As The Bamboos Sway: Where were you when Marcos was ousted? Where will you be when Duterte is?


I cannot get over the feeling that I missed being within a nodal point of Philippine history – that of being amidst the sea of people at EDSA that faced tanks with bare bodies; gave flowers to soldiers vent to shoot them if ordered to; prayed the rosary in front of phalanx of soldiers ready to pounce on them, and millions more from walks of life of lower strata from those being shooed out of Malacañang – Yes, I missed being in that February 22-25, 1986 episode when the murdering thief dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos and his family had to flee from the wrath of People’s Power, news headlined across nations as the Peaceful “revolution that surprised the world.”

That part of the world for me then was Zambia, Africa. There I was, during those days, with my fellow Filipino co-teachers in a crowded room with Zambians, glued to a TV at the United States Information Service Library where ABC newscasters telecasted the percolation of the drama and the eventual downfall of the Marcos regime. Eventually, we beamed as the Zambians congratulated us for what our countrymen have accomplished, peacefully. We really felt proud but, collectively, we had that feeling that we should have been there.

That feeling has become more intense again as the 32nd Anniversary of the Edsa Revolution had just been celebrated. Stories of friends and relatives are still swirling in social media on where they were when it was happening. Lisa Araneta, then a freshman at the University of the Philippines, recalls “The next thing I remember about Day 3 is that Salma Rasul and I were ‘kapit bisig’ as we faced a tank that was threatening to fire at us, or at least throw tear gas at us. The buddy system was suddenly modified as the formation on Santolan corner 20th Street (if I remember correctly) was quickly designed to decrease the odds that they would fire at us. The nuns were in front, with a statue of the Virgin Mary, then came the elderly in the next row, then the moms, then the young ladies (Salma and I were on Row 4 and she was bidding me farewell, ‘It was nice knowing you.’), then the fathers and then the young men were in the back row.”

Lito Tesoro, a photo artist friend from Baguio City, had posted a picture of what I confirmed a selfie of him as foreground of thousands with their clenched fists sky high. Please note that selfie was not yet a byword then, much less, a word. “Yes, that is a selfie, Gayyem,” he said. Taken with a “20mm Nikon”. For those who may not know, doing selfie with said camera is a feat considering its bulkiness and heaviness compared to iPhone nowadays. But Lito recorded himself for posterity during those historic moments.

Much to my envy.

And, somehow, I have this feeling that I could be envious again. Being in California, I could be missing another nodal point in Philippine history – that of the sure ousting of President Rodrigo Duterte in just a matter of time.

While I did not feel much for the kicking out episode of the former Presidents Joseph Estrada from Malacañang due to thievery, I know that the ousting of Duterte will be full of drama. It is already bloody to say the least.

While the movement for the ouster of Marcos started only from a slow boil for at least 17 years – from the so called First Quarter Storm launched by radical activists against his regime and heightened with the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., the freefall of Duterte started almost immediately after his election as president of the Philippines.

He promised to kick out the US imperialist troops out of the country. He did not. He actually further strengthened the ties with the US despots, calling and singing for President Donald Trump as his commander-in-chief. He rode on the concocted line of the US that ISIS is in Marawi and destroyed the City with bombs to ferret such ISIS. After declaring Marawi liberated for they have defeated the enemy, he still placed the whole of Mindanao under martial law. Now he says that ISIS had actually spread all over the Visayas, setting the carpet to place the islands also under martial law, the whole nation for that matter.

In his failed war against drugs, he has already surpassed the death toll in extra judicial killings the deaths under the Marcos regime. While the those being killed are from the poor, the drug lords which Duterte promised to be killed are set free. Moreover, he has proven himself a liar as he had promised to resign his post if he was not able to eradicate the drug problem within six months of his reign.

He also promised to eradicate corruption in the government within six months of this tenure and posturing as anti-oligarch, he facilitated the burial of Marcos, father of oligarchs at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. His son, Paulo, apparently is involved in shabu smuggling through their conduits in the Bureau of Customs. Paulo refuses to show his back which is suspected to have a tattoo of a triad syndicate involved in drugs. Moreover, Duterte himself refuses to sign a waiver, as challenged by Senator Sonny Trillanes, to prove that he has no hidden wealth.

He promised to bring home Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) as there will be employment in the Philippines. To date OFWs are still being murdered in Kuwait. There is no program for land reform and industrialization as promised which are supposed to be the basis of increased employment in the country. Moreover, contractualization which he promised to be off since months ago is still in place. He also allowed members of his cabinet in charge to oversee the programs be dismissed by the committee on appointments.

He has scuttled the Peace Talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines which would have identified the causes of the armed conflict for solutions to these causes be identified. He has now offered Php100,000 from Php25,000 to anyone who would kill a New People’s Army (NPA) combatant, a dangerous ploy for any bounty hunter who would kill anyone dubbed as NPA to earn the money(s).

He called jeepney drivers whose jeeps he wants phased out as ‘mga patay gutom,’ ordered his military to shoot the vagina of amazon NPAs, continue to persecute the Lumads, implemented the TRAIN to further tax burden the masses, wants to change the constitution for his own gain, want the chief justice to be impeached, etc.

Basically, he has not fulfilled any substantial promise he had made during his campaign with which he has duped 16 million Filipinos into electing him president.

Moreover, the peso has dipped from the 40s to a dollar to over 50s. This is the bottom line. When devaluation happens, there is no progress which translates to growing poverty among the majority of Filipinos.

Thus, students today, as of yesteryears had decided to walk out from their classes to join the 32nd celebration of EDSA Revolution together with jeepney drivers, urban poor, and other sectors lower in strata than those in Malacañang. The Catholic clergy had also called support for the celebration of People’s Power.

The celebration had similar ring from 32 years ago.

And will continue to snowball for sure.

I wonder if it will be sooner that it would be asked: Where were you when Duterte was ousted from Malacañang?

I know it will happen sooner or later. I have a feeling that I might miss a historical nodal point in Philippine history again. I could just be watching TV. #


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