“Our task is to complete the victory of the national democratic revolution Bonifacio had started.” – Roger Soluta, KMU
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Visual artists from Ugatlahi and members of Kilusang Mayo Uno are finishing a 10-ft. effigy of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, depicting the president as “Pork Barrel King.” The effigy is to be part of the Nov. 30 protest action in Manila commemorating the 150th birthday of Philippine hero and revolutionary Andres Bonifacio.
Aside from the protests in Manila, KMU staff said there would be simultaneous protests in Baguio City (beginning with a forum in the morning) and closing with a rally before evening. Northern Luzon workers are set to hold a torch parade going to Igorot Park in Baguio City. In Northern Mindanao, workers are set to hold a forum and before evening, they plan to march to Bonifacio Shrine to lay wreaths for Bonifacio, to light candles and to hold a program commemorating the hero. Some Southern Tagalog workers are reportedly set to hold their own program.
In Metro Manila, workers and various sectors are set to gather and hold a short program in Liwasang Bonifacio by noon. Around 2 p.m. they would march to Mendiola Bridge (now Chino Roces) near Malacañang. Their main program would be held there from 3:30 p.m. onwards.
Cris de Leon, chairman of Ugatlahi, is leading the construction of the “Pork Barrel King” Noynoy effigy at Balai Obrero Foundation in Quezon City.
Ugatlahi is a group of visual artists. They have been crafting effigies for burning during rallies since the Estrada Resign Movement days. “We have a record of effigies of (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) GMA representing her entire term-full of state of the nation addresses.
The artists’ collective has also crafted a lot of Noynoy Aquino effigies. “Four SONAs (of Noynoy effigy), and some smaller effigies in between plus visual or two-dimensionals,” said de Leon. All of these effigies were burned during the protest rally.
Asked how they feel when the effigy they have worked so hard to design and construct is being torched, De Leon replied: “The visual artists’ task is fulfilled (then).” Burning it, he said, puts “a concrete representation of the people’s fury, to their desire to put an end to those oppressing them.”
All effigies crafted by UgatLahi depicted Philippine government leaders as they were seen by the population often doing their worst. As such, all of them have a “negative character,” said de Leon. The effigies show, for example, the president as head of state, but isolated and not with the masses, and as such, “should be destroyed, or put to an end.”
The “Pork Barrel King” effigy is to be paraded from Liwasang Bonifacio to Mendiola via Rizal Avenue. The effigy might be burned before 5:30 p.m..
Nov. 30 is an occasion for protest, said Roger Soluta, Secretary General of Kilusang Mayo Uno. The day “celebrates” the life and struggles of Andres Bonifacio. Soluta said this celebration is also a day of protest because of unresolved issues regarding the pork barrel, present president Aquino’s “criminal negligence and abandonment” in Yolanda, and that, he said, includes having no effective evacuation, absence or extreme slowness in the delivery of relief goods. Soluta said the huge damage on life and properties is attributable to the criminal negligence and abandonment of the Aquino administration.
“What’s painful is that Aquino has undermined the damage of the typhoon; he had not anticipated the storm surge. The tendency of people was to be complacent, especially when they heard his boasts about preparation and prepositioning of the goods, when they heard Aquino giving people the impression that it would be okay, the government was there saying it was prepared, when it was not.”
On the occasion of Bonifacio’s 150th birthday, Soluta said, the workers’ call is to continue his revolution, as its victory hasn’t been completed yet. (Bonifacio is a print worker who formed the armed revolutionary group Katipunan that led the armed revolution against the Spanish colonizers in 1896.)
Although Bonifacio and the Katipunan defeated the Spanish colonial government in 1898, the Americans engaged the new republic in war since 1899, and established a colonial government here at the turn of the century.
Today, Soluta said the Philippines is “still controlled by foreign powers dictating on our economy, politics and military.” He said that in celebrating the life of Bonifacio, “Our task is to complete the victory of the national democratic revolution Bonifacio had started.”