A response by Chaps on “Where does radical student activism stand?”

The following is an article posted by
chaps dated August 2, 2008 at 12:58 am written as a response to Where Does Radical Student Activism Stand?

Good day readers!

“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.
…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.”

– Honestly speaking, this is the first step of activism. And will it make you an activist? Yes. So will this prove me wrong in saying you’re not a real activist? Yes. So will this tell our readers that I’ve said things in the personal level? Yes. Apologies for the host, and from these statements, we could now talk. Definitely, an activist to an activist.

– What’s next for an activist? Of course, the next step. Update from time to time where the universal insurance, healthcare for students, and the review of the Sangguniang Kabataan is, until it gets approved – because if not, it might get lost and may be gone forever. Sayang naman.

And one better way to support these statements is to gather students, enlighten them and ask if they would join you in your actions. You’ve sent these letters because you know that the students really need this and this is really for them (I assume). Because if these are not for them, then what’s the use of sending? Now, can I conclude that you have represented them? How? By doing actions for the benefit of the students which you believe are needed. You may have said “i am not capable of saying that I represent the student body” , but you made an action to represent them and that action definitely aimed in helping.

Why is there a need to gather students and, in anyway possible, make them join you? Because it’s their/our issue, not only yours, not only mine. And I believe, it can never be done by one John Ryan Recabar only. BUT, he could always lead.

I actually agree in what you said about you not needing of a megaphone and red placards to help. You really don’t need those things if you want to answer their immediate needs, maybe even their long term needs, because, that is your own form of response to the fact that people are in need of help. And i respect that.

About the decline of the radical student activism. True. There is really a decline, in number and in impact. Worse, people, especially from cities, see radical activists as annoyance and just noise makers with no effects at all. But please, let us not blame them for doing such. Blaming them won’t simply solve your problem, same applies with killing them. One solution to make them stop would be: Give them what they need. I think all they’re asking for is for the Government to be true to its duties and promises and be held accountable for its actions.

Radical student activists won’t go to rallies if education budget is not cut, if there is no increase in the tuition, if their concerns were addressed properly, if their petitions and calls weren’t junked, and if their rights weren’t oppressed.

Honestly speaking, as of now, I only see here two sides of the cube. One, people who are the radical student activists and two, people who hates the way radical student activists act. If we can’t make a square out of this cube, only chaos among our ranks will happen.

You said: “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?”

First, the ways of the radical student activists as seen by many are making placards, using megaphones to be heard, doing rallies, protesting on streets, and others that are really catchy to the eye, if not annoying.

How will this work? In the long run, and if you start to believe in them, then there’s a huge chance of making the fight successful. And this is a process, not just a one shot and it’s already there. Solutions that deliver? You just don’t go to streets without a “request” from the government. Example: No to Budget Cut. Junk the Oil Deregulation Law. Dagdag Sahod. They are right in front of you. And without the support of the people doing this kind of actions, the “papers” in the office will not move.

I think I need to say this. Doing street protests and/or any kind of oral protests could: (1) Give pressure to the “offices” to process their request/s. (2) Show that someone or many are against/pro the issue being implemented or implemented. (3) Show support to a bill/suggestion/any given situation given to/by the “office” (4) Show a united stand on an issue. (5) Make a leader step down. And many more.

Why do we always see against in their banners? Because, they know that it would not make their lives better and thus, they simply have to say what they have to say. And it just happens that they meet one another also having the same concern.

Quit generalizing and stop saying that radical student activist only aims in making a socialist state out of this country. And about Vietnam, tell me more about Vietnam. Is the hunger there worse compared with the hunger in Philippines? I’ve seen in the news that subsidies for buses were increased to avoid the hike of the fare due to the global crisis on oil. And to inform you, the jeepney’s fare here has already increased.

People, when oppressed or being hurt, have the tendency to keep quite at first, then, when they had enough, they would strike back automatically, even if the enemy is big. So, don’t easily judge the people there when they do not protest, if the oppressions (as what you’re saying that the “right to self expression is subordinate to that of the government” 😉 set in their hearts and minds, no one can stop them. As what I’ve pointed out in my previous post, there are no protests in Vietnam maybe because there is nothing to protest on, everything is being taken care of by the government. And this statement is not being naive, and so as I. This is actually a statement of a possibility.

Going back on the radical student activists. They do not do rallies only. Or talking at the back of the megaphone. Aside from the things mentioned above, radical student activists also do researches, give educational discussions, do room to room campaigns and signature campaigns, assist in communities, immerse in a poor or a rural community, attend public hearings, sponsor school activities, ask for a dialogue, and post papers on the issues faced by the public.

And to tell you honestly, when radical student activists are not doing things that are mentioned above, they are busy studying, playing computer games, reading pocket books, sleeping and even courting the love of their life. Just like any student or teenager would do.

You’re asking me: “Would you be willing to espouse a more proactive kind of activism?” If the proactive kind of activism you’re telling me is the same with doing the legal process(through papers) and getting right people to help the right persons. Then the answer is YES. Always been like that. I’ve been through that, and still practicing.

Now. Would you be willing to espouse a more radical type of activism to prevent its decline?

This is the side of the cube i want to share. Please learn from this and hopefully you could adopt a system like this.

Sir Recabar, it is really a nice observation that you’ve seen the decline of the radical student activism. It may decline now, but soon it will rise again. It’s a cycle. You may not want this, but I’ve noticed that, your beliefs are the same with the beliefs of the true blue activists. Please continue on making comments on my points, I want to learn more from this blog. And please, don’t involve KMU and Gabriela here, no one will speak for them.

power ranger – stop generalizing the Activists. Our host here is also an activist you know. I’m an activist too and i would like to ask some questions, so that we could answer your comment properly.

“ruthless opportunism (i recall some recent issue about the gabriela group using the UP buses for their personal agendas. i wonder what became of it)” – Are you talking about the relief operations which happened after the flood? Were you there when gabriela coordinated with UP? Were you listening what they were saying?

“they seem reluctant to focus on fighting against the wrong things, and instead would focus instead on making stupid childish actions such as burning gloria’s effigy, and stuff instead of making a more effective change.” – fighting against the wrong things? making stupid actions such as burning gloria’s effigy? Please elaborate and specify especially on actions. Please explain ‘more effective change’ and how.

“kabastusan towards the government of the republic of the philippines” – how? what is kabastusan anyway?

“pawang kamalian sa pag-intindi sa mga social issues” – what social issues are you talking about? And what’s the right one? Please provide.

“that is why people who are morally upright never wanted to deal with activist matters, because with activists, the only thing that seems to bind them is their common hatred towards the president” – OMG! I really can’t believe there are people who think this way. Anyway, can’t blame you though, the only thing i can hope is, you learn something from the side of the cube i presented.

– First of all, not all activists hate the president, not all want her to step down, and definitely hatred towards the president is not one of the binding factors of the activists. It is quite heavy that you simply generalize everything. Since you’re not an activist, I assume you do not know the ways of an activist, may it be a “legal” or street(i place quotation marks on legal, because street is also legal) processes, and both are done by an activist. Activist means being active especially in addressing the problems, by making solutions and doing proper actions.

– Please. Being the morally upright(whatever this thing means) person/superhero please refrain from saying phrases which is really immoral and I believe more of childish, such as ruthless opportunism, focus on fighting against the wrong things, making stupid childish actions, pawang kabastusan lamang, pawang kamalian sa pag-intindi sa mga social issues, common hatred towards the president in addressing the activists.

I’ve seen three sides of the cube now. One who is morally upright that makes generalizations and says things which he/she does not even seen or experienced to fully understand.

Continue to Serve Guys!


One thought on “A response by Chaps on “Where does radical student activism stand?””

  1. we tend to forget that a meaning of word changes based on a person’s perception of the symbol. activists for me, had been been based on my limited understanding of the world.

    activists lambasts people in power. they turn unreasonable and sometimes, violent when they’re confronted by the authorities. i have stated what the common juan de la cruz sees on mass media. i believe there’s more that meets the eye than the placards and their so-called sentiments. if these people really wanted to take actions to make their desired changes happen, they wouldn’t be spending their time in the streets.

    and besides, political actions shouldn’t be misunderstood as something synonymous to acts of nationalism. it appears to me that activists(based on what i see) only want to herd more people to their cause so that their organization will have more power. at first glance it may appear nationalistic because they’re fighting for a good stand on an issue, but in the end the only one benefiting from these political actions is the person behind the stage. the one calling the shots, and gaining the support of the people rallied under the “banner” of these “activists”.

    perhaps you people are a different kind of activists now. but the term “activist” had been degraded due to the actions of the people seen in mass media. for me, activists are those who take aggressive political action. and like any other commoner, i judge things as i see them. perhaps in your own definition, activists are just bringers of change. perhaps you are right, and i’m wrong.

    i’m only saying that the “activists” now are very suspicious of being pawns in a bigger political battle that determines who eventually takes control of this country. seeing their carefully orchestrated actions, as if some maestro is conducting them, they move like an army, herding people from one rally to another, it seems that they have some bigger and more sinister plan.

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