This is the story of a girl, who cried a river and drowned the whole world, and while she looked so sad in photographs, I absolutely love her, when she smiles... -Nine Days

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I think...

This is to recompense for my lack of position in what I have written last Friday in the heat of the national emergency. Let me use my being short of information on the ongoing political upheaval as my excuse. I claimed to have been following the current affairs in our country, but perhaps not as much as I have been watching Pinoy Big Brother without fail. I have not really been aware of the facts about what is pushing the people to the streets until this weekend when much debate has been going around as an offshoot of PGMA’s “timely” issuance of Proclamation 1017 on the very anniversary of the 1986 People Power.

Many call it a betrayal of EDSA. On the day we vowed never to let anyone seize our hard-won sovereignty, we find ourselves once again living the old days, the kind that strikes a chord of fear in our hearts. We saw the cancellation of all permits to rally, warrantless arrests of “suspected” conspirators to the supposed “coup plots”, Daily Tribune raided for “seditious” commentaries, media bullied to adhere to “government standards” in reporting. On the very day a dictator was vanquished, a potential dictator looms anew.

We saw the president invoking emergency powers to “protect” the state, which to me seems more like a desperate act to protect herself instead; perhaps to secure the “seat” that’s been the very cause of this continuing political warfare. As questions about the legitimacy of her presidency appear too strong as to hold water and shove people to the streets, she finds herself in panic, and at the end of her tether to make her do the unreasonable.

My favourite columnist Conrado de Quiroz recently wrote (I can’t remember the exact words but perhaps to this effect) “they have stolen pretty much everything from us, must they steal our freedom too?” Yes, our right to peaceful assembly, our right to free speech. I’m thinking, she seemed to have taken a lot of things from us, including our votes (which to me is the most valuable of all).

She made a public apology for her lapse of judgement in the Hello Garci scandal that secured her victory in the 2004 elections. But after the dramatic “sorry”, it was like “forgive & forget” for most of us. The impeachment proved to be a futile effort against somebody who had stronger allies in the house. She got away with it, and most of us didn’t even budge. We seemed to have lost all alternatives to only settle for somebody who has just admitted her dishonestly and compromised her integrity. Either we are content or we have grown tired to fight.

I believe, somehow we also have a share in the responsibility for our ailing country.

If not for the people gathering in Ayala last Friday, I would not have seen the magnitude of this political crisis clouding our country. For this I am shamed. It’s bad enough that I do not know. I’ve made it worse by my apathy. Count me among the statistics of millions of this kind. People like me who last Friday cared more about work getting suspended so that we could all go home early than assert my right to be heard and my liberties to be safeguarded.

But who can blame people like me, who have grown tired of going around this vicious cycle of corruption, destabilization, deception? We saw EDSA 1 & 2 & 3 and nothing has really changed. How many people power must we still stage to ever learn the lessons of history? Can we be questioned for having lost our faith in our people and in the government? If we have given up any hope, if we’ve become so content. If the only feasible option is to flee to pastures where the currency is strong and crooks are behind bars, instead of being congressmen, senators, or even presidents.

There are a millions of us all wanting to escape. This I think is one of the reasons we will never achieve democracy in the most possible sense of the word.

What we need to achieve is a sense of nationalism. Nationalism is the way to true democracy.

To love one’s country the way we love ourselves; to aim the best for our country the way we aim the best for ourselves. I feel sad when I hear good doctors in our country studying to become nurses to sponge down American asses. When can there be better opportunities for our countrymen so as not to see our skilled workers doing better in foreign lands? We must help our country, the way we help ourselves. This I believe is mightier, than going to the streets and creating noises and scaring investors and making the situation worse than it already is.

This sense of nationalism is the very cost of our many freedoms won, from the Spaniards, the Americans, the Japanese’s, the Marcoses. How could it be any different from the present government? We have seen the examples of Rizal, Bonifacio, Aguinaldo, and Aquino --- heroes who have put the country’s interest above anything else. People who believed that our country is worth dying, and living for.

If the president, and all our government leaders and all of us Filipinos think this way, there is still hope for our country.


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