POSTED ON 07/26/2013 8:48 PM | UPDATED 07/27/2013 10:15 AM
I do appreciate your concerns on the plight of my disadvantaged and marginalized countrymen. In your open letter to the police officer, you seem to have made it clear to everyone that you know all the deep-rooted evils that plague this country, my Inang Bayan, and understand all its social, political and economic ramifications. But I seriously doubt that you do.
Just because you happened to have a heart-to-heart conversation with some of Manila’s urban poor or be immersed in their surroundings for a few days, weeks, months or even a year or two does not mean that you already know what you’re talking about.
I am a Filipino, a proud one in fact, who has lived here for more than 30 years. My family and I here have survived not just one revolution but 3, aside from the several coup attempts in the last 3 decades. We have endured through thick and thin nonetheless, without going to the streets like you proudly display and advocate. We have experienced hardships you have not personally experienced or will ever do.
Have you experienced being evicted from an apartment because you haven’t paid rent for several months already? My family and I have. Twice. Did we go out on the streets to protest this? No. We found a solution to this issue within legal boundaries and moved on. Again, without going to the streets.
Without inciting to violence
You talked about police brutality and military aggression, but have you ever come face to face with the horrors of martial law? My family and I have. My late grandfather on my father side, Simeon G. Rodriguez, was a dissident journalist imprisoned during Martial Law by the Marcoses.
But did my family go out to the streets to rally or protest to free him? No. Instead, they visited him in prison for 20 years regularly and peacefully. And after my grandfather’s release, he and other dissidents founded the Zarzuela Foundation of the Philippines. The mission of that foundation was to awaken and elevate the consciousness of the masses to the social ills enveloping them during that time through the staging of zarzuelas. Again, he did that without going to the streets or without inciting violence.
Have you experienced living in a squalid environment? Maybe you have for a few hours or so when you visited the urban poor. But I have lived in a depressed neighborhood in San Andres Bukid for more than two decades now.
My ancestral house is situated near a waterway named Estero Tripa de Gallina, which would overflow during the monsoon months and flood the surrounding areas, including my family’s house. So every year, the flood would come and dump all the trash in our house. At the same time, informal settlers would come, but unlike the floods that receded, they would not go away. They would stay.
Preying on the poor
I know what they are truly like, because I live among them and I have personally experienced their everyday tribulations. Like myself, they dream and aspire for a better life. However, I have also witnessed how their hopelessness, ignorance and gullibility could be preyed upon not just by unscrupulous politicians but by people like you as well.
Every now and then, they are brainwashed to join rallies or protests by militant groups like yours, on the promise of achieving something or changing society. But your rallies throughout the years have not borne any edible fruit. The masses are still poor and desolate. They still live in squalor. And that is because your rallies and protests have only dragged them into a deeper state of hopelessness and aversion for the rule of law.
Instead of you uplifting their morale and motivating them to become active and productive members of society, you continuously take advantage of their sensibilities and highly emotional state to incite violence against any form of establishment.
Perhaps, that is what you have learned from your comrades. To incite rebellion among the masses. To have a revolution and to eventually establish a new order. But what is that order? The kind of state that was established in Russia after the Romanovs were murdered by the Bolsheviks whom you idolize? The same state which eventually collapsed in 1991?
I am an OFW now based in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. My local friends there say that things are SO MUCH BETTER NOW than before. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. So why would you want the Filipino nation to regress to that kind of state, which history has proven to be an epic failure?
Now, you are patronizing PO1 Joselito Sevilla and describing his conduct during your rally a “noble act” in your open letter. Didn’t you even think you could have spared him the heartache and the crying had you instilled discipline among your protesters on July 22?
He could have probably gone home early from his shift and spent quality time with his family had you and your comrades not gone beyond the area allotted for your “peaceful protest.”
Instead of you shouting at our policemen, why don’t you teach the urban poor to obey the rule of law?
Screengrab of Thomas van Beersum’s Facebook profile picture showing mixed comments from his network. The photo was originally taken by Rem Zamora of ABS-CBN
Instead of dragging the urban poor to the streets and inciting them to rebel against any established form of authority, why don’t you and your comrades provide training programs for the urban poor, so they can have the technical knowhow to land a job that could help them provide for themselves and for their families?
You and your comrades blame the government every day for not providing jobs to the masses, but more often than not, the jobs are there but the jobless simply do not have the knowledge and skills to take on those jobs.
Instead of brainwashing them to follow your false ideologies, why don’t you and your comrades help to PROPERLY educate the poor so they can think for themselves and not be easily swayed by anyone.
To teach somebody how to think for himself and to decide on his own and be responsible for his own actions is without a doubt the best way to create a well-informed society. Educate the urban poor to become critical thinkers and active learners rather than be passive followers to anyone.
In your letter, you said you were “tired of all the oppression and exploitation of…oppressed groups,” including LGBTs, but have you even thought that the same government, through its judiciary, allowed LADLAD, a local LGBT political party, to campaign and run in the May 2010 elections?
LADLAD didn’t get a seat in Congress, because it failed to deliver enough votes. Why? Because the Philippine electorate, more than 90% of which belongs to the lower-income classes — the masses — is still not ready to embrace the LGBT cause, ergo, afford the same respect it gives to “macho politicians” to the millions of LGBTs of this country.
Instead of lashing out at the government for oppressing and exploiting LGBTs, why don’t you and your comrades help burn down the masses’ stereotype of gays and lesbians and eventually erase the stigma that goes with it?
You invite PO1 Sevilla to join your ranks in next year’s SONA. It is only July, and there are still 12 more months to go before SONA 2014, yet you are already recruiting people to join you and your comrades to go up in arms again next year.
To me, that only means that you are not and will not even give anyone in this country the benefit of the doubt to turn things around and make things become better in the months to come. What this nation needs is a glimmer of hope and optimism, and you absolutely are not and will not be any of those. People like you only exude negativity, pessimism, despair and hopelessness.
So before you rally or protest again, think of all the trash your group will leave behind for hundreds of street sweepers employed by the MMDA to clean up after your “peaceful protest.”
Think of all the hundreds of policemen and traffic enforcers that will be deployed to contain your “peaceful protest.”
Instead of them doing their work somewhere else to keep others safe and secure, they will be there to look after your and everyone’s safety in the rally. Think of the damage you and your group will wreak on the city’s infrastructure during your “peaceful protest.”
Instead of the local or national government using much-needed funds to construct more schools or build new infrastructure all over the country, some of them will be re-allocated to repairing and fixing the damaged railings and lamp posts you and your group will leave behind.
Like other Dutch nationals, you enjoy a comprehensive medical insurance in your country. But think of all the Filipino protesters that could get sick from being exposed to the elements or worse, become debilitated, they probably wouldn’t have the medical insurance, let alone any money, to go see a physician after your “peaceful protest.”
Think of not just advancing your personal ideologies and philosophical goals in far-flung countries. –Rappler.com
Aside from being an OFW for the past 7 years, Bertrand is also an OFP, a proud Overseas Filipino Patriot, who remains true to his Filipino roots and identity, no matter where he goes and resides. He is an educator by profession and an aspiring writer and businessman. He hopes to retire as a philanthropist someday.