“But there’s a side to you
That I never knew, never knew.
All the things you’d say
They were never true, never true,
And the games you play
You would always win, always win.
But I set fire to the rain,”
I thought this would be an appropriate song for this entry. As I write, the rain is hitting the roof hard while the night-time lights make the sky look like it’s on fire. Soon, Philippine president Noynoy Aquino will be telling the country and the world what a great job he has done. You don’t need to go far to know how much hot air he’s blowing.
Aquino, the Philippine ruling elite, and their supporters in the U.S. government need to the Filipino people to be blinded and distracted from the root problems of society. They need the overwhelming majority, the 99%, to not realize their power in numbers and ability to make change. They need the people to believe in this exploitative and unequal system so they concentrate on fighting for the scraps of the “America Dream”. This is the only way so few can control so many.
I wonder if I could ever give Noynoy, or any member of the Philippine ruling class for that matter, my full attention in a conversation. I don’t think I can hear them talk about the state of the nation when I’ve seen it for myself. I’ve looked into the eyes of students, out-of-school youth, farmers, workers, urban poor, and many others and heard them speak about how the system isn’t working for them. Noynoy’s fancy words or Henry Sy’s bulldozers or the Ayala’s money cannot silence these stories and revise the truth. You can’t find the truth with the ruling class. You can only find it with the masses.
Noynoy entered his presidency with a lot of promises of change and to be different from his predecessor (sound familiar?), but all the people have seen is the same rotten, corrupt system. He is looking to convince people of prosperity and a growing economy. But what he leaves out is that the growth is only with the billionaires (all eleven of them) and super rich of the country, not the workers or farmers who create that wealth. He refuses to raise the minimum wage because it will “close down the factories”, despite the fact the rich are making super-profits. That’s what I’ll never get about capitalism. This need to always give rich people more money, but give workers and those who physically create wealth less, so as to make more money for people who already have it. Capitalism is like the show “Hoarders” on steroids.
So why do I, as an American citizen, criticize a president who isn’t technically mine? It’s because of him and people like him who forces over 4,500 Filipinos EVERYDAY to leave the Philippines in search of work that should be at home. That’s why we’ll continue to have Filipinos in the U.S. deal with identity, racism, and our other problems. We are sending millions of U.S. tax dollars to the Philippines in the form of military aid when that could be spent at home to hire more teachers, build classrooms, and support other vital social services. We are stationing untold amounts of U.S. troops warships in the Philippines and have even started using drones in the country, all in violation of the Philippine constitution. As a U.S. citizen, if I don’t stand up and speak out against these horrendous policies and conditions, then I’m being complacent to the continuing suffer of the Filipino people. How could I ever claim to be a “proud Filipino” if I stay silent?
Tomorrow will mark the twelfth day of our exposure trip. We’ll be less than half way finished with our program with much for us left to experience. But SONA is more than a halftime show. It’s something that we can only dream of in the U.S. Tens of thousands of Filipinos in the streets, marching and chanting in unity for a common cause. We can get there someday, but it will take a lot of work. Until then, I will witness the rage of the Filipino people when they confront the representative of the ruling system and the many lies he will tell the world. I will watch them set fire to the rain and burn down the symbol of what stands in their way of a truly democratic and free society.
Sorry Two-Face, we’re not an impressionable group of Filipino Americans who will be your representatives to the American people. We will not parrot your lies. We stand with the people and what is rightfully theirs.
p.s.: watch the #SONAngbayan livestream on BAYAN’s website, http://www.bayan.ph or LFS’ website, lfs.ph! and follow the #SONAngbayan hashtag for live updates!