For Those Who Pretend To Speak For Us

One of the tricks that people with a hidden agenda use to give validity to their schemes is to claim that they speak for people from the margins. This Zeny Gonzales is one such person.

According to news reports, Gonzales is one of those who are collecting signatures to have the Philippine Constitution amended via a peoples’ initiative. A news story by Philippine Star states:

Zeny Gonzales, secretary general of Kilusan ng Mamamayan sa Matatag na Republika, said she ventured to the hinterlands of the Cordilleras and spoke to the indigenous tribes in Kalinga and Apayao.

“They listened to us because they loved hearing the voices of real people, not from politicians who only visited them during elections when their votes were being courted,” she said.

Tribespeople were up-to-date with developments even though they seldom travel to the lowlands. “They are very well informed and they signed the petition because they really wanted change to happen in their lives,” Gonzales said.

In two short paragraphs, Gonzales revealed that she is 1) patronizing, 2) condescending and 3) full of herself. Her statements also betrays the fact that this “people’s initiative” is not a genuine people’s initiative at all. If it is genuine then it should be the indigenous tribes of Kalinga and Apayao who should be speaking out. Gonzales should be the one listening.

Instead, Gonzales apparently did the talking and the villagers, according to her own account, “loved” listening to her because she is a “real person”. After her talk before the Kalingas and Apayaos, Gonzales then goes down to Manila to talk about them. She says, “They are very well informed and they signed the petition because they really wanted change to happen in their lives.” Wow, this Gonzales is a mind reader. She is definitely sure that people signed because they want a change in their lives. For all I know, maybe they signed it because they had had enough of Gonzales’ “lovable voice” and want to get her out of their village.

Message to Gonzales: Since when have you been involved in indigenous peoples’ rights? What’s your credential in fighting for indigenous rights that you took it upon yourself to speak for us? No person really concerned about indigenous peoples would ever EVER speak the way you did. Your language betrays you — it is condescending and insensitive. After you got those precious signatures, will you ever venture again to the hinterlands of the Cordilleras to effect a positive change in the lives of the people there?

My bet is that you will soon forget about them because you were only interested in collecting their signatures. This makes you worse than the politicians you deride. I hate it when the very marginalization of indigenous peoples is used by people like you. Pati ba naman kahirapan at marginalization namin ay gagamitin ninyo? For shame.

By the way, you Igorot politicians who are mindlessly toeing the President’s line to change the charter, this Gonzales also insulted you. According to her, you only visit people when you are courting their votes. Maybe she is right in that regard. But I’m not sure if she is the right person to say it. After all, she was also courting the people’s signature.

2 thoughts on “For Those Who Pretend To Speak For Us”

  1. You are just soooo right, Sir!!! 🙂 To the Zeny Gonzaleses of the lowlands: Come on! Don’t you have better things to do???

  2. hi ironheart,
    Oo nga. With the country’s numerous problems, charter change pa ang inaatupag. Thank God the Supreme Court put an end to the crazy idea.

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