I’m not sorry, Cory

Posted on December 24, 2008

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In 2001, I was one of the many young Filipinos who took to the streets to support the ouster of Joseph Ejercito Estrada as President of the Philippines. I was just about to turn 21 then, but as young as I had been at`the time my conviction was ripe, strong, and clear: the man had to go.

A petty thief has no place being out on the streets; what business, then, did a plunderous pig have being in the highest office of the land–supposedly representing the best of everything that is Filipino?

Granted, Estrada’s ouster was extra-constitutional; it is not the recommended course of action for such matters. If anything, it only underscored what a mockery we’ve made of elections, and how we have failed to maximize the power of the law and our courts, and properly use the systems that were supposedly designed to exact accountability from our public officials.

Granted, the person who succeeded Estrada turned out to be from a ring of even more sinister thieves and crooks as well, but that does not mean that we should be sorry for standing up for our convictions.

To me then, as it is to me now, my participation in EDSA Dos was a demonstration of what I was willing to do to restore a sense of right, a sense of justice, a sense of propriety back into my home, my country. Like the countless young faces who were there, I proudly held banners while walking out to EDSA (and on one particular day, in my long skirt with a thigh-high slit, high heels, and pearls), and I disobeyed my parents and my then-significant other by being there. Safety was not an issue for me (I even lost my phone then); standing by my principles was.

So, Madame Cory, DO NOT tell me and the other young Filipinos who were there that it was a mistake for us to have stood up for our ideals. DO NOT tell us that we were wrong in risking our safety and our lives by being out on the streets in protest of the grave injustices that were being done to our country. DO NOT tell us that we should sit amongst thieves with smiles on our faces, pretending that everyone’s sins will be miraculously washed away by your insincere and inappropriate apologies.

Or have you forgotten that you, too, were installed by a similar uprising–and that your government was seen by many to be ineffective and equally corrupt? Have you forgotten that you owe your presidency and, to a certain extent, your life to the countless men and women who risked their own lives to uphold democracy in the country–only to see your cronies squander whatever resources should have been given back to the people? Have you forgotten that, if it weren’t for people’s principles and ideals, you would not have been given a place in history? You were, for many, a symbol of peace and hope (although I never fully believed in the effectiveness of your decisions)–HOW COULD YOU SAY WHAT YOU DID??

You have made a mockery of those of us–not only at home but also in the international community–who still believe in the fight for freedom, justice, and integrity. You have spat on our faces, and you have done so with a sweet and charismatic smile, which makes it even more malicious. You have made an entire generation of Filipinos utterly confused about who and what to believe in, and you will be ultimately responsible for the death of positive activism in this country, for this generation and for more to come.

Shame on you.

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