Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mob Rule

So it's the anniversary of EDSA Dos.

When some historical event takes place, people who lived to somehow "witness" it ask each other this question: "Where were you when (insert event here) happened?" We get this question a lot about the death of Princess Diana, or 9-11, or when Rustom came out (the last is obviously a joke).

I was in my senior year in college when EDSA Dos happened. We were finishing our thesis at that time and it required my thesis mates and I to visit a few local government units in Metro Manila. On one of those research trips, we were on the MRT heading back to the campus when we saw a fairly large crowd gathering at the foot of the EDSA Shrine. Rallies were everywhere at that time and we treated that one no different from the others.

Back at the dorm, I saw on TV that that same crowd at Ortigas had swollen up to a few thousands. At its early stage a lot of people opined that a second EDSA revolution was already brewing, although I had my doubts. I had always been the more moderate student and even if I knew that the impeachment hearing had become a circus of sorts, I was still hoping that they'd restore order in the Senate to come up with a more peaceful resolution to the whole Erap thing.

I couldn't remember how it started that the UP Maradjaw Karadjaw, my provincial org (or how we call an organization whose members are from the same province, in my case Surigao del Norte), decided to join the rally. So I was whisked to EDSA with a number of my orgmates where we found ourselves right at the middle, make that at the front (I don't know how we reached that far), of the throbbing crowd shouting invectives against Erap and his cohorts.

More than anything else, my thoughts were really about the unfortunate chance that there'd be a stampede. I also knew then how my parents would react at the thought that I joined a rally, a thing that they repeatedly discouraged me. But heck, I was already there.

Fear notwithstanding, it was actually fun being in a huge rally. People were wearing chic black, of course because they were the middle class and they know how to choose the most fabulous color. Super! They were holding fancy posters and placards proclaiming… whatever they were proclaiming. On one side were students from Miriam College and from San Beda on another. It was like being in a UAAP game of some sort. So I joined the cheering with raised (and limped) fists. I also listened to speeches of some bastard secretary or chief of police who just turned against Erap.

The next day, it was my chance to join my collegemates (or people from my department). It did not help that most of my friends were in the college student council so I was left with hardly any choice but to join them. We took the MRT to reach Ortigas. Even inside the train we were already primed for the battle ahead. We kept on chanting stuff like "Patalsikin si Erap" or something to that effect. I knew we were supposed to wear black but I chose to wear a red Che Guevarra shirt coz it appeared more revolutionary to me. (And I don't wear that shirt anymore, thank god.)

We stayed the entire day on one of the flyovers that span the highway. I could actually feel it move when the people jumped in unison to some chant that was broadcasted all over the place. We did have a good view of the mob below us. By then, there were people everywhere. The avenue below us was completely covered by people. So were the three levels of flyovers. Banners were hoisted everywhere. There was a regular shower of confetti from some helicopter.

One politician followed another to denounce their support for Erap. So were the leaders of the every major leftist group. Military men who left the ranks had their share of the limelight as well. Priests and nuns were not to be outdone with their series of pray-over. And yeah, I think Nora Aunor was also there. Chants were revised continuously… one would accuse Osmena as bading, another would call Tessie Oreta as pokpok, followed by Miriam being called a Brenda.

We actually slept on the overpass that evening and went back to the campus the next day.

So what was I feeling at that time? Nothing much really. I was hoping that the crowd would dissipate eventually so we can go back to our normal bloody lives.

I was not expecting that much to result from all the circus. Lo and behold, the next day at the dorm, we watched on TV as Erap took a small boat across the Pasig River from Malacanang while a mob of black-clad middle class gathered outside its gates. Back to Ortigas, a diminutive woman who I never saw before was sworn in as president. The crowed cheered, probably believing in some victory over a tyrant. The jubilant mood lasted a few days perhaps until a more sweaty, stinking mob overtook EDSA to show their support for Erap. They were dismissed by everyone else as a bunch of hakot.

Perhaps instead of asking where we were during EDSA Dos, we can ask ourselves where we actually are right now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

agree. i would also like to know where the hell are the rich middle class who joined the rally?


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