By DON PAGUSARA
Prints & Traces
The jubilant call can be heard from all corners in the youth activists’ memory lanes all over the archipelago! FQS ! First Quarter Storm – as the political season was fondly called– was as vigorous as a super-typhoon. And veritably threatening and disquieting to the ruling classes represented by the erewhile regime of Marcos the Dictator. The Marcos government then, which of course stood as the citadel of corruption and everything synonymous with tyrannical rule, was shaken in its foundations and soon unleashed its fascistic weapons against the thousands upon thousands of the Filipino youth who marched on the streets all over the islands. And stormed heaven!
FQS …or first three months of 1970. It signaled the beginning of an era – an era of extreme political repression which culminated in the imposition of martial rule in the country. But the logic of Marcos’ martial law was to sustain corruption and utter irreparable economic decay that resulted in an utterly bankrupt government. Nothing describes the dire corrupt character of the Marcos regime than apt words of the late Senator Lorenzo Tanada — Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. But the despicable era was also an era of deplorable moral decay. If anything, it feeds the base appetites of the citizenry with pornOgraphic dishes – the Tiktik & other porno magazines and the notorious Bomba films!
The special role played by the youth and students of the FQS was akin to the Propaganda movement initiated by the triumvirate Rizal, del Pilar and Lopez-Jaena on the eve of the Philippine Revolution of 1896. Verily, the FQS was the Second Propaganda Movement in Philippine history. In the annals of the Filipino people’s struggle for national freedom and democracy, these two equally significant events were the instances that drew the most enormous number and extent of participation and mass mobilizations of the youth. It was indeed a spectacular phenomenon yet to be repeated and be better surpassed if only for the total emancipation of the Filipino people from poverty and misery.
Today, the youth and students, arm-in-arm with the other concerned sectors in the cities and towns across the land, are in the streets once more, their minds and hearts loaded with the social problems and ailments prevailing in present-day Philippine society. There is almost no shade of difference besetting the social milieu in the 1970s and in the opening years of the 21st century. The same social pests are troubling the masses of our people. The same quality of governance is incumbent weighing down some more the downtrodden majority in the urban centers and rural areas, including the indigenous peoples and settler communities in the hinterlands.
The clarion call of the 1970s is the same clarion call echoed by the youth who have taken up the cudgels of the downtrodden and impoverished masses. In their statement, bannered in bold prints with the picturesque word SIGWA that seems to picture the call of a thousand lips screaming to the drumbeats in their hearts. . .echoes the same commitment, resounds with the same fervor the sentiments of the First Quarter Storm.–
“Ngayon, sa makabagong panahon, panibago din ang sigwang kinakaharap natin: ang mapanlinlang at mapang-aping administrasyong Aquino. Di maikaila ang lumalalang kalagayan ng kalakhang masa, at ang patuloy na pagkamkam at paghahari ng kakaunting may hawak ng kapangyarihan sa ating bansa. Walang tunay na katarungan at serbisyo ang napapla mula sa pamahalaan. Laganap ang hirap, gutom, at kamatayan. Binubusal, binubulag, at inaalipin ang mga Pilipino. Magbago man ang; mukha ng mga nakaupo, ang problema ay pumapaloob sa sistema nananalaytay sa mga ugat ng lipunan. Ang kabataan, NGAYON, ay inaatasan sa isang panibagongl hamon: baguhin; ang lipunang kinagisnan, at magtayo ng panibago—yaong tunay na makamasa at makabayan.
Kabataan, baguhin ang lipunan! Kumilos sa daluyong ng panibagong sigwa!”
[Today, in our own time, a new storm surge confronts us: the deceitful and oppressive Aquino government. No one can deny and ignore the worsening plight of the great masses of the people, and the continuing thievery of the nation’s resources under the tyranny of the few at the helm of power in our country. No genuine democracy and social services have been enjoyed by the people, suffering from misery, poverty, hunger and deaths. The Filipino people are gagged and blinded and enslaved. New faces come and go to sit in the throne of power, but the maladies afflicting society has remained in a system that drains the moral fiber of the Filipino soul. The youth, TODAY, is mandated to face a new challenge: transform the society of your birthright, and build a new one; one that is genuinely pro-people and truly nationalist.
Youth, transform society! Advance with the wave of the new storm surge! ]
It is imperative that the youth of the land heed the calls of the time. In their hands rest the fate and the future of our country. Forty four years ago, within the first quarter of the year, the youth and students of the decade of the 70s constituted the Second Propaganda Movement. They heeded the calls of Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio at the close of the 20th century to hold the fate and future of the Filipino nation in their own hands. They fought and grabbed the laurels of victory in a true nationalist democratic revolution. But the pseudo-leaders of the present Republic of the Philippines established under the auspices of the American imperialists for their own interventionist purposes squandered the noble ideals and cause of the 1896 Revolution.
And so our national leaders have since fallen into the pit of U.S. puppetry to the detriment of our national interest and development. Our Philippine republic is but an illegitimate child of the U.S. colonial system. Our country – sadly — has inherited a bastard culture and a bastard politico-economic system that serve not the supreme interest of the Filipino people but that of the American imperialists.
And so the present protest movement spearheaded by the Filipino youth and students is a continuation of the First Quarter Storm of the 1970s. It has yet to gain momentum and storm surge to batter the puppet government of Aquino. To be sure, it is movement that will grow to become a gigantic force that will push the established social order to floundering acts.
As in the FQS, the present youth activists can fire up their spirits with the slogan! Seize the Day, Seize the Hour! Societal Change is within Hail! SERVE THE PEOPLE!
Don J. Pagusara is a native of Mindanao, a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee. (davaotoday.com)