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ka pampangan
THEY WERE yellow, I was red.

That was 26 years ago. I was only 18 then.

They were at EDSA. I was on E. Rodriquez, confused and not knowing where to go. I was waiting for days for instructions in our Party cell's rented room, intently watching a news alert in our landlady's sala. I think it was Channel 9. Ferdinand Marcos was delivering a speech, a firm and fiery one.

From the left window, I could see Tora-Tora planes, about two of them, circling the skies somewhere.

That day was very tense. As we were watching, our landlady, who was a Marcos loyalist and had a son in the army assigned in Mindanao, kept on cursing the rebel soldiers, who locked themselves up inside Camp Crame. "Sige, ayan na ang mga eroplano at bobombahin na kayo! Mga put...na n'yo." I just kept my silence, quickly giving my landlady affirming nods as a gesture of propriety, while watching and wondering why our courier hasn't arrived yet.

That day, we were to be given instructions on where to converge our ready and waiting units. We weren't armed, but I wished we were. We were all ready to bring the dictator down!

Our student and community members were already at our sub-converging points—Galas, San Francisco, and Sta Mesa. We were around 80 ready warm bodies. I was the vice team leader of our underground Party cell, and all the areas I mentioned were units directly under me. We were to mobilize support combined partisan operations with the mass uprising.

Our comrade courier finally came. He said that the instructions for us were to wait for a few more days, as our mother unit was still in the midst of negotiations with other ally forces. "Hintay lang daw tayo... ayaw ng mga kasama ang dumanak ng dugo, ang mga SocDem armado na sila... handang-handa na sila, ang mga kasama ayaw sumabay... sa mga probinsyal-munisipyo raw tayo... yun daw ang hahawakan natin..."

I was fuming mad, I was ready to contribute, I was ready to fight, I was ready to offer my life. To me then, shouting in the streets every week was useless, marching for days was inutile. I was becoming greedy for action... a decisive action. That last, final action to end dictatorial rule.

I reminisce today, almost everyone then who wanted to attack Malacañang, to physically remove the Marcoses from their rotting throne, to fight face to face with the few remaining disillusioned loyal army with just about anything—guns, bottles, rocks, clubs, slings... really, just about anything to fight and bring them down with.

All through twenty years of oppressive rule people lived in anguish, poverty was prevalent, thousands were jailed, hundreds were herded to hamlets in the countryside. While the critical press and broadcast stations were shut down.

During those years, we would mouth words in our speeches and discussions with passion and eloquence understood only by us: Democracy, Imperialism, Cronyism, Bourgeoisie, Oligarchy, Bureaucrat Capitalism, among others.

We in the Party cells were thirsty for justice, for freedom, for self-respect—for ideals.

But for the ordinary "masa," they simply wanted food, wanted to finish college, wanted jobs, wanted fair pay. They wanted an end to long lines just to buy a mere kilo of rice.

To the passive population, who only stood by watching history unfold, our struggle was a struggle for something that was abstract. But to most who were participating, they believed the struggle was for something concrete—to end the suffering of the nation from economic and political bankruptcy.

Across the spectrum of the then "revolution," it was a struggle of people confused and a struggle of people with ambition, a struggle of people with dreams of grandeur and a struggle of people for a plate of food, a struggle for peace and a struggle to pay hospital bills.

We were very angry then at Marcos for profound reasons and for reasons simple.

As I now reflect, we were then in a state of overwhelming anger. At the same time, we were unconsciously loving ourselves too much, seeking only our selfish salvation and then, once the Marcoses fled, forgetting our dreams and ideals.

The Marcoses left, taking with them the very ideals that once united us all—Honor, Dignity, Justice, Freedom, and Prosperity.

In 1986, we freed ourselves from the cages of tyranny, and yet immediately after, we would build around us walls of apathy. That is why our country is still in the same state as it was then.

My son will be turning 13. I do not know what will happen when he turns 18.

But my gratitude remains---if not for the flowers and the yellows, I would have since been long dead.

[About the author. Ka Pampangan is a pseudonymn. Author's real name withheld upon request.]

-Posted: 11:11 AM 8/8/09 | More of this author on eK!

Jun Sibug (USA) writes...

More power to you. I am Glad you are well. Yellow was like the magic of the sun. It gave life and hope to everyone. Sprechen Sie Deutsch "buslo"

-Posted/Via Email: 2009-08-08 17:04:43 PDT

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