Category Archives: rallies

“End the Wars. Bailout the People”

Last week, hundreds of protesters participated in an anti-war march in downtown San Francisco demanding an end to the United States-led occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. This year marks the sixth year of the invasion and colonial subjugation of Iraq.

I joined the Strength in Unity contingent organized by the International League of People’s Struggle. The Philippine delegation was led by BAYAN USA and affiliate groups like Anakbayan East Bay, babae SF and League of Filipino Students.

During the protest rally, I saw the following placards some of which were made from recycled balikbayan boxes:

“Bailout the working people, not the rich.”
“Capitalism must go.”
“Occupation is a crime.”
“Yes we will.”

Protesters criticized U.S. President Barack Obama who recently ordered the sending of 17,000 more troops in Afghanistan. The speakers demanded the new government to end the brutal massacre of Iraq and Afghanistan, bring home American troops, and focus on improving the social welfare of American workers.

Filipino groups articulated the call to abrogate of the Visiting Forces Agreement. Filipino-American students demanded the immediate repeal of the unequal treaty and they also asked Congress to stop giving military aid to the Philippines.

I saw many new faces during the rally. There were organized Asian students from various schools who attended the protest event. Many of them were happy to learn that the opposition to the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq is widespread. The rally ended after noon.

Click here to view more pictures of the rally.

 

 

 

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Obama’s first day

From Facebook:

BYE, BYE BUSH!!
Immigrants & Workers demand CHANGE and JUSTICE from Newsom to Obama!

PROCESSION & VIGIL
Wednesday, January 21, 2009

San Francisco City Hall
please wear white

Join us in bidding GOOD RIDDANCE to the horrific Bush administration and raising our voices to demand:

• a truly sanctuary city
• an end to deportation of immigrant youth
an end to ICE raids
• an end to police collaboration with ICE
• support for immigrant and family services

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This post is not exactly about Obama’s activities during his first day as president of the U.S. This is about the rally I attended on January 21.

4pm: Various immigrant groups met inside the SF City Hall to remind city leaders about the need to make SF a truly sanctuary city. Many are alarmed that immigration raids are being conducted in several communities with full knowledge/support of local authorities. Instead of providing services for immigrants, officials are cooperating with ICE which continues to conduct unjust and discriminatory raids and arrests. Even children are being deported by ICE.

4:30pm: Procession starts inside the City Hall. The group serenaded the offices of city supervisors. I joined the community singing in Spanish. David Chiu welcomed the protesters. He said that former president George Bush forgot that the U.S. is a country of immigrants. He also announced the implementation of the city municipal ID system. This was greeted by loud cheering and applause. Undocumented workers can use the municipal ID to avail of vital social services provided by the city. Kudos also to Eric Mar who greeted the protesters outside his office. He also joined the candle lighting ceremony outside the City Hall.

5:30pm: Vigil outside the City Hall. David Campos spoke in the program. He warned that “if immigrant rights are violated in SF, there’s no hope for this country.” There were speeches, and cultural presentations. The Filipino community was represented by the Filipino Community Center and Anakbayan-USA. The program ended around 7pm.

It was a long day for me. In the morning I went to several bargain stores looking for a toy for my anak. I skipped lunch to read and borrow books at the library. I joined the protest event at 4pm. It was also at the same time a free tour inside the famous SF City Hall building. During the program, I met new kasamas and someone gave me a delicious Mexican hot choco.

I am not aware of Obama’s activities during his first day at the White House. But I know what I was doing on that day: I was part of a mobilization demanding change.

   

Click here to view more pictures.

“Let Gaza Live”

Senior citizen sets on fire a Singapore lawmaker and Cambodia: Liberation Day or Invasion Day? – posts written for Global Voices

January 10, 2009 – More than 5,000 protesters marched in the streets of San Francisco, California to condemn Israel’s military occupation of Palestine lands and to show solidarity for the struggling citizens of Gaza. The march was part of a nationwide protest in the United States. Protest actions were registered in 50 other American cities; the biggest crowd was in Washington.

The memorable slogans were the following:

Let Gaza Live
No War for Empire
Occupation is the crime
Genocide is not justice
From the rivers to the sea, Palestine will be free
We are all Gaza

Jewish organizations participated in the rally as well. They chanted these slogans:

Occupation and subjugation, not in our name
Siege and starvation, not in our name
We stand with humanity

The march was peaceful, lively, and well-organized. The participants included many non-political members of the community. I met several rallyists who learned about the activity through Facebook. It is regrettable that mainstream media did not give an accurate figure of the crowd. In fact a picket was conducted in front of a newspaper office to deplore the corporate media’s bias against the protests. (Can we do that in front of Inquirer, ABS-CBN and GMA-7?)

The rally’s main organizer announced that the next major assembly will be on March – in time for the 6th anniversary of the brutal US-led invasion of Iraq. The emcee asked for donations which will be used to pay for the cost of staging the rally. The organizers spent $15,000 during that day (convert it into pesos). There were collection drums (nasanay tayo sa collection boxes) around the public plaza. Books, T-shirts, pins, newspapers were sold in various tents.

Filipino groups led by Anakbayan-East Bay were present in the rally. Rhonda Ramiro of Bayan-USA represented the Filipino community in the program proper. Ramiro echoed the support of the Filipinos to the growing international demand for an immediate cessation of Israel offensives in Gaza. She compared the massacre in Palestine to the intense militarization in Philippine cities and provinces. She also criticized the shameful support given by the US government to Israel.

In the program many speakers denounced imperialism and the actions of the ruling class. They mentioned the military-industrial complex. A politician presented an alternative policy framework to promote peace in the Middle East. Students demanded the withdrawal of US military aid for Israel. A scholar spoke about two conflicting narratives: the narrative of those in power; and the narrative of the oppressed. There were protest poems, songs, rituals, and effigies (pero hindi sinunog). Hindi ata kinanta ang International.

Gaza is alive. Our struggle is Gaza. We are all Gaza. Imperyalismo ibagsak!

Check the album. Click here and here for more pictures. 

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Elmer Labog
Prop 8
Immigration in USA
Saddam and Gloria

Don’t hate

The second most important issue in the recently concluded US elections was California’s Proposition 8 – Ban on same sex marriage. Because of its legal implications, Prop 8 became a national issue. Supporters and opponents of Prop 8 waged aggressive campaigns to entice California voters to their side. Campaign contributions reached more than $70 million (convert it into pesos) which were mostly spent on TV ads. In the end voters approved the controversial proposition.

Why was it approved in liberal California? Maybe voters were confused. Maybe they wrongly assumed that a vote for Prop 8 is a vote of support for same sex marriage. Some of my friends and relatives made this mistake.

Church groups, mainly the Roman Catholic and Mormon Churches, also conducted vigorous campaigns in favor of Prop 8. The church vote was the crucial factor which guaranteed the victory of Prop 8.

Initial surveys revealed that Prop 8 would be rejected by California voters. But after weeks of bombarding TV viewers with very persuasive but misleading ads (defend traditional marriage, respect marriage, same sex marriage will be taught in elementary schools), advocates of Prop 8 have already gained the advantage in the polls. Many pro-Obama supporters who wanted change in America even voted for the passage of Prop 8.

Perhaps same sex marriage supporters underestimated the organizing power of the church. They also became complacent since they assumed that a discriminatory proposal such as Prop 8 would be rejected by educated, mature, and politically-correct California voters. The ads linking the Prop 8 to racist measures in the past came very late. Prop 8 was not effectively identified as a civil rights issue.

After the elections, a protest action in San Francisco was held against Prop 8. Three weeks ago (November 15), coordinated nationwide actions were organized. In downtown San Francisco the assembly was held in front of City Hall.

    

 

     

I learned about the protest through Facebook. I went to City Hall but I didn’t meet a single friend or colleague. Maybe they were in the other protest centers. The rally gave me the chance to observe how Americans are conducting their rallies. The banners were colorful, big and they contained creative slogans and images. The sound system was not that good. There were many organized delegations but most of the participants were unorganized. Many rallyists used their clothing to deliver the message.

Some of my favorite slogans:

“I’m straight, I’m Catholic, but I don’t hate”
“Don’t mess up Dumbledore’s rights”
“Don’t be a Gaycist”
“Same sex marriage will ruin my life, not yours”
“Defend marriage, outlaw divorce, infidelity”

Reports said the next battle will be in the courts. It should still be in the streets and communities. And to be more effective, the campaign should be linked to the civil rights movement. Click here to view more pictures


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Ibang rali ito
Turn-off TV
Blog works
San Francisco

Immigration, Impeachment

Links: Singapore Digital Media Festival 2008. Myanmar’s socio-economic history documents. Comparing Thai and Taiwanese protesters. Crop failure in cyclone hit areas of Myanmar.

What: Stop the Raids! Stop ICE! (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
When: Halloween
Where: ICE building, Downtown San Francisco

Almost a thousand protesters, most of them young people, converged at Embarcadero Ferry Plaza. The groups/individuals represent various immigrant groups. The rally was a protest against the inhuman raids conducted by ICE. Despite living in a “sanctuary city,” migrant workers have been arrested in San Francisco. The rallyists want the government to end the raids and the deportation of migrant workers.

My favorite slogans in the rally:

Build schools, not borders!
If capital can cross borders, so can we!

Respect migrantsFCCStop the Raids!

 

After the rally, I went to the Ferry Building – it’s a city landmark. I took some pictures of the Bay Bridge. It’s different from the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s longer and older than the Golden Gate but it’s less popular. I wonder why. Ferry BuildingBay BridgeBridge

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Filipino groups accompanied Cong. Jose De Venecia to the Philippine Embassy where he endorsed the impeachment complaint against Pres. Gloria Arroyo. Since 2005-07, I was a signatory to the impeachment cases. But then Speaker of the House Joe De Venecia had been blocking our initiatives. This year I was not a signatory to the impeachment, but I got to witness De Venecia’s signing of the petition.

JDV SFBayan USAJDV

Some of the groups which witnessed the signing include Bayan USA, Babae, and the Filipino Community Center.

De Venecia is a very unique politician. He made memorable soundbytes during the event:

“I didn’t sign the impeachment before out of delicacy.”
“I’m proposing that the forces of capitalism and socialism to merge forces to solve the economic crisis.”
“I will not run in 2010.” 

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Deodorant boys
I-monitor
Family Ties

Who owns Mendiola?

A few days ago, I persuaded educator Fr. Edicio dela Torre to set up his own blog. He followed my suggestion. Let me also endorse the blog of social critic Teo Marasigan. Milk wars in the Philippines: Breastmilk versus Infant Formula, my blog entry for Global Voices.

Protesters need not thank Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim for allowing rallies in Mendiola every weekend. Mendiola is the country’s historic freedom park. Rallies should be allowed there even without city hall permit. Malacañang has no reason to panic that an angry mob will storm the Palace again through Mendiola. Gate 7 is already closed and electric fences were constructed to ward off protesters. Allowing rallies in Mendiola will ease traffic in Morayta, Recto, España and Legarda where rallies are usually blocked these days.

The job of the mayor is to secure the safety of protesters, motorists, pedestrians and the general public. Mayor Lim did more; he ordered that freedom of expression and freedom of assembly will be respected on Saturdays and Sundays. For the rest of the week, protesters should ‘evaporate’.

His reason seems logical: classes should not be disturbed since schools proliferate around Mendiola. But there are also classes during weekends. And there are religious ceremonies during Sundays. If it’s acceptable for Mayor Lim to disturb classes and church activities during weekends, why not allow peaceful rallies in Mendiola during weekdays?

Why also the sudden concern for noise pollution generated by rallies? Mendiola is no longer a clean, desirable and peaceful university belt. Mayor Lim should be more alarmed that Mendiola is infiltrated by drug pushers, snatchers, kotong cops, pyramid scammers and abortion potion vendors. There is also no worse pollution than the stench coming from nearby Pasig River and Malacañang Palace.

Mayor Lim’s order is worse than his predecessor’s. At least Mayor Lito Atienza honored the protesters by absolutely banning rallies in Mendiola since he acknowledged them as enemies of his boss in Malacañang. Mayor Lim claims to be an Opposition politician yet he disrespects the Opposition forces by commanding that rallies are allowed only during weekends in Mendiola. He boasts his affinity with the Opposition yet he also professes unsolicited loyalty to the President in Malacañang. He is neither here nor there. He is resolute in most things like destroying the physical legacies of his predecessor yet he is wishy-washy when it comes to his prior commitment of opening Mendiola to protesters.

Protesters should march to Mendiola whenever they feel they have legitimate advocacies that need to be articulated in Don Chino Roces bridge. Mendiola should be open to the protesting public everyday. Its better that protesters attempted to reach Mendiola but failed since they were blocked by police forces than succeeding in reaching Mendiola just because they have a polite agreement with the Mayor of Manila that they will behave and follow orders while conducting the rally. My right to dissent is not something for Mayor Lim to decide when I should be free to express it.

(Last Monday, city hall called informing me that we have permit to rally in Mendiola on July 22, Sunday. I was polite to the civil servant because I know she was just following instructions. But I was mad. Ano akala nila sa amin, nagrarali lang ng basta-basta; mekanikal lang na pipili ng araw at sasabihan ang aming mga miyembro na magrali sa July 22 kasi may permit kami?)

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12th day of December.
Street tactics.
National roads.

Memorable rallies of the year

When I was invited to speak in a conference of campus journalists in Baguio last October, my approach in discussing the national situation was to identify and contextualize the memorable words or lines in Philippine politics for the year 2005. My list included the following: discernment, calibrated, your honor, supreme sacrifice, pekeng pangulo, will I still lead FPJ by more than 1M, pipilitin po natin Ma’am, yung dagdag yung dagdag, i am sorry, hindi ko matatanggap ang iyong sorry, and hello Garci

I also enumerated the major events which grabbed national attention. My choices were the following: fantaserye and reality shows on TV, boxing champs and beauty queens, natural disasters and bombings, Evat and oil, the Pope passes away, impeachment hearings, Senate hearings, war of widows, Gloria resign rallies and the Hello Garci scandal.

If I would include the last two months of the year, I have to add the SEA games, Garcillano’s appearance in the Lower House, bird flu scare, political killings, Subic rape case, Abat’s arrest and the Citizen’s Congress for Truth and Accountability.

But my concern as a proud and almost veteran street parliamentarian is to identify the significant mass actions of the last half of the year. Indeed, it was a remarkable year for street mobilizations. Have you been to one of these rallies?

June 11 Liwasang Bonifacio prayer rally. The prayers were provided by the independent, thinking and patriotic bishops. This was also first major rally after the ‘Hello Garci’ expose.

June 24 Sto. Domingo-Welcome protest march. The program started in Sto. Domingo church but the planned march to Manila was blocked by the police in Welcome Rotunda. Even the presence of Manila Vice Mayor Lacuna did not convince the police to allow the march to continue.

July 1 Ayala rally. The first major rally in Ayala this year. Almost all political forces opposed to Gloria Arroyo participated in the program.

July 13 Ayala rally. The biggest Ayala rally since Edsa Dos. Susan Roces was the highlight of the program. Showbiz stars entertained the crowd though Dodong Nemenzo was the funniest who wore a barong in a protest action. According to Inquirer, only 40,000 attended the mammoth rally.

July 16 Pro-Gloria rally in Luneta. Arroyo’s friends in the Local Government Units delivered the crowd. High school and college students complained they were required to attend the program.

July 24 SONA rally. The people’s SONA in Commonwealth Avenue remains to this day the biggest anti-GMA rally. According to elder activists, it was also the biggest SONA protest since 1986.

September 6 Batasan rally. After being distracted by the farce Congress hearings on the impeachment complaint, anti-GMA groups held a rally near the Batasan complex to pressure lawmakers who were about to quash the impeachment case. Cory, Susan and Bro. Armin of De La Salle brothers were the frontliners.

September 7 People Power monument rally. The House Minority and other pro-impeachment solons gave speeches which agitated the public and delivered perfect soundbytes for the media. The presence of leaders of political forces proposing the formation of a transition council once Gloria is removed from power made the rally even more significant.

Mendiola rallies. Young activists attempted but failed to cross Mendiola in August, almost made it in September, and when they succeeded in October, they were the first group to be water-cannoned by the police this year. Civil libertarians challenged the policy of ‘calibrated preemptive response’ by holding a democracy walk in Recto but it also ended in a violent dispersal.

October 21 Lakbayan march. The media faithfully covered the caravan of South Luzon farmers from Laguna to Mendiola. The rally was stopped in Recto. A violent clash between police and protesters ensued. Military agents infiltrating the ranks of rallyists were apprehended.

Holy protests. De La Salle became a frequent venue of prayer vigils sponsored by anti-GMA groups. The opposition maximized the many churches surrounding the Palace by holding symbolic protests in these parishes. Malacanang became paranoid of these creeping protests that by the time Teofisto Guingona, Jamby Madrigal and company were in the middle of a ‘Prusisyon ng Bayan’ near Mendiola, police blessed them not with holy water but sewage water. The ghastly image of a heavily drenched Guingona is one of the unforgettable episodes of the year.

We braved the water cannons, truncheons and police batons; we filled the streets of Ayala and Espana with protesters; we participated in prayer vigils, lightning rallies and pickets; we distributed leaflets, stickers, posters and CDs; we toured the schools, communities and churches convincing the public to oust Gloria and install a new government; we texted and emailed our friends, downloaded ringtones, signed online petitions and blogged the Gloriagate scandal; yet despite all these courageous efforts, Gloria remains in power.

She hobnobs with foreign leaders, spends a quiet Christmas vacation in Baguio, enjoys surfing in an Ilocos beach and boasts that she is named as one of the persons that mattered in the world as if the legitimacy of her presidency has been validated. She mocks us with the easiness which she dismissed our protests and appeals for decency, honor and integrity in public service.

Why is this so?

A former activist friend reminds me that local politicians will continue to stick with GMA to secure the much needed funds for the 2007 elections.

But I disagree. The campaign to end poverty, corruption and the quest for truth and accountability remains valid and viable. The people are still hungry, taxpayers’ money goes to the pockets of bureaucrats flaming public outrage and majority of Filipinos demand the persecution of electoral cheats. The political situation is still not favorable to the ever unpopular GMA regime. Politicians will side with the people once they see the masa and middle class crowds in the streets whether elections are to be held next month or next year.

And so optimism (or call it revolutionary will) prevails. Even the eternal pessimist like me continues to be confident that GMA will soon join the ranks of Marcos and Estrada as deposed presidents.

The ‘Oust Gloria’ campaign went full swing only last June but we already witnessed a flurry of protests which seriously undermined the credibility and position of GMA. Let us remember that it took years before a strong mass movement was developed to topple Marcos. Let us remember that during the previous people power uprisings, people were only demanding a change of leadership. Now, the clamor is to change the political system of the country, an exhortation echoed even by the GMA camp.

Everybody desires a change in the system. We will proceed to this task once GMA is out of Malacanang.

The year 2006 promises to be a more decisive year as the movement surges forward after recognizing the missed opportunities and mistakes of the past year. Expect a whirlwind of protests ala Paris and Sydney in the coming months.

Street tactics

“Successful demonstrations are not necessarily those which mobilize the greatest number of people, but those which attract the greatest interest among journalists. Exaggerating only slightly, one might say that fifty clever folk who can make a successful ‘happening’ get five minutes on TV, can have as much political effect as half a million demonstrators” – Pierre Bourdieu (1994)

This could be the guiding principle which motivates activists without a large mass-base. In fact anarchists may subscribe to this apt observation of the cultural milieu of late 20th century. But we are not anarchists and Philippine governments are not ousted through picket-size media gimmicks. What we need are massive and sustained mass actions around the Palace to force the resignation of the illegitimate President.

After the foiled bid of EDSA Tres to attack Malacañang in 2001, all rallies in Mendiola were organized not to claim ownership of the Palace but to stage peaceful demonstrations condemning inutile government policies. Therefore the next big wave of protest actions in the last three months of the year must seriously plan a takeover bid of Malacañang.

Almost all political upheavals in the country which resulted in the changing of leadership involve a symbolic and mostly violent attempt to control Malacañang Palace: From the time Americans defeated the Spaniards when Major General Wesley E. Meritt occupied Malacañang on the afternoon of 13 August 1898 to that fateful morning when marchers in Mendiola were threatening to forcibly unseat President Joseph Estrada from power.

Mendiola became the historic ground for staging street protests because most of the anti-Marcos actions were held here, not to mention it is symbolically close to Malacañang. But we seem to have forgotten that activists of the late 60’s chose the route towards Mendiola because it was the fastest way to reach the gates of Malacañang.

I think we have stayed too long in the familiar and boring Mendiola. What is stopping us from finding other roads leading to Malacañang? Shouldn’t we try to make new historical roads like what we did to Mendiola and EDSA?

Besides, Mendiola is heavily fortified. After EDSA Tres, Gloria was prudent in permanently blocking the street fronting Gate 7 of Malacañang. Police, fire trucks and container vans can be instantly dispatched to block rallyists in Mendiola. And the people, media and even activists are already conditioned by old habits that the protest actions would be either dispersed or tolerated but there would no real plan to grab power in Malacañang.

The next big rally must therefore conceptualize an encirclement of Malacañang. And I think the main battlefront must still be in Mendiola for one fundamental reason: the biggest concentration of able-bodied college students in the country is in the university belt, and Mendiola is an integral part of this area because it hosts the schools nearest to the Palace. If only students of Mendiola will play their Hello Garci ringtones at the same time during lunch break, it would be one hell of an afternoon for Gloria. The point is we should continue attracting more students of u-belt to be active members in our campaign.

Erap knew the strategic importance of u-belt so he ordered the cancellation of classes in the area every time big rallies were planned during the Oust Estrada campaign. Even Gloria would hold a mass for peace, unity, and whatever from time to time in Mendiola (near La Consolacion and College of the Holy Spirit) to secure the support of the schools for her volatile government.

The crowd we saw in Commonwealth Avenue during the State of the Nation Address last July would not only fill the streets of Mendiola and Recto, it could be adequate to encircle the Palace. Aside from Mendiola, we must boldly attempt to reach Malacañang by whatever means near Nagtahan road on one side, and near Ayala boulevard on the other side. These two roads are being used by Palace employees and officials to enter Malacañang. Why concentrate on Mendiola when it is possible to divide the police ranks and block the roads leading to Malacañang?

Those coming from Quiapo can march via the road beside the Technological Institute of the Philippines in Arlegui. The street is narrow here but once the small checkpoint is crossed, rallyists can split into groups and intersect the many alleys leading to the gates of Malacañang. From Quiapo, one can even ride a jeep to reach the vicinity of Malacañang via the San Miguel route.

We can surprise the police forces guarding Malacañang by doing something unexpected: staging rallies not just in Mendiola but around the Palace. Five years ago, youth rallyists were able to reach the front gates of Malacañang because the police did not expect the protesters to cross the Chino Roces bridge. We broke the tradition of stopping the march at the foot of Mendiola every time a blockade is installed and we made our way right in front of Gate 7.

Protest actions in the Pasig river is also possible. We can enter the Hospicio de San Jose through Ayala bridge and from the farthest tip of the islet near Malacañang, rallyists can set to sail their protest boats. At the other side of the river, protests may start near San Juan or the Nagtahan side of Pasig river.

The other concentration of schools in Manila is in Taft Avenue and Intramuros area. They can provide the muscle that will attack Malacañang through Ayala boulevard near the Department of Budget and Management office. Or they can join residents of Sta.Ana and Paco in completing the encirclement of Malacañang by holding rallies near the oil depot in Pandacan.

First Quarter Storm activists would narrate how they escaped the attacking police force by hiding in the protective and sympathetic homes of residents of Sampaloc. We could actually learn from that experience. And crucial to our present campaign is also to enjoin the support of the six barangays (641-646) of the San Miguel district because of its proximity to Malacañang. These barangays could be our reconnaissance areas today, and hiding places in the future.

This takeover bid of Malacañang entails a long preparation and resolve to attain the goal of forcing the resignation of Gloria. But rallies are not enough and should be the culmination of a painstaking and protracted education campaign to win the hearts and minds of the people.

Of course everything else would be a lot easier if Gloria is assassinated or rendered physically incapacitated. But such thoughts lurk only in the minds of terrorists and Miriam Santiago. And we are not terrorists, we are revolutionaries. To wage a revolution, as Joma Sison once echoed, is not mere wishful thinking.

And what I have written here remains a fantasy for the moment.

(Next: Gameplan, because surrounding the Palace is only part of the strategy)

Battle of the streets Part 1

Youth groups who marched in Mendiola yesterday were correct in defying the ridiculous ‘calibrated preemptive response’ directive of the Arroyo government. Now is indeed the time to prepare for more provocative street actions. Now is the time to contemplate a possible encircling of Malacañang by the people. No more of those Ayala or EDSA star-studded rallies. If we want Arroyo out of power before the end of the year, then, by all means, let us attack the Palace.

The government has foisted the ‘no permit no rally’ policy to thwart the snowballing of protests near Malacañang. We have been too fixated in waiting for the confetti to rain down on our Ayala rallies that we have forgotten to stake claim in our Palace, the people’s symbol of national leadership.

GMA knows she is safe in the Palace today. But she will be forced to flee if there are hundreds of thousands of people knocking the gates of Malacañang. Erap was only forced to leave in 2001 when the news reported that people are marching towards the Palace from EDSA.

The ‘iron hand’ tactic is a ruse to save GMA by inflicting fear among the people. What should be our response? Should we hold more daring actions in the streets? Or should we encourage the people to employ a more fanciful and middle class-friendly version of people power? I think we should adopt the two approaches. They complement each other and if effectively combined, GMA’s glorious days are definitely numbered.

The problem is the tendency of not a few intellectuals to legitimize Malacañang’s assertion that rallies are violent, unproductive, not creative and a circumvention of the rule of law. They propose alternatives that may seem original and impressive but are actually part and parcel of the enduring devices of activists in reaching out to people.

There is a polite way to emphasize the need to develop tactics catering to the pecularities of the middle forces without mocking the Left and street rallies, but most of the time rational thinking is overwhelmed by red baiting.

Enhancing people power through multiple protest activities is a good formula for success. What we should not forget is that however sophisticated the protest movement we have created, the final battle will be won or lost through direct action in the streets. Such is the uniqueness of Philippine politics.

The bad news is that GMA is aware of this. And it works to the advantage of our enemy that mainstream media carries the contaminating message of “disabused intellectuals” (to borrow E. San Juan’s term) that rallies are the handiwork of a mob and not of a thinking population.

So before everything is lost, we should redirect our attention in preparing for mass actions in the streets of Manila. Let us heed the reminders of analysts. Let our protests be creative, hip and reflective. Let us convince our friends to join our cause, engage others in debate, write angry letters to public officials, and publish our sentiments in the web. But at the end of the day, we should remind ourselves that all these cute yet essential efforts to oust GMA would be more potent if we would also be part of the protest rallies in the streets.

The key is to have activists with passion for change like those who belonged to the First Quarter Storm generation. We must attract the middle class participation which we saw in the first two EDSA uprisings. And we must have the boldness of the crowd of the EDSA Tres.

(Next: street tactics or musings on how to conduct the Palace siege)

name game

As in the ‘Oust Estrada’ campaign, there is now a flurry of new groups calling for Gloria’s removal.

The mother-of-all anti-Arroyo groups is the Gloria Step Down Movement or GSM – as in Galit sa Magnanakaw or Galit sa Mandaraya. GSM of course appeals to the young (GSM technology in cellphones) and the old (what else but Ginebra San Miguel).

The youth sector is not contented with Youth DARE or Demanding Arroyo’s Removal. UP students has SIGAO as in Student Initiative for Gloria Arroyo’s Ouster. PUP boasts of YANIG as in Youth Action Network to impeach Gloria.

Txtpower has GARCI or Gloria Arroyo Resign Campaign Initiative. LFS wants to SCREAM or Students Campaign to Remove Arroyo in Malacañang. Make way for Anakbayan’s KALAMPAG or Kabataang Lumalaban para Patalsikin si Gloria.

The UP community is already AWARE as in an Alliance working for Arroyo’s Removal. PNU wants to be AWARE Now! Cagayan de Oro students formed the YOU GO as in Youth for Gloria’s Ouster. Davao students has KADASIG as in Kabataang Dabawenyo Sigaw!

Gabriela is spearheading the WOMEN MARCH! or the Women’s Movement for Arroyo’s Removal and Regime Change. Migrant workers have OUTRAGE or Overseas Workers and their families United to Remove Gloria Arroyo. Peasants want to REMOVE GLORIA or the Rural Movement for the Removal of Gloria.

There is also STOP Gloria or Southern Tagalog opposed to Gloria. Environmentalists have reason to be ENRAGED while doctors are already calling Emergency RX for GMA.

Malaya’s editorial has a funny new meaning for GLORIA. If we jumble the letters we could have Go Liar!

A much needed break: While having lunch with fellow street parliamentarians, someone proposed a coalition to tackle corruption. Why not KULANGOT as in Koalisyon laban sa Nangungurakot? Then one of us replied that a better name would be KULANGOT sa PADER as in Koalisyon laban sa Nangungurakot para sa Pambansang Demokrasya.