First, we had the July student walkout. Then the bigger one just this September. Now we have back to back protest actions of high school and college student activists from the ranks of the League of Filipino Students, Anakbayan, Student Christian Movement, Karatula and the National Union of Students in the Philippines taking the headline news with their stepped-up protest actions in defense of the dwindling state subsidy for education. The nation became witness once again to student militancy unleashing its justified rebellion in the halls of congress with a lightning rally.
I remember the last time when I participated in a lightning rally in Congress: we were more numerous as compared to the numbers here, but because the security got whiff of what was going to happen, our propaganda materials were prematurely discovered and confiscated. The issue back then, correct me if I am mistaken, was the UP Charter.
So when the opportune time came, right after the privilege speech of Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino (Kabataan Partylist still didn’t have a congressional seat back then), we clapped loud in a standing ovation, and raised our fists over a prolonged period. Apparently, such a disruption was threat enough to provoke pro-UP charter proponents in congress to threaten us with security detainment.
Despite the act being relatively conservative as compared to the unfurling of a banner and chanting, you could still cut the tension in the air with a knife. Security personnel began surrounding us, probably not sure what to do without any propaganda material left to confiscate and with our progressive lawmakers negotiating our safety as their constituents. We weren’t sure what to do at that point either, but the standing command was simple: stand your ground the way you would stand firm for your right to education.
Suffice to say, the state trembled before us in this show of readiness to risk all for a just cause. And we can learn much from how tactical reforms were made possible by the struggle of the militant student movement.
We youth scientists and technologists know the implications of the state’s abandonment of education. The worsening performances in regional S&T education trends, lesser R&D and facility support, and the eventual “brain drain” of good teachers and professors are clear manifestations of these darker times. Education was, is and will always be a democratic right that everyone is entitled to, but in an elite-dominated, and foreign-controlled society it will never be handed to us on a silver platter.
We must therefore not confine ourselves to the utopia of our laboratories or the comfort in front of our computers — let us struggle for the welfare of not only the S&T sector, but of the Filipino people in general. Always remember what revolutionary physicist and agriculturist Joan Hinton said: “Science, technology, production — what are they without people?”