This is not about you

by Arnold P. Alamon

 

 

 

No, this is not about you. They were not there parading below your condominium by the Bay to rile you and give you a platform to display your pettiness and lack of understanding towards your roots. These are your people before your education and its accompanying aspirations separated you from them.

You used to just see them at the market in your old hometown when they come down from the mountains for errands, ever so timid and pliable. It must be such a jarring sight for you to see them in the hundreds, organized, with placards mouthing off slogans that speak of a new consciousness, one that you do not share precisely because of the blinding mix of your colonial education and personal ambition.

They could not possibly be here within spitting distance of the Embassy, one that you gaze at everyday from your window as a symbol for your successes. It has been a long journey that has culminated to a happy end, one that has afforded you a privileged arrogance that now allows you to fantasize about throwing tomatoes at the protesters down below. You even cheered on the police as they ran over your kind. Serves them right, you thought.

Or maybe that is precisely the point of all this exercise in crassness. They are not your kind. These paid rallyists! Communists! How dare they! Like Evita Peron, you railed at the crowd with clench fists on your balcony, while looking protectively over the white fortress symbolically under siege.

But who are you and what have you become?

No, this is not about you and your sworn duty to protect and serve. It is clear that the lesson of your many years in service is not to think about your job as a principled public servant of the Filipino people, whatever that means. You get fired for thinking in abstraction but rewarded for following the operations of power.

On this particular day, there was a call that came in late. Disperse the protesters; the order came from within the walls. The paranoid bosses inside must have been irked by how close the rallyists came to the immaculate gates of the fortress, one that they promptly vandalized with their anti-American slogans. In a world that has turned upside down, the former colony’s once docile subjects, the natives, are now storming the gates and they who are inside its walls believe they should take no chances.

And so you fired up your men to attack even as the protest was about to come to a close. One took this to heart and rammed his police vehicle and back at the protesters again and again. They should be taught a bitter lesson because what face will we show to our white masters inside?

The generals in Camp Aguinaldo who responded similarly with water canons a fortnight ago, were no different. We may have a new president but there are other lords to please who are more powerful and enduring, they must have thought. They would rather trust the tried and tested bases of power that are sure to outlast the momentary fluke that is the current president and his coterie of leftist cabinet members.

The protest was not about you and your default apologetics and worship for a system that still places a former colonizer and present imperialist power at an infallible political pedestal. However, you were quick to hijack the attention from the demonstration with your crass Facebook posts that were really no different from the murderous rampage of the policeman behind the wheel, come to think of it, in terms of intent.

The thousand strong members of our Moro and indigenous groups who where there that day, who were subsequently truncheoned and ran over, arrested and now vilified, did not march from various points of the country, so you guys could turn livid with rage, although that was a welcome consequence if just to expose your guilty complicity to a violent system. Don’t feel that important.

They did all these things for themselves and their communities.

They travelled all the way from the north and south of the country, first to UP, and then to Camp Aguinaldo, and the US Embassy that day, because their families and their communities have been victimized by the proxy wars that are being waged in the name of US-sponsored counterinsurgency plans. Their ancestral lands are being taken away from them because of neoliberal policies pushed by Washington that ultimately benefit foreign mining corporations which is the cause of the killings, militarization, and displacement that our minorities experience in the countryside.

The demonstrations were a display of a political consciousness among our minority groups that sought to dramatize their resistance to this system that has been killing their leaders, stealing their ancestral lands, and displacing their communities.

So it was not about you, but about how a proud and militant awareness has always been the hallmark of our minority groups in stark contrast unfortunately to the mendicant and subservient thinking of many Filipinos including you. Yes, you.

 

[Forthcoming the October 21, 2016 issue of SunStar CDO. The writer, Arnold Alamon, teaches sociology at MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology, and currently serves as the executive director of the RMP-NMR-established Mindanao Interfaith Institute on Lumad Studies.]