Rights to Padre Faura (a rant on inconsiderate rallyists)

Many destructive elements and relationships exist in modern Philippine society. The coercive and oppressive framework of organized religions is one of them; the muddied relationship of the State and of the Church is another (the problem is still mostly in favor of the Church). Democracy in the Philippines and the right to accessible information are also largely underdeveloped but over-advertised.

But logical and compelling argumentation on current events isn’t the point of this post. This is just a post to share feelings.

Context: I study in the University of the Philippines Manila; the main campus I go to can only be accessed by walking through Padre Faura Street. I was already running late for my 7AM class when the cab driver notified me that we had to take a detour; the whole street was blocked off and so I had to walk. That’s fine. What wasn’t fine was everything else: the loud and senseless noise (including singing pop songs???), the trash that littered the street (no trash bags in sight) and the throng of people blocking every way I tried walking through. Note that they weren’t just blocking our school and the Department of Justice, they were also blocking entrances to the Philippine General Hospital. So, as usual, I made a post on social media to rant (x).

tl;dr Before going to a rally, read up on what you’re fighting for and be willing to defend it, otherwise people like me will make a long Facebook rant.

Earlier this morning, I was walking down Faura through a veritable jungle of people chanting, people sleeping, and people unreprentantly throwing trash on the floor. It was a huge group of Iglesia Ni Cristo followers (the religious group was very loud in saying that they can’t be oppressed, they come in big numbers!). Note that I had to walk down Faura –because the whole freaking road is closed and the cab had to stop somewhere else.

I know that the right to assemble (and the right to air grievances, and the right to religion and whatever else they are trying to fight for) is valuable. It’s important. But right now I am seriously so annoyed and frustrated that I can cry and shout and probably kill someone simultaneously. I regret my curiosity.

The thing is, I have absolutely no idea what the issue with INC is. Unfortunately I’ve been living a very sheltered, selective news kind of lifestyle the last few weeks because of academics, GHD and sheer lack of will to integrate with society. So I think it was pretty understandable how I was confused by the way people were shouting down the streets (I could hear them all the way from my third-floor classroom) and sleeping on the sidewalks (trying to not step on anything or anyone was like playing Floor Lava). In general, I get that it’s trying to gain critical mass and attention. In specific, my frustration goes like this:

As the uninformed voter that I am, I watched the rallyists for several minutes after class to decipher the issue from my apparently non-existent skills in deduction. There were two main themes floating around their signs: (1) Separation of Church and State should be recognized and upheld as said in the constitution and (2) The government should focus on other issues that are more important (instead of focusing on INC). I’m not even going to touch the second issue (or the fact that the environment is ruined, okay).
I support the separation of church and state. I like most parts of the constitution. But all I could vaguely remember about the issue is some sort of internal leadership fraud or embezzlement scandal that they themselves publicized months earlier. And I didn’t have mobile data to check.

So I asked the rallyists. Thrice.

The first person I asked said “no comment” and walked away. To be clear: I asked kindly with the introduction that I was largely uninformed of why there was a rally. In the back of my mind, I wondered if I looked like a journalist and that’s why she was turned off. I look like a casual mall-goer. I don’t know.

The second person I asked at least gave me an answer. She said, “Read the Constitution, Article 2 section 6.” And I was like, okay, what’s that (it’s not like I don’t carry around a personal copy of the Constitution or anything)? “It’s about the separation of the church and state.” And I’m like, yes, I totally believe in that, what’s the exact problem? And I’m not sure if it was a function of me not being able to translate the question “But how did the state infringe on your right to religion?”, but she refused to answer with anything other than a smile or the words “separation of church and state”. Thanks.

The last and third person makes me want to despair of life, mostly because of the condescending way she looked at me. Do I not have the right to ask why the hell you’re blocking the street and my right to be free from noise and stupidity? Do I look so stupid that I can’t process your amazing stance on governance and personal beliefs? What is it? Stop shaking your head!!!

Anyway, I even asked all three of them for flyers (they didn’t have any) or a reference post/person for all my burning questions (does not exist).

I’m just. How are you supposed to defend your stance to the Department of Justice if you can’t even articulate it to an irrelevant person like me? How can you demand understanding when you can’t (a) assemble peacefully without littering and injuring people and (b) be at least kind of understandable?

Can someone answer my questions? Or not, I don’t care anymore. I just want to rant. I mean, I could google the issue. But I really want to know why some people are game to close the streets but not to defend the why.


‪#‎INC‬ ‪#‎PadreFaura‬ ‪#‎IMetMyPedometerGoalsTryingToSurviveTheRally‬ ‪#‎InItToMakeNoiseNotChange‬ ‪#‎DoYouKnowOrNotKnow‬

Posted by Jari Monteagudo on Thursday, August 27, 2015

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