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Youth feed the frenzy

12:30 AM March 25, 2022

One massive rally after another, from Cavite and Bulacan to Bacolod and Cagayan and Isabela. Then Pasig explodes into a frenzy display of people demanding their right to choose not only their leader but their future. Political rallies are engineered to be as big as the organizers can manage them.

But Leni Robredo rallies have a new twist. Her volunteers are in charge – which means we really do not know who is. Yet, the rallies happen and they are huge. Beyond huge though is the fire and frenzy of those who attend them. The volunteers know there is no money from a political party, not even the kind of money that comes from billionaires and taipans who can bankroll a presidential run. So, they make up for it by their unrelenting passion.

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The newest but most inspiring development is the recent entry of the young voters, from their late teens to their thirties. In the past month and a half, young voters have been very visible in the rallies. In fact, they are starting to dominate them. There is no greater potential than a young generation with about 20 million voters to lead the charge for change, for Leni Robredo. They have the numbers, they have boundless energy, and they carry an idealism that only needs a small spark to ignite.

Who knows viral? Before the advent of social media, and let me remind everyone here that social media began with the young, Filipinos had little sense of what viral means. It is the younger generations, mostly 15 – 35 years old, who understand viral. They do not even plan it – it just happens because it is in their system.

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The advertising industry would pay an arm and a leg to know the secret of viral, and they all try to make it happen. Sometimes they succeed but they are not exactly sure just which factors caused it. Perhaps, scientists may know better how energy can be generated, gathered, and then let loose like a nuclear bomb. Yet, these same scientists will tell you that explosive energy from people are rarely engineered, just experienced.

It would be more exciting for me if we can discuss this energy from our young adults without the context of elections. 15-35 years old are the historical warriors who man the armies and build kingdoms – or depose of them. They are the warrior age on whom nations depend to defend then, or to conquer for them. But modern times have made peacebuilding and peacekeeping important, and these young are grown tamed by circumstance.

Until moments of radical change provoke their warrior spirit – like the present moment.

Reminiscent of Edsa People Power in 1986, the rallies of Leni show signs of developing into family affairs, too. I know the PasigLaban last Sunday had many parents bringing the children and grandchildren. And I have been told by many from previous rallies that many more participants will bring children if the venue is safe.

That truly is awesome. That is a golden sign that meaningful change will go on even after the elections. The awakened young will be driven by idealism as well as excitement. The next 20 years will experience radical shifts in lifestyles, including politics. The era of lying and stealing in government service will experience a disruptive challenge from both volunteers and the youth.

The rallies in Nueva Ecija, for example, were not supposed to be large. Leni was badly beaten there in 2016. But town after town, she was received with passionate volunteers and a sense of defiance against old methods. The culmination at Cabanatuan City brought 50,000 determined volunteers, again led by the youth. Something is changing, and changing fast. If many pundits said that the elections were for Marcos to lose, it sounds like a prophecy today.

Weeks ago, I saw youth groups in Quezon province initiating their own pro-Leni activities, using street corners and local singers and dancers. Yet, they were not only attracting attention but converting votes – because they were oozing with excitement and innocence, the faces of the future that all youth look for. I learned, too, that youth groups in Negros Occidental want to do youth rallies simultaneously in several areas. The youth versus tradpols.

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Veterans, women, and the youth. The first cannot be bribed or bought anymore. They had suffered too much. The second cannot be bribed or bought if they see and connect their children with a better future. Mothers know best. The third, the youth, once they see the light of the future, the kind they have in their hearts, in the person they can trust, will fight any battle as all youth have done for their nations.

Cannot be bribed or bought. That is not for all, especially for the poor with urgent needs. They may accept money for their votes but they will see the innocence and enthusiasm of their children and grandchildren – and know they have wronged them. I only feel sorry for the poor because we who have more too often have let them down.

But I have seen mothers converted by their children, grandparents converted by their grandchildren. For Leni, yes, but also for themselves and the tomorrow they dream of. It is tradition versus a youthful present and a very different tomorrow. The past that is important to the older generations, but ours is riddled with poverty and corruption. It deserves radical change. It is about a future that only young hearts and eyes can see or sense, one that is unclear but drawing them like a powerful magnet.

We are truly on the cusp of spectacular change. The deep past is being unearthed, its beauty and its ugliness. We who love its beauty must teach our young to love it, too. Still, they will demand it be cleansed of its ugliness. It will take at least a generation to build a new one, but I already see the youth eager to begin.

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TAGS: edsa people power, election, Leni Robredo, pink, politics, rally, vote, youth
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