Last April 19, 2017, UST Literary Society of the Department of Literature of the Faculty of Arts and Letters held “DANAS: The 4th UST Literary Society Social Issues Seminar on ‘Nation’-Building and National Liberation at Thomas Aquinas Research Center Auditorium. Speakers for this event were Prof. Nathania Chua from Ateneo de Manila University, and Scholar-Activist Adrienne Onday from the University of the Philippines. They tackled the importance of awareness in political issues, as well as the role of youths and their capabilities in making a difference.
Real Battles are won Offline
Onday urged the young members of society who have the luxury of being educated to use their privileges to reach out. Onday noted that one must not act only for attention then perceive the magnitude of its impact afterward. “What we must do is build the weapons we have: if you write, use your words. If you draw, use your lines and your colors to illustrate what you want the world for them to see” she said. “The point of protest is to bring awareness and attention [as well as] outrage to the pre-existing issues of killings and to the failed justice system.” Onday said. “Having a right is just as well exercising this right to enact this obligation to protect the rights of other people.” Chua underscored that people must take their online advocacies and platform into the streets. “At the end of the day, you cannot eat your tweet. Hashtags have helped in calling [for change], even in the legislative,” she said, citing the debacle that stirred on social media in an attempt of the government to tax beauty products, leading to #DontTaxMyBeauty online campaign. “If you are going to limit yourself only in your social media accounts, there will be nothing. You have to think about your impact.” “The more you are with together, the more greater impact you can cause […] People create bigger ripples of change together. You have to surround yourself with the people who will enable you to make the right thing,” Chua said.
On Millennial Activism
In a three-part series of stories, through hashtags, Chua discussed the brand of millennial activism in socio-political context, especially in digital age, and how she carried it to the communities she was involved with. Growing up being expected to start her own business, having taken a Business major, and also having been offered good-paying job positions in different companies, Chua turned all the opportunities down for the reason she could do something greater for the country and for other people: to teach. “[Teaching] is an opportunity to reach out to the youth,” Chua said. “It is an opportunity to work with people who can even make a greater difference.” Despite clashes with one’s ideology, Chua encouraged everyone to take a firm stand, embrace own principles, and live with it. “Not everyone is going to be on your side but know how to take a stand for yourself.”
In response to the brewing presence of extrajudicial killings in the country just a few months after the installation of the current administration in 2016, Onday walked around Taft wearing a cardboard sign that said “Lahat tayo puwede maging pusher.” On that same day, she was on her way to De La Salle University to discuss student activism. Later on, posting a selfie with her cardboard sign, she recounted her experiences on Facebook that garnered more than 5000 reactions and shares. “The point was to use the freedom of expression and the rights we know we have to reinforce and to protect the same freedom and rights on our fellow Filipinos [which were refused] and being ripped out of their hands,” Onday said.