By Carolina S. Ruiz Austria

The word "Heresy"

was used by Irenaeus in Contra Haereses to discredit his opponents in the early Christian Church. It has no purely objective meaning without an authoritative system of dogma.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Theories for our time: Feminist reflections from "freedom zone" (UP Diliman)

(Written between February 24-March 3, 2006)

"Thinking about a fact already means changing that fact."

Colette Guillaumin,Women & Theories about Society in Racism, Sexism, Power & Ideology (1995)

Yesterday, I had the rare opportunity to sit in a University Council meeting. As a lecturer (a.k.a. the lowest creature/rung on the academic food chain), I wouldn't normally be able to sit in on a UC meeting except that on this day, they were holding a special meeting in our college. It also helped that my husband (and I am using husband here with much trepidation and simply for lack of a better term to describe our legally sanctioned domesticity) is himself a full-time faculty member from another college.

I couldn't say I was disappointed since I barely finished the meeting and its purpose was one of emergency and for the immediate adoption of a statement by the council. However, I did get a sense of a general feeling of restlessness among many of those present about the entire issue. There were a few questions about what the university's role was at these times as well as what kind of statement and position paper would be apt as the university's response to the issues unfolding. Maybe it's just me but could it be? The university (ok, not in any monolithic sense but definitely considerable groups within it) is also searching for theory or theories?

This search for theory is perhaps what the drafting committee referred to when it decided to use that familiar phrase "the search for the truth?" But truth be told (that is MY truth be told), I actually had my own misgivings about the use of the term in relation to academic freedom. (I quibble with "truth," and "THE truth" in another portion)

Another reason I suppose for trying to get my thoughts together on this occasion is the fact that I myself have been restless (not only as a result of recent political events) but largely because I have noticed such a VOID in the way recent discussions have been unfolding. In particular, responses from the protest movement seem as programmed as the State's actions have been. No, no "new messages" (for the creation of new meanings) are being placed out there. Neither was there that many new ways of articulating thought or (symbols) used out there to decry what has been happening.

Simply put, with all the abuses of this STATE, here and now, it pisses me off that the religious (who are the self-same self-righteous sexists against women's rights) will probably still end up the heroes to this "conflict." As articulate they are about traditional "civil liberties" in the quintessential liberal (and neutrality as maleness) sense, I cannot help but CRINGE at the thought that the emerging defenders of freedom and free expression are hardly the ones who tolerate the same things when it comes to women's sexuality, alternative and differing sexual morality and all in all, the empowerment of religious and non-religious minorities ( a.k.a. secularists)! It stresses me to no end that even as they wax lyrical about democracy, we will still miss out on a very important facet of the discussion simply because we take "morality" for granted as the realm of these "holy men."

When we speak of the restriction of civil liberties now for instance because of Proclamation 1017 (or what WAS Proclamation 1017, now you see it, now you don't, does it mean we are free?), what are we saying about the relatively DAILY abuse of women's civil liberties such as the vagrancy law (used against women in prostitution); curfew ordinances (also used against women in prostitution as well as all other women, ironically for their protection); labor law's (though relatively falling into disuse), prohibition on night work for women?

I should think, this is the right time as ANY to clarify that even as we decry the violations perpetrated under Proclamation 1017, we aren't deluded into thinking that pre-1017 and post 1017, "freedom" is a reality when women are denied it systematically.

What the university is perhaps in the best position to do is to break new ground in articulating what have been the products of social and political (yes, even legal) theory in our time. I realize turning THEORY and analysis into practice to be sure is a daunting task but if we do not put out our lessons out there, we will be doomed to keep on using and reusing OLD symbols and in turn fail to facilitate the creation of new meanings. How can we after all move TRULY forward unless we learn from the lessons of the past?

While theorizing holds promise, I understand it can often put off the most restless activists. It also is usually criticized as elitist.

One of my favorite feminist authors (Gillaumin) once asked, "Is theory a fortress? A private preserve?"

She spoke of the peculiar position of those who have the least power vis a vis the "products of intellect" and how in many ways, theory to the powerless is (and seems) "sacred verbiage" of those who dominate them.

I thought about this as I listened to the discussion about whether the university should adopt a "political" statement or one with a "legal position." It was a choice to make and in fact the point where I understand the vote in the UC meeting depended on.

Politics & Law

Gillaumin wrote:

"Whether the theorists bore the name of Malthus or Hegel, Comte or Gobineau, or whether in an earlier period they were theologians, they produced what for the minorities is a nightmare. The latter do not even know the theoretical details of the matter, merely know everyday in practice, under duress, by contempt with which they are treated, and through their hunger, what they must always occupy-sometimes life-threatening place of silence, of inferiority, of widespread menace-menace that at certain times is frightfully explicit with beatings and murder. And always at every moment there is work to be done, the necessity of being present, attention must never flag. So they can only speak in tones of bitterness and fury; the thoughts which they express are never called theory. Theirs is the language of invective, sarcasm, of controlled passion, of irony, blasphemy, or even despair."

This derision for the "political" as valid theory, or objective analyses is something Gillaumin also discusses at length.

In popular culture, much of the derision towards politics and the political can perhaps be attributed to politicians. (Yes, in the Philippines we have a lot of them. Too much perhaps that it should be a national export? But who would want them?)

To be interested in politics now can literally mean being interested in lying, cheating and wielding power (OVER). (One wonders whether GMA ever had a slum book.)

Our relationship with law on the other hand is almost always double edged. While it is also common for ordinary folk (academics included) to lambast law as the tools of the oppressors, we also use law (and in my own observation Filipinos love using the law, referring to it, and simply revel in its mention or is it we have too many lawyers?)

Activists within the legal profession that is, lawyers who work for social change perhaps have the advantage of having been in this conflict more than once. (Law as a practical tool and LAW and legal institutions as embodiment of the status quo, an anathema to social change)

This was the reason I suppose it might have been surprising (if not confusing) for some when no less than a well known human rights lawyer and official of the university noted that even as law served a practical purpose (acknowledging the practical necessity of the cases filed in the Supreme Court to prevent human rights violations --- that is hopefully to prevent them through citing of law), law in this case, in the context of unfolding of events just wouldn't cut it. It wasn't enough. As a university, we need to be and ought to be doing more.

As I write the headlines of PDI scream out the message which was perhaps inevitable from any legal pundit's perspective: "SC: NO TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) against Proclamation 1017." Its far from over of course, legally speaking --- that is as long as the Proclamation stays. (She has just announced though she might revoke it by Saturday, March 4).

But then of course even the legal experts knew about this risk. The legal means (strategy) after all (Petitions and cases in court) always assumes something more than THE case itself. In the Philippines in particular, "going to court," or "filing a case," has tended to embody the proverbial "last straw." (In tagalog we have similar terms, to symbolize the finality and irreversibility of a deteriorating situation or relation: nagsaulian na ng kandila or as FPJ himself popularized it: kapag puno na ang salop).

In my own practice of litigating cases on behalf of women, a similar narrative if you will, emerges usually in cases involving married women who almost always (compared to other clients), have the hardest time deciding whether or not to file a case against their abuser husband (This is probably why I find the word difficult to use).

Filing a case, going to court, in this case, "the HIGHEST court of the land," is also symbolically a "final test" of sorts, appealing to a co-equal branch for recourse in the Constitutional context. (Or in American Idol parlance: down to the final three?)

Consider the irony though. It is by fiat of LAW that the President defends her human rights violations and literally, a host of other legal violations, not the least of them, the Constitution. It is easy to see why the LAW holds such an attraction for non-politicians and non-lawyers alike. Once cited and used to FRAME the issues, it is almost inescapable and even presents itself as self-contained. Any problem under the sun can be "reduced to" a legal issue and therefore solvable by a legal solution.

Framing issues as LEGAL problems and LEGAL ISSUES solvable with LEGAL ANSWERS is one of the most basic functions of law. It is not incidental in law that its method is specific, and its parameters, more or less predictable. It is a built-in function of law to set standards, guidelines, and norms.

Lately though, it has been a preoccupation for me to consider law and legalism's impact on consciousness raising and this is perhaps where reflection by NGOs who have garnered quite an expertise on what we call "law reforms" or "legal advocacy" should turn their attention.

Even as law (its citation as the Bill of Rights or the Constitution as the highest law of the land) and litigation (cases before the courts) serve specific purposes (practical options) and represent (symbolize) in a general (and perhaps even a traditional and romantic, liberal) sense "rights exercise," it doesn't take a legal expert to know that our courts (especially the highest court of the land) don't always deliver even on the mere promise of positive law. Just check out the Supreme Court decisions on the unconstitutionality of the mining law (2004) where it did a 180 degree turn after the mining companies filed a Motion for Reconsideration. Or how about the host of decisions on the legitimacy of presidents after regime change? For that matter, how about reading up on RAPE cases? While uniformity is one of law's legal standards to ensure fairness, it is couched on premises that do not reflect real life (as feminist advocates have demonstrated, especially women's lives). For one, it is premised on neutrality and total objectivity.

Yet consider media reporting on these issues. (The State doesn't even need to SPIN much of a web here), media is as enamored with a purely LEGAL discussion of the issues that often, traditional legal analysis replaces any political, economic and social analyses.

I often think about how theories on culture (cultural studies) and a better understanding of communication perhaps can help us in sorting out the effectiveness of legal advocacy strategies.

Like many others, I watched talk show after talk show I could find on the unfolding events, searching for signs of new ways of thinking and new ways of understanding what could easily be analyzed as merely a repetition of the same conditions of past regimes. For indeed, while many of the "forms" of repression are similar (some of them even identical to Martial Law abuses), it hardly suffices to react to them in the exact same way as if libertarian codes such as freedom, democracy and truth are still understood the same way then as now.

Martial law then? Martial law now? I hardly think this is accurate. Even as "NADA MAS," or as popularized here in post 1986 "NEVER AGAIN," has a certain appeal to emotion, I faced the practical problem of the slogan's inapplicability when I realized that my law students were only 3 or 4 years old in 1986.

Unless we can be sure (and I know we are not) that history books or history lessons were able to impart the vital events and their impact on Philippine society of 1986 EDSA, it was no surprise that my students now as legally opposed they are (intellectually) to military junta, have more or less vague notions about what we think of as freedom and democracy. The point is, we may have a general sense that is common but our experiences of it (rights exercise and violations included) are immensely different.

My husband for instance who teaches visual communication, is also interested in cultural studies and we discussed the impact of changing technology on the exercise and experience of "freedom" on today's young rallyists.

It was while watching students take turns having their pictures (presumably digital) with Professor Randy David at the rally that we realized that the camera (and digital imaging) now proliferates so much that the experience of picture taking during a rally is not only relatively relaxed, and done by the rallyists themselves, among themselves and possibly (because of digital imaging technology and cellphones) readily and "freely" transmitted (or as we call it, "shared"), it was ironic that in the past, being at the other end of the camera lens (of undercover police usually posing as the press) within rallies was at times as threatening as being at the other end of the barrel of a gun. Times have changed.

This is after all, a generation which relates "Big Brother" to a high rating "reality" TV show. Apart from losing its Orwellian reference point, the sheer popularity of such shows also reflects to some degree the NATURALNESS and NORMALITY that constant surveillance has assumed in this technological age. It proliferates.

If it's the State doing it (apart from your bank, convenience store or mall watching out for the shop lifters), and its doing it in the name of protecting YOUR rights, that actually also makes references to "safeguarding your FREEDOM," and "preserving our democratic institutions," is it any wonder why freedom and democracy are beginning to sound so hollow if we don't bother to state where we are coming from?

One thing is for sure. Our concepts of privacy, rights and all those values like freedom, democracy are ever changing even as we seemingly have not yet been able to articulate new values nor have legal standards kept up with media technology.

The "Truth" and its Consequences

Before talking about "truth," its best to set the record straight on the two basic meanings of the concept when people use it.

Truth when we relate it to "truth-telling," is what we pertain to when we speak about that simple yet rare virtue (esp. among politicians)---honesty. (It's a straight answer to questions like: Did you speak with a COMELEC official in the middle of the last elections or not? Was it you on the tape? Was there cheating in the 2004 Presidential election?) One is truthful we say, when one speaks sincerely. (Which is to say, even a politician can possibly be truthful if he/she sincerely ends up believing even his/her own B.S.?)

Or for that matter how about misinformation? As reproductive rights advocates are wont to know, those who bandy around TRUTH (VERITAS) as a principle and value have not always (if not rarely) practiced it in the process of debates around something seemingly mundane as the technology of contraceptives, deliberations of the constitutional commission and even provisions of draft bills.

But THE truth in the philosophical sense (as I understand, the way theologians and sadly many academics still using it) refers to some singular philosophical ideal. THE truth in this sense is of course highly over rated, (not because we can't handle THE TRUTH the way Jack Nicholson's uber alpha male marine officer character said it to Tom Cruise's slick and lackadaisical lawyer character), but because at this juncture in social theory, there is not much use for CLAIMING such single ideal but rather we have already acknowledged that there is a multitude of them. (Yes all of them are contested and others are more popular than some so it is not an attempt to flatten out distinct hierarchies and power relations)

While calling for the defense of freedom in the name of the "quest for THE truth" does have a romantic ring to it when the university body calls out a united stand against state abuse of power, but as I see it, the defense of freedom is by itself the core value worth fighting for. For the university, it is usually best described as the freedom of thought and in this sense, not THE QUEST for THE TRUTH, but rather quests for truths.

The Tyranny of Absolutes

(Or the crap "Women" are expected to put up with)

I won't deny that, speaking about "Truth and freedom" now will still be important in signifying among others, united opposition against many of the rights violations being committed.

Still, from the point of view of women who have been (whether it is peace time or war, a civilian state or otherwise) at the constant receiving end of rights violations (many of them perpetrated within the rubric and standards of law), general appeals to truth, freedom or democracy don't seem to cut it anymore, especially when those espousing TRUTH are the same ones who would readily insist on their SINGULAR TRUTH and religious dogma and impose it on women.

It would be absolutely horrific if anywhere within social movements which make up parts of the protest movement are once more looking at these events and issues as requiring the decades old (debated) strategy of PRIORITIZING what they used to call "marco" issues over what has turned into "women's sector" issues.

For one, even as women's movements have contributed directly to an enrichment of rights discourse, particularly human rights discourse, the engagement if anything, has also been double edged.

On one hand even as women's studies in various fields, from medicine, the social sciences and law have flourished to examine sex, as the primary social category of power relations, many years within academia and possibly even due to schisms within women's movements may have contributed to the "freeze drying" of what could be potentially revolutionary kernels of theoretical and analytical thought or at the very least, seeds of them.

Here is where I want to discuss how feminist engagements of the law and social theory can perhaps directly contribute to moving things forward.

Feminism & the State

I certainly cannot claim that "Feminists" are one big political block, let alone a united movement. For the most part, I have my own biases as a feminist, notably identifying with a relatively eclectic list of feminist philosophers on a myriad of topics and issues.

Yet if we were to reflect (as a women's movement) on what some of the lessons we have learned in engaging the State (and it is no secret that in the Philippines, women's rights advocates pride themselves with many successes), what would some of those lessons be?

For me, feminist engagement of the state and the legal system goes beyond learning how to pass a bill and have it watered down or mangled by an innately and predominantly sexist institution. When feminists SET political and social agendas through policy advocacy, it cannot be denied that it was also within the larger context of ENVISIONING OR REVISIONING what we look at as the STATE's role in society.

The GENDERED battleground of welfare rights has long been the subject of feminist theorists and activists working specifically in the realm of economic and political theory. Likewise it informs the strategies of many feminists working within health and sexual rights advocacy.

When women's rights activists challenge the STATE and hold it accountable to provision of welfare, spending and budgeting on basic services (reproductive health) and a host of other support systems, doing so is in fact also the POLITICAL equivalent of debating the role of the State vis a vis basic rights and expounding on what those rights are.

Essentially, services and the usual bundle of entitlements we associate with the classic "welfare state" have been considered the enabling conditions for the exercise of rights (by the individual and communities or groups). On the other hand, traditional and compartmentalized views of "rights" confines "rights" to the civil and political and translates "rights protection" almost exclusively now as "protective" and "security" measures.

Yet even as the traditional hierarchy of rights (much critiqued by feminists) lives on within the current State (at various levels and agencies, especially the police and justice agencies), the self same State which supposedly holds these rights (usually termed or referred to not exclusively as rights but "the rule of law"), is also one to "sacrifice" and call for a balancing of those RIGHTS with the duty/interest and so-called mandate of the State to PROTECT us from "lawless violence."

Literally: "In order to protect you, we need to violate your rights."

How many times have we heard this purported balancing of interests?

Indeed, to feminists, it should be nothing new. In the quest to articulate various rights violations against women as wrongdoing under the law, women's rights activists pursued law reform in the last 15-20 years. Yet faced with "holistic" draft laws which sought to address not only the adoption of penal sanctions but also at the same time provide support services for women, we know very well how the programmed response of the State has been: protective measures that actually disempower ( i.e. curfews; consent overrides)

I read with much interest one criminologist theorist from New Zealand (1999) predicted that State authority and POWER is becoming more and more identified, accepted and even EXPECTED as exclusively its police powers with fast becoming obsolete "welfare state" ideal and model. In other words, when the STATE is asked to protect women's rights, it actually does not hesitate to VIOLATE the rights of those it purports to protect because all it hardly ever recognizes is heightened security, surveillance and highly punitive measures.

For the rape law amendments, this meant a class of penalty (the death penalty), despite the women's human rights position against it; a class of liabilities (privileging virginity or at least symbols of it as well as safeguarding male exclusivity in imposing higher penalties for rape of a religious ( a.k.a. a nun) and a pregnant woman (a.k.a. presumably spoken for); as well as literally not FUNDING the support services for rape survivors; the services under the Anti-Trafficking law and the VAWC. The government has of course not missed a beat as far as taking charge of those penal sanctions (at least for many cases where they feel they are being watched by media). In fact, prosecution of cases and the number of legally filed complaints is now the almost exclusive indicator for the state's safeguarding of women's rights.

In fact, this emerging interpretation and almost now exclusive interpretation of the STATE's mandate/authority over its citizenry as solely SECURITY in the form of police measures and highly PUNITIVE measures has been the subject of feminist discussions around how on the other end of this growing "POLICE-LIKE" State, global transnational corporate interests as well as local privitization of formerly PUBLIC utilities has been the trend.

Faced with LESS power and authority over its citizens' daily lives, the STATE as we knew it then and TAXES as we used to rationalize them (for a host of available and expected services) can no longer sufficiently justify its existence if we no longer rely on it so much. Is it any wonder that the MORE threatened we are (and with segments and a majority of mass media feeding the hysteria), the more we are made to put up with a POLICE State or increasingly police/security measures as the end all and be all of STATE responsibility today? If you saw that woman on TV when GMA went "malling" at Market, Market, you probably had a reaction that ranged from mild amusement to utter disgust. But could you blame her or others who have come to believe that the THREAT is something out there (whatever government says it is) and that the STATE is your best protection from THOSE threats (no matter how unclear and unknown they are to you)?

Media (save for a dwindling few journalists) is certainly feeding us the same crap.

From the experience of feminist movements, the more the STATE insists on this POWER to protect, the more it has required its citizens (as it has required of women) to be treated like CATTLE, herded and branded, possibly watched on a 24-hour basis. To accept the terms of this "protection," has usually meant for women, being treated as VICTIMS and nothing else. (When one level many women are after the fact of violation but it can hardly substitute and subvert one's identity just because the violation happened but guess what, that is what happens)

Victims like a perpetually threatened citizenry are powerless. They cannot decide for themselves and in fact, are often as THREAT to themselves (as women who engage in cybersex and other sex acts outside sanctioned sexual relationships are wont to be considered).

EDSA I: Lessons and Memories

I read Conrad de Quiros' column today with much relish and actually agree with most if not all of the points he made today about how this regime and this President doesn't even come close to having any of former President Aquino's qualities. I loved the way he ended it, tongue in cheek (or it could be he was serious, as I often am about my defense of Kris Aquino's antics): "What can I say? I love Cory."

Twenty years later, recent events have forced us to reflect (in many ways, suddenly and without much preparation) about what EDSA I meant to us "a people," as a generation, and for some of us who identify (and aspire) as activists for social change. For what its worth, I'm all for a remembrance of EDSA I in its full glory and historical significance as a bloodless coup, a people's revolt and not the least of which, a simple amiable and well meaning coming together of people who wanted freedom.

Despite the subsequent unmasking and revelation of what were ultimately far from our initial "idealized" notions of many of the protagonists, you have to admit, the greater majority of those who joined EDSA I knowing the potential and unknown risks to life and limb and brought nothing but HOPE and GOODWILL were there in a genuine moment of collective heroism.

But as much as we value the gains of EDSA I and what opportunities it opened up for us as a people then, we also owe it to ourselves to not let our warm and fuzzy remembrances of EDSA I muddle our perspective on what is before us today.

Ironically, it was in huge measure the "freedom" that EDSA I facilitated that to date helps us lay bare in all its, how else do I say it, ugliness, the essence of the institutions which laid claim as heroes of EDSA I. Yes, two of the patriarchal institutions feminists critique: the Church and the Military.

Indeed, twenty years later (and also in 2000), as we have apparently clung to a notion of "people power" as some kind of magic formula for toppling a leader we do not like? (or a leader the military and the Catholic church do not approve of?) Even today as we all agree this Presidency in its brazen disregard for human rights and the rule of law has to go, our imagination is in seeming fixation on an "EDSA" uprising of sorts. What is the right recipe? Boys club 1 (Military) add to Boys Club 2 (The Catholic Bishops), gather civil society (civilians) and stir? If its anything like baking (as I have been recently discovering), the ingredients have to measured exactly and the order of mixing as well (dry and wet separately first and together gradually).

Waiting in Vain for the Bishops & Soldiers

In seeming parody of EDSAI, a group of nuns, priests and civilians surrounded the Marine officers who announced they were in protest over the sacking of their commander last Sunday afternoon. While it didn't seem like part of any carefully plotted out "coup" attempt in any historical or legal sense, (Remember we have seen how real, planned, military coups play out, thanks to Gringo Honasan's series of violent coup attempts during Cory's term and the Magdalo who planted bombs around Oakwood two years ago) it did look like a case of a mismanaged (pathetic) EDSAI re-enactment. It was quite embarrassing, really. (So much for warm and fuzzy memories.Delete.Delete.)

Add to this of course the newly appointed Archbishop of Manila declaring over the media that there was no call for the Catholic faithful to support the protesting marines (even as there were already religious massing up with civilians there at the Fort). At that point it looked more like a tele novella rife with intrigue and a fast thickening plot than a genuine coup attempt. Cory and her children were even headed off by the military and barred from attendance of what was a fast emerging gathering of politicians of every color and political persuasion. (From the dictator's daughter to the President's ex-party mates)

Of course it was even less amusing that at the end of the day, on the receiving end (as beneficiary) of this twisted tale's terrible end was the same guileless, thieving politician whose presidency was the cause of such restlessness in the first place. Ever on top of the SPIN, oh Malacanang and its henchmen went into full swing and SPUN as if their dear lives (and it did in a way) depended on it.

That's primetime TV for you.

Sadly, it is because of this lack of choices, viable alternatives and hugely disappointing traditional leadership structures which are always touted as the only existing alternatives which has literally zapped all energies from millions who probably are too put off already to even attempt any EDSA style regime changes again.

Theory: Not for the weary

In the midst of rising tension over renewed repression of basic civil liberties at a level and manner not seen (or at least, not noticed) since the Marcos dictatorship and martial law, the university is seemingly springing back to life.

Having declared itself as a zone of freedom, and erstwhile "state of national emergency" free zone, discussions in the similar manner of "teach-ins" also not seen since the seventies and in the mid-80s are turning out to be back in style.

Yet nothing is really EVER the same and as my husband and I (we both teach and were students in the 80s) were observing the program unfold, the forms may have been familiar (the speeches, and even the exhortations and vocabulary, right down to the tula dula) but many things have in fact changed. For one, there didn't seem to be much of any discussions taking place in the manner of "exchanges," and interactive participation. (Yet this is the generation of interactive technology?)

In as much as blatant state abuses of power (via Proclamation 1017) have seemingly facilitated the university body's coming together in protest, there was more than one thing amiss and strangely awkward about a university trying to find its voice by heedlessly mimicking (and reliving) its "glory days," through the use, re-use and over-use of not just clichéd expressions, but actually not being able to put forward anything new amid the newly relit hotbed of meanings.

I can understand that trite as they may sound, our tried and tested vocabulary for protest actions somehow lend both nostalgia and a ready made "militant" air about our speeches and position papers (among others, "condemnation in the strongest possible terms;" "quest for the truth," and of course those mantras of "justice, democracy and rule of law;" one favorite in Filipino, "sa gitna ng lumalalang krisis pang-ekonomiya…"). But as convenient as shortcuts many of our usual terms may be, there is every danger that we may not be moving forward (not even an inch) or that many of us are simply not being true to our own constantly evolving theoretical bases.

It may just as well be that we have reached a point where we actually think very differently from what we continue to sound like (especially during such political mass gatherings) but are at a LOSS for new expressions and have not been bothering to articulate new meanings in new ways. (Of course as critiques go, this is easier said than done. Public speaking skills aside, perhaps even the best poet laureate can end up stammering a couple of tired expressions under pressure and in front of large crowds.)

I did however, see a couple of new symbols, many of them of course coming from the young people (who else?) This is again not to say any references to the past cannot be justified. History is always important but beyond comparisons, we must also respond to the present challenges, and not misread them as mere repetitions of the past in its exact form and thus confine our strategies to formulas whether it be EDSA, the law, military and catholic bishop led alliances, or the traditional politicians of the opposition.

So here I end with how I began this meandering mess of thoughts: THINKING does mean changing and we need to be doing a lot of the former to be able to do a lot of the latter.


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