One Filipina’s social media activism (and how it shaped the Aug. 26 protest)


Roman Catholic priest Fr. Robert Reyes, second from left, prepares to run blindfolded along with supporters to protest the pork barrel scandal Friday in Manila. AP

Peachy Rallonza Bretana’s social activism has followed a pattern: she saw something on Facebook and got really mad.

That’s what happened when she came across the clip of the crying, dancing boy on Willie Revillame’s TV show two years ago.

It happened again this month when she began reading the posts about some little known, somewhat obscure government program called the Priority Development Assistant Fund.

“There’s not much difference in the way it started,” she told me in an email. “You see/read something on YouTube and online then you become so angry that you vent out your anger and disgust online by sharing to your friends. Both the Revillame case and this PDAF scam stemmed from the way they affected me on a personal level.

“As in: Gigil na gigil ka sa galit.”

Actually, there is one difference.

The Revillame case, which sparked outrage so vehement it caused the show to be suspended and created a heightened awareness around the way children are treated on TV, was triggered by a clip that Peachy says was “instantly revolting.”

The anger related to the pork barrel controversy, however, took a little longer to boil over.

It started with a stream of news stories and blogs and the comments. Then the Commission on Audit report came out which was followed by a post calling for a “Million People March” against the pork barrel system.

Peach saw that.

“When I shared it, a friend called me up and said, ‘Sige let’s go! That snowballed before Friday night ended,” she said.

And it kept snowballing. The buzz kept getting stronger. And louder.

And pretty soon, she found herself at the center of a protest movement – an ambitious protest movement.

That’s because Peachy and her loose network of friends on Facebook and beyond, including concerned Filipinos in the U.S., are trying to mobilize people without any central organization or structure. There won’t even be a stage or a program.

People are being asked to come out to hold “pocket picnics” at the Luneta as a way of expressing their anger over corruption.

It’s a tough task. In fact, Peachy herself acknowledges it’s probably crazy.

“I know I was just a loudmouthed ‘netizen’ who had the audacity to ask my friends to come along with me to protest which just turned out was their same sentiment all along,” she told me. “I am crazy and naive, yes. I wanted my friends to be as crazy as me.”

A message thread on Facebook, in which I was looped in, underscored the challenge of organizing a big protest that’s not supposed to look like other big protests.

“People are averse to it becoming a rally with a stage and all,” Peachy said in one message.

“There really is no group organizing this. It’s pure people’s initiative and need to be with like-minded people. It is snowballing at great speed because of the appeal that everyone has a stake in the Million People March. Thus, no one wants any group, any group’s banner, any color or even personalities.”

Naturally, there are groups that don’t buy it, who see some hidden agenda in the protest action.

“Someone sent me a PM [private message] accusing me of fronting for a group or whatever,” Peachy says in another message. “I’m a reluctant host here but taking it on as far as I can.”

In fact, this was how the anti-pork protest is different from the Revillame case, she said.

Apparently, there’s so much at stake in what’s supposed to happen that some political groups and personalities have been trying to figure out who’s behind it, perhaps to figure out how to manipulate it.

Peachy said she started getting “a deluge of friend requests and private messages asking me who the organizer is, or accusing me of being a front to someone or some group.”

“The most accusatory were the ‘reds’ and the ‘yellows’” she told me. “That was exhausting. And it still is.”

But somehow, she has pushed on, propelled by the rage over what the scandal has exposed, and some disillusionment with President Aquino whom she supported.

“I’ll be honest with you Boying, I’m middle,” Peachy continued in an email.” I want to work within the system. I question and am not totally into this presidency, but I started out with big hopes. I am naive that way. And hopeful still. But I know that if the system doesn’t work, I will be the first to shout and complain and magkalampag and that is why I did this. IN ANGER AND FRUSTRATION.”

Back to the Facebook message thread, she stressed: “This gathering should still be colorless with no organizer because each one of us is actually the organizer.”

But at one point, the stress of organizing a colorless demonstration seemed overwhelming.

“Tried sleeping but still can’t,” she said another time. But then she also declared, “Hindi na people power. People empowerment na.”

And as more reports of people getting ready for the Luneta “picnic” and more messages of support popped up on the thread, a more hopeful post:

“People are organizing, on their own, nationwide city events na,” Peachy said. “People are stepping up.”

And even though Aquino finally also called for the scrapping of PDAF, the Aug. 26 demonstration is still on.

“Gathering will still push through for the demand for transparent investigation and prosecution of those guilty of misusing pork,” she told me.

After all, she noted on the message thread, scrapping the PDAF is not exactly the same as getting rid the corrupt pork barrel system itself.

“We have more to say,” she told her group on Friday. “We demand transparency.”

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  • FireEngine

    Bless this lady’s activism and efforts. She may have just brought about a much needed historic change in this country that we have only dreamed about, till now.

  • kokak

    Count us in, Peachy!

  • ZemogLZ

    Mabuhay ka Peachy!! We are with you in this crusade. Ikalaboso ang mga gahaman sa pera!

  • joboni96

    nadenggoy na naman tayo
    ng imperyalistang propaganda sa internet

    smokescreen ng imperyalistang u.s.
    ang pdaf brouhaha at rally na ito

    habang tagong abala sa recolonization ng bansa natin
    sa camp aguinaldo kakontsaba ang collaborator del rosario at gasmin

    galit na galit ang mga tweeters sa p10 bilyong nakaw ni intsik switik lim
    mas magalit kayo sa pagbebenta ng bayan natin sa camp aguinaldo

    ipapahamak na naman tayo
    sa mga gerrang nagpapayaman sa imperyalista

    mga kolonisadong utak, tulad ng mga bata ni pied piper
    na propaganda ng twitter at facebook ng imperyalista

    gising na at
    pumunta sa camp aguinaldo

    bahala na si pnoy
    sa pagbitin kay lim at cohorts

    • Oscuro

      Makapula ka ba kabayan?

      • joboni96

        maka pilipino kabalen

        kolonisadong utak ka ba kabalen?

      • Oscuro

        Bai po tawag sa akin. Bisayang tiga Mindanao po.

        Tanong lang na maayos. Ikaw ba ay komunista?

        Ako naman ay madaming pinagdanan kasama na diyang ang pagiging makabayan.

      • joboni96

        another red commie scare tactic practitioner

        takot na takot
        pag isinulong interes ng pilipino

        knee jerk kaagad
        Ikaw ba ay komunista?

        on the lap of thomasites and cohorts

      • Oscuro

        pahalang naman sagot mo ulit.

        deretso naman tanong ko.

        Ikaw ba ay komunista?

        Bakit pag tinatanong isang tulad mo kung makapula – iba agad ang sagot, tulad na tulad ng sagot mo ngayon….red commie scare tactic?

  • andrew lim

    Protect Ms Peachy Bretana from those who want to take advantage of the legitimate cause of the anti-pork barrel. I am referring to the extreme left and extreme right:

    1. extreme leftists- Bayan, Bayan Muna, KMU
    2. extreme rightists- Arroyo henchmen Avelino Razon and Hermogenes Esperon were in Manila Hotel
    3. right wing politicians allied with Arroyo and Marcos – Tatad, Mitos Magsaysay were there
    4. Renato Corona – good thing he was booed away.

  • disqus_EWrSdjV1nv

    cory Aquino. mother of all scams.
    nagpapatay kay ninoy?… si danding. ang sinisi? si marcos.
    PDAF/CDF? anak ng term ni cory.
    janet lim napoles? lim ang middle name, distant relative nila cory cojuanco Aquino. parehas chinita.
    gusto nyo mawala ang corruption? get rid of the Aquino’s. gagawa ng kalokohan ang mga yan and blame it on others.
    inalis ba talaga ang CDF/Pork barrel? hindi. but they made it sound like they did.
    BIR at CUSTOMS? di makasama sa rally kasi pati sila magnanakaw.
    ano mangyayari sa huli? talo ulit ang pinoy na nagbabayad ng buwis or in short, tayong hindi nagtatrabaho sa gobyerno.

    • j3dmed

      galeng ng drama mo ah, saan kaba nagpuputa?


    Good work Peachy don’t let anyone hijack the crusade,no politicians allowed,no other colors either.God Bless you All

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