The convergence of poetry and rock music characterized Down with the Crackdown, a concert held Nov. 22 at the Ten 02 Bar in Quezon City. Organized by the Artists’ Response to the Call for Social Change and Transformation (Artists’ ARREST), the concert was staged in protest against the political persecution of activist leaders from Southern Tagalog.
BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Ang pader ko’y di lamang malamig at malagkit,
Nakakwadro rin dito ang latay ng pasakit.
Ang sahig ko’y di lamang marumi at maganit,
Nakaratay din dito ang tisikong inip.
Ang rehas ko’y di lamang kalawang ang galis,
Naglangib na rin dito ang paglayang nais.
Wisikan ng tula ang langib ng paglaya!
Wasakin, wasakin ang rehas na sutla!
Wakasan, wakasan ang salot ng pagdusta!
Bumangon sa dilim na ngitngit ang tanglaw!
Banggain, banggain ang pader na ampaw!
Banggain ang karsel na pagtakas ang hiyaw!
Poet and former political detainee Axel Pinpin performed this poem of his, “Awit ng Bilanggong Politikal” (Song of the Political Prisoner), to the tune of an impromptu melody by punk band The Wuds. With the intensity of Pinpin’s poem and the aggressive beat of The Wuds’ melody, the poet and the band had no difficulty finding the common tempo that they needed to successfully pull the performance off.
The Wuds frontman Bobby Balingit would go on to perform two songs of his, each about children carrying the burden of poverty.
This performance was among the highlights of Down with the Crackdown, a concert held Nov. 22 at the Ten 02 Bar in Quezon City. Organized by the Artists’ Response to the Call for Social Change and Transformation (Artists’ ARREST), the concert was staged in protest against the political persecution of activist leaders from Southern Tagalog.
Last month, 72 persons – many of them leaders of cause-oriented groups in Southern Tagalog – were slapped with multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder charges in relation to an ambush carried out in 2006 by the New People’s Army (NPA) against policemen in Oriental Mindoro. They were charged without so much as even the benefit of a preliminary investigation by the fiscal’s office.
Six of them have been arrested – including Emmanuel Dionida, executive director of the labor research institute LEADERS, who suffers from polio. The five others are Remigio Saladero, Jr., a lawyer of the Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE), founding member of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), chief legal counsel of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement), and columnist of the online newspaper Pinoy Weekly; Rogelio Galit, spokesperson of the Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite (Kamagsasaka-Ka or Farmers’ Confederation in Cavite); Nestor San Jose, leader of the Southern Tagalog Transport Sector Organization (Starter); Crispin Zapanta, member of Bayan Muna (People First); and Arnaldo Seminiano, organizer of the Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa (IBM), a KMU-affiliated union.
Other respondents include Armando Albarillo, secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance)-Southern Tagalog and signatory to the 2008 impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; Bayani Caronero, eighth nominee and Southern Tagalog regional coordinator of Bayan Muna; Doris Cuario, secretary-general of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights)-Southern Tagalog; Helen Asdolo, secretary-general of GABRIELA-Southern Tagalog, Luz Baculo, secretary-general of Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik or Unity of Workers in Southern Tagalog) and member of KMU’s National Council;
Orly Marcellana, secretary general of Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK or Confederation of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog) and chairman of Bayan-Southern Tagalog; Romeo Legaspi, chairman of the Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik or Unity of Workers in Southern Tagalog); Rolando Mingo, president of Starter and vice president of the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston); Dina Captillo, spokesperson of Karapatan Batangas; Renato Alvarez, Kamagsasaka-Ka chairman; Romeo Aguilar, organizer of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) in Rizal; and Pedro Santos, Jr., secretary-general of Anakbayan-Southern Tagalog and regional coordinator of Kabataan Party.
“We might think what is happening is so far from Metro Manila,” said Bayan’s national secretary-general Renato Reyes, Jr., who spoke at the event. “But the truth is, that could also be done to any of us here.”
Saladero was the subject of the poem recited by this writer, “Ngayon Pa Lamang ay Pinawawalang-sala Ka Na ng Kasaysayan” (This Early, History is Acquitting You):
Noon pa naihanda ang kanilang hatol sa iyo:
hinusgahan ka na nilang maysala
bago pa man masimulan ang paglilitis.
Sa ganang kanila’y kriminal na lahat
ang mga tumututol sa pagmamalupit,
sa pag-apak sa matagal nang inaapakan.
Isinadlak ka nila sa likod ng mga rehas,
at marahil ay hindi na magiging kataka-taka
kung sa isang moro-morong paglilitis
ay mapapalitaw nilang ikaw ay kriminal.
Ngunit maliwanag na rin ngayon pa lamang
kung ano ang magiging kapasyahan ng kasaysayan.
Kung mapalitaw man nilang ikaw ay maysala
sa hukuman nilang hukuman ng mga payaso’t sirkero,
ngayon pa lamang ay pinawawalang-sala ka na ng kasaysayan –
sapagkat nakaukit na sa papel ang mga tala
ng walang-pag-iimbot mong pagtatanggol
sa mga walang pambili ng “hustisyang” nabibili.
Rustum Casia, in his poem “For Humanitarian Reasons”, tackled the contrast between the special treatment for former Agriculture Undersecretary and suspected fertilizer funds scam mastermind Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante and the disregard for the illnesses of Galit (who is suffering from diabetes and was scheduled for surgery at the time of his arrest) and Dionida.
In another poem, “Junket”, Casia turned to mocking the so-called “Euro-generals” led by former Philippine National Police (PNP) comptroller Eliseo dela Paz:
Habang nagdidildil ng asin para ulam ang sambayanan,
bigla silang darating at sasabihing walang masama
kung nagdala sila ng higit anim na milyong
piso sa Moscow.
Tayong hindi man lang makarating ng Bora, Tagaytay at Baguio.
Tayong palagi na lang ay namamaluktot-maikli ang katsang kumot.
Tayong patas at parehas lumaban.
Tayong nagtuturing ng malisya sa kanilang kabutihang para sa bayan.
Tayo lang ang nagbibigay ng malisya.
Mahiya naman tayo
at humingi ng tawad sa kanila.
Other performances were from the bands Semi.o.tic, Datu’s Tribe, and Brownman Revival. (Bulatlat.com)