In the age of social media, perception is everything. From this reality, the Philippines’ campus “activists” have been on the run. Rather than step up to the challenge of facing and correcting any perceptions about them they believe are wrong, they are instead digging their heels in and doing the same thing. It’s a form of insanity, indeed — expecting different results whilst doing the same thing over and over.
Most baffling of the habits of these campus “activists” is their continued drum-beating about a so-called Duterte-US “regime”. For that matter, looking over the last several decades, we should really be replacing this with a template slogan they use: their “Ibagsak ang rehimeng US-[insert current president here]”. They often cite “parallels” between the current (or, for that matter, any incumbent administration) with the “Martial Law Era” and refer to a so-called Martial Law “playbook” as being behind the agenda of any sitting president. And then they wonder why Filipinos have long dismissed campus activism as a quaint sometimes-annoying feature of university life. These “activists”, as a matter of habit, insult the intelligence of ordinary Filipinos.
If, indeed, being “reg-tagged” (i.e. associated with communism) is “unfair” on many “activists”, then this perception needs to be corrected. Nobody disagrees with that. The trouble is, there seems to be no serious will to do that. There are, to be fair, activists and they are being undermined by the merely “activist” amongst them. What separates a genuine activist from the pretend “activists”? There is no short answer to that, but clues lie in how well activism has so far delivered results.
Modern marketers and businesses that invest in advertising rely on data and analytics to measure how effective their campaigns are and how much bang per buck spent is delivered. Insights gleaned from continuous data analysis are used to evaluate campaign designs which are then continuously tweaked to improve potency. Correlation is used to establish track record and A/B-testing is used to established causation between said tweaks and effectiveness.
Activist campaigns are no different. They aim to persuade people and shape opinion with the intent of influencing politics and governance. A lot of time and warm bodies are put into the mobilisation of activist campaigns (i.e. those protest rallies that erupt every now and then). Most disturbing of all, the wellbeing of young impressionable students (some of whom are minors) recruited to be operatives in these organisations are put at risk, not to mention the disruption to their academic commitments (the whole point of their being in school, to begin with) these extracurricular activities cause.
The question is, how effective is this “activism”.
Where are the results?
It is difficult to determine because there is a layer of dishonesty to sift through before we can ascertain what defines success for communist-flavoured “activism”. For one, it is difficult to reconcile the conventional communist dogma of violent “armed struggle” that aims to establish a “dictatorship of the proletariat” with the seemingly “legit” activities of certain polticians affiliated with these camps who seem to participate in politics through legal democratic channels. In the vernacular, ano ba talaga?
The fact that the communist “cause” and the satellite front organisations that orbit around it continue to be associated with the terrorist New People’s Army (NPA) provides the simplest answer to that question. The alternative answers — the standard rhetoric parroted by their “thought leaders” and their defensive responses to “red tagging” — are, in comparison, hopelessly incoherent.
Indeed, the simplest explanation is, in most cases, the most sound one.
As such, the message to the broader community of activists who aim for true authenticity and genuineness in intent is clear:
Ditch the commies.
It’s simple, really.
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