Tips from the first time rallyists

October 4, 2010 at 1:46 pm Leave a comment

N.B. – This article was first published on UPIU, September 28, 2010. This article was subjected to a class workshop for my Journalism 117 (Online Journalism). For this article, good comments on the choice of angle for a heavy issue was given.

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By Paul Belisario

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An estimate of 1,200 students from the Philippines walk out from their classes on Sept. 24 to protest against the government's budget cut on state universities and colleges. Student protesters rally on the streets of Manila to Mendiola Bridge near Malacañang Palace. (Paul Belisario)

It was Joan and Brian’s “baptism by the streets”. And more than the ideals of activism and their advocacies, they also learned some useful tips to prepare them for the streets on their next rally.

On September 24, students from different colleges and universities in the Philippines staged a nationwide walkout in participation to what they declared as the National Youth Protest Day Against Budget Cut on Education. The street of Manila, the country’s capital, was flooded with thousands of youth and students all in red. Amidst the honking of cars jammed in traffic and spectators, the waving flags, eye-catcher banners and synchronized shouts of rallyists dominated the busy afternoon streets.

Protesters denounce the current administration’s state abandonment of the education sector, specifically to state universities and colleges. Both coming from the state-run University of the Philippines which received one of the biggest budget cut of 1.39 billion pesos, Joan and Brian were more than prepared to walkout from their Friday classes.

At first, Brian was unsure about joining the protesters. He was hesitant to skip three of his classes that day, but realizing that a lot of other students are willing to walkout from their classes, he felt compelled to commit a sacrifice.

“Thinking about it, my participation was just a speck, my small contribution to the fight” , Brian said.

Joan’s expectation was a mix of excitement and fear. Being open to adventures and new experiences, the idea of joining a massive queue of other students excites her. On the other hand, her notions of a violently dispersed demonstration and clash with the police gave pinches of worry.

“It was funny I was imagining myself bleeding on the head,” she jokingly admitted.

Having the first hand experience of long walks, with runs and jogs in betweens, of frying heat from the sun and of smog and pollution of the metro, Joan and Brian gave some tips to prepare themselves for the next rally:

1. Bring an extra shirt. Kilometric walks and unforgiving heat will surely drench anyone in sweat after a protest rally. It is better to bring some clothes to change after.

“We were fortunate the fire trucks did not water the protesters down. We would be going home soaking wet, if ever,” Brian added, realizing the importance of bringing a clean, dry shirt.

2. A good, absorbent face towel will also do a great help.

3. Liters and liters of drinking water is important: to keep you hydrated after sweating profusely, to help your throat after chanting on the top of your lungs, and to give some to those who forget to bring their own.

Bringing not even a drop of water, both first timers settled to refresh themselves with ice candies sold by street vendors.

4. Wear a good pair of walking shoes.

5. If available, protect your skin and put some lotion with sunblock. An umbrella, baseball cap or colored shades could also ease the heat.

6. Perfume, cologne and/ or baby powder could also help you refresh afterwards.

It would be a bit embarrassing to be shunned by co-commuters in a jam-packed bus or train on the ride home because we stink, Joan said.

7. But most of all, one should prepare one’s self.

Both agreed that one should be ready against the sun, to drip from wet and to be dripped on with sweat. There would be no room to be choosy and finicky along the streets. What people came for is to bring their redresses and cries to the public, and they came there expecting no special treatments or comfort.

“What you will go to is not a party,” Brian said. Joan nods in return.


Brian Galon, 19, and Joan Sebastian, 18, are first year students both taking BA Filipino at the College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City

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