The young guards of September 21st

Students take the opportunity to discuss about the current national situation. (Photo by Vinz Simon/Bulatlat)

The mobilization provided the exact opportunity to gain perspective and learn about society for among its ranks are national minorities, workers, migrant Filipinos, and delegates from Southern Tagalog, Bicol, and Central Luzon among others. Study circles were an integral part of the mobilization and as soon as the program on the stage started, the youth were quick to settle down to conduct discussions that define fascism and outline the present political situation.

By VINZ SIMON
Bulatlat.com

Who would remember? Who would care?

These are distant questions as young men and women, students, young professionals and workers, veterans of decades of struggle, and activists from every imaginable sector of society marched together last September 21st.

The beauty of the Marcos Martial Law anniversary mobilization is in the solidarity, the union between the multitudes of organizations and varied demographics to tell Duterte that his looming dictatorship has met the resistance of the people.

Prominent in the crowd were millennials and many younger Filipinos who are decades removed from experiencing Martial Law first hand, but are equally determined as their predecessors in fighting tyranny.

And there is much to fight. Duterte’s long list of transgressions against Filipinos include the relentless but ineffective drug war, the crackdown against dissent and activism, and the lethal Martial Law in Mindanao. As President, Duterte has also taken his presidency to the task of consolidating his political power and those of his allies: Marcoses and the former president turned House Speaker Arroyo. Ensuring his grip on the government, Duterte’s supermajority in the House of Representatives ensures the legislation his priority laws, while the pliable new Chief Justice, Teresita de Castro, takes the place of the more independent Justice Sereno.

Duterte’s craving for power has also undermined the institutions of his own government by populating his communications office with the likes of Mocha Uson and Drew Olivar, while the Department of Foreign Affairs is manned by the compromising Alan Cayetano. The Commission on Audit has recently been under fire as well for disclosing discrepancies in the accounts and projects of Imee Marcos as governor of Ilocos Norte.

Such developments have not escaped the public, and certainly not the youth, as the confidence and satisfaction towards Duterte’s government crumbles. The “woke” and organized youth of today is the reliable ally of the beleaguered workers and peasants. It’s no surprise then that the commemorative mobilization on September 21 drew participants that break the common perception of who should be activists.

For example, Kim Pabalate, a Grade 12 humanities and social sciences student from STI College is among the participants of the Marcos Martial Law anniversary action. Bespectacled and garbed in loose, comfortable clothing common among the young, it is Kim’s first time to attend a major protest. As a member of Anakbayan, Kim shares that she was compelled to join the protest to fulfill a personal conviction to prevent the return of martial rule in the country.

When asked if she considers her individual participation important in a collective exercise of politics, she remarks in Filipino, “I also believe that everyone is important in creating a strong force against the exploitative classes.”

Members of Anakbayan join the United People’s Action Against Tyranny, Sept. 21.

Kim shares the sentiments of the thousands of young people who walked out to the streets on September 21st. Of the protest itself, the STI senior high relates that the atmosphere exudes a feeling of unity and determination which in turn empowers her to participate in the struggle begun by her predecessors in activism.

The 18-year-old is also keen to the capacity of the youth to shape society. With about a third of the population considered as the youth, Kim remarks that her generation is faced with a choice to serve the people, and champion their rights and interests or stay mum on issues of immense social import and perpetuate abuse and exploitation. Adding that, “age is not determinant to our perspective and position towards politics, because what’s important is our correct and sufficient knowledge on the true state of our society.”

The mobilization provided the exact opportunity to gain perspective and learn about society for among its ranks are national minorities, workers, migrant Filipinos, and delegates from Southern Tagalog, Bicol, and Central Luzon among others. Study circles were an integral part of the mobilization and as soon as the program on the stage started, the youth were quick to settle down to conduct discussions that define fascism and outline the present political situation.

The protest in Luneta was also an exercise of progressive culture. Flash performances in front of the police line were infrequently executed, and creative political spins on folk games like tumbang preso were attractions. Visual arts of every sort also dominated the protest as murals and walls depicting protest and fascism dotted Luneta.

The politics and the atmosphere of the mobilization leads Kim to belie the notion that protest and protesters are nuisances. Rather, she exhorts her fellow youth to be prudent in studying society and discovering the necessity and ideals of activism. With the marriage of killings and repression to the economic exploitation of every working Filipino, Kim highlights the need to be organized and to act collectively. “As young people, our involvement in such organizations is our service to the country,” she says.

There is hope for the country yet. There is hope for the people’s struggles for land, life, and livelihood. This hope is reflected in the almost imperceptible glint in the eyes of the veterans of Marcos’ martial law, in the thundering steps of the youth who dared, and the young firebrands who roared at the looming dictator. ()

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