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.

Labor Day in Manila 2012

This is the Power I referred to earlier – a living, communal constellation of complex, intelligent, fair-minded civic interests most days rendered indecipherable and at times inaccessible by mass media’s atomizing officiating of hegemony passed off as reality. As if only mobilization and manifestation of struggle were, for the moment at least, really capable of displacing the reactionary capture and expropriation of peoples’ collective will. – Jonathan Beller, Labor Day Manifestation

An estimated 20,000 Filipinos trooped to the streets of Manila on Labor Day to demand a nationwide wage hike and to protest against government inaction on massive unemployment and poverty. Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines
Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines
Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

On the laziness of many poor Filipinos

April 19, 2012. There is this prevalent and misguided notion among several sectors of the ‘educated class’ that the cause of a person’s or a family’s poverty and want is a function of one’s lack of “diskarte” as they call it, or even more insulting, a function of one’s indolence (echoing Spanish colonial friars), or worse, a function of the number of children in the family.

If that were the case, then they should agree with the idea that the primary solution, then, to the persistent poverty that cripples majority of Filipinos is a nationwide psychological self-help and motivation seminar and the mass castration and ligation of couples nationwide. But clearly, that is absurd as it is naive.

Poor millions of Filipinos are but lazy they are certainly not. They are neither a class of irresponsible offspring-makers as some insultingly try to portray them to be. God knows how many Filipinos work tirelessly in the fields and in the factories and workplaces in the country and overseas from sun-up to sundown and yet their lives do not improve. (For if you are looking for the laziest people in the planet, you need not look further than the corner offices of men and women who take no part in production but acquire the wealth of collective labor). Certainly, the hand to mouth existence of millions is not a mere consequence of individualized and separate circumstances of their God-forsaken lives, as some religious conservatives insist (and thus the solution is simply–prayer). The poverty of any one Filipino family is a condition that they share with millions of others across the archipelago, not because of some common trait of indolence or libido, but because we are all subject to the same political and economic rules of the status quo. Indeed, larger political and economic forces are behind their shared misery.

So, to my idealistic friends, who remain hopeful but misguided by the onslaught of a cacophony of bourgeois solutions to poverty: perpetual charity work, seminars, scholarship drives, outreach missions, “fun runs” just won’t do. The challenge is to unite with the different sectors of society to collectively confront the political and economic roots of this centuries-long calamity.

LINKS:
* Charity is a virtue?

On Squatters

Nakiusap ang mga nanay ng Corazon de Jesus na makabalik sila sa kanilang sinisira nang mga tahanan para maisalba ang natitira nilang mga gamit. Pero pinipigilan sila ng mga pulis. (photo and caption by KR Guda of PinoyWeekly.org)

January 12, 2012. There is something particularly bothersome with the condescending arrogance displayed by some people with regard the issue of the urban poor and their problem on housing. Relying on pure legalese, they forward an overly simplified position that since “squatters” do not own the land where their shanties are built on, they deserve to be evicted–by force–using the entire arsenal of the state to protect the property rights of the owners.

These people fail to recognize the social context of the problem. A fourth of Metro Manila, a staggering 584,425 families according to the National Housing Authority, are informal settlers. When the problem affects a significant portion of the population it ceases from becoming a purely legal problem of property rights and land ownership. It becomes a tragic social phenomenon, in much the same way as peasant landlessness is, and thus calls for fundamental political and economic solutions like agrarian land reform. It is a social phenomenon because it finds its roots in political and economic forces that compel hundreds of thousands of Filipino families to move to urban centers and “squat” on idle lands.

If you think squatters are not entitled to live in their homes, you might as well ask for the eviction of a fourth of Metro Manila for squatting on idle lands. Wow. If you don’t realize it, many of Manila’s laborers come form the urban poor. They do everything from cooking and serving your food, doing your laundry, and ironically–building your homes. You might as well ask for the paralysis of economic activity in the national capital.

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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.

Students walk out of classes vs. charter change

As much as I wanted to join the walk-out, I was apprehensive about missing my one class that afternoon. Excessive absences was, after all, a contributory reason as to why I had bad grades last semester. I was supposed to just pass by the AS Lobby and deliver a solidarity speech before going to class in Malcolm Hall.

When I got to the historic lobby, however, the entire hall was full of students in red shirts. A lot of them were new faces, freshmen perhaps. It’s a sight I’m honestly not used to seeing during regular mobilizations in UP. And it was enough to agitate me to join. Unfortunately, it was one of those days when I forget to bring my camera. I’ve lost the habit of always tagging it along with me wherever I go. In any case, posted below are pictures and a video coverage done by Bulatlat. There’s also a slide show of photos, at their site.

Here are photos from the simultaneous mobilization in Baguio, where hundreds of students also walked out of classes to protest against Gloria Arroyo’s charter change attempt. Photos by Ak Riva. Student groups from Cebu and Davao also participated in the nationwide protest action of the youth.

Perhaps it’s been said over and over again–Gloria Arroyo’s charter change does not address the plethora of problems that confront the youth. It does not provide a solution to the rising cost of education in the country, nor does it provide solutions to the crises that besiege not only the youth but different sectors of Philippine society. It even worsens the present conditions by intensifying the policies that have made the lives of Filipinos worse over the past decade, and, as I’ve mentioned, it only further intensifies the local and foreign exploitation of our national industries and our natural resources.

For me these are stronger reasons for us to reject, not only the current attempt at charter change, but any future proposals to liberalize the economic provisions of our constitution. I’m sure, even if we do have new leaders by next year, extraneous political forces will continue to lobby for these changes. Sure, we want Arroyo out by 2010, we want to select new leaders perhaps. But more to the desire to have an elections by 2010, we should also strive to preserve our sovereignty and dignity as a people.

Youth Action Day & the 148th anniversary of Jose Rizal’s birth

Kabataan Party-list commemorated last June 19, 2009 the 148th birth anniversary of national hero Jose Rizal and its founding anniversary with a Youth Action Day against the convening of a constituent assembly and charter change.

148th Rizal Birth Anniversary (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09)

The Youth Action Day kicked off with a Morning Jog against Cha-Cha at 8:00 in the morning around Rizal Park. After which, youth and student leaders led by Kabataan Party-list Mong Palatino went back to the Rizal Monument to offer a wreath symbolizing the youth’s respect and honor for the national hero.

Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09)

In the main program held in Luneta, Palatino said that “Rizal should be honored for his patriotism and nationalism and today’s youth should all be made aware of the lessons he bequeathed upon us.”

Palatino said, “It was Rizal who said that “˜There can be no tyrants where there are no slaves.’ His words ring true today when our youth and people are being confronted with attempts to discard democracy and wield a modern-day dictatorship. It is just fitting that we commemorate Rizal Day with the youth’s resounding call against Arroyo’s cha-cha and tyranny.”

Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09)

Students from different schools in Metro Manila were in attendance. National youth groups such as the National Union of Students of the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, League of Filipino Students, Anakbayan, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, and Kristiyanong Kabataan para sa Bayan were also present. Youth and student leaders capped the program with a Youth Pledge and collective signing of a petition campaign spearheaded by alliance Kabataan Kontra Cha-Cha.

Anti-ConAss Noise Barrage at Katipunan Anti-ConAss Noise Barrage at Katipunan (Jun. 19, '09) Anti-ConAss Noise Barrage at Katipunan (Jun. 19, '09) Anti-ConAss Noise Barrage at Katipunan (Jun. 19, '09) Anti-ConAss Noise Barrage at Katipunan (Jun. 19, '09) Anti-ConAss Noise Barrage at Katipunan (Jun. 19, '09)

In the afternoon, students from the University of the Philippines – Diliman held a noise barrage along Katipunan Avenue to protest against Con-Ass and Charter Change.

Anti-ConAss rallies in Makati and UP Diliman

Right after lunch time, students, teachers and other members of the University of the Philippines community in Diliman gathered at Quezon Hall to hold a short program and a press conference to condemn the moves of President Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives to convene itself into a Constituent Assembly (ConAss) to amend the 1987 Constitution.

ConAss is not what the country needs. Charter change will not address the youth’s problems with regard to education and job opportunities. We cannot allow this move to push through, seeing it as an initial step in a political scheme to prolong the Arroyo administration’s hold on power. We have witnessed how Arroyo and her allies have betrayed the aspirations of the youth and the rest of the Filipino people for a better government and a better life, and we must reject any move that is simply meant to prolong our agony.

Wala tayong maaasahang pagbabago habang nandiyan si Gloria Arroyo. Either we oust her soon or we boot her and her allies out of office through the 2010 elections.

Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09)

After the program at Quezon Hall, the UP Diliman contingent marched along University Avenue to Philcoa where groups of students and teachers boarded buses and jeepneys to go to the large rally at Makati. I was with my friends from the incoming University Student Council and my blockmates in Law.

Upon reaching Ayala, we walked towards the intersection of Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Avenues where thousands of protesters converged for the rally. Several representatives from political groups, including opposition politicians spoke against ConAss. Several bands also played music as an expression of outrage against ConAss. Students from different universities, and out of school youths broke into discussion groups and turned Paseo de Roxas into a large classroom discussing the socio-political situation of the country. The rally ended promptly at eight in the evening.

Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09)

On internet activism and protests

You’re a famous blogger, and you frequently write about your advocacies in your blog and in social networking sites. Some people, particularly “moderates,” look at the Internet as their preferred mode of activism (sometimes only mode), and shun out street protests. Why do you continue to take to the streets despite already having other venues for protest?

The Internet is a potent and alternative tool for campaigns and advocacies, no doubt, especially among the youth.

We have to remember, however, that majority of Filipinos still do not have access to the world wide web. Ordinary minimum-wage earners, farmers, out-of-school youth, even many among the middle class are not Internet users. We cannot win any nationwide campaign or struggle without them.

Long-lasting social change is not possible without the fundamental and primary participation of the masses. The Internet is not the medium to engage them in, and whenever we try to achieve fundamental changes in government and society, we cannot rely on the Internet alone. It’s naivete to believe that changes can be won on the electronic front.

Street protests are among the most accommodating and reliable forms of protests. It does not exclude anyone from participating. It accommodates anyone regardless of computer literacy, economic or social stature.

History has also proven its potency in advancing the struggle of citizens for changes and reforms around the world. There’s nothing wrong when ordinary university students use the Internet as a venue of protest, and I personally don’t take that against anyone. But, we have to be conscious that it is not the only mode of expressing support for an advocacy or expressing dissent against government policies and actions. There are times, like today, when more is demanded from us, and we cannot afford to be complacent with the kinds of actions we are willing to take.

Different kind of virus to spread on June 10

Solon urges students to transform Ayala into “˜one giant classroom’

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Mong Palatino today said that classes may have been suspended due to precautions over the AHN1 virus but a different kind of virus is spreading among youth and students. “Precautionary measures over the AHN1 have caused the delay of the start of classes in colleges and universities this Monday but a more contagious virus is spreading among our youth and students today. It is the A-CA virus, the anti-constituent assembly virus, and more and more are being afflicted and there’s nothing we could do to stop it,” Palatino said.

Palatino said that youth and students have all the reasons to be outraged over the blatant railroading of the con-ass resolution by administration allies in Congress. “We simply cannot allow con-ass to push through. The Arroyos and their allies can bribe or utilize government agencies all they want but they will be defeated by the defiance and collective action of our youth and our people. The only way to stop this atrocity is to go out and protest,” Palatino said.

Palatino also called on students to make good use of the unexpected vacation from school and join the Ayala protest on June 10. “Let us transform Ayala into one giant classroom. Walang klase pero doon tayo magklase sa lansangan. June 10 will be more educational and informative of the country’s current political state than all our lectures in school combined,” said Palatino. Palatino also called on school administrations that are against con-ass and charter change to encourage their students to join the June 10 protest.