Striking: Wounds from Budget Cuts & Lies in "Reformed" Priorities

The University is bleeding, waging wars in the form of walkout and strikes, fighting for real education. Not miseducation. Not private-like education, but premier education that will be given adequate attention by a responsible government.

November 25, 2010

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, internally cursing myself for sleeping an hour more after my alarm went off. Hurriedly, the daily prep happened in a blur. Then, I was out the dorm in shorts (it’s a symbolism for “cut”) and a red shirt, heading to meet a day I had the slightest idea of what was going to happen.

The College of Arts and Sciences closed in and once again engulfed me, but within it wasn’t the usual chatter of the student body. Within it was bloodshed.

Bliss, in the midst of a war. © Ylah Cacho

Instead of blue and green, crimson was the color of the world, battle cries were the music that invaded the ears, and war was a common phenomenon.

I honestly wanted to join the rally, but a lot of reasons were making me cower. Firstly, my family never dreamed of an activist for a member in their circle, and I couldn’t blame them. (But let me stress out on this point, joining rallies doesn’t equate to being an activist. Joining rallies shows that one refuses to remain apathetic, that one is aware, that one cares for the society he/she operates in.) Secondly, I wasn’t even sure of what to fight for, because I’ve done little research on the matter. Thirdly, the thought of walking acted like a suction that siphoned all my energy even before the rally began.
With such lame reasons, I still wanted to experience it, and I did. Somehow.
© Benson Sia
The stable icon amidst the turbulence surrounding it, Oble, was covered in black cloth, and a placard hung from his neck: “UP Manila – PGH is on strike against budget cuts.” I don’t know why, but the sight creeped me out. It made me think of hindering one from surrendering to freedom—which I guess is the whole point of it.
The Oblation Garden spilled with people in the color of love, of war, of warmth, of fire. (It was pleasing to my eyes; guess what my favorite color is.) Words against budget cuts hung heavy in the air, and cries begging to be heard boomed forth like bass jumping from speakers. Various faces and ranging voices gripped the microphone; thoughts tumbled by, unable to wait for their turn. Arguments razed the college, and I detected fallacious ones (hello, Philosophy I!). Here is one: Argumentum ad Hominem is an attempt to link the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise. (Source)
Despite that, the conviction of the crowd amazed me. It was what being a Scholar of the Nation is about. It was unity.
I really want to put emphasis on the obligation all Scholars of the Nation have received that very moment they’ve decided to study in UP. Also, this does not only concern UP, but also the rest of the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) that are being downright neglected by the state itself.
May pera sa gyera, wala sa eskuwela!
Whether these budget cuts on social services are due to funding the military (a priority based on the Reform Budget), funding corruption (“Daang matuwid”, eh?) or funding both, it is clear enough that our country’s needs are not being prioritized.
Though I’ve remained apathetic for years, these two basic needs are visible enough even to the socially unaware:
  • Health. Presently, based on the Reform Budget, the government is generous enough to spend a peso a day for each Filipino patient. Then we wonder why there is such a dismaying mortality rate in the country? Because health is not being prioritized. Because judging from the subliminal messages in the Reform Budget, we’ll survive only if our Pork Barrel funds are increased and our Armed Forces are well-equipped, with spilling funds here and there that end up who-knows-where. Why not just tell us in the face that Social Services are not a priority? At least, we wouldn’t get sick of your lies, “President”. (I mean, talk about a liar. You’re such a lousy one. Note: Ad hominem here.) At least, we would have more conspicuous reasons to start uprisings.
  • Education. The “President” claims that he would focus on vocational courses (vocational graduates could be an immediate solution to the skyrocketing unemployment rate, couldn’t they?), and basic education for all. Well, then, what about the will-be degree holders? When did the tertiary level become of least importance? Plus he believes that by cutting the budget of SUCs, he’s aiding them towards independence/”privatization”. You know what SUCs say to that? “We are not for sale!”
Edukasyon, edukasyon! Karapatan ng mamamayan!
That fleeting experience of shouting my vocal chords out with my fellow men, feeling the adrenaline coursing through my veins, knowing deep in me that I’ve become a Scholar of the Nation to be a Scholar for the Nation—priceless.
I yearn for the day that our cries would be heard, and listened to. We are but mere specks in this universe, and I don’t understand the point of making life harder for others. Is it that hard, Mr. President? Is it that hard for the people high up in the government?
Does sympathy hurt?
You are adults now, with fully-developed cerebral cortexes, but why can’t you think of anything other than yourselves? And you blame us for creating nothing but additional chaos in the country, forgetting the fact that our actions result from your actions. We don’t want this—nobody wants to scream their lungs out, get scorched by the Philippine Sun or get drenched by the November Rain. But you refuse to listen to the pleas we deliver in the most polite manner, and even to the cries we hail during rallies and protests.
Not only do you make the lives of millions of people miserable, you also make your own lives a hell of various kinds. What a shame. Have you not ever encountered cause-and-effect relationships in school? Because I’m telling you now, they are a natural phenomenon.
To you, who have impossibly garnered millions of votes during the last presidential elections, here is what I have to say:
Your magic, tell us, where did it go? I never saw anything magical in the first place, only your shiny forehead and lousy, cigarette-stained lies. But to be honest, I’ve placed my hope on you that day you won the elections. I wanted to believe what those who did not vote for you would never believe in—that you were The One the country has been looking for.
But you weren’t, and with what you’re doing now, you never will be.
Congratulations, though, for you’ve made it to history, just like your parents—except that you did so in a shameful way. Anyway, after winning the elections and failing the people, what’s next?
Service to mankind is not a business; it is a responsibility.
What to read regarding the matter:
  1. President Aquino’s 2011 Budget Message
  2. With Noynoy’s budget cuts to education, ‘daang matuwid, tinipid’ – Anakbayan
  3. Missing the point: Aquino covering up twisted priorities
Or you can google “Education Budget Cut” and/or “Reform Budget” instead.
P.S. I’ve enclosed the word president in quotation marks as a sign of the present leader’s unworthiness. For nearly sixteen years of inhabiting my Mother Country, I’ve never once felt uplifted by the word. Maybe once I get to vote, I will be.
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