On Friday, May 17, 2019, hundreds of Filipinos, myself included, marched towards the Philippine International Convention Center (where the Commission on Elections was canvassing votes), in defiance of the recently concluded 2019 Philippine midterm elections.
It was my first time to fully document a mobilization, or mob, as my activist friends fondly call it. I’ve been to countless rallies, but never was I able to take in-depth photographs of the ongoing events, and the personalities present. I would have to consider this experience as an achievement, both personally and professionally. (I take photos for a living.)
It was truly a sight to behold. Angry people poured their hearts out as they headed towards their destination, with their colorful flags and placards in hand, all the while chanting pleas for the Philippine president to step down.
And while the whole event, dubbed ‘Black Friday Protest,’ served as an outcry at the sad state of affairs that our country is currently facing, it also became a symbol of hope: hope that the people still know how to fight & demand for justice and the common good, and not kowtow to the whims of a strongman and his allies.
One of my most memorable takeaways from this protest would be a puppy that was being cradled by a young protester.
It was probably the cutest little dog you’ll ever see, and he (it was a male) became a wonderful distraction from the agitation that almost everyone at the venue felt at the time. (If you’re thinking that a clash between the protesters and police erupted, well, no, nothing of the sort occurred; but people were really angry and emotional.)
Oh, how good it must be to be a cute little puppy; dogs seem to be perfectly content with their day-to-day lives, as long as they have good food and company.
As for us? Well, we are not so lucky. We learned to power through each day, and most of the time, simply make the best of the consequences of our actions, and the actions of those who came before us.
But for these protesters, sitting idly by is not something they can afford. They chose to take their grievances to the streets on that Black Friday. I’m pretty sure the authorities heard them, but I’m not sure if they will listen. If they don’t, these people will always be ready to march again.
There was a quiet kind of safety in our numbers that day. We would definitely be needing that, for the dark days to come.