The protesters were being shot with water cannons—but no reports whether any of the seven peaches had left to join their fellows out on the street to get themselves watered
COLORS have lost their innocence. Some are even getting their reputation smirched.
That’s precisely what has happened to peach, for instance. It has become a political statement of support for the impeachment of the president—which was the farthest from my mind when I wore a peach top over beige shorts when I sat down on the sofa to watch him deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA).
I certainly don’t want to be associated with the seven who got all dressed in peach only to walk out on cue, looking like a choir whose number was up, just after the president was introduced and got ready to start. There was a short disapproving buzz from the full house. Rude is rude in any color.
Well into the hour-and-a-half speech, a small frame appeared on a corner of my TV screen, showing protesters being shot with water cannons, but there were no reports whether any of the seven peaches had left to join their fellows out on the street to get themselves watered. I also wondered about the giant piñata of a pig-faced president; if it got drenched itself, how would it catch a good protest pyre?
I was curious about what might have provoked the police to resort yet to water cannons after all the barricading it had done—stone blocks, iron fence and barbed wire—until a reporter on the scene came on interviewing one protester who turned out to be a human-rights person. Himself wet, he kept pointing an accusing finger at the police while the camera showed some of the crowd toppling sections of the grille, tumbling over some blocks, and cutting through the wire with proper tools in an attempt to go over the barriers.
The protesters, kept at bay too far, just had to push forward, he said. “Ang layo naman namin, mararating ba namin yung Batasan?”
For people who didn’t seem to care to listen—for if they did, they’d have brought TV or radio sets—such aggressiveness could only have been intended to close the distance from the target. For all this pushing on one side and dousing on the other, I felt relieved that, unlike in previous cases, there were no arrests or injuries.
But where’s all this outrage, which seems to me disproportionate to the crime, coming from? I was under the impression we’ve been in fact not doing badly, given not only our economic numbers but also the headway we’ve made against unhealthy cultures.
If the nation’s morale seems higher, I could only ascribe it to achievements like decisive and initially successful efforts to bring to justice people who at another time would have beaten it—a chief justice impeached and charged, a former president detained and taken to court, the same with members of a warlord family associated with her, three senators and some of their associates held without bail for plunder. Certainly these gains are not insignificant, although, concededly, a great deal more has to be done.
The president’s adversaries are formidable; he may well be up against long-standing conspiracies, mostly gangs long profiting off people’s miseries. I want no part of any effort that would undermine his position.
Wary and weary
But this much older soldier has become wary and weary of marches and rallies, especially after my last one, at the Luneta, against the pork barrel. As suggested, I wore white, a proper non-color yet an expedient uniform, I thought. But quickly enough I began to observe some manipulation, a steering away from the pork barrel toward issues habitually ideological or political. Suddenly the president’s pig-faced effigy appeared to be torched, courtesy of the Left.
Red has always been the color of the Left, and my generation, knowing only too well what it stands for, has been habitually uncomfortable with it.
Reminiscent of its rally around the impeached chief justice, Renato Corona, the Supreme Court establishment—justices and personnel—has itself adopted red, with black added to it, to define its side by hue in its quarrel with the president over the Development Acceleration Program or DAP, a budgeting practice the court found partly unconstitutional.
The gimmickry seems to me to betray the character of the Supreme Court. It is a court “fallible and pliable,” according to BusinessWorld columnist Oscar Lagman, who proceeds to walk us through its recent history of self-contradictions to make a case both general and relevant to DAP.
Admittedly, I have myself a sentimental (you may say also political) attachment to a color—yellow—but it’s a color that signifies the most noble part of my generation’s life: EDSA, the revolt that took freedom back from a dictator and installed Cory Aquino, leader of the revolt and widow of the martyr that had brought it all on, as democratic president.
On June 28 four years ago, Cory’s only son, just fully orphaned by her, became his own man and the president himself. Now reporting on the state of the nation, speaking in the folksy native tongue, he first put everything in context by quoting a saying: “Kung hindi tayo lilingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi natin mararating ang patutunguhan.”
At one point, he seemed to deviate from his prepared speech to look his symbolical “bosses”—the people—in the eye,”mata sa mata,” as an honest public servant only could. At that moment, perhaps the burden of his office and the legacy of his parents became almost too much to bear. If he managed somehow to hold back tears, he could not but bare his heart and soul and they showed not a stain of corruption.
And until not too long ago, I thought that was singularly important to us.