It was an exchange in this blog more than a year ago. Questions were raised. Some were answered; some will forever remain open for discussion. It was a moving debate we seldom have. Several sides presented their arguments and counter arguments. A year has passed. And I did not expect a belated response.
I am not, however, writing this post as a response to a recent essay written by a Literature student at the University of the Philippines Visayas named Karlo Mikhael Mongaya that critiqued the essay I wrote entitled Decline of Radical Student Activism. I am of the opinion that nothing new was raised in his essay except for some additional quotes to support the claims made by students of the same persuasion as Mr. Mongaya.
When the essay was written, I was a student in Hanoi, the capital city of a country trying to embrace capitalism. It was an essay inspired by tangible observations gleaned from a former socialist state. Yes I know that I made a handful of generalizations, and reflected them in an essay that I have no intention of causing any furor among students of different persuasions at the University of the Philippines. But it did.
I am more practical than romantic. I try as much as possible to base my observation on what I see. Yes, I am a voracious reader, but I avoid as much as I possibly can to alienate my readers. Probably, the most apt description for myself would be unaligned. I have never tried associating myself to any political view. I remain true to my senses. I believe in infinite truths. Should somebody tell me the truth, I will, without any second thoughts, declare him a liar.
And such is the case of radical student activists in the Philippines, they are so preoccupied with their Truth that they have failed and refused to accept other realities outside the university that run counter to their ideals. I have a high regard for the academe, in fact it is the only place I believe I can thrive. But having lived outside its walls made me realize that the world does not work based on theories alone. Yes we can use theories to explain the social phenomena that we see and experience; it does not work the other way around, nonetheless. Yes I’ve seen few activists who pursued what they believed in and started to effect the changes they believe this country needs. But I’ve also known former activists who decried the depraved system but who are now as rotten, or even more rubbish, than the system they used to rally against.
I always attempt not to make sweeping statements. I may be a bit cynical sometimes but I’ve never succumbed to pessimism. I believe in this country and its young people.
For what is the truth behind going against the current? It’s freeing one’s mind from the old, antiquated, outmoded thinking of the past decades. It is a struggle to free one self from the debilitating truisms that may have been true before, but have gone obsolete through time. Our age needs a new approach to tackle our present challenges. The lip service kind of activism that might have been effective in the 60s or 70s is definitely not what this age in the Philippine history needs.