For all this talk about “hijacking” and an exchange of words dividing a critical mass, I think a more sober perspective on the Million People March is necessary. Not that I’m the most sober (irony intended) person to lend that perspective, but I’d like to take a crack at it. I would suggest reading the pieces of Tonyo Cruz and Jego Ragragio first before reading this one, though.
Let’s start with something basic and essential, but has often been downplayed throughout this whole conversation. The fact to the matter is that there weren’t a million people in the Luneta march, the EDSA march, or the Ayala march. So we bend the rules of math, and say that 70,000, 3,000, or 10,000 is equivalent to a million by virtue of metaphor. And we bend the rules of marching as well, and say that those who expressed their support online through Tweets and Facebook statuses are part of the march, by virtue of metaphor.
That extends to what these marches are all about. Some people claim that all discretionary funds are pork, and should be abolished. Still others claim that government needs discretionary funds in order to function. Some people claim that President Aquino should be ousted (or be impeached or that he should resign from his position) because of his involvement in the pork barrel scam. Still others claim that this is about government accountability and transparency, and not the ouster of the President.
All that extends to why we’re arguing in the first place. On the one hand, some blame the leftists for “hijacking” the Million People March for pursuing their own political agenda, relying on passé methods of protest that turn off the middle class who are at the center of this protest. On the other hand, some blame the pro-Aquino camp for “hijacking” the Million People March to preserve the President from any further criticism of this matter, that this is a black-and-white matter of being pro-pork or anti-pork.
And there’s the rub, I think: are you a “million people march” if you don’t have a million people, and the thousands you have march in different directions?
Without beating around the bush, here’s the reason why Thomas Van Beersum is hated and reviled by many netizens: he is a white Communist from the Netherlands who’s friends with Jose Ma. Sison.
What’s there not to hate? We don’t like being told off by foreigners who think they know everything. We don’t like Communists who think they know everything. We sure as hell don’t have any love for Joma Sison, who thinks he knows everything. He’s easy enough to hate as it is, and when he’s hurling strong propaganda on an already-crying cop and disrupting the President’s State of the Nation Address, we hate him even more. Deport him. Let him go back to the Netherlands and fraternize with our enemy. Fuck him.
Now I’m not writing this to defend Van Beersum’s actions. But he was not the one who made PO1 Sevilla cry. He was not the one who instigated any sort of violence when he was in the streets that day. His crime is this: he is a white Communist from the Netherlands who’s friends with Jose Ma. Sison.
The key stakeholders in the name of a nation are the people. It’s not the commission in charge of language, much less the national artist in charge of that commission. Just because “Filipinas” is correct (at least from the point of view of indubitable scholars of the Filipino language like Rio Alma), doesn’t mean we should reject the word “Pilipinas” altogether.
To be fair, the vanguards of the Filipino language – the likes of Almario and the commission he leads – make a very good point. Our language is “modernized.” Nevermind that the consonant “f” is found through many languages in the land before colonization; but it is this “modernization” that makes us move beyond, say, “ispageti” and call it “spaghetti,” or our reporters’ penchant for the word “pamoso” when referring to someone famous. The more we reject unitary identity the more we struggle with national identity, and linguistic inconsistencies are a symptom of that.
What I’m struggling with, though, is whether or not this is a problem in the first place.
In her latest “Thought Leaders” piece for Rappler.com, Maria Ressa writes:
Much like the Madrid bombings in 2004 that killed 191 people and the London bombings in 2005 that killed 52, the Boston bombings were carried out by men who integrated into their societies and benefited from the liberalism and inclusiveness of the West. Yet, despite their seemingly Western ways, the attackers in London and Madrid harbored deep hatred sparked by al-Qaeda’s virulent ideology – perhaps much like Tamerlan, who said, “I don’t have a single American friend. I don’t understand them.”
I’m not one to play an “expert” or anything – I just have views – but Ms. Ressa’s view is a dangerous one to make. It’s a connection present in such theories as Huntington’s “clash of civilizations,” or Krauthammer’s “bloody borders of Islam.” It’s a connection that was used to validate everything from post-9/11 racial profiling to the War on Terror, to cable news anchors trying to pin the Boston bombings to anyone with an Muslim-sounding name and Arab facial features.
It’s one that places unnecessary fears and burdens to anyone in the United States who does not have the “American-sounding name” or the “American facial features.” Or anyone in the world, for that matter. “The face of evil,” so to speak.
It’s one that creates black flags out of careless connections.