Activists are not antigovernment. If other people would take a second to listen to what activists are saying, they’d understand that if there is a group that still believes in the government, or, at the very least, to the ideal of how the government should be, it’s the “tibak.”
But I guess the key word is “ideal,” and unfortunately, it’s something that most people in our society don’t really understand.
We believe in the system. We believe in the Constitution. We believe in the “government.”
So why don’t we use the system to make a change instead of shouting in the streets? We did, and we failed, because those manipulating the system, influencing the government, and bastardizing the Constitution—they are stronger.
That’s why we are in the streets, calling for change, and calling for attention to issues that everyone needs to know. We are in the streets calling for your help because we, even as a group, cannot do it alone.
“The government and your parents are not putting you through school so you can shout in the streets. All you’re doing is inconveniencing other people.” That’s what a jeepney driver, speaking in Filipino, told me during a mobilization for the continuing rise in the price of petroleum. Now that’s just ironic and disheartening.
We don’t go out in the streets under the blistering sun or the pouring rain, get hosed down or clapped in jail, just to see and hear the people we are fighting for looking down on us like we’re nothing more than a nuisance. And truth be told, that’s exactly how most people see activists: just another nuisance in their life. For most, activists are just the people who caused the traffic that made them get to school or the office late, just a noisy bunch of know-it-alls who “waste” their time shouting in the streets instead of “doing something good in their life.”
Yes, like most people, we can choose to put the placards down and live a life like everyone else. Instead of shouting in the streets, we can be part of the growing commercialization of the country, and, judging from how artistic and creative most mobilizations are, we’ll probably be good at it. Instead of getting hosed down with dirty water after a day of walking in the sun fighting for a cause, we can actually get a job and clock out after five and go home to a luxurious hot shower. (Most real activists actually have jobs because we also know that fighting for a cause costs a lot.)
If we can do that, then why are we in the streets? It’s because someone has to fight for our rights and our freedoms. Someone has to stop ignoring the injustice in our society. Someone has to speak for the situations that most people would just consider part of the status quo.
No, we are not heroes. We are just a group of people who still believe in the system, in the “real government,” and in the true meaning of democracy, and who never lose hope that someday, one day, all that makes the Philippines a “democratic country” will come true.
If the powerful people will actually stop using the system, manipulating the government, and bastardizing the Constitution for their own interests, then, ideally, we can have a government that is “from the people” and “for the people.” Again, the key word here is “ideal,” but unlike most, we still believe in it.
Are we being too idealistic? Unrealistic? Or just stubborn? Not to us. We believe that it can happen, and that’s why we continuously fight for it no matter what.
I’m not asking for everyone to join us in the streets. You may if you want to. Standing in the streets and shouting until my voice dies out is my personal choice. It’s something that everyone should decide for themselves, too.
All I’m asking is that, when you see a group of people with placards shouting in the streets for the “real democracy” to which we are all entitled, instead of looking at them with disdain, remember that they’re actually fighting for you.
Jayson Arvene T. Mondragon, 27, is an alumnus of Teatro Umalohokan Inc. at the University of the Philippines Los Baños and a journalism student of Saint Mary’s University in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.