Remembering EDSA People Power II

January 12, 2008. [Actually, hindi ako kasama noong People Power 2]. I am honestly ashamed to remember what I was doing during People Power 2 seven years ago, because I was exactly the type of person back then that I detest today–a prude conservative who refused to join the urban middle-class disruption that was brewing, even in our sheltered Ateneo High School. I honestly can’t stomach the things I’ve written in my “online journal” back then, hence they’re not available in my blog’s present archives. Back then, it became quite fashionable among Ateneans to be joining all those walk-outs and indoor rallies. I refused to believe that my classmates, and most other rich kids in my high school for that matter, knew what they were doing, and I thought it was all just a fashionable lynch mob at the covered courts endorsed even by the entire faculty at that time. I was confident that all along, my schoolmates simply thought it was so cool that we had faculty-endorsed free cuts. Back then, I (already) really disliked Vice-President Gloria Arroyo so much, I would rather that President Estrada stayed in Malacanang than have him replaced with that woman and everyone else who surrounded her. (Boy, what an ominous gut feel).

Back then, I was aware that I didn’t know enough to condemn President Estrada as guilty, so I just stayed home. (Not that I would be allowed to join rallies, anyway). Back then, probably because Loyola Heights and my home were the only environments I was exposed to, and simply because I was just a first-year high school student, I was naive enough to actually subscribe to administration propaganda. I felt like the rallies were all just an elite, middle-class uprising, void of support from the wide masses who adored the President. Tangina, nakakahiya. Naging ganyan talaga ako noon. And right now, I feel like I have switched places with my peers. Those people who questioned me (and there were quite a handful) for not joining the rallies in Ateneo are the ones who refuse to join the present rallies to demand that President Arroyo, who has obviously turned out to be terribly worse, to step down and be accountable for all her crimes. Funny, because they use, more or less, the same reasons I used to have back then. My God, what a paradigm shift. These make me say that there really are some things I don’t understand with some people. With conditions and scandals so much worse now than during President Estrada’s term, what made them join the fury and the mob back then but cannot compel them to do the same now? Hay, how weird some people can get.

Beterano ako ng EDSA2!Seven years “” yes, seven years “” have passed since the four days that redefined People Power culminated in the ouster of the president with the biggest electoral mandate in Philippine history and we in Bloggers Kapihan invite you to remember. Just write about your People Power 2 experiences, post memorabilia like photos and videos. Simply put, we want you to act by picking up a pen or going to the computer to tell your story, your version of what happened on Jan. 16-20 and your dreams for the country. Others for instance, may choose to fast forward to 2008 and assess what has happened to the country seven years since People Power 2. Were we betrayed? Were our efforts wasted by some persons who benefited from it? Is it a national failure, or a warning that a similar fate may befall the incumbent? To make this all worthwhile and useful to ourselves and the world, BK will open a special website at (please don’t forget to link to it and this post) where we will put your posts and feature the really good ones. Let this be our humble contribution to reviving our pride in ourselves as a people, and to inspiring all of us never to lose hope for the only country we can call our own. Don’t let others to rewrite People Power 2 as if it meant nothing. We made history in 2001 and now’s a good time to remember and to write it the way we saw and see it.

Sino ang mas mangmang?

November 4, 2007. On today’s return flight to Manila from Cebu, I grabbed the Sunday issue of the Philippine Star and came across the readers’ opinion page. The topic of discussion was about plunder-convicted ex-President Joseph Estrada’s possible re-entry in Philippine politics, after being hastily pardoned by President Gloria Arroyo.

I was aghast–the entire portion was filled with condescending remarks against the poor masa. The Philippine Star is, of course, a very tame newspaper, often perceived to be pro-government, that is read widely by the urban middle and upper class.

This kind of condescending mentality is something that really irks me a lot. There is this apparent mentality among the “educated” among us that blame the poor for the election of actors and plunderers like Estrada for they are ignorant and uneducated (a handful of other negative adjectives filled the page, from ill-informed to outright stupid). This can be extended to the mentality that blames the poor for their own misery because they are lazy.

This kind of mentality is exactly the kind of thought peddled by the perpetrators of this condition, to preserve the status quo that these “educated” readers of Philippine Star claim to disdain. These people fail to take the critical analysis that there are external conditions that come into play to maintain this condition. The “masa” are not “uneducated” or poor because they choose to. The prevailing order controlled by a certain few thrives from this condition. Those in control have profited and thrived from various forms of exploitations, from low wages, to the preservation of excess labor and unemployment to miseducation. Besides, I can’t stand it sometimes, that these are the people who may be the same ones who helped install, and whose silence and conservatism helps preserve a president who has long turned to be so much worse–and is actually the same president who, ironically, pardoned their much-hated political masa-idol.

The woman is next

Youth protest, September 13 2007September 13, 2007. It was a day after former President Joseph Estrada was convicted of plunder. Groups of students from different schools in Metro Manila marched from Espana to Morayta and near Mendiola under the scorching heat of the sun to demand for greater state subsidy for education. snake rally at Palma HallPrior to the collective march, students from the University of the Philippines gathered at the lobby of Palma Hall in Diliman and held discussions and a program to continue calling for the junking of the Tuition and Other Fee Increases policy and to protest against the demolition of residential communities in UP, among other issues. After the program, the bulk of students held a snake rally through the halls of the building to invite students to join the march.

After bulking up in Palma Hall, we proceeded to Vinzons and boarded jeepneys to Espana. From Espana, we joined other students from other high schools and universities and marched towards Mendiola. When we were stalled by police in Morayta, we decided to talk with onlookers from Far Eastern University. We had interesting discussions with our fellow college students but not after a few minutes when some supervisor herded the FEU students away from us and scolded them for hanging outside their school, and for wearing slippers too. This is the first rally I joined where we laid on the scorching concrete of J. Figueras and held our fists up high. I didn’t have possession of my digital camera that day and the only shot I have is from my cellphone camera (second picture). The first picture is something I just appropriated off the League of Filipino Students website.

Linya: Tayong mga lider

I will run this ahead of our school magazine since I can’t wait, and what I’ve said is becoming obsolete by the days. I’ve written my linya column still a month ago. The second issue of Hilites Magazine will be released to the high school two weeks from now. (Refer: my first column)

Tayong mga lider
ni Victor Villanueva

Rinding-rindi na ang mga tenga ng maraming Atenista sa karirinig ng 5-C’s at men for others na ‘yan. Tayo daw kasi ang mga magiging mga pinuno ng ating lipunan pagdating ng panahon. Ang kapal! Pero ano magagawa natin, eh totoo. Mahirap isipin na kuta ng pagsasanay ang ating munting high school ng mga pinuno. Pero totoo. Walang biro. Hindi ko na rin gagamitin sina Jose Rizal at Evelio Javier bilang patunay.

Ang mga mahusay na patunay ay ang labinlimang kongresista sa ating kasalukuyang Mababang Kapulungan na nanggaling sa Ateneo High School. Sila sina Reps. Carlos Imperial ng Albay (1952), Agapito Aquino ng Makati (1955), Exequiel Javier ng Antique (1959), Wilfrido Villarama ng Bulacan (1960), Victor Sumulong ng Antipolo (1964), James Gordon Jr. ng Zambales (1965), Florencio Abad ng Batanes (1972), Juan Ponce Enrile Jr. ng Cagayan (1976), Benigno Aquino III ng Tarlac (1977), Francisco Perez III ng Batangas (1982), Joel Almario ng Davao Oriental (1983), Gilbert Remulla ng Cavite (1988), Felix Fuentebella ng Camarines Sur (1993), Michael Duavit ng Rizal, at Mark Jimenez ng Maynila (pero hindi na siya kongresista ngayon).

Dami, ‘no? Oo, hindi n’yo kilala ang marami sa kanila. Ilan lang sa kanila ang tumagal sa mga pambansang balita para maalala natin nang husto. Kung hindi man sila mismo ang tagapaghatid ng balita tulad ni Rep. Gilbert Remulla na ngayo’y isa sa mga madalas na nagsasalita para sa oposisyon. Isa naman sa madalas na nagsasalita para sa kowalisyon ng administrasyon si dating Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rep. Florencio Abad. Kasama s’ympre sa mga madalas napapabalita si Ex-Rep. Mark Jimenez, na ngayo’y nakakulong sa Estados Unidos. Kabilang rin sa mga mas kilala si Rep. Felix “Wimpy” Fuentebella. Siya ang pangunahing proponent ng napaka-kontrobersyal na impeachment case laban kay Punong Hukom Hilario Davide. Isa rin sa mga ‘impeachment kids’ o ‘brats’ na minsang lumabas ang larawan sa front page ng Philippine Daily Inquirer si Rep. Michael Duavit.

Liban sa mga kongresista, apat na miyembro ng gabinete ni Pangulong Gloria Arroyo ay nagtapos rin ng high school sa Ateneo. Sila sina Dick Gordon ng Department of Tourism, Leonardo Montemayor ng Department of Agriculture, Romulo Neri ng National Economic & Development Authority, at si Manuel Roxas II ng Department of Trade & Industry. Sa apat na ito, kilalang-kilala na siguro na marami sa atin si Mar Roxas ng DTI. Kung hindi ba naman oras-oras tayong pinaaalahanan sa telebisyon na consumer welfare month ang buwan ng Oktubre at pati na rin Nobyembre, paano ba natin hindi maaalala si Mr. Palengke.

Kulang na kulang ang isang pitak para ilahad ko ang lahat ng mga nasa gobyernong galing sa Ateneo High School. Liban sa mga kasalukuyang pinuno natin, marami ring mga anak ng mga lider at politiko dito sa High School. Sa isang bansa kung saan usung-uso ang sunud-sunod na pagtakbo sa halalan ng magkakapamilya, hindi malayong naririto na ang ilan sa mga kongresista, mga alkalde, o mga gobernador ng bansa natin sa hinaharap. Hindi ako nagbibiro, nagiging lider ang Atenista. Ikaw, puwedeng-puwede kang maging pulitiko kahit hindi ka kabilang sa isang political dynasty o wala kang pangalang tinutungtungan. Aba’t kahit nakatira ka sa Quezon City o sa Makati buong buhay mo, magtayo ka lang ng bahay sa kahit ano sa pitompu’t limang lalawigan ng Pilipinas at sabihin mong doon ka nananahan (kahit hindi ka doon nakatira), ay puwedeng-puwede ka nang tumakbo bilang isang lokal na opisyal. Maraming ganyan!

Napakaraming Atenista ngayon ang nasa pedestal ng kapangyarihan sa gobyerno at negosyo. Malapit na ang eleksyon ng 2004. Siguradong may dadagdag na namang mga Atenista sa ranggo ng ating mga kasalukuyang mga pinuno. Baka sa mga susunod na mga taon darating na rin ang unang taga-Ateneo High School na magiging Pangulo ng Pilipinas (kung hindi natin ibibilang si Joseph Estrada). Malay mo, baka nasa ating munting high school na siya ngayon. Huwag sana nating kalimutan ang mga natutunan natin sa high school. ‘Wag na tayong dumagdag sa mga bumigo sa Ateneo at sa pangarap nito para sa mga mag-aaral na hinubog niya. Habang-buhay na lang ba tayo mag-aasam ng pagbabago? Ang mga Atenista, nagiging mga pinuno, tunay at hindi.