Tuesday, August 27, 2013

GUEST POST | Ang aking unang karanasan sa pakikibaka

Foreword
Yesterday, August 26, 2013, it happened. Throngs of people trooped to the Luneta Park grounds in Manila to call for the abolition of the pork barrel and to demand accountability from those who have misused it.

Before this, citizens -- taxpayers most of all -- were already enraged by rampant corruption in government highlighted by the alleged Php 10 billion pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim-Napoles, who is now in hiding after a warrant for her arrest was issued. Then just less than two weeks ago, the Commission on Audit (COA) released a bombshell of a special audit report on the PDAF, and people went berserk on social media. Almost immediately, the call to join a rally at Luneta spread online.

Silence from both Palace and lawmakers followed, as if they were stunned. Then one by one we hear them either suddenly declaring their support for the abolition of the pork barrel or pathetically trying to defend the need for it, only to flip-flop later on. We also heard parties, the Palace included, trying to discredit the COA report on grounds of inaccurate figures (that were, by the way, only based on erroneous records of the Department of Budget and Management). And then the ultimate act of desperation came with BS Aquino's announcement that it was time to abolish the pork barrel when just days ago he adamantly defended it. More so, he never really intends to abolish it because by supposedly implementing a new and better system, he is merely doing a "makeover" on the PDAF, perhaps even disguising it as something else. It was arguably a last-ditch effort to stop the rally from happening.

#MillionPeopleMarch (gma7)
Aerial shot of the Luneta rally. [Photo from gmanetwork.com]

But the rally did happen. I have no contest that the number of attendees did not make it to a million even if it was dubbed the #MillionPeopleMarch. It was a citizen-initiated protest, powered mostly by the middle class. Looking around, it was clear that these weren't really poor people, that these weren't the usual hakot crowd who are provided transportation and meals and paid a sum of money to attend. These were the people most aggrieved because these are the taxpaying people.

Below is an article written by a friend and fellow former mountaineer, anntanp. She's a "mompreneur" and an IT professional, and is but one of the many aggrieved taxpaying citizens of this country. It was her first time to attend any rally. She wrote the article in Filipino, and I have provided a translation after the original version.

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Ang Aking Unang Karanasan sa Pakikibaka
(My first experience at a protest rally)
By anntanp

Noong una kong nabasa ang blog post ng isang nanay sa internet at ang mga kalakip nitong mga comments galing kay Anonymous, nagalit, nalungkot, at nadismaya ako.

Nagalit ako dahil sa garapalang pagnanakaw at pangungurakot ng gobyerno at ng mga galamay nito.   Nalungkot at nadismaya ako dahil sa paulit-ulit at walang katapusang scams. Scam dito, scam doon, wala namang nangyayari, wala namang napaparusahan. Nag EDSA I, EDSA II, EDSA N, kulelat pa rin ang ating bansa.

'Yung mga dating presidenteng garapalang nangurakot, na-house arrest, na-hospital arrest; pero ngayon alkalde na at nasa kongreso pa yung isa. Asawa ng dating diktador na medyo may sayad, nasa kongreso pa rin. Dating hepe ng pulis na sinasabing mamamatay-tao, nasa senado pa rin kahit napabalitang nagtakas at nagtago sa batas. Mapapaluha ka talaga sa inis sa kawalan ng hustiya sa Pinas!

Napaisip tuloy ako kung ano ba ang pwedeng kong gawin bilang isang karaniwang mamamayan. Boboto na lang ba ako ng tama? 'Yun nga lang madidismaya ka rin pagdating ng eleksyon. Nakakatawang nakakainis ang pagkakaroon ng amnesia ng mga bumoboto.

Kaya nabuhayan ako ng loob noong nakatanggap ako ng FB (Facebook) event invite para sa OneMillionMarch (#MillionPeopleMarch). Na-engganyo akong sumama kasi isang karaniwang tao lang din na tulad ko ang nagpasimuno nito. Walang political party, walang career-rallyist. Natuwa ako nu'ng makita ko ang pangalan ng aking kapatid na isa sa mga dadalo.

Ito ang unang pagkakataon na sumali ako sa ganitong pagtitipon. Hindi ko na rin naisip na baka magkagulo or baka mapaano kami ng kapatid ko. Pero syempre, hindi ko na sinama ang aking anak.

Maayos naman ang pagtitipon; hindi ako nagsisi na sumali ako. Walang nagkakalat, matitino ang mga nandoon; halatang alam nila kung bakit kami naruruon. Hindi mo siya maihahalintulad sa mga pagkikilos na madalas mong makita sa telebisyon. Natuwa ako na pati ang mga portalet may tissue at mababango! Nu'ng sinabi ko nga sa mga kasamahan ko na mabango, akala nila sarcastic lang ako.

Nag-ikot muna kami para alam namin kung saan tatakbo sakaling magkagulo. Maputik pero malinis ang paligid. Maporma ang mga tao; may ibang halatang mountaineers din na tulad namin ng kapatid ko dahil sa mga gamit na dala-dala nila. May narinig akong isang lalaki na nakikipag-usap sa cellphone, "conyotic" (o sosyal) daw ang mga nasa Luneta.

Tiningnan ko ang FB at may nagtanong kung bakit nawawala ang D at E (antas ng pamumuhay). Sabi ng mga sumagot, hindi naman daw sila nagbabayad ng buwis, kaya hindi sila galit kasi hindi sila ang nanakawan.  Sa isip ko, malamang nasa evacuation centers pa ang karamihan sa kanila. Ang sabi naman ng aking kasambahay, baka raw tinakot ng baranggay captain nila na wala nang ipmumudmod kasi mawawala na ang pork barrel.

May nakausap akong mag-asawang mukhang karaniwang mamamayan din lang na tulad ko. Nagtataka sila kung bakit nasa Libingan ng mga Bayani si PNoy, samantalang si Rizal naman daw ang Pambansang Bayani at wala ni isang sampaguita sa tapat ng monumento nito. Napaisip tuloy ako kung ano kaya ang masasabi ni Rizal sa mga nangyayari. Malamang madidismaya rin siya sa kawalan ng tunay na kaunlaran.

Sumigaw kami ng "Makibaka...Huwag Magbaboy...Oink Oink Oink!" at pumirma sa petisyon sa pag-alis ng pork barrel. Dumating at itinaboy si Corona, rumampa si Juana Change, kumanta si Jim Paredes. Pero naantig ako sa kinanta ni Cardinal Tagle (kahit medyo asar din ako sa CBCP).

            Walang sinuman ang nabubuhay, para sa sarili lamang
            Walang sinuman ang namamatay, para sa sarili lamang
            Tayong lahat ay may pananagutan sa isa’t isa...

Pagkatapos ng pananghalian nagsiligpitan ng kalat at nagsi-uwian na ang mga dumalo. Kahit papa'no nalungkot ako nu'ng nalaman kong hanggang alas-dos lang pala ang rally. Nagsimula na naman akong makaramdam ng kawalan ng pag-asa. Pakiramdam ko kasi parang mawawalan na naman ng saysay ang pakikibaka.

Noong pauwi na kami, narinig ko ang pag-uusap ng isang souvenir vendor at isang rallyista. Nagpahiwatig ng pagkabahala ang vendor dahil mawawalan na raw sila ng tulong galing sa gobyerno. Matiyagang ipinaliwanag ng rallyista na kapag nawala ang pork barrel, hindi nangangahulugang lalo silang maghihirap, kundi mapupunta na sa kanila ang nararapat at hindi sa bulsa ng kung sinu-sino. 

Napagtanto ko na meron naman pala tayong magagawa para tulungan ang ating bayan gaano man kaliit.  Para sa mga tulad ko na nakakaalam sa mga isyu ng lipunan, kayang-kaya nating tulungan ang ibang taong hindi nakakaalam sa mga suliraning panlipunan. Tiyaga at pag-uunawa lamang ang ating kailangan.


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My first experience at a protest rally
By anntanp (Translation by halfwhiteboy)

When I first read a mom's blog post online, along with its comments from Anonymous, I was angered, saddened, and disappointed.

I was angered because of the shameless stealing and corruption in government and by its minions. I was saddened and disappointed because of the repeated and never-ending scams. There are scams here and there, yet nothing ever happens, no one is ever punished. There was EDSA I, EDSA II, EDSA N, but the Philippines remains a laggard.

Those past presidents who have flagrantly stolen from our country ended up in house arrest, hospital arrest; but now he's a mayor and the other one's in Congress. The wife of a former dictator, who's a bit cuckoo, is still in congress. A former police chief who's said to be a murderer is still in the Senate even if he reportedly went into hiding when he was wanted by the law. You will definitely tear up from frustration at the want of justice in the Philippines!

I thought about what I could do as an ordinary citizen. Should I just vote right? Even that alone will leave you frustrated come election time. It's both funny and annoying that voters suffer from amnesia.

I was suddenly filled with hope when I received an FB (Facebook) event invite for the OneMillionMarch (#MillionPeopleMarch). I was encouraged to join because it was just initiated by another ordinary person like me. No political party, no career-rallyist. I was happy when I saw my brother's name as one of the attendees.

This was the first time I joined a gathering like this. I no longer thought about whether there would be a commotion or what would happen to me and my brother. But of course I no longer brought my daughter along.

The gathering was orderly; I didn't regret joining. No one was littering, people there were sensible; it was obvious they knew why we were all there. You cannot liken it to other protest actions that you usually see on television. I was happy that even the portalets had toilet paper and they smelled good! When I told my friends it smelled good, they thought I was just being sarcastic.

We toured the site first so we'll know where to run should a commotion arise. It was muddy but the surroundings were clean. The people were well-dressed; there were some who were obviously mountaineers like me and my brother because of the equipment they brought along. I overheard a guy on the phone saying the people in Luneta were "conyotic" (a slang for upper class people, especially those who are usually out of touch with what lower class people have or do).

I checked FB and there was one who asked why the D and E crowd (lower class) were missing. People answered, they don't don't pay taxes, so they are not angry because they are not the ones who were stolen from. In my mind, though, most of them are probably still in the evacuation centers. On the other hand, my house help quipped, maybe their baranggay captain (the leader of the smallest local government unit within a municipality) tried to scare them that there will be no more money to dole out because of the pork barrel's abolition.

I had the chance to talk to a couple who seemed ordinary citizens just like me. They were wondering why PNoy (a common reference to the President) was at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery) when it's (Jose) Rizal who's our national hero and yet there wasn't even one garland of sampaguita in front of his monument. It had me thinking about what Rizal might have said about what's happening right now. He'd probably be disappointed too with the lack of any real progress.

We shouted, "Let's fight...Don't be a pig...Oink Oink Oink!" and signed the petition to abolish the pork barrel. (Impeached Chief Justice Renato) Corona came and was cast away, Juana Change (a protest character by actress Mae Paner) strutted her stuff, and Jim Paredes (a local celebrity) sang. But it was Cardinal Tagle's (the highest-ranking Catholic official in the country) that struck me the most (never mind that I am also pissed with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, or CBCP):

            No one lives for himself alone
            No one dies for himself alone
            We are all accountable for one another...

After lunch the attendees cleared off their trash and started leaving. I felt a certain degree of sadness when I learned that the rally was only until 2pm. I started feeling hopeless again. I feel that this fight will once again lose its significance.

On our way out, I overheard a conversation between a souvenir vendor and an attendee at the rally. The vendor expressed worry over losing any help from the government. The latter patiently explained to her that the abolition of the pork barrel doesn't mean that they will suffer in poverty even more, but that everything that should be for them will actually go to them and not to the pockets of whoever.

I realized that there is something we can do to help our country after all, however small it may be. For people like me who understand the current issues of society, we can actually help other people who know little about our social problems. All we need is patience and understanding.

3 comments:

  1. Well i always thought that this is the correct way to say your opinion when it isn't heard the other way.
    Miss Margaret Cruzemark
    http://margaretcruzemark.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete

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