tl;dr: junk neolib educ!
Growing up, I always envisioned myself wearing a doctor’s coat. Whenever I was asked about my plans for the future, I had one answer: to become a medical technologist. This drove me to enroll under the Health Allied strand in UST SHS. Then came the arbitrary passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill into law, the unlawful arrests of #Pride20, the repetitive calls for free mass testing which fell on deaf ears, and the fact that I was a victim of disinformation from a very young age. Actually, natakot din talaga ako sa chemistry at physics ng HA.
It is almost a rite of passage among the Ilocano youth like me to be raised with the belief that Marcos Sr. is a hero. I did not question this family belief because my elementary teachers, beyond validating it, strengthened it into truth. They taught me how peaceful it was during Martial Law but left out the selectiveness of such peace that was deprived of victims of human rights violations. They taught me how the infrastructures built then were tantamount to economic development but did not reveal how these projects came with so much debt that we invented a word for it: imeldific.
This series of personal and social injustices culminated in the realization that although we need more health workers, there is also a de facto demand for more humanists and social scientists who will prioritize these workers’ welfare over a draconian law, respect the right of the marginalized to peaceful assembly, listen to the demands of the people with a sense of urgency, and champion the institutional eradication of falsehoods starting from the smallest unit of society. In short, I shifted to the Humanities and Social Sciences strand.
However, when I was finally a HUMSS student, I was once again redirected to another path. My professors always stressed that as humanistas, our classroom goes beyond the four corners of our laptop screens — that there is actually a society outside, waiting to be studied, served, and as Karl Marx said, changed. Hence, I accepted the call of the streets and joined a national democratic mass organization.
Through my affiliation, I was taught things that my petit bourgeois education and organizations will never teach me. I learned how to process grief while writing a statement condemning another state-sponsored injustice; how to teach a younger cousin about complex societal ills and contradictions that precede even our great-grandparents; how to keep pictures and articles of me speaking in protests away from being seen by my family; and how to keep my composure while a myriad of elements, from the state to supposed friends, red-tag us behind our backs — all while I am burdened with student-leader duties and undiagnosed mental illnesses. It is exactly how Lean Alejandro described it: to be a socialist is to be the total man.
Beyond having the chance to arouse, organize, and mobilize countless people, I am thankful for having the opportunity to prove that there is more to me than my academic aptitude; that the honor of taking up space and making noise in the line of fire is far greater than the honor I will be receiving in QPAV. Ika nga ni Gary Granada, tayong mga gradweyt ng mga neoliberal na institusyon ay walang laban sa mga gradweyt ng palengke, ng unibersidad ng kanto, ng kolehiyo ng kalye, at ng pamantasan ng puso. The measure of being educated now lies not in our ability to deliver the sharpest of recitations, essays, and examinations, but in our willingness to learn from the oppressed beyond the comfort of the academe, and help alter the very realities that oppress them.
I am also thankful to my Mom and the rest of my family for their support; to Enzo for standing by my side in the past months; to Avery and Wren, the UST SHS Makabayan Bloc, for being the sharpest people I know both in humor and leadership; to my all-around Team VP whose presidential spoof still makes me laugh out of nowhere; to Darla, Kyla, and Jhon Louis for always being one ML away; to USTibaks for molding the militant that I am today; and to the few people in my Finsta who witnessed how SHS almost beat my ass.
Senior High, struggle against the neoliberal education system! Push for the nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented alternative! Reject Marcos-Duterte!
Nowhere to go but UP.