Anti-ConAss rallies in Makati and UP Diliman

Right after lunch time, students, teachers and other members of the University of the Philippines community in Diliman gathered at Quezon Hall to hold a short program and a press conference to condemn the moves of President Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives to convene itself into a Constituent Assembly (ConAss) to amend the 1987 Constitution.

ConAss is not what the country needs. Charter change will not address the youth’s problems with regard to education and job opportunities. We cannot allow this move to push through, seeing it as an initial step in a political scheme to prolong the Arroyo administration’s hold on power. We have witnessed how Arroyo and her allies have betrayed the aspirations of the youth and the rest of the Filipino people for a better government and a better life, and we must reject any move that is simply meant to prolong our agony.

Wala tayong maaasahang pagbabago habang nandiyan si Gloria Arroyo. Either we oust her soon or we boot her and her allies out of office through the 2010 elections.

Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09)

After the program at Quezon Hall, the UP Diliman contingent marched along University Avenue to Philcoa where groups of students and teachers boarded buses and jeepneys to go to the large rally at Makati. I was with my friends from the incoming University Student Council and my blockmates in Law.

Upon reaching Ayala, we walked towards the intersection of Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Avenues where thousands of protesters converged for the rally. Several representatives from political groups, including opposition politicians spoke against ConAss. Several bands also played music as an expression of outrage against ConAss. Students from different universities, and out of school youths broke into discussion groups and turned Paseo de Roxas into a large classroom discussing the socio-political situation of the country. The rally ended promptly at eight in the evening.

Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09)

Election hangover (Part II)

Jun Lozada in UP Diliman

During the campaign period, despite losing some hours of campaigning in campus, we kept ourselves involved in the brewing movements and the growing calls for the resignation or ouster of President Arroyo through the various marches and mobilizations that took place.

February 22. The entire day, aside from delivering the usual campaign line in the rooms, we invited people to the march around the academic oval in support of Jun Lozada who was to arrive that afternoon in the UP College of Law. By afternoon almost five hundred students joined our bulk behind the law students. By the time the march ended at Malcolm Hall, the crowd had swelled to around a thousand.

February 23. Together with Youth ACT Now, we held another protest march in Quezon Hall which was covered by Ms. Korina Sanchez of ABS-CBN. Prior to the march, I was also interviewed by Zen Hernandez in Vinzons Hall for a story regarding the ouster campaign on the internet. Later that afternoon, we proceeded to the Church of the Risen Lord, still in UP, for an interfaith candle-lighting protest, still with regards to the corruption scandal hounding the administration of President Arroyo.

Interfaith candle-lighting at UP Diliman

February 25. In commemoration of the first People Power Revolution that ousted President Ferdinand Marcos, STAND-UP joined groups belonging to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and other militant organizations in what I could describe as the largest Mendiola rally I’ve been to. A program was initially held at Welcome Rotonda, after which the thousands of people who showed up marched together along Espana all the way to Mendiola. I was surprised we didn’t encounter police barricades that stopped us from marching, and that we were able to take Mendiola and hold a program at the symbolic site.

Anti-Arroyo Rally in Mendiola, February 25, 2008

February 29. It was the last day parties could campaign the entire day. We spent the entire morning inviting fellow students to join the march that would join the interfaith rally in Makati. In the afternoon, we held a short program at AS steps before joining other sectors of the UP community in a march around the academic oval up until Philcoa. Hundreds of students and teachers joined the march. By the time we reached Philcoa, however, we were met with dozens of policemen who immediately formed a barricade under the overpass. Traffic was stalled and was rerouted because of the barricade. Despite diplomatic negotiations, the police wouldn’t budge and allow us to proceed beyond Philcoa. The bulk of students, teachers and other members of the UP community decided to break up into small groups and commute to Makati and converge at a specified rendezvous point. In less than an hour, we were able to regroup in Makati and march together to join the estimated 80,000 other Filipinos in the rally.

Anti-Arroyo Rally in Ayala, February 29, 2008

This was half the crowd in Ayala that afternoon. It was definitely more than the bulk of people who went to the February 15 mobilization. Photo from here, taken by Teddy Casino.

Feb 15 Anti-Arroyo Rally

February 15, 2008. This was half the crowd in last Friday’s anti-Arroyo protest rally in light of the Senate investigations regarding Jun Lozada’s expose on the National Broadband Network scandal that involves the President, her family, and certain government officials. Tens of thousands of people converged at the intersection of Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Avenue to express their outrage and disgust at the President and her administration. [Photo above from John Avellana]. I took the rest of the pictures below. The other pictures are in my Flickr site.

Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally

Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally

The first photo is of Carmen Deunida, also known as “Nanay Mameng”, the 78 year-old woman whose presence took public limelight with the strong words she spoke on stage and in front of crowds in the many rallies that culminated in the mobilzation that ousted former President Joseph Estrada in 2001. The second photo is of party-list representatives in Congress marching with the delegation from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN).

Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally

I got to Ayala a little early. People were only setting up the sound system and the stage at the intersection of Ayala and Paseo de Roxas when I got there. It was past three when delegations came marching from all sides to converge at the designated street intersection.

Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally

These were some of the placards the people carried along with their organizations’ flags during the rally. Aside from the statement placards, there were also placards that depicted President Arroyo with a square mustache to liken her to the fascist dictator of Germany. The Desperate Household and the This is Evil placards especially caught my attention.

Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally

Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally

Honestly, even though I wanted to go to the Makati rally, I felt quite lazy to make the trip all the way to Ayala from UP Diliman. I was at Jollibee Katipunan that time with a friend for lunch. And you know what? Something hit me that made me make the trip and rally after all. I couldn’t stomach the thought that part of the 39 pesos I paid for a sulit meal will go to the pockets of the few greedy individuals in the administration with the value added tax that we all pay. Noong kay Erap nga, jueteng pay-offs lang. If I was at the least only concerned with myself, wala pa akong pakialam d’yan, hindi naman ako naghu-jueteng, wala siyang ninanakaw sa ‘kin. Pero nag-EDSA na ang tao. Etong pinaggagawa nina Gloria and her cohorts, everyone’s going to be paying for them for decades to come.

Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally

Ewan ko lang sa iba, kung paano nila nasisikmura na tila nagbabayad tayong lahat ng tributo sa isang royal family na nakatira sa isang palasyo sa Maynila. Sa bawat cheeseburger meal, sa bawat sigarilyo, sa bawat ballpen, imbes na tustusan ang matinding pangangailangan ng mga public hospital, public schools, maging ng UP, napupunta sa mga German bank accounts ng ilang tao. ‘Di ko masikmura.

Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally

We have to realize the long-term social cost of this brazen corruption. I really don’t understand why people keep falling into the trap of government propaganda. It gets pretty tiring. I don’t know what to think of people who have kept following the same “trabaho-hindi-gulo” line all these years. They have condoned the long-term cost of severe corruption with the short-term cost of “political instability.” Ang galing talaga ng spin ng mga propagandists nila. Marami namang nagpapauto at nananahimik na lang. Hindi rallies and political instability ang nagpapahirap sa Pilipino. Sa mga bilyun-bilyong pisong kinukurakot ng ilan sa adminstration, marami na sanang pinoy ang nagka-bahay, ang nakapag-aral hindi lang sa elementary at high school, pati sa college. Maraming pinoy na sana ang mabubuhay nang maginhawa sa kinabukasan.

Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally

Still, “Dissent without action is consent.”

Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally

The first part of the rally’s program was filled with speeches and cultural presentations from various religious groups and sectors condemning the rampant corruption and immorality in government perpetuated by President Arroyo, her family and their cohorts. It was quite surprising, perhaps it’s because we are used to the idea of religion being an agent of pacification, that many of the religious people were quite strong in their words and gestures. There were probably a hundred or so seminarians too who took the lead in some of the chants that the crowd shouted throughout the day. One of the priests even made side comments against his fellow priest for being an “Archbishop of Malacanang” for spinning the meaning of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines call for “collective action” to mean as collective action through prayer alone instead. Actually, I heard that certain archbishop from Northern Luzon on radio that morning, in his bid to keep people from joining the rally.

Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally

Representatives from students and educators also spoke in front of the crowd to condemn the President and her family and call for her ouster. As I’ve said earlier, one social cost, one social service that is hit hard with the effects of brazen corruption in this administration is the education sector, to which the government has continually implemented policies that commercialize the system and its orientation. I was actually surprised, too, that the ouster calls also came from law students and professors, and lawyers themselves from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. I always thought they would take the more tame call of resignation.

Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally

There were also bands that played music to the crowd that afternoon. One of which was Brownman Revival. They even sang Bob Marley’s Get Up, Stand Up, which actually serves as the theme song of our militant alliance in UP (STAND-UP). It certainly roused STAND-UP members in the crowd.

Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally Feb. 15 Makati Anti-Arroyo Rally

The program went on till the sun has set. Joey de Venecia III, one of the whistle-blowers in this scandal that involves the President and her cohorts, also spoke passionately in front of the crowd that night. I left Ayala just before the program ended. Let this not be the last manifestation of the people’s outrage! Tuloy-tuloy na ‘to.

Illusions of prosperity

Makati skyline Spectacular views and images like these make one feel like nothing’s wrong in our country. Everything looks so urban and prosperous. Of course, greater empirical observations across the country prove otherwise.

These were taken the night before The Peninsula Hotel in Makati (seen at the lower left of the first picture) was taken by rebel soldiers with noble intentions and legitimate reasons. Some of my brods and I were at the penthouse of another brod that night for some function. The view was simply and irresistably spectacular.

Makati skyline This is Ayala Avenue from atop, at night. The business district looks so vibrant, healthy and bustling from up here.

Makati skyline

Oh, the office routine

Internship at Living Asia Channel has made me fantasize and day dream a lot about traveling around the country. One of the things I’ve been doing the past few days was capturing raw mini-dv footages from their out of town field shoots into their digital archives. Watching hours and hours of raw footage and edited but unaired programs can, admittedly, get boring, but it still makes me envious of all the traveling the field team and the hosts get to do, as part of their job.

Yesterday morning, I asked Rina to do an experiment with me, since we relatively live within the same area in Quezon City. Instead of taking one of those colorum vans with her that go straight to Makati, I decided to do it the jeep and MRT way. I wanted to see which one of us would get to the office first. While in Ayala however, I got off from one of those air-conditioned jeepneys at the wrong place so I ended up walking almost a kilometer to the office. That basically spoiled the experiment and made Rina get to the office first.

Anyway, I am finally going to be sent to the field in a shoot for one of the company’s overseas programs! That’s going to be on Tuesday. Eka and I did some “pre-production” arrangements a few days ago. I’m glad we’re being given something to do other than transcribing, video capturing and shot-listing. Everything’s well, even if I’m actually being sent on a KIKAY Machine shoot.

Me no yuppie

Commuting to and from Makati’s central business district for my internship has been quite a tiresome ordeal. I just came home from my second day. I actually left the office early today, at around 4PM, thinking and hoping I would have avoided the rush hour traffic. That didn’t quite work out. It took me almost two hours inside a cramped and stinky “air-conditioned” bus to get near our place and walk home.

I’ve got an anecdote from this afternoon’s commuting experience however. Stuck in traffic between EDSA Buendia and Guadalupe, I looked through the bus window beside me and lo and behold it was Rep. Francis “Chiz” Escudero right next to me on another vehicle, side windows rolled down, speaking on the phone, stuck in traffic just like the rest of us. It was sort of a pleasant sight. A politician, and senatorial candidate, on a simple almost run-down vehicle (or so it seemed) with his side windows rolled down, with no sirens nor back-up security vehicles, stuck in traffic, breathing all the pollution there is in vehicle choked EDSA. And he was not campaigning.

Anyway, commuting to Makati isn’t too different from commuting home either. This morning I was waiting for a spacious bus and that didn’t get me anywhere. Note to self, never wait for a spacious public bus during rush hour, none will come. Since I was running late, I decided to hop on one of those colorum taxis that shuttles five people to Makati and charges like an FX. It took me almost two hours nonetheless. On my first day (which was Tuesday last week), thankfully I had Eka and some friends as co-interns so I was able to hitch a ride in a private car. Traffic was still horrible, even on the trip back to Quezon City.

Why am I having my internship in a Makati office anyway? You tell me. Perhaps it’s just now that all I am being told to do is transcribe shot lists, footages, and proof-view unaired videos. I’m a film student, I wish they could send me to the field, in a production, away from an office, please. It’s one reason why I didn’t choose a course that would send me to an office cubicle. Hay, and to think I’m working in a travel and lifestyle cable channel. I really hope something better comes up.

Listen to all the displeasure

February 25, 2006. It’s really annoying how Michael Defensor and Raul Gonzalez proclaim that all these arrests and calibrated responses are part of their defense of the state. They claim the nation is at threat kaya may national emergency. Wow, the way I see it, only Gloria Arroyo’s leadership is at threat. They shouldn’t claim the entire country is at risk just because Arroyo’s presidency is in danger from people who are tired of her leadership. What’s really sad, is that the military has become her army, ready to protect her in guise of their protecting the “state”. Weren’t these the same reasons Ferdinand Marcos used for declaring Martial Law?

It’s inspiring when old women come up to you while marching in a rally and tell you, “Tuloy lang kayo mga anak, ipagdarasal namin kayo.” Or when people from their houses and apartment buildings clap and cheer you on. Or when people in their vehicles open their car windows and raise their fist in support. Or when military men secretly come up to you and whisper, “‘Wag kayong susuko, malapit na rin kaming bumigay,” (although that didn’t happen). Or when you are showered with confetti made from torn-up telephone directories. It’s inspiring especially when sometimes you hear people within your social circle putting you down and the things you do with their total aversion of mass actions. Nevermind that it was a long three hour long march under the torrid heat of the sun. Or that we had to dodge and run from police barricades. I don’t think it was all for nothing. It was a step in the right direction. Tolerance simply allows for more plundering and cheating. Sure let us go on with our daily lives. But that should not mean that we will just bow down and surrender to the prevailing status quo, especially if we know there is something wrong.