By Leonor Magtolis Briones
The Business of Governance
The phrase “student power” came into vogue during the sixties. This was the time when thousands of students all over the world marched on their governments, whether in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, Asia or Africa. A common theme was the war in Vietnam . The global call of the students was for the United States to get out of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh, and Che Guevara were the most popular icons. So it was in the Philippines.
The students also found reason to engage their respective governments on other issues as well. American students complained about the activities of the CIA in developing countries. They rebelled against the draft which would have sent them to Vietnam. In England , students criticized their government’s domestic policies. Rallies drew students by the thousands.
In Paris, they tried to recapture the days of the French revolution where the students played a major role. Students stormed Paris a number of times to set up their version of the Paris Commune. In UP the students took over the university and established the Diliman Commune.
In the Philippines, the focus was on American imperialism. The battle cry was “Ibagsak ang Piyudalismo, Pasismo at Imperialismo!” “Maoismo, Marxismo-Leninismo” were frequently uttered by students. Privately, the women would complain about “Machismo-Leninismol”
Teach-ins would last till morning. Those of us who were members of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation would camp in the house of Dodong and Princess Nemenzo. We would cross over to the house of Merlin Magallona and pester him with questions.
And the mammoth rallies! I must say the youth rallies of today can’t match the vast numbers of students who would march from UP Diliman , walk all the way to Tondo and end up in Malacanang—singing, chanting, and shouting all the time.
Student Power and the 2010 elections
Time to “fast forward” to the present. Since the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship, it seemed that student power like Merlin the Magician has faded away.
Globalization is largely to blame. Students spend their time getting ready for jobs here and abroad. During the 60’s, the most powerful lure was radicalism. At present, students have many more choices.They can go abroad. They can get cushy jobs. They can spend long hours in cyber space with their laptops. They can do many things— set up businesses, become chefs, write plays, make movies and even enter show business.
Things have changed, though. The emergence of political, social and economic crises is radicalizing the students. They are aware of the disarray in governance They now attend rallies and assemblies in greater numbers. They are busy organizing forums and symposia. Slowly, the sleeping giant is awakening.
Their elders are beginning to see the potential of student power. Now it is fashionable for young and old personalities to go on campus tours and stir the students into action either for their candidacies or for national reforms.
Two trends are discernable. Students are seduced with offers to be on the staff of 2010 candidates. As early as last year, the bulletin boards of the College of Public Administration and Governance were plastered with ads inviting students to be part of the team of a presidential candidate. Political parties are busily organizing youth organizations. The students are beginning to sense their power.
Another trend is to encourage students to participate in reforming the present system. The “I Am Change” Movement started by Harvey Keh is going on campus tours. “Kaya Natin ‘To” is led by Governors Panlilio and Padaca. From Ateneo, they are crossing over to UP and on to the other schools. The Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO) is also going on campus tours.
The Young Turks are themselves politicians. However, they are introducing new politics to the students. Traditional party members usually stick together and spend their waking hours plotting the destruction of the other parties. Atty. Adel A. Tamano, Mayor JV Ejercito, Cong. TG Guingona, Cong. Erin Tanada, former Cong. Gilbert Remulla and Prof. Danton Remoto come from different parties, but they have bonded together in order to reach out to the young. They encourage students to dialogue with them on political, economic, and social issues. Their theme is, “there is hope” in response to the apathy and indifference of the youth to national problems.
To repeat, the decade of the 60’s saw the global rise of student power. Students of that decade proved they were a formidable force. They contributed mightily to the downfall of dictators, fascists, and warmongers all over the world.
Will Filipino students rise and mobilize their power to reform this country, or will they succumb to the siren call of tradpols ? Let us see.
Young Generation of Politicians Barnstorms Schools, Connects with the “Internet Nation”
Press Release: August 11,2008
For more info: Eero Brillantes, 09276702831, firstname.lastname@example.org
A multipartisan political group called the “Young Turks” led by Genuine Opposition Spokesperson and Pamantasan Lungsod ng Maynila President Atty. Adel Tamano has started to go the rounds of colleges and universities all over the country. Tamano, along with other young political personalities Nacionalista Party spokesperson and former congressman Gilbert Remulla, Ateneo English Professor Danton Remoto, Congressman Erin Tanada, Congressman TG Guingona and San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito are doing the rounds of campuses advocating for youth involvement in governance.
The kick-off started at Silliman University in Dumaguete City last July 10-11, 2008. Tamano described the event. “The bright students of Silliman University asked questions and we tried to answer them with substance and with style, with wit and cheer and laughter intact. It is because their questions seemed to deal with lack of hope, of being betrayed by their leaders, of abandonment. I hope we kept the spark plug of hope alive. We spoke in a chapel, a presentation room for business students, and the great church — all in one day. We hope the Sillimanians had a grand time, the way we did too, in our first campus tour.”
Eero Brillantes, CEO of Mindbullet Marketing and Public Relations, who maintains the young turk’s blog www.oppositeofapathy.wordpress.com, says that the blog has become hyperactive after the Silliman activity. Based on site metering, he noted interest in what the group has to say. “The blog has just recently been put up. Yet it has already been visited almost 10,000 times. It is currently ranked number 13 for politics and government by topblogs.com.ph. Its just one notch lower than the “Mar Roxas for President 2010 blog which is at number 12. The blog definitely has momentum. With the campus tour catching fire, the blog is poised to be a prominent fixture in new politics for the country. The Young Turks and the Internet Nation has become properly introduced.”
For his part, Remoto was upbeat about the launch and how the internet was able to disseminate the event exponentially. “Skycable showed the complete proceedings that night of July 10, and we also had coverage from two radio stations, two newspapers and the Sillimanian college paper as well as its website. Not to mention the many blogs of the bagets from Silliman, which are now being read and re-sent and re-read all over the borderless world of cyberspace. “
Moreover, Congressman Tanada emphasized the need for dialogue between the young batch of political leaders and the youth. He said that it is important for the youth not to lose hope and for them to assert their rights. Remulla asserted that there is still hope and it resides in the youth, and the young generation should not be afraid to stand for what they believe in.
On August 26, 2008, the Young Turks will visit the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance from 1-5 p.m. This will be followed by a tour to University of the Philippines at Los Banos in September.