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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Still, “Dissent without action is consent.”
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.
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.
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.
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.