RURAL VIEWS: Erap, Gloria and Yano. Ni Danilo A. Balucos

“Nganong nag-apil man ka dire (Why did you join here)?” Jovy asked.

“Kay gusto nako’g kabag-ohan (Because I want changes),” he answered.

That was in January of 2001 at the Centennial Park, fronting San Pedro Cathedral in Davao City.

My contract with an enterprise development project has just ended. A month earlier, I consumed all my leave credits to volunteer as a coordinator for the business community in the multi-sector “Erap Resign Movement.”

Instead of immediately taking on a new job, I continued volunteering for the struggle. I was confident that given the fast-growing support of the different sectors, Erap’s resignation or ouster was coming in a matter of weeks or days.

The drama which unfolded after the “sealing” of the second envelope in the impeachment trial – with Senators Loren Legarda and Franklin Drilon crying over the defeated motion to open the envelope, literally enraged the people. Even those who never imagined themselves to march on the streets came out instantly. As Loren’s and Drilon’s tears were captured on national television, the streets were flooded with people from all walks of life who were convinced of a cover-up of Erap’s plunder.

It is rare to see left-leaning cause-oriented groups and businesspersons in the same side of the fence. But in the call for Erap to step down, they united to fight against corruption. As expected though, most of those in the private sector opted to support the movement behind the scenes. They preferred to give logistics to the warm bodies of activists.

It is quite understandable. The State has all the ammunitions to make business and life difficult against those who would openly call for the President’s resignation or join mass actions to press for his or her ouster. The very few in the business community who openly joined the rallies must be very brave, in the absence of a stronger description!

The explosive expose on the US$329 million NBN-ZTE scandal has drawn strong support from various sectors. Even the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), which played a very crucial role in the first two People Power, has come out with a statement strongly condemning the continuing culture of corruption. But it stopped short of calling for the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

It was disappointing for those who expected and hoped for a more categorical statement, just the way the Catholic church did in the past.

But disappointment is nothing new. Many have been disappointed, because the past two peaceful revolutions have not improved their quality of lives. Yano, an alternative band in the ’90s, said it all in their hit song, “ Kumusta Na?”

The song tells about the sad plight of an ordinary man who joined the rally against the late Ferdinand Marcos. The man was such a jolly fellow, very passionate with his participation in the mass action. His pants were even torn when he jumped up and down, celebrating the fall of the dictator. But he did not care.

I can imagine that he must be jumping and dancing as if nobody was watching.

But years later, the song goes, the fellow was seen alone, pushing the same old cart along EDSA.

My love for our country and my concern for our children and our children’s children have not diminished. But I admit that the drive to translate this love and concern into concrete action is not as strong as before. I could be wrong, but I too, am already entertaining doubts whether doing the same thing for the third time would finally bring about the desired changes for our country. There must be much more to be done than removing a corrupt President.

The same feeling must be shared by those who actively participated either or both in EDSA I and II but who seemed apathetic by now. Maybe we’re growing old. Or we’re getting tired.

Or were the tears of Loren and Drilon more moving than the tears of NBN-ZTE star witness Jun Lozada?

While I am convinced of the issues raised, I have not participated in the recent protest march-rallies against President Gloria. I don’t know if the same lively concerts are being staged after the march-rallies. And I don’t know if the jolly good fellow is still there, joining the rallies and dancing at the concerts at the Centennial or Freedom Park.

After a day’s work and on my way home, the jeepney passed by near Centennial Park, where we once staged one of the biggest rallies against a corrupt President.

As the stereo of the jeepney played Rihanna’s “ela ela ela,” I remembered the jolly good fellow at the Centennial Park. I was wondering how he is now. Is he as happy as before?

Though played aloud, Rihanna’s song vanished as Yano’s simple music played in my mind.

“Kumusta na, ayos pa ba (How are you, are you all right) Ang buhay natin, kaya pa ba (How’s life, is it still bearable) Eh kung hinde, paano na (If not anymore, then what) Ewan mo ba, bahala na? (You may not know, come what may?)”

After Marcos, it was Erap. And now, it’s President Gloria.

History may repeat itself. Lessons will keep on repeating themselves until learned.

But the jolly good fellow may not be exactly happy as the brilliantly-written “Kumusta Na” of Yano is bound to become a classic.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Danilo Balucos, the first business manager of the Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center,  left to pursue law school, passed the 2006 bar exams and is now a partner in a law firm in Davao City.)