How Activism Helped Me Excel in My Studies

Posted by Javan Poblador | Posted on August 2, 2020

How Activism Helped Me Excel in My Studies

by Joshua Villalobos
Bacolod City

 

“Mag-aral nalang kayo!”

That’s the immediate response of people who are either against the cause you are fighting for or just hate to see people who are strong enough to stand their grounds and fight for what they believe is right.

Our country was shaped and is being shaped by activism. There’s no debate in that. From Rizal to Lean Alejandro to Elago and other youth blocs who continue to push for a more humane Philippines. 

People are quick to dismiss the activism of the youth. They often describe us naive, ignorant, “bayaran” or “ginagamit lang”. They think that the youth doesn’t have the capacity to discern for themselves. 

DEFEND PRESS FREEDOM: Even with a pandemic, it is sad that we NEED to go out and protest. Following health protocols, students, journalists, and other sectors join the indignation protest against ABS-CBN shutdown.

The quick response of some people to belittle the stand of students in social issues “Mag-aral nalang kayo” is to portray that the students don’t know enough. But they do not realize that students go to the streets because they understand how things could be better and why we should not keep silent.

Critics of activism often paint activism as a distraction in pursuing your dreams, in studying hard. But for me, it was the opposite. Activism helped me not only to finish my secondary education but to excel in it.

Engaging in organizations and campaigns cannot only help you to become a responsible and active citizen but also to be a well-rounded student.

I can attest to the fact that my participation in youth organizing and campaigning has helped me to write better, to speak in front of the crowd more confidently, and to express myself to others more eloquently.

BIRTHDAY PROTEST: I celebrated my 17th birthday on the streets joining youth advocates from all over the country in the Fountain of Justice in Bacolod City during the National Ecological Justice League Summit.

When I attend meetings and planning sessions along with veteran advocates, academics, religious people, and fellow young people – not only I have the chance to meet them and appreciate how they think, I can also think and share my thoughts with them.

Also, one of the greatest things you’ll learn in engaging with people who are fighting side by side with you is you don’t need to agree on all things. It gives me an affirmation that you don’t need to have the same stand in everything for you to work together and resist together.

Based on my experience, you can see the most creative and innovative people in these groups and to say that their creativity and enthusiasm are contagious is an understatement.

And these skills, from communication to critical and rational thinking to collaboration and creativity have helped me to excel in my studies, and most importantly educated me on how the world works and how people who work together can bring positive social change.

So when I go back to class, the reports, the analyses, the writing activities, and the group works have been less strenuous for me and when social issues are being discussed in the class, it is always an advantage to have an informed opinion.

Activism is a form of education. While it helps you in your formal education, it is an education in itself.

The skills that you can take away from your engagement in fighting for the masses, is essential for you to be competitive in the 21st century. Though it should be noted that the desire to be part of these movements should be rooted in your aspiration to feel the feelings of the oppressed, understand their oppression, and fight alongside them because you’ll realize that you are also a victim of that oppression. 

Personally I have started working for environmental protection because I came to understand that the attacks against the planet are an attack against the vulnerable sectors of the society. However, I realized that these issues are all connected and I cannot just shout against the killings of the trees and the turtles while my fellow Filipinos are being murdered in my own very eyes.

Activism is a form of education. While it helps you in your formal education, it is an education in itself.

I believe I am morally obliged to talk about this and tell this story to counter the narrative that activism is just obstruction of having a formal education and to tell my fellow youth that in these trying times, they are needed and there’s nothing wrong in speaking up.

Time and time again, history speaks to us, that silence doesn’t do anything, unless it is a silent protest(hehe). 

Now that the Anti-Terrorism Law takes effect, the campaign to demonize activism has been more terrorizing than ever. They said that it is the worst time to be an activist. But If all of the human rights activists will be afraid, who is left to defend us? If all environmental defenders will be frightened, who will be left to speak out against the attacks on our planet? 

PAGHIMUD-OS: In English “struggle”. In this photo, I join my fellow Negrosanon youth in front of the Pagimud-os sculpture in demanding from our provincial government to declare Negros a coal-free island before a threat of a coal plant proposal in the province.

Let me quote the infamous line from a fallen UP activist who fought the martial law Ditto Sarmiento “Kung Hindi Tayo Kikibo, Sinong Kikibo? Kung Hindi Ngayon, Kailan Pa?”

To my fellow youth, when they tell you that fighting for what you believe is right is a distraction to your studies, prove them wrong. Study hard. Fight harder.

You don’t need to go against the government. Activism comes in many forms. Rallying and picketing are not the only options.

Para kanino nga ba tayo nag-aaral? Para sa mga sarili lang ba natin? O para sa ating mga komunidad at inang bayan?

Other good reads...

Guest Blogger: The Filipino Culture of Pandering to Ignorance.

January 19, 2016 As the great philosophers, scientists and artists of our time have said quite often, why must we pander to the willful ignorance of the masses? Is being offended more important now than the propagation of intellectual dialogue and argumentation? What kind of future generations are we raising by teaching them to shut […]

HAPI warns public on false ZoomInfo profiles

HAPI warns public on fraud, usurpation of authority

Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI) warned the public on August 13th of 2018 against trusting online pages and social media accounts that falsely represent the organization. The warning followed a report by a concerned donor who found suspicious business and employee profiles while doing some personal research. It has come to the attention of Founder […]

Humanist Families in Distress: Coping Through This Pandemic Crisis

HUMANIST FAMILIES IN DISTRESS: Coping Through This Pandemic Crisis By: Michael Julian We are all caught unprepared when the pandemic reached our country. Overwhelmed with this new way of life we started living one day at a time. I have just finished my two weeks training from my new company as a medical representative specialist […]

HAPI Statement: A time for Choosing: Salonga vs Pacquiao

There was a time under religion that I comfortably ignored the subtle and not so subtle attacks on the LGBT community. Although I had gay friends, I viewed their efforts to fight for equality as an “agenda”. I had chosen the supremacy of religion over the human rights of fellow citizens. My exodus from that […]

HAPI Junior: Why volunteering is HAPI!

Humanist Alliance Philippines, International Junior, the youth wing of Humanist Alliance Philippines, International joined a community-led coastal clean-up at Sitio Dacutan Dacu, Silay City, Negros Occidental last 17 of November 2018. The coastal clean-up that was initiated by a local public school teacher Miss Divine(as she preffered to be called) because of the staggering amount […]

Bahay Pangarap… Haven for Shattered Trust

Bahay Pangarap… Haven for Shattered Trust Written by Claris Quezon May 18, 2020 Guiguinto, Bulacan Bloodshot eyes… had not slept for almost 36 hours from capacity building and then had to pick up my stranded HAPI Central Co-Lead Convenor Mutya Valenzuela in our Las Pinas Headquarters before making a side trip relief op plan for […]

HAPI Women and their Children Empowerment Talk

Jahziel training the volunteers We had three events happening simultaneously last March 13, 2016. The first one was a seminar about women’s and children’s rights, which was headed by Jamie Martinez, our project implementer. This was followed by our monthly nutrition campaign. The second day of training of the volunteers for the HAPI Literacy happened after […]

About The Author

Joshua Villalobos

Joshua is an a human rights advocate and activist based in Negros Occidental. He is a Nominee for Outstanding Human Rights Defender in Amnesty International Philippines’ Ignite Awards. He is 18 years old. He finished SHS ranking first among more than a thousand of students. A HAPI Scholar.

Scroll to Top