Real SONA is in the Street (SONA 2012)

We had a long day today. As Pres. Benigno Aquino III a.ka. Noynoy / PeNoy delivered his third State of the Nation Address (SONA), people went out in the street to assert their demands: decent job, decent wage, health care, land, housing, education and all fundamental rights as humans who choose to have a government. Ironically as it is, such government doesn’t choose to serve us which is mainly the point of going out.

We anticipated rain. It didn’t. But it did pour a different type of pandesal you would love to hate coming from the riot police along with the rather out-of-place “Task Force Illegal Terminal for Zero Payola, Kotong, Lagay”. About 95 kasamas were hurt in the clash that followed. The stones didn’t catch me though I was caught in the stampede along with priests and church workers. I couldn’t count how many people stepped on my back during the break down of human body shield but with core at work, it was nothing really. Thanks to yoga and a grim-determination-thinking to fight and live! I just acquired a bruise on my left leg.

Inhale. Exhale. For those who were hurt, they didn’t cry for nothing at all.

¡Hast la Victoria siempre!

Mornings and Nights Before

The plot to assemble for the People’s SONA (Sona ng Bayan) is not a secret plot. It’s a red letter day for the social movement in the Philippines as it is important to call for people’s action in engaging parliament for the country’s pressing condition.

For workers, it’s taking overtime work at factories and offices to avail a day of leave for the SONA. When the leave is not permitted by managers, it means sacrificing a day’s worth of minimal wage which for many is not even minimal. It also takes extending a day’s work to prepare truncheons of chip boards, colorful placards, masks of paper maché, union statement shirts and flyers.

For the urban poor, it’s a gathering of street leaders and regional circles with their contributions of pieces of cartons and sacks.

For students and teachers, it’s conducting alternative classes and declaration of classes to be conducted in the street.

For women, it’s milk-letting for a day’s walk. For children, it’s learning chants, songs, dances and skits as build-up for brighter future.

For indigenous peoples, environmentalists and scientists, it’s segregating biodegradable truths from non-biodegradable lies.

For artists, it’s gathering individuals to a collective to build a giant effigy in a wagon and to compose songs and poetry of protests.

For church workers, it’s opening doors and windows for protesters in need of water, food and a transient sanctuary.

For lawyers and human rights advocates, it’s studying scenarios and preparing negotiation panels. They are on-guard because like Marcos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Pres. Noynoy seems to just enjoy watching human rights violations happening in the countryside and urban poor communities.

For peasants, it’s a rain or shine caravan to different barangays and municipalities as mobile alternative media. This caravan culminated in the “Salubungan” of lakbayani peasants from Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon with contingents for genuine democracy and peace from Manila welcoming them at the elliptical road fronting the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). Salubungan is more than a hard core spectacle of agitation. It’s a phenomenon of linking people’s strength from the province to the metropolis.

7 out of 285 Congress Reps Marched with us

Traditionally, SONA is an occasion for politicians and socialites to flaunt their designer barong and gowns or their most expensive accessories. Media report of SONA even comes with a survey of “the best” and “the worst” dressed man or woman in the house.

For progressive partylist representatives, the red carpet is in the street where they started rallying for change in the first place. Bayan Muna representative Cong. Teddy Casiño chose to wear a barong with hand-painted calligraphy of “Sahod, Itaas. Presyo, Ibaba” designed by Boy Dominguez of indigenous and protest art. During the program, he asked the audience whether they have felt the 6 percent economic growth that the president mentioned as one of his administration’s achievements. The answer was a chorus “No!”

The rest of people’s congressmen came as they are in clenched principles: Bayan Muna representative Cong. Neri Colmenares, Anakpawis Partylist representative Cong. Rafael Mariano, Gabriela Women’s Partylist representatives Cong. Emmi de Jesus and Cong. Luz Ilagan, Kabataan Partylist representative Cong. Mong Palatino and ACT Partylist Cong. Antonio Tinio.

They are a minority count but the impact of marching with different sectors in affirming their career of public service with the social movement makes them a majority.

Burning the Doble-Kara

The effigy created for the president by Ugatlahi Artists Collective portrays Noynoy’s schizophrenia in two-faced mask: one who says to Filipino masses, “You are my boss”, another one who says to American government and foreign capitalists, “You are my boss”. He has a war-freak eye for money and senseless killing. His belt “VFA” recognizes US renewed effort of military presence under the pretext of speculated nuclear war with China. Clad in his signature yellow motif, American flag tie and military boots, he sits in his Ampatuan Massacre-inspired backhoe-bulldozer: a throne of SM malls, high-rising Ayalaland, SMDC (SM Development Corporation), San Miguel and VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement) weaponry. The bulldozer is symbolic of aggressive development projects through demolition and mining concessions. He is more than proud of his origami flowers on palm: PPP (Public-Private Partnership), a privatization scheme; and CCT (Conditional Cash Transfer), a dole-out scheme.

The ritual of burning the effigy was marked by Axel Pinpin Propaganda Machine poetry:

Nang una kong malamang ikaw ay asendero / isinarado ko na ang tenga ko / Nagpapaalala ka sa Mendiola / Nagpapaalala ka sa Luisita / Sa unang akyat mo pa lamang upang magtalumpati / At nakita namin ang iyong ngiti / Na nagiging mithi / Alam na naming lilinlangin mo kami / Sa unang akyat mo pa lamang sa entablado / At binanggit mo kung sino ang boss mo / Alam na naming wala sa amin / ang direksyon ng iyong hintuturo /

Sumpa! Sumpa na naging sumpa! / Sumpa na naging sumpa! /                                   Sumpa! Sumpa na naging sumpa! / Sumpa na naging sumpa!

At sampo ng magsasakang iyong pinaslang at pinapaslang / at ninakawan ng lupa / Ang sumpa mo’y naging sumpa / Sinabi mong walang rekonsilasyon kung walang hustisya / At umaasa ang tao sa katarungang mapaparusahan ang maysala / Sa unang araw mo pa lamang at wala kang inatupag / kung di magpapahuli ng wang-wang / Alam na naming ang iyong utak ay makitid at walang laman / Sa unang araw mo sa palasyo / Naggunita ka ng mga palasak na EO / Alam na naming hindi ka marunong mag-gubyerno

Sumpa! Sumpa na naging sumpa! / Sumpa na naging sumpa!                                     Sumpa! Sumpa na naging sumpa! / Sumpa na naging sumpa!

Sa unang taon mo pa lamang na ang nakikinabang ang iyong pamilya, kaibigan at kabarilan / Alam na naming nagkamali sa pagpili ang taumbayan / Sa unang taon mo sa Malacañang at nagkibit-balikat sa kahilingang lupa at sahod ng mamamayan / Alam na namin ang interes ng iyong kauri ay hindi mo isasalang / Sa unang dalawang taon mo pa lamang at ilang aktibista na ang iyong pinaslang / Alam na naman ang iyong daang matuwid ay libingang duguan

Sumpa! Sumpa na naging sumpa! / Sumpa na naging sumpa!                                     Sumpa! Sumpa na naging sumpa! / Sumpa na naging sumpa!

Hindi sa aming ngalan / Nangayupapa ka sa Kano / para sa negosyo / Hindi sa aming kapakanan / Nang kupunan mo ang Korte Suprema / para mabawi ang iyong asyenda Hindi sa aming ngalan / Nang pilitin mo ang hustisya / para makuha ang iyong korona Hindi sa aming bungo / hindi sa aming lupa / hindi sa aming biyaya / hindi sa aming ngalan / Hindi sa iyong P-P-P na ma-pi-pi-gi-lan mo ang aming laban / Hindi sa iyong C-C-T na susuko ang taumbayan / Hindi sa iyong Oplan Bayanihan na matatapos ang gerang magsasaka sa kanayunan / Nalalapit na ang pagtatapos kaya’t handa kami sa pagtutuos / Tutuusin namin ang bawat araw / madilim man ay nagbibigay-tanaw ng oras at puwang / Sa gitna ng paghumaling mo sa wang-wang / Sa gitna ng at pagmamaneho ng iyong Porche / Sa gitna ng pag-aliw mo noong nakaraang Christmas party sa mga seksing babae / Sa gitna ng pakikipag-date mo kay Grace Lee / Sa gitna ng pagkain mo ng hotdog / Sa gitna ng pag-ihip mo sa kondom

Naging katawatawa ka sa sambayanan / Naging katawatawa ang doble-kara mong mukha sa bayan / May tangang sulo ang manggagawa / Mahigpit ang kapit ng magsasaka sa kanilang karet / Kasuklamsuklam ang doble-kara mong mukha Nagpupuyos ang dibdib ng mga maralitang giniba mo ang tahanan / Nangangalit ang kabataang inagawan mo ng kinakubukasan / Kasuklamsuklam, kasuklamsuklam Ngitngit ang bagang ng kababaihang patuloy mong ginagahasa at inaalisan ng karapatan / Katawatawa, kasuklamsuklam, katawatawa, kasuklamsuklam / May tangang sulo at sibat ang katutubo / pang bawiin ang minina mong lupaing minana / May tangang sulo ang migranteng Pilipino / Na sapilitan mong itinapon sa labas ng bansa / Naging katawatawa ka sa sambayanan / Naging katawatawa ang doble-kara mong mukha sa bayan / Kasuklamsuklam, nagngangalit, nagliliyab, nagpupuyos sa paghatol:

Walang ibang hatol, walang ibang hatol / Pagtatakwil , pagtatakwil ang tugon, ng mamamayang gutom / Itakwil ang dobleng-karang pangulo / Pagliyabin ang pakikibaka ng sambayanang may tangang sulo / Papagliyabin, papagliyabin, papagliyabin, papagliyabin / Atsaka isigaw natin atsaka isigaw natin / Walang pagbabago sa ilalim ni Aquino! Walang pagbabago sa ilalim ni Aquino! Walang pagbabago sa ilalim ni Aquino! Papagliyabin, papagliyabin at saka ihiyaw natin / Noynoy Aquino, papet, diktador, pasista

Papagliyabin ang pakikibaka ng sambayanang may tangang sulo

Bad Weather, Good Weather: Ten-Wheeler Truck as Stage

PAG-ASA had announced that Typhoon Ferdie has left the country but not Ferdie Gaite, national president of COURAGE (Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees) who announced the weather forecast under Noynoy: The Philippines continues to experience a tornado brought by Noynoy’s privatization policy adding burden to people who already experience high cost of food, electricity, water, oil, gas and other commodities.

Under PPP, the conversion of land to malls, condominiums, business parks, business districts and port privatization has displaced 1.4 million people in Metro Manila alone. The April 23 demolition in Silverio Compound in Brgy. San Isidro, Parañaque for the construction of SM condo took the life of Arnel Leonor Tolentino, 21 and injured around 60 residents. Meanwhile, urban poor leader Ernesto Gulfo, 52 of Brgy. Catmon in Malabon was slain last May 30.

A rap performance by TABAK composed of youth from Corazon de Jesus, San Juan dedicated their piece to fellows who support the urban poor struggle and to those who die for the cause including Sherwin Calong, youth from Corazon de Jesus who joined the Red Fighters in revolutionary struggle.

An interview performance by Alliance of Health Workers and Network Opposed to Privatization of a doctor and a mother showed a sickening hospital scenario where a patient’s Philhealth card is actually inutile in covering procedures, medicines, hospitalization and other fees. The card is issued by the government supposedly to address the health needs of its constituents especially the poor. While Noynoy prides himself as a champion of people’s health, his PPP says otherwise as he proposed the privatization of 26 hospitals in the country. Where patients can hardly afford public hospitals is already a reality in the Philippines, how can they afford privatized ones?

Meanwhile, Binhi ng Laya composed of children from Tatalon, Quezon City performed their apprehensions on K-12 educational program. Adding two more years of formal education is adding two more years of slavery for parents to send their children to primary and secondary school. Besides, the education program is packaged on contractualization and export-labor policy. In short, it’s not a program geared towards economic sustainability but that which tolerates cheap labor and disintegration of families through overseas work. The performance was an output from a cultural workshop conducted by Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns.

A summation of wealth of 40 richest Filipinos amounts to $47.4 billion USD. The rest of 90 million struggling people, majority of whom live in less than $2 a day can only think it is such a big peso but quite an abstract figure. A good president can play justice in erasing this huge gap by disseminating wealth as well as distributing land. The country remains poor because 15 billionaires continue to accumulate wealth by exploiting others.

House Bill 374 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (also known as GARB) had been filed by Anakpawis Partylist in congress. A good president must take note of the word “genuine” because there is no real reform and “free” land distribution under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of then Pres. Corazon Cojuangco Aquino as in actual terms, the program protects the hacienda system and land oligarchy of which class Noynoy belongs. Instead of giving farmers the freedom to till land and develop our agriculture, they are harassed and massacred under Oplan Bayanihan.

Dedicated to farmers who feed the nation, this poem by Joi Barrios of BAYAN-USA Women’s Desk was delivered by Sining Bugkos and Musicians for Peace cultural organizations: “Tugon sa Pangakong Sintamis ng Tubo ng Pangulong Asendero”

Kung walang korup, walang mahirap. / Kung may mahirap, pantawid pamilya /          ay pantapal sugat, special offer sa maralita. / Ay, oo, singtamis ng katas ng tubô          Ang pangako ng Pangulong asendero.

Ngunit ano ang totoo? / Ang manggagawa kahit sansentimo / Ay walang bagong umento. / Ang magsasaka, na nangalampag sa Korte Suprema, / at nagdanak ng dugo, ay singilin pa ng bayad sa lupa. / Ito ang polisiya ng karapatang-pantao:

Patakasin ang mga berdugo, / Paslangin at ibilanggo ang kaaway raw ng estado! /         E ano? E ano? E ano, sago? / Matamis pa rin ang katas ng tubô / Sa taniman ng Pangulong asendero.

Sukat na!

Ang bayang Pilipinas ay hindi isang asyenda. / Ang ugat ng pagdaralita / Ay nasa kasaysayan ng pandarambong at pagnanakaw / ng bawat dayuhan, asendero’t kapitalista. / Hindi iyan alam ng tiyan ng Pangulong asendero / Na sa gutom ay hindi nakaranas, / Kaya’t walang pulso, walang puso sa mahirap. / Ang katas ng tubô ba ay gaano katamis / Kung ang idinilig sa lupa ay pestisidyo ng pait?

Habang buhay ba tayong mananahimik? / Habang buhay bang magtitiis? / Wala, walang pagbabagong makakamit / Hangga’t ang bayan ay di matutong maghimagsik.

Indigenous people’s group KATRIBU spoke of the Aquino administration’s Executive Order 79 (EO 79) on mining that it only aims to open the country’s resources to destructive corporate and large scale mining, displacing national minorities in the process. The indigenous people has a long history of defending ancestral domain that groups spread throughout the mountain regions will not hesitate to declare people’s war versus the state.

“If you are a Machine, Let the Masses be your Rust”

The People’s SONA organized by BAYAN (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) is not only a national action but also a global event.

Besides the People’s SONA conducted in Manila and regional key cities, migrant workers spread in more than 100 countries also initiated people’s actions in unity. Organized by Migrante International, they called for local job placement, end of export-labor, human rights and welfare. While government receives annual revenue of more than P13 billion remittance and collection from migrant workers, the reality for OFWs at large is exploited and even subjugated to death.

BAYAN-USA spokesperson Berna Ellorin had this to say of US intervention in the Philippines and of capitalist evil: “If you are a Machine, let the masses be your rust”. As people go hungry, as people are not satisfied, the people cannot be happy in living with a machine that doesn’t serve them. A rust of colors can lead to the dysfunction of this machine and eventually end the exploits of modern colonization. In the name of international solidarity, League of Filipino Students-USA, an organization composed of Filipino youth from the belly of the beast, shared a rap performance during the program in collaboration with Lanceta and Kahir.

Song from Sining Lila, a cultural organization of GABRIELA members also summed-up the SONA:

Two years na panlilinlang / Hands-up kay Uncle Sam / Can’t stop sa pagpapahirap /   He does it everytime


See Images of Noynoy and the People’s SONA

See my videos of performances during the People’s SONA

Noynoy’s Panlilinlang: Song Performance by Sining Lila

Public Hospital Scene Interview Performance by Alliance of Health Workers

Demolisyon: Tutulan, Labanan Rap Performance by TABAK Brgy. Corazon, San Juan Youth

Kids Say No to K+12 Performance by Binhi ng Laya | Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns

Burning the Doble-Kara | Effigy by UGATLAHI Artists Collective | Poetry by Axel Pinpin Propaganda Machine

Dakilang Pakikibaka Rap Remix by League of Filipino Studnets-USA, Lanceta and Kahir

About Joanna Lerio

cultural journalist, multidisciplinary artist, educator, traveller, dreamer, yogini, vegetarian, advocate
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