Sunday, March 09, 2008

Surpassing proverbials

It was past 6PM when April & I arrived in Makati. From the MRT station, we passed thru SM & Glorietta before walking out to Makati Ave. Along the side of 6750 & Shangri-La stood armed guards, while on the opposite side, jeepneys w/ banners indicating the particular groups they were carrying parked in a long line, some protestors looking out from on top of the jeepneys to where bright lights beamed, where muffled voices led in the occasional chants.

The pedestrian underpasses were closed off; the crowded roads deterred vehicular traffic from passing thru. It felt like we were the only ones walking toward the Ninoy Aquino monument; I overheard the crowd of people walking the other way, office workers judging by their attire, concerned over whether or not there would be rides to take home.

By the time we reached the monument near the HSBC building, much of the crowd was already beginning to leave. The official Ateneo contingent was heading back to campus. I noticed Harvey Keh leading the group, along w/ Leland De La Cruz, Norman Quimpo, & Dr. Norman Marquez.

I bumped into Aga De La Torre, my former Science & Technology editor, who was surprised to see April & I. We were just there to observe, I insisted; the cause I support in other ways.

Maybe it’s not about the streets of EDSAs anymore.*

Before the last senatorial elections, Keh exemplified a new age of protest, releasing in a widely circulated email 10 scenarios that would make him want to leave the country. In a way, the protest worked; the election results generally serving as proof that such intellectualized rumblings could make some semblance of a difference. In Makati, Keh went old school on us—taking to the literal streets.

April & I stood quite a distance away from the main stage; a big screen to our right served as our only true view of what was going on. Nikay, Trish, & Aila were w/ us, along w/ Matanglawin’s Maki Lim. Opportunistic vendors sold water, fish balls, corn, & candy. To our left, street kids sold homemade GLORIA RESIGN pins—the only sign of their awareness. They entertained themselves by dancing to the music that would boom from various speakers. I swear there was 1 boy who was masturbating—at least pretending to—to the wisecracks of his buddies. Another boy stood up when a foreigner—a blonde in her mid-30s—invited him to dance.

It became clear that dancing was a big part of this whole practice. The songs I could only assume were leftovers from past EDSAs, as evident by the fact that only persons who seemed old enough to be EDSA veterans knew the lyrics. Those who were still reproductive concepts of would-be parents in ’86 just watched, maybe bobbing their heads, maybe moving their feet.

I had been reading Jose Lacaba’s Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage, had been reading about the student activism of the ‘60s & ‘70s. It was a different time. My ears perked when the current NUSP president was called up to the stage that Friday in Makati. In a way, he inherits Edjop’s role. He pales in comparison.

They say the leaders in government have changed but the rotten system is still the same. Funny how the opposition posed by the youth hasn’t changed either—even using the same songs sung during our fathers’ fight years ago.

Indeed, the ‘60s, ‘70s, & even the ‘80s were a different time. The intelligentsia turned the streets into a refuge as well as a platform to fight, to preach. Alleys led to the same avenues, leading to the same proverbial EDSAs & Mendiolas. And the singular spotlight would always follow.

But now, our metaphorical thoroughfares lead to a multitude of places, EDSAs & Mendiolas dispersed into a million different sites—whether physically on local ground, or in territories of the Diaspora, or in little niches on the Web, lost amid a host of more entertaining distractions. The spotlight is no longer singular, & gathering attention is a feat in itself, & so is keeping focus.

Just as our formidable enemy—conveniently dubbed the system—has never changed, neither has our collective response. Edjop & company helped bring forth an intellectualized discourse to the streets ruled by the youth—that was their battle. Ours is harnessing the dissent dispersed throughout various avenues into 1 common intellectualized voice—loud, heard, irrevocable, & just as much about the long-haul than the immediate.

The lights suddenly brightened at the various press platforms dispersed amongst the crowd. Jun Lozada was on stage; live updates follow his every statement. Like many before him, he has transcended the role of whistle-blower; he has become a symbol, & oddly enough, a constitutional expert in many respectable news shows. People are listening; they believe him; rightfully or wrongfully, he has taken advantage.

This is what the rules of this game entail—taking advantage. But doing so in dated ways is tantamount to doing so the wrong way.

Just make us proud.**

My father was tickled when in a high school economics class I was required to do something that he did—create small business ventures that would profit. But I’m sure he was prouder when I decided to take up something he has no interest in—writing—and I began receiving attention for it. There’s wisdom here w/ regard to our bigger picture as the young Filipino middle-class.

Proverbial fathers are amused when their sons imitate them. They become proud when their sons take their own stake in the world—become men doing things in their own way.

*Former Bukidnon representative Neric Acosta during a lecture at the University
**Fr. Jose Cruz, SJ, Dean of the School of Social Sciences, during a farewell address to graduating students

* * *

Well, it’s official: I passed Philosophy of Religion in Filipino under Dr. Rosario, w/c means I’ll be graduating. Spent the week finishing up my clearance; generally went smoothly.

Got measured for my graduation toga yesterday, w/c set me back a whopping P450! And to think we don’t even get to keep the toga. All we get to take home is the string thing that we will wear around our necks & I think the patch w/ the seal of the University.

Thoroughly enjoyed joining Vince & some of his Modern Poetry students during their Quiapo trip yesterday. As Vince said, few Quiapo tours can beat witnessing a political rally & seeing an international film shoot. Bought a couple of bottles of Tsingtao in Binondo w/c I will be enjoying tonight.

Speaking of Vince, here’s an interesting link he sent me—a rant about writing workshops.


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