Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Term "Dilawan" in the Context of Current Political Landscape

The Term "Dilawan" in the Context of Current Political Landscape

ByMario Crisostomo Ibarra

There are several terms that identify different political groups, aside from the official names of political parties. You often hear terms like commies, leftists, rightist, et al. With the advent of Duterte administration, two political groups started to dominate the local political scene together with the terms with which they started to be identified: the “Dutertards”(or “Dutards” for short) for Duterte supporters, and the “Dilawan” for all other opposition groups fighting the Duterte administration. These terms are used as pejoratives by the opposing camps to label one another in a disparaging manner. But there is a difference between the two camps. While some Duterte supporters usually do not welcome the terms dutards or dutertards, many supporters from the opposition camp do not seem to be bothered by - and instead, even seem to welcome - the label Dilawan. What is the origin of the latter label? Let us briefly trace the history of it and the symbolism behind the color dilaw (or yellow) in the our political landscape.

The political labels “Dilaw” or “Dilawan” originated as a result of the tragic homecoming of the late ex-Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. on August 21, 1983. Before Mr. Aquino was to land in Manila, his supporters tied yellow ribbons everywhere near the route of his planned motorcade. It was a sign of welcome, originating from Tony Orlando's popular song almost a decade earlier, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon", with lyrics narrating a story of freed convict being welcomed with "thousand yellow ribbons." However, what was expected to be a glorious homecoming turned into one a tragic event with the hero, Ninoy, ending up assassinated instead. That grim event in history pushed the image of the yellow ribbon & the color yellow itself to get seared into the hearts and minds of the supporters of the newly martyred hero. The imagery has continued to survive to this day in the hearts of Ninoy's original supporters and have been passed down by some to their children. Furthermore, the "yellow" symbolism was enhanced by Ninoy's widow, Corazon C. Aquino, or simply Cory, when she adopted and promoted it by donning yellow outfits for most of her political activities. Thus, the term Dilaw or more commonly, the Dilawan came to be known as supporters of Benigno Aquino, Jr. and all the succeeding members of his political clan, especially those bearing the same family name. In other words, the Dilawans can be simply described as "Aquino-ans." (After the political adversaries of the Aquinos, the late dictator Marcos and his family, were ousted by the historical E.D.S.A. People Power Revolution, a new political term arose - the Marcos Loyalist or simply, the Loyalists. The rivalry between these two political clans, together with their supporters, continues up to this day, with the Marcoses supporting incumbent president, Duterte, today, further complicating our current struggle by bringing back the old feud into this new political arena - it has become Duterte-Marcos tandem versus the opposition front, led by the Aquino's Liberal Party, together with all other opposition groups.)

Back to the present, the country had become highly polarized, due to Duterte wooing the hearts of many Filipinos with his down-to-earth appeal mixed with vile speeches and questionable actions. The divide resulted to two political groups: the Duterte camp and the opposite. The latter force, collectively labelled as Dilawans, consists of different political groups like the Aquino supporters, the leftists, and strangely, even a few Marcos Loyalists who oppose Duterte. During the 2016 pre-election campaign, the then-dominant incumbent party, the LP or the true/original Dilawans, became the chief opponent of the soon-to-be-elected-president Mayor Duterte when his popularity started to soar. After his victory, the battle raged on between the Dilawans and the Dutertards. Two years passed and the original Dilawans expanded to consist of diverse opposition groups, including myself who is non-partisan but pro-truth and pro-justice. The political battle has turned into a fight between good and evil, the latter represented by the Duterte administration and its fanatical (and often paid) followers while the former represented by a united opposition from different groups. The idea of being a Dilawan has evolved into anyone who opposes Duterte's brutal rule, no longer solely meaning a member of the Liberal Party or being an Aquino supporter. Now, who would complain being labelled as such, when being a Dilawan means fighting for truth and justice? At least not this writer who wears it proud like a badge of honor until evil is perished and justice is restored.



Note: To read more on Mario Crisostomo Ibarra’s articles, views and opinions, follow him at:

Twitter: @Mario_C_Ibarra 

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