IN a recent Facebook post, Vicente Rafael, a Filipino historian teaching in the United States, offered this bizarre reading of why EDSA no longer sway the imagination of people today: “…that EDSA moment, the moment of martyrs and their bereaved widows, has [been]arguably eclipsed by something else: the manufactured fear of the ‘addict’.”
I had to re-read the sentence as I couldn’t believe that an accomplished historian like Rafael could just declare the fear of many Filipinos of addicts as being just “manufactured”. The implication is it is manufactured by the man who made the destruction of the apparatus of the illegal drug trade one of the primary agenda of his administration.
Perhaps Rafael was thinking of people hooked on something which doesn’t turn them violent, like addicted to a video game, cigarettes, and books. We are dealing here with shabu addicts. And one of the effects of shabu addiction is methamphetamine psychosis, which makes one delusional, paranoid, and aggressive. That’s the reason why a lot of unspeakable heinous crimes have been committed by someone on shabu, such as a recent one where a 52-year-old shabu addict in Dumaguete raped, killed, and cannibalized his 86-year-old mother.
The mother of Kian delos Santos said her son “was scared of ‘drug addicts’ that’s why he wants to become a cop.” Shane, one of their neighbors corroborated this, saying that Kian “usually takes certain routes, because there are streets in their area that are being used as drug dens” (Manila Bulletin, August 20, 2017). Was Kian’s fear “manufactured”?
My initial reaction to Rafael’s commentary, which I posted in my Facebook blog @forthemotherlandph, engendered a sharing of stories of people who were victimized by shabu addicts or knew someone who was.
Cursing at Rafael, Marah wanted him to say that her sister’s fear was manufactured when she was held up by an addict in Cubao one afternoon; or to her best friend whose shabu addict cousin smacked their two-year-old niece with an iron hook. Cez shared that she was “chased by a drug addict in Divisoria at 6 a.m.,” on her way to school. She also shared that she “watched [her]friend’s brother who is an addict, threaten [her]friend and their aunt when they refused to give him money for drugs.”
Can Rafael really look at the family of a rape victim of a shabu addict and tell them that their fear of a shabu addict is “manufactured”? How about to survivors of domestic violence wrought by a shabu addict in their family?
What kind of historian obliterates from his analysis the real lived experience of people with a shabu addict so that he could have a “reason” to explain why EDSA now longer holds the same sway?
To Mister Rafael, EDSA has been eclipsed a long time already by Mendiola. The so-called “bloodless revolution” of 1986 was eclipsed a year later by a bloody dispersal of farmers demanding genuine land reform from the administration of the heroine of EDSA.
I was four when the January 1987 Mendiola Massacre happened. At that time, I lived along Recto Avenue, just above Dunkin Donuts, across Laperal. There was a huge protest outside. The first one I could vividly remember.
People were chanting something I couldn’t understand. I looked out the window, and saw a sea of humanity, angry and defiant. Then there was a gunshot, chaos, and more gunshots followed.
My aunt pulled me away from the window and told me to sleep. It was time for siesta. I didn’t sleep long. I got out of the bedroom and saw our house packed with a lot of people I didn’t know.
Our family sheltered them after they ran away from the security forces that violently dispersed them. Our family gave first aid to those who were wounded. I remember that some of them came from as far away as Tarlac. The hallway of our building was smeared with blood, fresh blood. One couldn’t easily forget its smell, wet and lurid, on concrete, dripping like a forgotten faucet. That scent haunted me for a long time. Perhaps that was why that memory was so vivid—all my senses captured the moment.
When I reached puberty, I learned what had happened that day. As I grew older, I kept meeting people who were present at that protest.
Mister Rafael, there’s no such thing as a manufactured fear of shabu addicts. What is manufactured is the EDSA magic which has been eclipsed a long time ago by the failed promises, violence, and incredible incompetence that came after 1986.