In the sixties during the rise and height of the youth and student power movement in the United States, the music and poetry of Bob Dylan provided inspiration to the progressive-liberal protest movement. Actually, Bob Dylan was one of the unforgettable inspirations of that generation.
Dylan’s song, “The Times They Are a-Changin” captured the essence and the contradictions of the period. The lyrics are moving (if not powerful)---
“Come mothers and fathers / Throughout the land / And don't criticize / What you can't understand / Your sons and your daughters / Are beyond your command / Your old road is / Rapidly agin'./ Please get out of the new one / If you can't lend your hand / For the times they are a-changin'.”
The progressive protest movement of the sixties in the U.S. also influenced the students in the Philippines a great deal. It was a time when youths started expressing their concerns about what was happening in their country and this concern gave rise to youth activism and movements in the Philippines.
Then in the early seventies, the famous First Quarter Storm took place wherein progressive students and student groups challenged the Marcos-led government and establishment--- including the perceived posturing of President Ferdinand E. Marcos to extend his rule to an unprecedented third term by amending the constitution or by exercising muscle through power grab.
Five decades later, we are again witnessing chaos and unrest.
The rise to power of President Donald Trump in the U.S. and President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines were beyond people’s wildest expectations at first.
Who could imagine the sudden rapid shift of the political tide in the U.S. from “progressivism,” pro-environment activism, and multiculturalism to “white supremacism,” racism, and narrow-nationalism in America?
In the Philippines, the war on drugs has accounted for more killings in less than two years compared to the twenty-year reign of President Marcos and yet the protest movement has not surged or picked-up steam there.
Lisandro E. Claudio, an associate college professor at De La Salle University in the Philippines opined that “Dutertismo is the new dispensation in Philippine politics” and that Duterte’s critics would continue to scratch their heads about the President’s popularity until they come to terms with one fact: Duterte is popular because he is changing what it means to be a Filipino citizen. That to displace the narrative of Dutertismo, critics need to present a new story, said Prof. Claudio.
A new narrative is definitely needed.
“For the time they are a-changin” may be appropriate in the 60s to challenge the conservatism of the 50s, and the “Tama Na. Sobra Na. Palitan Na” in mid-1980s was enough to inspire the first People Power Revolt in 1986. But it is obvious that the “yellow brand” in politics has somewhat lost glitter these days.
In the hearts and minds of the Filipino people, Duterte’s “Change is coming” has not been supplanted by the “Never Again, Never Forget” call from present day anti-Martial law activists and protesters. History has been “re-told” and many even glorify the Marcos years as the Philippines’ best.
Claudio’s assertion that in order “to supplant Dutertismo there is a need to reject elements of past dispensations” has a point.
Borrowing from Bob Dylan: How many deaths and extra judicial killings (EJKs) before we realize that EJK is not the solution?
Do we risk terrible economic and natural disasters and the collapse of political institutions in the Philippines? Do we risk creating and validating a violent tradition and a culture of impunity in the country that only two years ago was chanting “mercy and compassion” as it welcomed and embraced Pope Francis during his pastoral visit in the Philippines?
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.