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Proud to be a ‘Yellowtard’

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At Large

Proud to be a ‘Yellowtard’

I guess you could call me a “Yellowtard,” as opposed, I suppose, to a “Dutertard,” both politically incorrect pejoratives invented by believers of the President and his predecessor to insult each other.

Now that ex-president Benigno Aquino III has broken his one-year self-imposed vow to “keep quiet” and refrain from issuing public statements on the state of the nation under PRRD, the gloves are off. Asked after the Mass in observance of his mother’s eighth death anniversary of his opinion regarding the President’s “drug war,” Aquino opined that he thought the situation had not changed on the illegal drugs front, despite the deadly war on drugs under Mr. Duterte which has resulted in thousands of deaths and more than a million arrests.

This was enough for the former Davao mayor to “release the Kraken,” the monster that lurks so closely beneath the veneer of civility that he struggles to maintain. He challenged Aquino to “enter the illegal drug trade” so he, the current leader, could “cut off your head, you crazy guy.” Then
he added: “What do you mean nothing happened? You fool.”

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In the record of the President’s foul-mouthed rants, I suppose the riposte to Aquino can be considered rather tame. But we all know, too, that he isn’t one to confine himself to tirades and insults in response to a perceived attack. Somehow, he will find a way, a harder, harsher way, to get back at Aquino and teach him a lesson.

But, being an Aquino, P-Noy should be used by now to adversity and to assaults like Mr. Duterte’s. Indeed, his eldest sister Ballsy put it succinctly when she thanked those who attended their mother’s memorial Mass. In times both good and bad—“when the Aquino name was sweet-smelling, and now that it isn’t” was how she put it—the same motley group of relatives and friends still showed up, wearing their hearts on their yellow sleeves.

The experience of being pariahs—politically and even socially—was first felt by the Aquinos shortly after the war, when Benigno Sr., the father of Ninoy, had to endure taunts and social isolation when he was investigated for his participation in the Japanese-sponsored wartime government. This was, remembered Ninoy’s sister Tessie (Oreta), the impetus for his determination to make good in politics and thereby redeem the Aquino name.

Indeed, it was a rapid rise from mayor to senator for the outspoken Ninoy, but when Marcos declared martial law and Ninoy was among the first to be
incarcerated, Cory and their children endured their own days in the desert. Cory recalled restaurant patrons hastily exiting the premises when she entered, sometimes with her children. When a good friend approached her and greeted her effusively, Cory was delighted but told the friend, “For your own sake, you should leave me right now.”

And there could be no worse form of isolation than Ninoy’s assassination, only after which did friends and associates come flocking, inspired by the popular anger that his death unleashed.

Perhaps it is this experience that taught Cory—and later P-Noy and his siblings—about the impermanence of friendships based on flimsy grounds like proximity to power.

In this highly charged atmosphere of toxic politics, colors and gestures have taken on a strange kind of power. We have been divided into “yellows” and “reds” and maybe even “greens” and “oranges.” One has to take care where to put one’s hands and how (and whether) to form a fist while posing for selfies, for gestures have a way of defining your political loyalties.

On the first anniversary of the Edsa Revolt, my family decided to celebrate the occasion by venturing to the closed highway with all of us clad in yellow, including our then baby daughter who shares a birthday with Edsa. When a friend saw the photos we took, she shook her head and commented: “You’re so yellow!”

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It was a poke I took with good nature, but also with pride. And I still embrace the color to this day. Maybe a once-trending color that has fallen out of favor has a way of changing its meaning. As someone once wrote of Ninoy, by his death he turned the color of cowardice into a symbol of courage.

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TAGS: At Large, Benigno Aquino III, Dutertard, Rina Jimenez-David, Yellowtard
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