8/26/2013
Good game

So you went to the Million People March today, huh?

Yeah, I saw your Instagram selfies. I saw that photo of you at home wearing a white shirt with a pig's face drawn on it. I saw that photo of you in the car going... I'm not quite sure where you were exactly, but I assume it's at SLEX. That photo of you walking along Luneta. And then you stopped tweeting because, apparently, it's hard to tweet there. Everybody was trying to tweet.

I wasn't there, of course. I'm not really the kind of guy who sets out to have my voice with my feet, never mind that it's anatomically wrong. I write, that's my best arsenal, that's what I do. Also, yes, I know I'm sounding defensive.

But yeah, you went to the Million People March today. You were with the huge crowd at the Quirino Grandstand. You probably chanted "makibaka, huwag magbaboy!" You probably waved placards and made a lot of terrible pig-based puns. Hell, you probably were one of those people who saw Renato Corona arrive at Luneta, and heckled him and booed him and resisted the urge to lynch him, because you believe he's such a hypocrite and all.

You feel good about yourself now?

Yes, say I'm bitter. Judge me for not coming out to be part of history. I will be defensive, again, and say that outdoor protests aren't really my thing. But yeah, me changing my blog's colors isn't enough, yeah.

So I didn't do my share for the country because I didn't go out and you did. Awesome. You can now show off to your friends! All those selfies. "I care for my country!" accompanied by irrelevant hashtags. Yes, you went there. And you feel so good. You've made your voice heard and now change will happen because there was a crowd and it was huge.

Well, you're just caught in the moment. Don't be too smug. You haven't done anything yet.

I'll admit, I'm being harsh to you. That smugness, we all tend to do that. In 1986, when we kicked Marcos out, we felt so good about ourselves that we kinda dropped the ball and we didn't really move past the state of discord we began with. In 2001, when we kicked Erap out, we felt so good about ourselves that we didn't pay attention to Gloria's darker side until the damage was done. In 2010, when we (you) voted Noynoy in, we (you) felt so good about (y)ourselves that you turned a blind eye when he pretty much fumbled about being president.

Now, three years later, and pork barrel is such a huge topic again, and we had a protest and we gathered in droves and made a definite statement and we feel so fucking good about ourselves. You should've seen the tweets. "This is better than EDSA 2!" "We have made our voices heard in a peaceful way, unlike other countries!" "I feel proud to be a Filipino!"

Already?

Dude, think about all this again. Noynoy flip-flopped on his stance on pork barrel because he wanted the march to not go through. Yet, when he flip-flopped, he didn't do what we all wanted. He just paid lip service to fighting corruption, only to say, "well, we're not removing the system altogether, but hey, line budgets make all the difference! This is the solution!" What makes you think he'll be listening to you after today?

Sure, today his allies are in a press blitz, trying to show that yes, they received the message and are trying to fix things. Edwin Lacierda is doing the rounds on the newscasts. "He heard you loud and clear," he told ANC (I'm paraphrasing, by the way). "That's why he called for itemized budgets." Okay. "He feels good that he has many allies in his fight against corruption." Again, dude, that's why he got elected. He only realized this now? "So, what's a good solution? We do this thing called participatory governance. Do you have suggestions?"

Bam Aquino even proposed this thing called the "people's fund", where we can determine where the money in this particular pot goes. You know, like American Idol. Where the judges steer the voters into choosing one contestant over the other.

Just those two examples alone. Do you think they really listened to you? Because those ideas sound completely hare-brained. Half-cooked. Lip service to fighting corruption. Because we feel so good at the moment. We made our voices heard! Yay! GG, Philippines! GG, taxpayers! GG, concerned citizens!

Watch them drop the ball in a few months.

The PDAF, for one, won't disappear just yet. The government itself admits it will only be replaced by an itemized budget of projects in 2015. We aren't sure yet if the government can, or is willing, to prosecute anybody, friend or frenemy, who's found to have misused PDAF. There are still discretionary funds in many branches of government. Hell, the president still has it, and he's keeping his mouth shut on it.

So, I tell you, you still haven't earned the right to feel smug. That march today, that sea of white (and mud) at Quirino Grandstand? Just the first salvo. As you went home, the people who have pocketed government funds are still in office. Janet Lim Napoles hasn't been miraculously arrested. The budget hasn't been cleaned up. The dummy NGOs are still there.

And we're still paying taxes. We're still paying taxes. We're still giving money to these gluttons, these people who insist that they are funding projects in their own localities, "pero ako rin naman taga-roon, kaya puwede rin naman akong makinabang sa pinapagawa ko, 'di ba?" If you have to put a hold to paying taxes to prove a point, then so be it.

All I'm saying is, it's not as simple as going out in the streets and wearing white and posting selfies to prove that you care. We've just started. We cannot fight an enemy whose intricacies are alien to us. We must demand to know everything. We must pay closer attention to how the government solves this. We must be skeptics. We must be cynics. We must expect the worst and hope for the best. We must not drop the ball. This is just the opening salvo. Let's do it differently this time.

And your responses...

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