On STFAP

The article below is a response written by zero as a rebuttal to former students. The author reserves the right to consider this as an article deserving its own space in this blog:

“…kag kadamu ko sng kilala nga wala gbaton sng TOFI…”

Where are these people that you’re talking about? I mean I haven’t seen them doing something? If there are a lot of you clamoring against TOFI why is it that only few first year and second year students are participating in the rallies your (if you are a member) organization is organizing? Take for example the “walkout” plan that you have organized. Gamay lang gid yah nag participate which only means nga damo 1st years and second years ang gapati nga ang activism indi lang sa dalan. I salute the people who remained in their classrooms. Kabalo sila maghatag justice sa pawis kag dugo sang ila parents, kag sa hago kag kakapoy sang kada Pinoy nga gabayad buwis.

“wala k gd guro my namasngaan s gna wakal m ay….wala k kbalo nga less than 1% sng mga 1st year enrollees ang nka avail sng bracket E….kag panu k mka apply sng STFAP bracket kung s application palang mismo wala k na igasto..ahay!..”

I heard this “1% sng mga 1st year enrollees ang nka avail sng bracket E…” before. However, I classify this “information” as trivial and unbelievable because the source wasn’t able to publicize a concrete evidence regarding this fact. It seemed to me that they (the organization/s who says this) are just inventing such fact to gain sympathy and make the student affected by TOFI not to try to apply to STFAP anymore. By doing such this organization is actually stealing the chance of these students affected by TOFI to avail the privilege. Same as through with “…kada tuig n ng tuition increase,..wala lng subong nga year ky tungod sentenaryo sng UP…” Have you clarified the validity of this “fact” before believing it? If you have done so, enlighten me. Post a credible article that will convince students that such scenario really exists.

“kag panu k mka apply sng STFAP bracket kung s application palang mismo wala k na igasto..ahay!..”

I hope you will be enlightened with this cliche “kung walang itinanim, walang aanihin”. Tani naintindihan mo nga tanan nga privileges may ara process. Please consider as well that applying in anything requires money. Wala na libre subong. Ang una niyo bi gina-think is ang gasto indi ang dako nga benefit nga makuha niyo in the end. Ka funny lang isipon, kay if you have that kind of mentality wala ka gid abutan sa ulihi. Gusto mo pahapos lang? Goodluck. (Sorry. I know this is personal)

I admit that I am generalizing. I hope you will admit the same deed.

Why i say that your rallies are useless? Because you weren’t able to effect change. “panu mgpasikatan ang mga tao s isa k organisasyon kung s diin isa lng ang ila k madangat?” Simply Human nature. Crab mentality. No one is actually excused from this. At the end of the day you will realize that each of you in your organization will account for what you have done. Believe me. Even influential and grand organizations are affected by this.

Advertisements

Bitterness and alternative paradigm: A response to The Rise of Reactionary Students

It makes me see a glimmer of hope in this debate because once again we learn that intellectual debate in this university is far from dead. Although I do not personally know the writer of the article The Rise of Reactionary Students her/his courage to make use of real identity instead of some pseudonym speaks something about the writer-the readiness to stand by the words she/he has written.

Language is paramount in this debate inasmuch as it is an essential part in this exchange of thoughts. It occurred to me, however, that reactionary is not the right word to call students who badly want change as much as radical student activists do. None of us want to either maintain or revive any past regimes, as what radical student activists call past administrations. If there is a common ground we all stand, it’s our thirst for change, hunger for reform. The call for change is not a monopoly of radical student activists. We ALL want change. Nobody wants things to remain as they are. Nobody wants the Philippines to remain where it is now.

When I wrote the Decline of student activism I thought of it as a response to a prevailing paradigm most student activists take, especially in the University of the Philippines. A well-worn paradigm, in fact too worn out that it becomes somewhat automatic, something that the word critical will never capture because it is never at all critical–radicalism: we raise the tuition because rounds of inflation have made the former 300 or 200-peso-per-unit tuition unable to sustain the expenses for maintaining the best institution for higher learning in this country.

The automatic responses from radical student activists are that it is anti-poor, it is making the university elitist, it is disenfranchising poor students to study in UP. We see it must be very nice to have everything for free but we know this will not make sense because business will suffer, and the consumer themselves, eventually. We want to have free education, at whose expense? You say the money is lost because of corruption in the government. True, a fact we all know and something we should not overlook.

But while trying to fight corruption we cannot afford to continuously wait for the government to clean itself off corruption before we try to give solution to the apparent decline of a UP education. The problem is urgent. Let me ask the writer of the response to the Decline of student activism, where else do you think the money for tuition go? I do not suppose you see the former two hundred pesos per-unit you pay before as a token of appreciation to UP nor was it a donation. It was used to maintain the University, to keep it going amid budget cuts. I am with you when you believe that the state must not abandon UP, but it is also true that UP will not be a competitive university if it solely relies on the government.

I never saw it as cocky and a sign of arrogance to write down what I believe in and to let other students read an alternative paradigm that is rarely tried-a proactive kind of student activism which is dynamic in the real sense. It was easy for radical student activists to lambast passive students, for indeed they exist in the university and there are many of them. Nonetheless, radical student activists calling students who prioritize their studies over radicalism, rallies, and demonstrations, passive and unconcerned is too childish and an insult to the word critical that they fondly call themselves.

Forgive me if this sounds already too personal but being poor was never an excuse to leave my class and do something for a more “noble” cause-rallying in behalf other poor students. When I was in college I saw myself as a student, more than anything else. I thought I was doing a disservice to the Filipino people if I didn’t do well in class. I came from a poor family; my parents were barely able to come by after sending all their children to college in a far place to gain knowledge, learn independence, struggle with life. We were poor but I never saw this fact as an obstacle to do my best in class. Like any other poor UP students I missed meals because of my parents’ failure to send me money on time, but I saw things proactively. I never saw it as an excuse to do grandstanding and to put ALL the blame to the government. I thought I was already privileged to study in the best university in the country.

I felt rage inside me when I encountered radical classmates of mine then who proclaimed that they were fighting against tuition increase and for greater state subsidy when at the same time they could barely pass the exam (and they seemed to be proud of it), when they seldom attend classes (and they seemed to be proud of it), when they hardly give any sensible argument in class (and they seemed to be proud of it).

Before one can become a student activist he/she must be a student first. But it seemed that they have forgotten that very fundamental fact.

I sensed bitterness in the words of the writer when he/she said:

It really is a sad thing that when we achieve a lot and gained the audience to listen for, we sometimes believe what we say is the ultimate truth. It doesn’t always conclude that when we graduate as cum laude, magna cum laude or even summa cum laude, we are always correct and have the right to mock at the freedom of the other people. Making judgments to people who fight for a cause Andres Bonifacio has started is blatantly and consciously arrogant.

I sensed that you are bitter because this writer has gained audience to listen to him. But let me assure you that I do not profess to hold ultimate truth; at the end of the day, the students will have to judge whether they will take a well-worn path of radicalism or espouse a new paradigm to achieve change. Let’s give them that choice.

Most of radical student activists never realized that in order to gain a mass audience they have to be believable. If you want to capture a critical and intellectual audience, giving them over-generalized slogan will never work, shouting at them emotion-laden rhetoric is inutile if they see that you do not walk the talk, that you do not deliver result, that your assumptions are obsolete, out of date. The radical student activists during the Marcos years were believable, worth listening to, true student activists because they had proven their ability as students first before they embarked on the truly noble kind of activism during the 70s. Before they became radical activists they were critical students in class who recognized that they were indebted to the Filipino people and must be true to their responsibility of being academically excellent.

By all means I can assure you that I know where the demarcation line between sensibility, rationality, critical-mindedness and naivety, partiality, empty rhetoric lies. I do not see anything wrong in this kind of debate because it allows our readers to subject our beliefs, biases which we think as universal to scrutiny and challenge them further to make sure that they stand the test of critical thinking. The decline of radicalism will continue unless the people who espouse the concept do not think out of the usual responses to the different kind of crises our time poses to us.

The real student activists may not be effecting change with megaphones or placards but surely I know they deliver results. You see them in the students who share their knowledge in writing and Journalism to the students in barangays in Miagao, in the Pahinungod volunteers who thought of educating the students in far-flung areas setting aside for a while personal ambitions, in the students who do well in class and dedicate their efforts for the future of this country. And you call them reactionary?

Lest I forget, your style of writing is commendable; I’m not a firm believer of originality since in a post-modern age, the concepts of style, ownership, property are blurred. And it must have been easier for you to pattern your discourse using the original point of reference, which is the essay Decline of radical student activism, I do not see that as a form a plagiarism since post-modernity made the concept practically impossible.

The Rise of Reactionary Students (by Lean Porquia)

An article written by Lean Porquia posted in studentorg_upv@yahoo.com on July 28, 2008, 8:52 pm

A response to the article ‘Decline of Radical Student Activism” by Ryan Recabar

It was a sunny day in the early week of June. Students are scurrying for their enrolment and freshmen students are wondering how to pass through the skewing process.

There was a boy, almost particularly vain and feminized in action, who is talking to a group of freshmen students waiting turns to pay for their enrolment fees.

The boy asked one of the girls, who was silent and almost trying not freak out because of the nerve racking enrolment process. “Ano STFAP bracket mo?” (What’s your STFAP bracket?)

The girl hesitantly replied, but almost ignored him out of embarrassment, “Ah, eh, bracket D” .

“What? Really? Poor family mo aw? (What? Really? Is your family poor?) The boy replied indignantly. But instead of minding the reaction of the boy, the girl just kept silent and waited for her turn. While the boy went to another group and rumored the unfaithful news he just heard.

Is UP really becoming an elitist? Is being elitist something wrong? Is UP forgetting the lessons from the past? Or is UP really being turned into a financial institution blinded by academic opportunities?

It really makes you a “someone” if either you’re a coño, elite, or a socialite. Walking along the hallways is different from being a “somebody”, whom everyone notices, from being a “nobody” where almost everyone doesn’t know you exist. Isolation is indeed a big problem especially for college life. However, the big question is neither popularity nor being friendly, the big question is, do people listen to you or not?

Some people say the advent of turning UP into an exclusive school for those who can afford has begun. Only the privileged ones can go to UP, and when we say “privileged” we mean those can pay. The UP as a premier state university is well applauded for her renowned academic excellence and academic freedom, two terms, which for decades made a difference from that of other academic institutions. Ideally, constituents inside the university are expected to follow as well. Being “Iskolars ng Bayan”, students are expected to perform at their best in whatever endeavors they desire.

But this is just a plain play-of-words and simple rhetoric, because UP is now seeing the degradation of critical minded students. When we say critical minded students, I’m not just referring to those who can articulate whatever issues may arise in the school, country or in the world. When I say critical minded students, these are students who can identify the demarcation line of what is being sensitive from arbitrary accusation because of some reactive emotions felt during a certain period of time. From those who silly-sally says they care for the students, well in fact, all they care about is how to be socially popular and well-known inside campus. From those who recruit fresh young blood because they say they are an elite group and a bastion of popular students. From those who say let the change continue but went on saying changing may take some time. And let time pass until change has become stagnant. From those who claim to be excellent but have isolated their mind inside a box, a box of standards and letting backward information consume their intellects. Are all these things make up what a critical minded student?

If other people say, let us work hand-in-hand with the government to let harmony reign among Filipino people. Have we forgotten the lessons of Edgar Jopson? An Atenista who felt the same thing, by writing a letter to the President of the Philippines, the youth can change the system. But by the principle of the ruling class and the semi-feudal and semi-colonial system, what Ferdinand Marcos replied is simply; “Why should I listen to you? You’re just a son of a grocer!”. Indeed, this is a thing from the past. But then again, are we undermining the capacity of our government leaders to THINK for themselves that the county is in deep shambles of economic and political crises?

If there’s one thing that we see as a problem right now, it is the reactionary thought of letting things be as they were and accept the fact of an unstoppable degradation of human dignity. Why worry things which we’re not affected with? Why fight against the government if we’re just students? Why would I sacrifice my time and effort in shouting in the streets in the name of some forsaken people if I can stay here in school and study, study, study? Indeed, the reactionary forces have risen to a new level of social influence. And it is a shame for these intellectual students to choose a path which they think is right.

It really is a sad thing that when we achieve a lot and gained the audience to listen for, we sometimes believe what we say is the ultimate truth. It doesn’t always conclude that when we graduate as cum laude, magna cum laude or even summa cum laude, we are always correct and have the right to mock at the freedom of the other people. Making judgments to people who fight for a cause Andres Bonifacio has started is blatantly and consciously arrogant.

Every one of us wants to become rich, right? We want to uplift ourselves and rise above the level of poverty! But the question is, at the cost of what or someone? The tuition fee increase is a very sensitive issue to the “Iskolars ng bayan” and even to the administration. People argue that the cost of education has risen relatively compared to that of the last increase in mid – `80s. However, you think simply at an angle where one sector is beneficial. Don’t you question where your money is? The taxes you’re paying for? The corruption this government has made? Think sensibly!

Going back to that boy, pity that no Martial Law was declared in the present regime, and if so, you yourself can see the implications of what power struggle would mean. The rise of reactionary students is something activist shouldn’t be afraid of; it is something to be challenged with. What activists should be afraid of if the masses fail to understand the essence of the national democratic revolution. These so-called popular students are nothing more than just squirmy ants pestering on us everyday. Let our minds be focused on how to divert the attention to national issues and raise local issues to broader concept of mass movement. We may be small but our hearts are one with the people

So let this discourse embark into a sea of debate and I challenge you only over a cup of coffee.

Where does radical student activism stand?

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:

chaps Says:
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.

On why there is the need to increase tuition

Below is a comment posted by tapeworm as a response to a comment made by has been my student. The content of the comment, which I agree but missed to write in my previous response because I thought that most student understand the reason behind the increase in tuition, should again be reconsidered.

from has been my student
<i>our administration here is just waiting for a collective action. and i wonder why some organizations here are pro-tofi although they always say “for the students, by the students”, that would mean they care for the students. Sir, do you think being a pro-tofi organization protects the right of the students to an “affordable education”, where in fact, the parents of these students who are poor are having a hard time just to let their son/daughter enroll to UP because of tofi? </i>

Being pro-tofi doesn’t mean that these organizations DO NOT CARE about the welfare of the students. If you take a look at the rate of the UP tuition you will find out that during the 80’s the students were already paying 200 pesos. So much, if you ask everybody, during that time. And why does UP dont have the right to increase its tuition when the everything has already increased (just a little economics here please).

Remember how your mothers and fathers and lolos and lolas would tell you about the prices of goods then. Just logic and reality, the university has to increase its tuition simply because the rate (200pesos) could no longer equal the value of 200pesos today. It’s been almost 20 years since this was imposed and dont tell me 200pesos twenty years ago is still the same 200pesos you have right now.

We need to sustain the university. We cant solely depend on the subsidy that our government provides. We need to find other ways in order for the university to keep its teachers. Many of our professors, if you have noticed, have already gone out of the country. why? because the university cannot pay them anymore.

We are not the only university that the government is supporting. We have other institutions to consider. You asked, <i>”do you think being a pro-tofi organization protects the right of the students to an “affordable education”? </i>

We are already losing a lot of our professors. We are actually considering the fact that our professors also need an increase. They also have their families that they have to provide. We always clamor for the best education. How can we get this if we are already losing our best professors? We don,t want to wake up one day only to find out that all of them has deserted us.

tapeworm

Responses

What follows is the response of one of my former students in the University of the Philippines Visayas to an article entitled To the somebody who has been my student:, 2008/07/26 at 4:30 PM

been your student
203.177.74.141

-sir, the members of these radical groups that you were talking about may have lived with the masses for weeks to see how these people fight for their survival.
-these groups are shouting along the streets to inform the government what the masses really feel about the issue on poverty and others that directly or indirectly affect them.
– the masses are being represented by these radical groups for they may wonder if rallying could really help solve problems or they were afraid to be hit by the policemen’s paraphernalias.

-these radical groups, i think, are not telling us what our nation needs. they simply represent and/or share the same sentiments that the masses have.
– they are not imposing things on what the government should do. they are just proposing what they think is better. and i believe, that proposals are not those that should be followed. it must be amenable to everyone.

-our administration here is just waiting for a collective action. and i wonder why some organizations here are pro-tofi although they always say “for the students, by the students”, that would mean they care for the students. Sir, do you think being a pro-tofi organization protects the right of the students to an “affordable education”, where in fact, the parents of these students who are poor are having a hard time just to let their son/daughter enroll to UP because of tofi?

“a president has been ousted because of a collective action. and tofi, i believe, will be junked if only the students will do a pro-student action.”

(i would like to make this clear. i am not affiliated to any of the two opposing organizations here in the university. i am just trying to express what i feel on the issues that obviously affect me as a student and as a part of the state.)

Until now I am trying to remember the time I spent in Miagao and make a guess as to who this has been my student is. He/she could have been enrolled in one of the Journalism or Literature courses I taught in the span of two semesters of stay in the university. I am trying to recall the way my former students wrote and how they gave meaning and structure to the thought they have that were shaped by their experiences and influenced by the people they meet or the organizations they belong to. But I think it is not a matter of importance now, what is more significant is to take a look at the points has been my student raised and scrutinize the assumptions he/she based the arguments she raised in a comment posted above.

How do we understand a phenomenon, a concept, a person, a group of people, a country as a whole? How do we say that indeed we have truly understood something, someone? Radical activists seemed to have mastered this area of human affairs–“understanding”. But does living with them for a week enough to truly understand them? I hear of so many radical activists decrying the oppression that most of these underprivileged have suffered. But the way they tackle an issue is nothing different from that of the way government does–a top down approach. Okay, what we all want here is to make the lives of all Filipino people regardless of class, ethnic origin, language as decent as possible. How do we do that?

We empower people to make them realize their worth in a realm contradictions. By empowering them, we allow them to see for themselves how they can help themselves and eventually help other needy people without too much reliance on an unreliable government, such as the Philippine government, needless to say.

We empower them by making them recognize the problem and solve the problem using the resources that they in themselves without too much reliance on a group of radical activists who bombard them with sweeping statements and tell them over and over again that they are poor and helpless and oppressed as if these poor people lack the understanding that they are poor, that they are not listened to.

When we look at the basic tenets of radical student activism, at least as far as my understanding of the matter in the Philippines is concerned or they can deny that if they want to, it tries to call for a change in leadership in the national politics.  While at the same time they ask these same leaders in the national government to provide land reform, better treatment for political prisoners, or rice subsidy, for example, which understandably are the duties of the government. Well and good. But if you declare something as inutile and useless, the adjectives radical student activists use to describe the government then it appears not so sensible for me to expect something from a government that is “tuta ng pasista” or “puppet”. A contradiction radical student activists have not reconciled up to this time.

Again we seemed lost because we place higher premiums on the wars in tactics and slogans instead of the merits of the arguments.

…i wonder why some organizations here are pro-tofi although they always say “for the students, by the students”, that would mean they care for the students. Sir, do you think being a pro-tofi organization protects the right of the students to an “affordable education”, where in fact, the parents of these students who are poor are having a hard time just to let their son/daughter enroll to UP because of tofi?

I see the sense in increasing the tuition in UP because it is necessary. With inflation, weak peso, trailing national economy, a 200-peso tuition per unit in simply not enough. If we truly want to compete in this changing world order then we have rationally weigh things. Seeing the logic in this decision of the UP administration doesn’t make someone a pro-tuition increase. Who in his right mind would want to pay higher? Nevertheless, it is necessary. Let’s look at it this way, consumer of rice all want the price of rice to be 1 peso a kilo, but it does not make sense so consumer pays 26 pesos a kilogram, but these consumer who are willing to pay that amount for a kilo of rice do not automatically become pro-price increase. The same applies with tuition increase.

Moreover, the chance of bringing back the tuition in all UP campuses to its level two years ago is already gloomy despite future stern collective actions against it.

To the somebody who has been my student:

This was originally written as my response to a comment made by a former student on the article The decline of radical student activism, but I thought this deserves to be a separate article.

student activism is one of the most effective ways to let the government know what
the masses really feel about the issues that they are facing.
do you think, letters of appeal to the politicians could still work?
-they could easily be trashed!
-(letters of appeal gni d s university dw s wala lang….)
let the people speak what they want for themselves!
-can the government say what is good fOR ITS people???
-if you’ll say yes….
-SHAME!!!! SHAME!!!! TEACHER!!!!
about the narrow-minded thingy:
-narrow-minded people were those who simply agree to the policies that the government is imposing to them without any consultations.
-paryo lang sa mga tawo d sa university nga naga-HUO s tuition fee increase….pero ila slogan;…..”for the students, By the students”
-may ara pa na cla nga: START THE CHANGE, BE THE CHANGE!– ano nga pag-bag-o ang nabal-an nila?????-in fact, pagsunod s mga “outside forces” nabal-an nila….
–(those statements came from a non-partisan who critically weighs things… 😉

I see that the problem with most activists is their inability to express themselves clearly. At first I was tempted to take the blame since the previous four comments came from somebody who had been my student. Maybe I failed to teach him/her how to construct his thought as clearly as he/she can. But it seems that the way they write is also reflective of the way they think–all caps, exclamation points, propaganda-sounding statements, vague slogan–signs of sloppy thinking.

The debate most often gets lost because of irrelevance, lack of research, and sweeping statements. This is what I observed in the UPV student yahoogroup that discussed an almost similar subject not so long time ago. So much time was wasted because of the inclusion of other irrelevant things which, instead of enlightening the students, added more to the confusion.

First, I never intended to refer to any student organization in the university. The use of color to describe the shirt of a girl who was a member of one political organization was merely incidental. It can be blue, fuchsia, carnation pink, or beige; but generally, red, both in literature and history is the symbol of radicalism. So I guess, it just made sense.

I’ve met several trustworthy politicians and even the untrustworthy ones, there’s one thing they are unanimous in saying, that is, they do not receive any letter from their constituents. Unlike in Europe or in the US where the citizens constantly send letter to their leaders criticizing them, asking for help, commending etc. therefore making their politicians more accountable, in the Philippines this hardly happens. And majority of these letters, if they get written and sent, range from asking money for the funeral of a dead relative to sponsoring a basketball court for a barangay league.

And since you rhetorically asked:

do you think, letters of appeal to the politicians could still work?

Let me rhetorically ask you:

Have you tried sending letters to your representative in the congress? to one of the senators? to Gloria Arroyo?

And definitely the government cannot dictate what the people want. I wouldn’t say yes, of course. Organizations that stage rally in behalf of the Filipino people, who say they represent the sentiment of the masses are as not legitimate as the government to dictate what is good for the people. I wonder what made KMU, Gabriela, Migrante, Anakbayan think they represent the Filipino people. I wonder what made them think they are the voice of the oppressed masses.

Rallies, my student, do not empower ordinary Filipino people. I do not discount the contributions made by radical organizations in introducing a counter perspective. But as much as the government is not capable of dictating (the word you used) what the masses need, so as these radical organizations who shamefully say they understand what this nation needs.

As you said, let the people do it. Letting them recognize what they need will eventually empower them. But saying that these radical organizations represent Juan de la Cruz who say they are the voice of the overworked OFWs, for abused women, for underrepresented youth, for the poor urban poor, is mistaken if not shameful.

Allow me to go back to the issue of tuition increase. This is moot and academic, I know; but I do not understand why radical student activists keep on bringing up the issue and calling the student to fight against it. It may be rather blatant a statement but let me say it: we simply can do nothing to roll it back to its original level. If truly they want to help the students then they had better organized fora, drives that will help students better cope with the increase in tuition. Being pragmatic will not hurt so much.

It’s an exercise in futility to constantly fight against tuition hike when nothing can be done about it. Such a waste of vocal power, time, and youthful energy. And besides, the Philippine Constitution guarantees free basic education, by basic we mean primary and secondary with the exclusion of tertiary education. If a UP student thinks he deserves the best education the Filipino nation can offer then he must also understand that it is neither cheap nor free.

To my former student who wrote the comment above, allow me to thank you for raising this debate here. Man truly is a political animal. But lest you forget there is no such thing as a perfect argument. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.