What went wrong with Filipino activists?

A few days ago before we started our much awaited 10 day holiday also known as “Golden Week” our union in the company had a small meeting, we talked about how we have reached our targets, some areas where we need to improve, etc. After the meeting we all stood up and raised our fist and made our pledges to do our best for ourselves and our company, somehow it reminded me of my memories during my tertiary years.

It was circa 2005 when our university decided to have an increase in our tuition, this was hastily implemented without consulting with the parents and the student council, things like this is a big No-No for activists like us back then, but don’t get me wrong back then activists doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a communist/socialist! for me activism is just campaigning for some kind of change, may it be environmental, social, political etc. I’m a little bit disappointed on how kids these days consider themselves as activists but only keeps on pushing for communism or socialism, have you ever guys read about how the iconic Che Guevarra became the judge, executioner, and jury of Cuba after overthrowing the Batista regime? here: link let’s save this for another story.

The news of the increase in our school fees quickly reached the ears of all activists, concerned groups, etc. it didn’t take long for us to form picket lines at all gates of our uni, after a few days we took it outside the roads and other universities joined us we tried to contact the media but unfortunately our numbers weren’t that great to make it to the national news, well that’s what one of our “comrades” said. Days passed and we were no longer asking for our university to sit with us and discuss the increase, some of us were already waving the hammer and sickle banner, some have placards calling for the ouster of the current president, some have placards calling out to “kick out the American bases” out of the country, and then one placard caught my attention, it says “serve the people” a guy in his early 30’s was carrying it wearing a bandana covering his face and a redshirt heck, he wasn’t the only one in this age marching with us I just noticed that it was me and my friend Cid who were the only teenagers in this group so I quickly asked him to grab a smoke and sit at the side of the road, while smoking I realized that the only reason this dude is with me right now is because of me. I asked him and some of our buddies who were nowhere to come with me and “fight for our rights” honestly I felt guilty, very guilty.

Later that day I went to his boarding house and upon entering his room I saw this massive banner of a hammer and sickle on top of his bed, He saw me staring at it then asked me “Why aren’t you attending the studies?” he explained that I have missed several already and they were about the “mass struggle” the current situation of the US dictatorship etc. hearing him talk made me realize what was going on with him, So I asked him what he think he is doing, he simply smiled and answered: “I am serving the people”.

Cid isn’t the person whom you could simply sway, he was the champion of our class debate competition and is really a smart person we both planned to go to law school someday and really serve the people but Cid dropped out I never saw him again after I finished university. 

Years passed and while we were having a team building in Baler, Aurora I noticed a middle-aged woman smiling at me with teary eyes so I approached her and I suddenly remembered her, she was Cid’s mom the woman who would travel and visit his son miles and miles away just to check on him; I quickly raised the question about Cid’s whereabouts and she just smiled again and told me that Cid was with his relatives in the mountains “serving the people”. I knew what she meant and it gave chills down my spine I wasn’t sure if Cid’s mom was thankfully happy that he is with his relatives or angry and blaming me for what happened to him, I didn’t dare ask. I never saw her again nor my pal Cid, I was only reminded of this chapter of my life a few days ago when I once again raised my fist in the air.

Cid, My friends during college and I believed that what we were doing was noble this was at the expense of all of those people who wanted us to become something more, I guess we all took for granted those people.

I have been seeing young people getting slain during clashes between the reds and our government’s forces, knowing what these young men and women would’ve become if they stayed the course and tried fighting for a better situation using a different method than these self-proclaimed servants of people. I guess we will never know because most of them like Cid might be already six-feet under. 

4 Replies to “What went wrong with Filipino activists?”

  1. I put this comment up under the article about Filipinos getting tired of the CPP-NPA. Of course, it’s only part of the story and could be supplemented by other opinions.

    “That idea that opposing a despot is heroism is now proven wrong these days. You could oppose a despot, but actually have vested interests of your own. So when the despot is ousted, the ouster also becomes a despot (French Revolution, anyone?). Also, one man’s despot is another person’s benevolent ruler, so you best not try to oust the ruler they like, because you end up looking pretentious. Perhaps these ideas of doing something for “heroism” is worth slamming, because people want to be “heroes” for vanity’s sake, not because they want the world to be better. Also, they might have that mindset of “I am entitled to what is beautiful for me, and if it offends me, I must destroy it!” Again, that’s what real despots are like.

    Also, these youths should get rid of the idea that just because you believe what you know what is right, you should force it on the world. That’s what despots are really like, too, and these impressionable youth probably don’t know that they are becoming so. Perhaps, as I wrote before, their old fuddy-duddy parents believed in the same thing, so they thought they should do the same.

    Perhaps motherhood statements such as “the world belongs to the youth” have to be stopped or challenged, because these are likely leading to the young people’s heads getting swelled.

    Some people may have been part of these front organizations while not sharing the communist ideals, but had best be careful. Capitalism (or more like the free market) is perhaps one of the reasons worldwide poverty had reduced. Anti-capitalism is not a “noble cause,” but another exploitation of hate to manipulate people. If they want a better world, it’s better to apply it to their own lives instead of forcing it on others.

    Ah yes, another thought that came to me was that of “Sin of omission.” For example, these youth joining insurgent groups assuming they can change the world by doing so believe that if you don’t speak up against a despot, or if you don’t even try to change the world by joining the armed group, you’re a rotten person. So they decide to protest thinking it is the right thing to do, to avoid being labeled “rotten.” But that would make them a victim of their own ideas, they are afraid of what they would do to other people being done to them. I also think they have the wrong idea about “sin of omission,” and I personally would like to criticize this concept.

    Basically, if you see a beggar and don’t give, then you learn he died later on, some would accuse you of being guilty of the sin of omission. I disagree. First, would not giving money actually be the cause of death of the beggar? Common sense says that could not be. And could regularly giving him money help him? What if he spends in all on liquor and not on needs such as food? What if you find out he has a family and does not give any support for them? No one’s obliged to help someone like that.

    Real solutions are long-term. If you want to help the beggar, you would take him off the street, help him find a job, keep on revisiting him to see that he’s secure and on his way to self-sufficiency. Now, can you do that? I’m sure only a very few actually do it.

    As I said before, if you don’t do anything to help someone without malice, there’s nothing wrong with that. It is the malice, not the lack of action, that is the real wrongdoing. Example of malice, you pass by a beggar and think, ah good for you, hope you die you scum. The problem is, how can you determine whether a person thought that? You can’t. Some try to assume what someone thinks based on their actions. That’s what the so-called activists are doing. Well, if you found a person has malice, should you badmouth that person or try to punish them yourselves? No, better just let them sort their own problems for themselves. The so-called activists are the likely punishment-mongers, wanting someone punished just for what they assume someone else is thinking.

    So these “activists” believe not helping the poor and loving capitalism and business are evil. So they join the insurgent group to make these their “punishment squads.: But they’re out of their league and deserve whatever beating they get. They should stop worrying about how others live and should focus on their own lives.

    We probably also should question this idea of “sin of omission” because it now sounds to me like it was made for fault-finding and guilt-tripping. People should be taught that instead of trying to attack and ruin other people who don’t do what they want, they should just focus on what they themselves should be doing.”

  2. Exactly! I have met several people here in Japan who are against Abe’s rule, the American bases in Okinawa, and I seldom rub elbows with what western media would call “far-right” people most of them are elderly quite the gap in age as compared to the Philippines “activists” but they never considered themselves heroes or what they’re doing heroism it’s just them voicing out what they want I can not argue with their sense of entitlement because of their age and their accomplishment in life which is what made this country as we all know it now. I also agree that the statement that the world is for the youth is not entirely true to the extent that it is fallacious because it’s not just the youth who should own this world it should be all of us.

    I was actually thinking of writing another article about the Philippine National anthem and I think the defeatist part ( yes it is debatable ) which goes “ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo” is partly to blame to this dysfunctional culture which gives us the idea that is it heroism to die fighting for something. I am struggling really because English isn’t really my strongest talent haha! peace!

  3. Perhaps the very notion of nationhood should be challenged as well. Is being loyal to a “nation” still relevant in a world of borders dissolved by today’s technology?

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