registering dissent
partly coz i just wanna start reading harry potter 6 already, partly in response to several blogs and emails and writings about it, partly coz i missed an info session about it, partly coz i managed to avoid all forms of protest all these years by default of supposedly working, but mostly coz i skipped myrene's suprise party for romeo last night coz i waited for HP6 at borders with my siblings, and, not getting back to the house until 2 a.m., experienced a very interesting and freaky night at the blue line train station involving people sitting on sputum coz they ignored everyone else who avoided that chair already... do not try that no matter the circumstances. riding the train on a saturday early morning, i mean.

registering dissent: the subtle service of glitz in protest

adams and wells

july 13's protest to call for the resignation of philippine president gloria macapagal-arroyo included music and dancing, much like a festival. business was very good for manila's financial district wednesday - and for part-time garbage haulers, who clocked in overtime to clean the mess the 40,000 left behind. they'll prolly be paid equitably.

i like mass gatherings. they're democracy in action. i'm a sucker for free speech in all forms. but you'll never find me walking the streets myself, and often just watching from the sides already makes me uncomfortable. watching is almost the same as supporting whatever cause, because you turn into a (an unwilling) monitor. it is exactly what most organizers wish you would do. so that's why i'd rather blog about it.

i wonder what the latest arroyo protest was like. i remembered my friends, how some of them hate most levels of public displays of affection, particularly demonstrations. mass political gatherings are confusing, their original purpose dissolving in the pagents and concerts and shimmering confetti.

organizers make protest events cool and glamorous because they want to have fun, too. they dedicate their lives to their movements that it melds with their identity and becomes a full-time job, on top of any full-time jobs they already hold down. they rarely have time to do anything fun. so, their protest organizing becomes fun time for them. it is always nice to be entertained.

the other, meatier, reason why protest events are always fun and glamorous is coz protest leaders want to bring in more people to their cause - and what better way than a party? in mass gatherings, music is easiest and most accessible, plus it's the best attention-getter. so that's why the chants are always catchy and the songs always heart-rendering and impossible to resist.

once you're hooked, organizers don't waste your time. they launch into why you're gathered here today. you can tell level of experience by listening - the veterans use a range of tools, from poetry to history to using as examples baon protestors packed to prepare for the day. this may not be the first gathering they've staged, but they hope that this time, it will spark lasting change - something like the 1886 haymarket riots here in chicago.

historians with the chicago historical society have a digital collection of the workers rallying for 8-hour work day, so they can have time for other things, like sleep in a bit longer or go to their kids' baseball games. police tried to disperse them by shooting into the crowd. it sparked a series of events that eventually lead to the present law of 8 hours a day at work, with a half-hour lunch and two breaks in between, and equitable overtime pay.

big gatherings remind everyone they rally for humanity be restored into their ranks - just wages, in the haymarket case, so they can have quality time for everything.

the problem with protests and mass movements is that they tug at the heartstrings, and sometimes, JUST at the heartstrings. and we the young people, who still remember what it was like to be hushed to the side by parents discussing Matters Of Great Importance, are suddenly shoved centerstage and we haven't a rat's beeehind's clue what the hell now to do.

so we yowl as loud as our lungs can before breaking, AYOKO NA, suko na ako, mamatay na kayong lahat diyang nasa gobyerno, mga nagsialisan para sa amerika, 'sang araw babalik kayo sa lupang ginawa ng blood, sweat, tears and blogging namin, kaya huwag kayong magrereklamo't wala kayong naitulong nung kailangan namin kayo dito.

and we yowl for as long as our lungs can take it, ARROYO, RESIGN, because it's what the others are yelling. so emotionally wrought, so confused and unused to stress and the immediate need to do something, we may follow the leader even though we don't know who the hell he or she is, and what he or she is really saying.

but they did say it was good to take to the streets, and e-mail and blog your heart out, because it is saying something, it is doing something, and all this is better than doing nothing. at least we were blessed with the space to "register our dissent," as one respondent to a recent blog wrote, and if we're not, we're blessed with the means to go find that space.

walking to the train station the night of sandra day o'connor's resignation, i entertained tiny worries: any day now, president bush will choose a 9th justice to interpret law for the country. o'connor always provided that swing vote that turned tables such as roe v. wade and whether to allow u.s. grade and high schools to display the ten commandments. i thought, how monumental.

i also thought, how many more monumental events had happend when i was little, it's only now gaining this much significance to me because i actually can vote now and the government will really chase me now should i refuse to pay taxes for more than three years straight.

in the philippines, friends are worried that their lives will go to waste because the country keeps on electing leaders of the same ilk. they challenge those who want to leave to go, and watch what they, those left behind, can do. leave, they said, you're entitled to choose the best for yourself. watch us rebuild this country from ashes.

here in chicago, friends are worried because their lives will go to waste if they don't do something to help out events in the homeland. some think it's intrinsic to their identity as filipinos to at least know what's going on in the homeland. thursday, some met at the hamlin house to discuss what to do and how to respond to this latest drama.

and there i was, thursday the day after the protest, thursday the day of the meeting, blogging during my breaks (working anyways because i'm at my desk), wondering at these latest events' drops in the buckets, here and there. in all honesty, arroyo's appointed a few replacement cabinet already. despite all our dancing and singing and marching and writing, i think she'll stand her ground.
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