Hopping over to LB

A few days ago, I went to UP Los Banos to attend a forum sponsored by a Buklod-UPLB, a student political alliance in campus. I found it odd at first because Buklod, is a “blue” party (which in terms of the spectrum of campus politics, is on the other side of the fence from where I stand), contesting student council seats from our colleagues in the militant Sakbayan.

Nevertheless, I told them that appreciated that they invited someone like me, all the way from UP Diliman, to share my views, however different it may be from theirs.

The forum was about the 2010 elections and the youth’s participation in it. I was one of four panelists, others were from the Liberal Party (represented by ex-Congressman Neric Acosta), a media organization (I don’t remember which one exactly), and YouthVote Philippines.

What I said was nothing you wouldn’t have expected me to say. Among others, I said that all the hype about the youth participation in the 2010 elections is well and good. However, I stressed out that the youth’s participation goes well beyond 2010 and the elections. I encouraged everyone to sustain the heightened enthusiasm in participating in the elections and use it as the drive to participate in more democratic exercises in their school, in their communities, with other sectors of society, into the streets or wherever their passion drives them to. We cannot rely on the elections alone as the only means for effecting social change in a country plagued by systemic economic and class exploitation, especially because the elections is largely dominated by those who thrive on that kind of order.

I forget what the other speakers said. I think they all said the same thing, drumming up the same slogan of youth participation in the elections. Which is all well and good, as I’ve said.

Anyway, after the forum, I spent the rest of the day till much later into the night with my fraternity brods and our sorority sisters in Los Banos. It was actually just my third time in UPLB (the other two being just a grade school and a high school field trip to the botanical garden), and my first time to meet met most of my batchmates in Los Banos. This time I also got to go around the campus itself and the different places outside the gates. Needless to say, I had a great time and I’m looking forward to my next visit, hopefully a longer one. Soon.

“Isang Milyon, Isang Panata” Launch

Isang Milyon, Isang Panata Launch Isang Milyon, Isang Panata Launch

With two months left before the Commission on Elections ends the continuing registration for new voters for the 2010 elections, and with only less than one million registrants out of the target five million new voters, Kabataan Partylist and the National Union of Students of the Philippines launched last Thursday, August 20, the Isang Milyon, Isang Panata campaign to rally and encourage the youth to participate in the upcoming elections. The program was held at a conference room in Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. Student representatives from different schools around Manila were present.

We will prove our generation’s political power by gathering one million youths in realizing one united pledge. By going out to register and vote in large numbers, we will steer our government in a new direction, the direction of change. Let us join thousands of others youths nationwide. Let us target for 1,000 in every town to reach a million new registrants by the deadline on October 31, 2009. Our responsibility is not only to individually register but to encourage other youths like us to do so as well. Isang milyong kabataang magpaparehistro. Isang panatang bumoto para sa pagbabago.

Isang Milyon, Isang Panata Launch Isang Milyon, Isang Panata Launch

That afternoon, I went to UP Diliman, to attend an alternative class (ACLE) sponsored by UP STPA (Samahan Tungo sa Progresibong Administrasyon), as a resource person/speaker. The forum was also about the youth’s participation in the upcoming elections. I learned later on that it was one of only a handful of other organizations’ alternative classes that tackled the topic of the youth and the elections.

It is great to see an increasing enthusiasm with regards the democratic exercise of elections. Again, we have two months left, and millions of fellow young people and other Filipinos who remain unregistered. Let’s start seriously encouraging our classmates and other members of our community to register and participate.

Let us also call on the COMELEC to extend the registration period this early on. How can they expect to register 5 million Filipinos with this kind of process–they limit registrants to a few hundreds per day per district, frustrating thousands of enthusiastic first-time voters from registering.

“Ako si Ninoy” musical

Last Friday night, I went with some fraternity brothers to the Ayala Museum in Makati to see a special staging of “Ako si Ninoy,” a musical performed by the Philippine Stagers Foundation. It is, as its title suggests, a stage play about the late Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., and how his heroism is reflected in the lives of several individuals in the present time–a school teacher, a teen actor, a farmer activist, a labor union organizer, and a migrant worker.

It is no secret that I have issues with some I-am-change campaigns for its condonation of simplistic neutral daily activities of individuals as heroic enough to effect change. I was afraid that this stage play might carry the same message.

Fortunately, for the most part, it doesn’t. The very fact that it portrayed individuals who fought and struggled for what was just and right in their school, in the factory, in the streets, overseas, and even in the entertainment industry, is a manifestation that it takes courage, determination, and action to effect change in one’s family, community and society.

The play has catchy song numbers, and romantic subplots, and is thus largely targeted towards an audience of young people. It is hoped that this play would inspire young individuals to realize their potential to effect change in their communities, not simply by doing what is expected, but by, like Ninoy Aquino, being brave enough to take action to fight for what they believe is right.

“Ako si Ninoy” will have a grand gala presentation at the Meralco Theater on August 14, 2009, and will be on tour around schools, universities and malls for the rest of the year.

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.

June 19 Rizal Birth Anniversary, Youth Action Day

On June 19, the nation would be commemorating the 148th birth anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal. It was Rizal who coined the popular notion, ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.

Indeed, on the youth, with their unbridled idealism, aspirations and enthusiasm, can rest any people’s hope and desire for social change.

June 19 is also the founding anniversary of Kabataan Party, currently the only party-list representing the youth sector in the House of Representatives, with advocacies and campaigns inside and outside the halls of Batasan.

On Friday, there will be a whole-day festival of activities to showcase youth unity for change, starting off with “Morning Jog vs. ConAss” at 6 in the morning from Baywalk towards the Manila City Hall where first time voters will collectively register to be able to vote in the 2010 national elections. After the run, a youth mobilization will be held from 10 AM to 12 PM at Luneta, from where participants will embark on a march-parade around schools along Taft and Intramuros. Participants will then converge in front of the Commission on Elections by 2 PM for a closing program to call for clean and honest elections in 2010. A youth concert will also be held at 6:00 in the afternoon in Quezon City. See you all there!

Kabataan, tayo and pagbabago!

Message of Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino to the Filipino youth on the historical event of seating the first youth representative in Congress

Five years in the making for the country’s sole youth sectoral party-list, but better late than never and victory is still sweet for all Filipino youth. Kabataan Party-list, the largest youth party in the country, represented the youth sector in the 2007 elections.

It was the second time for our organization to run in the party-list elections. In 2004, we ran under our previous name, Anak ng Bayan, and were among the top choices for party-list based on pre-election surveys. Anak ng Bayan, however, fell prey to massive cheating. A significant number of our votes were anomalously counted in favor of another party-list group, thus our change of name in the 2007 party-list elections.

Despite not winning, we went on with our advocacies and continued to carry on with our principles and general program of action with the help of our founding organizations, such as the National Union of Students of the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, League of Filipino Students and Anakbayan and other supporters nationwide and abroad.

Now, five years after our first electoral bid, Kabataan Party-list has finally secured a seat in the House of Representatives per SC GR No. 179271, promulgated April 29, 2009. Now, we are happy to convey the message to all Filipino youth that the SC Resolution, in effect, has once again marked the youth’s rightful place in history by granting the first ever youth sectoral representation in the House of Representatives.

This is truly a historical event and we share this resounding victory to all Filipino youth who voted for and supported Kabataan Party-list. We are overwhelmed but more than ready to take on the task and challenge of being the sole voice of the youth in Congress.

We are youth from different walks of life. We have long-ago advocated for the youth to devote its intellect, energy and courage to building a better society devoid of corruption, inequality and social injustice. We are youth that foster active participation in nation-building, good governance and change. In this junction in history in light of our recent victory, we, the youth, are change. Kabataan, tayo ang pagbabago. Continue reading

Kabataan seats first youth-sector Representative in Congress

Late yesterday afternoon, I came to Vinzons Hall to a cheerful crowd of colleagues from STAND-UP and other mass organizations who jubilantly announced to me that we now have a youth-sector representative in Congress in the person of Raymond “Mong” Palatino under the Kabataan Party (Youth Party) which ran in the 2007 elections.

Mong, aside from being a notable blogger, was the Chairperson of the UP Diliman University Student Council in 2000. Due to a now-defunct Supreme Court formula for seat-allocations in Congress, Kabataan Party was not able to seat Mong, who was our first nominee despite garnering more than 220,000 votes.

The said formula has recently been overturned by a Supreme Court decision in the case of BANAT vs. COMELEC (G.R. 179271) which effectively grants 32 other partylist nominees their right to sit as Representatives in Congress.

Kabataan Party list

This ruling, however, also means that a handful of other Arroyo-supported party-lists will gain seats in an already Administration-controlled chamber. Unfortunately, one such new Congressman would be Gen. Jovito Palparan under the BANTAY party, who has been widely accused for masterminding many of the extra-judicial assassinations of members and volunteers of progressive organizations and parties such as Bayan Muna.

Nevertheless, our seating the first youth-sector representative in Congress is still an opportunity for us to advance the youth’s agenda in the House of Representatives, and together with other progressive parties such as Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela, who have themselves gained additional seats, we shall continue to uphold the nationalist and democratic interests of the people through politics of change and collective action. Mabuhay ang kabataang Pilipino!

Kabataang Pinoy, Tayo ang Pagbabago!

Kabataang Pinoy aspires for a Filipino youth that devotes its intellect, energy and courage to building a better future.

Kabataang Pinoy envisions a new society devoid of corruption, inequality and social injustice.

Kabataang Pinoy encourages the youth to work collectively with other sectors to build a bright future. It upholds, promotes and defends the interest of the youth to be able to harness its fullest potential as a sector. It works to unite the Filipino youth to campaign for social, political, economic, cultural and environmental justice in the Philippines, and enjoins youth from all walks of life to foster active participation in good governance, nation-building, and social change.

PROGRAM OF ACTION

  1. Empower the youth to take on active participation in good governance, nation-building and social change.
  2. Uphold the youth’s fundamental rights and democratic interests such as accessible education, decent employment and job security, accessible health care, environment, sports, among others.
  3. Assert the youth’s right to decent living, equal opportunities and humane living conditions.
  4. Assert and safeguard national independence, respect for national patrimony, love and loyalty to the country.
  5. Guarantee the participation and representation of the youth in all affairs governance and decision-making bodies of government.

The youth and the unpopular President

July 18, 2008. It was probably the largest anti-Arroyo youth mobilization I’ve been to. Thousands of students from dozens of high schools, colleges and universities in Metro Manila, including several hundreds from UP Diliman, converged at Plaza Miranda and marched together towards Mendiola to air the youth’s collective and justified grievances against the Arroyo administration.

My day started mildly with an interview together with Airah at the Office of Student Affairs as a requirement for recognition of STAND-UP. Then we went back to Math Building to speak with students who have themselves walked out, and invited them to join the protest at Palma Hall and at Mendiola.

Before noon, dozens of students marched from the Math Building and the National Institute of Geological Sciences Building to join the hundreds of other students at Palma Hall lobby for a brief program before we all boarded jeepneys to Espana, Manila.

From Espana, the UP Diliman contingent were joined by hundreds of students from nearby high schools and colleges, and students from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). Together, we marched along Quezon Boulevard, amidst some cheers and confetti from pedestrians and residents along the road, all the way to Plaza Miranda where the main program of the protest was held.

For around two hours we all chanted and listened to impassioned speeches from representatives of schools and universities, even from the largely affluent Ateneo de Manila, to sectoral representatives from Bayan Muna, Kabataang Pinoy Party and other mass organizations.

At half past four, we all started to march in thousands to Mendiola.

By the time we all got to Morayta in front of Far Eastern University (FEU), the police unleashed their fire truck water canons and tried to disperse the thousands-strong warm bodies by pushing us back. It was agitating. It was the first time I volunteered to to join the front-liners to break through the police barricade. I’ve never felt so angry and agitated in a rally before.

As we were linking arms, pushing and shoving against the policemen who were pushing us back, I wanted to burst and scream. All we had were our unarmed selves, our principles and our justified calls. And to that, the Arroyo administration answers back, not with long-term and genuine pro-people solutions, but intensified forms of repression and military intelligence operations against the youth in campuses across the country. I’ve never felt more resolved in my involvement in the youth movement. (Fine, to appease those who fear I might default on my studies, I’ve never been more resolved in pursuing law studies having realized how this administration has continually used the legal system and its technicalities to oppress and repress dissent, and maintain its hold on to power. I’ve never been more resolved realizing that the high cost of law studies, even in UP, has made it even more exclusive to those who can afford it, and are fortunate enough to have connections, to the detriment of people who need legal education the most).

Agitated as we were, we decided to march back towards Espana and held a noise barrage amidst cheers from motorists and pedestrians. We were joined by contingents from COURAGE and MIGRANTE. This President is a dead duck after 2010. If you still believe she will willfully hand over the administration to the next leader, you better think again. To survive beyond 2010 and all the cases that will definitely come her way, this President will simply not step down, unless it is certain the next administration will protect her. Such she knows we will not allow either in the next elections, (if there will be a national election two years from now).

Pinning our hopes on genuine change in 2010 is almost plain naivete. And while she and her family spends our money, amassing billions of pesos from her family’s monopoly on government contracts and other such kickbacks, millions of Filipinos continue to fall below the poverty line amidst a worsening economic crises that has affected and has cut through all classes and sectors in society (except her family and cohorts, of course). Kabataan, hindi na tayo pag-asa ng bayan. Inaasahan na tayo ng sambayanan. [Pictures from Jonna Baldres]