Yesterday morning, St. Scholastica's College, Manila, in partnership with the Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros and with Millennials Against Dictators (MAD), invited students to join the Youth SONA from 8:00am -12:00 noon. It's a gathering of 1,000 young people from different backgrounds in Metro Manila "for a formidable cultural protest to communicate the message of defending human rights and civil liberties."
The Youth SONA included a program and a cultural picket along Leon Guinto Street. The program had song performances from Ms. Bayang Barrios, documentary videos and theater performances on Extra-Judicial Killings (EJKs), a speech from a kin of an EJK victim and from Sen. Hontiveros, spoken word performances by Words Anonymous, and the reading of the Youth Unity Statement of the different youth and student organizations. After the program, the attendees marched towards Leon Guinto St. for the cultural picket and the second part of the program.
I've gathered together some answers of Scholasticans as to what does being a part of this mean to them and why they think it's important to do so. Their answers are inspiring.
"It means wanting change. Nakakasawa na yung repetitive narrative ng mga EJK. People are normalizing it. And others are simplifying it into collateral damage. It's so so important to take part in something like this because there is power in numbers, and in these numbers there is hope." —Shibby, Grade 9
"To be honest, I wasn't really interested to take part on it at first because I didn't really want to get involved in the whole EJK issue. But after the whole program (in school), I saw the importance of being involved and how staying out of my comfort zone meant to the country and how important it was for my voice to be heard. The Youth SONA opened everyone's eyes more to the reality that is happening to the country and I believe that a small thing can do great change and give great impact on everyone's lives." —Francesca, Grade 12
"The youth today are mostly underestimated by the society and continually being neglected because they say that we are incapable of understanding the social issues that we are facing now. In fact, after the cultural picket that has taken place, a lot of social media bashing has happened. The Youth SONA that was held made me realize that the change that we are pleading from the government starts within us, which we can achieve through standing for what we believe in and speaking our minds. We can't stay silent and pretend not to see nor care about the current situation of our country. We should care because it is not only us who will suffer but most of all, the victims. For me, the purpose of Youth Resist and being part of it is to call out to the nation and its leaders to listen to the people and protect the nation not tear it apart. Being able to take part in the Youth Resist is a new step that I took to being socially aware and standing for what I believe in, and for sure, that will not stop there." —Anna, Grade 12
"If there is something I notice about our society today, it is that we more often than not, fail to listen. There are voices of dissent everywhere, and while we should be thankful that our capacity to digest information is aided by diverse opinions, we must also give importance to the power of dialogue and communication. Joining the Youth SONA provided me with an avenue of dialogue. In this country, it is tempting to simply resort to taking sides or joining the bandwagon. The Youth SONA on the other hand gives the youth the RIGHT to be informed, the ignition to research more on today's current events and in turn, gives them the right to decide for themselves to formulate their own opinions and make a stand for the further advancement of this country." —Maureen, Grade 12
"Being part of the Youth SONA means that I am not just fulfilling my role as a concerned citizen of this country but it also means that I am fulfilling my role as a true Scholastican who aspires to be a social agent of change. This event means that I am standing up for what is right and I am defending the people who have been discriminated and victimized by the President's war on drugs. I served as the voice of the people who cannot defend and stand up for themselves.
It is important to take part in this because through this, more eyes will be opened to the realities happening in our country. And, this also serves as proof that the youth of today are not 'selfish, entitled, and lazy' but rather 'active, informed, and concerned.'" —Paula, Grade 12
"We are taught to be socially-aware and to not be afraid to voice out our opinions. To be part of the Youth Resist Movement was a way to represent those who were victimized by the extra-judicial killings. We were given the chance to fight for our fellow countrymen who until now are traumatized due to the war on drugs. Each one of us is entitled to our own thoughts. The event itself proves that words can be powerful and that it can create a change in our society. We should not be apathetic to the issues that our country is facing right now. We should fight for what we believe in. Kung hindi tayo, sino?" - Anna, Grade 10
"To us Scholasticans, being part of the Youth Resist Movement means that we open our minds to the issues around us rather than remaining ignorant. It is an avenue for our voices to be heard and not belittled due to our age. It is important because we are united in solidarity with those silenced, trampled on, and stripped off of their rights. We take our stand and fight for them." —St. Scholastica's High School Student Council
Yesterday's event was nothing but pure proof that the youth can definitely make a stand. The youth will resist, fight, and voice out. The youth has so much power and influence, so let's put it to good use.
The youth has so much power and influence, so let's put it to good use.
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