something has been bugging me. so let me get this straight in my head:
in july 28, the president, in her state of the nation address, reaffirmed her commitment to restore peace in southern philippines. she proved this by secretly forging an agreement with the islamic liberation front to set up bangsamoro judicial entity.
contrary to its supposed intention, fighting broke out in mindanao soon after the country’s highest court suspended the draft agreement, finding it unconstitutional.
thereafter, the palace uses this situation as a testament that federalism is the only way to peace and consequently, there is a need for charter change.
in the meantime, blood was let, lives were lost and homes were burned.
is it just me or is it too much to ask: if we are going to be fooled, can it be with a measure of subtlety?
but more to the point, how much do the masses of filipinos have to pay in order for the people in power to stay where they are?
this has been on my mind recently. not just because coming back to manila tickled my activist bone. not because gloria-bashing is so in vogue its kitsch. but because i am volunteering my time for a research.
to explain: the research is on the cultural politics of women and peace, looking at mindanao as a site of everyday contestation. (don’t worry, i will not bore you with a lecture on cultural politics. that requires a separate post – and something that will probably not find its way in this blogsite.)
last week in the course discussing the review of related literature, a member of the research team pointed out that the resulting violence from conflict exploits and oppresses women (more so than in peace time).
i know that as aspiring beauty queens we are all supposed to be for world peace. but after pondering this point i asked, ‘so is it our position that social transformation is possible without violence?’
in a roomful of smart people steeped in studies on peace, nobody had an answer.
i have spent the last seven years of my life in a country which is hailed as the shining example of peaceful transformation to democracy. but i was there long enough to know that while racism may be made illegal, the violence continues.
and you know what? it’s the women who suffers most. countless men who don’t have anymore big battles to fight remain disenfranchised. so they turn their anger towards their own homes, to those who are close to them, to those who cannot defend themselves.
in the not-so-distant past our country also gained worldwide recognition because of a so-called peaceful democratic revolution. but after we have given our flowers to soldiers standing on tanks, after we have tired of the yellow ribbons, after we have stopped seeing apparitions of the holy mother atop mass mobilisations, who even remembers what went down there?
come to think of it, wasn’t it another ‘revolution’ on the same fateful street that put this president into power?
those revolutions were all so wonderfully peaceful. hey, look where it got us.
which gets me to the question, when is violence justifiable? when is it necessary?
but then again, is war the answer? if we know that those who are going to be killed aren’t those who decide in the seats of power, will it ultimately be just? why should the dispossessed fill the front-lines of a war caused by the rich?
i’m so full of questions recently that i am my own demented quiz show.
barring insanity, this i tell you. (warning: fantasy sequence imminent) if all these questions were posed to me by a judge from hell in the beauty contest to end all beauty contests, this will be my answer:
“i may not be radical enough to incite rebellion nor valiant enough to kill and prove the strength of my conviction, but i cannot accept this title if it means i have to blindly subscribe to… world peace!”
(audience is dead silent thinking, “ag, shame. she’s pretty but the nerves got her speaking nonsense” and claps hesitantly because of the ‘applause’ idiot board)
holding back the tears, knowing full well i lost my shot at the crown, in a shaky but vaguely self-righteous voice i will whispher, “thank you... bitch.”