A night of zero colors and no hashtags. Just people. Conversations. Possibility.

A night of zero colors and no hashtags. Just freedom. – Joel Pablo Salud

Just people. Conversations. Possibility. – Betty Romero

The invite said it will be  a gathering of persons with various political and ideological leanings. The “party” was planned as a broad statement of a collective stand for justice and democracy and defiance against a crackdown on dissent. It is likewise an acknowledgement of respect for various initiatives, by individuals or groups, seeking to create a better world for Filipinos. This is an assembly of people, including those who normally would not be seen together, to relay this simple message: We stand together for justice and democracy. We stand together against any abuse of rights.

no hashtag party
Photo via Jane Uymatiao

The atmosphere was informal. We all mingled and listened to one another as we shared our advocacy and love for country and people. It was interesting to see the diversity of the group. Seated with me was Jover Laurio, of pinoyakoblog.com who I often clashed during the Pnoy administration. Sylvia Claudio asked me if all of us in the table have always been friends. I mentioned I was critical of the Pnoy administration and even as far back as the Arroyo administration. This just shows we can be together to work towards a common goal despite the diversity.

no hashtag party

These small groups  like myself were asked a simple question. The questions revolved around people seeing the need to find intersecting spaces for the struggle to protect democratic rights and working for broader, deeper reforms.

The first hours, were all about introductions and icebreakers, everyone mingling, photo opportunities, video statements, and more engagements with each other.

no hashtag party

Questions were splashed on the screen such as:

Why are you here? What issues do you think unite the most number of people and groups, and why
What can we all stand behind?
What can we all fight for?
How do you define justice and democracy?
What are the main stumbling blocks to justice and democracy today?
How can we broaden the involvement of citizens in the struggle for justice and democracy?
When you talk to unorganized people, do they feel hopeless or do they cite reasons that hamper their involvement in the struggle?

no hashtag party

This is Nanay Normita who broke down in tears while reading a poem she wrote, when her son was killed in President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.

Let me share Edna Aquino’s thoughts on the gathering.

Whatever and wherever last night would take us – we made history in that almost heroic attempt to build and rebuild bridges. Many of us there were wounded soldiers. Time to heal or begin the process of healing. Yet many ,too, do not have the burden of the past and – from them, we should be humbled to follow their lead. This is what turning a new page is about.

For those asking ” what’s next”? I will borrow #MikedeLeon‘s reply to those suggesting that his film #CitizenJake should have been this or that: “that’s a different film”. The “what next” is up to us.

My unforgettable moments:

1. Listening to Joel Rocamora and Ka. Inday of KADAMAY conversation.
2. Deep, no holds- barred conversation with Jim Paredes and Sylvia E. Claudio
3. Hugging my Graphic lodis Joel Pablo Salud Alma Anonas-Carpio M Pirante Pérez
4. Augie Gemora’s rendition of The Impossible Dream and Pinky Amador’s Cover of Edith Piaf’s Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien ( and telling the political significance of the song in the context of the Battle of Algiers)
5. Palpable feminists’ presence ( of course) and artists
6. The youth who filed the charges vs fake news queen Mocha Uson
7.The poem by the mother of a tokhang victim
And the finale – the group photo ( by no less than Raffy Lerma) and the collective singing of Bayan Ko with clenched fists.

Photo via Ivy Lisa F. Mendoza

The last three questions was something to ponder on.

What are your insights from tonight?
What do you see happening tonight?
What do you want to see happening after tonight?

As an advocate, I collaborate with issues. Sometimes I might not agree on the political agenda of any administration but we can work together , say on human rights, due process, transportation issues, corruption  and many more.  The critics of this administration are always lumped together as “Yellows”.  True, there are critics from the Liberal Party  and from the left but their colors should not stop them from expressing their views on issues close to our hearts.

Looking forward after the party, let me borrow the words of Joel Pablo Salud 

Democracy is never easy. It takes a certain spunk to accept, or perhaps even tolerate, a difference of opinion without necessarily losing hold of one’s own, and to search thereafter for possibilities of fusing the two without diluting one and the other.

In light of a creeping dictatorship, this nation needs more of such gatherings. Because if we were to stand triumphant over tyranny in the end, it must be on a ‘colorless’ platform, empty of all political allegiances save one: our nation’s freedom–yours and mine.

There is hope. Hope springs eternal.


Ang bayan kong Pilipinas
Lupain ng ginto’t bulaklak
Pag-ibig na sa kanyang palad
Nag-alay ng ganda’t dilag

At sa kanyang yumi at ganda
Dayuhan ay nahalina
Bayan ko, binihag ka
Nasadlak sa dusa

Ibon mang may layang lumipad
Kulungin mo at umiiyak
Bayan pa kayang sakdal-dilag
Ang ‘di magnasang makaalpas

Pilipinas kong minumutya
Pugad ng luha at dalita
Aking adhika
Makita kang sakdal laya