RITUALS OF REMEMBERING
The June month carries the weight of sign and symbol, meaning and memory.
And hope springing eternal as well, despite the unbearable heaviness of living a life of electoral spectacles courtesy of the Philippine national elections in May.
The cleaning up of the election trash—literally and figuratively—has begun, and so has the reality that now begins to bite: that our people need real jobs, not the sub-contracted one that pays them a pittance.
That our people need food, the real food that nourish their body and soul, and not food that is recycles from restaurant garbage bins and other people’s leftovers.
That our people—our food-producing people including the farmers of Hacienda Luisita—need land on which to grow their crop and feed their families.
June, as it is, is ‘something sacred to Juno’, the protector of the state, or its other equivalent, today’s nation-state.
And so it should be to the Philippine nation-state as well.
The post-election euphoria—or the post-election despair—depending on which side of the coin the candidates and their supporters are in, is something that comes as surely as the early morning sun in the tropical heat of Philippine summer.
For the people of Philippine descent in the United States, the month of June, among others, is ominous.
We can only watch from afar—but we have been witnesses as well.
This month of our many rituals of remembering—with the Independence celebration and the anniversary of the birth of Jose Rizal, to name but two—opens up new possibilities for the people in the homeland or in the land of the ancestors: the possibilities for a new life with a new president that promised to be different, that promised to make life better for the ordinary citizen of the land.
Or it opens up the same story of want and deprivation too.
For one, this we say: There will be no exhibit of people the new administration can use to prove something that is pointless in the first place.
There will be no Mang Pandoys with their endless stories of despair and death.
There will be no Jason and the other boys who had the fictional desire to catch the attention of the president—a case of children’s wild imaginings—by making paper boats and had these sail—no, drift by—by the murky waters of Pasig that eventually passed by the Malacanan Palace and then noticed by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
This is the same president that promised us social justice and democracy and freedom. This is the same president who is leaving us with stories of wanton abuse of power and excess.
There will be the frenzied preparations for the inauguration of a new president, with that inauguration marked by the same litany of promises we have heard repeatedly said, as if in a rubric of calculated meanings and presidential argumentum ad populum, as if in the sacred rituals of presidents who had come to visit us and announced their coming to us as our redeemers only to inflict upon us more pain and more sorrow, more death and more abuse.
We can only wish that this time around, with a living vision that we all deserve, the homeland would finally find peace with itself by finding peace with its new president that promised so much.
There has been so many rituals of remembering that we have gone through—that we have witnessed, that we have consumed for their spectacular worth, with the grandeur of a presidential rhetoric of greatness no less to make us believe some more in the power of democracy, in the power of political imagination, and in the power of a president’s word.
For once, let these rituals of remembering come to life, to light, and to truth.
The new president, His Excellency Benigno Aquino III, deserves all our support.
The new president, His Excellency Benigno Aquino III, deserves our prayers.
But we must also remember that we get the president we deserve.
In light of this, we cannot sit on our hands even as the country tries to stand on its feet.
We will measure the performance of this new leadership against the vision that the new president told us: one of transparency, commitment to justice and democracy, and dedication to service.
We will pray for him. And we wish him well.
But we will demand from him. And we mean it.
A Solver Agcaoili, FAO, Jun 2010