Vignette:The People's Stick
The People's Stick
- Calle Escolta, Cagayan City, Confederal Republic of the Cagayan
November 21st, 1983
he war had ended a few years ago, and many thought that with the war’s end would finally come a government that would respect its people. But of course, it was not so easy. Poverty remained rampant, and the government seemed to be in a state of constant bickering between politicians; in essence, the base state of any state.
So the downtrodden decided to gather at Santander, intending to march through the cities to make known their plight. Here the farmers, the craftsmen, the students, and the dispossessed, formed a coalition in the interim.
“We will persist,” concluded the last speaker of the day as the sun set behind him. “Through this they will know our suffering. That is certain! Our strength will carry us through.” However, amidst the applause, a few dissenting voices quickly made themselves known.
A particularly impetuous técnica student among them spoke up. “It will carry us through, but we must overcome their dogs! To the Palace!” And those around her seemed to agree, and carried her words.
The rallying cry, ‘to the Palace’, quickly spread among the dissatisfied crowd from the students of the técnicas. The organiser quickly attempted to pacify them. “Please now, comrades, let us not get too hasty here! Let us retire for the day–”
But they were not to be calmed, and a significant contingent split away from the main body, heading in the direction of Calle Escolta where they were met by police. Much of those left behind seemed intent on following, and in the end, did.
The protesters charged forward with strength and vigor. Despite the sheer mass of the police shield wall in front of them, they continued to struggle, pushing against the shields with brute force, and being pushed in turn by the surging mass of at least ten thousand behind them.
“Do not falter! Don’t let your will die!” shouted Jaime through the din of the fray. He managed to duck and yank the shield from under the cop in front of him, pulling the cop into the protest mass and forming a breach in the line.
Wasting no time, he immediately pushed himself further in, and others soon followed. Elsewhere along the line, the protesters had made impromptu battering rams by ramming wooden poles into the shield wall; it worked, and the wall became an embroidery as more protesters funneled through the holes.
Jaime was now behind the police barricades, along with many of his men, and the routed police. From an orderly clash, it had devolved into a brawl, as the protesters chased and seized the policemen, their shields, and batons. And they formed up again, preparing to force their way through the next barricade.
However, as they advanced towards the next shield wall in front of them, Jaime noticed that these policemen in particular were wearing masks. As a water cannon swept in a line beside him, the surging wave heard gunshots in the distance.
They quickly felt the effects of the tear gas.
Jaime soon felt the next volley of live fire hit him. The protesters tried to carry, or at least drag his, and others’, bodies back, but the baton charge forced them to retreat in disarray to reform.
And as Jaime lost consciousness, he could only feel the boots of the advancing police as they ran over him in their advance.