Sunday, March 02, 2008

Inter-Faith Rally (Very Late Post)

I left home early to avoid being blocked from Makati, the site of the Inter-Faith rally in the search for truth. It was drizzling while I sat across the AIM sipping coffee. Te actual march was delayed a bit as the participants awaited some delegates from the outskirts of Manila which were blocked by police checkpoints in the highways leading to the city. Unfortunately, time was running and the rally had to roll.

As I stood up, a roar from the students erupted and the march began. Priests and nuns lead by Bishop Bacani was at the head of the seeming endless throng of students. One by one, students from the different universities and colleges passed by me. They were chanting "Gloria Resign" and "Let the Truth Out". The usual activist schools paraded their numbers. I was astonished to see this huge group of ladies in their uniforms. They were the delegation from Assumption College, the alma mater of Gloria Arroyo. They announced their presence by shouting, "Nandito ang Assumption". I would have loved to see GMA's reaction.

As the march reached Ayala, confetti rained, reminiscent of the rallies in Makati in the '80's. I was not able to join the Black and White's group as I had to wait for Arbet Bernardo and Gari Lazaro. Ellen Tordesillas called me up and told me she was at Ninoy's monument. Off I went searching for her but the huge crowd prevented me from locating her. The JIL occupied the length of Paseo de Roxas from the Insular Life Bldg. I had to walk back to Shangrila to wait for my "anaks". It was almost 6PM when we met up.

The three of us waded through the crowd only to be stuck near the stage. We listened to Jun Lozada's speech. A few other personalities spoke. No politician went up. Our group also bumped into Sen. Ping Lacson who was weaving through the crowd. Shortly after 7PM, our group met up with Manolo Quezon and Manuel Buencamino. We had a small talk about politics and the Spratlys issue. Manuel also has this novel idea about a weekly show about GMA. After a few smokes, yes I smoke. Our little meeting ended as Manolo headed towards the stage to meet up with Leah Navarro. After dinner, Gari left us to meet some friends. Arbet and I left the rally as the band played "Tatsulok". The emcee also bade goodbye to the cheering crowd.

The size of the crowd surprised me. So many new faces were there. I suppose GMA was so scared that she declared Makati a "No Fly Zone". The helicopter of ABS-CBN was prevented from taking aerial shots of the humongous crowd. As the rally progressed, GMA was meeting with her generals. And there were reports that mayors were being called to Malacañang. Employees from different offices also took part in the protest. The MBC came in full force. When even businessmen participate, it only shows that a wide spectrum of society is disgusted.

The fact that the PNP prevented rallyists from entering Manila is a clear sign that GMA is in panic mode. Thousands from outlying provinces were harassed in check points and choke points at the NLEX, SLEX and the Coastal Road. The contingent from DLSU-Dasmariñas was stopped at a checkpoint at the Coastal Road. Armored units also were brought in from the provinces. A total of twenty-seven armored vehicles were brought in. The contingent included Scorpion tanks and M113s. Malacañang is surrounded by container vans and barbed wire. Special units of the army were also rushed to Manila, signs that GMA is panicking. The navy's golf course was closed much to the dismay of those who wanted to play golf. Esperon as of late has three armed guards whenever he plays golf. One is even armed with an assault rifle. The guy sure has a lot of enemies.

The administration is downplaying the situation. Her town-criers are booming lies. I just hope Dir. Avelino Razon sees the light and drop GMA. I suppose he was appointed to the PNP to lend some sense of decency to the organization. I am sure that the next rally will be even bigger. Makati is such a small place to accommodate a million warm bodies. The groups that came were just small delegations but I am sure that more would have loved to come. With summer vacation coming, the youth will definitely come in full force.

Despite my bad back, I forced myself to attend the rally. I wouldn't miss it for the world. Arbet shared the same sentiment. He passed off an office party just to make it to Makati. All in all, the rally was a success. Even when the rally was halfway through, people were still arriving. Families with small kids in tow also came. I even saw disabled people. The administration has its work cut out for them. Their propaganda isn't swaying the fencesitters to their side. The growing number of disgusted Filipinos is growing. Soon all Gloria can rely on is her small armed group. Will she last till December as Manolo Quezon predicts? Maybe, maybe not. But I am sure she will not last till 2010.