Mayo Uno 2014 (Labor Day in Manila)

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May 1, 2014. It was the reportedly the hottest day of the year to date, and perhaps no other description can be more apt to figuratively describe the intensity of the passion that filled those who participated in the annual protest rally. Tens of thousands filled the plaza around the monument of Gat Andres Bonifacio in Lawton, as the same deluge marched the streets of midtown Manila to Mendiola to reaffirm the demands of the working class and other sectors of society for social justice.

Day 1 of Mendiola Camp-Out Protest


December 6, 2011.

We are calling on all Filipinos, fed up with the status quo and united in a common hope for a better present and future without the suffering that we witness everyday, to launch actions, strikes, walk-outs and to join a historic nationwide camp-out protest this December. We can no longer stand a twisted social set-up that robs the majority of our people of a decent life and basic social services. We can no longer stand a social system that produces immense wealth for foreign interests and a few as the people, who toil all their lives, are increasingly pushed deeper into hunger, poverty and injustice. We continuously attempted to make those in power heed our call for change. But they refuse to listen, and instead, constantly barrage us with lies, cover-up stunts, insults and threats of force. Like thieves, they railroad unjust measures, they rule with impunity and dare to call it democracy. Sawang-sawa na tayo.

Observing Mendiola

January 14, 2008. I went to Manila this afternoon to observe possible locations for some scenes for our thesis short film, and to take pictures to help our cinematographer visualize the project. I had Mendiola and Manila North Cemetery in mind. I was able to do that, but I also ended up leisurely strolling along Recto and then along Blumentritt on my way to the cemetery and taking random photos along the way.

Mendiola

Because driving seemed to be more of a hassle for me, I decided to leave the car in UP, hopped on a jeep to Katipunan and rode the LRT to Legarda. Got down the station and took a couple of pictures at Mendiola. I’ve actually been to Mendiola more times in rallies than otherwise. It’s quite interesting when you try to observe it when everything seems like a normal daily routine to everyone else.

Mendiola, Manila Mendiola, Manila Mendiola, Manila Mendiola, Manila Mendiola, Manila Mendiola, Manila
More often than not, rallies are blocked by police on the usual way to Mendiola–through C.M. Recto–so Legarda Street is often the alternative route (which also gets blocked, nonetheless).

Legarda

Legarda Street, Manila Legarda Street, Manila Legarda Street, Manila Legarda Street, Manila Legarda Street, Manila Legarda Street, Manila

To be continued. Click here for more pictures.

The woman is next

Youth protest, September 13 2007September 13, 2007. It was a day after former President Joseph Estrada was convicted of plunder. Groups of students from different schools in Metro Manila marched from Espana to Morayta and near Mendiola under the scorching heat of the sun to demand for greater state subsidy for education. snake rally at Palma HallPrior to the collective march, students from the University of the Philippines gathered at the lobby of Palma Hall in Diliman and held discussions and a program to continue calling for the junking of the Tuition and Other Fee Increases policy and to protest against the demolition of residential communities in UP, among other issues. After the program, the bulk of students held a snake rally through the halls of the building to invite students to join the march.

After bulking up in Palma Hall, we proceeded to Vinzons and boarded jeepneys to Espana. From Espana, we joined other students from other high schools and universities and marched towards Mendiola. When we were stalled by police in Morayta, we decided to talk with onlookers from Far Eastern University. We had interesting discussions with our fellow college students but not after a few minutes when some supervisor herded the FEU students away from us and scolded them for hanging outside their school, and for wearing slippers too. This is the first rally I joined where we laid on the scorching concrete of J. Figueras and held our fists up high. I didn’t have possession of my digital camera that day and the only shot I have is from my cellphone camera (second picture). The first picture is something I just appropriated off the League of Filipino Students website.

Youth mobilization to Mendiola

Militant youth march to Mendiola

July 7, 2007. Yesterday, hundreds of youths from different universities, colleges and high schools, including out-of-school youths from across Metro Manila, marched together to Mendiola to protest against an education system that has become increasingly inaccessible, and to protest against the impending implementation of an “Anti-Terrorism” law.

Militant youth march to Mendiola

We were, however, as usual, stopped on our way to Mendiola when we reached Morayta, just in front of the gate of Far Eastern University. When we tried to push forward, the police violently pushed us back.

Militant youth march to Mendiola

Eventually, the dust cleared and we went on with a program right on Morayta. While everything was at peace and negotiations were going on, the police, amusingly, engaged some of us in casual conversations, and vice-versa. Some were even sharing their drinks. It was an amusing sight. It felt as if they were simply role-playing, and it was their salaried duty to play the role of protecting a repressive status quo.

Militant youth march to Mendiola

Militant youth march to Mendiola

As we always do, after a few hours, we pulled out from Morayta and tried to circumvent the police barricade by taking the narrow streets of Sampaloc in a mad dash to Legarda. Unlike previous years, we were able to push on to as near as a few feet from Chino Roces bridge. A few steps from Mendiola. A few blocks from the country’s seat of power and corruption.

Militant youth march to Mendiola

Just behind the police barricade on Legarda were a few armed policemen. What a clear breach of rules and protocol during rallies. Law enforcers are restricted from carrying firearms within a certain distance from the bulk of people. There were also firetrucks, though there was obviously no breakout of fire within the area.

Militant youth march to Mendiola

There was this inspiring boy who spoke to everyone at the rally a little before we self-dispersed. He was so young and yet he spoke so eloquently and passionately about our issues as young Filipinos.

More pictures can be found at my Multiply site.

Sama-samang manindigan

February 22, 2007. Many of the STAND-UP candidates in the student council elections, including Mikas and I, went to the youth sector mobilization. It was a demonstration similar to the youth sector rally a few weeks ago. This rally was scheduled towards the end of February because it is during these times when school administrations across the country conduct ‘consultations’ regarding tuition hikes for the next academic year.

This time there were also more representatives from different schools and universities across Metro Manila from the University of the East in Manila and Caloocan, University of Santo Tomas, Far Eastern University, Centro Escolar University, University of the Philippines in Manila and Diliman, De La Salle Araneta University, Mapua Institute of Technology, Philippine Christian University, Philippine Normal University and Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

I am unsure how many UP Mass Comm students get to see this but that was obviously a small gesture of campaigning. Just as we’ve been harping in all our room to room campaigns, we do not view the issues and struggles in our college as isolated problems that we can solve by patchworking or by socialized tuition hikes. We view and try to solve them in relation with and as part of a larger education situation in the country.

Youth mobilization (III)

This youth mobilization was still part of the week-long series of events and demonstrations against the passing of the UP tuition increase. The mobilization as a whole, however, is a youth-wide rally against the government’s failure to stop unabated tuition hikes and the apparent state abandonment of the youth and education. There were contingents from various universities, colleges and high schools in Metro Manila. [View photos from the rally here].

We were supposed to march to Mendiola, but as expected, mercenaries were set up to block us and defend some fortress as if it was to be attacked.

Here’s a press release from Kabataan Party regarding today’s rally:

Students blame GMA over tuition hikes in UP, private schools
More college dropouts seen next semester

Students from the University of the Philippines (UP) and other state and private schools led by the Kabataan Partylist today stormed Mendiola to condemn the Arroyo government’s failure to stop unabated tuition hikes and the apparent state abandonment of the youth and education.

“The railroaded approval of the 300 percent tuition hike in UP and unabated increases in tuition and other fees in private schools presage a bad omen for the education sector that could trigger the worst education crisis in history,” Kabataan Partylist president Raymond Palatino said. “The disheartening stories of Julie Albior and Flores Biwang who were the topnotchers in the high school category of the National Achievement Test (NAT) last year remind us of the futility of government education programs. It also underscores the need to curb corruption in the government and misprioritization of the national budget.”

“Albior and Biwang represent the millions of poor but intelligent students who are forced to skip schooling because of rising cost of education and decreasing family incomes. They are the poignant examples of state abandonment of the youth and education.”

“With more preventive fees being charged both in private institutions and state schools, we fear that their numbers will double up this coming semester.”

Palatino put the blame on the Arroyo administration, saying current policies on education and government’s disregard allow private institutions to charge onerous and dubious fees on students and transform public schools to corporate entities. “Since 2001, the government encouraged the reduction of subsidies for public universities. This forced schools either to accept fewer students or to raise fees,” he said. “Parallel to annual cuts in state schools budgets, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) implemented a new tuition guideline in 2004 which allowed private schools to impose higher fees below the inflation rate without consulting the students,” he added.

Meanwhile, Palatino called on incumbent officials and aspiring politicians to translate their electoral agenda and promises to practice by supporting the students’ position for the UP Board of Regents to recall the approved tuition hike and impose a moratorium on tuition hikes this year to resolve hanging issues over the implementation of the new CHEd memorandum order no. 14 “This will be an opportunity for them to prove to us that they are really for the youth and they are running to defend and uphold the interest of young Filipinos, particularly for education.”

Youth mobilization (II)

I was standing on the sidewalk, reviewing the photos I’ve taken when a guy called out my name. It was Mong Palatino of Mongster’s Nest. I’ve been an avid follower of his blog for some time now and it was pretty cool to see him in the flesh for the first time.

Kabataan PartyHe was UP Diliman’s university student council chairperson a few years back (I forget exactly when), and he’s currently Kabataan Party‘s national chairperson and its primary nominee to Congress on the May 2007 “midterm elections.”

Youth Mobilization (I)

We’ve been walking for almost half an hour. I was so thirsty, I left the mob for a while and decided to enter a convenience store along Morayta. I stood beside a policeman while at the counter. He was looking suspiciously at me. Then another policeman came. It’s not that I got scared. It’s just awkward that they looked at me that suspiciously. It’s not as if I looked like I was about to wreak havoc. I walked out of the store immediately after paying for my bottled water.

“We serve and protect,” they say. Serve and protect who, really? The military and police, of course have always been used and always been instrumental in maintaining elite rule and our country’s tragic status quo.

On a personally interesting note, I am the grandson of a policeman. He was one of Cavite’s chiefs of police during the years when the province was known for its political warlords and political bloodshed. [View photos from the rally here]