I don’t know what I was expecting. I guess I was hoping it would feel like EDSA 2; when we all banded together at EDSA and, hand-in-hand, voiced our distaste and displeasure of then-president Estrada. We toppled that administration, only to usher in another corrupt demon; this one was more canny, though. This one was tougher to beat.
I guess I was expecting that. I had so much anger and energy and drive but there was no where to direct it to. I arrived late after having stayed up toying with ideas for a project that is born from all of this. That’s the thing about art, I guess, if it is any good it will last. While this protest gathering is important and significant; the numbers are staggering and serves an important purpose which is to show our collective might and for us to become comfortable with each other; to recognise each other as kin, as people with the same anger and rage, but the truth is, it serves only this purpose. We will voice out our anger, try to implement change.
Art — really good art, anyway — strives to be a reminder; a lasting, permanent statement (or question, or call to action) that hopefully can be taken in again for future use. History repeats itself while the artistic products of such passions tend to last forever, to constantly remind and to comment and to warn.
The gross misuse of public funds — this PDAF/pork barrel business — and all the other manners of corruption that plague our government is bringing us together. Not just here, but in key cities all around the country as well. No leaders, no speeches, no agenda but to gather together and as one people, say that we are done with this.
We want justice. We want accountability. We want transparency.
People said that it was anti-climactic. They said that it didn’t do anything. Or people will say that. I thought so too until I was on my way home, until I talked to my Dad. No, this wasn’t insignificant or unsuccessful. This wasn’t for naught. We are angry, but if you came to Luneta and Quirino Grandstand in Manila, you would have seen all the other people who are angry too. Rich and poor, young and old, men and women. All these people who feel that enough is enough.
Like I said on Twitter: “Today was peaceful. The government better clean up its act. It won’t always be peaceful. We are more awake now.” It can happen. We measured our potential energy. We bared our fangs. If we don’t see the changes that we want made, then we could do it again, and this time we will do more than just show our teeth.
What do we want? We want justice, accountability, and transparency. We want our taxes to go to making this country better. We want our elected government officials and all those that were assigned to their posts to do their jobs. We want the Freedom of Information Bill. We want the corrupt politicians caught, tried, and punished, as severely as the law allows.
And we don’t want this to ever happen again.
That’s the important part, really, that it never happens again.
What surprises me, most of all, is how I am reacting to all of this. The last time I remember being this angry was during the impeachment trial of then-president Estrada and that momentous moment when the vote kept the sealed documents unopened, and the prosecution walked out, and then the whole thing exploded and we were at EDSA, in the streets, all chanting and screaming at the same time.
The past few weeks, I had difficulty thinking of anything but protest poems. I worked out a story, for film, that delved into this whole issue. Last night, I couldn’t sleep and I received a message from a good friend who was tossing around ideas and we ended up chatting online until three in the morning, fleshing out the idea until we knew we came upon a solid concept that we want to work on. It was born out of this. All this passion. All this anger. All of this.
As a protester, I don’t think I’m any real good. I’m surprised I lasted as long as I did. I don’t complain and I’ll do as I’m told. I’m another body if we are counting bodies. That I can do, that I can contribute. But all I have are questions. I don’t have answers. I don’t have solutions.
But what I am is a writer. I can write, I know that much. And I have every intention, for the next few years, to always try and put out something that says something about what’s going on. Because if history repeats itself, art tends to last, and it can serve to comment, illustrate, and warn. This won’t happen again. Not if we can help it.
Maybe not a million people marched today. But that’s okay. There’s a whole lot more where the people today came from. And the pictures and the stories and the artwork that will come from all of this will number more than that, and hopefully, will last much, much longer than what transpired today.