Thursday, February 28, 2008
SKETCH OF A DAY
RENATO REDENTOR CONSTANTINO
Special to Business Mirror
March 4, 2008
The rallyists rushed down the short stretch of EDSA from Santolan to Ortigas, as if they were in a hurry to catch-up with a long lost legacy. And maybe they were.
Down EDSA scores of protesters marched, past the billboard of Krispy Kreme announcing the First Couple’s family credo: “Share the love.”
The rallyists had broken through the first barricade earlier, around half-past two in the afternoon. Exploiting breaches in the police line just in front of Camp Aguinaldo, the marchers raced to reach the shrine built to commemorate the uprising that toppled the Marcos dictatorship 22 years ago
It was a modest-sized rally with high emotions and far from diffident battlecries. Almost every third person seemed to be holding an organizational flag or placard bearing the face of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and words such as “corrupt”, “evil” and “thief”.
Signs it was to be a peculiar day were everywhere.
Beneath a billboard advertising the services of “The Facial Spa”, which guaranteed a new you, two protesters pause, tired from running and carrying aloft a large banner painted with “No to Gloria! No to Noli!” while shouting slogans against another round of cosmetic changes in government.
Just before the flyover to Rosario, right below the billboard of “Toy Kingdom: The Amazing Toy Store,” policemen unload shiny shields and truncheons and position a bright red firetruck to block the rallyists. But the obstruction is permeable and the demonstrators stream through.
Minutes later, at the foot of the EDSA Shrine, the march reaches its limit. The police have an easier time securing the shrine’s perimeter, with the help of a hallowed device -- around the monument constructed to celebrate the anti-Marcos protests, a steel fence keeps out protesters.
A huge sign in obscene fuschia warns pedestrians and protesters alike: “Walang Tawiran: Nakamamatay” – “Deadly: No Crossing.” On the wall of a mall behind the monument, a Convergys ad counsels a dissenting view: “Break through!”
The marchers heed neither message. They occupy the entire street then break out into clusters. Some chant messages against the Arroyo government while others exchange stories and eat peanuts and grilled dried squid.
Many are laughing though most are angry. Which is normal. They are from the Philippines. They are as Filipino as the small bizarre group dressed in sandals and religious garb singing strange hymns and straddling the island in the middle of the street.
I approach them to listen to their songs and stand beside a man with long black hair, clothed in a white cassock with golden piping. He leans closer and whispers they are all representatives of the Holy Spirit Divine Government. Then he introduces me to the tall, gaunt man beside him: “This is Christ the King.”
Christ the King has long scruffy white hair and a Ho Chi Minh-style goatee. He is wearing a very red hat with white trimming and yellow vestments beneath a flowing crimson robe. He is holding a wooden staff in one hand; the other is raised and shaking to the rhythm of the singing.
“Hello there,” I say with a slight bow. Christ the King smiles back. He has no teeth. No; holy cow, he has three.
Where are you from, I ask.
“I am from everywhere,” he answers.
Christ, I mumble.
“Yes,” he nods, still smiling.
Christ the King tells me later that he grew up in Bulacan but that he is now based in Cubao. I smile; it’s nice to know we’re both connected to an earthly domicile. The King points to the long-haired man on his left. “This is Ave Grajo. He is my right hand man.” He points to the woman on his right and introduces me: “This is Santisima Trinidad. She is in charge of joy and light.”
“You do?” Ave asked. “Christ the King can perform miracles through the Nazareno,” Ave said. Show me, I tell Mr. King. The King nods and stretches out an arm. He points to the dark, cloud-heavy sky. His eyes flutter and he mutters: “There will be rain.”
Why are you here, I ask the King.
“The deluge to end all calamities is near,” he answers. “It is time to repent. It is time to acknowledge the true King.”
And who might that be?
Don’t you think people will find you crazy, I ask.
“Who is crazy?” Christ the King replies.
It’s a fair question.
In front of a protest shrine, there is someone who calls himself Jesus Christ. And in a mansion by a river, someone calls herself President.
And she’s still there. #
Look-alike? May kilala akong kahawig ni Kristong Hari. Manginginom sa Malate. Photos by Redster, February 25, 2008.