Not my Revolution

I was raised in rallies. Among many other things, my father was once a staunch activist; especially so during my formative years. Unlike the other kids who stayed at home and watched the protests of the late 90s on their TVs, I was out there. My parents took me out on the streets, or at a run-down basketball court, or a community clubhouse, with hundreds of other people. I was yelling chants with words that I understood only half of, waving protest banners that I could barely wrap my arms around; all while my dad was at a distant podium giving a speech that I’ve heard him give to my mom the night before as practice. The feeling was absolutely electric. They told me later that it was called it EDSA II. I was told it was not the first one, but hopefully it would be the last.

Then, as I grew older, I was regaled with the tales of the roaring rallies of the 80s, of how mom and dad were a part of the revolution that toppled a bloody dictatorship through a peaceful and bloodless movement. They said that the people took it upon themselves to throw off the yoke of injustice and violence in pursuit of genuine democracy. They called that one EDSA I. I was told it was the first one in modern history, but it was definitely not the last.

Then when I was at school, I was taught of another revolution, one that sparked the birth of a nation, one where there was much bloodshed and much sacrifice. A war against three centuries of tyranny and oppression, a revolution that spawned mythical heroes of war and enlightenment. They say it planted the seed of revolt in the hearts of many Filipinos. A constant reminder to succeeding generations that revolution is not just a possibility, but a birthright. They called it the Philippine Revolutionary War. It was our first revolution; aimed to build a nation that would last.

Then I went to UP – the one university notorious for being the proud cradle of rebellion. Much can be said about this place. I’ve seen it fuel movements that turn young minds into legitimate change-makers. Yet I’ve also seen it chew up brimming idealists and spit them out as drop-outs at best, and convicts at worst. I’ve seen many faces of the revolution growing up, both good and bad. This place has a never-ending supply of everything in between. Nevertheless, this university is as vital to the country’s QS rankings as it is to every Philippine revolutionary movement; and it will be until the last.

Then I started working; and my colleagues started to tell me about this new revolution that was brewing. They rattled on and on about how this messianic strongman has set out in a campaign to fight criminality with Draconian force. They parroted his rhetoric on fighting corruption, crime, and drug abuse using whatever fatal means necessary. They called it a Revolution for Change. I saw in their eyes the same spark of revolutionary fire that I grew up with. But this was the first time that I held none in mine.

I have taken much time to digest and accept this fact. It was not my revolution. I was not windswept by the cries for change, not feverishly rattling the gates of the ruling establishment. It was not my revolution. My legs did not yearn to march and stomp, my fist was not raised in protest, I held neither rage or romance in my eyes. It was not my revolution. I was opposed to it, diametrically so. I have had a long love-affair with revolutions; seen its many faces. This one was not mine. But maybe the next one will be.

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