As they played the song, the big screen behind them showed photos of revolutionary Filipinas throughout history. This included Ressa, revolutionary hero Melchora Aquino, zarzuela singer Maria Carpena, former president Corazon Aquino, Lea Salonga, Sen. (and faux feminist) Pia Cayetano, youth activist Marinel Ubaldo, activist Lidy Nacpil Alejandro, and environmental and indigenous rights advocate Joan Carling.
There were also photos shown of other women game-changers from around the world, such as comedian Ellen DeGeneres and young environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who was, coincidentally, also named Time’s Person of the Year on the same day as the concert.
“Women who light up history, your own Maria Ressa is an incredible woman,” said Bono. “But even Maria will say it’s not about individuals. It’s about collective action. It’s about social movement, so that all of you will grow up to be the president or Maria Ressa.”
As always, Philippine Twitter had mixed emotions about what happened, with some saying it was not right to include politics at a music concert or that the Irish had no place commenting about the state of human rights in the Philippines. Meanwhile, we applaud U2 for their initiative of giving women activists due credit for their contributions, fighting for human rights, and supporting Filipino journalists in their protest for freedom of information and speech.
How dare you @U2 and Bono to dip your fingers to Philippine affairs esp about Maria Ressa! 🖕Please do an extensive research. Ressa and foreign-funded Rappler are just out to malign our government and our duly-appointed and respected President of the Republic of the Philippines.
Bono has expressed his support of journalists and human rights in the Philippines before the concert. He said during their press conference days prior to the concert that he had no plans to meet the president. “President Duterte is very popular, he doesn’t need me on his side, and as it happens I have a very deep conviction about journalism.”
He also said that he had been a member of Amnesty International, one of the activist groups that are constantly under the Duterte administration’s scrutiny. “I take it very seriously, and I think human rights are critical.”
The band also cited women advocates of different causes during the previous legs of The Joshua Tree concert in other countries.
Former senator Bongbong Marcos, who is friends with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, was also reportedly seen at the event. We wonder how he feels about Ressa’s shoutout?