Last Sunday, after 12 days away from home and country, I could relate to the feelings of OFWs who usually clap their hands when their plane hits the runway.
I even saved on the 740 pesos charged by the airport taxi service, since Viking Logarta whom I met in Phnom Penh was on the same flight back, and kindly offered me a ride. We agreed to meet up again soon, since we discovered that we share a keen interest in energy and electricity.
Girlie agreed to take care of giving out the protest scarves sent by the Pinoys/Pinays in Phnom Penh. My daughter Ayen asked me to edit her proposal on being “stressed out” for her Psychology class in UP. I promised to wake up early Monday morning to take a look at her draft.
Another reason for waking up early was a breakfast meeting with friends who are into agrarian reform and rural development. Vangie of UNORKA updated us on the farmers’ campaign on the Hacienda Yulo. She shared an interesting discovery: “Did you know that the family of Marine General Ato Miranda were hacienda workers of the Yulos?” Bel Formanes of PARRDS briefed us on the latest developments with the National Rural Congress. Both were quite happy that many bishops have been supporting the farmers’ struggle for land rights.
But there was also sobering news. At the meeting of bishops and legislators, the chair of the House Committee on Agrarian Reform frankly told the bishops that majority of his committee members were opposed to the extension of CARP. There is no chance for its extension under the regular legislative process and calendar.
The bill extending CARP could still become law if President GMA certifies it as urgent and employs her persuasive powers. But that is highly unlikely. The extension that concerns her is her own stay in office up to 2010 (and beyond).
Everyone at the breakfast meeting had been at the February 29 inter-faith rally, and they agreed that the momentum of protest is building up. They considered the highly visible participation of students and middle class employees as significant. Those of us from the activist tradition have been schooled to look out for how the “middle” swings, as a sign that protest has gone beyond the organized opposition.
But after the upbeat updates, our discussion focused on a shared concern. In the midst of the current political flow, how do make sure that social issues, the the issues of the poor, especially the farmers and the urban poor are not neglected? The dominant focus of the anti-GMA movement seems too narrowly political, reflecting the sentiments of the disgruntled middle class and elite, together with the organized opposition.
Of course the poor support the current call for good governance, against corruption. They also wish for and would welcome a change of government leaders. But they also ask if such political changes will bring about a change for the better in their lives.
More honest leaders and more transparent governance will presumably insure that public funds (including borrowed funds) are not diverted to private pockets through corruption. But will they be spent for public services and other social programs?
In a democracy, there will be competing claims for limited funds, and even for the attention of political leaders. Hence the need for various sectoral organizations, especially of those who have weaker voices and power compared to their numbers.
“It’s good that there are assemblies and masses in different universities and campuses,” one of us observed. “But we should also ask church leaders and Jun Lozada to speak at assemblies and masses in the communities of the urban poor.”
After my morning meeting, Girlie and I traveled to Quezon, to the Monte Vista beach resort of my cousin in Sariaya. He has offered the place for my mother while recovering from her debridement. This morning, I held my mother’s legs while Dr. Oabel cleaned the infected parts of her foot. He said the infection has not spread any further, and that is a bit of relief for all of us. But there is as yet little sign of her healthy tissues recovering, except on the upper part of the foot.
I think we all had hoped for faster and clearer signs of recovery, even though the doctor kept cautioning us to factor in my mother’s diabetes and her age (she turned 88 last February 7).
We have to temper our hope by a sense that my mother’s recovery will take time. We have to insure that she eats regularly and takes her medication so that her system will fight the infection and let her healthy tissues grow.
I don’t want to force the comparison, but our expectations for political change may need a similar sense of tempered hope.Explore posts in the same categories: Agrarian reform, Family and Friends, Theology of struggle