I was 19 years of age when the the failed coup by Ramos, Enrile, and Honasan was repacked by ABS-CBN as “the EDSA Revolution”. On the eve of Marcos departure for Hawaii, a buddy and I were in a BBQ place behind Davao City Hall. We were listening to the news, as we guzzled down cases of San Miguel Beer Pale Pilsen. By then, I was way over the activism phase in my life. So there we were singing drinking songs and talking about what was going on in Manila.
They asked me – “you were in the militant mass movement before, been on the watch list (the so called-OB/Order of Battle, what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be out there?”.
Flashback, two years, 1984. The open militant mass movement was peaking up. The political spectrum was highly polarized. The National Bourgeoisie and the Petty Bourgeoisie were in alliance with the Workers and Peasants in a National Unified Front that will achieve a strategic stalemate, establish a National Democratic coalition government as a preliminary stage to achieving a more equitable system of government akin to China and Vietnam. We were having wet dreams of a cultural revolution – of banishing outdated feudal Pinoy thinking.
We rallied at any opportune, we volunteered as agit-prop teams during general strikes, we acted as command and control during long marches, we were in every Asin concert, we lighted our lighters and sang “International” along with the Plebians “Aling Pag-Ibig Pa”. The East is Red, Davao is Red, we can’t wait for the entire Philippines to turn Red – or so, we thought..
Something got lost along the way. In the enthusiasm to drive Marcos out, the open mass movement extended its outreach to the Comprador Big Bourgeoisie Landlord Class – in the name of Cory Aquino. The Snap Elections lead to an intense debate that split the progressive forces and the leadership of the militant mass movement. The Snap Elections was the proverbial monkey wrench that changed the momentum of the game.
I advocated participation – my colleages went for the hardline – Boycott. I argued that boycotting the elections will make the mass movement a follower instead of a leader because it hands over control to the parties who participate. When I look at Satur Ocampo, Liza Masa, Teddy Cansino, I am reminded of those days – I TOLD YOU SO.
I kiddingly replied “Good question guys, but I have an NDA with my former colleagues. Tagay”
Then I got serious “We parted ways due to differences in management style. They are trigger happy, am not.. It does not make sense to me to blow up a bridge only to ask for a loan later on so I can rebuild the one I just blew up. It also does not make sense to me that I will engage in the very same activities on which I have called the GRP to task. There has to be a better way. And with that went away the Mao hat, PSR, my combat fatigues, and my collection of writings by Lenin, Stalin, Engels, Marx, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and Gustavo Gutierrez”
For short, been there, done that – your turn guys.
I conveniently did not mention the part where my parents were just about to construct a jail in our house – and were going to imprison me because they were afraid that the moment I stepped out of the house – I will either be gunned down (I was already on the watchlist supposedly) or that I would take to the hills – and lay it all to waste.
My dad’s value proposition to me was this – if for every problem your approach is armed struggle, and I tried that approach on you, my dear son – I would have shot you a long time ago and you and I will not be having this conversation. You can kiss your democracy goodbye because I am exercising economic power over you, as such I have political power over you – and you are staring at the barrel of my gun. I got the message. So much for doing a Che Guevarra.
On that night, memories of the nights of rage and disquiet in the streets of Agdao (aka Nicaragdao), Mandug (aka Mandugua), Maa (aka Maanagua aka killing/salvaging fields) were raging, until it flickered, and went away.
Later on a former Danish colleague in the energy sector would tell me, “If you are young and not a commie, you don’t have a heart. When you are old and still a commie, you don’t have a brain”. Ok, I have a convenient excuse – I was young and didn’t know any better.
The inner Petty Bourgeoisie opted to wear Hanes t-shirts, Adidas sneakers, Levi’s jeans, listen to Smooth Jazz, dance to Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, go clubbing in Apo View Hotel’s Penec Bar (turned One Down Disco then Spam’s), become a college jock and captain the Ateneo de Davao Men’s Vball Team all the way to the UAAP Nationals ’88 – the proletarian experiment was over.
And so, there we were, that night of 1986, Davaoeños, Mindanaoans, second generation Luzonian-Mindanaon chowing down on Colasa’s pork barbecue.
As far as I was concerned, as far as the Davaoeños were concerned, whoever won – Marcos or Aquino:
- Davao and Mindanao will always be the LAST priority of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.
- The Manila-centric GRP will always call the shots on allocations.
- Mindanao will remain the hacienda of the Cojuangcos and the mestizos, and the multinationals – and the AFP will be the security guards who will shoot and kill the Mindanaoans.
- Mindanao’s resources will be siphoned off to Manila, business taxes from profits derived from Mindanao will be paid to Makati. Malacañang will allocate the tax revenue to NCR, and if they want brownie points – throw the Mindanaoans a bone – and watch our local politicians croak their voices like frogs in a downpour.
- Mindanao will be the playgorund of Luzon-trained AFP military officers wanting to get a promotion – Fly to Mindanao, Shoot some Moros, Bilaans, Manobos – Get a medal, Get a Promotion, Return to NCR and brown nose a mistah to generate cushy funds for retirement.
For short, it will be business as usual.
The only difference between Marcos and Aquino is that in Marcos time, you can easily spot the crocodiles – they had the bulging beer bellies, the tucked in 45s, the RayBan aviator glasses, they were usually in military or police uniform. In Marcos time, corruption was limited to the Cabinet Secretaries and the Regional Directors.
After Marcos time, it seemed the crocodiles had spread like a malignant cancer. From the military, the corruption now included the “civilian”. It used to be that people wanting to do business just paid off the Chief of Police or the Regional Commander of the Regional Unified Commands. After Marcos, we had to pay more people off just to take part in a bid – from the driver to the treasurer, section chief, even the COA Auditor!!!
Talk about democratization of corruption!
In the years that have passed, the remote places in Lake Sebu, Diwalwal, Bukidnon, Mt Apo, Kidapawan, Kitanglad, Surigao that I have visited in my youth, my adolescence, as a college student, as a yuppie, and as Pinoy overseas have not changed a bit.
The roads are still narrow and dusty, the concrete roads are still full of crater-sized potholes, people still ride the same trikes and jeeps, neighbors still blast the volumes of their boomboxes for everyone in the village to hear.
There are some changes too – I saw the Ampatuans buy out and consolidate the smaller lots to come up with a bigger lot in the subdivision where I grew up – Luzviminda Village, in Maa. The rich are richer.. the poor are poorer.
Nothing new man dinhi oi. Mao ra gihapon.
POBRE RA GIHAPON NOY, WALAY WAWART, PESTENG YAWA, KAWATAN MONG DAGKO.
EDSA? A Revolution? You gotta be joking.
Excuse me, but I can’t relate to this EDSA crap.