Those who pander, those who inspire

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

National Day of Protest in September 2017 | Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Last Tuesday, February 8, I witnessed a rare development. As the campaign officially started, a grand send-off of different national candidates happened. And, of course, it was the candidates for president who were at the center of the stage.

Yes and No, though. I saw huge rallies, as in huge under present pandemic circumstances. As I said in Twitter and Facebook posts, they were impressive. Yet, they were so traditional at the same time.

Then, I received hundreds of messages from early morning, nearly all of them with photos and video clips. I thought that it was too early for proclamation rallies, and it was. But the messages kept streaming in, non-stop, for several hours all the way to the early evening. All about political rallies, yet mostly without politicians. Stranger than fiction.

I am sure that all the presidential candidates prepared well for their grand events yesterday. After all, a presidential campaign is a life-changing experience for all of them. From their preparations and actual proclamation events, one can infer many things. For example, you know who has money or less of it, even none. You also know where their priority base is, for both in-person audiences and the stage where media can show their presentations nationwide. More importantly, for the sincere, that is, you can hear their pronouncements, their priorities of governance; or, you can smirk at their hypocrisy.

Anyway, all these may be exciting for many Filipinos with less political experience. It is their time to be part of it, actually. Party-driven proclamation rallies, however, still carry much of the traditional. Those with more money, more influence, and more people naturally have the biggest and most colorful rallies aided by the best entertainment that money can buy.

February 8, though, was not that exciting, not by a mile, versus the rare occurrence that happened. The presidential candidates defined Tuesday and political parties as proclamation rallies staged by people, usually by hundreds of street events. As I mentioned earlier, I received messages, photos, and video clips from the morning to the evening, 12 hours. These did not report a grand event about to happen in the one site in Bulacan, Manila, Cavite, General Santos, or Naga. They were reports of what was happening from town to town, city to city, province to province – by volunteers, not politicians.

While I am most pleased that I saw waves of pink everywhere in the photos and video clips, what was more momentous for me was that I saw a clear expression of movement, a people’s movement. I did not see big money; I saw big hearts; I saw passion. They were a minority daring or defying the majority. As claimed by some surveys, if they are, collectively, a minority, they are more than enough of a spark that can simultaneously ignite a wildfire across the nation.

“While I am most pleased that I saw waves of pink everywhere in the photos and video clips, what was more momentous for me was that I saw a clear expression of movement, a people’s movement. I did not see big money; I saw big hearts; I saw passion.”

Meaningful change does not come in a hurry, but its beginning can be sudden and explosive. And meaningful change does not come from the majority. Rebellion or revolution does not happen that way. The first seen is always the tip of the iceberg, never the vastness or depth of the angst that it represents. Last Tuesday, I saw the minority, and I was awed. It is different from receiving posts from hundreds of Viber or Messenger groups; it is different when you see their faces and enthusiasm and festiveness. They did not reflect resignation; they expressed passion and commitment.

Of course, elections are time-bound. It is open to debate whether there is time for a minority to become a majority in votes, not only in spirit. The minority may very well lose an election, but they will not lose a revolution. A revolution is not as tightly time-bound as an election; it only needs passion and determination. It is not a movement in one town, city, or province – there are sparks in every town, city, and province. If what I saw Tuesday was a minority, their numbers will grow in the next three months because passion is as contagious as Covid-19.

Historians will one day write of this phenomenon. In my seven decades as a Filipino citizen with more than average interest in political developments, I have felt this spirit of movement only in the snap election of 1986. Perhaps, it is because party politics never took center stage there as it is not in a center stage here. Perhaps, because a dictator was not only the majority, he had full control of authority and government resources. Yet, he fell before the housewife representative of a people’s angst, a people’s frustrations, a people’s dream.

“Leni Robredo is a woman of fate. It is not about her being president; it is about her being the special spark that awakens, enlightens by word, deed, and act, and most of all, inspire the good in people and the best they can be. Pink is not a color; pink is the chosen color of what the heart longs for.”

I am more concerned about history than an election. Simply put, I have seen many polls and have been consistently voting since 1967 or 55 years ago. That is a lot of elections but only one continuing history. I have seen the people in despair; I was there when thousands disappeared or when freedom was a mere word in the dictionary, killed. Yes, people survived to fight for what they lost, for what they sought. Yet, people do survive even as a nation is crumbling. As the proverbial saying goes, it is only a matter of time.

Leni Robredo is a woman of fate. It is not about her being president; it is about her being the special spark that awakens, enlightens by word, deed, and act, and most of all, inspire the good in people and the best they can be. Pink is not a color; pink is the chosen color of what the heart longs for. It just happens to be pink today.

We have to choose between politicians who pander or politicians who inspire. Do we cede our future to them? Or do we build our future inspired by them?

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