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.”

Okay.

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.”

I see.

“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?

“Me.”

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.

3 comments:

Marninay said...

Hala, magkamukha nga sila! Hehehehe! :)

Lester Cavestany said...

"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"

pwede ko rin po bang idagdag na, "and in a senate hearing, a government consultant is being hailed by opposition leaders as the nation's hero!"

Redster said...

Hi Lester. Kagagaling ko lang ng Puerto Princesa at bago ako lumusong sa tambak na trabaho, kukunin ko na ang pagkakataong ito para makasagot. Nakakhiya nga sa mga sumusulat na masyadong madalang ang pag-sagot ko. Mahinang klaseng blogger talaga ako. Ang nakakaya ko lang ay mag-post ng mga nasulat ko na.

Pwede kayang idagdag? Aesthetically it would not make much sense. Walang surreal sa ganyang pagkaka-gawad kay Lozada, o, siguro mas accurate, labis na mababa ang halimbawang tinutukoy mo sa surreal register para maidagdag sa pantasya ng 'Pangulo' at 'Kristong Hari'.

Nauunawaan ko (yata) ang discomfort mo sa salitang 'hero'. Pero nauunawaan ko rin ang pag-putong ng marami ng salitang 'bayani' kay Lozada, kahit na hindi ako sang-ayon sa paggamit ng 'hero' sa kontekstong ito. I will grant na maaring surreal siguro sa ganitong punto - matagal nang gutom para sa mga nagsasabi ng totoo ang marami. O, masyado nang sanay sa pagsisinungaling sa pamahalaan ang mga tao. Kaya noong may nangahas na magsabi ng katotohanan, nang hindi sinusubukang ipinta ang sarili bilang isang santo (balikan ang admission ni Lozada sa paglawak ng sarili niyang 'permissible zones'; ang kanyang mga pag-mea culpa), yinakap siya ng maraming tao. Para sa akin, maaring senyales din ito na bumaba na ng husto ang expectation natin sa salitang 'bayani' at sa mga nasa pamahalaan. Ang pagsabi ng totoo, para sa akin, ay hindi dapat basta-bastang magagawaran ng katagang 'bayani'. Isa itong act of citizenship, tulad ng act of citizenship ng mga taong sumasama sa rali, o ng pulis o taxi driver na nagbalik ng napulot nilang pitaka na may limpak-limpak na salapi. Dapat silang hangaan dahil sa kanilang act of citizenship, pero hindi dapat na ituring na 'bayani' dahil nagmumukhang bukod-tangi ang kanilang ginawa gayong tunguklin ng lahat na maging tapat sa sarili, sa pamayanan, at sa kanilang bansa.

Ayon mismo kay Lozada, nangahas lamang siya na magsabi ng totoo matapos na mawalan na siya ng iba pang option. Pero tiniyak din niya na ilahad ang lahat at, mas mahalaga, mag lahad ng hindi labis sa nalalaman niya. Hinahangaan ko siya. Dapat tumulad ang iba sa kanyang act of citizenship.

May iba pa bang maglalahad din, o di kaya magbibigay ng mga dokumento tungkol sa mga katiwalian sa gobyerno? Dadami pa kaya ang magsasabi na sobra na ang garapalan? Tingnan natin. Ang mahalaga ay ang kapasyahang makialam ang mga tao.

Actually, posible ngang mas eksakto ang salitang 'bayani' sa usaping ito, kumpara sa salitang 'hero'. Isa sa mga unang gamit sa salitang 'bayani' ay direktang kaugnay ng konsepto ng citizenship, o ang pagiging maka-bayan - ang karaniwang gawi ng karaniwang tao para sa kanyang bayan.