The activism inside of me

14522885_1092743200779339_6882121555655559202_nI am a UP student. I am a Sociology major. I study about things, people, interactions, processes and social dynamics. From my day-to-day life, I am bombarded with different concepts, theories and social phenomena that were already written or are being shared verbally. Out of the campus, whenever I am asked where do I study and what (degree) course I am pursuing, I tell it all just simply. “sa UPLB po, Sociology”. And there are the different suspicions and stereotypes assigned to me, to us. “Ah, eh di lagi ka din nagra-rally?..” “Nanonood ka ng mga tumatakbo nang hubo?..” “Nagra-rally pa kayo, paaral na nga kayo ng gobyerno..” “Lagi may rally sa inyo, ano?..” yada.. yada.. yada..  Eh sipain ko kaya kayo sa esophagus???

I am not a fan of rallies- not until I had the chance to be part of it. I perceive people who join rallies as group of people wasting their time, stamina, effort and all. I meant, why would they do such act if a more serene way of fight would be amendable? I didn’t understand. Not until I joined one. I am used to seeing rallies in the campus. It’s not new to me. It is becoming part of my system as a UP student. It’s already a social phenomenon. Nothing’s new on it.

It was my second time to join a rally, actually. The first one was a requirement. Hehe. It happened some time last year. A rally on the Gender Equality of those in under the colorful umbrella of LGBT community. They were fighting for their rights to equality and empowerment.

Just last September 22, 2016 (yes, I posted this late!), I joined a rally again. I must admit, this is because our instructor in one of my majors, SOC 180 (Collective Behavior) required us to join and be part of the rally. This was an activity assigned to us and thus we needed to participate. We have to look at the collective behavior of people and explain things from its theoretical perspective. That happened 10am onwards- exactly the time slot of our class. I felt excited knowing that I will be one of the warm bodies who will create history. Chos! We were instructed to wear red and get directly to the Old Humanities Building (CAS Building) after we signed the attendance sheet.

The rally is about fighting for basic social rights and needs. Rise for education, junk of SAIS and e-UP (the new registration system introduced just this semester), laborers’ rights, student rights, youth empowerment– basically all the pressing issues of the society and the UP community are experiencing.

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We have finally assembled in the Humanities steps, holding placards and flaglets, waving flags, and are wearing red laces distributed by SAKBAYAN (Samahan ng Kabataan para sa Bayan) officers/students. We were among other students and activists participating in the rally. We were being organized by student-leaders/activists in order to promote social control and order. I was in line with my socio friends.

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We roamed around the UPLB campus and promoted our advocacy for walkout classes. Starting from Physical Sciences Building, we headed to the different buildings and institutions in the campus. We were encouraging students (and professors) to terminate their classes and join us in the rally instead. We were successful in so doing– at some times, when classes are near Humanities, Social Sciences and the likes. However, some have just shrugged their shoulders off about this. They seemed didn’t care whatever it was that we were doing.

I wasn’t able to join the rally all throughout until the end. I was only with the group for more or less two hours. I felt the tiresome and there was a need for us to get a little rest. So, Irish and I decided to get away from the event and take a rest and eat our lunch. Nevertheless, the time and effort we have devoted for the success of the rally is indeed an achievement.

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The fact that we have to go through the whole university is already a challenge to us. It took a lot of sweat, shortage of breath, tiresome and body ache. But I gave my all whole-heartedly. Real talk. But then, it was still fulfilling that I have participated in making actions to some social issues that not only concerns me, but the whole UP community. I realized that it is not enough that we only wait to what’s going to happen along the road. Or that we remain passive and calm in the midst of issues that mainly concern us. It is time for us to fight for what we believe is right in the best ways that we can. Efforts will always be efforts. And every effort come and go a long way. I know these little efforts coming from each of the students would be designated in its perfect places. Whatever the rally we have done would result to, I am glad I was a part of it.

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Iskolar ng at para sa Bayan. Loud and proud. 

(Photos not mine. Credits to the rightful owners!)

Side story.

Just recently, I’ve heard the news about the inhumane treatment of the policemen to the rallyists in front of the US Embassy. These rallysists were the persons we weaved goodbye to just a week ago. We walked from Letran to Crossing Calamba just to witness the program for the indigenous people as they are about to pave their ways to Manila to gather all the warm bodies and do protests so the government would hear their claims. And it was heartbreaking how the rally have gone through. They were hit by a mobile, severely hurt them via force and other unjust ways of forcibly pushing them away.

THIS IS HOW

I condemn in the highest possible way our policemen who ran over the protesters outside the US Embassy. It doesn’t matter now who threw the first punch, it doesn’t matter now who started the fight. What matters is why it turned out to be rude. Not a single action from the protesters can justify being run over by the mobile. Even if we say that the protesters were being chaotic, unruly, or antagonizing. Nothing warrants that kind of treatment. What happened to our culture of understanding? Of tolerance? Of warmth? Of love? Why have we become a society that resorts to violence instead of mutual understanding? Why have we become a society that sees violence as the answer to every problem our country faces? Why do we always seem to choose hate over love? My political leaning is in no way related to me condemning what our policemen did. And no, I am not generalizing the PNP. This is very specific to those who tolerated, defended, or ordered that action. To those people saying the protesters deserved this, time to review your morals. Nobody deserves this. What these policemen have done leads to giving the PNP a smudge in their image and reputation. It feels like we cannot even trust the people we expect to protect and serve us Filipinos. 

What also stressful is how people perceive the situation. Some of our kababayans are leaning towards the side of PNP imposing the fact that these policemen just did their job, it’s their duty and that’s the correct things to do. This is a cancer brought to us by the social media. Why can’t they get their facts first before jumping into conclusions and making their opinions? Why can’t they do a little research and know the reasons why these protesters resorted to doing such act? These minority groups tried to came here to Manila to protest against the land-grabbing and militarization that are happening in their own land. Aren’t they aware of it? They just arrived into non-sense opinions without even clearly understanding the entire situation. This is a manifestation that Filipinos are not totally educated. But I think, we cannot do anything about it though. I mean, no matter how we want to educate Filipino people- in the best way possible, if they are constantly leaning on what they totally believe in– acceptable or not– imposing education is just a waste of human resources.

Well, it’s also a truth that we do not expose people to such kind of social problems- the sufferings of Filipino minority groups. We only cast our eyes into few problems faced by the society. We repeatedly hear about traffic, war on drugs, extra-judicial killings, etc. We never even put our attention to the problems faced by the minorities. It seems like we aren’t aware of the happenings in our own land, most of the time. This is heart-breaking. Who are we going to expect to be the most aware of the social issues of today? The Americans? The Chinese? OF COURSE, NOT! It’s ourselves.

Nahhh, I don’t know what’s happening in the country right now. But I am still hopeful that every Filipino would know that we are one. We must defend each other, love each other, help one another and bring out the best in us for the country and its people.

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