Set a meet-up point and 9 other tips for first time protesters attending the Sept 21 rally

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File photo of a protester attending a rally at Luneta Park. (photo by George Buid, InterAksyon)

MANILA, Philippines — Are you a first time protester who intends to join the September 21 rally against dictatorship at Luneta Park? The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan has 10 tips for a safe and meaningful experience.

  1. Come in a group. Rallies are always meant to be group activities. Bring friends, classmates, and officemates.
  2. Know the different assembly points if you will be marching with other people going to Luneta. These could be schools, churches, communities, or plazas.
  3. If you’re not marching, come to the area ahead of time to avoid heavy traffic. Once the marches start, expect a slowdown in the flow of traffic. 
  4. Bring basic rally gear such as water, an extra shirt, power banks, noisemakers, and your own signs or placards. (InterAksyon’s reminder: Bring umbrellas or raincoats, too, in case of rain.)
  5. Post pictures of the event and invite folks to join. Let them know you’re there making a stand. 
  6. Set a meet-up point in Luneta should you get separated from your group. It could be the Kalabaw or the Philippine flag. 
  7. Know the entrance and exit of the park, as well as first-aid stations. If you need help, approach a marshal or organizer. 
  8. We do not burn stuff at Luneta. It’s also a no-smoking zone. Let’s keep the park clean. Best to bring garbage bags. 
  9. Learn the chants and songs. Rally chants are no different from the school cheers during basketball games. 
  10. Listen to the speeches and performances. A rally is a big school outdoors. Interact with other rally participants. Be respectful of the different opinions. Luneta is a safe space where we can speak out, reach out, and be heard.

Thursday’s rally coincides with the 45th anniversary of former President Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of martial law.

It is organized by Movement Against Tyranny, an alliance of human rights, faith-based, and indigenous groups — among others — which seeks an end a culture of impunity and fear bred by the war on drugs. They are also calling for the lifting of martial law in Mindanao.

Marcos-era activists are among MAT’s convenors, among them former Senator Rene Saguisag, former St. Scholastica’s College president Sr. Mary John Mananzan, former Bayan Muna party-list representative Neri Colmenares, former Quezon 4th District Representative Erin Tañada, Free Legal Assistance Group chairman Jose Manuel Diokno, and University of the Philippines Diliman chancellor Michael Tan.

“What is of utmost importance now is the broad national unity against the extrajudicial killings, rising tyranny, and the return to fascist dictatorship,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes in a press release on Tuesday. “Resistance is our only weapon against fascism. Broad and united opposition is our best chance against dictatorship. There is now an emerging united front challenging the fascist Duterte regime.”

Attending the rally aside from Metro Manila-based protesters were contingents from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog, as well as some 2,000 indigenous people and Bangsamoro who had camped in UP Diliman from August 31 for a series of activities calling for, among others, an end to Martial Law in Mindanao, lasting peace, and their right to self-determination.

Night King: Hari ng Kadiliman

Meanwhile, artists’ alliance RESBAK (Respond and Break the Silence Against the Killings) also unveiled an effigy of President Rodrigo Duterte as “Night King: Hari ng Kadiliman“, inspired by the popular TV show Game of Thrones. The show’s heroes have to battle an army of the undead led by the Night King, “strik(ing) fear into the hearts of the living, and pos(ing) the largest threat to life.”

President Rodrigo Duterte as ‘Night King: Hari ng Kadiliman,’ the effigy created by the artists’ collective RESBAK for the September 21 protest. (courtesy of RESBAK)

Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap will be parading the effigy in Mendiola on Tuesday, as part of the actions leading up to September 21.

“Night King: Hari ng Kadiliman portrays President Duterte as a real-life Night King: an ominous figure who wields death and fear to cow the people into silence and submission in the face of ongoing community struggles for life, land, jobs, and rights,” RESBAK said in a press release. “The dark figure dons a breastplate adorned with the Marcos insignia and raises a bloodied right fist, mimicking Duterte’s famed ‘fist bump’ hand gesture. Under his spell, people are transformed into passive and frozen figures, mute and deaf to the new wave of brutality, slaughter, and growing abuse of power.”

Like Marcos, they said, Duterte’s regime will not last if it continues its “increasingly brutal violations of people’s rights and welfare.”

In the same way the Night King and his army could only be defeated with obsidian or “Dragonglass”, RESBAK said “these forces of darkness can only be defeated by the Filipino people’s solidarity and militant action against tyranny, which — as history has proven — remains the most potent and enduring weapon of all.”