Festive but Ominous

It was a big, jolly rally, and maybe even Malacañang had a laugh. But the writing on the wall is definitely no laughing matter for the beleaguered President.




“That’s what you call a rally!” one of the protesters would exclaim. He was talking about the size of the crowd that marched from the Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City to the Welcome Rotonda, the boundary between Quezon City and Manila, to call for the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The crowd was a huge mix of activists from cause-oriented groups under the umbrella of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) as well as politicians and their supporters from the United Opposition.

Crowd estimates vary even among the organizers, but those who watched the action from the overpasses along Quezon Avenue said the crowd stretched from the Welcome Rotunda to beyond the Sto. Domingo Church – or more than a kilometer. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) had to temporarily reroute the traffic along Quezon Avenue because the part where the rally was being held had become unpassable.


PHOTOS BY A. MAKILAN (above) and D. CASTAÑEDA (above, right)

The protesters were supposed to proceed to Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila, but policemen reportedly deployed from Central Luzon barred them from getting further than the Rotunda. The situation was such that even Manila Vice Mayor Danny Lacuna could not get to his house, which was just a few blocks away.

The policemen from Pampanga, Zambales and Nueva Ecija may have succeeded in preventing the protesters from bringing the rally to the intended venue.



But they certainly failed to spoil the ralliers’ day. A protest it was, but it was marked by a mostly festive atmosphere – punctuated once in a while by angry speeches like that of Carmen Deunida, urban poor leader and a most fiery speaker, who described Macapagal-Arroyo as “a thief and a cheat.”

And who would not be in a jovial mood when you had speakers like Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Teddy Casiño, San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito, and others trying to outdo each other in coming up with Gloria jokes?


and A MAKILAN (above right and

The interesting designs of the props for the rally – definitely not the usual placards with only the slogans on them – would add to the over-all festive atmosphere. There was a virtual showase of CD-shaped placards – in every color you can imagine – and large drawings of the President saying “Hello” to “Garci” over the cellphone.

There were the speeches and there were the placards, but Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) chairman and Patriots convenor Antonio Tinio would go as far as distributing copies of the CDs to the policemen patrolling the area.

It was a big, jolly rally, and maybe even Malacañang had a laugh. But the writing on the wall is no laughing matter for the beleaguered President. Bulatlat

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