, July 19, 2024

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Thank you, Bongbong — You Woke Them Up

  •   6 min reads
Thank you, Bongbong — You Woke Them Up
VP Leni Robredo Facebook page
by Vincent R. Pozon

Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, Sr. awakened the young of the day

His father's savage and thieving regime awakened the young of the time, provoked them enough to fight from wherever they were, behind school ramparts and on mountain tops, in missions, rice fields and in the underground; they drove trucks into Malacañang gates, and they were willing to sacrifice themselves. Marcos and the like-hearted created the condition that made the revolution possible. The blood he caused to flow, the people he imprisoned, had killed, made disappear was the trigger of the dearly-won uprising. People of various beliefs and parties and classes and vested interests, the blessed and the depressed of society, decided that they could coalesce, they could agree with the dictator's disempowering and expulsion as singular goal.

Imagine how that might have seemed farfetched.

But the thievery was more than world class, it was new class. He brazenly stole from the coffers at levels that astounded the world, and caused the country to default on its debts ( external debt of the Philippines “skyrocketed” from $0.36 billion in 1961, to $28.26 billion in 1986).

He stole from the people until the economy tanked, and the poor lived scavenging on mountains of garbage, and when that became too unsightly for papal visits and beauty pageants, he walled them up. Out of sight, out of mind, he sillily thought. With a controlled press, the pitiful state of the nation stayed off the front page. And then he did the uncharacteristically unwise: he betrayed his class and friends and partymates, stole from the rich and called it a toppling of the oligarchy, and then he imprisoned them. Minds and millionaires sat seething in jail.

WITH FEAR PREVAILING, with curfew and restrictions on mobility and assembly, the young found the courage to risk lives for country. Photo from GOV.PH

It took a while for the people to wake up, having had spine and spirit bent, deformed by years of oppression and poverty. It took so long, the world snickered, wondered about this people who seemed to love misery enough to allow the unimaginable to happen. Flagellants for more than two decades, we astonished the world with our capacity to absorb pain. "Lookit! Here! A people who will not complain, no matter what".

But a miracle did happen: a man was executed dramatically on the tarmac, and everything that wouldn't fit or gel or coalesce somehow clicked into place.

In this election, another Marcos has roused the young

His deciding to run got them scurrying out of homes during a pandemic, out of bed, out of their gaming chairs. Aghast at seeing millions believing in myths of a Marcos golden era and gold bullions, they marched and mobilized, mined their disgust and anger.

They volunteered presence and vocal chords, they dug deep into their own pockets, created, with hands and head, words and art and melodies that were angry and brilliant and exhilarating, a stridency, often inharmonious, sometimes joyous, sometimes somber, agreeing only on color.

While we, then, were armed only with headbands that doubled as kerchiefs to protect against teargas, while we could not talk to each in groups of more than three without drawing suspicion, while we had neither cell phone nor email to initiate a swarm, relying only on pamphlets and tracts, the young this new Marcos has roused have backpacks, laptops, devices, and drones, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Tiktok as media channels, the means to broadcast live, and Whatsapp, Telegram, Viber, channels dictatorial governments try to break into, and they have VPN and rich connections for protection.

While our messages were painted by hand, with red house paint, on streamers, theirs are laid out professionally, and printed on massive tarpaulins, hung on the side of skyscrapers, or turned into gifs or videos, and posted on social media.

Many of the aggrieved and awakened young, now vociferous, uproarious even, are sons and daughters of industry leaders. They are spurred by academe, the intelligentsia, churches, media and a Nobel peace laureate, supported by big business, helped by celebrities and beauty queens who would not take a centavo to show support. They are well taught, these millions with moist eyes and now knitted brows, now a discerning lot.


LEADING CELEBRITIES and leaders lent voice and name and presence at no cost.

VP Leni Robredo Facebook page

The educated and privileged -- historically vanguards of change

This particular sector though is braver and more prosperous than the youth during the vicious days of the first Marcos.

That they do not know what martial law was like, that they do not know about Ilaga and San Juanico Bridge and the other terrors and tortures of martial rule, that they live in relative safety provide them an unusual advantage – the absence of fear of government. So fearless, impudent, moneyed, educated, 15 million strong.

Remove this business of the elections from the equation, forget that this movement was born in an attempt at the presidency, then revisit the phenomenon again.

You cannot help but be awed. That this movement was engendered at all is -- yes, let's use the word -- a miracle. Politicians and parties could not agree on a common candidate, the sitting president was and is highly regarded, their preferred candidate had a vote ceiling to contend with, the enemy was well-prepared and well-funded; many, in frustration, kicked the can down the road, "let's leave this mess to the next generation."

"THE PINK AREAS constitute what is possibly the heartland of the very rich if not the ultra-rich in the entire country (Barangays Dasmarinas, Forbes Park, Bel Air, San Lorenzo, Urdaneta, and Magallanes) while the greens are the more lower-class or working-class districts surrounding this heartland. " - Herbert Docena, PhD, lecturer in sociology. Map by @Maparoons

VP Leni Robredo Facebook page

VOLUNTEERS DUG DEEP into their own pockets, created, with hands and head, words and art and melodies. The art of Robert Alejandro, celebrated artist, became the look of the movement. Robert Alejandro Facebook page

And then it happened

A movement – manned by volunteers -- was created in about two months. Too late, yes, to win an election, but if a few noisy activists can be a stone in your shoe, imagine 15 million angry, loud and eager for change, 15 million adept at communications, richer, so more mobile, with social media accounts, groups and channels as megaphones for their thoughts and grumblings.

The 31 million, mesmerized by the glint of fool's gold and mythical times, many present in rallies when paid and bused, will peter out when they realize Marcos Junior is nowhere near the calibre of the notorious forbear, and when he begins to fall, fail and fade.

Perhaps we old people should just step aside and watch. We won against the better Marcos. There's a bright, more prosperous and braver young glowering at this poor copy of a Marcos.

Bongbong Marcos, boy, you woke the wrong group up.

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