Interesting how just as the government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is unveiling a massive programme of infrastructure spend of unprecedented proportions, the prevailing online chatter amongst would-be and wannabe “activists” had so far been centred around the proposed honorary degree to be conferred by the University of the Philippines on the president. The sheer waste of headspace devoted to this “issue” came to full light following a statement from Duterte himself declaring that he would decline the offer. Right there and then, by that simple act, the rug upon which this latest outrage fad had festered was pulled from right under these “activists'” feet.
Most notable is the way the development of this issue was reported in media. UP community slams honorary degree for Duterte screamed the token ABS-CBN News report on the matter. The UP community? Really? As a grad of this excellent institution of higher learning, I can, hand on heart, attest to the fact that this caricature of the “typical UP student” in protest rally regalia — t-shirt, sandals and jeans, with the customary rolled up blue book stuffed in its back pocket — pumping fists backdropped by the Oblation is no more than a quaint urban myth.
In reality, this persistent stereotype more befits the typical comrade within the University Student Council (USC) clique and the community of “socially aware” maakabayans who orbit them. These are the sorts who simply have too much time on their hands in between Palma Hall classes and enough vacant space in their heads to soak up Joma Sison’s old Cold War drivel about the struggle of the lumpen proletariat.
But the UP being the UP, most students there are smart enough to grasp what a rare privilege its is to be part of the country’s premiere student body. Everyone who passes the UPCAT, after all, opts to enroll. The UP is never the second choice to a better offer. For the average Filipino high school grad, there is no better offer to a stint in the University of the Philippines.
What to make of those bozos who fit that tubao-sporting UP student archetype portrayed in pop culture? Well, one just needs to closely observe what goes on on campus during the campaign periods leading to the USC elections every year. Because the campus paper, the venerable Philippine Collegian, is also controlled by these makabayan dweebs, outsiders –which include all these lazy “professional” journalists and the bevy of pedestrian social media “activists” who shriek about “human rights” on Facebook and Twitter everyday — are easily led to believe that student activism is the be-all-end-all most important student concern in UP. The truth of the matter is that most UP students just want to get on with the task of graduating on time. UP activists have become a mere tourist attraction — side shows that occasionally make enough noise to attract students to look over the rail guards of Melchor Hall out of curiosity.
Unfortunately, the cry to makibaka no longer rings across as the serious call for a protest against the “evil” status quo — not when three decades of Yellowtardism had turned the notion of Laban into the sad punchline that it is today.
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