By: Carissa Palpal-latoc
Featured Photo by: Cristine Parungao
MANILA- From a distance, you can hear the laughter of children playing around the fields of Luneta park, while their families are gathered around on a picnic mat in an area of their own. Nearby, is a crowd gathered in prayer as they participate in the Holy Mass. The joyous scene of children playing and adults praying is not a tell-tale sign that something big is about to happen, but the signs of protests everywhere says otherwise.
What is known to be Rizal’s death place became the ground for a new movement of the Anti-Pork protestors as they mark the 1st anniversary of the Million People March.
The atmosphere in Luneta is festive. Different from what most people would imagine when they think of “rallies” or gatherings, the atmosphere is light. There were booths and stalls where you can buy food or engage in activities. All around, you can see smiles and cheers from people who joined the campaign.
The different sectors and groups who joined the People’s initiative have gimiks that go from something as simple as giving away “pork-free” breakfast composed of pandesal and coffee, to something as extravagant as a float with a gold-colored pig on top.
Meanwhile, a man wearing a mask of a pig with a crown which appears to have the features of the president, holds out a hand-made gun with the caption: “holDAP ito”. He catches the attention of many, as he parades around the field with his companion who’s also holding a protest sign.
The pair, members from BAYANMUNA, calls for the abolishment of Pork Barrel and the resignation of the president.
“Usapin na kasi dito yung buwis e, na involved yung mga mamamayan. Mapa-karaniwang tao at may kaya at talagang may kapangyarihan, na hindi naman nya kapareho na medyo mga negosyante at iba pang larangan ng mga empleyado at negosyante eh kabahagi na rin ng biktima ng DAP. Kaya nga inaano namin e “holDAP”. Gulat ka nalang na nahoholdap ka na pala.” Jerry Matagsico, 32, A volunteer for BAYANMUNA said.
All-smiles were also seen from a group of bikers from the Buting Bikers Club as they go for a photo op. At a first glance, they seem to be a bunch of old guys biking for leisure, but the cheerful bikers were there for a different agenda: To join the campaign.
Mr. Raul Samson, one of the members of the Buting Bikers, a senior citizen who had been burdened with the duty of tax-paying for years, is not satisfied with where his money’s going.
“Dapat talaga alisin na yan. Para mabawas bawasan ang mga politikong mga corrupt. Sayang yung mga tax natin e. Binubulsa lang nila e. Malaki na rin naicontribute namin sa tax. Senior na kami e.”
It was not just people who came to join the fight. Dogs brought by their owners were also seen wearing campaign signs around their collars and stealing the show.
Kamikazee also joined the abolishment of the Pork Barrel by jamming with the crowd.
The atmosphere and the mood at Luneta may be fun but the agenda of the campaign remains as members of the clergy, different sectors and the minorities simultaneously held talks to let their voices be heard.
The campaign also pointed out the issue on PNoy’s term extension and Charter Change or Cha-Cha.
At the edge of the field, Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), a group of protestors who supports the rights of the indigenous Filipinos, were seen wearing and selling black shirts with the print: “NO to Cha-Cha, NO to Dictatorship”.
Hailing from NCR, Rey Paulin, a member of KAMP, relates why the indigenous people joined the protest.
“Tulad lang rin ng karamihang mamamayang Pilipino na nakakaranas ng kahirapan, tapos mararamdaman mo or maririnig mo na may mga pera pala particular sa health, which is binawasan nila yung mga pondo ng health, at ipinasok sa PDAF which is dapat naman kasi para sa mga mamamayan na binubulsa, tapos malalaman ng mga katutubo na meron naman palang mga budget. Bakit hindi nakakrating yang mga serbisyo sa kanila tulad ng health? Tapos yong education na talaga namang tinapyasan din na kinuha para sa DAP. Kung masama ang loob ng mga nandito sa mga syudad, na nakakaramdam, mas lalo yung mga katutubo kasi meron palang mga pondo. Bakit hindi kami nakakaaccess?” said Paulin.
When asked about the signs on their shirts, Paulin commented on a recent statement by the presidential staff.
“Yan yung isang tingin nung una diba binanggit nila parang joke lang yan pero kung titignan mo ay mukhang may kaseryosohan sya. Kaya tignan mo itong aming suot ‘no to chacha’. Kasi pagmamalabis na yan sa kapangyarihan nya na parang naging ganid na masyado na gusto pa nya ipagpatuloy”.
The campaign which started as early as 6am finally dispersed at around 1pm. It garnered an estimated crowd of 5,000 coming from different groups from the public and private sectors, the clergy, and the minorities.