Faith is tested by longevity; hope, by surviving impossible odds.
On the night presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo drew a crowd of 86,000 at Bacolod’s Paglaum Stadium, my heart skipped a beat. I was so stunned by the show of solidarity that I couldn’t slap the smile off my face. I marked the occasion by ambling to our veranda, bourbon in hand.
Warm on my heels was my wife who, approaching me, said, “What’s up, baby?” I blinked, if only to make sure that my pink slip wasn’t showing. “Have you seen the rally in Bacolod?” I asked her. “And what about the 10,000-plus in Isabela? That’s Marcos Country. Amazing, isn’t it?”
She nodded nonchalantly, this time looking unhappy. “Why the long face?” I jibed.
After 15 years together, I’ve learned that any air of sadness ‘round my wife is not something to be trifled with. I sat her down and lit a cig. “You’ve seen the one in Cavite, 47,000-strong. I’m beginning to think the pink ripples are swiftly turning into pink waves. Aren’t you, at least, optimistic?”
She nodded reluctantly. I pulled her nearer, obvious that my talent for easing melancholy falls desperately shy of expected. “I’ve seen this happen before, the Ayala confetti rallies during the Marcos years. This time it’s pink.”
She gripped my left hand tight. “I’m afraid to hope,” she sighed, her head flaccid in mid-air. “You, of all people, know what the powers-that-be can do. I’m scared for you, for us,” she said in her usual beautiful but sad Tagalog.
I sighed. I know we would all do well to be vigilant. On May 9, we will be confronted by a partisan machinery and political currency at government’s beck and call. Years of suspected election fraud, widespread bribery, and “sudden” shifts in political sentiment (for whatever reason people may have, including scare tactics and technical “glitches”) were sufficient for anyone to feel threatened.
Not only do we live in perilous times, we are likewise caught in a maelstrom which plagues even our hopes. A hope which, many feel, might leave us dampened yet again — thwarted and, in the end, ruined. The theft of our confidence is real.
My wife going through the same ambivalence my generation had to go through during the Martial Law years is a bit hard to swallow. It’s the same fear and level of pessimism where my generation’s choices ended up being foiled, crossed out, deleted. Worse, there was nothing we could do about it.
Until that day in EDSA – 14 long, draining years after Martial Law began ripping our hopes to shreds and beating the courage out of us. How and why Filipinos waited that long remains a mystery to me.
During the 1986 snap elections, dictator Ferdinand Marcos, in a last-ditch effort to hold on to power, declared himself the victor. That same day, Corazon Aquino called for civil disobedience. The dictator hurled a counter threat — to reinstate Martial Law — and called for his own mass demonstration for which P12 million were reportedly earmarked. This was five days before People Power.
The good Lord forbid, but should Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. “win” in the 2022 elections despite the Pink Wave, are Filipinos ready and willing to defend their choice? Or is the solidarity we are seeing a little more than Instagrammable moments?
Forgive my cynicism, but I am well within my rights to ask the question now than when it’s too late.
We are faced with a state-powered apparatus responsible for the murder of an estimated 30,000 victims of extrajudicial killings, trillions of pesos in loans, a Marcos family protected despite the tens of billions of stolen loot, and an election process which for many years, to this very day, suffer rumors of manipulation and fraud.
All we have is us — Filipinos — who bear in our persons the right to determine who should serve our interest, and where we ought to go from here.
Marcos Jr. will never be an option. To be fooled once is understandable; to be fooled twice is anything but.
Faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, what then are our choices? No sooner than Robredo clinched a crowd of 86,000 in Bacolod and 47,000 in Cavite, the Social Weather Station released on March 11, 2022 a 4Q 2021 survey – let me repeat that: a fourth quarter 2021 survey – saying the vice president’s net satisfaction rating has plunged to its lowest level yet.
Problem is, that survey, conducted December 12 to 16, 2021 with 1,440 respondents, had already been released early this year and saw print in the Manila Bulletin on Feb. 7, 2022, titled “Duterte maintains very good net satisfaction ratings.”
To be fair, the SWS admitted as much: “The initial findings were first presented at the annual SWS Survey Review on Feb. 7, 2022, but the full survey results were released on Friday, March 11, 2022.”
Honest question: why release a “half-baked” survey and allow it to be published early February when the full results of the same survey arrived only last week? Netizens are now wondering, what the heck was that all about?
Turning the wave into a storm
I tucked my wife in bed and kissed her goodnight. “Don’t be afraid, sweetheart,” I whispered in her ear, “things will turn out alright.” Words of comfort I know I will have to fight for.
We’ve all witnessed a string of campaign rallies swiftly turn into a mass movement, each one exceeding the other by the tens of thousands. We saw our brothers and sisters in Ilokandia destroy the myth of the “Solid North.”
It is, however, crucial that we garner millions — not just tens of thousands — if the people were to win their day in history. Filling a stadium to maximum capacity without Photoshop is great indeed, but supporters need to spill over backstreets, roads, bridges, rows of houses, parks, business centers, every damn well available space until there’s no air for them to scream “Marcos.”
I closed my eyes and recalled the words that have always kept me in a fighting mood regardless of the odds: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
It’s time to turn this wave into a Category 5 storm. – Rappler.com
Joel Pablo Salud is the author of several books of political nonfiction. He currently saddles his pen as the senior desk editor of Rappler.