I was at Edsa again, on the 25th, commemorating that finest moment in recent Philippine history as much as protesting against the inconceivable things happening in the country today.
I’m Vergel’s wife, my father’s daughter, and my uncles’ niece, and there was never any question whether I should be counted or not.
Never mind if I was starting a cold, throat itchy, nose runny; I certainly was better off than many old fellow marchers who could be with us only in spirit and in prayer, being in far worse form due to some bug or other culprit. One had asthma, another flu, another pneumonia, and yet another was taking longer to heal from what we had thought a simple surgery.
Still, we were seven, two of them balikbayan; we used to fill three vans.
This time there was no need for me to bring kasambahay Lanie, ready with an umbrella and a folding chair. I just had my usual survival kit of crackers, water to drink and to soak a face towel with (for the tear gas one never knew might be coming), and Kleenex. Vergel and I were coming from inside a nearby village where a joiner cousin lives, an arrangement that assures us of a bathroom, a merienda before or a light dinner after. We would be protesting in fair safety and comfort.
As usual, it was exhilarating, although White Plains Ave. is not exactly Edsa. I looked around and easily concluded we and many other contemporaries must have been the oldest in the crowd, which for me was quite heartening.
How long, I wondered, could members of our old guard keep this up? The answer came quickly: for as long as we can still walk, or wobble. Every warm body counts! The foul-mouthed trolls in cyberspace don’t impress me—they’re merely virtual, as evidenced by their inability to materialize on the streets! We know the cyber trick that can make them seem many.
We, on the other hand, are a consistent, warm, living mass who, by the very quality of its cause, can show the soldiers who the true source of their authority is and make them recognize who the real enemy of the people really is.
The day before another rally was mounted in which the universities were impressively represented and the nuns were in fair force, the archbishop, Antonio Cardinal Tagle, had his own crowd at a morning Mass at the Edsa shrine of Our Lady of Peace. But why these separate commemorations, why force me to choose, when there’s one clear chief cause and one enemy?
I wish the Church would reset its priorities and put aside its rabid objections to divorce and family planning; indeed, I wish it would leave those things to individual consciences. Liberty and justice, the very survival of our democratic republic—these are the emergency issues. We’re up against a different kind of tyrant, one who is openly intent, as my husband can’t stop warning, on selling us out—literally—to the Chinese.
I must have gotten carried away with the cheering, the chanting, the righteous passion of the day, because all that aggravated my cold and made me completely useless, bedridden, the next day.
Rising to the occasion
In bed I had a chance to think about the new Edsa crowd. Our youth are rising to the occasion, properly informed and inflamed to heights of passion only they can achieve. This is, in fact, their fight. It is their lives and future on the line.
But, of course, they cannot be left to themselves; if anyone needs protection it’s them—the generation that will inherit history. We have to make that history right with them and for them; we have to march alongside each other.
Indeed, we seem to be coming together. Young and old are heating up the streets again with the fever of patriotism. The regime continues to fool and terrorize the nation, but the issues are bound to clarify in the end, as in fact it has done. They simply are coming closer and closer to one’s own bone: Wars are provoked, lives are cheapened, resources are dissipated, prices are rising, freedoms are suppressed, conspiracies within the regime and with foreign partners are advanced by railroading constitutional change.