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Dr. Norberto L. Mercado, DD, yearns to help bring peace to his war-torn country, the Philippines, through a unique "water for fire" strategy. The youngest graduate in the history of the National Defense College of the Philippines stresses that the strategy being adopted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in confronting communist insurgency and Muslim separatism is "heroic", but it is a sure formula of defeat.
"In this age of revolution, the contemporary writer should utilize the pen for the preservation of peace," Norberto L. Mercado, a Filipino author, stressed. This is the reason why all the 13 books he had written in 37 months, an average of one book in three months, as well as the anthologies he has written and published, unapologetically assert the indispensability of peace in a nation’s progress.
The author has written more novels than any Asian writer has in just a brief period of time. In fact, he has surpassed the number of novels written by world-renowned novelists like Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn (winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1970) and American authors Ernest Hemingway (winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1954) and William Faulkner. Solzhenitsyn has four novels to his credit, while Hemingway has eight.
His style of writing is simple and succinct, but poignant and colorful. Hemingway’s THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, which won for him the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature, is as simple as I DON’T NEED A THRONE, Norbert’s novel about the love story of the Princess of Thailand. Said novels are just as simple as Solzhenitsyn’s ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DESONOVICH. "The simpler the novel, the better," he said.
In line with Japanese Yasunari Kabawata’s writings about the Japanese way of life, most of Norbert’s novels focus mostly on the current situation in his country. Kabawata is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968.
His books present hope to the Filipino, especially to the "economic exiles" in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan whom he has spent most of his time with, in their daily struggles. But most of all, his novels lucidly show the futility of war and violence in the resolution of political-economic-class conflicts in the Philippines.
"War should not be used as an instrument in resolving political conflicts. Writers who abet wars and revolutions must think of the widows and the fatherless, the chaos, destruction, and suffering of the people whom they claim to be concerned about," he said.
He grieves over the more than 50,000 Filipinos who have fallen victims of the current communist insurgency, and hundreds of thousands who have been wounded or displaced, the more than 30,000 victims of the Mindanao conflict, and the victims of a series of coup d'état in the Philippines.
"Most of the victims are Filipinos. And even those who are not have as much right to life and peace as anyone else."
Dr. Mercado said that if Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo adopts his simple and unique "water for fire strategy", peace will come to the Philippines within a few years’ time. He stressed that the strategy being adopted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines is "heroic, but a sure formula of defeat".
What if, like Solzhenitsyn, Hemingway, and Kabawata, he eventually wins the Nobel Prize? What will he do with the US$1,000,000 award?
"I will use the prize for establishing a Peace Foundation that will assist in the formulation of policies which will resolve the current shooting conflicts in the country. Many have died, too many have suffered, too many tears have been shed," he said.
He will take charge of the foundation and personally campaign for a peaceful settlement of the conflicts in the Philippines.
"The insurgency and the secessionist rebellion have foreign supports. A Nobel title will give me the personality to approach the leaders involved in the conflicts," he explained.
Born on March 25,1955, he is the youngest among the children of Mr. and Mrs. Aurelio Mercado, Sr. of San Manuel, Tarlac. He graduated from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, with two degrees, Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Communication.
Voted Outstanding Campus Journalist in 1974, he was a columnist and associate editor of the Philippine Collegian, the weekly newspaper of the University of the Philippines system.
He has also written articles for various newspapers and magazines in the Philippines, as well as abroad.
He also won the 1981 National Essay Writing Contest sponsored by SIDESTREETS Magazine.
Norbert is a graduate of the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP), the topmost armed forces school in the country, where he was conferred a master’s degree in National Security Administration (MNSA) and the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
He graduated from the NDCP at the age of 32, the youngest in Class 21 which had already produced several generals in the Armed Forces, and the youngest graduate in the history of the National Defense College of the Philippines. He was elected one of the fifteen directors of Class 21.
He was conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity (Applied Servanthood), Honoris Causa, for his almost 30 years work in Christian literature. His batch mates include Senator Robert Barbers, Undersecretary of Trade and Industry and Bulletin Columnist Nelly Villafuerte, Actor and Producer Fred Galang, Rev. Peter Vasaya, and the His Royal Highness Sultan of Sulu and Sabah Ishmael Kiram.
A sports lover, he was a rifle marksman in his UP ROTC days, and a winner of the 1988 and 1989 5,000 meter-run sponsored by the National Defense College Alumni Association. His sports include swimming, basketball, volleyball, boxing, karate, cycling, and marathon among others.
A traveler, he has attended various international conferences-trainings in Asia and Europe. His travels have widened his insight not only of places, but also of people he has constantly observed and empathized with.
He is the youngest graduate of the Singapore Haggai Institute for Third World Leaders in 1980 at the age of 24.
"Let us work for peace in our country, in any way we can," Norbert stressed. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers."
Ria M. Mercado