September 22, 2011
Pauline Gidget Estella
CEGP National Deputy Secretary General
A day before the national day of action against budget cuts
Schools nationwide stage creative activities, massive build-up actions
A day before the national day of protest against the education cutback, schools in Metro Manila and other regions staged numerous activities ranging from the creative – planking, die-in, cultural night – to the massive build-up actions like snake rallies and noise barrages.
Around P146 million was slashed from the budget for state universities and colleges for 2012. “Even for the schools that received an increase, the allocation still falls short of the required budget,” said Pauline Gidget Estella, national deputy secretary general of College Editors Guild of the Philippines, the widest and longest-running alliance of student publications in the country.
In UP Manila (UPM), students kicked off the strike by walking out of their classes, followed by a symbolic closing of the university at 10 A.M. The students, along with faculty and employees, marched in a “snake rally” around the campus.
“UP Manila is an institution characterized by commitment to providing quality and affordable health services. However, with the impending cut on the budget for social services, particularly health services, this is a duty that cannot be fulfilled,” said Cleve Arguelles, vice chairperson of UPM.
At 6 P.M., the students gathered in UPM College of Arts and Sciences lobby for the cultural night and bonfire film-showing, in which films about the national situation were shown.
At the same day, Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Techonology (EARIST) students started its one day strike, with hundreds of students joining the “bandwagon,” in which the mob will march around Nagtahan bridge in Sta. Mesa starting 10 A.M. The students then marched to Mendiola at 1 P.M.
Meanwhile, in Philippine Normal University, students launched the “Red Campaign,” in which red balloons and red ribbons were tied to bulletin boards and class rooms. They also painted their nails with red, with each letter of “Budget cut” written on each nail.
The activities in Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and UP Diliman were as creative. On the second day of UP Diliman strike, organizations staged “Olats sa Cuts, the Stations of the Cuts Cultural Program,” in which students showed the actual situation of each sector of the society under President Benigno Aquino III’s term. At night, before the dormitories’ campout, the university held a “retro night” titled “Walastik, Dehins sa Cuts, Repapips!”
PUP students held a modelling show and their own version of UP Diliman’s “budget cuttoure.” Like EARIST students, they also staged a “mass planking” and lied stiff like a plank of wood inside school premises.
In Southern Tagalog region, students in UP Los Banos (UPLB) mounted a “Pose to Oppose” protest center in Humanities building. Photos of students with “I pose to oppose” written on them were shown in the exhibit. Students also held a protest action in the center at 4 P.M.
In Northern Luzon, different sectors in UP Baguio gathered around a “campfire” from 6 P.M. onwards. The campfire was a culminating activity in which members of the community talk about their situation in relation to the impending budget cut.
“On the day before the 23rd, the schools have become a venue where the youth have devised creative means to show their indignation over the continuing trend of state neglect. On the September 23 national day of action, the activities will be more than just an array of creative methods, but a show of force through numbers,” said Estella.
UP Diliman kick-off and boodle fight
Yesterday, UP Diliman kicked of its strike when more than 1,000 students, faculty and administrators joined the unity march around the Academic Oval. Since 8 A.M., the students have been gathering at different colleges. In the College of Arts and Letters, the building was closed down and classes were cancelled.
At around 12 P.M., the strikers gathered at Palma Hall steps and formally declared that the “university is on strike.” “UP Naming Mahal” was sung after the declaration.
The strikers then watched “Budget Cuttoure,” a fashion show where the models tried to represent the budget cut through their outfit. UPM also held a dodgeball event known as “Dodge that cut,” a representation of the students’ opposition to the budget cut.
Another creative way of representation is UPLB’s “funeral march.” Students marched around the premises at 4 P.M. yesterday and carried a caskette with “RIP Education” painted on it. They also attached crosses with “Resurrect on September 23! Save Our Education!” to bulletin boards.
Meanwhile, PUP started its second day of strike through a boodle fight, a symbolic activity in which students and faculty ate rice and tuyo on banana leaves laid out on long tables.
“This signifies the unity of the PUP sectors in the fight for greater state subsidy. Although there has been an increase in the budget for PUP, the increase is not enough to fill the gap between the amount needed and the amount given,” said Rommel Aguilar, PUP student regent. Last September 20, on the first day of PUP strike, around 8,000 people joined the unity march.