My iced coffee and I against the world | Inquirer Opinion

My iced coffee and I against the world

The last time I ate at a fast food restaurant was a few months ago. I would usually drop by to get a tall cup of iced coffee, which I’d sip throughout the day to keep myself awake. Mornings saw fewer customers, so I never had to wait long. Nowadays, I either make my coffee at home or order it through a food delivery app.

When I found out about the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement on X (formerly Twitter), joining didn’t trouble me. I was already well-informed about the atrocities unfolding in Palestine, thanks to the news articles and donation appeals circulating online. Besides, I seldom patronized the boycotted restaurants. Initially, I didn’t think much of my impact on the movement or anyone involved. Instead of going to the usual fast food, I bought my iced coffee from a local café and called it a day.

At the beginning of the boycott, it did not feel real. Passing by the fast-food joint near our jeepney terminal, I’d still see long queues and almost no unoccupied tables. I thought it was simply a symptom of our society’s detachment from distant political issues. I don’t blame them. The government’s silence reinforced this disconnect. When I listen to the local news programs, I mostly hear about domestic affairs. Nonetheless, I hoped that, after some time, there would be more people informed about the issue.

I tried talking to my friends about it, then to my family. It was easy with my friends who shared the same level of awareness. My family, however, did not hesitate to call me pretentious. They told me to worry about my personal problems before worrying about Palestine because at least with the former I could make a difference. Ashamed that I couldn’t do better, I walked away from the conversation and never talked about it with them again.


As I scrolled through my X feed, I encountered more discourses about the BDS movement. Companies were already restructuring their franchises due to the boycott. Some withdrew support for Israel, while others employed diversionary tactics. I remember celebrities getting canceled for endorsing companies included on the boycott list. Fans defended them, arguing that the boycott would harm workers more than the companies. I also read comments that activists who supported the boycott are out of touch with reality. It’s ironic because those same activists marched on May 1 to support the call of labor unions.

I, too, felt bad about the workers getting less pay because of the boycott. Would anything have changed had I continued buying fast-food iced coffee every morning? I didn’t think so, but for a moment I was convinced that I made a mistake. Maybe I was shortsighted and failed to see the plight of restaurant workers or I was too comfortable in my echo chamber that I didn’t care to explain to others why the boycott mattered in the first place. Maybe I was a little selfish.

I had to do my research again and reflect for a long time. I felt as if I had the heavy burden of choosing between solidarity with my countrymen and empathy for a persecuted race. But it did not make sense to me to select one over the other. It’s sad how we are so conditioned to think that battles are always won separately, like we were never meant to unite in the first place. Is being against genocide mutually exclusive from wanting workers to have proper compensation? Must we always believe that we have to lose something before winning anything?

This contemplation led me to resentment. I resented the societal guilt-tripping, companies prioritizing profits over morality, and our government’s complicity in crimes against humanity. Most importantly, I resented how the world we live in makes it difficult for us to be human. We’re made to feel that we are not allowed to enjoy things, but sympathy does not mean bearing everyone’s suffering on our shoulders. It’s about understanding the struggle of others and seeing what we can do about it.


I still like drinking iced coffee. It has slowly become a bittersweet reminder of my privileges. I stay awake because of the caffeine, not because I fear for my safety or worry about my financial security. I finish the cup with the assurance that it won’t be my last one. I comfortably contemplate in my room and write a lengthy essay all about it. Perhaps if I drank more, I’d have the courage to explain the boycott better to other people. Perhaps it’s all I really needed to realize that I can make a change.



Lance S. Rimando, 21, is a computer science student at the University of the Philippines Baguio who loves iced coffee.

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