Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Worn Man By The Computer

Twenty years ago, after the fall of the dictator, I hoped for a new beginning for my country. From the time that Ninoy was imprisoned, nothing has filled our dinner time but politics. My Dad back then was fighting the PNB management for the rights of the workers and my uncle, helped defend Ninoy in court. My Dad brought me along in their pickets. I even attended campaign rallies of Laban when they ran for seats in the Marcos Parliament. I never thought that I would face the same scenes when my time came.

When Ninoy was assassinated, my parents left the country to seek refuge in the US. My Mom worked for the government and my Dad was a VP in one of the biggest banks. They had to give up their jobs to try to get us out one by one. We were left in the care of my aunt who was still single. I joined the rallies every Friday and on my free time joined the picket lines of our university's staff. In short, I became an activist. I was full of bravado and thought I was invincible, until one colleague was found mangled by the railroad in Laguna. Tortured and beaten to death. It all sank in and I quit school. Wary of what could happen to me, I had to lay low for a while. But still I did not miss the rallies. The Second Quarter Storm was an adrenaline rush for me. My sister and I got separated during the dispersal and I ended up in Plaza Dilao.

Then came the snap elections and I became more active. My Mom had returned to join me and my sister in the rallies. We campaigned for Cory. I still had to be careful and always on the lookout for any eventuality. After one of the biggest rallies in Luneta, we were almost "waylaid" by an unmarked car. Luckily, I saw a huge crowd near a chapel and quickly headed for them. My Mom was so shaken and kept asking me what was that all about. I just told her maybe its because of the huge NINOY banner on my car. Those three years were the most exciting years of my life. I never however entertained the thought of going "underground" unlike what most of my friends did. I told them I'd stick it out and take my chances. I always opted for a peaceful solution than an armed struggle.

My Mom received a call from the palace that fateful day in February telling her that the Marcos's had left. I thought that I would never join another "fiesta" in EDSA until 2001 came. I took my kids with me to give them the feeling of what's its like to attend a rally, just as my Dad did when I was a little boy. Now the wheel has come full circle and we have another dictator-wannabe. I guess time will come when I have to once again attend another "fiesta" to boot out another maniac.

Twenty years and I have yet to see my country flourish and grow as a nation. Migration has grown to leaps and bounds. Priorities have changed for the worst. The citizenry once again repressed by a few ambitious individuals. Parents driven out of our country to fend for their families. I cannot bear to see this country once again terrorized into submission by a self-proclaimed messiah who has done nothing but to enrich her family and her cohorts. And I thought that Marcos was cruel. At least he never pushed our citizens into slavery for the sake of dollar remittances to prop up her supposed to be strong economy.

Twenty years and I see my beloved Philippines back at square one. Life has gotten worse and has cultivated apathy and a culture of impunity. The faces I marched with during those dark years, now swallowed up by the very system we fought against. Am I a "WORN" man who sits by his computer all day typing away his thoughts? I'm not, I'm just waiting for the call to come when my country needs my nameless face once again to right what is wrong and stand up for my rights.