...Knowing That An Ounce Of "Working FOR" The Good
Is Worth A Pound Of "Standing AGAINST" The Bad.
Is Worth A Pound Of "Standing AGAINST" The Bad.
Many of us, if not most Trinbagonians, have heard about Mr. Percy Villafana and his signature sign of protest. It was a gesture that came spontaneously to this 81-year-old citizen when all expectations probably were that he would go along with the crowd. What makes the significance of this gesture tower above its simplicity is the context in which it was displayed.
On March 15, 2010, the then Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Patrick Manning of the People’s National Movement(PNM) was having a walkabout with his entourage in the San Juan area of the constituency. Minister Manning had been meeting and greeting the residents who had probably been returning the Prime Minister's gestures of goodwill. No one would have predicted that an elderly citizen would go against the flow but there was the diminutive Percy Villafana, barring the entrance to his property with his forearms raised and crossed before him.
When the PM approached the entrance of Mr. Villafana's residence, he signalled (among other unspoken things I am sure) his wish that the PM not enter his premises. “You’re not welcome here. I want nothing to do with you!” he said to the Prime Minister while holding his crossed forearms before him.
Compay Villafana would later explain to the press that as a Christian, his crossed arms represented the cross which he was raising to ward off the evil spirit that was approaching him. For those who were not of the Christian faith and those who did not subscribe to any organised religion, this act of protest resonated still and his crossed arms became instead the "X" that signifies opposition, rejection, deletion, cancellation, obliteration.
As the video below shows, the Prime Minister appeared to display his own signature response to those who oppose. Ignoring this citizen's right to determine who is or is not allowed entry to his property, the PM brushed past the gentleman to exchange greetings with the other residents who had been standing behind Mr. Villafana.
PM stages walkabout in San Juan-Barataria
To be fair to the ex-Prime Minister, I will state that I do not know him personally and therefore cannot attribute his actions here or elsewhere to willful malice. It was my feeling at the time that, unaccustomed to public opposition, it was a bemused and slightly dazed Mr. Manning who had unthinkingly pushed past the protester. The outcome was that a very unfortunate disrespect was displayed by the PM and jarring signals were sent and received by many of us. A line had been crossed and the already disaffected took out their pens and retraced it repeatedly in bold red.
It is not my intention to focus on what Mr. Villafana was standing AGAINST that day. All of us who've had eyes to see and ears to hear had been experiencing for the longest while, the fog of dismay which had descended upon our country. I want to focus rather on what I'd like to think our Citizen Supreme was standing FOR when he refused to admire the Emperor's nakedness.
If an X can also signify a kiss then Compay Villafana was sending Trinidad and Tobago a kiss. He was saying, "I love you and I want to be worthy of you."
If an X can also be used to select what you think is the correct answer or the best choice for one's vote, then Compay Villafana was taking the side of change for the better.
If an X can also be used to signify an unknown or unnamed factor, thing, or person then Compay Villafana was saying to the PM, "I know YOU and this is why I want to clear the way for the chance at least to find that better, yet untried way that awaits."
If an X can also represent the signature of one who, because of some disability, is unable to sign his or her name, then Compay Villafana's "X" was made on behalf of all the silent, apathetic Trinbagonians who had surrendered their lives and country.
If an X can also be used to mark the spot where treasure is located, then Compay Villafana was reminding us of our treasure - this soil and everything that is good and true about our country and its people.
If an X is a sign of multiplication then we saw it at work. Since Compay Villafana raised it aloft, his courage echoed and repeated and multiplied. Others acknowledged his stand and took guidance and courage from this simple signal.
I saw Compay Villafana's protest as a reminder to all die-hard supporters of any political party that loyalty should not involve blinding yourself to the existing flaws, and that perhaps it is not so much any particular party which is at fault but the lack of intelligence and vigilance exercised by party supporters and the rest of the population in holding them accountable.
That government was removed but remember that that collective act was by no means an end to our efforts. Give the new government your respect and support IF they remain deserving of it. Allow them the privilege of leadership, but stand ready to challenge them or remove them if they also fail to deliver, or fail to acknowledge your right to be a part of delivering what is best for this country.
N.B. Post revised after 24 May, 2010
Further reading about Percy Villafana.
May 16 2010 - They should have done the Percy ‘X’ T&T Newsday
30 April, 2010 - 'Percy' sign latest craze. The Tobago News.
29 April, 2010 - Percy's Mark [Photograph] T&T Newsday.
April 27, 2010 - San Juan man who blocked PM says he's no Canadian. Jyoti Communication
April 27, 2010 - Percy talks one on one with C News.
April 23, 2010 - Thor vs X-Men. KnowT&T.com
28 March 2010 - A Man Called Percy. Guyana Chronicle.
27 March, 2010 - A baseless argument. Jumbie's Watch.
26 March, 2010 - UNC holds rally in Chaguanas tomorrow. T&T Guardian.
25 March, 2010 - Percy Villafana - Hero Election Battlefront.
24 March, 2010 - Percy's fan page 'explodes' online. T&T Express.
24 March, 2010 - Clevon Raphael: Seeds of discontent. T&T Guardian
23 March, 2010 - Man: I fear for my life. Trinidad & Tobago's Newsday.
23 March, 2010 - Villafana now a national hero. T&T Guardian.
23 March, 2010 - Percy a big hit on Facebook... T&T Express.
20 March, 2010 - ‘You’re not welcome!’ March 20, 2010 T&T News Blog
March 16, 2010 - Finally!!! Trinituner
Percy Villafana - Citizen Supreme | Facebook
Percy Villafana - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Percy Villafana (percyvillafana) on Twitter
Some of the YouTube videos featuring Percy Villafana.
UNC's Percy Villafana 2010 Election Ad
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.
Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.
Mweh ka allay!