By Mari Enriquez**

(This was delivered on July 26, 2008, family and friends came together to remember Josemari "Joey" Enriquez, tagged Kristo by those in the movement. For the first time, they collectively mourned his loss, albeit without Kristo's body. The tribute was also meant to introduce the man -- his life, ways, thoughts and beliefs -- to her daughter, Julia Enriquez, who was only 2 years old when her father was forcibly taken, as well as to the youth and public at large. Julia was concerned -- does the youth still care for the desaparecido? So she, too, showed her film, entitled "Wer na U?")
No one can blame us why we waited 20 years for this tribute to happen. The mere mention of Kristo’s name evokes the whole gamut of pain, inspiration, joy, frustration, anger and hopelessness for us in wait.
Kristo, to me, means I have to step up. Always. I can remember in our younger years, he played, studied and debated with conviction.
Now I can understand partly why. Maybe, it was because he knew he needed to make the most of his short life. No room for excuses, no place for mediocrity. He lived to excel academically and in whatever he believed in. He expected the same from those he cared about.
He taught me all those games -- basketball, chess, game of the generals, Chinese checkers, monopoly, jai alai -- all the rules and the strategies. For him, it wasn’t just a game. I had to strive to win. Otherwise, he would not play with me again. I could not ask him about my school homework, he said no one helped him do his. That was the time when my middle name was tanga.
I always thought he was pretty damn smart. Talented, too, that he could produce a mean, expressive sketch or drawing in a few minutes...that taking up engineering as early as high school was second nature to him. Constantly creative, he could invent games and make mini-boats out of blankets so we could sing “we all live in a yellow submarine”. He seemed to have the answer to all the questions. But he was mostly introspective. He has a way of looking at things differently. Very uncommon. I thought he was just trying hard to be unordinary. But he was consistent. He’d smirk when he sees me carrying “Mills & Boon”.
“Pinahiram lang sa kin, eh”
“Ba’t mo babasahin?”
He would often quiz me. In our elementary days (he was only a year older than me), he’d say, spell ‘shivreley”.
“Write it, how would you spell it?”
So I wrote the way he pronounced it.
Then he crossed it out, bigger than the space I scribbled it in. And he wrote, “Chevrolet.”
“Ay ang daya, bawal ang noun.”
He turned out to be the spelling champion in the elementary level.
In high school he’d ask, “who’s Led Zep’s drummer?”
“Robert Plant?”
“Ay tanga”
“Why did Kiss look that way?”
“Because they’re gay?”
“Ay sus, magbasa ka nga”
“What’s the meaning of goodbye yellow brick road?”
“Ewan ko!”
“Ba’t di ka nakikinig ng music?”
“Who’s Daniel in that song by Elton John?”
“His lover?
“Sinabi na nga -- Daniel my brother, eh”
“Malay ko ba, napaka passionate nya dun sa kanta, eh“
When he liked rock, it was not soft rock or jazzy rock, it had to be hard rock. He assembled a radio in high school, a school project, but he did not put a cover on it. It had to look robotic, in tune with the RJ station he was listening to, all day long. He used to listen to that loud music while he was reading or studying his lessons. He hung out with the musicians at the Sta. mesa apartments where we lived, and they built this small room dugout sort of at the back of one of the units.
It was cool. May madilim na ilaw na parang folkhouse sa Mabini. Doon sila nagja-jamming. He didn’t play but he knew all the lyrics to the songs. He whispered, he didn’t really sing. He dabbled with the guitar and the harmonica. He was the leader of the lot, respected even by the guys older than him. At first, they wouldn’t allow me and my friends to go to that dugout but he wanted to show that off to me. I saw their names painted on the wall (actually their aliases, no rocker gives out his true name) and the elegantly designed bar. Ever the protective brother, he introduced me to beer, hard drinks and all those crazy things that teens do.
It started as being unordinary. Then it evolved to being a rebel. In high school, I could see him reading Stalin when I was into Perry Mason and Harold Robbins. He had that high when he joined the Laban noise barrage. He actively asked his friends and our neighbors to join in.
In college, having done all those teenagers’ rites of passage, he delved into political readings. He was holding on to Dostoevsky and Marx, when I was already awed with Ludlum. I thought he was way ahead of his time. It was understandable for him to look for the most politicized group at the UP Engineering building to channel his burning mind and spirit.
He went on to become the first activist in the family. Well, Tatay was also an activist but not into the deep shit that Kristo was involved in.
I have to admit he really had that magnetic influence on people that he came in contact with. For one, he had that air of mystery around him. You had to know him to get a dose of who he really was. Again, he did not try to be that way to be “crush ng bayan”. It was just natural for him not to open up. His friends here know that he does not like talking about himself.
Yet the few words that he gave out were followed by the walk. He did what he said. As early as his first year in college, he knew he was going to be a Tibak. He was very proud in telling us that he was part of the movement. I thought it would pass. When he was caught by Nanay that he was no longer attending his classes, he continued to stand by his decision to go full-time. It was of course very hard for a mother to accept. It didn’t matter to Kristo. He was hell-bent on his plans to serve the people through the movement.
He chose to be UG, maybe because he felt he was more needed in organizing work. I never saw him relenting, even as most of his sisters had already taken on a similar path. Despite the emotional struggle in the family getting more intense, he wouldn’t give up. He was G and D, but he never really looked at things in black and white. Now that I hear his friends saying he had his sights on joining the armed struggle, I was surprised when he questioned me about convincing my ex-karelasyon to go to the countryside.
He loved to drink, he still had that "bourgeois" way even when he was in the community. I guess his exclusive boys’ school upbringing was partly to blame. He was an intellectual, loved to talk to himself, thinking aloud, but always stopped short of being judgmental about other peoples’ ideas. He was not always understood but he tried really hard to understand even if it was “katangahan”, which I cannot say for myself when he was dealing with me.
He was really fond of kids. He would give up meetings to take care of Janred, the first nephew in the family. He willed to revolve his world around Bonini when she was born. Always patient, he could keep up all night looking after his panganay, like he was. He would not complain to hungry baby cries in the middle of the night. He could make his next day’s balangkas ng pulong while keeping watch, anyway.
No one can categorize Kristo. Because he was never really square. I guess this confusion about him, partly, led to the movement’s doubting him. Well, aside from their katangahan. In custody and while being tortured, Kristo was, consistent with his personality, relentless. He tried to convince and explain to his comrades that what they were doing was wrong. He followed this up with a hunger strike, true to his word, and to prove that indeed, they were wrong about doubting him. Step up, Kristo did. His body gave way but his spirit lived on. One of his comrades during custody told us that he salutes Kristo for having been strong and consistent. He was touched by Kristo. One of his guards snapped. This guard is still being haunted by that experience, 20 years after it happened.
Kristo lived his life so that we get to tell the tales. We sure hope his spirit dwells in your hearts so we can live... to stop the tales from happening again.
Saludo kami sa iyo, Kristo, ang mahal naming K’Joey. We miss you.
* Short for Kuya Joey (pronounced ‘joi’), our eldest brother, born January 15, 1961, and victim of forced disappearance since July 27, 1988.
** Among the siblings, she lived the most years with him.