Come As You Are: In Defense of Colors and Flags

The ironies emerging from how the 26 August is being "organized" is making me uneasy. Underlying these ironies is another big problem in our political culture--our tendency to be anti-partisan politics or anti-organized political participation.

First, while it is being said that the 26 August march has no organizers, I am noticing that who organized it has turned into one of the most talked-about topics that there are even newspaper articles about who organized it alone, with hardly any substantive discussion on why there is such a call. This topic has become a hot media topic because of such no-organizer pretension, which shouldn't even matter at all.

Second, while it is said to be spontaneous, calling on every Filipino indignant towards the Pork Barrel to come as they are, there are seemingly a lot of impositions and prohibitions to those joining the rally, such as no flag, no colors, no angry speeches or messages, etc. No organizer, spontaneous, yet with lots of regulations. It's just one organization pretending to be a non-organization to neutralize and sideline existing organizations, if you ask me. 

Lastly and most importantly, one of the reasons the Pork exists is because it filled-in the gap of our maldeveloped/ underdeveloped party system, which is supposed to be the mechanism that facilitates the relationship between the executive and the legislature. And party system, in simplest term, refers to how you organize political partisan affiliations. 

There is a fundamental problem if we are organizing a rally against a system that is perpetuated because of the underdevelopment or maldevelopment of the system for partisan politics if we are organizing it in a way that discredits or neutralizes the latter. We are contributing to a mindset in our political culture that is keeping us from developing our party system, key in making pork irrelevant or at least not the sole determing factor in the relationship between the executive and the legislature.

I'll go to the 26 August people's indignation march against the Pork Barrel and I encourage everyone to go too.

But I won't condone its anti-partisan politics or anti-organized political participation undertone. Our political culture never matures because we have this kind of mindset. Secondly, I won't condone it because I don't want to give the impression to the young that there is something wrong if they are wearing colors or bearing flags or if they affiliate themselves. 

I always encourage my students na matutong tumaya at manindigan. And by that, in this country, if you really want to make a real difference, I mean matagalang pagtaya at panininindigan na nakabatay sa prinsipyo at programa, hindi sa pasulpot-sulpot na isyu at pagkilos. 

In between these moments of exciting upheavals and uproars are "boring" tasks and work of painstakingly moving the campaign for change forward, sa pagoorganisa, page-educate, meetings, networking, pag-aaral, papers at reports, paghahanap ng pondo o pagsabak sa maraming pagsubok at minsan dahas din. Ginawa ito ng mga grupong kulayan sa pang araw-araw na panahon para ipaglaban ang ipaglalaban natin sa Lunes.

There are those who have taken on this advocacy long before the Napoles scam. I can argue that the depth in substance that we know about this issue is largely due to the struggles of those who we don't want to come as they are: those who have long fought against the pork barrel and similar abusive institutions in the government. 

And to these people, their colors, their flags, their being part of a collective is their identity as individuals. They come as they are as they come with their flags and colors. Proud. For those colors and flags are the reasons they are going on 26 August and will continue the work long after the Monday march. 

If we want people to come as they are, we should let them come as they are. 

Come as you are. Spontaneous. No organizers. Let it be so. And this should apply not only on individuals, but on groups with colors and flags.