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The Burning of Philippine Presidents

I still have to ask, what is the meaning of the burning of Philippine presidents in effigies especially during state of the nation address (SONA)? But then I realized the answer to the question seems obvious. Aside from catching media’s attention it is also like the “Burning of Judas,” a ritual in many Orthodox and Catholic Christian communities, where an effigy of Judas Iscariot is burned.

In the Philippines, burning political figures in effigy usually highlights protests and rallies. These effigies are usually crude representations of a despised political figures especially the President. Burning of these effigies are usually held during State Of the Nation Address (SONA).

The delivery by the President of the Philippines of the SONA is a yearly tradition wherein the President reports on the status of the country, and may also propose to Congress, before which the address is delivered, certain proposals for legislation that are believed to be necessary. 

THE BURNING OF P-NOY      Image Source: Yahoo News
Yesterday, July 25, 2011 marks the second State of the Nation Address of President Benigno S. Aquino III. As expected, militants burn the effigy of President Benigno Aquino III during protest along Commonwealth Avenue shortly before P-noy delivers his speech.

UPDATE: They burn P-Noy again during his SONA 2012:
Buring of effigy of PNoy during SONA
An effigy of President Benigno Aquino burns during a protest outside the Batasan Complex in Quezon city, metro Manila, were President Benigno Aquino will deliver his 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) July 23, 2012. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

THE BURNING OF GLORIA ARROYO    Image Source: Revolutionary Frontlines
However, maybe most Filipinos including me just ignored it because it seems like a street ritual and not protest. Effigy-burning had been a regular spectacle during the SONAs of Aquino’s predecessors. They also burned effigy of former Philippine presidents like Ferdinand Marcos, Erap Estrada and Gloria Arroyo. Fidel Ramos banned effigy burning so he’s spared. They are doing it annually and it is starting to lose its meaning. It is becoming more like a circus.

THE BURNING OF ERAP       Image Source:
The EDSA revolution is a reflection of Philippine’s moments of unity in crisis, which inform us that Filipinos somehow crossed an inner threshold and are changed. Thus moving from one state of political awareness into a more matured society.

THE BURNING OF FERDINAND MARCOS     Image Source: Corbis Images
However, militants will always be militants. Leftists will always be leftists. How many Philippine presidents will they burn? Anthropologists are maybe correct when they generalize these types of activities as "scapegoating rituals".

I am not pro P-noy but hopefully next year we will no longer burn our President. Let us just burn Judas’ effigy on the eve of the new year as a symbol of ridding ourselves of government-blaming and beginning a new year in spiritual purity and unity, free from bishops-in-politics.

In the meantime, may I ask where is the exact address of “Daang Matuwid?” P-noy still failed to guide us there. 

UPDATE (24 July 2018) 
Image Source:BusinessWorld Dutertemonyo
ANTI-GOVERNMENT protesters burn an effigy depicting President Rodrigo R. Duterte as a devil, with horns decorated with the national flags of China and the United States during a rally in the capital Metro Manila on July 23, 2018, ahead of the 3rd State of the Nation Address. The effigy was dubbed Duterte-monyo, a play on the President’s name and the Filipino word for devil, demonyo.

Activists burn a giant effigy of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as they march towards the presidential Malacañang Palace during a May Day rally in Manila on May 1, 2018Photo Source: PhilStar / Noel Celis/AFP

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