The Color War of 2016

The organizers of the protest to bury Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (hero’s cemetery) required the protesters to wear white. White, it was argued, was a “unifying” color, unlike Yellow. It seem to be a small matter. Myopic even to be arguing which side of the specuturm one belongs to, at a time when the bigger issue at hand is the burying of Ferdiand Marcos in a hero’s cemetery.

Consciously, or not, for some, it is viewed as a slight against The Yellow Army. Yellow is a polarizing color because it stood for, and continues to stand for good governance, for moral compass, and for putting people first. Others would describe it as Servant Leadership, and PNoy described it as Daang Matuwid. Yellow, let us face it, like all ideals, is something its leaders and members fail to live up to, but again, like all ideals, they continue to strive for it, and as often as Yellow fails, it has succeeded, and succeeded far more than it has failed.

It was Yellow that dominated 1986. The Constitution, the bed rock of the Fifth Republic was a byproduct of a Yellow victory. It was the byproduct of the Widow in Yellow who led the fight against Ferdinand Marcos, and won. It wasn’t a perfect start, most certainly. Corruption continued, and ran rampant. Some who wore Yellow then became corrupt. As the recent election showed, one such Yellow was Mr. Binay, the former Vice President. But like it or not, it was Yellow led by the Widow in Yellow that gave the Philippines back its democracy.

Fast forward to 2010, it was a Yellow Army that brought the Son of Democratic icons into the Presidency. Benigno S. Aquino III became the 15th President of the Philippines. Mr. Aquino waged war on Corruption. Mr. Aquino strengthened institutions where his predecessor weakened them. Mr. Aquino revitalized the nation. It was the President in Yellow who contrary to the opposition claim, spread the wealth to every district, whether that district was in the administration or not.

It wasn’t all perfect. Mr. Aquino, and Mr. Roxas would be the first people to say so. And many of us who continue to wear Yellow, would be the first to say it wasn’t perfect. There were shortcomings. But I like to think that inspite of the shortcomings, the purpose, the intent was always to put people first. Maybe the decision was the wrong one, but in every decision that Mr. Aquino made as president, it was always to put the interest of people first, and never his self-interest.

For six years, Yellow ruled, and dominated. The effect was the best economy of the last 40 years. The Philippines’ standing in the world rose, especially diplomatically. The Philippines went to the Hague to fight China in the only arena that civilized nations ought to engage in. And won. A nation celebrated a win that has diplomatic, and world shattering victory for every country in the world. Period.

If we are talking colors as symbols for groups, White too has had a bad rep. Corona wore white to make himself look less guilty. Grace Poe wore white, for the very same reason that some now view white. They were not part of Yellow, or had refused to be part of that reform movement. MPM, if I was not mistaken also wore white, and so if it is merely a choice of colors, White is not exactly a winning color, nor is it unifying.

Yellow is a moralising, and polarizing color. Some want to be a part of it, but can’t, couldn’t or ultimately, shunned. And so, people hate Yellow, for all the good, and all the bad that being Yellow incorporates. That irks people to no end. The moralizing irks people to no end.

Leni Robredo won wearing yellow. The color of the shirt is not partisan. We are partisan. Everyone picks a side. Wear white they will say, “white is the new yellow.” Wear Blue, and the people who hate Yellow the most like the Marcos loyalists will say the same. My two cents is that we shouldn’t quibble on colors. Let everyone wear whatever color they want. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations is far less partisan, and far more welcoming if that is the objective.

For 30 years, Yellow stood for something. It stood against a dictator, and won. It stands for good governance. Like all ideals sometimes people fall short of those ideals. That’s ok. Like all ideals people strive for it again when they fall. And that’s what the last 30 years is about. For the last six years Yellow stood as a beacon of good governance. Best economy in 40 years. Yellow stood against China, and won. Let’s not forget that when we are thinking how ashamed we are to wear Yellow or when we quibble on the what shirt to wear against a common foe.

Maybe we can start some healing this way. If it was up to me, I’d say let everyone wear what they want. Infinite diversity in infinite combination is less partisan, and more welcoming. Wear what’s comfortable. The color of our shirt is less important than our shared humanity, or our common purpose.