Political Crisis

Masa and the Yuppie

“MASANG MASA ang mga tao sa Ayala,” reportedly quipped one reporter on television. It was certainly a reaction not of amazement at the sight of unlettered masses prowling plush Ayala Avenue. It was an expression of disgust or horror. After all, the mere thought of shorts- and sando-sporting hordes of sanggano invading the very heart of Yuppiedom would cause sleepless nights to any Rustans parishioner out there. It was not the reporter’s fault if after all that happened that day — Tita Cory’s and Makati Business Club’s withdrawal of support for Gloria, among others — he had expected at least a portion of the crowd to be composed of the Cory-worshipping yuppie crowd of EDSA Dos. Instead, what he saw was the very same unlettered, Erap/FPJ-worshipping crowd of “EDSA Tres.”

I, for one, was among those who thought for sure that Gloria was dead meat the moment I heard the Bill Luz-JoeCon Tandem “politely” ask the President to step down. Until, of course, I realize that the very reason they are calling for her to step down was to preempt the masses by the hundreds of thousands from trooping to the streets and clogging their driveways to Wack-Wack and Bel-Air.

It’s evident from every statement those people have been uttering all week: that we should stick to the constitutional process, or that people are tired of People Power (the people are tired of being “empowered”?), or that an EDSA Tres (they could not even fathom the May 1, 2002 event being in the tradition of EDSA 1) could lead to anarchy and total collapse of social order. They dread the prospect of hordes of masses seizing the seat of power. Worse, they dread groups like BAYAN (an alliance of sectoral organizations; organized masses, in other words) taking on the reigns of government.

And the middle class — distrustful of the lower classes and afraid that more disorder would further strip them of their marginal economic power — are reluctant to join in the street protests. Sure, they despise what Gloria did and distrust an illiterate Noli de Castro. But they are anxious of the uncertainty of their future in a scenario where the economic and political elite they have grown comfortable with and accostomed to no longer hold sway over Philippine politics. “What do they want, for the communists to take over?” asks Norberto Gonzales, in an obvious effort to sow fear into the heart of every conscientious, idealistic yuppie. He reminds us that communism did not work, that it is the enemy of democracy, that it is passe, etc, etc. The bogey of the godless, infant-eating communist upon the middle class again.

But I for one have not given up on the middle class yet. It seems the middle class fears only that which he or she does not understand. Because if he or she were to only believe Norberto Gonzales, he or she would have reason to be afraid. But what does he or she really know of the BAYAN proposition of a transition government composed of anti-Gloria forces and, more importantly, non-trapo representatives of oppressed sectors of society? What does he or she know of their efforts to push for a program for sustained industrialization through the development of our national industries? Or of the need to defend national sovereignty? Or of genuine agrarian reform? Plans which will not only benefit the unlettered masses but empower the well-manicured middle class.

It has been proven in both EDSA uprisings that once this very mistrust of the masses is set aside and a unity is achieved, social change, however precarious and temporary, can be achieved.

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