It was truly a sight to see. And I would have missed it if I didn’t think of dropping by the University of the Philippines – Diliman to check out how my comrades from the Agham Youth were doing. It was the first day of UPD’s strike against the impending P1.39B budget cut on the state’s subsidy for the entire UP system, and I just wanted to see the new faces of AY.
What I saw instead was history unfolding before my very eyes.
I took time off my NGO work and went straight to UP. Told that the striking students and professors were already at the College of Engineering, I went sprinting from Palma Hall to catch up with their ranks. I already heard the rumbling chants from afar. And there, from the outside, I saw the mob: thousands of students spanning across 2 floors of the entire length of the building, entering classrooms to call on the students to join. When they came down the entrance, I was greeted with this banner:
Yes, at the head of the mob. College of Science students led by the Agham Youth and the Siyentistang Nagkakaisa para sa Demokratikong Karapatan or SINDAK led the march with more than 300 CS students calling for greater state subsidy on education. CS brought the most number of students to the streets among all colleges. A solid unity among the CS organizations under SINDAK was mobilized from CS to Palma Hall, around the acad oval to the College of Engineering, around Eng’g marching to Quezon Hall and then back to Palma.
Everyone didn’t need to be pushed to chant. Everyone took in “Siyentista ng Bayan! Ngayon ay Lumalaban!”, “Budget ng UP, Dagdagan! Dagdagan! Wag Bawasan!” and “Education not for Sale! We are not for Sale!” as their heartfelt own. Everyone had on their chests and sleeves the pink “STAND and STRIKE” pins. It was truly a poetic moment: CS shows to the world that we are not ones made to be confined to dusty laboratories: we are agents of change in the streets.
An estimate of 3,500 strikers attended the march, with more students from afternoon classes and from the Asian Institute of Tourism and the College of Human Kinetics catching up to the program. The broad unity of the different stakeholders in UP, including the UP manininda, the All-UP Workers’ Union, the All-UP Academic Employees Union, and a torrent of student organizations goes to show how the government’s abandonment of education has a clear disconnect with the people’s call for rights and welfare.
I am sure the likes of Albert Einstein and Joan Hinton would have been proud: top scientists who saw the vast inequities in the world’s societies, and the pressing need to make their science & technology work to change how the world is. We, the future Einsteins and Hintons of the Philippines, should heed the challenge presented to us in Day 1 of the Strike: make this commitment to struggle for social change a life-long commitment.
Make S&T Serve the People.
Agham Youth UPD