Wild And Exciting Times

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

These are exciting and wild times, the kind I had been anticipating. For years, I had written about great shifts that will challenge our nation, frustrations that would bring about catharsis, aspirations that would find fresh expressions among our younger generations. I wrote consistently about these times of great change because the signs were clear to me. What kept me wondering was when it would happen in the obvious, and in what ways would change manifest itself.

It was the youth that first alerted me about the imminence of change, the youth of the Philippines and the youth elsewhere. Evolution always places idealism in the younger generations, but the tempo of evolution itself sometimes intensifies in specific generations. That is very true for the youth now, for the tempo today. In the Philippines, there is a quiet passion among our youth, a surprising determination to be more involved in making a better world. This spirit of positivism tempers the anger that defines most moments of great change.


There is anger, of course, but mostly from the older generations. If anyone should be angry, it should be the innocent. The most innocent, though, are the least angry today. They are the youth, and they are the poor. Oh, I see militant youth groups under the umbrella of the traditionally angry, so their anger does not surprise. If they were not angry, that would be the surprise.

The most angry, though not that young and not that poor, have also found their way to social media, not in the streets, not in the school. They are the ones who are first hit by the catharsis. Many must be realizing that they had prophesied all these years what would happen yet are shocked when it does. And it begins with media, naturally, as it has been media that has so consistently made it a major mandate to roll out the bad news, drum beat the dominance of corruption, and condemn public servants and government institutions.

The preponderance of the ugly and negative in the news and media commentaries necessarily is lapped up by enough of the audience, enough to motivate more bad or sensationalized news. Readership or audience influence advertisers the most, and advertisements keep media alive more than the need for public information. Guess who, then, comprises the most audience for bad news but precisely those to whom bad news resonate. Negativity is easy to sell, much easier than good news.

I wonder if the virulence of the criticisms and condemnations is in direct proportion to either embarrassment or guilt? Why then would those who called government and politicians as corrupt, and allegedly have been so for decades, be so shocked that the accusation of decades is now being affirmed? When we said that government was corrupt, did we even know what that meant? Or were our criticisms more to vent than to really confront corruption? Why were we not in rage all this time when the same issues of the pork barrel and patronage politics have been around since America handed over political control to Filipinos in 1946?

It is embarrassing to talk about corruption for so long but had little idea of how corruption is done. That means most of it was talk and little realism. It is embarrassing to have been pointing to the pork barrel and patronage politics yet tolerated it by not confronting it. Worst is the Left, the first to produce noise and protest, and also the first to get and use their PDAF.  The reality of “no slaves, no tyrants” characterizes Philippine society – except for the innocent majority poor and youth. The rest, including the most noisy today, agreed to be slaves inviting tyrants – and the tyrants accepted the invitation.

But things are the way they should be. The desire for change had been building up steadily, thanks largely to twelve years of two presidents connected with plunder, one convicted and the other hopefully soon. Noynoy Aquino’s candidacy itself was propelled by that hunger for change by the people. Funny, too, is how his early haters scoffed at Noy’s “kung walang kurap, walang mahirap”, yet can do nothing today except rant and rave against the corruption they so took for granted under Gloria’s presidency. In hindsight, as one famous columnist put it, 2010 was Edsa masquerading as an election. He was right then, and he is more even correct today. Edsa is upon us, no doubt.

Edsa People Power was never over. Most just thought so. Four days in the streets with no bloodshed cannot overturn the worst of a culture developed by martial law and a corrupt dictatorship. If it needed only four days to cure, then martial law was a mild aberration. It was not. It was power absolute that corrupted absolutely.

There are a few who would like people power to remove P-Noy. That is wishful thinking, although people and resources are now at play to make this happen. That is the problem of non-revolutionaries – they do not know much about revolutions and the ingredients that can make them successful in the Philippines. Look at the Left and the Communists. Look at the coup de etat players of RAM. The most committed, the Muslim secessionists, look at them. All tried, some keep trying, but none succeed.

Read the hearts of the people. Read the character of culture. Read history, read the times. Read the poor, what they want, what they are prepared to do. Most of all, read the young. They will bring us to the future by playing bigger roles today.

Change is marching but not yet mainstream. Change is creating a stir but not a revolution. Tradition has much to surrender but much more to keep. Two Edsas brought changes in leadership but little change in the people. The third Edsa must be ours, what we want, what we are willing to do, what we are willing to be.

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