Maanne Ilagan Lopez
A WORK IN PROGRESS

Reinventing activism

Lopez, Maanne I.

Editorial and Opinion Writing

Column

March 14, 2008

Paper Talk

Reinventing activism

Protests have been the conventional method for activists nowadays. And the streets have been their traditional venue. The public have been desensitized with almost weekly rallies. For the protesters, they will not stop until the administration attended to what they are cry. Voicing out should not that literally be done. There are other avenues for their purpose. In advertising, if the product is not appealing to the public, they think of other gimmicks to promote it. Also in TV programs – Boy Abunda did not use the term ‘reformat’, when changes were made in the Boy and Kris program. Rather, he called it ‘reinventing’. And that too is what I recommend to activists.

Ask any non-activist to define activism, and they will say that that they are those who rally on the streets. Few weeks ago I had the chance to have a chat with an Anakbayan member, and so I grabbed the opportunity to ask him some questions. Aren’t they tired of protesting, because the government doesn’t mind what they’re doing anyway? He said they will not stop until they are heard. The change they want will not happen overnight according to him. That’s the time when I made my point for them to try to reinvent themselves. Prove the public that protest is not all that they can do. With their current line of attack to the government, who don’t seem to be bothered, they just add up to the country’s problem. They cause traffic, destruction to schools and offices, some are even hurt. Our debate went long and I didn’t have the chance to tell him my ideas on how they can voice out aside from demonstrations.

The street is not always the venue, and protesting is not always the answer. Voicing out doesn’t have to be literally done by shouting their call and making noise barrage. There are other options, even better ones. When it comes to primary and secondary education of public schools, a book donation drive can be launched – wherein activists will distribute all the books they can collect to public schools. To support the farmers, a tree planting activity can be carried out. Blood donations, cleaning programs, concert for a cause, feeding programs and other more ways can be accomplished. What matters is the reason why such is brought about. Why not try “Oust Gloria feeding program? Oust Gloria blood donation? Oust Gloria concert? Oust Gloria tree planting?” Activists can appeal to the government in productive ways, such as enumerated. They don’t need to completely abort street marches and rallies, all the abovementioned are mere options aside from the classical mobilizations.

When I was talking to the Anakbayan member I also asked him what they are doing aside from protesting. The word ‘activist’ has been negatively taken for all-time protesters. According to him they fight for human rights and so I suggested him to ‘reinvent’ the term activist into ‘human rights advocate’. There are several means on how to practice the freedom of expression and to petition the government. It doesn’t always have to be the traditional way if there is a better and more productive way.

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