by Norma Hennessy
GLOBAL DIASPORA PROTEST RALLY AGAINST CHINA’S INVASION OF PHILIPPINE TERRITORY
It was a beautiful chilly winter evening. Clear blue skies smiled above. Neon, flouro and street lights perked up the grey feel of winter. The various displayed slogans on A1 posters and banners were catching keen curiosity from passers by and motorists. MPs were huddled in a corner of the front steps of the parliament house, seemingly awaiting for the next scenario. “China- invest not invade!”, “China -stop bullying!’, ‘China- respect international laws!’ ‘China-respect other nations’ sovereignty!’ Eyes turned to look and lingered to stare. ‘China – respect Philippine Sovereignty! ‘ The last one got lingering looks. It was a good sign that Australians are beginning to grow aware of cultural identities and differences among Asians!
The turn out at the Protest Rally was what we had hoped at best under the current political climate in Australia’s international relations.
The Protest Rally against China’s invasion of Philippine territory took place on Wednesday, 24th July at the front steps of the Parliament House and with our Parliament House coordinator – JP checking with us from time to time if all was okay. Pinoy-convert Aussies stood side by side with Filo-Aussies, banners and posters in hand in defiance to the winter evening chill. And people wondered, looked, read and drove by. Some passers-by who were Kabayans took photos – but declined to join and went off their merry way. However, the passion of those who joined us was humbling.
KUDOS to the team that volunteered time, money and efforts to have worked together in anchoring the Adelaide Rally Protest Against China’s invasion of Philippine territory. Joan D. offered her house for meetings and for the venue used in work-shops for additional banners. Ella, a Chilean friend cooked and tirelessly helped out. Tony M. and Mike E. did the running and driving around. Vi P. and Violy L. volunteered to donate for the rental of a mobile public address system and for the printing of large posters. JP procured the permit for the best venue.
Contrary to what others might have thought that only money can move mountain s these days, budget did not come into the equation. Juanita L. ignored huge personal discomforts just so she could be at the most crucial moment of the program - be there at the rally on a cold winter night with her impassioned love for the Philippines spoken in such humbling sincerity that reinforces your own sense of pride for being her kind – as a Filipino worth dying for. Romy C. flew in from Sydney on his personal expense to join the team. He provided media coverage and net-worked the event to other Filipino Global Diaspora protest rally groups around the world. Richard B. risked more than what anyone with lesser sense of patriotism would dare risk when he agreed to join the team . The Adelaide Protest Rally was Australia’s sole participation.
Adelaide is rather used to events, rallies and parades that are held on early evening of any season of the year. For the purpose of this rally, any other time would have meant zero attendance in participation and it would have also meant ‘blind-eyed-and-deaf-eared audience’. (Considering the day being Wednesday - the people out on the city streets during the day are tourists, visitors, unemployed job-seekers and busy workers on rush appointments and who would not give your cause a minute of their busy day!)
The front steps of the Parliament House was lit up. The rally was strategized to synchronize with the time when traffic congests. Traffic flow would stop in front of the Parliament House because the intersection lights are immediately to the front-left of the building. Early evening is also the busiest part of the day for pedestrian crowd . The participants gave out information flyers to passers-by before the program which promptly kicked off at 6:00 PM. Malcolm Wildgoose with Tony Malong assisting, gallantly took on the role of a ‘spruiker’ to rev up the gathering.
The venue put the protest rally at its most visible vantage in getting the messages across. The plan primarily factored in visibility of the event and the kind of audience whose attention was what the protesters wanted to get. One of the team’s spokes persons remarked, “We succeeded in getting the attention of the people whose attention we wanted – and they are those who are working in the parliament and the government. You do not need a huge mass of people for that. But you do need to get the right attention!”
The event was a political act that more than surpassed its goal to reveal elements that are far more valuable than what one could have used it for. It brought to light pristine and noble principles hidden among outstanding individual persons in garments of anonymity, or at best-ordinary. Those who came to the rally were fuelled only by one potent trigger - love for and loyalty to their roots, ancestry and their land. There were not many who came - but then again, priceless treasures are rare. Had there been more, it would have been impossible to identify the grains from the chaff. In as far as the realization of objective was concerned, what was achieved is a far reaching one. The rally not only raised a new awareness and understanding of true freedom, its price and the actual price to pay that’s hidden beneath layers of codicils of good neighborliness. It made a revelation of how much the world’s addictive dependency on Chinese money, Chinese Labour, Chinese sponsorships and Chinese patronage has put a noose around our freedom -our freedom to be ourselves. There were, for instance those who were passionate about joining the protest rally but they felt hindered because they were more passionate about going to Hong Kong and China for holiday and therefore they did not want to take any risk of possibly rocking any boat. But there were also those who are now growing aware and are at the opposite spectrum in their thoughts about liberal and permissive sell out of assets.
“Everybody seems inclined to kow-tow to the Chinese now and the Chinese are aware that they are now having the upper hand! They’re now tightening up quite overtly on nations that have become economically dependent on them! “ -commented one European masters student who was at the rally.
All in all, we feel we achieved something good for us and for the Filipino Global Diaspora’s cause one way or the other.