If anyone attacks us and if the conditions are favorable for battle, we will certainly act in self-defense to wipe him out resolutely, thoroughly, wholly and completely (we do not strike rashly, but when we do strike, we must win). We must never be cowed by the bluster of reactionaries.- Mao Zedong on the Kuomintang fight
I was late. On the 23rd of September this year, I have to admit, I did not go to UP Diliman at the pre-arranged calltime. The previous night's "Walastik! Repapips, Dehins sa Cuts" concert/vigil ended at around one in the morning, plus I've always had problems with waking up early since the day I was born (I probably came out later than expected, too), so my stupid body clock was just not going to do me any favors. Waking up at 7 a.m., the calltime, itself, sent me to a "shower shortcut" (a few splashes here and there), a breakfast of Prest-O and Choc-O amidst my "F**k-Oh's" while running towards an Ikot jeep, and a guilty discovery of what looked like hundreds of students already geared for the day's drill: UP STRIKES BACK's Third Day--The Tsunami Walk that was supposed to literally rock the gates of Malacañang.
Then again, when one commits a mistake, one simply corrects it as quickly as possible. So I ran to and from colleges, together with rows of genuine "Iskolar ng Bayan/Alagad ng Media" from the College of Mass Communication. It was exhilarating to be able to stage a snake rally and penetrate the walls of the College of Music and shout out messages such as "Edukasyon, edukasyon! Karapatan ng mamamayan!" along its corridors in the midst of its usually undisturbed melodies. Joining the rest of the UP Diliman contingent in front of Palma Hall was an altogether different story, however. "Exhilarating" is a term that does no justice. At first, the number of students, faculty, and employees did not seem so big, but as the long march began, as it proceeded along Philcoa, it suddenly dawned on me that we would, indeed, be flooding Mendiola.
And I was not wrong. After an estimated 10-kilometer walk from Diliman to Mendiola, I witnessed one of the most mindblowing scenes in my life, so far: joined by the contingents from other state colleges and universities, our combined numbers barely filled the Don Chino Roces Bridge. "Parang Mayo Uno lang!" I thought to myself. At this point, the bridge was filled with various and yet solid chants that were so loud that it was impossible to converse with anybody audibly. If Butch Abad claimed that there was no budget cut at all, he had to be seriously mistaken. If PNoy declared us his "boss," he was a total prick for lying. 8 000 people from academic institutions leaving their respective buildings (or lack thereof), has got to reiterate one glaring truth: We refuse to take a step farther on the Tuwid na Daan. It is now clear what this straight, yellow brick road entails: foreign interests before those of the Filipino people, 100% privatization of social services (one of the provisions in PNoy's proposed Charter Change--the fastest and quietest bill that is in progress in the House of Representatives), and all other neoliberal policies that will do Uncle Sam proud.
Further proving its anti-people stance, the current administration spits in the face of the youth when Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte says, "Focus on your studies," addressing the tens of thousands of students who went on a nationwide strike last week. How the hell can I focus on our studies when I have a friend who works extra hours to pay her overdue 2008 student loan? When my brother's tuition fees range from P20-25 000/semester while I was able to finish most of my units at P300 each? When my orgmate's bandmate was granted Bracket E1 (free tuition) by the UP Diliman's Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP)--"an income generating program," as former UP President Emerlinda Roman would refer to it, as-a-matter-of-factly--but was also, recently, barred from enrolling because of his unpaid student loans? Now, this is only a single yellow brick, for I have found it impossible to "focus on my studies" eversince the Ayala-initiated and National Housing Authority(NHA)-implemented QC-CBD project and other plans designed by business oligarchies have been sending hundreds of thousands of homeless families to hellish places such as Montalban, Rizal along faultlines with no eletricity or water, because, apparently, the cities are better off filled by condominiums, parks, malls, and all that cosmopolitan jazz rather than actual residences. The book, Philippine Social Realities, which was published decades ago, may get republished and rewritten, but the reality that "seven out of ten Filipino farmers remain landless" still remain an unchanged reality up to this day. Yes, Miss Valte, it is only right that we focus on our studies, if only your boss--because it is now quite obvious that we are, in fact, not PNoy's "boss"--focuses on our education. If only this administration focuses more on what its constituents need in order to rightfully call themselves citizens of a democratic society, rather than kissing foreign, imperialist asses.
The world is alit with the flame of protest: The 100 000 students leaving their classrooms and heading to the streets of Chile, the thousands who have been occupying Wall Street, the tens of thousands who declared a National Strike in the Philippines. These and other symptoms of an oppressed society will eventually ripen the conditions for what Mao Zedong once described as "self-defense." Indeed, the state must be afraid of its people, and not the other way around. Because the times call for more militant actions than lighting candles against budget cuts, or claiming responsibility for convening progressive alliances that oppose budget cuts but whose presence is merely felt in photo opportunities, Facebook posts, and a few meter-stroll as their so-called "involvement" in last Friday's Tsunami Walk. Yes, UP ALYANSA, I am talking to you. Go fix yourselves, and do something genuinely "para sa bayan." Your opportunism only worsens the crises that beset the common Filipino.
And given these times, we, the people who set forth this movement calling for a freer nation, will always give our solid response. We will deliver numbers and results, because we are the decisive forces. We will rock the gates of Malacañang, and shake the status quo, because we believe that we deserve our democratic rights, far more than the 20 richest Filipinos deserve their daily dose of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, far more than Obama's wife deserves her uber-stylish wardrobe, far more than the Imperialist powers deserve their automatic licenses to enslave and kill.
To those who were not able to reach their maximum militancy during the Nationwide Strikes, the struggle did not end there. With the fingers of my right hand crossed and my left fist clenched upward, I hope that, when the next opportunity for you to join the fight for our rights presents itself, you will leave the confines of your classroom or the comforts of your bedroom. I hope that your voice will be heard along with the others' as we fill the streets with our chants, our speeches, and our songs. And for myself, I hope that I start the next days an early, incredibly angry bird.
|UP STRIKES BACK Day One. Photo by UP SILIP|
|Photo by Aiess Alonso|
|The Tsunami Walk Begins. Photo taken by UP Aperture on 23 September 2011|
|Plank for the People. Photo by UP Aperture|
|Photo by Aiess Alonso|
|Ang guro ng Bayan, Ngayon ay Lumalaban! Photo by UP Aperture|
|Photo by Aiess Alonso|