Human Face

Ground swell in August


Something about August. Many of us who are August-born have not failed to notice that the many fateful and earthshaking events in this country’s historical timeline happened in this month. It is a month when we remember guns, bombs, blood, fire and water tearing through our nation’s life—the Plaza Miranda bombing, the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, etc. So life-changing were these August events that when we look back through the veil of mist we can’t help but be overcome by the memories.

Yesterday was Ninoy Aquino’s 30th death anniversary and I couldn’t help but remember where I was, what I was, and how I was at that time. I do remember being among the first few to go to his home on Times Street in Quezon City when there was yet no jostling throng and before Cory and the Aquino children arrived from the United States and his body was transferred to Santo Domingo Church where People Power would have its beginnings.

There he was, without a see-through glass over him. And there I was just staring down at him, at his bruised face and bloody shirt. I could have touched him. I had no inkling then that a ground swell of protest would soon be shaking the seat of power and roaring through the streets for three years until the evil regime crashed to the ground.

I have before me right now the Sept. 2, 1983, issue of Mr. and Ms. Magazine Special Edition on the Aquino funeral. It cost P2. On the cover is the photo of the millions that joined the funeral procession and a photo inset of the dead Ninoy. Also on the cover are Ninoy’s words: “The Filipino is worth dying for.”

I look at the photos, read the wire news dispatches, Jaime Cardinal Sin’s homily, Cory Aquino’s response and Kris’ goodbye to her dad, and I am there all over again.

Words from future President Cory after the funeral Mass: “If my children and I appear to be brave during this, the most difficult period yet of our lives, it is because we know that this is what Ninoy would have expected of us. It is also because of our faith in God, and the belief that he is now helping us in this, our greatest need.

“And so today, I wish to thank all the Filipino men and women, young and old, who have demonstrated to me, to my children, to Ninoy’s mother and to his family, that Ninoy did not die in vain. Ninoy who loved you, the Filipino people, is now loved in return.”

Noynoy Aquino—now President of the Republic—is shown among those carrying the coffin of his father.

Aug. 31, the day of the funeral, I joined the funeral procession from Santo Domingo Church to Roxas Boulevard. I walked with the throng. Rain poured when we were somewhere near Quiapo Bridge. We were all drenched. I went home in the afternoon. Radio and TV reports said the procession reached Manila Memorial Park at nightfall.

On Monday, Aug. 26, a million or more Filipinos (or so it is hoped) are expected to join simultaneous protest marches and rallies nationwide to register outrage at the misuse of public funds and call for the scrapping of the pork barrel system. Suddenly, the outcry 30 years ago—“Sobra na, tama na!”—is so new in my mind. It’s been 30 years from there to here.

With Ninoy’s own son now President, after his widow Cory became president three years after his death, and with everything else in between—a convicted plundering president and another one accused of the same, among them—where are we now?

Flood waters are still deep in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces and we are again playing catch-up with climate change.

Last night I watched on TV what has been done in Rotterdam to ease the flooding in this below-sea-level city. The government built some kind of underground lake or reservoir that would take in the excess rainwater, which can then be used for many other purposes.

In the live TV broadcast on the massive flooding in Metro Manila, Lagusnilad in front of Manila’s City Hall was shown filled with water. Oh, I thought, that’s very much like Rotterdam’s, only Lagusnilad is not an underground receptacle but an underpass for vehicles. More out-of-the-box thinking is needed to solve problems that perennially visit this country. What happened to the bright idea of making rainwater catchments in rural areas that can be sources of water for farmers during the dry season?

I couldn’t help thinking about the P10-billion pork barrel scam that is the reason for this Monday’s massive protest action. All, if not some, of that money, our money, that was stolen by the very greedy few could have been used to mitigate the worsening effects of climate change and to help victims rebuild their lives.

Let this August display of People Power ram through the hardened hearts of those who keep robbing us blind, those who keep stuffing themselves with what does not belong to them. The culture of corruption is alive and well that even nongovernment organizations have not been spared. It is bad enough that well-respected NGOs founded to serve the marginalized despite limited budgets have their share of sticky fingers. Now we are even more shocked that the term “NGO” has been tarnished because unscrupulous persons have created so-called NGOs into which they could funnel their loot. And the so-called watchdogs in government, if there are any, were caught napping. In journalistic parlance, natutulog sa pansitan. Or they weren’t napping, after all, they were busy counting money in their bathtubs at home.

We are just so fed up. Sobra na, tama na. Palitan na ang sistema! President Noynoy Aquino should heed the people’s cry roaring above the floods.

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  • AllaMo

    Fake ngos. Fake party list groups. Self serving dynastic pols. Kleptocratic government (national and local) employees. Same difference: Impunity, the basstard child of the marcos/enrile martial law grown and running amuck sans repentance and retribution.

    • Eustaquio Joven

      Is there a way by which we can show the TNLs that crime doesn’t pay?

  • Jao Romero

    bagong simula, hindi protesta. bitay, hindi kulong. ubusin lahat, walang itira. pag may natira, dadami ulit yan.

  • mabyrik

    You, the columnists, who are bridge of the people, must keep the torch burning. Pressure Pnoy to scrap PDAF as there will be no safety that can prevent a determined thief from stealing it. Band yourself together. You have the power to force Pnoy to scrap that evil. Your collective daily attack on the evils of PDAF will surely make Pnoy change his mind. Go!!!

  • Josemakabayan

    Lets all hope the president will see the light and heed the clamor of the people to scrap the PDAF and pass the FOI bill. Sure it may not be 100 percent effective but somehow the corrupt will think twice because they will soon be found out because of the FOI!!!! So how about it Mr. President your BOSS is telling YOU to move and act, act now before its too late !!!!!!

  • jamesgeorge

    In fairness to the President, he is not corrupt at all! And the plunder mostly happened in gloria”s time, which doesn”t surprise anyone because we had a petite woman looking so sheepishly harmless and innocent but inside is a monster of evil deeds! But the people”s will must prevail, if the people wants the pork barrel scrapped, who in his right mind will go against the people?

    • 1GeorgeTolentino2


      • Eustaquio Joven

        Who else?

      • jamesgeorge

        So far noynoy is doing great, he didn”t suppress the coa report and let us watch and see how this thing will develop or unravel! I’m still giving my support to a president who is allowing information to the public and protecting whistleblowers but again, let us wait and see! I see the positive side of the president winning over the negative as opposed to your points of view!

      • Eustaquio Joven

        What we see as positive is negative to others, and vice versa. A tug-of-war is supposed to be going on. Unfortunately, it’s only now that we realized this, and so it’s only now that some of us positioned themselves and started pulling the ropes with us. This is why you say that the positive side of the president is winning. Ironically enough, this is also the reason why the people on the other end of the rope are seeing the exact opposite.

        This is not to say that PNoy has no mind of his own. It’s an inherent weakness or strength in all of us. We follow what we perceive or see as right. So does PNoy. So? We need to point out to him where the straight path is. Isn’t this what he August 26 movement is all about?

        We’ve heard it said before. Tayo raw na mga Pinoy ay parang kalabaw, masyadong matiisin. Nanunuwag lang kapag sobra na ang inaabot na pahirap. Sumali sa EDSA 1 pagkatapos ay balik sa dating gawi: apathy. Atlas shrugged, but did nothing more. We think that voting for the right person is enough. Does our job end with the purchase of a car? What about maintenance? Isn’t it also as important as choice?

    • lazy_dawg

      here we go again, blame the ‘midget’ game again, for chrissake, take ownership of the freakin mess, this is currently happening during ‘baldy’s’ watch( exposed) . he knew of this since he took the helm from pandak !! _ and by the way, Pnoy not corrupt at all _ what planet are you from ?? check the black sand mining in the north.. you have chinese companies heavily invested in this business, of course, with baldy’s blessin, is still on going, so once this gets exposed again, baldy will blame pandak again .. round n round it goes ………….

      • jamesgeorge

        You can”t blame everything on the pres.! There”s the mayor,governor,DENR and other govt agencies! I think there is a cease and desist order issued on black sand mining and there were arrests made! With regards to the PDAF, it”s true that during the president”s time until now, there were funds released to NGOs but to know whether he knew about the scam, i don”t think so, that is why when whistleblowers came out, the president witheld the releases! Of all the past presidents , noynoy is the only one who upgraded or bought military assets. Coa report was first submitted to the president and he allowed coa to present all in a press conference! If it was gloria”s time, would you expect this report to come out?

  • Isiplang

    If in a survey, 80% to 90% would demand the scrapping of Pork, Will Pnoy still defy the will of his bosses? If so, something must be wrong if not in his mind, then in his heart and soul.

  • Rico Navea

    I have seen the poll in Philippine Star and the respondents for the abolition of pork barrel is 97%. In the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the 95.5% of the respondents want the pork barrel abolished. Bakit ayaw makinig ni PNoy sa kanyang mga Boss? Kami nga ba ang boss o kunyari lang?

    • Eustaquio Joven

      Ikaw naman… Hindi na nagoyo!

  • josh_alexei

    I would rather see the “criminals” arrested, charged, and if found guilty, handed the maximum and be sued for all the stolen loots and call for the Commission on Inquiry not just to FIGURE OUT what to do with the Pork, but also to study the overall disbursement and processes of spending the taxpayers money..the role model of an Inquiry is a BLAMELESS type where every party of interest will not be sued or charge for testimony used and evidence presented before the Inquiry in any other proceedings, Criminal or Civil other than for PERJURY..this is the only way to solicit the facts and the Truth to arrive at proper measures and legislation, policy to cure the sickness of the society. That was and is the way we do things, as we progressed from the dark ages to the modern world and if the Phl wanted to be among the civilized world, do it the Right way.

    • Eustaquio Joven

      What to do with the pork? Abolish it!

      • josh_alexei

        Until the “criminals” are punished, they’ll invent all kinds of porks even if you abolish the Pork….like they say, there are just not one but many ways to skin the :Pig.

      • Eustaquio Joven

        This is what I’ve been saying here all along. Show the TLNs that crime does not pay. Otherwise, they’ll always be with us, as leaders.

      • josh_alexei

        Just to remind, there is no Pork system in the Province of Quebce, Canada, but as we discuss the porks, the Anti corruption Police Squad rounded up to this date 106 individuals, mostly Political leaders of that province and many business leaders and organized crimes leaders too,for stealing the Taxpayers money. And there will be more arrests and charges to follow.

  • Isagani Gatmaitan


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