By Rachel Ann Bersamera

 

Morning of Feb. 19, Derrick was so happy when he learned that he passed the Polytechnic University of the Philippines College Entrance Test (PUPCET). Coming from a poor family, it was really a blessing to him and to his mother.

Twelve pesos per unit in exchange of a quality education is a heaven’s delight. He visualized his bright future. A dream house… A car… A stable job… A happy family… You can see in his eyes the hope to uplift his way of living, and he believes that Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) will be his first step in the ladder towards success.

However, his first day in the university gives him negative impressions. Strolling on the catwalk gave him a feeling of uneasiness because vandalism was everywhere. It was exasperating for him to see flags being waved by the group of “activists.” Some students were gathered in a corner supporting a girl who keeps on yelling jumbled words that he cannot understand and around her numbers of other people who chant and make different kinds of noise. He asks himself, is this university?

Inside the classroom, a girl with a pretty face came in to lecture current issues that the country is facing. She discusses poverty, oppression, rotten bureaucracy, discrimination and a lot more. She also encourages everyone to join their rallies and walk out from their classes. She said that when you’re already there, you’d see the reality of life.

After a very distressing day, he was finally home at 10 pm. He was surprised to see his mother washing six more piles of dirty clothes. He wanted to help her or stop her but he knows that she would just refuse and scold him to go to sleep. He realizes how poor their living condition is. A tear fell from his eye and wished that his father had not died.

Before he goes to sleep, he re-analyzes everything that had happened in that day. His excitement, his disappointment, the noise, the activist, the rally, his mother and their deprived situation were boggling his mind. Of course, he wants to provide necessary changes but the question is – How? Should he join the rallyists and walk out from his classes to call for a change? Is that how he would repay the sacrifices of his mother? Is that how he would utilize that once in a lifetime opportunity of being a ‘iskolar ng bayan’? What are his assurances that reforms will be immediately implemented? Will it really initiate changes or will he be just wasting his time?

As he thinks deeply, he recognizes the main purpose of his studying in the university – to study and to learn more. He should use his education as a weapon to initiate changes in the status quo because education is the best foundation to reach one’s goal. If he aims to change the rotten bureaucracy, he should first invest in his education. He believes that one day, he’ll be a lawyer and an authority of his ideologies. As of now, he needs to feed his mind and nurture his education. It’s not bad to be an activist as long as you won’t let it ruin your future and your real purpose upon entering the university. He must be able to balance student leadership and academic excellence.

Derrick excels in academics and eventually joined an organization that meets his requirements. An organization that is supportive of his studies and at the same time providing him with appropriate skills and training. He was exposed to other young people in and outside the university, who are actively participating in forums, seminars, parliaments, youth congress, and symposia, which tackles the present social, economic, and political issues that the country faces today. They were taught to express their views in a rational and effective manner rather than skipping classes and going to Mendiola.

He learned that being open-minded and listening to both sides of the story before stating or deciding a stand on an issue is more acceptable. Other means of advocating your views would be writing, blogging, participating consultative forums and discussions, lobbying at the Congress, signature campaigns, film making, being a public speaker for debates and press interviews, making political cartoons, and being a student leader. These new strategies are being introduced to them because his organization believes that the youth are the future builders of this nation and are catalysts for change.

As time goes, Derrick became the president of the student council. His party provides an effective, visible, and transparent leadership. He instituted a systematic and well-organized structure of student government. He introduced programs and seminars that boosted the social awareness of his fellow students. He also encouraged every PUPian to become proud of their PUP identity by taking part in the development of the talents and skills of the students and sending the best to inter-university competitions while they bring home the beacon.

awards. Today, he is a successful lawyer who topped the bar examination. At a very young age, he is now elected as a Congressman of his province. His dreams were not just fulfilled but he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. That is because he managed to understand that activism should be done in a proper manner at the right time and place. Studying is nothing else but a possession of the mind and a foundation of the future. You don’t need to join rallies just to say that you are activist and reform oriented. Who know? He could be the first PUPian President of our country? Making changes for the better.

Ang aktibismo, gaya ng disiplina, ay dapat simulan sa ating sarili. We can only change the ineffective system if we are prepared and equipped, and this would only happen if we have the proper training given by educational institution and legitimate organization.

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