it is with deadlines looming and the need to earn my keep that I write this. which is to say I have more important things to do with my time, including of course your notion(s) of action, as they do include what you wouldn’t be caught dead doing for nation.
but your tirade against the armchair … este … the revolutionary armchair … no wait, the armchair revolutionary! cannot be left unquestioned, lest the world thinks we all agree with you, and that would ultimately be a misrepresentation of this country’s ability at coming together and kicking presidents out: nakaupo man tayo sa armchair o lupa ng EDSA, nakataas man ang ating kamao sa Mendiola o nagki-click ng mouse maghapon.
this is not to say at all that I’m a revolutionary — my knowledge of who exactly are the revolutionaries of our time keeps me from imagining myself as that. you meanwhile seem to have no issue with calling yourself such, seeing as you critique its armchair version because as far as you’re concerned real revolutionaries translate it into action: I imagine you mean that workshop you had with your Pinoy Power NGO?
don’t worry, I shall get to that in a bit.
right now I find the need to write you as a matter of defending my chair, which is not an armchair, as it is an ergonomic chair — the better for one’s lower back. this is to defend this chair, many versions of which exist across this country, and in every space in the world where there’s a Filipino. this is to defend this chair, because on it sits the Pinoy who clicks on the Like and Dislike button on FB, and (re-)Tweets what he or she thinks.
I’d tell you with as much excitement that we’ve been doing this all this time, but I don’t want to rain on your parade of imagined self-importance. instead let me point out two things:
(1) all the activists on my FB friend list and the ones I follow on Twitter are activists period. do you follow them too, Jim? these are intelligent people who continue to teach this side of the world about nation, extending the teaching process to Twitter and FB, and yes, blogging (which I presume is an evil too as far as you’re concerned — oh the time we waste just sitting to blog!)
I don’t know where you’ve been Jim, but we established a long time ago, and I think it’s now common sense, that these social networking sites reproduce who we are as people to begin with. tool po ang tawag sa FB at Twitter, Tumblr at Posterous na ginagamit natin para sa ating mga pagkilos sa labas ng virtual nating mundo. who exactly said and believed that this was an end in itself?
I do wonder now: when you admonish them people who Tweet and put up FB statuses, and question what it is they’re doing, who are you talking to? obviously not the activists who have continued to exist, over and above your leaving and living again in this country Jim. or is this really just your recent realization about yourself?
(2) or maybe you mean me? with no time really other than the few precious minutes I spend finishing a cup of coffee, which I use to do any or all of the following: look at my Twitter feed and retweet the tweets I agree with, look at my FB News Feed and Like the statuses that are funny or relevant or both, Share notes that I feel are important to read for whoever will catch it up on their News Feeds. if there’s time, I might tag the people who I feel must read these posts, be it on Twitter or FB.
but you know, time away from writing means no money to pay the bills, Jim. and things aren’t difficult for me, as it actually is for a bigger working class in this country: the ones who are underpaid and mistreated, underemployed and overworked, be it in BPOs across the country, or just in horrid creative jobs that really only look good on paper, all of the educated class who would know to use FB and twitter as tools, if not as possible escape.
and so you see Jim, I’m actually happy enough when there’s any sense of nation in the FB statuses or tweets of my students — now all mostly working in crappy jobs that don’t do justice to their skills or intelligence. I celebrate when they Like an FB post of mine that’s about the fight for passing the RH Bill, or about a current event or other that they might not even know of otherwise. I take the chance to respond to their questions on my blog, or in private messages, because you know it means they took time, that there was time spent at thinking about nation, at removing one’s head from the daily grind and clicking on what Miss Ina said today about nation.
that Like, that (re-)tweet, that Shared FB note, means more to me because I know of the lives they live, and the way in which time is equal to money where they work. and yes, those Likes or Shared posts from public school teachers where I used to work, the ones who keep my feet on the ground, the ones who have taught me more than they can imagine because of the lives they live: those are enough too, Jim.
because the question really is: who can afford to get out of his armchair and scream at people to do the same? no really, Jim. isn’t this just all about you?
yet you speak as if it’s about us, as if you know all of us; you speak as if we are all in the same boat. and you question us, Jim, you question us who are here, have stayed, and have no where to go really, though we might leave and work odd jobs elsewhere — not at all the case for you, right? you speak of us who can’t just go around building NGOs, holding photography workshops, being paid for being us, Jim.
you are not the same as the rest of us, and I said it long ago, and I’ll say it now: you and Carlos Celdran are in the same boat, from which you have the option to watch us all sink, from which you both speak of changing nation, and yet will keep the status quo. unlike you though, Carlos has been touring us through Manila, and fighting for the RH Bill, to his own detriment. what have you done that even equals that, Jim?
not much, really. and yet you will brag about making your house a relief and donation center in light of the 2009 floods in Luzon, to which I respond with two questions: (1) what have you done since then? (2011 na diba?), and (2) why do you speak like you have a monopoly on this act of opening up one’s house and home?
countless Filipinos did this in Manila and beyond post-Ondoy, Jim, and they might have been tweeting and putting up FB statuses while they were doing it, too. you don’t know my sister-in-law, but she lives in The Netherlands, has three young kids and a house to keep, and she kept an operation going in the aftermath of Ondoy. like many Filipinos here and across the world, she didn’t even think of bragging about it. for most Filipinos the relief operations were not a claim to fame, or a claim to moral high ground. in fact it was nothing but a national spirit that cut across the world, in every tiny space there was a Filipino. yes, chairs included.
you have single handedly made it seem like we weren’t doing much during Ondoy, Jim, and I don’t know how that helps nation — how that helps any of us — in any way.
nor is it clear how a weekend workshop of 99 people who ate like the poor in one exercise — only sardines and instant mami you say — helps nation. no really: how does a workshop where you ask the question “are we a people wired to fail?” help nation? where does a workshop even stand, that whole weekend spent talking to each other about being Pinoy, in the context of the urgencies that we live with in this nation every day, both personal and national.
sa totoo lang Jim, many of us don’t need to do an exercise where we can feel like the rich or poor: we know exactly what that disparity is like. many of us don’t have time to talk about being Filipino and Filipino identity Jim, instead we live it and its contingent oppressions every day.
and this is not a question of you having the privilege of time and money Jim. it’s a question of what it is you’re doing with it. because there is no reason to blame us for the time that you have on your hands; no reason to look at our tweets and FB statuses and think: what are they doing with their time? and finding only the answers that are about highlighting what you’ve done.
in truth: you’re writing on air, Jim, in a country where writers write with their own blood, and die poor and hungry.
really now Jim, you must know this is a lot of crap. and you must know it because you’re talking to yourself, sitting in every kind of chair you’ve got in your house. and no, there’s nothing revolutionary about that.