Memo to Lacierda: Diverse does not mean divided


EDSA Tayo poster, from EDSA Tayo events page

EDSA Tayo poster, from EDSA Tayo events page

What is it about the “EDSA Tayo” Sept. 11 event that has certain people in Malacanang so hot and bothered?

Actually, what is it about the “EDSA Tayo” Sept. 11 event that anti-PNOY groups and pro-GMA groups are also out in force attacking the organizers?

To discuss that, we need to go back to the Million People March, the mammoth event sparked by a single individual’s post. Musician Ito Rapadas’ musings on Facebook, picked up by friends, transformed into a call that, in turn, touched a chord in the psyches of so many Filipinos.

The MPM had a face, one of the initiators, Peachy Bretana. It did not have A Leader.

Instead, Peachy and friends, in the course of conversations on the MPM Facebook events page, reached out to individuals who could help them. They were, after all, not used to mobilizing, much less mobilizing  hundreds of thousands of people. They cared about those who responded to their call. But they knew what they wanted — a horizontal mass of people respectful of each other’s limits and united on a few main issues.

Most of the individuals who responded to the MPM call knew a thing or two about organizing. They also came from different shades of the political spectrum, from yellow and green and pink and red.

It was a rare opportunity to see in planning meetings some groups have spent so much energy sniping at each other.

Those who helped saw that many characters, real or “trolls”,  were flooding the MPM page with provocative remarks about people who should stay away — the organized. And other characters were falling for the provocations and busy sniping at the MPM initiators.

TRUST THE CROWD

Million People March poster

Million People March poster

But you gotta trust the crowd. In a few days, it had gelled.  A motley group of individuals and groups negotiated the numerous faultlines of an event meant to be inclusive, at a very fragile time when all sides were just getting to know each other.

People decided to focus on urgent tasks. Since they were involved in MPM, they knew better than respond to the provocations. Word was discreetly sent out to followers and friends — do not allow them to shift the discourse.

It wasn’t a love fest. But it was the start of people trying to see where the other sides were coming from.

Everyone has praised the conduct of the Luneta rally. That was as much a testament to the discipline of the organized forces as the openness and courage of the unaffiliated.

And that, I suppose, scares some people. Especially given that anger against pork isn’t going away. Especially since a growing number of people are realizing the problem isn’t just confined to Congress. Especially since people are saying… drop the colors, drop the partisan warfare; the Bosses want everyone accountable.

Strangers

Which brings us to EDSA Tayo. The first thing to understand about Junep Ocampo and his friends is, that they are as clueless about mobilizing as Peachy and her friends were. They are also staunchly against Pork — in all its forms. As Peachy and her friends are.

BUT they are not from one group — in fact both sides do not belong to any organized group. They also do not know each other. They are just ships sailing the same rough seas.

So it’s funny to say people are divided. They haven’t even gotten together. Junep was one of the many who volunteered for the MPM — this has been  confirmed by coordinators;  in the rush of tasks, people forgot to follow up on his offer. (His family brought cupcakes; verrrry scary man, huh?)

The second thing to understand about Junep is, that yeah, that cluelessness meant that some of the first moves were not well thought out. Including the date, which launched a million conspiracy theories. That’s given them enough grief.

Now, is the word “EDSA” wrong?

Only if you don’t do your research. Only if you can’t move on. Junep never called for a revolution, never called for anyone’s ouster. He called — and still calls — for a sustained campaign.

What is misunderstood is the word “sustained.” Instead of a camp out, or a massing on the streets, this is what Junep’s group has planned:

People to show their commitment “by going to EDSA on a weekday, to go to EDSA at noontime, to jumpstart a prayer vigil campaign.”

“EDSA Tayo is not OCCUPY EDSA. It is only the start of a prayer vigil campaign that will continue in churches, schools, offices, and even homes. It will start in EDSA Shrine, will go on there for 1 week and will transfer to other places. It’s like Black Rosary. The only difference is we’re not praying the rosary. We’re praying the Scrap Pork prayer.”

In other words, you don’t have to go and pray on Sept. 11 if you can’t leave work. Pray the next day. Or the day after. That vigil candle will  be there for a week. While the EDSA Shrine is a Catholic institution, leaders of other faiths have given signs of support. They may not actually step into the Church but speakers are available to allow people outside to hear discussions — of the educational sort — on Pork and possible alternatives.

Grassroots

That is also the mode EDSA Tayo will continue when it goes into the parishes and barangays: Prayer and Education.

That, of course, is the perfect recipe (if you believe in prayer) for future mobilization. It is a peaceful, serious, systematic way of getting ordinary people to understand pork. It lets communities, schools and organizations own their own activity — invite your speakers, sing your own songs. And yet it rolls out a thread of unity that will stretch out, and out and out.

After August 26

After August 26

Some coordinators of the MPM are not going. Some have work. Some want a stronger push. Some can’t stomach the date.

Many others are going after grilling Junep and his friends for days. They have offered the same services they offered the MPM initiators. Everyone respects each other’s point of view.

There is diversity in modes of expression. Well, thank god for that. This can only mean the #scrappork campaign will have longer legs because people can pick up the baton, so to speak, and pass it to someone else when a little rest is needed.

Diverse, not divided. You gotta relearn leaderhsip, Edwin. The times are-a-changing.

(PS:  Secretary Lacierda,  you do Butch Abad and Dinky Soliman a big disservice by twisting a story. They had both agreed publicly to keep out the MPM of any statement about that meeting — or any consensus arrived at. It was stressed THRICE during that meeting. The petition of MPM was also explained. You may want to visit this page. Or, this :)

*full disclosure: I was a volunteer for the MillionPeopleMarch. I am a volunteer for all sorts of peaceful initiatives.

4 thoughts on “Memo to Lacierda: Diverse does not mean divided

  1. Very well explained, thank you. Some Filipinos out of the country (like myself) do not understand and therefore fear the series of scheduled rallies. Let’s keep it sane, peaceful and focused on issues, not just personalities.

  2. Thanks Inday, this is clear. I must now be counted among those who kept away from EDSA Tayo out of fear brought on by ignorance.

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