MANILA, Philippines—Why not make money out of “pork”?
This time, it was not the typical pork cuts in public markets the vendors in the “Edsa Tayo” rally were selling. Instead they sold “pork barrel” merchandises.
With the hype against the widespread misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), official name of the pork barrel of congressmen and senators, items slamming the pork barrel system sold like hotcakes during the Edsa Tayo prayer rally on Tuesday.
Vendors took advantage of the pork barrel shenanigans of top politicians and Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged architect of the P10 billion pork barrel scam, and printed their faces replacing that of the pigs on shirts.
Ambulant vendors scattered all over the Edsa shrine selling antipork button pins, fans and handkerchiefs, which cost from P20 to P50.
Large-sized umbrellas printed with “Pagsikat ng araw, walang alisan hanggang alisin ni Pnoy ang pork barrel” sold for P120 to P150.
For graphic tees designed with pork barrel puns like “I‘m here pork a cause!” and “Ang mahilig sa pork barrel-in,” prices ranged from P100 up to P250.
Rocky Prinial, 25, who came all the way from Caloocan City, borrowed money from a friend to reproduce 140 statement and graphic t-shirts denouncing the pork barrel system.
Prinial was selling ice cream during the “Million People March” last August 26 at Luneta Park when he came up with the idea to sell “antipork barrel clothing.”
Clara Morden of Mandaluyong, opted to sell her white antipork cotton shirts for a lower price at P100.
“I sold the shirts at a very affordable price because our intended market is the masses. This is for them,” she told INQUIRER.net.
Like Prinial, Morden, 25, was inspired by the march in Rizal Park to materialize her creative “pork” designs by making typography tees expressing hate toward the controversial pork barrel system.
A nun wearing a gray habit, who refused to be identified, was seen also endorsing pork barrel shirts of different colors.
Asked what was the impact of wearing antipork barrel shirts, she said: “It is like you are starting a revolution by yourself. Whenever you wear shirts like these, it clearly says to anyone who sees what you are fighting for.”
A resident of Tondo, 43-year-old Danilo Depositar loitered around the Edsa Shrine vicinity since the early morning of Tuesday. With him, he carried pork masks in pale pink colors dangling on his arms.
He said that he bought the items in Divisoria, famous wholesale retailing market in Manila, where he found other pork barrel merchandise made especially for the protests.
At the time Depositar was interviewed around 3:40 p.m., he only sold 10 out of 70.
But he remained positive and assured himself that there would be more rallies to come—and that meant more sold masks.
President of the People’s Democratic Hawkers and Vendors Alliance, Depositar, in the middle of the interview, started airing his sentiments against the government, not on the pork barrel system but the public-private partnership (PPP) program.
“It is our right to make a living and PPP deprives us of this right,” he said.
He claimed that because of the PPP program, establishments near and inside Rizal Park, would soon be privatized, with its management transferred to wealthy private businessmen.
“The rental fees are too expensive for us. We would have to pay P1,000 a day as our payment for lease,” he added.
Oasis in Edsa Tayo
Under the scorching heat, two students of the Our Lady of Fatima College manned a free drinking station for the masses.
“This (free drinking station) may not be directly related to our call to abolish the pork barrel system, but what’s important is that we are able to help our fellow Filipinos,” Paul Andrew, 21, told INQUIRER.net.
While distributing cups of free water to quench the people’s thirst, Andrew donned over his shirt a white apron stained with words written in blood-like paint: “Bawat barya ay dugo.”
“In wet markets, we see butchers chopping pork. Similar to the pork barrel scheme, this country also needs to “chop-chop” pork. That should be abolished,” he added.
The term “pork barrel” originated from the early practice in the United States of preserving pork and putting it in a barrel filled with brine. During the pre-Civil War days in the South, barrels of salted pork were given to slaves on holidays, resulting in a mad scramble for food.
“Pork barrel” was later used as an official name referring to government appropriation for local projects by legislators—a practice seen as a way of courting voters.