It was amazing to be at the frontline yesterday with President Pascual, AVP Arao, Vice Chancellor Tan, Dean Mayo, Dean Mirano, Dean Ocampo, Dean Tolentino, at the UP Diliman strike declaration. Imagine our sheer delight and pride as we marched as one UP community, in defense of public education and health care.
Chancellor Saloma’s message from his generation which experienced Martial Law, resounded very well with our generation which is more familiar with Arroyo’s brand of problematic leadership. Dean Matias’ recorded message worked its charm not only with the strikers, but also with the guards of Melchor Hall who let us in. Regent Bibeth Orteza brought an amazing verve to the strike program, and Mrs. Carmen Pascual was a luminous presence at the cause-oriented fashion show in the evening. Thank you to the other administrators who sent in their solidarity, in kind and in spirit.
Elsewhere, UP Los Banos’ black shirt day was one of the most successful in years. In UP Manila, the Born this Way dance caught on as a trend (the steps were conveniently and interestingly called plus plus, minus minus, times times, divide divide). In UP Baguio, UP Cebu, UP Visayas, the students met everybody willing to listen and support the strikes until Friday.
The student sector, we grudgingly admit, are not an integral player in the budgeting process. We are not administrators or government officials vested with the powers to draft, propose, adjust, and approve the UP and national budget.
As such, we contribute to the campaign what we have in boundless quantities – numbers, passion for reason, creativity, optimism, youthful vitality. We can help clarify and solidify positions on controversial and complex issues. We can help set the national agenda, especially when the national government appears to be indifferent to the ideas we have in the university. We can help bring shape a campaign oriented toward making different audiences understand and appreciate the issues.
To our administrators and faculty: Thank you for encouraging our efforts, and for engaging us in ways that embolden us to do more. We feel more a part of administrative functions and of decision-making. When you discuss with us some sticky themes and topics, you help hone our instincts as social critics. When you dismiss classes, excuse our absences or participate in the strikes for the campaign, we become better students – we understand theory, practice praxis; we learn more about society; and we grow consciences.
We hope to see you tomorrow standing with us behind the picket lines, or at least cheering from the sidelines. We will march to Mendiola after an almusalang bayan at 7am, and assembly at 9am. Can we expect you to join, support, commingle with, endorse, and/or excuse participating students?
To fellow iskolars ng bayan: Onwards with our community campaign for greater state subsidy to education and other social services! We march tomorrow to Mendiola and other city centers!