The Progressive Youth Movement-A A +A
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
THIS was an interesting thesis for a group of senior Political Science students of a local university where I also used to work and teach for a decade. They are writing about it as a graduation requirement for their course.
I was one of their few key informants on the subject. They wanted to get first hand information on what it was to be in the progressive youth movement and how the movement is now from my present position and perspective.
I told them of my few years of direct involvement with the progressive youth movement when I was studying in Manila. It was the martial law years. The anti-Marcos ferment was quite strong in our school. As a student then of sociology and philosophy, I was drawn into many study circles, fora and debates. It was easy for me to assimilate in context and perspective the nationalist and democratic ideas vis-a-vis the fascist and national security ideology of the Marcos regime.
Not long after, I became active in school protest activities. I contributed to student publication and wrote some political flyers. I joined demonstrations; a few times I went home bloodied from violent encounters with the martial law anti crowd dispersal units; few times I was caught and detained. But the FLAG lawyers were so amazing that despite the terror of martial law they could get us out of detentions quickly.
On one occasion, there was a big anti-Marcos forum in our school. The late nationalist Senator Jose "Pepe" Diokno and the late Sr. Maranan of CFIC were our speakers. The school was raided, the forum was stopped, the organizers were apprehended and the names of all participants were taken by the military and police.
The incident emboldened me. The next time I realized I was already drawn further into the progressive youth and cultural movement. I helped in consciousness raising and organizing, both in schools and communities. On the ground, and with dozens of leaders and activists, I learned more about social and national liberation movement, commitment, love for the people and self sacrifice.
Another incident that made a significant influence in my life was during our support work for the strike of the La Tondeña workers. The first to be staged under the terror climate of martial law. It was a powerful political activity that asserted workers rights in the face of open fascist rule. Hundreds if not thousands of students, youth, church people and professionals learned so much from that movement.
After graduation I got more involved with the bigger left movement. The rest is history.
As the left movement developed further, I saw and experienced how the progressive youth movement also grew by leaps and bounds during martial law.
The fascist rule had fed enough for the unprecedented growth of the youth movement. But the clear and sharp leadership of the left movement was still the main factor for the growth of the left movement, and so the youth and student movement.
The focus on the organizing of the youth and cultural movement in schools and communities provided the much needed political support for the rapid growth of the basic class movement, and formed part of the powerful movement that eventually led to the ouster of the fascist dictator.
More than ever, the progressive youth movement remains an integral part of the continuing post Marcos struggles for genuine national and social liberation.
The present youth movement may not be as powerful a single movement than before due to the many cultural facades of the present conditions; but it has become more widespread, more deepened, creative and highly adaptive to the present conditions.
The youth and students by their nature remain and will always be dynamic, energetic and idealist, factors that are symbiotic with activism.
They may have changed faces, but only to respond to the assumption of more roles and carry struggles in various forms, with still a clear and single strategic direction—change the system.
The progressive youth movement continues to provide fresh and young leaders to the left movement, and inspiration to those who wish a better future for our country and government. In provinces where the left movement is strong, the progressive youth movement is almost equally strong and inspiring more.
Those who have dismissed the progressive youth movement and youth activism as a thing of the past are certainly wrong and ignore the lessons in our history.
So long as the conditions that breed poverty, inequality, exploitation and oppression exist and perpetuate, there will always be youth and students who will stand up against the system, and the parents, kin and friends who will always be there to give support.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 20, 2013.