Haters to the Left
DLS Pineda (The Philippine Star) - July 31, 2015 - 10:00am

After Monday’s State of the Nation Address, it has become clear to me that the country’s problems are much bigger than they seem. Because while some people are doing their best to end poverty and oppression, others are bound to oppose them, ridicule and berate them, and even grab credit for their achievements. I’m not talking about P-Noy and his detractors, though. I’m talking about the hate that people have for activists.

Activists: Are they really just pesky, flag-waving shouters on the streets? Or is a lot of the hate misinformed? Here are some answers to three common sentiments.

1) These activists were paid to rally. Many of them don’t even know what they’re fighting for.

We must understand the psyche of the persons who say the above statement. They are likely to say that it’s hard to think of any other reason why rallyists subject themselves to heat, smoke, rain, noise and state-sanctioned violence. So, yes, the rallyists must’ve been paid to do it, one way or another.

A grainy picture has been circulating online of a woman in a Sulong! Anakpawis! shirt being paid with a bill of some sort. Juxtaposed is another picture of a toothless manang carrying a paper bag of McDonald’s goodies. Look for it and judge for yourself how a teensie-weensie Instagram post can alter perceptions and discredit the complex ideas poverty and activism bring up. The snapshot brings about conclusive evidence of ignorance on someone’s part.

These activists are hardline KSP. They rally for agrarian reform, for greater development in agriculture — the base of all developed nations — and for the fair distribution of Hacienda Luisita, which was promised way back at the start of P-Noy’s presidency. They rally for the improvement of Metro Manila’s railways, which was promised last year. They rally for the greater protection of our OFWs, especially those wrongly accused and expressly tried abroad. They rally for things that don’t come easy, things that cannot be solved by Wish Ko Lang or by winning the lottery. Logic would tell anyone that fighting for these socially just practices and infinitely rewarding policies must come with a corresponding “service charge.” Sadly, most are only too ready to accept that: a) nothing comes for free these days and b) all things, even people and principles, can and will be bought.

2) They are full of complaints when they have done nothing for the country. These rallyists shouldn’t keep counting on the government to save them from their poverty.

Using this argument, it follows that those who have done most for the country are Henry Sy and the nine other richest men in the Philippines today. Truly, that’s what they mean when they accuse non-enterprising, rule-breaking rallyists of being no-gooders.

Yes, many of these rallyists are professors and teachers in both private and public schools, or farmers from the provinces, or members of labor unions, or indigenous peoples, etc. But, according to the majority, doing something for the country means keeping your mouth shut (or ranting quietly online), giving in to routine and oppressive workplace environments, and just waiting for the day people’s bank accounts simply grow somehow — even the dirt poor people’s bank accounts. (Hello, conditional cash dole-outs.) That is true service to the nation.

These activists are the same activists who first pointed out the systematic corruption the PDAF enables, who fought for a five-day workweek, overtime pay, and even authored the anti-dynasty bill. And these activists aren’t stopping there. But for most, it just doesn’t make sense to say they’ve served this country. Service to the nation is black and white.

At the same time, these persons who complain about local activists will post online in jubilation over rallies being held abroad. They’ll say they’re happy for the Egyptians who toppled an oppressive rule, or the Greeks who successfully fought multilateral banks that grant unscrupulous loans, or the American LGBT community which won the right to same-sex union in their courts. But they will never say the same of Filipino rallyists… precisely because the rallyists are unsightly and they’ve done nothing for the country.

3) They have no class and manners. They burn effigies and they leave trash. They hate on the President, whoever he/she may be.

Fun Fact: These activists also hate on the Vice President. They just really hate on everyone, eh?

But the truth is that they don’t hate the President per se. What activists hate is the system he so willfully subscribed to and his being its foremost enabler. It’s a system that makes the rich even richer, and the poor even poorer. What, then, is “class” and what, then, are “manners” in the face of murderous poverty and prevailing injustice? The burning of effigies, the standstill traffic, are all but physical incarnations of the quiet but powerful system-sanctioned violence.

There is disorder in this world. That is a given. But there is more than meets the eye in meaningful contradiction. It is a paradox, a long and drawn-out story that should never be taken at face value. 

It is true — hate draws hate. However, it is not out of hate that activists take to the streets, but out of a passion for justice. So this is about defending those who have been fighting for our rights since day one: those who unite arm in arm, those who are mindlessly opposed, misunderstood, ridiculed and berated, and finally robbed of recognition by the President himself. Since activism’s been called “outdated,” it’s the activist who receives the most hate and negativity from a particular segment of society that would much rather bask in the same old status quo.

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Tweet the author @sarhentosilly.

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