and ran his eyes over the congregation. Everybody was wide awake. So he remarked, “How strange it all is! A few minutes ago, when I was telling you the truth, you all went to sleep. But now, when you have heard a whopping lie, you are all wide awake.”

In Mountain of Crumbs, author Elena Gorokhova wrote: “The rules are simple: they lie to us, we know they’re lying, they know we know they’re lying, but they keep lying to us, and we keep pretending to believe them.”

The statement came to my mind after reading the story below sent to me via e-mail by a friend. Frankly speaking, some of experiences that happened to the originator of the story also occurred to me. That is the reason why I can relate with what the author (whoever he is) wrote.

Read the full story – which I am printing in toto – to fully comprehend what I am talking about…

My story began when I was a child. I was born to a poor family. Oftentimes, we ran out of food. Most of the time, my mother would gave me her portion of rice. While she was removing her rice into my bowl, she would say “You can have this rice, my son. I’m not hungry.”

The Next 500 Stories

While I was growing up, my mother made use of her spare time fishing in a river near our house. She hoped that the fish she caught would give me some nutritious food for my growth. After fishing, she would cook the fish. While I was sipping the soup, mother would sit beside me and eat the leftover meat from the fish I was eating. Seeing what she was doing, I gave some fish. She would decline and said these words: “Eat it, my son. I don’t really like fish.”

When I was in high school, my mother was selling second-hand clothes to support my studies. At night, I would see my mother sewing those tattered clothes over a little candlelight. I usually urged her to sleep since it was already very late at night. She would just smile and reply, “Go to sleep, my dear. I’m not tired.”

During my final examination, I usually study hard. My mother would accompany me and see to it that I had all what I needed. She would prepare hot milk for me since the nights were cold. When I saw my mother was shivering, I gave her the milk she had prepared for me. “My son, drink it,” she said. “You know that I don’t drink milk.”

My father died ahead of my mother. Since he left nothing, my mother had to work to support me. I can sensed that she had a hard time and wasn’t capable of supporting the two of us. A neighbor advised her to marry again, but she replied, “I don’t need love. I have my son.”

Finally, I was able to finish college and got a job. It was the time my old mother has to retire from work. But she didn’t want to; she was selling some vegetables in the market. Since I was working in the city, I had to send her money to help her but she would not accept the money. Even if she had to miss some meals, she said, “I have enough money.”

Wanting to have a higher position in the company I was working, I attended a well-known university taking a Master Degree, under the company’s scholarship program. After two years, I finished the degree and was promoted. I had enough that I can now bring my mother to anywhere in the world. When I invited her to join me while vacationing in the United States, she answered, “I’m not used to.”

At the age of 80, my mother was diagnosed of having a cancer. It was not until she was hospitalized that I learned of her illness. After getting the news from one of our neighbors, I immediately flew to our hometown.

At the hospital, I found my mother lying down in bed, weak, thin, and had hard time breathing. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I looked at her for few seconds while tears were flowing on my face. I came to her and hug her. But my mother, with her remaining strength, told me, “Don’t cry my dear. I’m not in pain.”

After saying those words, she closed her eyes forever!

The son knew that through all the years, what his mother was telling him were all lies. He knew she was in pain. He knew she wanted to see the world. He knew that she liked fish and milk. But knowing that he needed it more than her, she said the other way around.

American president Abraham Lincoln once reminded, “You can fool some people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”

“What is a lie?” asked George Gordon Noel Byron. “It is but the truth in masquerade.” To which Mark Twain adds, “It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”

Let me end this piece with another story. A priest saw a group of little boys sitting in a circle with a dog in the middle. He asked them what they were doing with the dog. One boy said, “We are doing nothing to the dog; we’re just telling lies, and the one that tells the biggest one gets the dog.”

The priest told them he was much shocked, that when he was a little boy he would never have even thought of telling a lie. The little boy thought for a while, and then declared, “Give him the dog, fellers.”

Ayd Rand in Atlas Shrugged, wrote: “People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked. The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on.”

The Truth of the Matter 2