To self-proclaimed activists and why you’re NOT an aktibista at all

Because I need to reimprint that Walkout in my history, in this blog, in your mind. But forgive me, for my fragments, my coining of words, which is often unforgivable, and my assumption that I am being read by thousands.


A lot have already given their two-cents worth with the July 19 hype, yet the piggy bank of knowledge and clarity does not seem full yet. There are clichés that only need to be mentioned here in passing: “education is a right, not a privilege.” “The students should stand up and fight for their right, with or without the leadership of the Student Council.” That second one, with the modification, or addition, does not seem to be a cliché at all, precisely because it does not happen often – the Student Council not leading the mobilization of students. Yes, respect should be given on our differences and efforts should be made to clean them up. We suffer from the same wounds, and no one can patch up the sores but us. And we don’t patch things up by squabbling with each other and beckoning supremacy. But perhaps the “smart ones” will come up with statements of their own, stash in their own “two cents worth.” And they can only either make more mess out of this, or learn from their recent failures. So let me move on.

The walk-out, the hype of July 19 that was precisely JUST a hype because it ended that day, I was there and it made me think. That should be a good start, make the people aware of the issues and make them think too. But no, other things happened. July 20 was back to normal, back to the boredom of hours and the cycle of the seemingly unavoidable temptation of cutting classes and attending to life’s drama. No one has remembered the essence of the walk-out: education, our rights, the need to struggle for them. Facebook statuses went back to normalcy: pseudo-activism is gone, thankfully, and returned to the “mahal na mahal ko talaga siya” cheapness. And no one has wallowed on the filth that the same walk-out has showed either: the shortcomings of student organizing, and hence, the shortcomings of student mobilizations as well in general.

That was a fun, fun day, the walk-out of 19. I am trying to put my tongue out of my cheek and tell myself I was being sincere there. The walk-out was fun, braving the rains for the fight for education was fun, shouting in the streets was fun. But no, you see, there were waves last year, I don’t know the exact number but that was a legion compared to last Tuesday. And what happened after is still another story. The number is only the tip of the story, and a thousand of UPians in the streets does not exactly mean great triumph. I joined both walk-out, believing in the cause, believing in what it can achieve, roughly believing in what it can achieve, in its cause. I know this is for my right, this is for our right to education, but people should know better than that. What exactly is happening? Why is this happening? Why is there a need to walk-out of classes? Why should I walk-out of my class with my favorite teacher and favorite subject? Does not that contradict the supposed cause for education of the walk-out?

You see, we have questions here and no one seems to be interested in answering them with firmness and not arrogance, with wit and poise, and not mere noise. So thanks to that rhyme. We have questions here because we deal with each other, and we are thinking individuals, and we are different. We think differently, and I have questions for you and I want you to clarify things for me so I will join. Rhetorics are garbage and your doctrines, statements which you spew robotically, and automatically, because you have swallowed and tasted them so well, they won’t work to me. We have different palates too. And so I ask for some engagement. Don’t just invite me to join the walk-out, and tell me “lumahok sa paglaban sa karapatan.” Discuss me the hows and whys.  I am not closing myself on your view of things, but I might do that as well when all I can see are vaunted, self-proclaimed “activists” basking in the glory of the noonlight and refusing to reach on the level of the “masses” they are supposed to educate and engage with.

It was fun after all. Insights can be gleaned and those who climb on their towers, they might rethink about the idea behind the tower. Those who proclaim greater enlightenment should not impose their light, we operate on different hues, remember? And in the intensifying battle of lights and perspectives, lazy and blunt antagonisms and impositions would definitely not work. Engagement, my friends. And don’t get stuck in your filthy comfort zones of delusive activism and coolness. That only results to epic fail of an action and an “illusion” of a one-time, big-time success. (that hurts twice: the success being one-time, big-time, and that one-time, big-time success altogether, being merely an illusion).



A better cliche

Because poetry is best when it is tragic, I strongly believe. We are tragic, our place is tragic, that’s  a fact. Let me make this enumeration of cliches, although clichés are not really outdated, or inaccurate, its truthfulness gone because of overmention: people scavenging the nearest garbage to find anything edible, mothers breastfeeding, attending to six other kids, all of which are hers, while worrying about three others who are yet to return home after selling yosi and candies in the metro’s busiest streets, pickpockets awaiting the next swanky but helpless victim, the list goes on, we can all agree. And poetry is most beautiful when it plays around this tragedy common to all of us.

But other tragedies, much more little tragedies, they are too tempting to most of the time that we attend to them first: the lack of someone who can spend dawns of forgetfulness of the world with you, a loved one’s serious illness, a doubtable gesture by a close friend. The list can go on because all of us have this fierce struggle with our personal dramas. And so most of the time as well, we reserve our tragic poems for our own tragedies, hardly offering them to the much bigger, much important tragedies that define our experiences.

That is the dilemma beleaguering me now, harassing my poetry with an acuteness I’m trying to conceal to myself. I am basking at my own tragedy, turning it into a sincere inspiration for my poetry. Hence, making me less likely to write verses of mourning and with stern calls of action for the direness of our people’s tragedies.

You see, tragedy is truly better. A rephrase would be: hell is better than heaven.

Heaven, with all its promises, false or not, of beatitude, contentment and happiness, is boring, even debilitating, incapacitating. Would not paradise invite inaction? If heaven is beautiful and perfect, what else will I do but savor it and indulge myself in it? Whereas hell, with its utter ugliness, its unfailing promise of difficulty, always ask from us some action, some effort to constantly ensure that we don’t get eaten alive. Tragedy makes us think of and work towards something better, a better presence, a better condition. Thus, it requires us, by merely existing, to move, to do something, to grapple with our current difficulties and extinguish them.

And I thought of reworking this, or finishing this, polishing its roughness, but I was too tempted with Empi. My housemate has this cutely tragic way of abbreviating things.

Sorry moving cursor, I breathe and write and kill and “am”

But what is the moving cursor telling me? “Hey, young ideologue, planning to write something pretentious again, something escapist again? Why don’t you confront everything that you are writing about? Why don’t you just eat with the beggars in Session road? Why don’t you just plant with the farmers? Why don’t you just rally with the people clamoring for higher wages like they were clamoring against death? Why don’t you just approach the hundreds which you claim to be blinded by a “false consciousness?” Are you yet another on-the-surface Marxist?

Hey, hey cursor, easy on your accusations, easy on your prejudgments. Can I defend myself first from your rather reckless proclamations? But it feels… ahm what, quite delightful to hear what you just labeled me, a young ideologue. I know you won’t have any other option but to agree that we are in a muck. You implied it yourself in your spate of questions/bombardments of accusations: beggars in Session, higher wages against starvation and death, people acting like zombies not knowing that every Bieber cd is more dollars for big-time American corporations. And what do we cling onto in these times of lived hell but ideologies. A young ideology, a young ideologue clinging onto the most optimistic of all, these times are changing and I will be part of this movement for change. But this is not a young ideology after all. This ideology is almost as old as the problem that it seeks to transcend

, it seeks to end and transcend. This is an ideology that clings not onto false hopes or the most cherished illusions, this is an ideology that is crafted and honed through the ever-talking temper of times, the ever-warring voices of times. This is an ideology that has been crafted and honed through constant revisionings, recuperations, requalifications. And as times change, as rates of exploitations rise with the assiduous mountain-climbers and heaven-seekers, as jobs are given to white collars and decent payments are deprived of the uneducated and the submissive, as machines replace humans and humans begin to imitate American accents, the need for the sustenance and reevaluation of this ideology continues. And most important of all, the need to advance what this ideology is calling for only gets more urgent and borders on the life-and-death scenario.

This is more about academic battles and publication glories, this is now about the life and death of the people.

And what is pretentious about this, can I retort? What is escapist about writing the pain which is only partially expressed in the writhing of farmers or SM employees after a day’s work? What is escapist about writing the trickeries set-up by so-called intellectual wordplays and the undertones of seemingly beautiful terms like “liberalism” and a “free-market?”

Perhaps it is escapist in the sense that it does less of a confrontation with the things it tackles. It merely writes, not exactly negotiates; it merely slanders, not terminates. But what else it is doing but shatters the myth of the neutrality of words. And in converse, bestowing upon them a certain power that only few will ever recognize. Battles exist not only in the fields or through ammunitions but in the text as well, through words and rhetoric. “The struggle over the sign,” thank you Bakhtin. So is this not confrontation? Perhaps it is a shyer confrontation but it is. A midget is also a man, and if you insist it is not, oh no, you are well too governed by words again. And I guess I must conclude that that is a sadness, being well-governed by words and eventually, well-controlled not to act against, ahm, the governor that uses not only guns and bullets, but also social institutions (hence, hardly violable) and words and music and film to eternalize its rule on us.

The power we are up against is too powerful. And if with words alone we lose, I don’t know how else we can break out.