There are many things I learned in the course of helping out with an informal volunteer group that was formed for the August 26 Scrap Pork rally at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta.
The first lesson might be that it is possible to gather people together, private citizens and celebrities and the academe, activists of every color, against pork barrel. This rally didn’t need a complex message, as it did have the simplest, most unifying message of all. Peachy Bretaña had said in one of the meetings less than a week before the rally: what brings us together is that very thin line that is abolish all pork, and investigate and hold all those guilty accountable. I think it is the thinnest of lines. But that might be enough.
The contingent lesson to that of course, is that we can agree on those two things, and then believe differently about what to do with the pork funds. As a group, we all agreed that we weren’t discussing solutions. We were agreeing that the goal was to gather as many Filipinos in Manila and in simultaneous events elsewhere, to show government that we stand united against all pork barrel and that we demand an investigation of how these funds have been spent so far.
I believe that no matter the number of people that gathered at the Quirino Grandstand, this goal was achieved by the first ScrapPork rally.
Which brings me to lesson number two: of course we could’ve done it better. There is no way really to measure the number of people that went to this rally because many arrived and left early, many arrived late, and even more stayed beyond the Quirino Grandstand grounds. I’d like to think that this was a measure of the kind of no-organizers rally that this was, where we had hoped that groups would come and bring their own sound systems and programs that would gather people around different platforms. We had hoped it possible that people be given the various perspectives about the pork barrel via these different programs.