Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Demolition Team Becomes Personal

It has been more than a week since that open letter was written. I am told it is still going around and around and around. I have received hundreds of "thank you emails" from people who took the trouble to trace the return path of that email so that they can get in touch with me to personally expresss their agreement and gratitude "that someone finally articulated what they have been feeling for sometime now."

The consensus I am getting from those who have written, texted, or even talked to me in person is this: "When I read that letter, I kept saying - this is exactly how I feel!" And so they forwarded it to the world. I would like to think that that letter is going around because people could relate to it and that it captures exactly what is in their hearts.

Some friends have warned me that there will be a backlash - that there will be some people who will put me to task for writing that letter. I knew the demolition teams were on their way. I have received four emails, two of which were written in a polite way (and I thanked them too). Some pontificated on online discussion groups, others in newspapers. I knew it was going to be savage. I just didn't expect these people to hit sooooo low. Savagery I can take. But low blows I will respond to.

I know I have said this before, and I loathe having to repeat it. But for the record, I just want to repeat what I have already said many times in this blog and in the rejoinders that I have written: I will not nitpick with those who disagree with my letter. I choose not to indulge in point by point, sentence by sentence, phrase by phrase, word by word analysis and counter analysis. I know this will sound condescending, but I will say it just the same because it is the truth: I have better things to do. Unlike some people, I have a life.

If you disagree with me, by all means disagree. But you can not tell me to shut up. You can not tell me that I have no right to speak up about these things. You can not tell me that just because you think you are right, I am automatically wrong. And you can not make analysis about me and my person, you have no right to patronize me.

One person did a demolition job of my letter, using logical and legal terms. In other words, he was showing off. He made a big case out of the need to protect rights and democracy from all kinds of threats specially from those in power. I actually found it funny that given his supposed legal brilliant mind, he did not realize that he was doing a legal analysis of a non-legal document to begin with. In the end he wrote something like this "I beg you, unless you are sure that there is legal basis for your statements, please do not write open letters." He ended by shooting himself on the foot. This is the problem with those who are so convinced of their brilliance, they can't see through their imagined radiance.

Someone said it was a matter of perspective, which I agree with wholeheartedly. I believe that it is truly a matter of perspective, and our perspectives were/are simply not the same. I wish he ended there. But no, he had this great need to pontificate. He then moved on to dispute why my perspective was wrong. Sigh. He even said my assumptions were wrong. Well, so much for recognizing differences in perspectives.

Another one made a lecture on morality, giving me this whole yarn about why forgiveness can only come with retribution. He ignored that part in my open letter that asked why he is with the Erap faction or with the communists. This is the problem with those who are so convinced of their righteousness - they can not see beyond their sanctimoniousness.

ONE MORE TIME: I never claimed to be legally correct in that letter. I never claimed to be intellectually, morally, ideologically right. I claimed to be angry, sick and tired. I said I want to move on. You can out-argue me, out-debate me, out-fact me, bombard me with propaganda materials and slogans. I will stand by my letter. Of course, it is possible that I am wrong and I am willing to consider that possibility. I wish that others are also open to that same possibility, but no, they are so convinced of their righteousness I am beginning to think at one point in the last week, God came down to earth and given them a particular license to judge.

There were some who told me (it is all directed at me, by the way, not to the people who forwarded that letter and said they share the opinions) that I should not forget the past, that the horrors of history will come and haunt me. They then drop names like Marcos (oh, isn't that Imee Marcos you are linking arms with?), words like fascism (oops, isn't that a leftist you are barricading for?) emergency proclamations (wait, how many did Cory issue during her presidency?). They then remind me that corrupt people must be punished (teka lang, isn't that an Erap crony you are shaking hands with? Whatever happened to Kamaganak, Inc? Hmm...the Clark Expo and Amari scandals?). So much for not remembering the past.

And the one thing that really turns me off and lose respect for people is this: when someone becomes personal and begins spewing vitriol that he thinks is clever, but is actually just plain patronizing.

One famous singer (who calls himself a nationalist despite the fact that he is acquiring another citizenship) debunked my letter in a newspaper by making inferences about what kind of a person I am. Actually this is similar to what a famous sociologist did on TV. The drift of their thesis was this: I probably sit in an airconditioned office, must be middle class, etc., etc... For the record, I am the son of a farmer and a public school teacher. I am proudly promdi who comes from one of the poorest provinces in the country. I paid my way through college with scholarships. But then again, what does it matter if I am middle or lower class, if I live in Forbes Park or in Pritil Tondo or in BF Homes, if I eat caviar or tuyo. What the heck has that got to do with that letter?

Some people drop names and resort to name calling. I find this utterly cheap. Someone called me a GMA pet, a GMA apologist, a burgis (how seventies), a traitor, etc. All simply because I exercised my right, which they say they are fighting for. They want to fight for my rights, they just do not want me to disagree with them, otherwise, they call me names.

One person I totally ignored even if he posted his comments in the email group of a professional organization that I am part of began his response to my letter by actually asking: "how old are you Mr. Austero?" He said he was asking because I was obviously not familiar with the horrors of Martial Law.

For the record, I am 42 years old this week. I was picked up by the military twice when I was in College. I spoke at countless anti-Marcos rallies. I went underground for one year in Mindanao. There. But so what if I am 42, or if I am 20 or 75 or 150? So what? Does that fortify my arguments, give me more rights, does that give me more license to pontificate? What has that got to do with my letter? What has that got to do with citizenship?

I truly find it tasteless that some people reduce the whole discussion and exchange of views to nothing but a childish painggitan. I wouldn't be surprised if they ask me next "kayo may Expedition kayo? Beh, kami may 3."

41 comments:

jef said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jef said...

Woohooh! Sikat na si Bong. They do these demolition jobs because you have uttered something that the majority can relate to and not to mention blatantly original.

To stoop to their level and counter react their absurdity will not do you any good. They are simply a bunch of pseudo-intellectuals who in bad need of reflected glory.

Savor your triumph...naiingit lang sila kasi they don't command such wave of approval and acceptance like what you've done in that open letter.

Marami kang kasangga Bong Austero.

Joey said...

keep up the good fight! i am totally enjoying your posts. you're the best blogger in philippines evah!

jec said...

Bong,
Yung mga tumitira sa 'yo eh yung mga nasa kabila yun, syempre yung mga loyalist ng mga tinamaan ng mga sinulat mo, yung mga bulag sa katotohanan.

kaya keep it up man, marami kami sa likod mo.

Anonymous said...

As they say in showbiz,even bad publicity is good publicity.The more they talk about the letter the more people will come to know about it, and get affected by it, the way it has affected us. So keep on writing Bong! Through your words the silent majority speaks! More power to you.

carol said...

Keep it up, bong. Dont be cowed by opposition! You are articulating what the silent majority feels.

Eddie B. said...

Thank you for writing that letter. Thank you for speaking for me.

I hope your letter sparks a revolution in our country - a revolution to stop destructive politics and turn our attention to moving this country forward.

It's now time for the Marginalized Majority to seize the initiative, and let these destabilizers hear loud and clear that we won't stand for their unproductive antics.

Mabuhay!

Anonymous said...

keep the faith dude. its a honest view of the current situation..the people who attack you are as usual only concerned about themselves and making news that sells..

Rey Boy Montoro said...

Bong,

I am truly "relieved" to know that someone (and more!) have felt the same sentiments that I do, my wife, my father and mother and my siblings and even most of our neighbors here. Being from the Visayas, with no other way to express my thoughts except through the internet, you have expressed genuinely what I have been feeling towards all hypocrites there in Manila for the past fours years (even before the GMA/Garci Brouhaha). Kulang na lang sabihin mo na kaya lang kumontra si Cory kay GMA ay dahil di siya tinulungan ni GMA sa problema niya sa Luisita. Hinahanap ko nga yung picture nilang tatlo ni FVR just before the election para ipamukha sa kanya na pambato rin naman niya si GMA before the election. I must admit that I voted for GMA for the only reason of choosing "the lesser evil", I have felt kasi that Raul Roco could never have the capability to win the election, much less run the country in case he wins because of his health right before the elections. I did not choose GMA beforehand because as a government employee, we have been on the short end of her stick when it comes to salary increase. Even until now, it is still one of my frustration with her administration. Pero with all the squabbles, she has still managed to uplift our economy, highest peso value in 3 years and highest stock market index in maybe 5 years (not sure).

I have long been planning to write an open letter similar to yours pero di na nagkaroon ng panahon para masimulan and I could have never written anything better and more beautiful than what you did. Sana dumami pa ang makabasa sa sulat mo.

Keep the Faith, bro. May karamay ka/kayo. As a working person, I am generally affected by what is happening with our country's political situation. I usually compare our situation with the scandal US President Clinton faced years ago, the only difference is that Americans are very liberal to accept the fact because the US economy was very good during his term. Nagmumukhang gago sa buong mundo ang mga Pinoy sa pinalalabas ng ilang mga politiko at sa mga nagrarally diyan sa Maynila. Rally ng rally, wala namang mga permit. Pag hinuli, magrereklamo ng human rights, sila naman yung bumabato sa mga pulis. Parang mga bata na inagawan ng kendi.

If I could be of any help, email me at slashburn@msn.com.

I rest.

Starlink said...

Your letter has become like a beacon of light in a very dark horizon.

People who share your views have been suffering since July of last year when these opposition/leftist troublemakers started doing their thing.

With your letter circulating wildly, I hope we can start dictating the tempo instead of those people doing it.

We Now Have The Momentum!
Let's Seize The Initiative!
Down With The Troublemakers!

warren said...

sir,

tell those f*cking critics to shut the f*ck up!! :). hehe.. Btw, I have reprinted your letter as well. We are really in danger to those people who wants Power than with GMA. I mean, I don't get it...they wan't to destroy the gain that is so hard to attain just to grab power...If I can just print your letter and let those TRAPOS eat it..I will do it :). Look at those people going to the SC and complain on 1017, I dont get why they are so freaking affected...Protect freedom? I really don't know what freedom they are talking about...Maybe its protect DEMOCRAZY... :)

Anyways...SALUTE to you bro.......

Nelson said...

It's human nature, Bong, and people will always have their own opinion--most are bent on proving you wrong. Even though opinions are generally neither right or wrong anyway.

Ignore them. Sila ang mga walang magawa sa buhay.

Keep up the fight!

leilamaedecastro said...

hello bong,

i think that these so called intellectuals are dreaming if they think that they can convince the people to be on their side. you really made an impact that's why they're afraid of you. keep the good work!

leila

Anonymous said...

Let me just inform you that I forwarded your letter thru email to everyone I know. I asked them to do the same.I forwarded it to my organization, to my company distro list and to everyone on my email address book. To all of us who read his email and got touched by it, LETS DO OUR SHARE. React! Get heard! Lets pass the email along so everyone will be able to read it and know that were not the apathetic lot the noisy destabilizers paints us to be! Wag nating pabayaang mabingi tayo ng mga taong hindi naman dapat nagsasalita para sa atin. Lets drown them with an unprecendented response to a simple letter that really captured what all of us feels. Spread the Open Letter!

Joey said...

yep, forwarded your letter to a friend in Stanford, and it was re-spread there. the people there are no ninnies :)

tintin said...

hi bong. ang sabi nga nila, yung nag re-react, guilty! hayaan mo sila. i still believe that you had every right to write that letter because you are a filipino and like everyone else living here, you get affected by what is happening in the country.

one of yesterday's headlines in our local newspaper here in bacolod was: "Negreses want GMA to step down - bishop" There they go again... People in authority and in power who think they are speaking for the ordinary Pinoy. Naalala ko tuloy yung sulat mo. Hmm, maybe I should send it to the Bishop.

At nakita mo ba yung mga fil-am na nagrally sa san francisco the other day (i saw it on anc) and they were holding placards saying "oust gma" and the like. and they make proclamations about the evils of this administration with their american accents. well, BS! they don't live here. and even if they say they are pinoys, i still think they cannot claim that they are speaking for the ordinary filipino who has stuck it out in this god-forsaken country. kakainis talaga! ano ba ang alam nila, eh hindi naman sila nakatira dito???

yun lang po... 42 na po pala kayo. hehe :) nabisto tuloy yung age nyo dahil sa mga detractors mo... hmm, ang hirap maging famous ano po? :)

jher said...

bong - syempre that's expected. i would even be surprised kung walang kumontra, walang nag name-calling, walang nagmaganda. sabi nga nung isa, forwarding emails and wishing protests away will not make things happen. i guess going to a coffee shop and doing a thumbs down sign is the way to go? mag forward na lang kaya ako ng email habang nagkakape sa starbucks para doble effect? lol. keep it up. suportado ka namin. ang kumontra bahala kayo sa buhay nyo. aaatttt!!! wag ninyong kuwestyonin ang maturity ng comments ko dahil sa totoo lang, quever.

BongA said...

thank you everyone!!! You have no idea how touched I am. It has started to dawn on me that while I did not personally forward that email to everyone - all the attacks are directed at me. But that is a small price to pay for writing what I strongly feel about. My only regret is that I am up to my neck in work and do not have the time to respond to all. Pero maraming maraming maraming salamat sa lahat. I will write another open letter - this time more thought out and better argued. Abangan!!!
hahaha

Autumn said...

Be strong....there are so many of us who will come running when you call.

tintin said...

hi bong. looking forward to another open letter. :) wag kang mag-alala.... ipagkakalat pa rin namin yan!

Anonymous said...

Nice one! Just as you said, "exactly what I feel" and exactly the reason why there won't be any "people power" this time!!!

I've forwarded this to all my friends and relatives to help out, hope this can be publish in PDI or PhilStar and I am willing to share in the cost (and I'm sure there would be many out there who are willing to share as well..)

Thanks for writing what we all feel right now!

ka Noli

Citizen of the World said...

You may want to forgive them, pare, for they do not know what they do (with apologies to Jesus).

Ismelina said...

i agree with your sentiments at the open letter. i know many of us posted opinions about the situation in our respective blogs, but yours really made an impact.

i'm angry too at them because their demonstrations on the streets is a horrendous display of crab mentality. they are putting our country and those who work hard to make things better down.

i am angry at what they have done to the 20th anniversary of the edsa revolution. it was our proudest moment in history that they now have managed to turn into something so negative. edsa worked then, and i like to think that edsa 2 did something good, but do we have to do the same over and over and over again? when will these people realize that real changes need not only depend on the government, but on the people? have they every heard of jfk and what he said? ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country?

well, what they are doing to our country is torture, and it must end NOW.

anyway, i congratulate you for posting this for all of us to see. i suggest that if there are so many of us who feel the same way, that we have a signature campaign and publish them in a newspaper or something...or have you guys started it already? if you already did, please put me to the list!

sincerely,

ismelina

juned said...

It is truly unfortunate that some people find it convenient to label people if their view disagrees with their view of what is right or wrong. Arguing points is fine but labels? Gives you an idea how such people will deal with dissention within a democracy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing that letter.

I am currently in the US, but have plans of going back to the Philippines and pursuing my medical career there next year. Yes, I am aware that to most people, it sounds like a crazy thing to do - but knowing that there are still some Filipinos back home who share my sentiments HELPS. Nakakataba ng puso.

I love our country; I will never lose hope in it. I'm glad I'm not alone in thinking that.

Here's to a better Philippines, by the new and improved Filipinos. Cheers!

Mina

carlosceldran said...

Ignore them. I like your letter. More power. Ignore that has been from that singing group who has no career so he has to go to australia.

vernie said...

Bong,

That "open letter" was forwarded to my by my Boss. Being a former activist, I threw my idealism in the wind when I lost my belief and some respect with our so-called leaders who in the long run turns out to be -self serving and greedy for power. Your letter, I think speaks for those Filipinos who are just tired of all that bickering and sabotaging the economy with rallies here and there. Keep it up and I hope they do get the message. Enough already! (by the way I didn't also vote for GMA)but between the devil and the deep blue sea. I guess we don't have much choices anynore. Those true nationlistic leaders like Ninoy have long been gone or dead.

Maria Antonette said...

Your letter has touched a lot of true filipinos struggling in this times. And I salute you. We are all aware of whats happening you are the person who aptly wrote down these sentiments we feel.

More power to you!

Anonymous said...

Your letter was bannered here last week. http://www.thepinoy.com/

zan1731 said...

hi.. ty sa letter mo! so nice. taas 2 kamay ko at 2 paa ko syo. =) wag mo nlang iwaste ung time mo dun sa iba. nde talaga papatalo yan. same way pag dating sa pnaglalaban nila. to oust GMA. watever happens, nde yan titigil. parang nalason na kasi utak nila na nde na makapasok ung mga ibang informations sa knila. saradong sarado na kasi utak nila. kung pwede lang pagpupukpukin sa ulo ng mga magulang nila.=) hehe.. ty uli. peace!

deo sambilay said...

The recent turn of events in the Philippines is a clear manifestation how Filipinos still opt to go out in the streets (in the guise of the so-called ‘people power’) just to overthrow or unseat whoever has the palace key’s. They seemed to be tireless and their unrelenting motives are up once again to put the country in chaos. We always see them out in the streets. They always chant their rigorous disappointment to whoever holds the highest position in the country. For me, it seemed to be a ‘way of life’ and their ‘need for existence.’

What is unfortunate to see are those unexpected individuals whom they regard themselves as the pillars for democracy, justice and freedom. Why all of a sudden we see them now, jostling on every anti-administration rallies and demonstrations and wanting themselves in the forefront of destabilization moves.

Given what they wish for - to unseat Gloria once and for all - what lies ahead after that. Who among the current breed of trapos qualifies to assume the top post? Are we just going to allow either the extreme left or the rightist group to take over the administration and run the affairs of th state? Do you think having that kind of scenario would even make our country politically, economically and socially stable?

Our nation continuously suffers from a lingering illness which to this date remains uncurable. We pretend not to feel the ill-effects of our own doings. What profusely is embedded in every Filipinos minds and hearts is their own interests and selfish motives. This is basically the reason why we cannot move forward as a nation.

I agree that CHANGE is inevitable but it should mainly start from each and every Filipino. Changing a leader is not the remedy to all our country’s problems. We have to effect the change within ourselves and find ways how we can contribute to uplift our nation’s stature. Instead of trying to bash each other’s faults, why can’t we resort to undertake something that would make us Filipinos worthy to be emulated by other races.

I agree with Bong as a lot of Filipinos are just sick and tired of all these self-motivated undertakings of some sectors of our society. I just can’t afford watching on TV and seeing some personalities whom I wouldn’t even think and imagine will be joining the bandwagon of militant groups who made staging rallies and demonstrations - if I may again reiterate - as their ‘means of livelihood’ and shall we say their ‘way of life.’

deo sambilay said...

The recent turn of events in the Philippines is a clear manifestation how Filipinos still opt to go out in the streets (in the guise of the so-called ‘people power’) just to overthrow or unseat whoever has the palace key’s. They seemed to be tireless and their unrelenting motives are up once again to put the country in chaos. We always see them out in the streets. They always chant their rigorous disappointment to whoever holds the highest position in the country. For me, it seemed to be a ‘way of life’ and their ‘need for existence.’

What is unfortunate to see are those unexpected individuals whom they regard themselves as the pillars for democracy, justice and freedom. Why all of a sudden we see them now, jostling on every anti-administration rallies and demonstrations and wanting themselves in the forefront of destabilization moves.

Given what they wish for - to unseat Gloria once and for all - what lies ahead after that. Who among the current breed of trapos qualifies to assume the top post? Are we just going to allow either the extreme left or the rightist group to take over the administration and run the affairs of th state? Do you think having that kind of scenario would even make our country politically, economically and socially stable?

Our nation continuously suffers from a lingering illness which to this date remains uncurable. We pretend not to feel the ill-effects of our own doings. What profusely is embedded in every Filipinos minds and hearts is their own interests and selfish motives. This is basically the reason why we cannot move forward as a nation.

I agree that CHANGE is inevitable but it should mainly start from each and every Filipino. Changing a leader is not the remedy to all our country’s problems. We have to effect the change within ourselves and find ways how we can contribute to uplift our nation’s stature. Instead of trying to bash each other’s faults, why can’t we resort to undertake something that would make us Filipinos worthy to be emulated by other races.

I agree with Bong as a lot of Filipinos are just sick and tired of all these self-motivated undertakings of some sectors of our society. I just can’t afford watching on TV and seeing some personalities whom I wouldn’t even think and imagine will be joining the bandwagon of militant groups who made staging rallies and demonstrations - if I may again reiterate - as their ‘means of livelihood’ and shall we say their ‘way of life.’

jhay said...

This have been said before but I'll say it again.

I do not totally agree with your letter, but rest assured I will not hound your blog, your e-mail or your mobile number for that.

In fact, I'm happy that someone like you has spoken-written up to say their piece unlike the silent majority which you now cleverly described as being marginalized.

I agree with you that it's not your persona per se that is the issue, it's your letter.

So I just hope the demolition team backs off and keep things above the waistline.

Keep writing and speaking your mind, it all adds up to the process of resolving this mess we are in. Whatever the outcome may be, it is because people like you spoke up and picked a side, for that you deserve every dignity, honor and respect as Filipino regardless of which side of the fence you are on.

Peter Valentine said...

Just found out you were the open letter's author through mlq3's website. Thank you for speaking up for yourself and for the rest of us. The demolition team can say all they want, but each time your letter is forwarded is an affirmation itself of those views by your countrymen. Nothing could change that, so they resort to hurling insults.

In any case, it's good to know that letter's source. Will be able to properly attribute it from now on.

Phoenix said...

You have every right so say whatever it is that you want to say because of Freedom of Speech. Isn't that supposedly what your critics are supposedly "fighting for"? Now why are they insulting you, just because what you say is not exactly what they want to hear? HA HA HA!

Again, hands down to your write-up!

Anonymous said...

Bong,

It's nice to voice out what you feel. But I don't share your sentiments. It's kind of sad that lots of Filipinos nowadays want to be silent and not do anything at all with the present political crisis. Haven't we forgotten how the marshall law ended? How these protesters protected the rights of Women, Journalists, Students, etc by organizing rallies? But I guess lots of Filipinos don't realize that these protesters are protecting our freedom.

bugjuice said...

again another literary coup! thats an excellent point by point deconstruction of the imagined issues these nutcases have launched against you. Mr. Austero, I'm with you all the way!!

bugjuice said...

"MARSHALL" law? must be a guitar player....

kayak said...

Bong,

You do not need to know who i am but rest assured you have an ally in me. Yahoo! Now your open letter have stirred up the dragon in us. Let this pretenders know that silent we might have been, you have made them aware that we cannot be railroaded by these self-proclaimed guardians of our rights who has nothing but their self-empowerment in sight.

Write on my brother. Use your sword of a pen cut deeply unto their tin armor of deception and expose the vile and venom of their pretensions. You have become a beacon of hope for a majority who have had enough of these turmoil propagated by the self-styled moralists. May God bless you and more power to you.

Anonymous said...

hi mr. bong,

for me you are a modern day jose rizal... heck you are probably him reincarnated... my love for the country has never been this high the moment i read your open letter... it was like you have read my mind and put it into writing... i just wish that we could share this with our country's masa using the local dialect...

anyway... kudos to you... mabuhay ang pilipinas!

-extra_rice

Anonymous said...

You need not bother with all these tiresomely sneering argumentum ad hominem attacks. Waste of time and not worth the riposte. Shooting the messenger does not detract from the reality of the message. Your thoughts mirror mine but I would have used stronger, coarser and grossly undiplomatic language if I were to voice it out myself. I admit that I voted for GMA but only because I felt she was the best-prepared candidate for the job. You did vote for Roco and I have no issue with that; he would have clearly made a good president had the circumstances been different. I had no illusions about the baggage GMA was carrying with her but then again I clearly understood that it was not an election for sainthood. Like you I am a forty-something student of realpolitik and aware of the imperfections of government and its leaders. I am no ideologue, just a middle class manager trying to help create jobs and investment opportunities while raising a family under trying conditions. I have been swiped at with a police truncheon and teargassed in my younger pre-'86 days on the streets so I am familiar with oppression. Many of these bozos who now cry political persecution and pogrom don't have a clue of what it's really like to live under a martial regime. I piss on their collective sentiments and tunnel-visioned views.

Regards