Category Archives: youth

GEN-PEACE

Sinulat ko ito noong 2003 para sa Tinig. Katatapos lamang ng malaking pagkilos sa Luneta laban sa napipintong gerang agresyon ng Estados Unidos sa Gitnang Silangan. Pinangunahan ang pagkilos ng mga taong-simbahan at ni dating Bise Presidente Tito Guingona. Heto ang litrato ko sa Luneta. Kasama kong nagsalita noon para sa mga kabataan ay si Len Olea ng College Editors Guild. Pansinin ang patilya, makapal na buhok, maluwang na polo, at cute na mukha. Ang nagmungkahi ng Genpeace ay mula sa Metro Manila chapter ng National Union of Students.

Sa pangunguna ni Ethan Hawke at Winona Ryder (Reality Bites), magkakaroon ng reunion ang mga nagpasikat sa Gen-X upang pagmuni-munihan ang nakaraang sampung taon. Dito naman sa Pilipinas ay patuloy ang paghahanap ng kategoryang kakatawanin ang kabataang Pilipino sa kabuuan. May Generation X,Y, Z at ngayon ay may Gentext (are you one of us?).

Bagama’t nagkakaiba sa estilo, pare-pareho ang inilalako nilang konsepto kung sino at ano ang kabataang Pilipino sa (post)modernong panahon: mall creature, party-hopper, makukulay ang mga suot na designer clothes at jeans, at siyempre bumibili ng bagong modelo ng cellphone.

Kung manonood ka ng TV at papasok sa department store, iisipin mong tumpak ang kanilang kategorya. Mapapaniwala ka na si Britney Spears ang modelong kababaihan ng mga Pilipino imbes na si Gabriela Silang at prepaid credit and nangungunang problema ng mga kabataan.

Ginagatungan pa ito ng akusasyon tungkol sa diumanong kawalan daw ng kamalayang pangkasaysayan (historical amnesia) ng bagong henerasyon ng mga Pilipino. Paboritong halimbawa ang paggawa ng pelikulang Dekada ’70. Nahihirapan si Direk Chito Rono na kumuha ng tamang emosyon mula sa mga nagluluksa sa pagkamatay ng isang aktibista. Dahil tila nakalimutan na ang kolektibong pagdurusa ng sambayanan noon, pinayuhan ni Direk Chito ang mga tao na ang isiping namatay ay si Rico Yan. Biglang lumabas ang luha ng mga extra sa pelikula.

Tatanggapin ko na sana ang taguring Gentxt, Gen-X at iba pang pagkutya sa kabataan kung hindi naganap ang dalawang malalaking pag-aalsa sa bansa: ang EDSA Dos at ang katatapos lamang na February 28 Peace Rally.

Pinatahimik ng EDSA Dos ang mga nagsasabing walang pakialam ang mga kabataan sa mga nangyayari sa lipunan at gobyerno. Pinatunayan nating hindi lamang mga gimik at hedonistang aliw ang pinagkakaabalahan natin kundi pati mga usaping pulitikal na may tuwirang kaugnayan sa ating kinabukasan.

Noong nakaraang Pebrero 28 naman ay muling dumagsa ang mga mga kabataan sa Quirino Grandstand bilang pagtutol sa nakaambang gera ng US laban sa Iraq. Nagmistulang reunion ng EDSA Dos ang okasyong ito sa pagdalo ng iba’t ibang eskuwelahan. Umalingawangaw mula Katipunan, Mendiola, Taft, sa Maynila at sa buong bansa ang nagkakaisang tinig ng kabataan para sa tunay na kapayapaan.

Hindi tinuloy ng UP Manila ang kanilang student council election para makadalo ang mga mag-aaral sa rali. Kapit-bisig ang administrasyon ng mga pamantasan at mga estudyante sa pagmartsa papuntang Luneta. Bihira lang natin ito makita lalo na’t sa araw na yun ay final exams ng mga eskuwelahan at huling araw ng konsultasyon para sa pagtaas ng matrikula. Pasiklaban ang mga eskuwelahan sa pagdadala ng mga nagsisilakihang plakard, poster at banner. Napuno ang Luneta ng mga makukulay na bandila at malikhaing slogan laban sa gera.

Kung ako ang Pangulo, pakikinggan ko ang boses ng kabataan at mamamayan.

Ang pagtindig ng kabataan para sa kapayapaan ay sumusunod sa matagal ng pakikiisa ng kabataang Pilipino para sa kapayapaang nakabatay sa katarungan. Ang mga nauna sa atin ay tumindig laban sa Vietnam War at pananatili ng US Bases sa bansa. Ngayon naman ang henerasyon natin ay kumikilos laban sa napipintong gera sa Iraq.

Ang mahalaga’y pinili nating huwag lang manahimik kundi gumawa ng kongkretong hakbang upang pigilin ang gerang ito na walang batayan at ang suporta ng ating pamahalaan dito ay tunay na nakapagngangalit.

Sino ba talaga ang kabataang Pilipino? Oo, nagpupunta tayo ng mall, gumigimik at sumusunod sa uso. Subalit hindi lamang dito umiinog ang ating buong buhay. Ilang beses na nating ipinakita ang ating mabisang lakas para sa pagbabago na higit pa sa pagkakahon sa atin ng kulturang kanluran bilang Gen-X o Gentxt.

Tayo ang henerasyong nagbuwag sa ROTC na ilang dekadang sinubukan ng mga nauna sa atin. Sa ating sama-samang pagtetext ay nakatulong para magdesisyon ang Korte Suprema at Sandiganbayan na pabor sa panig ng mamamayan hinggil sa kaso ng dating Pangulong Estrada. Minsan na nga nating pinutakte ng mga galit na text at napilitang magshut down ang text feedback program ng pamahalaan nang tumutol tayo sa buwis na ipapataw sa mga gumagamit ng prepaid. Kalimutan man natin itong lahat, at maliitan man ng iba, subalit hindi makukuha sa atin ang dakilang partisipasyon natin sa Edsa at Luneta – mga panandang-bato sa ating paggigiit ng isang mas maaliwalas na bukas.

Anumang kategorya ang ipataw sa atin ay hindi mapipigilan ang patuloy nating pagreimbento sa ating mga sarili bilang mabubuting anak ng bayan. Sa ngayon, hangga’t hindi pa nakokompromiso ng komersyal na kultura ang kabuluhan nito, hayaan niyong imungkahi namin (mula sa NUSP- National Capital Region chapter) ang pagkilala sa atin bilang mga Gen-Peace, mga kabataan ng EDSA dos na naninindigan para sa kapayapaan.

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Philippine youth situation (2005)

The Philippines is dominated by young people aged 13-35. Almost 20 million are enrolled in schools; 10 million are out-of-school youth; and 12 million are part of the labor force.

The Constitution, which recognizes the important role of young Filipinos in nation-building, guarantees the protection of the youth’s welfare. But the government continues to implement policies which hamper not only the progress of society but also the realization of the full potential of the youth.

A bright future for today’s youth is no longer possible under a regime which accepts and propagates the cardinal principles of the World Trade Organization: liberalization, deregulation and privatization.

Never has there been a government so callous in glorifying the WTO-sponsored programs of globalization even if there is an overwhelming evidence to show how these policies are destroying the education, employment and culture of the nation.

Paradox of education

It must be noted that the Philippines has a large school participation rate among students. It also has a high (basic) literacy rate. But this remarkable feature of the school system has not been a decisive factor in economic progress. Other Asian countries with less enrollment and low school index have robust economies while the Philippines continue to languish in the margins. This is referred by the scholars as the “paradox” of Philippine education.

The “paradox” can be explained by identifying the main characteristics of Philippine education: it is commercialized, abandoned by the State through decreasing subsidies and responsive to the needs of foreign countries and multinational corporations.

The WTO is further aggravating the crisis in Philippine education as it requires the government to introduce more reforms in the education system.

Main characteristics

Elementary and high school instruction is free and compulsory in the Philippines. But the tertiary level is dominated by the private sector. The government allows tuition increases every year which explains the high drop-out incidence in college (73 percent). Courses offered by schools are determined for their profitability or marketability and not for their contribution to the national economy. The Philippines may be an agricultural nation but most of its students are enrolled in commerce, education and nursing courses.

Aside from its highly commercial nature, Philippine tertiary education is burdened by the pitiful government spending on education. In fact, the Philippines has one of the lowest funding for schools in Asia. It allots education a measly 16 percent (or 2.3 percent of the gross domestic product) of its national budget compared to 70 percent for debt service.

Perhaps the most disappointing orientation of Philippine education is its conformity to the manpower requirements of foreign countries and multinational corporations. This is manifested for example in: 1) the phenomenal increase of nursing and caregiver schools to meet the high demand in Western countries; and 2) the mania of policymakers and even educators to require the use of English as medium of instruction even though various studies explain how the use of the native language can improve student’s comprehension of science and math concepts.

Education for sale

Now here comes the WTO and General Agreement on Trade in Services or GATS.

The Philippines has already committed for the full implementation of GATS in the country. This explains the restructuring of education in recent years and the policies articulated by education bureaucrats on the viability of maintaining public universities.

The WTO and GATS intend, above all else, to transform education from “public good” into a private commodity. In the name of free competition, GATS requires signatory members to eliminate public subsidies in the service sector including education.

This is the reason why funding for social services is decreasing. In fact, the government is conditioning the minds of the public that subsidizing public colleges is a waste of taxpayers’ money. But the government cannot hide its complicity with WTO in destroying public education. The Long Term Higher Education Development Plan 2001-10 of the government aims to achieve the following in the next five years:

• Reduce the number of state universities by 20 percent;
• 6 state universities are semicorporatized in its operation;
• 20 percent of state universities are financially independent;
• 50 percent of state universities have active income generating projects;
• 70 percent of state universities have tuition comparable to private schools;
• 60 percent of state universities are actively collaborating with big industry and business.

We can also cite the enforcement of the Restructured Basic Education Curriculum (which reduced the number of subjects to five: filipino, science, math, english, makabayan) in elementary and high school as the government’s adherence to GATS’ provision of adapting the education system in response to the flexible production nature of big monopoly firms.

Even the government’s charter change proposal is dangerous for education since it has repeatedly proposed the deletion of “ultra-nationalist” provisions in the Constitution. At present, only Filipinos are allowed to own and manage schools in the country. The government may lobby for the removal of this provision since this is a violation of GATS.

Another government approach in fulfillment of its obligation to GATS is its encouragement, support and incredible defense of private schools. It supports initiatives which advance the interests of local and foreign capitalist-educators. By vilifying the quality and “overcrowding” of state universities in the country, the government is hoping the public would support the privatization of educational services.

This is anomalous since privatization of education is undertaken in other countries where education is heavily subsidized by the State while in the Philippines, the government is complaining of spending too much money on education even though 90 percent of tertiary schools are privately owned.

Cheap labor

According to the government’s youth agency, out of 100 Filipino students who enter school, 12 will graduate from college and only 1 will be employed. There is a mismatch in the type of graduates we produce and the available jobs since education caters to the needs of other countries. Therefore, it is not surprising that 1 out of 3 Filipinos (aged 18-25) want to leave the country because their skills are not maximized, appreciated and well-compensated in the Philippines.

According to the same government agency, around 20,000 young Filipinos leave the country everyday in search for better job opportunities. The government promotes overseas deployment of workers as a permanent economic policy even though these Filipinos will be highly vulnerable to various forms of abuses like culture shock, discrimination and harsh working conditions. The exodus of skilled professionals has a negative impact on the economy.

The Philippines is also known for having a large number of educated unemployed. These Filipinos are lured to accept menial jobs and if they are lucky, employment in outsourcing companies which are popular among the youth today.

Young workers complain of cheap wages and poor implementation of labor laws and standards. The government maintains this policy to attract more foreign investors in the country.

There is a slow pace of job creation since the economy is in a seemingly perpetual depression. The government should be faulted for this situation since its more than enthusiastic support for liberalization meant the unrestricted flow of imported products to the detriment of local producers. This is the reason why few jobs are created by the economy.

Cynicism

The debilitating effects of the labor and education policies of the government account for the cynicism and hopelessness which many young Filipinos feel today. They leave the country in droves because they sense no bright future for them in the Philippines. Those who remain are resigned to the destituteness of the country.

The poverty which afflicts the majority forces a large number of youth to commit different anti-social activities. According to a conservative estimate of the government, about 60,000 are pushed into prostitution every year. Almost two million are living in the streets. It is reported that 20,000 are in conflict with the law every year.

The education system molds students into blind worshippers of foreign culture (especially US culture) instead of being proud defenders of our local tradition. The schools, media, Church and government promote conformity instead of critical thinking. Commercialism has almost invaded all facets of Philippine life.

Instead of respecting different cultures and celebrating diversity, which is its earlier promise, globalization has only reduced the world into one big commodity.

Dissent

The youth movement in the Philippines is dedicated in gathering the biggest number of young Filipinos to oppose the policies of the WTO. It believes that the starting point of the campaign is to inform and educate the public about the real effects of the WTO on the lives of different communities.

The youth movement can bank on its nationwide presence in major schools and communities to succeed in its avowed goals. It can expect to reap major victories because it employs different modes of actions and forms of struggle. Its most important strength is its brave and loyal membership which is decisive in influencing more people to join the movement for meaningful changes in society and the world.

The youth movement faces the real danger of a government with fascist tendencies. The Philippines is a dangerous place for journalists and political activists. Youth organizations must be more than cautious in its grassroots building and other activities where the government deploys military troops.

The youth movement is prepared to sustain its earlier victories in opposing some of the WTO policies in education. It can learn from the creative and sustained actions of high school students when they opposed the proposal of the government to impose additional year for unqualified students even though there is no increase in funding for education. The public indignation over the bloated funding of debt service at the expense of social services must be harnessed into one potent force. The government’s earlier admission that they failed to regulate fees must be maximized to demand more reforms in tuition collection.

Indeed, the future is bleak for Filipino youth because of a government subservient to foreign dictates. But this does not mean the fight is already over. Because the Filipino youth is at the forefront of the battle for a better nation, humane world and a prosperous future. – (December 2005, Hong Kong)

The committed generations

Those born in the 1920s became the combatants and victims of the Second World War. Both the rich and poor left their families in order to fight the Japanese army. The arrival of the war gave them no option. The sudden Japanese invasion overwhelmed everybody, including the American masters. There was little or no time to reflect; young Filipinos were compelled to act. They had to abandon their homes, join the army, and sacrifice their lives. Many of them died in Bataan and Capas. The war produced countless widows, orphans, and an altered breed of traumatized young Filipinos. Later, these survivors would be known as war veterans: the desperate individuals seeking recognition and pension from the United States government. They were the Filipino youth of the war years: The generation which served the country by defending the country’s freedom; they who suffered the brutalities of an insane war; they who witnessed the humbling of mighty America; they who saw how the beautiful city of Manila was ransacked by Japanese and American forces.

Agatha Christie once wrote: “The war years do not seem like real years…They were a nightmare in which reality stopped.” Reality also stopped for many Filipinos who survived the war. It would take years, even decades, before many of them could write and talk about their war experience. Unable to exorcise the horrors of war, the young survivors turned their attention to the urgent task of physically rebuilding the country. The youth kept themselves busy in order to overcome the war trauma.

Those born in the 1930s also suffered during the war. They were only children during the war. The lucky ones died; the unfortunate survivors became orphans. They lost many of their friends. The war forced them to mature quickly. They were given adult tasks during the reconstruction years. Together with the 1920s generation, they helped in rebuilding the country. They became the Filipino youth whose historical task was to create a new Philippines. They were young adults when the country gained formal independence in 1946. They were the first generation which tasted the bittersweet fruit of freedom; the young citizens of an independent Philippines. But the aftermath of war dampened the celebration. The youth’s first impulse was to reconstruct the country. Their concern was the present, not the future: To forget the traumatic episodes of the past; and focus on reviving the shattered cities of the present.

Later, political and social institutions were re-established in the infant republic. The 1930s generation participated in the nation-building process in the 1950s. The youth were active in politics: they joined political parties, supported populist politicians (Magsaysay), and even flirted with radical organizations (most notably, the old Communist Party). They became the initial followers of the nationalist crusade launched by Senator Claro M. Recto.

Those born in the 1940s became the youth activists of the 1960s. They ridiculed the optimism of the uneventful 1950s. The youth opposed the Vietnam War. They condemned the government’s silence towards the U.S. invasion of Vietnam. Why? Because they hated America? Unlikely. They knew that armed intervention by foreign countries would always end in tragedy. Innocent civilians would suffer. Human casualties would be huge. They didn’t want another war. They knew about the pain suffered by their parents – their parents and relatives who survived the Second World War.

The youth activists of the 1960s praised Recto’s nationalist teachings. They were serious students of Philippine history. They refused to limit their idealism inside the campuses. They went to the grassroots. They linked up with trade unions and peasant groups, especially those which have connections with the old Communist Party. They identified the three ills that plague society: imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism and feudalism. They aimed to continue the unfinished revolution of 1896 by launching a national democratic revolution with a socialist perspective. They were the young people who at the end of the 1960s would re-establish the Communist Party.

The 1960s was a turbulent period. Young people were dissatisfied with the kind of Philippine society that evolved after the war. They pointed out the disparity of what the elders were preaching about the supposed progress in the country to the everyday poverty in the Philippines. They blamed old politicians for the inequality, poverty, and injustice which were prevalent in society. They demanded reforms, they mobilized in the thousands to push for change – in short they wanted a revolution.

Those born in the 1950s would participate in the historic First Quarter Storm of the early 1970s. They too believed in the necessity of a revolution. They saw themselves as part of an International radical movement. They studied the works of nationalist historians. They were inspired by the cultural revolution in China, the anti-war movement in Europe and America, and the national liberation struggles in different parts of the Third World. They supported the rising national democratic movement. They didn’t merely demand the removal of President Ferdinand Marcos; they wanted a system change.

Martial Law was the government’s response to quell the rebellion. But it didn’t frighten the First Quarter Stormers. Thousands of young activists joined the underground resistance movement. Many of them were the best and brightest of their generation. Both the rich and poor went to the hills to participate in the armed struggle. They were willing to risk their lives to serve the people, the peasants, the proletariat, the masses. They became the outstanding modern martyrs of the country. Many of them were children of the generation which survived the Second World War.

Despite the terror tactics of the Marcos regime, the young guerillas persevered in their revolutionary work. Their energy, creativity, idealism, and fighting will were among the factors which sustained the anti-Marcos movement. Their confidence in the masses and adherence to organizational discipline saved the newly established communist movement from being destroyed by the superior military power of the reactionary government.

The First Quarter Stormers were young Filipinos who defied the dictator. They were not afraid of Marcos and martial law. They were not afraid to be called revolutionaries.

Those born in the 1960s were the youth who joined the 1986 People Power uprising. They were part of the anti-Marcos struggle. Many became leftist activists. The left was the most consistent and credible opposition group during the Marcos years.

Students of this generation fought for the restoration of their rights: the right to organize, freedom of expression and academic freedom. The Democratic Reform Movement during the early 1980s became widespread in schools across the country. Student protests forced the military to leave the campuses.

The campaign to oust Marcos became stronger after the assassination of opposition figure Senator Ninoy Aquino in 1983. Ninoy’s death inspired more young people to join the opposition. Youth rallyists were able to march towards Mendiola, the first time since Martial Law was declared in 1972. They volunteered during the 1986 snap elections to protect Cory Aquino’s votes. They were among the first to gather in EDSA. They marched near Malacanang when Marcos left the palace.

The school age years of this generation coincided with the ascendancy of the Marcos dictatorship. They knew only one president: Marcos. They knew only one enemy: Marcos. There was only one evil: Marcos. If the system did not work, it was because of corrupt and despotic leaders like Marcos. Marcos was the symbol of the system. There were those who believed that the ouster of Marcos would lead to substantial changes in the system.

After the downfall of Marcos, young activists continued to fight for system change. Many stayed with the left. There were also activists who tested the so-called democratic space offered by the new government. They created NGOs to lobby for reforms in various government agencies. Some of them soon rejected the mass movement and people’s war to embrace reformism. Their radical idealism was converted into moderate activism.

Marcos left an impoverished nation. Rebuilding a new society seemed very difficult. The youth were euphoric that Marcos was gone but they found the challenge of nation-building too complicated and disappointing. The bureaucracy has low credibility, the economy was too weak, and social institutions were damaged. It didn’t help that the new government was soon exposed as another puppet of local and foreign oligarchs. The youth became disillusioned. Suddenly, working and migrating abroad became an attractive option. And so they left in droves.

Those born in the 1970s up to the early 1980s belong to the EDSA Dos generation. My generation. Our generation. Growing up was difficult because there was no evil regime whom we could fight. Marcos was already ousted and he soon died in another country. Wars and dictators were gone (we soon learned they only assumed different names and appearances). Where would we channel our excess emotions, energies and desires?

Politics was a turn-off. Joining the government was not popular – we didn’t want to be associated with dirty politicians and inefficient public officials. The left was in disarray. Both the left and right were unappealing.

Our parents were supposed to teach us about the anti-Marcos struggle. But many of them have already left the country as Overseas Contract Workers. Our informal education was provided by TV and video games (later the internet).

Since grade school, we were taught to support the nation-building process. Somehow, many were convinced by the ideology that being productive and taxpaying citizens were the minimum duties of a responsible Filipino. That being a better person contributes to the welfare of society. And so we shunned collective actions and radical politics. We abandoned politics to the professionals. We aspired to become the glorified and rich individuals of our communities. We could also work in other countries and at the same time send remittances back home.

Then we became known as Generation X, the lost generation, the apathetic youth. We were ridiculed by the elders for our apparent lack of social responsibility.

What was our reply to this criticism? We organized numerous politically-correct campaigns. We became involved with charities, volunteer groups, and fundraising dinners for different causes. Students were encouraged by school administrators to become idealists by sending letters to politicians and by building houses for the poor. There were various cute little ways to assuage our social guilt. The reactionary State could tolerate these petty subversive acts.

Then came Joseph Estrada. He was no Marcos but he could be compared to the evil one. He was corrupt, alcoholic, womanizer, gambler, college dropout, fascist, and he wanted to bury Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Estrada deserved to be ousted. He was our Marcos.

Cory was too moral; Ramos was an effective diplomat who he hid his evil pangs very well; but Erap was, well, very Erap. He was laughable, foolish. We were embarrassed that he was the president of the Republic.

And so we participated in the movement to oust Erap. Edsa Dos was our answer to FQS and People Power. It was our heroic attempt to prove that we were not apathetic; that we were also patriotic citizens of the country; that we could also organize direct political actions which could topple an unpopular government.

There was an available formula for this kind of political participation. We borrowed elements of the agitprop tactics of the 1970s, the street politics of the early 1980s and the 1986 People Power script. We merged them with not-so-grim-and-determined slogans, new age outdoor rallies, and stylish and outlandish protest acts. We even brought out our cool gadgets (cell phones). The peaceful uprising was staged with parental and religious consent and it was broadcasted by the sympathetic media. Finally, we were no longer the silent generation.

But the celebration was short lived. A monster came out of the closet; Gloria Arroyo spoiled the party. She emerged as the genuine political reincarnation of Marcos, not Erap. Our mistake was to overlook Arroyo’s nefarious class character. We failed to present a more revolutionary agenda and alternative. We mechanically copied the politics of EDSA; including its major defects.

We tried to correct our blunder through the Magdalo, 2004 elections, Hello Garci protests, and impeachment attempts. But Arroyo was a formidable enemy. She was/is more ruthless/clever than Marcos.

Those born in the mid-1980s up to the early 1990s are the new breed of dissenters. They are our new hope. They must condemn our shortcomings. They should mock our virtual rallies. They should radicalize our political practices. They should combine/imbibe the survival instinct of the 20s and 30s generation, the militant idealism of the 40s generation, the revolutionary romanticism of First Quarter Stormers, the cosmopolitan radicalism of the 60s generation, and our tenacious optimism.

Meanwhile, the oldies must continue to fight. The spark is out there.

Related entries:

Youth activism
Student activism
Conjugal dictators
Veterans

Amirah Lidasan: Huwarang lider-kababaihan

Links: Bangkok is polluted but its “green.” Street food of Vietnam. Krupuk, or fried fish cracker in Indonesia. Assessing the western media coverage of Fiji.

Ininterbyu ko si Amirah noong 2003 para sa The Filipino Student, opisyal na publikasyon ng National Union of Students of the Philippines. Heto ang ilan sa mga tanong-sagot na pinagbatayan ng artikulong sinulat ko…

Para sa mga kapwa niya Moro, siya ang matapang na lider ng Moro Christian People’s Alliance. Madalas na napapanood sa TV, nagpapaliwanag at bumabatikos sa mga mapaniil na patakaran ng pamahalaan.

Para sa National Union of Students of the Philippines, siya ang masigasig na lider ng Unyon noong ikalawang hati ng nakaraang dekada. Siya ang sumulat ng makasaysayang Critique on Education 2000, ang batayang dokumento sa pag-unawa ng sistema ng edukasyon sa bansa sa ilalim ng rehimeng Ramos.

Siya si Amirah Ali Lidasan, mula sa tribong Iranon ng Maguindanao, dating tagapangulo ng Unyon, at tinitingala ngayon bilang isa sa mga respetadong lider ng bansa.

Magkahalong tuwa at gulat ang naging reaksiyon ni Amirah nang sabihin naming siya ang napiling huwarang alumna ng Unyon ngayong taon. Marahil hindi niya batid ang malaking paghanga sa kanya ng bagong henerasyon ng mga miyembro ng NUSP. Ang paninindigan niya laban sa todong gerang inilunsad ni dating Pangulong Estrada sa mamamayang Moro, hanggang sa kasalukuyang pagbatikos niya sa gerang agresyon ng Estados Unidos sa Afghanistan man o sa Basilan ang nagtulak sa amin na kilalanin siya bilang modelong lider ng NUSP.

Iilan na lamang ba ang katulad ni Amirah na handang talikuran ang payapa at komportableng buhay upang harapin ang suliranin ng lipunan at ng kanyang mga kapatid na Moro?

Sa mga susunod na talata ay mababasa natin ang maikling interbyu kay Amirah kung saan malalaman natin ang mga naging tampok na isyu sa kanyang termino. Masusulyapan din natin ang isang buhay na masasabi nating prinsipyado, makabayan at makabuluhan.

Binabago ni Amirah ang stereotyping sa isang babaeng Moro na ikinikahon ng pyudal na kultura bilang pambahay lamang. Tunay ngang isang kakaibang Moro ang ating huwarang lider. Isang karangalan para sa atin na bago siya naging Amirah Lidasan ng MCPA, naging Amirah Lidasan muna siya ng NUSP.

1. Ano ang pinagkakaabalahan mo ngayon?

Ako ang secretary-general ng Moro-Christian People’s Alliance. Ang MCPA ay isang interfaith organization ng mga Muslim at Kristiyanong indibidwal at mga organisasyon na nagtataguyod ng mga karapatan at kagalingan ng mamamayang Moro; at kumikilalala at nagsusulong ng karapatan nila sa sariling pagpapasya or right to self-determination.

2. Bago ka sumali sa NUSP, ano ang mga pinagkaabalahan mo bilang estudyante?

Naging miyembro ako UP Muslim Students and Alumni Association. Sa kolehiyo namin, College of Mass Communication, sumali ako sa Union of Journalists of the Philippines. Noong kasagsagan ng kampanya laban sa tuition increase sa UP noong 1993, sumali ako sa Center for Nationalist Studies (CNS) at dito ako namulat sa mga isyung pulitikal sa loob at labas ng eskuwelahan. Dahil sa CNS, nakasali ako sa mga rali laban sa GATT at iba pang isyung panlipunan na nagpapahirap sa bansa noong 1993 at 1994. Dahil din sa CNS ay nakasama ako sa welga ng mga manggagawa ng Shoemart.

3. Paano ka naging miyembro ng NUSP?

Noong 1994 ay tumakbo ako sa aming kolehiyo bilang presidente ng konseho. Ako ay nanalo at tumayo na rin bilang college representative sa University Student Council. Katatapos lang ng tuition increase sa UP noon, tumaas mula P200 hanggang P300 per unit. Matindi din ang isyu ng mga manggagawa ng UP noon. Panahon na rin kasi ito nang magsimula ang UP na kumuha ng mga agency para sa mga janitor at gwardiya.

Sa labas ng eskwelahan maingay ang mga protesta laban sa GATT. Matindi ang partisipasyon ng ilang estudyante galing UP na sumasama sa mga protesta sa Malakanyang at Senado.

Nagsimula na rin akong maging aktibo sa mga student council organization. Lumahok ako sa Kasama sa UP Convention noong 1994 sa Miag-ao, Iloilo at sa NUSP sa Naga City. Sa NUSP convention noong 1994 ay nahirang akong Executive Vice President. Noong 1995 nang magdaos ng special National Council ang NUSP sa Aklan, ang presidente na si Melody Mallari ng UE-Caloocan ay nagbitiw sa puwesto at ako ang pumalit sa kanyang posisyon. Buong taon ng 1995 ay nagsilbi akong national president. Sa kongreso noong 1995 sa Benguet State University, ako naman ay hinirang ng kapulungan bilang secretary-general ng NUSP hanggang 1996.

4. Ano ang mga problemang kinaharap, naigpawan at mga tagumpay na kampanyang sinulong ninyo sa NUSP noon?

Ang pangunahing kinaharap ng NUSP noon ay organizational problem. Matapos ang Naga Congress, lumiliit na ang bilang ng college councils na sumasali sa NUSP. Matindi ang epekto nito sa paglaban ng mga estudyante sa Education 2000 na inilalako na ng rehimeng Ramos noon. Bukod sa organizational problem, may kakulangan din sa pag-aaral ng programang Education 2000. Umabot sa punto na naging mali ang naging pagsusuri at paglaban ng NUSP sa Education 2000.

Nang inihapag ng NUSP ang taktikal na laban sa Education 2000, umabot siya sa pagsusuri na walang krisis ang eduksyon sa bansa at manipestayon nito ay ang patuloy na pagsilbi ng edukasyon at patuloy na paglabas ng mga graduates na nakakatugon sa panganagailangan ng pamahalaan para sa trabaho.

Lito ang NUSP noon sa kampanyang ito at umani ng maraming puna mula sa mga regional chapters nito particularly sa Laguna-Cavite Chapter, Davao at Ilo-ilo. Ito ang mga pangunahing chapters na pinaabutan ng memorandum at inikot ko bilang Presidente ng NUSP upang ilako ang pagsusuri sa Education 2000.

5. Ano sa tingin mo ang naging ambag mo sa NUSP?

Inilabas ng NUSP ang Critique on the Education 2000 noong 1997, mas komprehensibo at malaman sa datos. Naging wasto at higit na kritikal ang papel na inilabas ng NUSP. Ang buod ng pagsusuri: “The crisis of the education system is continuing and intensifying with the release of the Education 2000 program.” Ito ngayon ang sinuportahan at mabilis na naging laban noong 1997 ng NUSP na nagbunsod din ng isa sa pinakamalaking Kongreso ng Unyon noong 1997 sa Cebu City.

Mas naging malakas ang NUSP noong 1996. Isang tunay na organisasyon ng mga student council dahil well-entrenched ito sa grassroots. Bukod sa pangunguna sa kampanya laban sa tuition increase noong first quarter ng 1997, pinangunahan muli ng NUSP ang taktikal na laban sa Education 2000. Bukod dito, nanguna din ang NUSP sa paglaban ng karapatan ng mag-aaral – tumulong sa pagtatayo ng mga student councils sa Metro Manila na siyang naging hudyat ng pagbubuo muli ng Metro-Manila Chapter nito.

6. Nakatulong ba ang NUSP sa mga ginagawa mo ngayon?

Malaking tulong ang NUSP sa political development ko. Nagbukas ito sa akin ng buhay labas sa UP. Dati, napaka-undecided ko after college. Nasa isip ko talaga pagkatapos ng graduation ay magtrabaho o kaya mag-aral ulit (MA Islamic Studies); pagkatapos babalik ng probinsya namin sa Mindanao para magturo dun.

Pagkatapos sa NUSP, naging volunteer ako sa isang workers federation sa KMU at nang sumiklab ang all-out war sa Mindanao noong 1999, nagvolunteer naman ako sa Karapatan sa Moro human rights desk. Noong 2000, naging founding member ako ng Moro-Christian People’s Alliance.

“My decision to continue with student activism paved the way for me to work with the people I belong to: the Moro People. Had I not chosen NUSP over my work and contented life in Maguindanao, I would not have understood the raging war in my province. Like the rest of the Moro people who graduated and became part of the mainstream professionals in the country, I think I would not have been vocal against the violations of the rights of the Moro people. NUSP prepared me for a longer and harder battle that I am facing now, how to help the Moro people fight for their rights and to survive the militarist campaigns of the Philippine government.”

7. Ano ang plano mo sa hinaharap?

Gusto kong isipin na sana ay tuloy-tuloy na ang pagtulong ko sa pakikibaka ng mga kapatid kong mamamayang Moro. Ang gusto ko din ay bumalik uli sa aming probinsya, hindi bilang isang anak na magtatrabaho at magsesettle down sa homeland, kundi bilang isang anak na bumabalik upang tumulong na paigtingin ang pakikibaka ng mamamayan na kinabibilangan ko, ang mamamayang Moro. Ang pag-uwi ko ay hindi ibig sabihin sa pag-iwan ng trabaho sa MCPA. ang ibig sabihin lang nito ay ang paglago ng MCPA sa iba’t ibang probinsya partikular sa Mindanao.

Related entries:

USC history
South Mindanao
Tibak sarbey

Child-friendly governments

I felt sad after reading the story of Marianette Amper. It shows the extent of hopelessness in Philippine society….

The Philippines is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every administration has committed to building a child-friendly society where children are "nurtured and allowed to grow and develop in dignity."

More than a decade ago, the government adopted a Philippine Plan of Action for Children in order to realize a child-sensitive society. Congress recognized children as a basic sector distinct from youth and students.

There are numerous laws and programs that promote the welfare of children. But children remain the most vulnerable sector in Philippine society. They are the most affected during natural and man-made calamities. About 43.3 percent of the country’s population are children.

More than 4 million families are subsisting below the poverty line. Almost 10 million children are undernourished. Most children are suffering from micronutrient malnutrition. Only 33 percent of children are enrolled in daycare and preschool institutions in the country. More than 1 million children of elementary school age are not enrolled.

Both national and local governments are responsible for crafting programs which seek to protect children in the country. But local governments have the responsibility to deliver basic social services and ensure sustainability of children’s welfare programs. Unfortunately, children are not the top priority of many local governments.

This is the reason why advocacy groups are actively engaging local politicians to promote child-friendly governance in provinces and cities. The goal is to convince more local government units to adopt measures that strengthen compliance to the principles and provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Child-Friendly Movement developed a handbook to guide local leaders in mapping their strategies to enhance child-friendly local governance.

Each local government is asked to draft a local development plan for children that will "serve as a blueprint of actions and interventions for children’s rights." Then a local investment plan identifies available resources which can be tapped to finance projects for children. A local code for children is important since there are provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which have not yet been discussed by the Philippine Congress. Local governments can implement measures that provide sanctions for violations of children’s rights.

If there is an annual State of the Nation Address delivered by the Philippine president, local leaders can give a local state of the children report. Local governments can highlight the accomplishments in advancing children’s rights for the past year and the present situation of children in the locality.

As of 2005, almost 100 provinces and cities have adopted their own local development and investment plans for children. Seventy provinces and cities have enacted local codes for children and 74 local governments have already delivered their local state of the children reports.

According to the Council for the Welfare of Children, a city or municipality is child-friendly "if it is able to assure that all children possess survival, development, protection and participation rights and that their needs are realized." A total of 25 indicators have been identified to monitor the fulfillment of these rights.

Survival rights involve the inherent right to life, identity and nationality of children. These also refer to the government’s obligations to provide adequate healthcare, social security and rehabilitation for children. Examples of indicators include registration at birth, exclusive breastfeeding for six months and full immunization.

Protecting children starts with addressing the health of pregnant mothers. Some indicators of maternal health include pre-natal check-ups, immunization against tetanus, birth spacing and presence of trained personnel during childbirth.

Development rights "refer to access to educational opportunities, leisure, cultural activities and freedom of religion." Indicators include attendance of children in early childhood education programs, completion of basic education and mastery of nationally defined skills and competencies.

Protection rights seek to guard children against all forms of abuses, discrimination and exploitation. Indicators highlight the need for the separation of detained children from adult prisoners, elimination of physical and sexual violence in the home and community and giving of functional literacy courses to illiterate parents. Indicators for safe homes include the number of families with access to safe drinking water, iodized salt and sanitary latrines. Both parents should also share responsibility in the care and rearing of children.

Participation rights ensure children’s involvement in decision making in local governments. These also refer to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

Are local governments fulfilling these commitments? Do politicians appreciate or understand the importance of these obligations? Is the Philippines a child-friendly society?

Similar to its other international commitments, the Philippines can boast of fulfilling the paperwork and legal requirements in the promotion of children’s welfare. But the government has failed to implement its own policies and programs because of lack of political will. The primary default is the consistent failure to enact a child-friendly budget that would sufficiently address education and health needs of children.

Politicians give little priority to children because they are not voters. An international backlash is sometimes needed to jolt politicians into action. When foreign media began to report the presence of children in adult prison cells, that was the only time politicians began to mount a serious campaign to protect juvenile delinquents.

Children’s rights are the most important human rights. Children are among the most ignored and discriminated against sectors of Philippine society.

Related entries:

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Jollibee kid
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Bright versus Spice

Bloggers Kapihan 2.0: Blog Ed 101. Teaching, learning and blogging. Please attend: October 13, Saturday, 1:30-4:30 pm, Ramon Magsaysay High School (in front of Nepa Q-Mart EDSA).

A long long time ago, in a land where Wyatt Erap was still the kingpin of the hill, there emerged two camps of young cowboys which entertained and inspired many people. They were known as the Bright Boys and the Spice Boys.

Former president Joseph Estrada was impressed with seven young lawmakers from the administration party LAMP so he named them the Bright Boys. They were Rodolfo Taguinod Albano of Isabela, Alan Peter Schramm Cayetano of Pateros-Taguig, Joseph Felix Mari ‘Ace’ Durano of Cebu, Francis Joseph Guevarra Escudero of Sorsogon, Edmundo Ongsiako Reyes, Jr. of Marinduque, Jurdin Jesus Modina Romualdo of Camiguin and Gilberto Cojuangco Teodoro, Jr. of Tarlac.

Meanwhile, young members of the opposition in the Lower House also formed a group called the Spice Boys. They were Rolando Andaya Jr. of Camarines Sur, Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte, Federico Sandoval II of Navotas-Malabon, Juan Miguel Zubiri of Bukidnon, Hernani Braganza of Pangasinan and Michael Defensor of Quezon City.

The Bright Boys and Spice Boys represented the youth of Philippine politics almost a decade ago. Their brilliance, dedication and passion to defend their principles gave hope to many that the future leaders of the country will be more responsible, honest and intelligent. In short, these young politicians encouraged skeptics to give the trapo-dominated politics prevailing in the country a second chance.

In the battle to win the hearts and minds of the people, the Spice Boys reigned supreme which culminated in the removal of Estrada from Malacañang. The Spice Boys played a crucial role in articulating the sentiments of the people against Estrada. They effectively used their popularity to inform the poor, especially the students, about the corruption cases, anomalous programs and bad working habits of Estrada. They opposed charter change, press freedom violations and Estrada’s economic policies which hurt the working public.

The Bright Boys successfully defended Estrada in the plenary of Congress. But they were less successful in using mass media to counter the relentless criticisms hurled against the former president. They were indeed bright boys but during that time, Estrada was hopelessly indefensible.

For many people, the rivalry of Spice Boys and Bright Boys ended when then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assumed the presidency in 2001. The Spice Boys were given key positions in the Arroyo government. Braganza headed the agrarian reform and media bureau of Malacañang before opting to become a mayor of a booming city in the north. Andaya is now the secretary of the budget and management office. Defensor was appointed as housing czar, environment secretary and presidential spokesperson before announcing that he will take a leave from politics to reinvent himself. Those who remained in the Lower House enjoyed top positions in juicy committees.

The Spice Boys have proven their loyalty to Arroyo but it seems they have turned their backs to the crusade for truth, transparency and honesty in governance. They have chosen to ignore allegations of corruption, electoral fraud and human rights violations involving the president and her family. They castigated Estrada for plundering the nation’s resources but they have avoided criticizing their lady boss in Malacañang for her role in the scams of Jose Pidal, Virgilio Garcillano, JocJoc Bolante, Jovito Palparan and Benjamin Abalos. They have forgotten that the fight for clean government does not stop even if it meant betraying the president.

On the other hand, most of the Bright Boys are now the bright boys of Arroyo. Indeed, there are no permanent friends and enemies in politics. Durano and Teodoro are already part of Arroyo’s cabinet. Escudero and Cayetano are the only remaining active supporters of Estrada.

If every congressman’s dream is to become a senator, then the Bright Boys are the clear winners in this case. Escudero and Cayetano are now senators while Defensor lost and Zubiri’s victory remains questionable.

The rivalry of the Bright Boys and Spice Boys is personified by Escudero and Defensor. The former is the icon of the opposition while the latter is the poster boy of the administration. Both of them tried to convince the public that they represent the hopes and dreams of the youth. In reality, they were only advancing the interests of their rich and powerful patrons.

But it must be emphasized that for the past seven years, Escudero was consistent in exposing the wrongdoings of the present government while Defensor has chosen to remain faithful to Arroyo.

Seven years ago, who would have thought that Bright Boy Escudero, the son of an unrepentant Marcos crony, will eventually become a senator and stalwart of a movement for democracy, civil liberties and good governance? Who would even imagine that Spice Boy Defensor, an activist during his college days who actually chanted imperyalismo ibagsak will become the stereotype of a young trapo?

In the last few weeks, there have been many instances showing the hegemony of the Bright Boys over the Spice Boys. During the senate hearings on the ZTE contract, Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman Cayetano summoned Andaya to the witness stand many times. Spice Boy Andaya was humbled by Bright Boy Cayetano.

In one incident too, Cayetano referred to Sergio Apostol as “Mr. Madame Wetness.” Nobody commented on this episode. But this was important since a Bright Boy succeeded in humiliating an EDSA Dos personality inside the same hall where Estrada’s impeachment trial was held.

Despite their fidelity to good causes nowadays, Cayetano and Escudero are already showing signs of abandoning their aggressive and principled position against the government. Why did they join the administration coalition in the senate? Is it true that Cayetano was influenced by a rich businessman to delay/scrap the ZTE hearing? Former Congressman Jacinto Paras once asked where Cayetano was in 2004 when the opposition was questioning the election results. Well, Bright Boys will always be Bright Boys.

The Spice Boys and Bright Boys are still prominent politicians of the country. Although this time they have already shed their image as young idealist leaders. They are now traditional politicians. They promote political dynasties. Their political biographies remind the public how politics corrupt the young. Their stories fuel the cynicism of the youth. People are now discouraged to believe and expect that young idealist leaders will remain true to their beliefs.

Perhaps this was the reason why in the past few weeks, so many cause-oriented groups are actively evoking the memories, writings and political legacies of Edgar Jopson and Lean Alejandro. The youth needs good role models. No more of Spice Boys and Bright Boys please. We need another Lean and Edjop.

Expensive medicines, my article for Global Voices.

Related entries:

Deodorant boys
Defining the Filipino youth
Why the youth should vote?
Sons and politicians

Street basketball is not a nuisance

Below is my article published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer four years ago. This piece was discussed in the De La Salle University Graduate School of Business through Dean Philip Juico who is my neighbor. I am publishing this in my blog in reaction to Mayor Fred Lim’s order to demolish street basketball courts.

(Believe it or not, I was a good basketball player during my elementary and high school years. I was a big fan of PBA, Ramon Fernadez, Kareem Abdul Jabar and Michael Jordan)

This refers to a news article in the Metro section last week about the banning of street basketball courts by the Metro Manila Development Authority.

I agree that basketball should be played inside a gymn or covered court. The streets are for the passage of motorized vehicles and not for playing.

The truth is the youth does not want to play basketball in the streets. First, the game is disturbed once in a while by the passing of a car. Anybody who is enjoying a basketball game on TV will be much disappointed by a sudden power blackout. Just imagine the effect on a warmed-up player who has to stop playing since a tricycle needs to pass the street. Second, playing in the streets is risky. The constant flow of traffic may both harm players and the passengers of passing vehicles.

If the youth does not want to play in the streets, why do basketball courts proliferate in the streets?

It is the lamentable lack of sports facilities in a community that pushes our youth to use the streets as their playground. Barangays which are privileged to have proper basketball courts do not worry about the youth using the streets for playing. The fact remains that majority of our youth does not have access to these sports facilities.

Basketball is played in the streets not because the youth are undisciplined and deliberate law violators. Basketball needs to be played in a big open space. The lack of this space in our communities prompts the youth to invade the streets. Look at how billiards, another favorite pastime of Filipinos, are played inside houses or sidewalks, because it can be played even with little space.

I disagree that basketball courts in the streets cause so much traffic. Do we see basketball courts in major highways? Or even in the secondary roads? Street basketball courts are built in the least travelled roads because the youth does not want their game to be disrupted. And if that road by chance suddenly is used to decongest traffic in major streets, the youth themselves will place the basketball court somewhere else, somewhere away from traffic.

The MMDA order risks the total demolition of basketball courts in the streets disregarding the benefit it gives to the social fabric of our nation. The sense of belongingness in a community, camaraderie and fulfillment by playing basketball are something not to be underestimated. Parents would prefer their children to play basketball all day than use illegal drugs which are surprisingly accessible in all communities.

The MMDA has a skewed appreciation of things when it only sees traffic and violation of law in street basketball courts. It should also see the creative attitude and perseverance of the youth to put up a sport facility which the government has denied them.

I have to mention here the contribution of street basketball courts to Philippine basketball. Most of our best players today and as well as before were honed in the streets when they were young. As in any other competitive sports, players of basketball can become better by playing against many types of players. Who among our professional and collegiate players can claim that their skills were merely the product of playing basketball in gymnasium alone?

I fear for the future of basketball in Metro Manila, or if you will, the country. Basketball, at present, is both a spectacle and a lived experience. We watch basketball at night and play it the following day. We admire the grace and swift moves of Johhny Abbarientos on TV and we try to emulate it the next time we play basketball in the streets.

The MMDA order may result in a situation where basketball is a spectale for the many and lived experience for the few, those who have access to gymnasiums. Of course, we do not want basketball to be played only in arcades and appreciated by watching TV alone.

I agree that basketball should not be played in the streets. But before they tear down street basketball courts, they must replace it with a proper basketball court in the said community or else face the wrath of the beseiged youth.

Mga Basketbolista Magkaisa
(Originally published in http://www.tinig.com)

Babala: bawal na raw maglaro ng basketball sa kalye. Huhulihin ng MMDA ang sinumang lalabag dito at sinimulan na nga nilang magtanggal ng mga court sa dalawang barangay sa Sta. Cruz, Maynila.

Malaki ang aanihing galit nito mula sa mga kabataan sa maraming komunidad. Marahil pati mga magulang ay tututol sa pinakabagong pulisiya ng MMDA. Ilang beses ko ng narinig mula sa mga nanay na mas nanaisin pa raw nilang magbasketball ng buong araw ang kanilang mga anak, huwag lang gumamit ng droga.

Mahalagang bahagi ng kulturang popular ang basketball sa lipunang Pilipino. Kahit nagmula ito sa ibang bansa, lubusang tinangkilik ito ng mga Pilipino at higit pa ngang minahal kaysa sa ibang tradisyunal na laro. Hindi ba’t may namamayaning kaisahan na matalo na tayo sa lahat ng kumpetisyon sa SEA at Asian Games, huwag lang sa basketball (pasintabi sa mga manlalaro ng bilyar at bowling). Kahit sa UAAP at NCAA, alam ng mga estudyante ang standing ng kanilang eskuwelahan sa basketball pero hindi na nila iniintindi ang status sa ibang laro.

Paboritong proyekto ng mga mambabatas ang pagpapagawa ng mga basketball court. Sa katunayan, sa sobrang dami ng mga proyektong ito ay ipinagbawal na ng Kongreso ang paggamit ng pork barrel para sa mga basketball court.

Maraming artista at pulitiko ang nakilala dahil sa basketball. Bata o matanda, kilala si Jaworski o kahit si Jun Bernardino. Hinahabol ng BIR ang mga manlalaro ng PBA sa laki ng kanilang kinikita. Humihinto ang mundo kapag NBA finals.

Maging sa akademya ay tinukoy ang papel ng basketball sa paghubog ng sarili nitong lenggwahe na lalong nagpayaman sa pambansang wika. Walang institusyong nagdikta kung ano ang tama o mali, pero sa buong kapuluan ay may nabuong komon na wika ang mga manlalaro ng basketball na kahit ang mga walang hilig sa laro ay naiintidihan ito.

Sinisid ang bola, tirang palaka, agawang-buko, nangalabaw, buwakaw, ala-Jawo, tirang-Caidic, tambak, kapos – ang mga imaheng tinutukoy ng mga salitang ito ay nalikha sa mundo ng basketball at kayang sapulin ng halos lahat.

Ito ang basketball, tatak Pinoy. Ang pambansang libangan, paboritong laro’t kapuso ng bawat Pilipino. Nawala na si Thalia at ang Ghostfighter pero nandyan pa rin ang basketball. Malalaos ang Meteor Garden at mga soap opera ngunit mananatili pa ring matatag ang natatanging lugar at halaga ng basketball sa popular na kamalayan ng mamamayan.

Totoo na lumiliit ang bilang ng mga nanonood ng PBA. At nakakalungkot din ang pagdami ng mga Fil-Am samantalang maraming talento sa bansa ang hindi napapansin. Pero problema ito ng PBA at hindi ng basketball ng Pilipinas sa kabuuan.

Buhay na buhay ang basketball sa kalye’t mga komunidad. Hindi humuhupa ang pagsulpot ng mga liga sa bawat barangay.

Ito ang target ni Bayani Fernando: ang basketball sa kalye, ang basketball ng mahihirap.

Tama na dapat laruin ang basketball sa loob ng gymn at hindi sa kalye. Ang kalye ay ginawa para daanan ng mga sasakyan. Pero bakit ba makukulit ang kabataan at sa kalye itinatayo ang mga basketball court?

Kung tutuusin, ayaw ng mga kabataan ang maglaro sa kalye. Una, ito’y nakakasagabal sa paglalaro dahil kailangang huminto kapag may dadaang sasakyan. Tayo nga kapag nanonood ng laro sa TV at biglang nagbrown-out, hindi ba’t nakakabitin? Ano pa kaya ang pakiramdam ng isang manlalaro na nakabuwelo na sa paglalaro pero biglang mabibitin dahil may tricycle na kailangang padaanin?

Pangalawa, ang paglalaro sa kalye ay peligroso para sa mga manlalaro at mga pasahero ng mga sasakyang dumadaan. Sabi nga nila, ang bola ay bilog at hindi mo alam kung kailan, kanino at gaano kalakas ito tatalbog. Walang gustong masaktan at makasakit, lalo na ng mga naglalaro.

Kung gayon, bakit sa kalye pa rin itinatayo ang mga basketball court?

Ang kawalan ng sapat na pasilidad para sa paglalaro ang nagtutulak sa ating mga kabataan na gamitin ang mga kalye bilang alternatibong laruan. Ang mga barangay na may mga sports plaza ay hindi naman problema ang kalye na ginagawang basketball court. Kalakhan ng ating mga kabataan ay walang access sa mga pasilidad na ito.

Sa kalye itinatayo ang mga basketball court hindi dahil likhang suwail ang mga kabataan at hindi marunong sumunod sa batas kundi nangangailangan ng malaking espasyo ang paglalaro ng basketball. Pansinin halimbawa na hindi sa kalye nilalaro ang bilyar kundi sa loob ng mga bahay o gusali dahil pwede itong pagtiyagaan gamit ang maliit na espasyo.

Hindi ako naniniwala na malaking sagabal sa trapiko ang mga basketball court sa kalye. Nakakita na ba tayo ng court sa mga pangunahing kalsada, halimbawa sa EDSA o Espana? O maging sa mga sekundaryong daan? Itinatayo ang mga basketball court sa mga hindi dinadaanang kalye, dun mismo sa kaloob-looban ng mga komunidad dahil ayaw ngang paistorbo ng mga manlalaro sa daloy ng trapiko. Kung ang kalyeng yun ay naisipang gawing pampaluwag ng trapiko, ang mga kabataan mismo ang magtatanggal ng court at ililipat ito sa ibang lugar, dun sa walang tao at malayo sa trapiko.

Mukhang may problema ang MMDA sa pagkilala sa basketball sa kalye bilang sagabal lamang sa trapiko. Hindi nito nakikita ang kapakinabangang idinudulot nito sa komunidad at sa lipunan. Hindi dapat maliitin ang positibong birtud na pinapalaganap nito sa ating kabataan tulad ng pagkakaisa, pagkakaibigan at kolektibong kamalayan. Ito ang salbabida ng ilan upang may matirang katinuan sa isang kapaligirang puno ng kabaliwan at kawalang pag-asa.

Kung nakikita ng MMDA sa mga basketball court sa kalye ay sira-sirang plywood, kinakalawang na bakal, kawalan ng disiplina at buhul-buhol na trapiko, ang nakikita ko ay determinasyon at mapanlikhang aktitud ng mga kabataan upang magkaroon ng isang libangang ipinagkait sa kanila ng pamahalaan.

Kailangang kilalanin ang kontribusyon ng basketball sa kalye sa kabuuang pag-unlad ng basketball sa bansa. Karamihan ng ating mga propesyunal na manlalaro ay nahubog sa maagang paglalaro ng basketball sa mga kalye. Katulad sa iba pang palakasan, ang mga manlalaro ng basketball ay gumagaling kung nakakalaban nila ang iba’t ibang kalidad ng manlalaro. Sino sa ating mga propesyunal ang magmamalaking nahubog ang mga kasanayan nila sa paglalaro lamang sa mga gym?

Dapat isipin ng MMDA ang pangmatagalang implikasyon ng kanilang gagawing mapangahas at elitistang hakbang sa sosyolohiya ng basketball.

Sa kasalukuyan, ang basketball ay parehong spectacle at nasasabuhay na karanasan. Pinapanood natin sa TV sa gabi at nilalaro natin sa umaga. Hinahangaan natin ang pinong galaw ni Johnny Abbarientos at sinusubukang gayahin sa susunod nating laro sa kalye.

Kung masusunod ang MMDA, matitira na lamang ang mga basketball court sa mga plaza at gymn. Magiging spectacle na ito para sa karamihan at nasasabuhay na karanasan para sa iilan. Ayaw naman nating dumating ang sitwasyon na sa arcades at TV na lamang ang ugnayan natin sa larong basketball. Sa hinaharap, ang maging manlalaro ay isang ispesyalisasyon na wala ng pangmasang katangian.

Ang basketball sa kalye ay mabisang kabaligtaran sa kapitalistang oryentasyon ng PBA o PBL. Hindi ito negosyo at lalong hindi ginagamit upang magkaroon ng makataong imahen ang mga korporasyong may pinopondohang koponan. Kapag nanonood si Danding ng PBA sa Araneta Coliseum, ang tumitimo sa isip ng mamamayan ay katoto nila ito sa pagsuporta sa Coca Cola Tigers o San Miguel Beermen imbes na yung usaping kinakaharap niya tungkol sa coco levy at landgrabbing sa Isabela.

Hindi lamang trapiko ang nasa likod ng bagong patakaran ng MMDA. Dapat itong ibunyag at mahigpit na tutulan.

Related entries:

Sports for all
Altar Knights
Urban Facelift
Open the gates
Sports idols

Random pictures from my photoblog

Eh kasi bata

A week before the official opening of the 14th Congress, politicians are squabbling over the leadership positions in both chambers. This is unfortunate since there are more important national concerns that need to be addressed by Congress. It is better if politicians are debating on appropriate legislative solutions to key social problems. Party caucuses should not only tackle official nominations for Congress leadership; they should also forge consensus in identifying the priority bills required to improve lives of millions of Filipinos.

The output of the past two Congresses was dismal in terms of number and quality of laws enacted. They made little impact in uplifting social conditions of the poor. It is hoped that the 14th Congress will veer away from the embarrassing record of its predecessors by focusing on human development legislation. Advocates (or lobbyists) base their expectations to the entry of 106 first termers who are more open to progressive proposals than their elder counterparts.

What should be the priority of the 14th Congress? Eradicating poverty is a sweeping goal. I have a proposal: focus on children.

There are 34.6 million children in the country or those living below 18 years old. Almost ten million are under 5 years old. Children belong to the 4.3 million families who are at-risk or live below the poverty threshold. If there is a sector which remains vulnerable to economic difficulties and in dire need of effective poverty-alleviation programs, I would immediately cite the children.

Promoting children’s welfare should begin by protecting women’s health. The cycle of malnutrition begins with the mother. About 300,000 Filipino babies are born each year with intellectual impairment due to iodine deficiency. Leading causes of infant deaths are preventable diseases like poor respiratory conditions, malnutrition and diarrhea. It is distressing to note that 3 of 10 children, especially in rural villages and urban slums, are underweight. A child’s health and development from infancy to early childhood determine the success of an individual in his/her adult years.

Children’s access to schooling is not improving. Only 21 percent of 6.5 million 3-5 year olds go to day care centers. More children drop-out during first three years of schooling. Studies show 4 of 10 elementary graduates do not move on to high school. Of those who enroll in high school, 5 of 10 eventually drop out. Those who finish high school acquire skills and competencies that are below international and even national standards.

Children who need special protection are those engaged in hazardous and exploitative labor, street children, victims of sexual abuse and commercial exploitation, victims of family violence and neglect, those separated from or have lost their parents, children displaced by disasters, armed conflict and aggressive urban development, children in conflict with the law, children with various forms of disability, those living in ethnic/cultural communities and children living with HIV/AIDS.

There are 4 million child laborers working in hazardous and exploitative conditions (like deep-sea fishing, pyrotechnic industry, mining and quarrying, sugar cane plantation). These children are deprived of education opportunities.

Street children are categorized as the highly visible children who remain for more than 4 hours in the streets. The national estimate is 45,000, although I think this is a conservative figure. Natural and man-made disasters affected 12,857 barangays in 2004 according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development. More than 5 million children were displaced by these calamities.

We should all commit ourselves to build a child-friendly and child-sensitive society. The Philippines is signatory to Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), there are many laws on children but they are not implemented and funded by government. Policy initiatives are also done more at the national level.

The CWC is proposing the following legislative measures for the 14th Congress: Instituting Foster Care, law against child pornography, legitimation of Children Born to Underage Parents and amendments RA 7610 (Child Special Protection Act). The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is also proposing the prohibition of torture and corporal punishment

Children are not voters but they deserve special attention from politicians. The 2010 presidential election is just three years away and it is feared that socially-relevant bills will be sidestepped by too much politicking.

Related entries:

13 going 14.
A father’s lament
Modest proposals

Elehiya para sa mga kabataang martir

Friends, relatives and comrades have been asking me about the status of Kabataan Partylist. I could not give a categorical answer. The canvassing is really slow and it is really difficult to ascertain the number of votes we will get. We have already documented cases of vote-shaving and other instances of fraud which may affect our standing. It is positive to note that our group has never slid down from the top 20 partylist groups in the Namfrel ‘quick’ count and Comelec canvassing.

I wrote this article back in 2003 after four members of our partylist were murdered in Campostela Valley. I am posting this article in my blog in honor of two Kabataan Partylist pollwatchers who were abducted then killed in Camarines Norte a few days ago.

Malapit sa katotohanan ang paniniwalang kapag ikaw ay nakatira sa Campostela Valley, inuupuan mo ang isang malawak na lupain ng ginto.

Subalit katulad ng kuwento ng ating bansa, mayaman ang lupain ng Campostela pero naghihirap ang mga tao dito. Ang ginto ay minimina para sa iilan habang ang marami ay nagdarahop.

Ito ang buhay sa lupain ng ginto sa pusod ng lupain ng pangako.

Hanggang sa hinamon ang kalakarang ito. At ang dominasyon ng iilang tusong indibidwal ay tinapatan ng matapang na paglaban ng mamamayan.

Mula noon, naging pula na ang kulay ng lupa sa lupain ng ginto. Kulay ito ng paglaban at ng dugong binubuwis upang maibalik sa mamamayan ng Campostela ang yamang ninanakaw sa kanila.

Silang mga walang pangalan ay paminsan-minsa’y nagkakaroon ng pagkakakilanlan upang bigyang mukha ang buod ng pakikibaka. Ipinapakita nila ang matwid ng kanilang misyon sa kabila ng walang tigil na banta ng represyon.

Sa pagkakataong ito, sila ay mga kabataan ng Maco, Campostela Valley.

Marjorie Reynoso, Jonathan Bernaro, Ramon Regase at Lito Doydoy.

Si Marjorie ay pinuno ng SK sa kanilang barangay habang tumatayong provincial treasurer ng Anak ng Bayan. Si Jonathan ay kagawad sa SK habang coordinator sa munisipyo ng Anak ng Bayan. Si Ramon at Lito ay pawang mga organisador ng Anakbayan sa komunidad.

Biyernes sila dinakip ng mga armadong kalalakihan. Kinabukasan ay nakatanggap ng tawag ang nanay ni Marjorie mula sa Military Intelligence Group ng probinsiya at sinabing hawak daw nila ang kanyang anak. Lunes nang makita ang nabubulok nilang bangkay sa plantasyon ng saging ng Selecta.

Agad tinuro ng militar ang Alsa-Maco, isang grupong vigilante na itinayo ng anti-komunistang alkalde ng Maco bilang pangunahing suspek. Sumunod ang ilang araw ay binago ang hatol: mga rebeldeng komunista raw ang pumatay sa mga kabataan bilang “sacrificial lamb” upang kumuha ng simpatiya ng tao at dumami ang galit sa gobyerno.

Hindi ako pinalad na makilala ang apat na martir subalit kaisa ko sila sa pagsusulong ng parehong adhikain. Sa kanilang murang edad ay natuto silang magtanong, makialam at lumaban. Nakita nilang may bagong mundo silang pwedeng yakapin kung agad silang kikilos. Tinalikuran nila ang pasibo, pasuko at kumbensiyunal na buhay at sama-sama nilang niyanig ang mabagal at pyudal na mundo sa Maco.

Ang kanilang kapangahasan na hamunin ang nakikita nilang mali sa paligid ang naging mitsa ng kanilang buhay.

Sa lipunang demokratiko, ang kapangahasang ito ay hinahayaang yumabong dahil kailangan ito para sa pag-unlad. Pero sa Pilipinas, isang lipunang nagpapakilala bilang demokrasya, ito ay ipinagbabawal.

Tatlumpu’t isang taon pagkatapos ideklara ang batas militar, mukhang hindi pa natututong itakwil ng estado ang multo ng terorismo.

Ang apat na pinaslang na kabataan ay pinakabagong biktima ng kasalukuyang gera laban sa terorismo ng pamahalaan. Ang gerang inilunsad ng pamahalaan laban sa kanyang sariling mamamayan ay nagbigay ng lehitimasyon sa militar upang tugisin ang lahat ng indibidwal at grupo na may kritikal na postura laban sa gobyerno.

Tulad ng karamihan sa mga binabansagang terorista, ang apat na pinaslang ay mga inosenteng sibilyan. Higit pa dito, sila ay mga hinalal na lider ng mga kabataan. Paano mahihikayat ng pamahalaan na magtiwala ang kabataan sa gobyerno kung hindi nito mabigyan ng sapat na proteksiyon ang sarili nitong mga opisyal? Nagagalit ang pamahalaan kapag hindi nakikialam ang kabataan sa mga programang hinahanda nito pero ngayong lumalahok ang kabataan sa mga programa nito tulad ng SK ay hinahayaan na lamang mangyari ang karumal-dumal na krimeng ito. Tinutulak nito ang mga kabataan palayo sa parlyamento.

Ang pagpaslang sa apat na kabataan ng Maco ay maaaring panakot para sa sinumang mangangahas pang tumayo at humamon sa interes ng iilang makapangyarihang tao na sasapitin nila kung ano ang nangyari sa apat. Pero higit itong indikasyon ng takot ng mga nasa poder at humuhuthot ng yaman ng lupain sa lumalakas, dumarami at naiipong poot ng mamamayan sa kanilang kasakiman. Duwag kung lumaban dahil ang mga walang armas ang sinisindak.

Ang kamatayan ay araw-araw na katotohanan. Subalit hindi lahat ng kamatayan ay katanggap-tanggap. Para sa ating lumaki sa siyudad at naging manhid na sa mga patayan at iba’t ibang krimen, minsan ay mahirap unawain ang pagbuhos ng emosyon para sa isang karaniwang pangyayari tulad ng pagpaslang.

Tama namang sabihin na hindi na dapat magulat sa nangyari sa Maco. Ano pa ba naman ang aasahan sa isang lipunang nasa bunganga ng bulkan ng kaguluhan. Gayunpaman, dapat kilalanin ang lalim ng kasamaan at kahayupang naganap sa Campostela.

Ang binawian nila ng buhay ay hindi naiiba sa atin. Labimpitong gulang, labingwalong taong gulang, nasa simula pa lang sila ng mahabang paglalakbay sa buhay. Tulad natin, marahil punung-puno sila ng sigla upang tumuklas ng mga bagong kaalaman at karanasan. May mga iniidolo silang artista, nangangarap ng matiwasay na buhay. May nagmamahal sa kanilang pamilya o karelasyon at nagbibigay sila ng kasiyahan sa maraming tao.

Tayong mga naiwan dito sa magulong mundo ay makakatuklas pa ng mga bagong kaaalaman, matutupad pa natin ang ating mga pangarap sa buhay, iibig tayo at tayo’y iibigin, magiging saksi pa tayo sa maraming pagbabago sa ating mundo. Ito ay magagawa pa natin dahil tayo ay buhay. Samantalang ang apat na kabataan ay pinatahimik habambuhay ng mga taong ayaw kumilala ng tama at mali. Ang mga pangarap nila at pag-ibig ay kasama nilang humimlay sa ilalim ng lupain ng ginto sa pusod ng lupain ng pangako.

Sa aking agam-agam, ang pagpaslang sa kanila ay isang di-tuwirang atake sa sigla, tapang, lakas at talino ng kabataan.

I, activist

Thank you Arkibong Bayan for this feature on Kabataan partylist. By the way, Aangat Tayo partylist is very very close to Congressman (and soon to be Governor) Harlin Abayon of Northern Samar.

I wrote the following article more than six years ago for Tinig….

Madalas itanong ng aking kapatid kung ano daw ang aking napapala sa pagrarali. Wala daw silbi ang maging aktibista. Sinasayang ko lang ang aking pinag-aralan. Ano ang aking kinabukasan kung sigaw lang ako ng sigaw sa kalye?

Di ko siya sinasagot. Maaaring mali ang aking di pagtugon sa kanya pero hindi ko rin naman alam kung paano ko ipapaliwanag ang aking ginagawa sa paraan na lubos niyang mauunawaan. Minsan din akong nagtanong sa isang kaibigan kung bakit pinili niyang maging aktibista sa dinami-dami ng raket na pwede naman niyang gawin.

Mayroon pa akong pagtingin noon na walang kuwenta ang maging isang tibak. Sa kabila ng mga pagpapaliwanag niya ay di pa rin nabago ang aking paniniwala. Kung matibay siya sa kanyang pinaniniwalaan, ganun din ako. At ano ba ang pinaniniwalaan ko noon?

Naghihirap ang bansa dahil maraming Pilipino ang ginustong huwag mag-aral at di nagsisikap ng husto para mabuhay nang maayos. Sumisikip ang siyudad dahil ang mga tao sa probinsiya ay dumadagsa dito at dumadagdag sa mga iskuwater. Buntis nang buntis ang mga mahihirap at maagang nag-aasawa ang mga kabataan. Ang realidad ay ang ipinalalabas ng TV, sine at mga magasin. Kailangan ko munang paunlarin ang aking sarili bago makapaglingkod sa kapwa. Madaling yumaman kung may edukasyon ang isang tao lalo na’t pupunta ng ibang bansa. Kailangang maging praktikal sa buhay.

Hindi ko sinasabing mali ang lahat ng ito. Subalit paano ko ito ilulugar sa buhay na tinahak ng aking kaibigan at siyang tinatahak ko ngayon? Nag-iba na ang pamantayan ko kung paano maging praktikal sa ating lipunan ngayon. Naunawaan ko na ang kahalagahan ng pag-uugnay ng mga maliliit na suliranin ng ating bansa sa mga mayor at pundamental na usapin na siyang ugat ng ating mga problema.

Kung sasagutin ko ang aking nakakatandang kapatid, siguradong igigiit niya ang kanyang pamantayan ng isang matagumpay na tao: makadiyos, nakatapos ng kolehiyo, at kumikita ng pera. Tiyak na talo na ako sa mga argumento kung susuko ako sa nakagisnang pamantayan ng lahat, na siyang pamantayan ko rin noon. At ito ang ayokong mangyari.

Mahirap basagin ang mga katotohanang isinuso natin mula pagkabata. Mapait ang proseso ng pagwawasak ng mga kasinungalingang tinanggap natin bilang katotohanan. Hindi ako naging aktibista dahil sa pakikinig lamang sa mga teach-in at mga educational discussion. Hindi rin dahil sa mga aktibista kong propesor sa kolehiyo.

Kung ganoon, kailan at paano? Ito ay nang minsang sumama ako sa isang dayalog sa mga urban poor sa isang komunidad sa may likod ng UP noong eleksiyon ng 1998, nang minsan akong makipamuhay sa isang maliit na nayon sa Pampanga, at nang minsang maligo sa mabahong tubig ng water cannon ng mga pulis sa mapayapang rali ng mga estudyante; sa tingin ko ay dito ko naunawaan ang aking makitid na pagtingin sa mga bagay-bagay. Sapagkat nagsimula na akong magtanong, at sa pagtatanong pala nagsisimula ang lahat ng pagbabago.

Bakit nga ba naghihirap ang mga kayod-marinong manggagawang nakausap ko samantalang may iilan ang nagpapasasa sa sobra-sobrang luho? Bakit di maibigay-bigay sa mga nag-aalaga ng lupa ang kanilang sinasaka? Bakit kailangang tapatan ng mga trucheon ang simpleng demonstrasyon ng mga kabataang nananawagan ng karagdagang badyet sa edukasyon?

Marami na akong nasagot sa aking mga tanong subalit may dumagdag na mga bagong palaisipan. Ang pagkakaiba ngayon ay hindi na lang ako nagtatanong kundi gumagawa ng paraan para ang marami sa atin ay hindi na tanungin ang mga bagay na ito. Hindi perpekto ang mundo ng mga aktibista subalit walang masama sa pagnanais nito.

Hindi ako nagagalit sa tuwing tinatanong ako ng aking kapatid, bagkus ako ay natutuwa pa nga. Minsan akong nagtanong, at nagbago ang aking buhay. Malay mo bukas ang itatanong na ng kapatid ko ay kung bakit ayaw pumayag ng gobyerno na itaas ang kanilang sahod.

Related entries: Tibak sarbey, Five important things, Battle of the streets