LESSONS FROM MY FIRST RALLY

What I learned about humanity in one hour

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RALLYISTS demanding the rechanneling of pork-barrel funds to education.

“Do you hear the people sing?

Singing the song of angry men?

It is the music of a people

Who will not be slaves again!”

—“Do You Hear the People Sing?” from “Les Miserables”

This song was playing in my head as I attended my first rally. The last two verses struck me the most as I pumped my fist into the air because we, the Filipino people, are all slaves of the corrupt pork barrel system and the people behind it.

The causes we were fighting for were clear: Abolish the pork barrel system and re-channel the funds to a better cause.

I arrived at the “Edsa Tayo” Prayer Vigil at 2:35 p.m., after coming home from school. At first, I heard the strong voice of a woman echoing throughout the entire Epifanio de los Santos Avenue. As I walked up the flyover, I witnessed about a thousand people gathered around the Virgin Mary statue, listening to the owner of a Marikina shoe factory and the leader of a labor union.

An old man adds his voice to the clamor of the people.

She complained about unemployment—about the abrupt closing of her factory. She pleaded with the government to use a small portion of the pork barrel funds for unemployed workers. She was met with a warm round of applause.

She was followed by a Muslim who held up the Koran and told the crowd that he was one with them in their plight. He prayed for peace in Mindanao and  the abolition of the pork barrel.

After him came a priest in white robes, who went up to the podium and read a passage from the Holy Bible, specifically from the Book of Isaiah. He mentioned in his short but meaningful homily that the poor are the “gateway to Heaven.” The rich should take care of the poor and the poor are blessed, as stated in the Beatitudes. His comrades cheered wildly after his thought-provoking reflection.

All walks of life

After listening to the testimonies and experiences of various people from all walks of life, people sang to the tune of “Sa Kuko ng Agila,” “Ang Bayan Kong Pilipinas” and “Balita.” During that time, I was standing on the flyover, where other people were taking pictures and documenting the event for news channels.

SPEAKER railing against the corrupt pork-barrel system

I decided to move closer to the action and, to my surprise, encountered a huge crowd before me. These advocates, though not as many as in the Luneta Million March Rally, were all united in fighting for the abolition of the pork barrel and  transfer of funds to a more worthy cause.

This was the first rally I had ever attended, and I’m glad that I experienced how it feels to stand my ground along with my fellow countrymen. I’ve always dreamed of attending a rally ever since I was young—and finally, I was able to attend one last Sept. 11!

At first, my driver, Wilmar Taclajan, and I were nervous because there might be sudden violence or unexpected attacks on the civilians, but I guess it was my persistence and faith that kept me going. I’m glad that it ended peacefully and no one was injured while we were letting our voices be heard.

Truly, this prayer rally taught me so much about humanity in just one hour. My eyes were opened not only to the rampant corruption in our government, but also to the drastic effects of the pork barrel issue on the masses.

LOUD and clear

Even though I’m still a minor and I’m not being taxed, I believe that I will have to pay my own taxes when the time comes. Just going out of my comfort zone and sacrificing a little bit of time made me realize that I could be a better citizen of this country.

I also realized the importance of the youth—how much they are valued by the adults, since they are the ones who will be affected in the years to come if this issue is left unresolved by the government. I hope to join more rallies and continue standing up for what is right and just.

Abolish the pork barrel system and rechannel its funds for the benefit of the Filipino people!

PHOTOS BY ANGELICA YANG

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