Million People March from a Latecomer’s Experience
When I saw on Facebook the first call to the August 26 event, I felt down because I already had travel plans which would prevent me from going on that day. Somehow the night before, events turned around which allowed me to participate in a historic moment for our country, even though I was going to be late.
The event was at 9AM, but we got to the area almost 12NN. As parts of Roxas Blvd were closed, we asked the driver to park at Aristocrat and decided to walk to Quirino Grandstand from there. It was a very calming walk. The weather was perfect – no sun and was breezy.
Since we were already late, a lot of people were already heading back towards our direction. We were afraid that the whole thing already ended but luckily, I bumped into a group of my Xavier teachers who were on the way back, and Mrs. (Nebres) Ladrido said the whole gathering was ending at 2pm. We still had time so we pushed on.
As we walked against the general direction of the crowd, I kept looking at the faces of the people who were walking past us. Most of them smiling and seemingly contented in what they took part in earlier. The police were lined up on the side in case anything goes wrong. Interestingly, a lot of them stood outside the US embassy.
I was observing the groups that passed – my Xavier teachers, families that had 10 year old kids up to lolos and lolas and even their dogs with them, special interest groups with their banners to represent them and groups of friends who were chanting and laughing together. I saw cyclists, people in segways and some other contraption to help them get around. They were the same faces I’d expect to see in malls. To be honest I initially pictured the usual activists that I’ve grown so familiar with in UP, yet I saw all kinds of people, and it sent chills down my spine. This is something big, I thought.
When we got to Quirino Grandstand, I started hearing the people on the speakers leading the chants, songs and making statements. Every area had small groups gathered with their placards stating what their group was and the standard “Scrap Pork Barrel”, “No to Pork Barrel” etc signs. There were people gathered around eating, singing, chanting, playing music, distributing flyers, educating passers by, taking photos (selfies included) – everything under the sun.
Despite the huge crowd and the multiple activities happening all at once, the atmosphere was very peaceful. It felt very safe – safe because everyone had the same cause of despair and anger. We understood each other and we weren’t going to harm each other because we are all together in fighting the same enemy – the corrupt politicians who have been abusing and sustaining our flawed system.
Only those who take part in this system wont feel safe in that crowd. Case in point, ex-Chief Justice Corona who had the gal to attend the march against the very thing he was involved in – corruption. Serves him right to be booed out to shame. FYI ex-CJ Corona, this march was not against any specific person or regime. This march was against corruption which you were part of. Ang kapal ng mukha!
I don’t know what the specific outcome of the march was, but I hope it was enough to show the politicians that the Filipinos are sick and tired of their actions, and that if they don’t act fast enough, they’ll be booed not only out of Luneta, but out of the country as well.
Here were some pictures and quotes I heard from the people around the march:
Manong selling drinks along Roxas to another manong:
“Ang daming mayayamang nagsidatingan dito”
Ate in No Pork Barrel shirt to another ate:
“Sana nagmartsa na diretso sa Mendiola”
Old man running into an old friend in the entrance of Chowking laughing:
“Pare, nagkita na naman tayo. Parang EDSA lang. Wala pa ring nagbago”
Group of girls pointing to the 3 priests/brothers:
“Mga Lasallians daw sila. Papicture tayo dali!“
A young guy to another young guy:
“Uy, picture club!“
An ate to her group:
“Daming putik dito, pero bawal baboy”
PS – I am not calling for the complete abolishment of the PDAF. I believe in some of its merits. I went to the march to show my frustration against corruption and to call for politicians to reform an obviously very abused and flawed system. I believe there are those who went there with the same sentiments too. As I said above, it was a march against corruption.