I just realized that it’s true—we who trooped last Tuesday to Malacanang are a bayaran lot. And a giggly lot too. (And because we represented you guys, you too are bayaran. Sorry, that’s just the way this whole thing works.)
Never before had I seen a more giggly lot than when I was in Grade 2 and my classmates and I were boarding the school bus that would take us to the Magnolia Ice Cream factory for our school field trip.
The group last Tuesday was no less different—going, “GAAKKKK!!WE WERE JUST INVITED TO DINNER!!” when last minute dinner invitations were extended to us. Then when we finally entered Malacañang and while waiting for our turn to enter the main hall, we’d be doing our restrained hopping and poking each other and gigil-hugging each other. ALL of us.
When we were ushered into the stately room and saw that it was going to be just us and the President –not the crowd of 500 we thought we would be part of, hands flew to cover gasps escaping from our mouths. My round huge eyes saw the round, huge eyes of EVERYONE in our group and our umbok cheeks round in childlike glee. And we traced our names (OUR names! GAAKK!) in great amazement on the name cards that the Presidential Staff provided.
And when Da Man entered the room, these people you call fierce warriors, well, what we were basically, was melted putty.
We had studied this man carefully for months, seeing if we could really give him our trust. We read about him, got shocked, amused, dismayed at some of his utterances and then got even more shocked that we could still remain on board despite his unfortunate views about the Marcoses because he just kept doing one great thing after another. A lot of them, unprecedented.
But for a lot of us, there always was this part that thought if it was too good to be true, then he most probably was 9 parts press release and one part scoundrel. That he wasn’t what we thought he was. And that we were wrong about him. That was my one great fear. And I held him at arm’s length still.
Then we sat for hours asking him REAL questions— and listening to him talk as if he had all the time in the world and like we were heads of state, not ordinary Filipino citizens. And us quite unbelieving at the crystal clear answers he gave and too, the utter lack of self-importance of this man. And how we all saw that his heart is in the right place.
On our way out of Malacañang as the magical night ended, our giggly group had turned sober and we all said to each other, “Wow. We were right. He is the real deal.” Blink blink back tears.
Because we—ALL of us—you included— had paid with scorn and derision from total strangers, from our own family members, with lost friendships (Not that it mattered to any of us. Goodbye, have an awesome life, schmuck. As awesome as your pea-sized brain can get you.), with vicious online attacks on our person and of our family members, of obscene memes made of us, of the pain of seeing people we thought were our friends join the online bashing of us—some of them our own family members, of being called an embarrassment to the family .
And yet we stood our ground and for no other reason than because we believed in this man. So we took the principled stand.
And finally, the bayarans got their bayad.
Pwera pa sa pansit at pan de coco at ubod ng tamis ng juice na kulay pink na hindi ko alam kung ano yon, at pwera pa sa pakikipagsalimuha sa isang pangulong pinaniniwalaan namin at pwera pa sa awwwgushshucks ng mangha na makita ang Malacañang Palace up close at makita ang lata ng Skyflakes ng Pangulo sa bedroom table nya (pang midnight snack siguro. Di man lang Chips Ahoy diba? :D) pwera pa sa mayakap at mahalikan namin sha, eto na yata yung pinakamalaking bayad sa amin: na hindi tayo nagkamali. Sakto-swak tayo sa assessment natin sa Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte so far.
Ang sarap ng pakiramdam.
Bayad na bayad tayo.
Siksik, liglig at umaapaw!
*Photo courtesy of the Presidential Photograhers Division (PPD)*