Students getting involved in politics isn’t news in the Philippines. Student protesters, who call themselves activists, allegedly fighting for the rights of their fellow men and standing for those who do not have a voice – at least that is what they say they do. Add to that their self-given right to roast politicians they invited to symposiums not intended as such. They celebrate their ability to make others believe that they are smart enough to criticise someone older or with more experience to the point of public embarrassment. And then they call themselves “educated.” Are they, really?
Student Protests in the Philippines
Just recently, student protesters from a popular university in the country walked out of their classes to hold protests against the Duterte Administration. Some of the issues were related to educational scholarships, tuition fees, and the Philippines-American alliance. Moreover, they were also purportedly contesting the appeal to extend Martial Law in Mindanao, given that the Philippine Government already won the Marawi siege. They are urging the President to be true to all his promises and they want to see results as soon as possible.
The protest was met with a reprimand by President Rodrigo Duterte, threatening to give away the student protesters’ university slots to the Lumads of Mindanao. However, instead of humbling themselves, these students portended of a bigger protest involving other students from other top universities on the 23rd of February.
A Sense of Patriotism?
We totally understand where these grievances are coming from. For the students of these top universities, they are the pag-asa ng bayan (hope of the future) thus, whenever they feel like the adult world is not doing enough, they take on the street to protest. Universities do support the airing of grievances as long as they do it after class, but given the current situation, these iskolar ng bayan (scholar of the government) seem not to appreciate the privilege of education given to them. The student protesters threatened to skip classes again as if it could do harm to people externally. What they do not understand is that the more time they spend outside their classrooms, the more time they spend hurting only themselves.
What Happened to the Concept of Proper Escalation?
In other universities, students are taught to go through the proper channels should they think they need to air some sentiments. Though each university has a different culture, it still isn’t an excuse to interrupt a ceremony or classes to protest against a school administrator or the government.
What the student protesters seem to forget is that they ought to uphold respect. That means being considerate of others, too. Just because they have opinions that do not mean that they are entitled to everything, regardless of their university rankings.
Student Protesters: Education is a Privilege
Duterte was against the protest – he allegedly wants students to prioritize education. Yes, they have opinions and they could be right, but they need to leave the doings to people who are in charge. Nonetheless, they would contradict and doubt whether those in charge do their work, but the question is this: given that the people in charge step down, what can the students do to change the system? So they have concrete plans or suggestions?
The reality is this: students can remind the government of what is lacking but the government, or whoever is at fault, can always choose not to listen.
We are not saying that they need to be indifferent. They don’t. Nevertheless, if they do want to make the Philippines better, they ought to use education. How? By being best at what they do and taking in all the learning they can get. If they firmly believe that they are the hope this country has, then they need to grow into it.
Education is expensive in the Philippines and they get financial support from government fundings. The best they can do is to attend their classes and finish school – that is the least they could give back to people whose taxes fund their studies, too. When they skip school, they lose a portion of their money’s worth. And what for? Fifteen minutes of media attention? And then what? Missed school days and for what?
Student Protesters Should Play the Waiting Game
If the student protesters want to inspire change and a better community, they should stop overpowering adults. They need to wait for their time. But how can they qualify as analytical adults if, right now, they already believe that they have learned enough? Waiting for the right time is not being indifferent, it’s being wise.
What is sure is this: there are a lot of Filipinos who are fighting for what is right and they need a second generation of support. That could very well be the student protesters we have now, but if they would keep on meddling with adult-business, they are throwing away their opportunity of building knowledge and preparing for their future.
A wise soldier knows he needs to prepare, as he cannot win the war by skipping training. Remember that. Moreover, what the Philippines needs is prepared and sincere hope and not some self-proclaimed not-quite-of-age heroes.
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