‘Hindi kami dekorasyon:’ Artists speak up, urge Filipinos to defend the country
MANILA, Philippines — In impassioned speeches during an online rally coinciding with the marking of the country’s 122nd Independence Day, several artists urged fellow Filipinos to speak up against China’s acts of aggression in Philippine territory and to protest against social injustices.
During the “Ipaglaban Ang Pinas” online protest on Friday, actor Enchong Dee enjoined fellow millennials to undertake an active role in ensuring positive changes in the country.
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He even called out President Rodrigo Duterte over his election promise that he would ride a Jet Ski going to the Spratly Islands and other disputed areas and plant the Philippine flag there.
Before this, Dee said Independence Day serves as a reminder that the nation’s forefathers sacrificed their lives to ensure that the country reclaims its freedom.
“Kaya nga sila namatay e, kaya nga sila nakipaglaban sa mga dayuhan. Naniniwala sila na ang bawat henerasyon ay dadalhin tayo sa mas malalim na kasarinlan at progresibong Pilipinas,” he said.
(That’s why they have died and fought against foreign invaders. They believed that each generation will bring deeper independence and progress to the Philippines).
“Let’s make them proud and let’s not forget kung paano natin pinaglaban ‘tong bansa natin. Hindi pwede yung nasa kampanya kayo, sasabihin niyo pupunta kayo dun sa Scarborough Shoal tapos pag nanalo kayo sasabihin niyo, joke lang? Ano yun? Joke lang ba kami?” he added.
(Let’s make them proud and let’s not forget how we fought for this nation. It won’t suffice that when you were in the middle of the campaign, you promised to go to Scarborough Shoal then when you won, you’ll say it’s a joke? What’s that? Are we a joke to you?)
“Hindi pwede yun. Pilipino kami, umaasa kami sa inyo…na poprotektahan niyo kami,” he further said.
(That can’t be. We are Filipinos, we are counting on you to protect us).
Dee said it is now up to the current generation to guarantee a progressive change in the country.
“For the first time in the history of our country our generation has the biggest number of population currently in the workforce. May kapangyarihan tayo na baguhin yung gusto natin itama sa lipunan,” he said.
(For the first time in the history of our country our generation has the biggest population currently in the workforce. We have the power to make significant changes in our society).
“Wag nating kalimutan na tayo ang susunod na tagapagmana ng lahat ng meron tayo sa bayang ito. At kapag wala na ang mga namumuno satin ngayon, at tayo na ang papalit. Wag nating hayaan, wag nating hayaan ang sarili natin na ganito pa rin tayo,” he added.
(We should not forget that we are next in line. If our current leaders are not in their positions anymore, we will replace them. We should not let the country be the same).
For her part, artist Chai Fonacier dismissed misconceptions that artists should not speak their minds on social issues.
“I want to start with being an artist. I think artists should speak up because we have every right to do so. Hindi kami dekorasyon lang. Yes we are artists but first and foremost we are citizens. We are not commodities,” Fonacier said.
“Hindi kami mga palamuti sa mga sala ninyo na maaari ninyong sabihan kung ano ang pwede naming maging saloobin, anong hindi pwede sabihin. We are, importantly, part of the labor force of this country. Manggagawa kami. We are citizens,” she added.
(We are not decorations in your living room who you can dictate what we say or how we say it. We are, importantly, part of the labor force of this country. We are part of the workforce. We are citizens).
Fonacier protested the apparent lack of equality when it comes to exacting accountability to normal citizens in comparison to those who are in prominent positions in the government.
“Give me leaders who shall demand of themselves before they demand of me.
And yet this is not what we see these days from our leaders, save for a small handful who are truthful to their duties to the public that they promised to serve,” she said.
She pointed to the case of Cebu artist Maria Victoria Beltran who was jailed for allegedly spreading “fake news” regarding the coronavirus crisis.
“Take for instance Bambi Beltran in Cebu, who made a satirical post and was jailed for a few days for it, was not read the Miranda rights, held incommunicado, so much so that we, her friends had to work together to locate where she was the next day because not even her lawyer knew she was arrested,” Fonacier said.
“Interrogation without legal counsel, as far as I have learned from Bambi’s battery of lawyers, is illegal,” she added.
With this, Fonacier called out other government officials who she said have done far more serious violations.
“Dura lex sed lex. And look who’s disobeying the law. I can only enumerate the numerous times that leaders have disobeyed the law. I only have to mention their names. Uson. Sinas. Pimentel,” she said.
She was referring to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Deputy Administrator Mocha Uson who gathered quarantined overseas Filipino workers in a Batangas resort; Metro Manila Police chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas who was embroiled in controversy over his birthday “mañanita;” and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III who violated quarantine protocols.
“None of them have been imprisoned for heavier ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) violations or spreading false information,” Fonacier pointed out.
She also scored Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo who once claimed that eating bananas or gargling with salt water can prevent COVID-19.
“Panelo wasn’t punished for claiming — while speaking in an official capacity as spokesperson—that water with salt and bananas can prevent COVID. And yet here is Beltran, a normal citizen, imprisoned for satire,” the artist said.
‘Scared of truth’
Fonacier said the majority of the country’s leaders today “are scared of mere words and pieces of cardboard raised by students.”
“To be scared of words and cardboard and stories. To be scared of the media whose only tools are words. Scared. What f*cking snowflakes. We millennials are often called snowflakes, accused of wanting more than we deserve and being overly sensitive” she said.
“But look who the actual sensitive snowflakes are. Evil leaders are scared of truth when expressed in storytelling, in satire, in comedy, in films and in literature, in visual art, regimes like Marcos that would ban Lino Brocka films because they know how powerful stories of truth are,” she added.
Fonacier then called on Filipinos to defend the country and its territory.
“If we want to defend this land, and the freedoms our ancestors fought so hard for us to have, speak truth to power.
She also encouraged other artists to not be afraid and speak up.
“Hindi na pwede ang duwag sa panahon ngayon. Our seas are being plundered, speak the f*ck up. We are with everybody—this is our home. This archipelago is our hill and if anyone’s going to shit on it, only we have the right to shit on it, but we also have the duty to defend it come hell or high water,” she said.
“No one—no one—is allowed to come and claim it. Except us. This is our birthright. You’re a traitor if you won’t defend it,” she added.
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