Men Marching, 2

Literally, I held my tears when we started the march, this men's march that inaugurated my politicization to domestic violence, a pandemic in this state as well as in this nation, according to some accounts by even the Surgeon General of America himself as read out by Rep. John Mizuno, vice chair of the committee on health, in his speech prior to mine. 

On my right in the march--we were next in line--next to the organizers Joe Bloom and Salvatorre Lanzilotti--was John and on my left was Rom Trader, a state prosecutor, who got an award for his work on DV. 

There were others in the line of battle, with our banner declaring what we were doing: men marching to stop domestic violence--Men's March Against Violence--as can be gleaned from today's account by the Honolulu Advertiser, with their photo gallery and a bit, just a bit of video: 

Others who were in that line of battle were Mr. Robert Lorin, representing the Chuukese community in the state and who is himself involved with healing and the religious ministry and Dr. Kahu Kaleo Patterson, a Hawaiian who spoke on social violence and the culture of violence that the country is steeping its people with. 

The four of us would speak--and would persuade people into looking at the issues of domestic violence and domestic peace side by side with the duty to look at the bigger issues of the world. All four of us committed to give our share in that monstrous task of responding to the challenges of DV.

Joe Bloom, who together with Nanci Kriedman, founded the Men's March in Honolulu 14 years ago, was by his usual self: bubbly, energetic, and totally in-charge. You could sense in the sincerity of the man that here is one issue that should concern every human being but more particularly, every man in his relationship with his spouse, intimate partner, domestic partner, lover, and/or children. 

Joe tells us: Salvatorre and I first, on the first line of duty, and you speakers hold the banner and announce--all of you by holding that banner--what we are doing.

And you come after us, he continues,  and we walk all around the Capitol, walk towards Punchbowl, go all around, turn right, then turn right again, and then the last right on Beretania, and we are back to the Capitol and we will have our program.   

We start on time, he says, and that was past noon, in the heat of the Waikiki sun, in this time of the year, when Fall is not that of the almost wintry degrees in the US Mainland. We are in paradise, of course, in these isles, and this paradise is in peril with all these stories of wife beating and of men doing the wife beating and killing their women and then killing themselves. One even killed his child, a boy of seven, and the three of them, man, woman, and child, left this world all in the name of DV and its evils.

We took the first step, in step with the Joe Bloom command. We know--and we who held the banner--we know we had to calculate our steps.

The roads down here are paved, but they are narrow, and the banner declaring our domestic politics was long, and many pairs of hands, about six, were holding on to it, and we were passing on pavements meant only for a pair of feet. 

I was amazed of the instincts that played out in that march: we knew how to maneuver, laughing to ourselves while we were doing it, and recollecting what we did with our drums and bugle exercises when we were young, or our marching band when we were a bit older. 

I laughed and truly so, but I did not tell them that in the Philippines, the marching was all we learned in Citizen's Army Training during Martial Law that taught us how to be good Marcos Society citizens, a training that would be wasted for two more years in college, when that Military Science thing--call it Reserved Officers Training Corps--did not mean anything except to learn how to curse a la Saving Private Ryan or Exterminator or Band of Brothers each Sunday of our broken and tortured college lives. 

Two years of right-left, right-left would certainly mold you into a crazed soldier, pretense and all, with that last MS in second year of second semester only your one fat chance to see how an armalite looked like, and how to fire it in one firing range somewhere in Fort Bonifacio, with you missing all of your targets anyway because of the lack of practice except for that snappy execution of a salute for the less-intelligent guy--that lowlife creature--who commands you to do the push-up twenty times and which you followed nevertheless even if you wanted to give him his share of a kick that would make him fly and then land on some crazy lady's lap, who would, invariably, use her six-inch heel of a shoe to whack his idiot's butt. 

So we maneuvered all those corners, with the traffic flow in the noonday heat. 

I heard the honking of horn, and I felt the welling up of tears on my face--again. This is solidarity at its earnest, and solidarity makes you cry wherever you see it or sense it or feel it, like the solidarity you feel in those two EDSA revolutions that presidents who benefitted wasted, and their wasting was absolute as per my own brand of historical accounting and interpretation, both of which I have the legal and moral right to do as an active participant of those people's revolutions. 

The welling begins and it continues with profuseness. This is not sweat, this is not because of the heat. Where is the handkerchief? Where is the toilet towel? 

Secretly, I touched a tear from my eyes, and I bit my lips. No man, on the day of the march against DV, should be allowed to shed a tear despite Christ's beautiful account of wailing in the Garden of Gethsemani and giving us a template of how to express the sorrow of man. No way for Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani! Not now. 

So we moved, and the line became a long one, so that while we were turning right on one of those streets that lead to Beretania, the tail of the line was still on the street that turned to that street that we were turning. Joe, of course, was pointing out that long line of people, and he was satisfied. The turnout this year, he says, is one of the biggest. Honolulu Advertiser estimated the marchers to be about 2000. 

The police people, of course, provided escort to us, with a policeman on a moped ahead of us, and another on a motorbike giving direction, in coordination with Joe, on which way to go.

When we returned to the Capitol, we could feel the difference in the breeze that got into our lungs: the Capitol ambiance, the air that comes from its open roof in the center, the air that goes in and out of its four open walls, the air gave us all the regeneration we needed after walking for some miles in the name of domestic tranquility and in the effort to make known what we were fighting for--the Capitol declared that we were alive and that it was high time that we declared that we needed to end the violence in our homes. 

The ceremonies began right after, with a prayer that invoked the Hawaiian ancestors, with a prayer that asked for the blessing of Queen Lilio'kalani, she who had so much love for the people of Hawai'i. There was a Hawaian chant, the same kind that I heard when I was young in the Ilocos. And there was the leiing of the ancestors invoked. 

Beforehand, Joe and the organizers made it sure that the speakers and those who would be awarded were given a seat in the reserved seat on the right of the podium, a podium that looked like one of those they use in the Capitol. On the far left were three lines of police people in uniform--the very people who had first hand knowledge of the social malady we call DV--a number of them, we were told, had been killed when responding to domestic disputes. 

The rest of the people who marched with us--some key people from the community, some from cause-oriented groups, some from the State Senate, some from schools and centers that serviced children who suffered because of DV--were there all around, many standing, some seated on the cemented floor of the Capitol. Our view of the program looked out to the side of the palace of the Hawaiian monarchy, a palace true to its form before the monarchs were overthrown by the American government. I saw them, the key people who are into this cause: Lydia Abajo, Dr Raymund Liongson, Helena Manzano, Leslie Cabingabang, and some big shots in community organizing work. 

I had my chance to speak, and I thought I had managed to come across. Some young men said they liked the bluster and the bravado of my talk. I liked that I said my piece in the name of my daughters and of my son and of my wife--and in the name of all other daughters, sons, and wives in this state and everywhere. 

And then the leiing: each speaker and awardee was to hand over our leis to the young children who have become witnesses or victims of DV so that they will take over the same cause when their time would come. 

I gave mine to Jonathan, whose name I got to know better when I met him again on the road while rushing to the parking lot to get my car and rush back to the University miles away to the east. The papers say Jonathan is a witness to DV and is on the way to being healed. I prayed for him when I read that detail of his life. 

On the night of the event, I could not do anything. I had hoped to write something but could not. I remembered my tear welling up and how I did not allow the tear to fall in that march. No, not in that march. 

I prayed for Jonathan and the rest of them. And I allowed the prayer to take the form of a poem which I had hoped to write one of these days.

On my way out after the ceremony, I met Cindy Spencer, vice president of Domestic Violence Action Center. She was speaking with Nanci Kriedman. I bid goodbye to Cindy, kissing her as we always do over here to friends and colleagues. Nanci said she would like a copy of my talk. I told her I would email it to Cindy, and which I finally did today.  

Such is our life here, with our causes. They are worth fighting for.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI/Oct 10, 2008

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