But the pandemonium Ted avoided that day seemed to worsen in a dramatic way. Many students were hurt; some, shot. Four days later gas prices jumped causing bus fares and jeepney fares to rise. Nick, a person who should know, said, “It is time, let’s go,” as more and more students joined him. He saw an opportunity, and it was time to act. He led students back in the streets where they joined other students. Their beef? Increased gas prices. And all of the preparations they had been making…organizing and coalition building on campuses across the city…had begun to pay off.
That was when Ted constructed a flag. His inspiration came from Nick and reading about the theater of the “recrudescence of the insurrecto.” Not quite seventy years before then, during the insurrection, native theaters produced plays the Americans found insulting. Somehow from that Ted came up with the idea of the flag. But he didn’t have immediate access to a sewing machine and didn’t dare tell anyone what he was up to. He’d make it himself, but he didn’t particularly know where to start. He never learned to sew. Costuming was the one area of the theater that he hadn’t tried, and his worry…greater than anything else…was that he would make a flag that looked like crap. But then, to his great surprise, he got hyped up as he looked for the right material. It seemed to him that he was about to make history, just as the Katipunans made history when they stood up to the Americans. He hadn’t expected such a high. He felt the same intense excitement that people have when they instigate a great movement and know what they have done. In short order a tyrant could be disposed of and he could lead the charge with his flag. It all seemed strange to him: the buying of red cotton material and enough black felt for the lettering. The buying of needles and thread. And then he cut and sewed it all up in secret, hand-sewing the edges and lettering, and in the process changed how he viewed himself.
Ted took his time. Heaven only knew why he was so fastidious, when he hadn’t been a perfectionist before. The results were startling to him. There were big black letter “Ks” sewn on both sides of a red field. The finished flag on a pole could be waved or carried. In the old days it would’ve been insulting to the Americans. The “K” flag had become a symbol of resistance, as the police tried to shut down all offending theaters. He felt very proud of his flag.
Again the government tried to crack down. But most people thought they went too far. They also felt the militants had gotten out of line. Then one thing led to another. It worried people when they raised gasoline prices; it was like throwing gasoline onto the fire; and it all heated up when students blocked Claro M. Recto Street and started harassing buses and jeepneys. Standing in front of buses was not advisable, but time and time again, students did it. Jeepneys were a little easier to stop or so it seemed, and everything seemed reasonably calm until students started throwing stones at the buses.
Tear gas burned eyes, as the battle began. Again there were causalities on both sides, but unlike before no one backed away. Soon Radicals joined the fray with their pillbox bombs. Nick must’ve been there among them; he would’ve hid his face with a bandana, so there was no sure way of knowing.
To be hit in the head with a club. Busted skulls, bloody faces, arms jerked off, jaws broken, that was just part of it. And to see combatants limping away as they threw their last rock. It was terrible, terrible. It was very dangerous, and even more dangerous when the mob started burning buses. And you had to watch out when they turned over buses. That was when everything, everyone went berserk; the police and the students. They battled in the streets; and pitted against each other they fought hard; and in many ways they tasted nibbles of a real war. Policemen against students, it’s a wonder that some of them weren’t killed. Without the buildup or the experience of previous demonstrations, the fighting probably wouldn’t have been so fierce. On to Malacanang! By nightfall, radical elements were leading the charge to the presidential palace