Sam’s brother Rowley was leading a small contingent of rallyists today at EDSA, so I asked Sam if I could go with them today. I was still embarrassed by the thought of being part of the enormous crowd that brought Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo into power seven years ago, and I wanted to make up for that fact by joining what will perhaps bring her back down. It was because he said “Yes” that I have these pictures here today.
It was mid-afternoon when we got to the EDSA Shrine via the MRT. The streets, curiously, were clear. Traffic police had blocked the road that ran beside the shrine, forcing all vehicles to take the overpass on Ortigas. No sea of people here, unlike the one I was part of in 2001. In fact there seemed to be more police than rallyists this afternoon, and even they looked like it was just another day with their arms relaxed over their riot shields, one or two holding a cell phone perhaps texting his wife at home not to worry, there’s nothing to control. It was earlier in the morning where a bit of a fracas occurred, when the police would not let in some people who wanted to attend the mass at the chapel inside the shrine.
Manong Ice Candy and Manang Pusit Vendor were there, in several iterations and variations in fact, because the entrepreneurial Pinoy will seize any opportunity to make an honest buck. Besides, rallyists get hungry too, and the boiled peanuts, deep fried fish and squid balls can quell hunger pangs for ten pesos or less. I don’t think the vendors made a lot of sales today, though. The protesters occupied only one lane of Ortigas Avenue, even if both lanes that intersected EDSA had been closed to traffic. Even the blue-shirted minions of MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando were nowhere in sight. Only the enormous tarpaulin poster of the chairman himself looked down upon those who sought shelter under the elevated MRT track crossing Ortigas Avenue.
This crowd had earlier played tag with the police who unsuccessfully tried to stop them from proceeding to the EDSA shrine from the north. The rallyists stayed for just under three hours, after which some invisible command made them move en masse northward on EDSA. Text messages Sam received said they were headed for the Ateneo in Quezon City, where a peace concert was being held, but some dispersed after a short pause at the People Power Monument which was a kilometer’s walk away.
After the rallyists faded from view the police moved out into the crowd asking all who were loitering to disperse, the streets were to be opened to traffic again. Actually, westbound traffic on Ortigas Avenue had started flowing even before the main crowd had started its walk out to EDSA. There had been no rebellious speeches by actors or artists, no exhortations to topple the government, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and FG Mike.
There was just not enough people power for that.