Raffy’s Note on Activism

Last Monday, 24 June 2013, we heard Atty. Rafael Aquino, Managing Partner of the Santos, Parungao, Aquino, Abejo, and Santos Law Offices. Atty. Aquino also spoke at one of the events during the celebration of CSSP’s 30th Anniversary Celebrations in February of this year. Interaksyon published his speech and you can read and listen to it here. He recalled his early student days in UP overhearing Prof. Dodong Nemenzo commenting to a TV reporter that “If activism was no longer in UP, then we would have a problem.” Raffy, in his speech, goes on to define activism, “For me, I define activism as the habit of trying to change society–trying to change society through social action.”

In defining activism, Raffy highlighted the importance of intellectualism as a feature of an activist from UP. Why so?

UP provides ready-made structures for critical inquiry, social research, and intellectual labor in general, and also provides access to an amazing body of scholarship and theoretical knowledge. In short, UP provides the activist excellent opportunities to transform himself into an intellectual, and, by all means, the activist should exploit this – for two reasons:

FIRST: The activist must exploit UP’s academic opportunities and resources because he is morally bound to train himself for that time when he finally leaves Diliman, before he inflicts himself and his activism on the rest of the Filipino people. It would be a crying shame, if by the time he faces the people he proposes to serve, he would have nothing between his ears except a big mouth. Mag-aral tayo para pagharap natin sa ating sambayanan na gusto nating paglingkuran ay meron tayong ibubuga. May kaunti naman sanang competence to match yung kalakihan ng ating bunganga.

SECOND: The activist must exploit these opportunities to build intellectual adeptness and ideological sharpness because these are his own weapons, these are the only weapons which will enable him to survive in UP, and beyond that, to thrive in it and to dominate in its environment. Just like any other school, UP is an ideological institution. Ideas are its currency; ideological contention is its core activity; and, intellectual accomplishment is its most important hierarchy. There is no equivocation about this. There should be no qualification about this. If the activist is to dominate in UP, the activist must be ideologically confident and intellectually superior. (Rafael Aquino, 20 February 2013)

What about you? What do you think activism is about? When is activism synonymous with serving the nation?

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