When I stepped into college, I was the typical passive and nonchalant teenager concerned only with two things: to finish college and to get employed in a good company. However, midway through my freshman year, a friend insisted that I run in the College Student Council elections as councilor. I won and so began my journey towards being part of the student movement thru my involvement in a number of organizations within and outside Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) where I am taking BS Journalism.
My tale may not be extraordinary. Perhaps mine is a typical story of a regular student who joined the student movement at a crucial point in history – at a time when activism is shunned by a bloc in our society, at a time when the youth is constantly accused of being apathetic.
I have often received compliments for being active in the student movement despite my physical frailties. I developed thoracic myelitis or inflammation of the spinal cord when I was just ten years old and have had difficulty in walking ever since. While I do not think of myself as either superior or inferior to others, I do hope that by reaching out to my fellow youth they too will realize that they are needed by our society to push for genuine reforms and that not even physical sickness can prevent us from participating in nation building. My experience in the student movement has made me realize how selfish I have been for ranting about my own inadequacies and limitations when a larger part of our population are more unfortunate than I am � youth from communities with no access to education, members of the labor, peasant and urban poor sectors who struggle to make ends meet despite unpleasant working conditions. My worries will never be as difficult as theirs.
How different things would have been, had I not dared run for the council. It is in the student movement that I am seeing genuine commitment of young persons pushing for authentic changes in our nation. Perhaps my efforts will never match those of my comrades but there is only one thing I am certain of – that whatever I have contributed, I will remember with great pride in my heart that I have been part of the struggle to bring about social justice.
Next year, I will hopefully be graduating from college. Come to think of it, the two issues I have concerned myself with when I entered college have not changed. What has changed is my perspective on them. These are things I want not only for myself but for my fellow youth: accessible education that equips the youth towards active citizenry and decent work that showcases our talents and interests. These will be my continuing advocacies.
Bianca Lapuz is the national spokesperson of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), a national alliance of student councils. After serving as Councilor, she was elected Vice President of the College of Communications Student Council in PUP. She is also a member of the Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (MASP), College Debate Team, Journalism Circle, Alliance of Students for Alternative Politics (ASAP), and AKBAYAN Youth. Despite her numerous extra-curricular activities, she has maintained her scholarship since first year college. Beyond her activities in PUP, Bianca is a volunteer for the First Time Voters� Project, a national networking and education program which aims to raise meaningful participation of the youth in Philippine political processes by examining socio-political economic issues and encouraging voters’ critical choice and active political involvement towards alternative politics and good governance.