Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Vox Populi

V for Vendetta is mistaken for a terrorist-turned hero story. It is however a story of the redemptive power of the human spirit. V for Vendetta is very relevant today and one that Filipinos ought to read (you can order V for Vendetta graphic novel from any local comics shop but i suggest Druid's Keep in Makati). This post contains two things: A) a brief walk through of V for Vendetta (though I strongly suggest reading it) and B) how V for Vendetta is applicable to our present situation. Let me explain.

A. The Story of V for Vendetta

The Story of V for Vendetta is a complex one, with threads upon threads. At the time of its writing, V for Vendetta was set in an immediate future of a post nuclear-war Britain. The British people out of fear and out of circumstance and perhaps as naturally a reaction to traumatic events had allowed the birth of a fascist government. Civil liberties, culture--- music, the arts and the natural diversity of our race all banned in the name of security and strength.

There are two characters of importance in V for Vendetta: Rose and Evey. Like Juan dela Cruz and Maria Clara is for Filipinos, Evey was character that symbolized this Britain and to a certain degree, Rose is as well. At the beginning of the novel, Evey, without hope, without opportunity, driven to survive, purposely solicits herself and in the process is caught by the secret police who threatened not only to kill her but to rape her. And V steps in, kills her attackers. After blowing up the Houses of Parliament, V takes Evey to the Shadow Gallery.

The Shadow Gallery was V's home and base of operations. It is a place where culture resides. Music, books, images, pictures--- orphans of a bygone age. And these strange things are new to Evey naturally, having only known the holocaust of her time. It didn't take long for Evey to love the Shadow Gallery and naturally refuses to step out of its bubble of security.

Meanwhile, V continues on his crusade, killing the Voice of Fate, and many others in a calculated attack and the end game is not a Vendetta that coincides with Evey and all the other characters in the novel.

After joining V in a mission that lead to the death of a person. Evey told V she would not kill another, even for him. And V led her outside of the Shadow Gallery. It would not be long for Evey to find a new home and a lover. And life was good to her. Meanwhile, V executes his Vendetta on those who were responsible for an prison camp who were now leaders in the Fascist Government.

Then, the beautiful bubble of Evey's world shatters when her lover is murdered and while attempting to kill the person responsible for his death, Evey is taken prisoner and tortured. Days turned to weeks and Evey was relentlessly subjected to every torture--- even shaving her hair an unspeakable thing to a woman, I'm told. While in a prisoner, Evey kept her sanity through a letter kept by a former prisoner--- Valerie. All she had to do was reveal V. She refused.

On the other hand, Rose is a devoted wife to her husband who was a member of the Police. When he was killed, Rose didn't know what to do. The state refused to provide her pension and with mounting bills, and loneliness, allowed herself to be used by one of her husband's rivals. Pretty soon Rose would find herself dancing in clubs to make ends meet. Whereas Evey is brought into V's world, Rose isn't and the dichotomy is an important one. When Evey asked V about a rose for the leader, V answered her, “I've cultivated a most special rose”

Back to Evey, the voice sentenced her to death. And as she was about to walk outside, she realized that the guard and everything around her were fakes. It was V all along! It was V who tortured her, who manipulated her who sent her into Crucible.

In the same sense, by destroying the government's control over the airwaves, over media, over the cameras that watch every facet of their existence, V introduced anarchy and chaos into London. When V usurped the Government's control he enforced a new law: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”

Why did V subject Evey to such brutality? Like what he wanted to do for Britain, he wanted to Liberate her, to make her alive, to make her come out of her shell and face the world! When Evey asked V, “what is thou will?” V showed it to her. He said: “Knowledge like air is vital to life. Like air, no one should be denied it.” Evey stated the most important aspect of the novel: “You've always kept things mysterious: yourself, this place, your plans... if knowledge like air, you've been suffocating me.” And V answered: “Not at all. I've been teaching you to breathe”. And the tour of the Shadow Gallery and the whole of Evey's life is just that.

And the chaos was palpable. V said this of Vox Populi after he had ensured the madness of the people, “It does not do to rely too much on silent majorities, Evey, for silence is a fragile thing... one loud noise and it's gone. But the people are so cowed and disorganized a few might take the opportunity to protest, but it'll just be a voice crying in the wilderness. Noise is relative to the silence preceding it. The more absolute the hush the more shocking the thunderclap. Our masters have not heard the people's voice for generations, Evey.... And it is much, much louder than they care to Remember.”

As V is shot by Mr. Finch, the Leader stops his motorcade and tries to shake Rose's hand. Rose, driven to the point of insanity by her lot in life, shoots the Leader. As the government tries to retain control, and announcing the death of V, and the leader, V returns to the Shadow Gallery and Evey.

V explains to Evey this: “this country is not saved... do not think that... but all its old beliefs have come to rubble and from rubble may we build. That is their task,” he said. “To rule themselves and their lives and loves and land... with this achieved, then, let them talk of salvation. Without it, they are surely carrion. By turn of century, they'll know their fate: either a rose midst rubble blooms or else has bloomed too late. But what you child now I'm dead?” And so Evey takes over the identity of V and carries out his will.

At midnight, V appeared to the public as promised. “Since mankind's dawn, a handful of oppressors have accepted the responsibility over our lives that we should have accepted for ourselves. By doing so, they took our power. By doing nothing, we gave it away. We've seen where their way leads, through camps and wars, towards the slaughterhouse. In Anarchy there is another way. With Anarchy, from rubble comes new life, home reinstated, they say anarchy's dead...” And V/Anarchy says of himself, “Reports of my death were exaggerated.” And the following night, Evey as V, executed V's will, and the latter's dead lifeless body is carried along the London Underground car, in the Viking way all the way to Downing Street, shattering the old and beginning anew.

B. F for Filipino

What does this mean for Filipinos? Is it even applicable? In many aspects, our society has been sleeping. The flight of our people to many lands--- is a sign of the hopelessness gripping this nation. Like Evey, they want comfort and security and just be liberated from poverty. Like the government in V for Vendetta--- ours is a government and society that we wanted. Perhaps not through a vote but the mere fact we accepted this form of government and this society. And I'm not talking about not just Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

I'm talking about the culture of Graft and Corruption that we allow in a daily basis. In those little favors we ask of officials we know in every aspect of government service. In this respect, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo symbolizes the very culture, the very society we chose to adapt. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not the cause, her government is an effect of this disease. What we have is society of compromises, and not of rules, a society where we chose to usurp laws instead of following them. We allowed this to happen and continue to do so.

It is not as bad as we think it is.

Over the past weekend, I traveled to Ilocos Sur. As you can see from the image above that's in Vigan. It's a beautiful place. One thing that struck me, at the area above, the commercial buildings like fast food places, and a certain bookstore were in buildings that complimented the architecture of Vigan.

this country is a beautiful place. and it's economy has so far shown signs of being resilient thus far to the present political turmoil largely because people are used to the bickering. Yet when you look at it--- 5.1% gdp is not enough. it is a huge let down to the capability that can drive this country forward.

can you understand what i'm saying? Our society today thinks we can not achieve anything. Our thoughts boarder on hopelessness. Our people fly off to distant lands seeking their fortune by sheer will, by courage, by their very talent. Yet turn left and turn right, there is huge potential, most especially economically in these lands. We need but only seize it!

This country can do even better. Like Evey and the Britons of V for Vendetta, we must awaken this sleeping giant! The more absolute the Hush, the more shocking the Thunderclap!

What must be done? Need we subscribe to Anarchy? Need we abolish our system, shatter our existing structures? My gut tells me, yes we must! We must renew ourselves. We must go into a rebirth--- rebuild our republic by drafting a New Constitution. If it takes ten years build a better foundation for our Republic to do so, then so it must be. If it must take a Constitutional Convention independent of the current government, so it must be. We must draw a line in the sand and stand! And we must stand by transforming and such must ilicit true change--- from the ground up.

The only requisit for Change must empower our people! It must liberate ourselves from the shackles of patronage politics and create a nation driven not by who you know but what you know and how hard you want to achieve that goal.

Our New Order, whatever form it may take, must forge a true belief in the rule of law--- and not simply subscribe to it through words. Our New Society must encourage hardwork, must reward it! It must continously allow individuals to emancipate themselves from poverty and that must be our ultimate framework. This we can achieve. Yet in spite of all this, irregardless of whether or not we forge ahead with a renewal of our national life, of our moral standards, of our standards of living, we shall find ourselves, just as V would have predicted:
"this country is not saved... do not think that... but all its old beliefs have come to rubble and from rubble may we build. That is their task,” he said. “To rule themselves and their lives and loves and land... with this achieved, then, let them talk of salvation. Without it, they are surely carry on. By turn of century, they'll know their fate: either a rose midst rubble blooms or else has bloomed too late."

In the end, either by action, by election, by taking our future into our hands--- or our silent apathetic acceptance of events that happen around us. What happens to this country, we can only blame ourselves for its mediocrity or cheer because of its greatness. The events of our time happen because it is Vox Populi. Wake up! That's us.

* * *
quotes from:
Lloyd, D., and Moore, A., V for Vendetta, published by DC Comics.

License for the images above:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.


Anonymous said...

It's time to consider Anarchy then. That is, strictly speaking, assemblies with no formal rulers or formal governments. The end in sight would be a society consisting of networks of "voluntary associations of autonomous individuals" on a mission of mutual aid, and self-governance. It's not such an impossible dream as many may think. Much of the recent history of the internet may be summarized as virtual examinations of this ideal. Take open source, for instance. Open source communities, if you think about it, are anarchistic colonies.