Friday, September 5, 2008

My Short Life as an Activist

I have submitted this article to one of the web companies I am currently writing for. I asked permission if I can post this article in my own blog and they have agreed.

I have not posted in this blog for months now but I still have my hopes that I will be able to inspire some people out there to start joining other members of the civil society in making a difference. The objective of this blog is actually simple. It does not offer any pretensions. Like the rest, I have no in-depth analysis of any ideology that my friends from the left movement have been religiously following or debating about for decades now.

In fact, I am a person who just happens to love intellectual people and at the same loves to do brainy stuff.

In my former position in a Coalition, I mostly do administrative tasks but learned a lot from the leaders of the movement. Its like everytime they opened their mouth, a treasure cove of information come out. And I devour on them, stick them in my head. Its just that I can be stubborn at times. I am not easily pursuaded. Maybe, am not really meant to be a part of any political bloc. I just want to share with others my passion in the work I do. I love being with people who think f other people and their country or even the world and do sacrifices for the sake of putting the world in order.

Being an activist is not an easy feat. Even I, I don't think I am worthy of calling myself one of them. I cannot say that I can give up the comforts I have in my life. Maybe, I just don't want to be pushed too hard and want to take my time understanding everything, ideology and all. I remember one comrade saying to me that I should be able to find and analyze for myself and not blindly follow idealogies. Specifically and ultimately, I want to understand, bridge and explain to people both from the social movements and those uninvolved how faith is not in any way contradicting to what most philosophers and ideologues are preaching and that it
is actually no different from what Christ taught the people of Israel.

Anyway going back to the objectives of this blog, I simply want people to be inspired and start acting on issues that affect them and the Philippines by offering some ways on how you and all of us can be involved in our different areas. Since, this is posted in the web, maybe people from other countries can duplicate such blogs, design them in their own needs and start encouraging people to become more concerned with what's happening around them.

Long ago, I never thought that I will be brought to where I am right now, to what I have become,
and to what I have believed in. In my short life as an activist, I traced back where did my conviction started. Why am I here? I was an aspiring journalist but all of a sudden I was brought
here. The drive to become a broadcaster shifted to another area....please read my article below and may this let you see or realized where your convictions lie.

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I believe that my life as an activist started out in one simple dream.

As part of our school’s curriculum particularly in the subject of Filipino, all third year students were required to read and learn one of the popular novels of Dr. Jose Rizal, the Noli Me Tangere. It was after reading the novel when my dream took over me. I was on my third year when I decided to become a writer/journalist like Rizal.

I was so sure of myself back then. I enrolled at Centro Escolar University with the course AB Mass Communication major in Broadcasting. It was also that same dream that inspired me to enroll in a Master in Journalism program at the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication.

At that time, I often heard people say that students taking up Mass Communication are mostly those undecided of what course to take and that it was a way of avoiding math subjects in college. However, I was proud to say that none of these were my reasons. I remember myself replying to those who asked with only one consistent answer, “Journalism, writing about the truth is the highest form of public service I can give to my country and to fellow Filipinos.”

This was how the novel captured me and planted the seeds of conviction within, without me noticing it. It also developed in me that kind of enthusiasm, passion and hunger for learning and constant self-evaluation and upgrading of my craft. Just as my Masters Program was never meant to become an abbreviation added to my name to increase my market value like many others do but instead I saw it as an opportunity for me to study and learn more.

All along, I thought that my dream will take me to where Korina Sanchez and all the popular broadcasters are right now, in front of the camera, reading the latest news.

Divine intervention, I believe, played a major role in the shift. Do not get me wrong, my dream did not shift. I still have that one dream inside me. What I am saying is that it brought to another setting. A setting which is far from the limelight, far from the glamour, more humbling and closer to people.

A classmate in the MA program, a priest, asked me to apply as a reservation officer at their Retreat House located in the heart of New Manila. I agreed, was accepted and worked for a year. At the end part of the year, their media ministry was to become an orphan because the project coordinator was leaving for Australia to take up her Masters degree. Since they knew what my background was which is in communication, they promoted me to that position.

I was glad to be back on track. It was exciting because I would be handling the research, hosting the film dialogues, award secretariat, training and module development and networking. I became trained to do all-around one-stop shop work, from messengerial to campaigning. I do all the aspects of work with very little supervision from the immediate supervisor which was a priest.

I thought it was just enough doing my work within the bounds of the ministry’s vision, mission and goals. One priest suggested that since the Order is very active in socio-political activities, might as well its employees attend forums, mobilizations and training on the issues of the country. And because I was the media program coordinator, all the more I need to be informed of what is happening in order to serve the needs of our constituents further.

I seriously followed the suggestion and with that my eyes became wide open, conscious to issues plaguing the country. I became more passionate and high-spirited and began to look for something more that will bring me closer on the grassroots level.

Since I was working then within the bounds of the Church, teaching critical mindedness through media, I knew that there were some limitations to my work in helping people understand the complex issues we have today. I can only be with them during the training, but after, I will not know if what I have taught will be developed and used for the common good of everyone.

My feet brought me to work for a Coalition that focuses on studying and campaigning on economic issues. Though the scope of my work was more on the administrative side with some occasional writing of speeches, articles and presentation for the President of our organization, I became more knowledgeable, understanding and adept on the discussions of the country’s economy. I can now see through the different political spectrum and somehow have firsthand observations and experiences on how to strategize and tacticize in engaging both with the government, other civil society organizations and hopefully the broader public, in the achievement of social justice for all.

So where did all these experiences lead me?

I can say, from that small dream I have, the experiences I gathered across time strengthened my faith which deeply rooted the seeds of conviction that eventually grew and produced fruits. My dream has brought me here. It did not allow me to achieve emptiness and be caught up in the prison cell of commercialization and consumerism of the mainstream media. But instead molded me to creatively use and discover alternatives where I can best serve the people through the fulfillment of my functions and through my writings.

My dream guided me right into the path of activism. It prompted me not only to write but move people to act accordingly, defending their rights. It led me to show that people like us, activists in the public’s lingo, are not the cause of disorder and conflict but it is the absence of “genuine” democracy within the system that causes the disarray and continuous poverty of the Filipino people.

Simply put, my dream led me to where God wants me to be which is with the people.

1 comment:

lorela said...

hi, about the book "confessions of an economic hitman".. i partly read it; facts are mind-blowing. :) from eph here