Repository of my thoughts and images of art, literature, travel, and life.
I will join the rally tomorrow, August 26, at Luneta Park. The meet-up for the UP faculty, student, and communities will be at Quezon Hall, 7 a.m. I will be there and I will physically register my protest against the continuation of PDAF.
The pork barrel issue is something that I’ve been hearing about since I was a child. I joined the school paper and journalism contests since Grade 3, I was about 8 or 9. At that age, I was being trained, mostly by my mother, to process and think about social issues. Along with my Nancy Drew, Choose Your Own Adventures, and Hardy Boys, I was reading The Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star, and The Manilla Bulletin. My mother, early on, trained me to see that a story will have very different perspectives from different writings. One of the first issues that I had to learn as I prepare to write was the pork barrel, this was 20 years ago.
I don’t remember the particulars of my early training. What I know is that 20 years ago, I recognize the pork barrel system as a serious problem of our society and something had to be done about it. Years go by, innumerable social issues came and went, yet, the pork barrel is still there. It’s as if very few Filipinos recognize this problem, or any other social issue for that matter. For a little while, it caused me to disengage and be disillusioned from writing and fighting for what I know is right. For a while, I honestly did not care, I wrote about other things, I went out with friends, I partied, and I let go. Luckily, disillusionment does not last forever. Eventually, I know I had to go back to a path that I have set myself in, but have disengaged from for so long.
For those who read what I write, you know that my first official rally was the SONA 2013. I have written and have leftist leanings for as long as I can remember, but by the time I got to UP, I was tired from all the student publication writings and I simply engaged in more academic works. I joined the SONA 2013 because I know that the time is right for me to join. It was peaceful enough before someone gave the orders to disperse us. I was crushed, I was scared, but I also knew that this is an important experience for me. I had to learn how to be on the street. I was physically crushed, but my mind and my spirit soared. I knew I had to fight, and I recognized the importance of why my ideals had to be brought to the street. This is a symbol of dissent, and symbols are important. I even shared this with my students, people may insult the rallyists, but, without rallies on the street, there is no other proof that there is something wrong and that there are those who refuse to accept this wrong. If the symbolic dissent dies, then the dissent will die with it. I know that we have to keep on fighting.
I do not go to this blind. I know that there are individuals that may have different agendas from me, particularly political agendas. But this does not make the fight any less valid. Last night, I was watching Al Jazeera and they were talking about the conflicts in Egypt and Syria. Media filters are powerful weapons too, I know that what I am hearing is not the complete truth. Istanbul’s conflicts were silenced by the mainstream media as well, it wasn’t until they took their fight to the streets that the fight was recognized. Then, the fight infinitely became more powerful. Marching on the street makes the dissent more potent. We cannot let go of this fight, we have to take it to the street.
A part of me feels angry when some netizens insult leftist groups, to the point that they think they are riding the bandwagon on the pork barrel issue. For as long as I can remember, and this is my personal 20-year memory of the issue, the leftist groups have been consistently fighting against pork barrel and have been calling for its abolition ever since. Long before we learned the name Janet Lim Napoles, long before the PhP10 Billion Pork Barrel Scam, there was a fight against this. Most people just didn’t hear it, because most people were blinded by the black propaganda that the left are mostly hired rallyists, uneducated, poor, undisciplined, and violent. The dissent was always there, most Filipinos just refused to see it for what it is. But the more important fact is that, now, we all recognize the problem, and we are all fighting against it.
In preparation for tomorrow’s March, we had a meeting last Friday. Concerns were raised, discussions were engaged in. After that, it was also a time for remembrance for those who died during the Ampatuan massacre. There were some media there, but it was a no-fuss affair. Candles were lit, prayers were made, and speeches were given. There are a lot of things I can say about the media corporations, but I also recognized the fact that the Philippines is a dangerous place for journalists. They live their lives at a great sacrifice. I remember this in particular now because of a Facebook discussion with a friend, about the ideal Philippines that needs death and sacrifice at a great personal loss. But there have been too much death and too much sacrifice already, what more can this nation want of our blood? Journalists die, activists die, police die, military die, artists die, innumerable people die for a cause… Those of us who lives often live at a great sacrifice. I’m a UP teacher and there is no need to point out how much I am paid and I know for a fact that I am one of the lucky ones. My father died for a cause and my mother lived for one. There are too many stories of life and death, and sacrifice.
Tomorrow, I will march again and I do not know what will happen. I sincerely hope for a peaceful assembly. This fight is only the beginning, but for the first time in a very long time, I see a united Filipino nation. We are united–not for a boxing game, or a basketball game, or a singer in a faraway land. For the first time in a very long time, we are united to fight for what we all know is right. We can start with the PDAF. Imagine all those billions of pesos going to education, health, and housing. Maybe someday soon our students will not need the politician’s scholarships because education will be affordable, our sick will not need the mayor’s help because our hospitals are free, and maybe there would be no more informal settlers because there are affordable housing for everyone near the work place. I know this is idealistic, but it is also possible. We have billions and billions of pesos, we just need to channel it to our basic needs, maybe then we can grow and move forward as Filipinos.