The Filipino people were united in toppling the Marcos dictatorship during the 1986 EDSA Revolt. Fast forward to February 25, 2017 and we witnessed the anti-dictatorship movement gather at the People Power Monument in EDSA while supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte downplayed the EDSA commemoration by organizing at the Quirino Grandstand. The colors that stood-out prominently in both venues mirror the current social order in the Philippines. “Fighting colors” are more common in collegiate sports and cheering competitions than in politics. College teams in the Philippines carry their respective colors with pride (i.e. Ateneo Blue Eagles, La Salle Green Archers, UST Golden Tigers, UP Maroons, and San Beda Red Lions). In Philippine politics, the most common and often used colors by political parties and candidates after World War II were red, white, and blue. This was an easy choice because these are the colors of Philippine flag. Regardless of party affiliations, candidates want to present themselves as “pillars of patriotism” and “promoters of nationalistic ideals.” Before Martial Law was declared, the two main political parties (Liberal Party andthe Nacionalista Party) were very much alike in their party emblems and political platforms. Both were also represented by the elite who tried to maintain the status quo.
The only group that challenged the then elite-dominated government was the underground Communist Party of the Philippines (“CPP”) who had strong support among the students, workers, peasants, and the urban poor. The CPP carried the color red which in the Philippine context is associated with protests and uprisings. Red is the fighting color of the revolutionary Katipunan, the Pulahanes, of many millenarian movement, of progressive trade unions like the Kilusang Mayo Uno, and of the militant youth groups Kabataang Makabayan and the League of Filipino Students. During the time of Martial Law and the New Society Movement (Kilusang BagongLipunan), then President Ferdinand Marcos took the political colors of the two-party system and consolidated them into one--- he also consolidated a faction of the Philippine elite. With the people silenced by violence and fear, the only consistent challenge to Marcos again came from the
CPP and their affiliated formations. The protest movement against President Marcos took off after the assassination of Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. The so-called parliament of the streets became bolder as more people gathered in the streets to protest. “Street parliamentarians” consisting of bourgeois-reformists and liberal democrats joined forces with the national democrats, social democrats, and democratic socialists to express dissent.
The color of the protest movement then changed to include not only the color redbut yellow as well. Yellow then became the most prominent color of the 1986 EDSA Revolt as a tribute to Sen. Aquino’s return to the Philippines.Fast forward to 2017 and President Duterte’s supporters are determined to paint the “yellow forces” as the principal adversary of his administration. The historical
significance of the EDSA Revolt and the heroism of those who stood ground in EDSA in 1986 to win back democracy is now being downplayed. At the EDSA monument gathering, black was also very prominent in the yellow crowd as a color of protest to the human rights violations and extrajudicial killings that are taking place in the Philippines--- together with the perceived accommodations handed by President Duterte to the Marcos family. At the Quirino Grandstand, there was a sea of red and white colors which signified support for President Duterte and his drug war. Red as it refers to the militant and the left movement was not prominent in EDSA nor at the Quirino Grandstand since militant leftist groups reportedly held their rally in front of the U.S. Embassy. Change has indeed come to the Philippines as the nation is more deeply divided.Does this mean that all political colors are tainted? Perhaps it is about time to get rid and to throw away colors that only represent and stand for false news, blind loyalty, and loyalty dictated by self-interest. If we are not willing to die for the Philippines, at least we should be willing to be unselfish by thinking and acting for the country’s best interest.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 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.