Last Wednesday’s violent lightning rally organized by a combined group of various militants (Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, etc.) reminded me of the oratorical piece below which I wrote in early 2003 if memory serves right. It was supposed to be delivered in some college contest but it never materialized when the Adamsonian who was to deliver it (I forgot his name) chickened out. So now I give it the dignity it rightfully deserves.
And when I reread this piece earlier, it seemed to me that it was written not by a student-activist Pepe Alas but by some melodramatic highschool nerd, ha!
I dedicate today’s blogpost to Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., another illustrious Filipino who fought for freedom and the downfall of both oligarchy and dictatorship. His death from a cowardly bullet is commemorated today.
And if not for his death, we wouldn’t be paid double today (peace, that’s just a joke).
But seriously, the indignation within shall never fade.
RESTLESS IN MENDIOLA
Unveiling a Strong Republic
José Mario S. Alas
Today, Chino Roces Bridge, with all the urban hullabaloo that an impassive Manila brings to it, remains restive. Amidst the honks of vehicles and roaring engines, underneath the unfeeling treads of human and vehicular traffic, in the thick exhaust fumes surrounding the area, the uneasiness, the passion, of that hallowed spot awaits a change –a change that will forever clear the blurry path of this country towards political Canaan.
Today, I feel that Chino Roces is still burning inside. It swells with the blood of those thirteen poor souls who craved for nothing more but social justice for the peasantry. The place still boils with the blood of countless others who had yearned for a soothing hand from a government that is supposed to be caring and free from suzerainty and blame. Today, despite the belittled and almost helpless cries of protesters which Chino Roces still witness from time to time, that historic little thoroughfare is still anticipating for the better.
But through the thick industrialized air, I could smell the impatience of that anticipation. Suddenly, I was very much surprised to realize that the restlessness thriving in the place is within me. The ghost of Chino Roces, which is historic Mendiola, possessed me with an ardor so great I could almost hear the long-dead voices of thousands upon thousands of dissidents from turbulent years past.
When I walked in the very same spot where the cries for the redress of grievances were answered by cowardly bullets, the restlessness transformed into indignation — a volcano ready to spew fires of rage. I said to myself that I shouldn’t be alone in this. I shouldn’t be the only one possessed. I shouldn’t be the only one crying inside.
With such earnestness and patriotic blithe, the sick urbanities of Mendiola seemed to me very distant. Here lies no longer the schools, the police outposts, the commercial establishments, nor the bridge and the vagabonds. During that contemplative walk, I fancied that Mendiola was a battlefield, complete with our soldiers — the soldiers of change. In Mendiola shall the setting of an epic battle for Filipino freedom and democracy be recognized.
It matters not whether this battle should be taken figuratively or otherwise. What is important is that there is a battle to be fought and won, a battle wherein a conviction for social change is necessary, and a mission to exorcise this country of malice, devious usurpers, and potbellied masters.
Most of all, there must be a strong conviction that this nation, the republic to be more precise, is never weak, was never weak, and can never be weak. Philosophically, a republic is just a universal idea, but it should be treated with high regard and evaluation. Why? Because semantically, it infers to something universally good. A republic is incorporated into reality through practice, and serves as the people’s embodiment for a humane society. In addition, the view that at the center of human polity, particularly Filipino polity, is the idea of a republic, is what binds our sociality and civility within the borders of civilization.
What is weak, therefore, is not the idea but the practice.
And this practice, the vile corruption of the utilization of a body politic, is what makes us think that our republic, our government, our country, is nothing but a decrepit pile of bricks. We were, in some way or another, made to believe that the system is feeble and weak-kneed. Thus, it twisted our concepts of self-determination, independence, stability, and nationhood as a whole.
In the process of this unholy circumstance, the Filipino people have grown tired and hopeless. Their confidence towards political stability has become abjective and stale. What most Filipinos are unaware of is that our republic, strong as it really is, is being exploited shrewdly by the devils in parliament. It is they who use the strong powers of our republic to their desired design and control. But save for a select few Filipinos, the legacy of Mendiola’s firepower and its defiance against tyranny and oppression lives on. And this restlessness shall never be pacified until the true worth, strength, and dignity of La República Filipina has been unveiled.
Mendiola, where many a great nameless heroes contributed to the concept of a country of practical imperativeness rather than a dependency on the country itself, shall inspire the change that I feel. And I am confident that a lot more Filipinos are gradually waking up, heeding the calls of this implacability to unveil a strong republic.