Peace rallies: At the intersection between history, politics, and corruption

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In the Philippines, tomorrow is the Million People March Against PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) at Luneta Park. By no small coincidence, this is the very same park in which our National Hero, Jose Rizal, was martyred via firing squad. Many of the provinces, scattered all over the archipelago, are joining in.

The dominant emotion is anger, and perhaps whatever possessed the Les Miserables characters singing “One Day More.”

For those who don’t know, the PDAF, or pork barrel, is the fund allotted to local lawmakers for spending on projects geared toward the betterment of the country.

But recently, quite by accident, a scam involving the suspicious siphoning off of P10 billion worth of those funds was uncovered–and my people, trite as that term may sound, whose discontentment and frustrations have been boiling just beneath the surface for a very long time, are finally arising in anger.

The taxes going into the PDAF could have been used to make so many lives better, but instead, it turns out we’ve been buying luxury cars and new gadgets and house and lots for a handful of senators, congressmen, and the businesswoman allegedly behind the scam, Janet Lim-Napoles.

I’d love to go, actually. I’ve met too many women saving up just to paint their houses; been to too many public schools in want of extra tables, chairs, and textbooks; seen too many kids playing half-naked on railroad tracks and traffic islands; too many farmers hacking at sugarcane under the blazing sun on lands that are not theirs; and recently on the news, witnessed too many people fleeing to the roofs of their houses when the floods come in, just because we do not have an efficient drainage system or they could not afford to live elsewhere. Only the truly self-centered are capable of passing such things every day and remain indifferent…oh, wait, look at our solons…

I’m indignant for these people and at the same time, I would also like to help ensure for all time that I am not helping pay for the opulent lifestyles of our government leaders when I could be trying to build my own life, at the very least.

But understandable familial circumstances and health concerns prevent me from being physically present at the peace rally. I’ll make up for this somehow, in some small way unique to me.

My favorite line from “One Day More”:

Tomorrow we’ll discover what our God in Heaven has in store

May countrymen find that tomorrow, God is with them.

One last note. 330 years under the Spanish, 50 under the Americans, and 3 under the Japanese, and not once did we manage to drive them out without outside help, or at the very least, get them to leave us alone on our terms.

But hey, if we succeed tomorrow, if tomorrow is truly the first step on the long road to ending widespread corruption in the Philippines, then we will have proved to the world, to our solons, and most importantly, to ourselves, these things:

We are not stupid, we have been abused enough, and we will not take this shit lying down.

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