About two years ago, I enlisted in a peti-burgesyang political party. Buklod, is/was (don’t know if it’s still alive) a political party for democratic reform founded three years ago. Benjamin Punongbayan, formerly an accountant of SGV, coughed up 20 million of his own money in order to prove his seriousness in reforming Philippine politics. The objective of Buklod is/was the election of credible and uncorrupted (apparently previously un-elected instantly means incorruptible) figures into power. The grand aim of Buklod is/was capturing 2/3 of the seats in Congress and the Presidency. At least that was the dream.
Like with all dreams, when reality catches up with it, Newton’s law drags you back into the ground. I was impressed in receiving a membership card via mail after a few weeks signing up. Back when the party’s website was still alive we were to support the candidacy of Nicanor Perlas. The man after all was never elected into office and by default made him the complete “outsider”. The man we said to ourselves as the One to bring about ultimate reform. Sufficed it to say I could not keep the fire burning. Back when we were still campaigning for Sen. Manny Villar, I had a discussion with a community organizer on the merits of compromise with the “bureaucrat-capitalist” presidentiable. What he said to me I can never forget; and struck a fatalist chord which has not faded but has only grown stronger with my entry into the trapo circuit. He said to me, “Bilib kaayo si Villar sa atua kay miskan asa naa man ta. Dili kanang mga groups-groups ba nga tag-as kaayog ambisyon na wala lang mabuhat ” (Villar is very impressed with us because our presence is everywhere. Not like those groups that aspire too much but can do too little). To which my surprising one-word reply was: “realpolitik“. Encapsulating in one word, and in that one word alone, the bitter road which all “activists” – armchair or otherwise – must face to achieve victory.
The social and political disconnect of organizations such as Buklod, and dare I say it, Correct™ and LENTE – no vote buying really? – means that all their efforts will just be window-dressing. While these formations represent a positive first step forward, forming a brand and establishing a mass following is by no means the final end-all solution to the problems these formations seek to address. Too little or too much faith in the power of social media does not effectively challenge the status quo. In order for any movement to become a real force in civil society, much less Philippine history, hard work, sacrifice and questionable bargains are going to be made along the way. If ever saboteurs and paid hacks impersonate or smear your organization, then you’ve reached the point when you’re worth attacking . Until then, it’s all just annoying fluff like annoying televangelists.
A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.
– Mao Zedong