BANGKOK — Anti-government protesters make up a sea of yellow and the other side, red. Look familiar? To Filipinos, yes: Yellow, after all, is the Pinoy color of protest, bringing back the angry-turned-euphoric days of the civilian-led revolt against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in February 1986. Red, meanwhile, was favored by the Marcos loyalists.
The political divisions in the Thai political drama are quite different from 1986 Philippines, not least because the anti-government groups actually want to go back to a time of fewer elective positions in government and argue that democracy has not worked in this country. But several other scenes unfolding here trigger memory buttons for Filipinos, who consider themselves veterans in the culture of protest.
MAGUINDANAO — The sound of sirens precedes the passing of a long convoy of 4×4 sport utility vehicles. As if on cue, jeepneys and private vehicles begin moving to the right side of the street, where they all then ground to halt.
“Kailangan tumabi ka, kasi babanggain ka nila. Palalabasin nilang kaaway ka (You have to get out of their way, otherwise they’ll hit your car. And then they’ll make it appear you’re one of their enemies),” explains an old man watching the scene by the roadside.
Interviews compiled by Tita C. Valderama
THE DEATH of Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr. 25 years ago jolted not just the Philippines but the rest of the world as well. But does the present generation of Filipinos, especially those born after 1983, understand why?
Do they know Ninoy beyond being the father of his celebrity daughter Kris, or the man on the 500-peso bill?
Ninoy’s only son and namesake, Sen. Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III, recalls his father as a friend and “barkada… the leader of the pack.” Ninoy was generous toward his children but could be stern when he needed to, Noynoy says.
WE DIDN’T even hear the shots. Someone had to tell us about the gunshots outside, and then I saw Doña Aurora Aquino stand up and start praying. Roberto Coloma of Agence France Presse, meanwhile, quickly grabbed the nearest phone and began breaking the news to the world.
A few minutes later, foreign TV correspondent Ken Kashiwahara managed to slip into the airport VIP lounge, which was by then packed with people. As he slumped into a couch, he cried, ”Ninoy was shot! Ninoy was shot!”
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-Arroyo will go down in Philippine history as the president with an inglorious track record, at least, on two counts.
First, her popularity rating has hit the pits of negative 38 percent, the worst scored by a president since the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
In this issue:
NELSON MARTINEZ has only one child, but he says getting by each day has become even tougher because oil price hikes have diminished his earnings.
The 46-year-old who drives his own jeepney for a living complains, “It’s the little people who have been hit, and it’s hitting us hardest in the pocket.”
IF THIS country were a family, it is unhealthy, lacking in education and employment opportunities, is deep in debt and spends its limited budget on the wrong things.
This is despite the fact that the head of this household called the Philippines is someone whose expertise is economics.
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