Monday, May 10, 2010

On the 113th Anniversary of Bonifacio's Tragedy: Rise of the Masses or More of Elite Rule?

ONE hundred thirteen years ago today, a great tragedy befell the Pearl of the Orient Seas. In a mountain of Maragondon, Cavite province, Andres Bonifacio, the founder and Supremo of the Philippine revolutionary movement was executed following a Kangaroo Court military trial by the camp of Emilio Aguinaldo, the man who deposed him by way of an anomalous "national elections." This virtual murder of a man who wielded the revolutionary fire of courage and the great vision of an archipelagic nation free and liberated from the yoke of colonial rule was so tragic it initially "smothered the enthusiasm for the revolutionary cause" of many non-Caviteno revolutionaries such that Aguinaldo's "so-called government had to withdraw to the mountains of Biak-na-Bato in Bulacan."

The Supremo's death represented the tragedy of the Philippine Revolution having been wrestled away from its mass base towards a direction marked by capitulation to foreign rule and dominated by elite interest. Today, May 10, 2010, the country faced an electoral exercise that, from many indicators, pits the masses and the elites. On the occasion of Bonifacio's unjust death, will the presidential race apparently dominated by former President Joseph Estrada and Noynoy Aquino be won by the yellow camp and continue what has been the general tradition of elite rule? Or will the occasion of the Supremo's death finally mark the sweet victory for the Filipino masses when the "Father of the Masses," Joseph Estrada is elected anew nine years after being deposed by a conspiracy of the elite class?

Masses vs. Elites 

The turn of developments in the 2010 presidential campaign have virtually crystallized the race into a strongly class-based fight. Of the top two contenders, Erap Estrada strongly draws from those from the D-E crowd while Noynoy Aquino appeals strongest to the A-B people. Gilbert Teodoro and Manny Villar  are considered to be in the top 4, and shares voting base with Aquino and Estrada, respectively. However, the recent slide of Villar to No. 3 based on mainstream surveys and Teodoro's low and/or erratic standing in pre-electoral survey voting preferences have rendered the presidential derby considerably a two-way fight between Aquino and Estrada.

Aquino Elite's Choice

Aquino is unabashedly the elite's candidate. Anyone who frequents the streets know the yellow display of support in majority of vehicles of the rich--expensive cars and SUVs. No less than 10 brand products support Aquino's candidacy with yellow ribbons stamped on the products or packaging or by selling yellow "commemorative" products--Bench, ODM, Boardwalk, Philip Stein, National Book Store, Mag Net, My Phone, Mongol-Star Paper Corporation, Goldilocks.

More important than these companies are Ayala Corporation, Gateway Mall/Araneta Center ABS-CBN, and Philippine Daily Inquirer which are all-out for the yellow candidate. Most artists of ABS-CBN, and even of GMA-7, also endorse Noynoy. Aside from Kris Aquino's presence, many well-known actors, actresses and singers grace the Liberal Party's sorties and rallies.

That Aquino is the rich Filipino's choice is also seen in his many political advertisements. In fact, there were even reports that the LP standard-bearer exceeded his personal Comelec time in broadcast ads. During the last few days of the campaign, I was witness to how Noynoy's camp peppered the airwaves, with 7 or more LP ads showing in just one commercial break. This went on during a primetime program repeatedly, enough to make me flare up and turn off the television.

Erap's the Poor's Choice

In contrast, very few celebrities endorse Estrada. Comedienne Marissa Sanchez and a less known Inday Garutay are  virtually the only known regular in Estrada's campaign rallies. In the miting de avances of Erap's Partido ng Masang Pilipino, only another comedienne Bayani Agabayani and a few others added to the list. No question about it, Estrada's camp was devoid of superstar endorsement.

In one of the campaign sorties I attended, what I saw with my very own eyes was masa power at work--even in terms of entertainment. While waiting for the senatorial candidates and Estrada and Binay, entertainment came by way of cheap make-do singing, dance, and jokes. It actually struck me as ironic how an actor-politician belittled for his being a "mere actor" has very nil showbiz support.

In the sticker wars, as Noynoy has expensive vehicles, Erap has passenger jeepneys, tricycles, and ‘padyaks’ (pedicabs). The poor character of Estrada's campaign, of course, betrays the lack of support from the business community. Erap was apparently never once reported to have exceeded Comelec air time limits for political ads. Even during the final run to the campaign, his camp still released few political ads.


That Noynoy has abundant political ads, of course, reflects business support for his campaign. If he wins, then that only means that the Filipino people got swayed by the business-backed campaign of the politician who took part and remain proud of his role in the elitist, EDSA II of January 2001.

Since the forces of EDSA II deposed Estrada and even acted to squash what should have the corrective Masa-powered EDSA III of May 2001, then a Noynoy win means that the people have embraced elite rule. On the other hand, an Erap victory clearly shows that the Filipino clearly reject elite rule and assert populist leadership by way of reelecting a man overwhelmingly voted by the masa and deposed (and incarcerated) by an elite conspiracy.

Will the 113th anniversary of the tragic death of Gat Andres Bonifacio reflect the tragedy of the masa decapitation during the Philippine Revolution, or will it spell the rising of the Great Plebeian's mass-based libertarian, nationalist and mass-based aspirations? Will the 15th President be the "Father of the Masses," Joseph Erap Estrada, or the 'hacendero son of the hero Ninoy Aquino and saintly Cory Aquino'? We will soon find out.

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