NOW that the proverbial dust has settled from the ideological skirmish that took place in UP just recently, what is revealed before us are a number of things.
Laying on the grounds of the UP School of Economics fluttering ever so sheepishly in personal pain and embarrassment, are the bruised egos of a government factotum and their apologists in the University and in national media. Save for a few howls of indignant protests by the good morals and right conduct police, there was no sense of public outcry they were betting on. Instead, there has been a resounding retort of “serves ‘em right” from an incredulous citizenry.
Sensing their ideological defeat before the court of public opinion, the defenders of the DAP mastermind shifted ploy and started to present themselves as fellow-critics of the government budgetary mechanism for political patronage. They lament as erroneous the tactic of shaming Mr. Abad and consider the mass action as too far “Left” and then they cite their heady days as former student activists capable of engaging the Dictatorship decades ago with their brilliant wit, sharp analysis, and middle-class civility.
What is it with this set that they always lay claim to the heritage of activism when they have sold their principles a long time ago by collaborating with this administration? All of a sudden they appear from the woodwork as the elder statesmen and women of effective action. What they fail to reveal is that they are actually at present affiliated with the President’s own left-of-center political party AKBAYAN as paid consultants if not organic members. In lieu of a mass movement from where they should take their cues, they instead mine the tired wellspring of their own personal treasure trove of activist nostalgia long divorced from the current struggles of the common folk.
Seen from this vantage point, all these brouhaha over so-called violence in campus is merely an attempt to dampen the people’s anger symbolically expressed by the brave UP students who just wanted to relay a message to this government in behalf of the Filipino people who pay for their education – that there is no space for the architect of plunder of the national coffers and their defenders within the sacred grounds of the campus.
The appeal for sobriety and civility is always the recourse of those who have long fed from the gains of power. Alienated from the suffering of the common folk by their now privileged positions within the University bureaucracy and the self-contained lifestyle of the commercialized university town, they must have been jolted from their sense of complacency. And their response was understandably emanating from a veiled yet deep fear of social retribution.
These apologists from the University will continue to have support especially from the young aspirational set who can be forgiven for their careerism and ignorance. They will be attracted to the sophisticated yet complicit philosophies of compromise and defeatism of erudite professors who have made lifetime careers denigrating the Left while appearing to be left. But for every single one they convince of their yellow politics, are two others who commit to a militant politics of comprehensive change.
Standing proud and unbowed in the wake of this great university debate, are the so-called hooligans. They have proven that the fire of militant action burns ever so brightly in the Diliman republic despite sustained campus repression and the preponderance of post-modern cultural practices and belief.
This welcome revelation is also reflective of the state of affairs in the national setting. Despite the best efforts of the enemies of the Filipino people to squash the spirit of genuine social change through the application of symbolic warfare by their apologists and the direct physical violence by State instruments, activism continues to attract the best and brightest of the new generations. The Left remains the singular source and defender of the alternative national agenda versus political patronage and the other ills of Philippine society.
So what do we make of this great University debate? It will come down in history as the victory of militant action and ultimately represents a battle that is won in behalf of the Filipino people. Just like the brave Fil-Am youths who stood up to question the haciendero President in Columbia and Harvard, these tales of courage are now being spoken about around campfires without smoke at the heart of the mountains of the Cordilleras and Bukidnon, in newsrooms from Cebu to Davao, and in sari-sari stores of urban poor communities.
They have a common thought in their mind, “serves ‘em right!” Or as we say in the South, Mirisi!