Activism. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action; especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue; and the people who engage in activism are referred to as activists.
Often have I walked along the streets to see activists rallying at either freedom park or along Claveria street. More often than not, I observe people as they direct contemptuous glares towards the people across the street who are holding their banners and placards high and airing their grievances to the public. Most of the time, right after they take a look at the people engaged in the rally, people would say, “mga aktibista.” Which leads me to wonder, what do these people really know about activists, aside from what they see in the streets?
In the strictest sense of the word, anyone who takes direct action to protest about a certain issue is an activist. The four young men who were detained in Talomo police station after the demolitionat Bariquit Compound? Activists. Those who shared the photos asking for the release of the Le Jardin 4? Activists. All who shared the video of the arrest, saying that police brutality should end? Yup, you guessed it. Activists. But as the definition states, activisim is not always protesting against a certain issue.
Moreover, activists aren’t putting forward their own interests. Take for example the actual people who would be displaced by the demolition in the Bariquit compound and the ones who
were protesting to stop the demolition.Even take time to consider the people who are actually against acts of land grabbing and those who actually take part in fighting against it. As the former Vice-president for CEGP Mindanao, Paul Randy Gumanao put it, “Kung may nakita kayong sampung aktibistang nagpicket, hindi ibig sabihing prinsipyo lang nilang sampu ang inilalaban nila. Dala-dala rin nila ang mithiin ng libulibong walang tapang at kapal ng mukhang manindigan. Inilalaban din nila pati ang kapakanan ng iilang mga tumatawa, ng iilang nakalimot kung paano sumuri ng lipunan.”
Whether or not you agree with their stands on certain issues, it is undeniable that activists have much to contribute in bringing awareness to the public. The next time you witness activists holding a protest, don’t just hear what they’re saying; listen. You might learn a thing or two.