I arrived in UP just in time for my first class. As I was walking towards the Media Center, I hear someone speaking into a microphone, with a speaker blasting what he was saying. It was the College of Mass Communication student council chairperson Norman speaking about UP's terrible budget. He was also inviting everyone to join the march to Mendiola.
I didn't mind him. As I walked on, I saw two of the newest UP Journalism Club members, Telle and Beata. I didn't really know why they were there.
So I went to my room and put my bag down, then went to the restroom. When I came back, Ma'am Sari was already there, but surprisingly, she had nothing with her. Nothing except her baby. I enetered and she said we wouldn't meet that day. Reports will be moved to next week. She postponed classes for one reason: she wanted us, she encouraged us to join the rally. It was the last day of the 3-day strike, anyways.
I exited the classroom, still mulling whether I'd join the march. Rallying isn't really my thing. I don't usually join them, whether it is just in-campus or outside. Especially those outside. I stay in campus to do what a student does: study, go to class, strive for good grades, do my duties to my organization. Rallying is last priority.
Some of my friends were there where Norman was speaking. I decided to join them. I also so Beata and Telle. They were going to join. They were freshmen yet they were going to join this cause. My orgmates were there. I felt pushed. I decided to join the march for greater education budget.
When the march started, the mob first went around CMC, urging classes to join the march. Days before, I remember being the one asked to join them. Now I was part of the group asking people to take part.
We marched and marched until we reached Palma Hall, or AS, to converge with other groups. I don't know how many thousands were present, but the sheer number of people raised my spirits. I have to be part of this.
I stayed with the two freshmen girls since my closest friends weren't present. We were positioned near the front, and whenever I looked back, it was just astonishing how many students took part in the rally. I don't know if it exceeded last year's number of 3,000-strong, but from my vantage point, it seemed like it did.
I told Telle and Beata that I wouldn't be staying for long. I told them I'd leave when the mob reaches the AS. Didn't push through. I told them I'd stay only until University Ave. Nope. Until Commonwealth. Nope. My leaving got postponed and postponed, from Quezon Ave. to EDSA to footbridge after footbridge along Quezon Ave (on the other side of EDSA). "Yes naman, Enzo, nandito ka pa rin!!" they said, referring to my repeated postponement of going back to CMC.
How can I leave? The Isko in me got awakened by the chants. "Iskolar ng Bayan! Ngayon ay lumalaban!" How can I leave when this is my first protest outside of UP? How can I leave when there are two freshies beside me more showing more concern about this than I am when I am a UP student just like them? How can I leave when there is a looming 800-million-peso budget cut straight ahead?
I went back to UP when the mob reached Quezon Ave. corner West Ave. just as it started drizzling. I needed to talk to my groupmate regarding the paper we would submit. I went back to class, yes, but during that whole time I was in class, I regret not continuing on to Mendiola. Nabitin talaga ako.
I wrote this in English to show who I am. I come from a well-off family which can pay for my tuition fee. I came from a school notoriously known for its being a school of conyo kids, De La Salle Zobel. I am a Bracket A student who pays 1,500 pesos per unit. I can be branded as burgis, conyo, and elitista.
But all of these don't matter. These are just labels. I am affected by the budget cut as much as that Bracket D student. I am afffected by the budget cut as much as that professor emeritus is. I am affected by the budget cut as much as that janitor who cleans up the colleges. I am affected by the budget cut just as much as those who have a higher social status than I have, just as much as those who are more grade-conscious than I am.
I may not have walked all the way to Mendiola, but walking halfway is better than not walking at all. I may not have participated in the strike during the first 2 days, but joining the culminating activity is better than not participating at all.
My professor once told me, "OK lang sumali kayo sa mga walkout walkout at rally rally na yan, basta siguraduhin niyong alam niyo ang ipinaglalaban niyo."
The budget cut affects me, and I will not allow that to happen. Budget cut rally, 'til we meet again next year.