Pilosopong Tibak Kasi
What drives one to protest in the streets? This is a question familiar to all student activists. Some would say, “Imbes na magrally ka da kag magpainit namuyong ka na lang bi (Instead of joining the rally under the heat of the sun, why not to stay at home and relax)?” Others do not know how student activism and rallies can change the course of society.
To this day, students blasting social injustices can still be heard; waving placards as they voice their disgust for the government and demanding they change their ways.
At the height of the 1970 First Quarter Storm, students clamored for change, amid rising prices and increasing unemployment. The youth were eventually radicalized and, as a result of their demonstrations attributing to the rising threat of communism, then-President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law.
Is student activism still relevant?
Protests are the barometer of good governance – if there is social injustice, there will be activism. The two cannot be separated; in order for your voice to be heard, you must make noise. It is a battle for equal treatment.
Student activism can be traced back to the time of Marcelo H. del Pilar, Jose Rizal, Graciano Lopez-Jaena, Mariano Ponce, and others who sought social and political reform.
These men, who came from wealthy families, went to Europe to study, where they met other Filipino students, who had already established themselves. They would later join the propaganda movement, which advocated the conversion of the Philippines from a colony to a province of Spain. Likewise, they also demanded rights for Filipinos, which would only be possible if the abusive friars were expelled.
This movement of people seeking rights and reforms is a similar ideology of our heroes.
Some Catholic schools are promoting social responsibility, harmonious relationships, and acting as agents of change; however, they do not lend a voice to the victims of society and condemn activists as “problems” of society.
Once upon a time, Jesus Christ was against abuses and oppression of the poor.
Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim
Political activist and holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once said: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.”
The statement speaks to the principle of activism. Protests are necessary because it compels politicians to take action.
Student activists Lean Alejandro, Edgar Jopson, Lorena Barrios, Rodelo Manaog, among others rose up during the Marcos dictatorship
The 2004 Hacienda Luisita Massacre saw activists condemn the Aquino family
Students called for the abolition of pork barrel
Protests were held last year in response to the tyrannical rule over the Lumads
Student fought for free education
Refusing to remain silent is the cry of the people. They sacrifice their personal ambitions for the sake of equal opportunity. To quote the late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, “Those who betray the poor, betray Christ.”
The struggle continues
Dr. Lisandro Claudio said, “The more vexations are committed the more Filipino liberals will emerge.”
Why is there still student activism in this age of technology? That very activism has been incorporated in social media, which even serves as a platform for protests. However, rallies are still relevant because if gives the government the opportunity to listen to the pleas of the people.
Uproarious noise of the streets is significant in letting the nation know there are people fighting discrimination, oppression, and injustice. To some, they are a nuisance, but others remember moments in history that changed the course of the country.
People Power brought an end to the Marcos administration.
September 21, 2017 is a national day of protest, as stated in Proclamation 319 by President Rodrigo Duterte, in recognition of the fear and indignation of the repetition and perpetuation of human rights violations and other failings of government.
The struggle for human rights brought about the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
The activists who died during the Marcos regime resulted in the emergence of the idea that rights are something to be fought for.
One of the legacies of student activism was its active role in stimulating nationalism in both the organizational and ideological senses.
Student activism was a response to prevailing social conditions and a demonstration against the status quo. Those original activists, despite Europe being the breeding ground for their engagement, took us down the road to independence.
Back to the original question, what drives one to protest in the streets? Is it our duty to incite change./WDJ