Sunday, March 05, 2006

The marginalized majority

(Bong's rejoinder - March 11, 2006. Although there are people who thought that the use of the word "majority" in this post is appropriate, I now take the view that this has been a lapse in judgment. My use of the word was meant to refer to people who are sick and tired of the whole situation. But I realize that the generalization has no scientific basis. But I have decided to let it be rather than correct it, because I think that a lapse in judgment is not necessarily a crime, specially if the person admits to it. :-))

I meant to take a respite from the din and dynamics that my open letter has created. But I keep getting SMS messages from my friends updating me when and where my letter was last seen or read. One friend texted me to tell me one guy she knows has photocopied my letter and distributed copies at a church. Another one from Cebu said she was in a symposium where my letter was distributed and read publicly to loud applause. My email boxes are swamped (both company email and yahoo email, plus some comments on this blog).

I get texts from long-lost friends in the Visayas verifying if I am the person who wrote that letter and I can't help but feel truly touched at the "pride" they feel that they know the person who wrote that letter. I also get letters that amplify what I have written. One guy wrote a poignant letter in Tagalog about the laments of the middle class and I salute that guy for having the courage to do that. Some people alert me on online discussions taking place in this or that virtual forum (PCIJ, INQ7, etc). I only wish I had time to answer and post my comments as well, but ordinary work drones like me have to make a living balancing three jobs (unlike others who make a career out of protesting).

One particular letter from a friend moved me. He and his family are migrating to Canada. He said he is ambivalent about his family's decision to leave and has been trying to find more justification that would fortify his decision to leave the country. In the end, he told me that he knows now why they are leaving: because they feel that they have become total outcasts in their own country because they just want peace and quiet and progress.

I know the feeling. I have also entertained thoughts of migrating to Australia or Canada or New Zealand. I know the pain of being marginalized too.

Thanks to the people who have hotlines to God and speak with the conviction of the morally correct, we have been conditioned to think we are not worthy for thinking supposedly immoral thoughts such as forgiveness and acceptance. With everyone who has access to a microphone or a TV show relentlessly telling us why we are so wrong for giving the President the benefit of the doubt, why we are so morally naive because we believe in the basic goodness of people (just because we do not see the evils that they see in 1017), we now feel utterly conflicted about the worth of our moral convictions. Thank you for telling us we are so wrong and stupid and so unworthy for not seeing what you see.

Thanks to the politicians who have redefined for us what a congressional or senate hearing should be (it has to be controversial, with surprise witnesses ready to tell the most salacious details, and with lots of shouting and drama) we now prefer soap operas (the sillier the better) and lifestyle shows (the more sordid the better) to watching the news. We now have guilty pleasures (korean telenovelas for me). Our kids brains are now addled. They now think that the job of senators and congressmen is to become fact finders and third-degree inquisitors.

Thank you to the media, we have become desensitized to brazen pronouncements that border on the seditious. We now know that freedom of the press and freedom of expression are absolute concepts- that the media is the ultimate judge in this country. They can not be touched, they can not be called to task for what they do, they can not be watched. Our kids now know that a media ID is the absolute ticket to everything.

Thank you to our religious leaders, we now know that praying and keeping a vigil need to be done in specific places; that God exists only in specific churches and chapels.

Thank you too to those who continue to conjure the spectre of Martial Law to cow us into absolute fear and terror. Those of us who actually lived through the Martial Law regime see it differently, but then again, who are we to question the morally correct, the intellectually superior and the ideologically exceptinal?

Those of us who disagree are just so wrong. We do not deserve to be called Filipinos.

How did it happen that the majority has become the marginalized?

15 comments:

jef said...

"The Marginalized Majority", such contrasting words that aptly describe our present situation. What could I say, you've disected the basic tenet of what we feel and believe. Bong Austero, you rock!

Round Bottomed Scamp said...

Just to give you a heads-up ... your letter was printed in Jojo Robles' column in Manila Standard last week and he writes a rejoinder here dated March 6,2006: http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=jojoRobles_mar06_2006

He was also swamped with emails after he printed it :)

neva said...

Have you read this? It makes me sick; makes me wonder our generation really is getting any wiser. All-black clothing and thumbs-down signs -- in Starbucks!!! Hindi protest 'to e. More like a ridiculous tantrum thrown by juvenile delinquents.

I'll pass!

Black Friday Protest

Details of Flash Protest for March 3
Designated time and place of flash protest for March 3:
Any Starbucks Cafe, 6 to 7 PM

Plan of action:
1) Wear black
2) You and your friends proceed to any Starbucks Cafe near you anytime between 6 to 7 pm
3) Buy a drink. Each person should queue up at the counter, instead of just one ordering for the
group.
4) After getting your drink, take a seat or just stand up outside the cafe and hang out for about
30 mins.
5) When your group decides it’s time to leave, someone should give the cue and everybody should
do the “thumbs down” sign
6) Disperse as peacefully as you came in

Suggested preparations:
1) Invite as many friends, or officemates, as you can
2) If you’re an employer or a manager, invite all your subordinates to join you. Offer to “treat”
them, if you can afford it.
3) Agree to meet in a place (not Starbucks), or if you’re from the same office, arrange for
carpooling
4) From the meeting place, proceed to Starbucks as a group. This will have more impact than just
agreeing to meet at Starbucks individually
5) If you’re staying in a city where there is no Starbucks, any other “cafe” or restaurant will
do. Invite as many friends and colleagues.

Joey said...

I don't feel marginalized. With people like you writing stuff like this, I feel strong. Awsom!

flash_protest_sucks said...

To Neva: That's a good marketing strategy by the way. What on earth are they trying to prove---wearing black ang putting your thumbs down can nudge a wave of change in the system...? Puhleeze! When I'm reading it I can't help but to barf. It's sooo stupid and utterly senseless. I will embrace their genocide, mind you.

talk-to-the-hand said...

"After getting your drink, take a seat or just stand up outside the cafe and hang out for about
30 mins. When your group decides it’s time to leave, someone should give the cue and everybody should
do the “thumbs down” sign" hahahaha! It looks like their putting the thumbs down on STARBUCKS. What a load of crap.

tintin said...

whose "bright idea" was that anyway? going to starbucks for a protest? kelan kaya sila titigil? kakainis!!!

btw, bong, i just received your open letter through email. it's still making the rounds. wow, you're famous na! :)

Anonymous said...

"Thank you to our religious leaders, we now know that praying and keeping a vigil need to be done in specific places; that God exists only in specific churches and chapels."

Cory, don't be like the hypocrites who pray very loud and visible for other to know that you are praying.. You dont need to go to the chapel in Fort Bonifacio to pray for the situation. You can even pray at your kitchen.. God is everywhere..

BongA said...

I would like to see who will actually show up at these starbucks protest actions.

Tin, infamous is more like it. Hahaha.

Anonymous said...

Going to Starbucks, the very essence of western, anti-poor, unfair trade capitalism, to protest?

Oh my, the world has certainly turned around for the Philippines now...

demosthenes said...

We've become marginalized precisely because we have to work our asses off for a living, and don't have the luxury of spending countless hours debating with professional protesters, activist students playing hooky, media types who actually get paid for it, as well as party-list solons who do what they please with their pork barrels. Debating with the noisy minority is a losing game of attrition. What they lack in numbers, they more than make up for in pure stubborness and time on their hands. It's like death by a thousand pinpricks.

Carlos said...

1) Wear black

Heheheh. I've learned that ANY protest action that starts with "wear (insert color here) automatically fails.

I mean, if you've seen people wearing shirts of the same color, standing up and giving a thumbs down (or whatever other sign of protest) what would you be thinking?

I'd think "WTF?" and give a shrug.

Mike said...

I was led to this blog by seeing your now famous/infamous letter posted on a message board. I have to tell you that reading your posts brings such hope back into my heart... it reminds me at last that there are still some of us out there with sense left in us, even if we do not express our opinions in newspaper editorials, Church altars, atop the EDSA Shrine, or through other faux drama. Marjinalized majority indeed. Thank you.

supermario said...

alam nyo ba na second to oil the next higly traded comodity sa world market e...you guessed it right...COFFEE... at ang kita ng ng mga coffee farmers e madalang pa sa patak ng ulan pag me el nino. protesta sa starbucks? dapat iprotesta nila yung starbucks kasi isa sa mga kumikita yan sa expense ng mga maliliit na magsasaka. hayyy, anu na kaya nangyari sa utak ng mga kabataan...malalaki ksai allowance ng mga yan e.

Anonymous said...

Could someone please post a link to the Tagalog letter that's mentioned in the second paragraph of this blog entry? Thanks! :)