Friday, February 02, 2007THE SAMASA-KILOS SQUARE OFF
Activism has been in the core of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines for almost two decades. It has been the haven for political activists and communists. The usual noise of the university is a flurry of megaphones and screaming "students." What everyone treats as a news on TV is a daily occurrence in the university. Ironically, they only represent 10% of the student population in PUP. If activism is such a good political and ideological exercise, why then, does it leave a bad taste to most of the PUPians? What makes activism in PUP unattractive?
Sandigan ng Mag-aaral para sa Sambayanan (SAMASA) is unquestionably in the forefront of student activism in PUP. Whenever a national issue is bothering the nation, they are always ready to march the streets and wave their red flags. “Tunay, palaban, makabayan!” is their usual battle cry.
Any naïve college freshman will naturally greet their marches with awe. At first, they would feel proud that they have activists who show “genuine” concern with national issues. If so, what turns us PUPians off?
- We are students. We study. They don’t.
- We are poor. We try not to look poorly. They don’t.
- We have classes. We try not to be absent in classes. They don’t.
- We need to graduate. We try all means to graduate. They don’t.
- We compete. We strive for academic excellence. They don’t.
I will never forget Joan, the big, fat, intimidating Samasa activist. I’ve seen her around campaigning against Erap when I was a freshman. After I graduate, I entered graduate school. Sometimes we hold classes in the main campus. To my surprise, I still saw her campaigning for a particular issue. Hasn’t she graduated? I wonder.
Kilos PUPian, a rising force coming from the Kabataang Liberal ng Pilipinas PUP Chapter is the group that poses a threat in the leadership of Samasa in the Central Student Council. Their fight is to strive for academic excellence. Their former battle cry “Kilos PUPian: Oras Natin ‘To!” proved otherwise as they were unable to unseat the Samasa tribe in the Central Student Council last 2006 elections with a small margin of roughly 300 votes. Now, their tagline goes “PUPians: Astig Maging Iba.” It seems they are weary of the control of the antiquated Samasa regime in PUP so they are posing as an alternative to the leadership.
Kilos represents the 90% students who would rather study than go off the streets to be dispersed by water cannons. They represent those who cram for exams; those who spend overnights to finish their thesis; those who save their allowances to rent a computer in internet shops; those who aspire graduating soon to find work; those who want to do away with poverty; and those who are too tired of politics that they opt to occupy themselves with schoolwork.
This coming PUP CSC Elections, it will again be a battle between SAMASA and KILOS. The square off continues -- a square off between student activism versus academic excellence. PUPians will choose. I just hope they realize their important role in improving the image and perspective of PUP.