On Activism in the Philippines vis-à-vis The Standing Rock Protests

Shailene Woodley

Most known for being an actress on Divergent, The Fault in our Stars, etc., recently got arrested at a protest against the construction of the dakota access pipeline.

She’s an activist. She’s strong, passionate, principled and brave. I think everyone would agree to that. We look up to her. She’s fighting against the destruction of resources, fighting for the rights of indigenous peoples and fighting against corporate interests. She’s great. I’m sure we Filipinos adore her.

The struggle she’s fighting for, the struggle of native americans for the security of their food, water and lands, is undeniably similar to the struggle of the lumads. Yet not enough people here care. And activists here are viewed not as Shailene Woodleys but as mere roadblocks in the already traffic congested Metro Manila.

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Here activists are just looking to cause trouble, they make too much noise and just complain about everything, that’s all they do. WAIT WHAT. If you dare to listen, if you dare to even ask, get to know the people who raise their flags, you’d know that yes, we complain, because when you see injustice or feel injustice you don’t just keep quiet. No, we are not wild unforgiving deadly animals, we are mothers, fathers, children and like you we have them too. No, we don’t go out into the streets trying to cause trouble, why would we? We just want our struggles to be heard, we fight to call attention to various issues that plague our country. We fight against inequalities. We fight against poverty; we call for better education, healthcare, housing, for just living wages. We fight for our environment; for the protection of our resources, our planet, our country’s future. We fight for our rights, rights that we should have but aren’t given to us like marriage equality, the right to love, get married and be protected by the same laws that protect marriages and families now. We also fight to exercise the rights we have, the right to education, right to live in a secure home or environment, right to live well, right to live. Yes lately it looks like we need to fight to merely exist as well.

Everytime there’s a mobilization we would love it if you came with us in solidarity instead of giving us the stink-eye. Here activists are viewed in such a negative light, some even think we deserve to get run over by a police vehicle. To some extent it is because of our poor education, not just in terms of how poorly we invest in education but also what they teach us, well i never got to read and memorize the death toll during the martial law period did you? It’s also because of how the media portrays activists, only focusing on the noise and ruckus but failing to communicate what the protests are for. Just because you don’t see the struggle, doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. Just because you aren’t experiencing the grave effects of poverty, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care.

Maybe it’s time we change how we see activists. Maybe next time we see a rally, next time we see an activist let’s remember that the rights we enjoy were borne out of the courage and sacrifice of the men and women we so oftenly see in our books, roads, walls, parks, statues but often take for granted. They fought so that we wouldn’t have to live the way they did. And we should all have the courage to do the same so that our children and their children shouldn’t have to see or experience great poverty, inequality, violence and injustice.

“Making our voices so loud they have no choice to ignore us” -Shailene Woodley

*Photos not mine

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