Two years ago when I was still in college, I was starting to worry about the apparent lack of a formal debate on whether the paradigm of radicalism still applies to the issues confronting the students and the nation in general. For me then, I saw radicalism as out of date; it failed to make sense once subjected to issues of national concern; sweeping statements and overtly extremist generalization failed to capture the core of the challenges in those years. Although they won landslide victories in the college elections I surmised that students will one day realize that radicalism has been outgrown by time. During my stay in college most students who have political ambitions tend to align themselves with the more popular, then the radical, group.
In my last year in UP Visayas, I was secretly offered by the senior members of the two political organizations in the college to run under their party but i declined both offers telling them that my task as the editor in chief of the college paper was more important and besides I did not want to compromise my principles by being a part of any political organization, but it was more of delicadeza more than anything else having tongue-lashed both parties in the pages of the paper.
Going Against the Current has become a platform where the debate on the decline or radical student activism has been raised and scrutinized. I started it with an impersonal essay on what brought forth this failure of radicalism. But the impersonal tone of the essay was never enough to put emotions at bay, I found out. The merits of the arguments was raised beyond the objective, and as a writer I have all the right to defend myself . One of the more ‘passionate’ if not emotion-laden comments was the one posted by chaps.
Allow me, therefore, to answer point by point the comments posted by chaps in an emotionally detached way as possible:
July 26, 2008 at 8:54 pm e
It’s so nice of you to tell your viewers the difference between a real student activist(He is someone who writes a letter to his congressman and tells him the need for a bill that will provide insurance for students in case of an accident) and not.
Hear me now. If you know what a real activist is, why did you not become one “real” student activist when you were still a student? Why did you not publish good articles that could be read by students and administrators when you were the editor-in-chief of pagbutlak? Why did you not send to our congressmen that students need insurance? and things like that?
I know why. Simply because you’re not an activist and that disqualifies you to say what a real student activist really is.
If only we can do away with our naivete.
When I was in college, I did what I had to do, silently. When I did a project on helping the people in Mindanao deal with soil erosion and taught them a technology to prevent the degradation of the soil, I did not need a megaphone to do that. When I gathered a pool of lawyers from the Public Attorney’ Office to help abused women in Miagao, I did not have to paint it in red placards.
If you have time, then you may check the records of Representative Darlene Antonino of the 2nd District of South Cotabato and check the letters sent by an unknown student named John Ryan Recabar in Iloilo as regards the need for a universal insurance for students, healthcare for students, and the review of the Sangguniang Kabataan. If this is not activism in its real sense, I do not know what is. If you see it as too passive, then enlighten me what activism is.
In a publication, the readers are at the mercy of the kind of editorial stance the board wants to espouse. I admit that the publication was far from perfect, but it was consistent in its stands. We never allowed any political group to meddle with the decisions the board made. In fact I can proudly say that based on a content analysis done, both parties were given equal space in the paper.
What do you mean by good articles? You mean entertainment articles? Overtly extremist articles? Enlighten me.
For the years of my stint as editor, the paper waited in vain for contributions to make it ‘good’ but nobody from the groups who call themselves activists heeded the call. I never received any letter criticizing the paper except from Teresa Ira Maris Guanzon who decried the paper’s bias because of a slogan of SAMASA on the centerfold of my first issue as editor. I admit it was a lapse in judgment. But it was the first and the last. Was there a pool of really good articles the paper could choose to publish? There was none. Nevertheless, the paper was able to publish despite the bureaucracy in the UP administration. We didn’t have to grandstand and call a radical student organization to rally for the paper cause. For us then, we felt that we need to publish and we had to work to release an issue, no more no less. If indeed you were dissatisfied with the articles, you should have presented and subject yourself to editorial screening. Then you could have actively become a part of true student activism.
How can KMU, Gabriela and others represent the oppressed masses? Because they themselves are the ones being oppressed, and they simply represent themselves. And i think they are empowered because they were given a chance to be heard.
It’s too grand a declaration to say that these militant organizations represent the entire of the underprivileged class. I was a student before, and technically still a student now, but I wouldn’t make such a statement–I am not capable of saying that I represent the student body. The spectrum of poverty, experience, level of knowledge, and opinion of the Filipino people is diverse and no organization can truly capture this multi-faceted identity.
About the politicians you were talking about, have they even bothered looking the newspapers that people protest on a certain issue? Example: On political killings, they themselves know what’s happening and still, they did not take INITIATIVES to research and give some time to discuss on their own on this issue and make some proper actions. And the reason you’re telling us is they are waiting for someone to send a letter to them telling that someone is really missing or dead? Who are these trustworthy politicians you were talking about? Tell them to watch news and read newspapers.
I do agree with you. We direly need a trustworthy politicians/state men that deliver results. I did not say that they are only waiting for the letter the constituents send. Let’s not be naive. The problem of this country has already gone out of proportion, the reason so complex and difficult to give solution, and this should never just be a concern of politicians. We ask ourselves, aside from shouting the obvious, writing on placards and raising facts known to everyone, what have we done to tackle the issues and provide solutions that deliver? Something that works? Something that goes beyond grandstanding?
In case you do not know, student activists come in different forms and styles, and whatever they do, it’s their democratic right, BUT you may not accept it and you may debunk it if you believe they’re not right(like what you’re doing in this article). Things always change and they can be changed, so… what are you saying about the tuition fee increase?
In any case, I do know. In my first article, I did a critique of radical student activism and pointed the reason why it failed to work, why it failed to change the nation that it wants to change, why it’s on a decline.
Student activism, in it’s real sense, does work and what this country needs.
If you believe that you’re right in saying what a real activist is, then be one and prove to everybody what way is right and effective. Then, it could be adopted.
I’ve already made a reply on this. Allow me to ask you, would you be willing to espouse a more proactive kind of activism?
I believe activists go to streets, shout and make noise because it has been proven effective based on our history(e.g. during Marcos’ regime). Being right is relative you know, but effectiveness rocks.
Yes, I could never agree more. It was effective during that time when it was novel, innovative, but the decline of student activism has been brought about by activists themselves. They have overused the power of free expression of self. Government official ignore rallies as nothing but noise and ordinary Filipinos, after many decades of demonstrations, have gone tired of it. Have you offered a sound alternative? Have you offered a doable alternative? Have you offered a sensible alternative that is more than just plain idealism?
Vietnam? You are telling us why are there no demonstrations, another reason maybe because there is nothing to protest on. – just a small comment. ^_^
It was nice attempt to be humorous. Let’s not be naive. There are no demonstrations here because the government does not allow them, the people are too scared to stage ralles. Is this the end that radical student activists fight for, a socialist state where everyone is treated “equally”, where the right to self expression is subordinate to that of the government, where equality is nothing but a buzzword?
Thanks for the comments.