August is a rainy month in the Philippines. Many typhoons pass through the archipelago every year after the start of the rainy season in July.
The month of August is also significant because of the important events that took place during the said month that are a big part of our history.
The rains of August are heaven sent to some, particularly to the rice farmers in the rural countryside who need abundant water supply and irrigation to plant rice. In the cities and urban areas however, there is anxiety when the rains come because of the anticipated floods and heavy traffic particularly in Metro Manila.
In the history of the Philippines, two turning points or events that we can call “game-changers” happened during the month of August.
First, there is the “Cry of Pugadlawin” (also called or referred to as the “Cry of Balintawak”) that took place on August 23, 1896 when the forces of the revolutionary Katipunan led by Andres Bonifacio gathered to declare the Filipino people’s war of resistance against Spanish colonialism. Bonifacio and his followers tore their “cedulas” (residence certificates) and vowed to fight for the freedom and independence.
Almost three years after that historic cry in Pugadlawin, on January 23, 1899, the First Philippine Republic was established under the leadership and presidency of General Emilio F. Aguinaldo in Malolos, Bulacan.
Let’s now fast forward to 1983 for the second game-changing event. On August 21, 1983, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. who was the leading opposition leader against the Marcos Regime was gunned down at the airport tarmac in Manila after returning home from the U.S.
Although there was already an underground revolutionary movement and an armed resistance against Marcos led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, Sen. Aquino’s assassination triggered a national uproar that awakened many passive Filipinos to join the fight against the dictatorship.
The resulting battle cry, “Justice for Aquino Justice for All,” represented not only the struggles of the poor and the oppressed working class but also the will of the elite and the upper class to get rid of the Marcos dictatorship. The movement against Marcos also led to the recognition of new heroes who gave up their lives earlier on for the cause of liberation (among them were student leader Edgar Jopson, Macli-ing Dulag of the Cordilleras, Dr. Bobby dela Paz in the Visayas, and many others whose names are now in the Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani).
Almost three years after Sen. Aquino’s assassination, in February 1986, the fight to end the Marcos regime reached its peak when the EDSA People Power Revolution resulted in the ouster of President Ferdinand Marcos who fled to Hawaii with the assistance of the U.S.
Before Sen. Aquino’s assassination, the dominant color of the protest movement against Marcos was “red” following the tradition and colors of the Katipunan and the Communist Party of the Philippines. After of Sen. Aquino’s death, yellow became the dominant color of the above-ground resistance and the street protest movement against Marcos. The inspiration for the yellow color was not revolutionary but a romantic popular song by Tony Orlando (“Tie A Yellow Ribbon/ 'Round The Ole Oak Tree”)---
“I'm comin' home, I've done my time
Now I've got to know what is and isn't mine . . .”
Sen. Aquino’s coming home was seen as a symbol of patriotism or love of country and because hundreds and thousands of yellow ribbons or banners were raised throughout the land, in marches and rallies, in election campaigns, sorties, and other protest venues, “yellow” took the lead over red in 1983 as the color of protest.
Let’s fast forward again this time to the year 2017.
Are the “colors of August” fading through the efforts of new powerful forces in government and social media who are trying to erase and re-define the true meaning and historical significance of these colors in Philippine history?
Let us not forget our historical past including events that took place after Emilio Aguinaldo and his allies from the elite class took over from Andres Bonifacio and betrayed the spirit of the Katipunan and the Cry of Pugadlawin.
Let us not allow the few to spread fake news and untrue information about our history.
Until next week!
Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.