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Non-‘Yellows’ go ‘Yellow’

MANILA. It used to be that people protested being called “Yellow” or “dilawan.” This is a word associated with the Aquino family, first with the late President Cory Aquino and later her son, President Noynoy Aquino.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, his drumbeaters, and his fans like to assail a target called “the Yellows.” The Yellows are supposed to be current followers of Noynoy Aquino and remnants of those who supported Cory Aquino during her time.

When Duterte attacks those who don’t like him and whom he accuses of plotting against him, he calls them “Yellows.” Which earlier made me ask: “Is there a ‘Yellow’ army out there?”

I wrote then: “Is there really a ‘Yellow’ force, an ‘army’ of followers of the Aquino family. I doubt it…. [But] every side of a conflict needs an enemy, a bogeyman, a target, an object of hatred, in order to justify its accusations.

“President Duterte, for example, cannot just complain to the wind. He needs something or someone to blame. In this particular battle, it has to be the ‘Yellows.’ But labeling every critic a ‘Yellow’ is off target…. There are many citizens who disagree with Mr. Duterte’s policies or strategic approaches. They’re not all ‘yellow.’ Many are just plain citizens who have legitimate grievances.”

The point of citizens who are critics of Duterte but not necessarily associated with the Aquinos is that their grievances have nothing to do with the Aquinos but, rather, are complaints of plain citizens with no partisan affiliation.

“Can we not complain without getting labeled as ‘Yellows'”? they used to decry.

But the labeling of all anti-Duterte (and anti-Marcos) elements as “Yellows” has continued. Whether it’s Duterte himself or his spokespeople and unofficial but vocal defenders speaking, they’ve continued to assail a “Yellow Army” out there.

My good friend, the social media warrior Philip Lustre, has a more expansive definition of “Yellow.” I quote from Lustre’s writings: “‘Dilawan” or ‘Yellow Force’ refers to the sea of humanity that went to EDSA and toppled the Marcos dictatorship in the bloodless 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. What started as a mere rebellion of a handful of soldiers blossomed into a full-blown revolution that prompted the Marcoses and their main supporters to run like defeated dogs with their tails behind their backs….

“The sea of humanity [in 1986]…had only one color — yellow. Hence, the yellow forces initiated the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship…. The yellow forces are associated with our restored democracy.

“When the Marcoses, their ignorant influencers and trolls, and other fanatical supporters call the critics ‘yellow’ or ‘dilawan,’ it is their tacit recognition that these forces are the pro-democracy forces.

“One does not have to be ‘yellow’ to adhere to the principles of democracy. To be called ‘dilawan’ should be viewed as a badge of honor because a ‘yellow’ always favors democracy over authoritarianism.”

Many anti-Duterte activists are starting to embrace this definition of “Yellow,” with its association with being pro-democracy. So, with that thought in mind, anti-Duterte activists are now willing to be called “Yellow” and proud of it.

“Proud to be Yellow” is turning out to be the new battle cry. The rationale is, if you continue to label us “Yellow” despite not being officially yellow, then so be it.

A lot of this new pride and exhortation of being “Yellow” is trending in social media here. Pro-democracy activists are no longer going to quibble about being “Yellow” or not. They’re now willing to be called that: “Yellow.”


Greetings. To Dave Valderrama, who brought the Filipino community honor and recognition with his rise in Maryland politics, becoming a state legislator and judge.


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