Updated 20:23 PM PHT Thu, December 1, 2016
Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — At exactly 6 p.m. on Bonifacio Day, more than 10,000 people created a massive barrage of noise that stretched all the way from the People Power Monument in EDSA to the near end of the westbound lane of White Plains Avenue. For a good couple of minutes, the myriad of people clad in black shirts were screaming at the top of their lungs, waving their signs and raising their fists, and getting as loud as they possibly can.
Among the recent series of protests against the Marcos burial, this particular gathering proved to be grander and more deafening, yet peaceful as the others. The noise brewed a tension in the air, and it brought everyone together.
The organized protest, entitled “Siklab Bayan,” was headed by the Coalition Against the Marcos Burial in Libingan ng Mga Bayani (CAMB-LNMB), an alliance of more than 70 groups “from different sectors led by victims of Martial Law and their families.” The Coalition put together a program involving performances by spoken word artists and musicians, as well as speeches by organizations “across the whole political spectrum.” “We’re a multicolor, multipartisan organization,” said Jozy Acosta-Nisperos, convenor of CAMB and member of the group The Silent Majority.
Fresh-faced youth dominated the crowd, represented by student organizations and young protest groups. Some of them have forgone a night of studying in the midst of final exams week to join the grand rally. It was to them that Jim Paredes of APO Hiking Society dedicated his performance that night. As he sang to a minus-one track of their song “Batang Bata Ka Pa,” the older faces in the crowd lit up and sang along, as if remembering the times when they themselves resisted the regime of Marcos on that same stretch of road in EDSA. Paredes turned to the younger faces and said, “We are passing the torch to you.”
Even as they looked up to watch their beloved artists, the “millennials” were the star of the night, as the stage hosts often assured. Onstage, they are represented by young bands such as Cheats and Oh! Flamingo, among other artists. Playing music is “the best way that we can help,” says Jason Caballa, the guitarist of Cheats. According to their frontman Jim Bacarro, the whole band shares the same sentiment and therefore wants to contribute the same cause. His wife and the band’s vocalist, Saab Magalona-Baccaro, adds: “This is the most important gig for us this year.”
“Mabuhay ang musikang mapagpalaya!” shouts Noel Cabangon, before performing his song “Tatsulok.” His son, Gab Cabangon, was beside him, singing the chorus parts. Everybody knew the words to the classic hit — “Habang may tatsulok, at sila ang nasa tuktok, hindi matatapos itong gulo,” — and the words seemed to bear almost the same meaning they did years ago, but this time, with greater weight.
The air was filled with music — the term “millennial” was thrown around endearingly, alongside chants of “Hukayin!”; “Marcos not a hero!” and “Never again!” repeated all throughout the night. The chants stood for three things respectively, as part the Siklab Bayan’s main mission: (1) to “rectify injustice” through the removal of the heroic symbolism bestowed upon Marcos with his burial, (2) to “hold the Marcos family accountable” for their cases on corruption and human rights, and (3) to “ensure that the Marcos family are never enabled [to return to] political power.”
The noise of that night proved that the protest was a symbolic act, to counter the symbolic burial. On the birthday of Andres Bonifacio, a hero, the youth resisted the supposed state-sanctioned heroism of whom they thought could never be one. The artist Toym Imao told everyone that night, “We need symbols as much as we need heroes.”
Past midnight, the people went home knowing that they would sustain their protests, that they would sustain their voices.