This article titled "The Center cannot hold" is written by Patricia Evangelista and published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer - March 1, 2008.
AS I TYPE THIS, there are others who write their own manifestos, compelled by chance and conscience and circumstance to plug away on keyboards across the country. Every few minutes a new entry flashes across cyberspace: Lozada, ZTE, indignation in its varying forms, pleas for caution, calls to action, justifications for inaction, the long narratives of disillusionment seconded by the angry and frustrated.
I can't pretend to represent my generation. All of us are faced with a choice, and the fact of my youth does not mean that my choices reflect those made by my contemporaries. And yet there is something very wrong with CBCP president Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo's claim that "Our youth seem to be very satisfied about what is going on in their lives." I cannot believe that anyone would be satisfied with this sort of life, with the rape of the Filipino nation occurring with daily regularity, and lie after moronic lie echoing from the gates of the Palace. Satisfied? I doubt if non-presence in an indignation rally is the only manifestation of public satisfaction. The millions of people scrabbling for a meal a day in this country do not go to rallies either, and yet I would hesitate to call them satisfied.
On Saturday, an article in Young Blood condemned all those who trooped to indignation rallies as essentially "blind and selfish clowns," who were either "misguided idealists" or "hypocrites to the bone." And while the writer spoke with righteous rage, he accused those "misguided idealists" of believing they have a monopoly on righteousness. What I find more astounding than his hasty generalizations on the motivations of all who protest the current corruption is his argument that all this rage against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a waste of time, money and energy; as if the billions in public funds lost to corruption is not a waste, as if corruption has not deprived people of the housing and education the writer believes they deserve. I respect his choice to stay away, but perhaps it would be best for him to understand why others choose to go.
Many have said that all the confetti, all the rallies, all the thousands of people who have crowded in Ayala last Friday can do little more than derail traffic. Perhaps they are right. But I will join the next rally anyway, because I believe that it is wrong, appallingly, incredibly, brutally wrong, to allow those in power to believe they have the right to mortgage my future because they are wily enough to claw their way to power. To be silent is to tell every future Filipino leader that there is no limit to power.
Everyone is dirty in government, a pro-Arroyo rallyist told me. And perhaps that is true, but it is no reason to condone corruption and rank dishonesty when we see it, especially when it implicates the country's chief executive.
And this is where I'll tell you where I stand. I do not wish to oust Arroyo, although I support calls for her resignation or due process by impeachment. I wish I could say that I believe in the rule of law and end there. But I live in the Philippines where the rule of law is applied selectively, in very strange ways. How do we impeach, if Congress refuses to allow it? How do we prosecute, if the Ombudsman sits on the case? And so it's the streets for me, because I see no other way to say no.
Once upon a time, the voice of a white-haired dragon thundered over radios and television sets, raging that a nation cannot be run by a thief. It was a voice that galvanized a watching country into the streets, and reminded people of what they deserved. Now the dragon is a senator, and Joker Arroyo sits behind a microphone and helps along the current cadre of thieves. I believe the administration has lost all mandate, I believe the President must be held accountable, and I will go out and rally to add one pair of feet to the thousands who want the truth.
I'll tell you about a friend of mine. His flip-flops and jeans have been traded in for slacks and button-downs, there is a ring on his finger and a giggling, laughing one-year-old boy perched at the crook of his arm. He pays his taxes, he calculates his family's weekly spending; he has worked nights in call centers before clawing his way up the corporate ladder. He believes, very firmly, in the rule of law, and the birth of his son made him even more determined to create as stable an environment as possible. And yet, he says, while a small hand curled around his sleeve, that he is slowly believing that the way out is the way of the street. He cannot stomach knowing that the taxes the government bleeds from his paycheck, money that can be spent on bringing up his small boy, is being tossed into the pockets of the undeserving.
Yeats once wrote of what he thought was the inevitable end of humanity, when "the best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity."
I am not very certain where all this is going. All I know is that so much has gone wrong, and has gone on long enough.