by Antonio C. Antonio
March 5, 2014
(My daughter, Professor Regatta Marie A. Antonio of UP Manila, posted this on her Facebook wall today. Yga is a product of UP Manila, got her law degree at San Beda College and took her bar review at the Ateneo Law School last year. Hopefully, she will be a lawyer after the Bar results are published anytime soon.)
“I've never attended rallies as a student, and now, as a professor, I've never encouraged my students to join rallies. But I have tremendous respect for those who march, or form pickets and fight for what they believe in.
It is a Constitutionally-protected freedom to express ourselves, to voice out our opinions, and to be heard when we have something to say. It is important to know our rights, and to fight for them, even to the death. It is, however, equally important to know the limits of our rights. Our rights end where the rights of others begin. While it is true that we have a right to be heard, we cannot compel people to follow what we order them to do, because it is their right not to. When others are also in the exercise of their rights, we cannot, and should not resort to violent means to achieve what we want.
UP has always been known to be a breeding ground for activists who say what needs to be said, and to take action against injustice and oppressive means. Through Honor and Excellence. Never through violence. That is not what we are made of. That is NOT UP.
We do not intimidate through sheer number. When we gather together for a cause, our cause is what unites us; Our cause is what makes us strong. Our conviction makes us powerful.
Our "Tatak UP" is not seen in the clothes we wear. It is neither demonstrated in how loud we can shout or how hard we can push or shove people, nor in the number of chairs, tables or doors we destroy when we exercise our rights. Our "Tatak UP" is in the way we think. It is in the way we analyze issues with critical thinking and openness; in the way we view the world from a different, wider perspective. That is UP. That is what we are, or at least, what we strive to be.”
The University of the Philippines being a breeding ground for activists is a no-brainer myth that can effortlessly be debunked (and no need for further explanation)… I agree with Yga on this issue. I have reservations, however, on her reasons for not encouraging her students to join rallies. The rallies today, characterized with such festive atmosphere, are more fun. So why not encourage her students to have fun? There should be a reason.
Yga’s generation, when they were still in school, enjoyed so much more political freedom than my generation. Some even contend that, because of the many freedoms they enjoyed, her generation is “soft” when it comes to hardcore national issues. Joining a rally or demonstration during the pre-Martial Law era was a most likely way of getting bloodied by a truncheon or landing in jail. Joining rallies in the late 1960's to early 1970's and the pre-EDSA Revolution period (1983 to 1986) was never a walk in the park. You must be willing to embrace violence as a possibility… violence that could be inflicted upon you and not by you. Like the demonstrators of old, the potential for violence from governmental authorities should define the character (strength, courage, resiliency and determination) of the demonstrators of today.
Today is a different story altogether. Student demonstrators, in some instances, are the ones who resort to violence as a means to highlight their opposition to any public policy. They abuse the leniency of police authorities because there is more democratic space and freedom now. I really would like to see if they are willing to do the same under an authoritarian regime or a police state like we had before. And they think they are patriots? In my book, they are nothing more than low-life vandals.
I’m glad Yga mentioned “critical thinking”… this is a vital component in the intellectual skillset of anyone who has the “Tatak UP.” “Critical” means crucial and gives the sense of discernment and judgement. Here are some views on critical thinking: “The skill and propensity to engage in an activity with reflective scepticism” (McPeck, 1981) and “Disciplined, self-directed thinking which exemplifies the perfection of thinking appropriate to a particular mode of domain of thinking” (Paul, 1989).
Core critical thinking skills include (1) observation, (2) interpretation, (3) analysis, (4) inference, (5) evaluation, (6) explanation and (7) metacognition. Critical thinking employs not only logic but broad intellectual criteria such as (a) clarity, (b) credibility, (c) accuracy, (d) precision, (e) relevance, (f) depth, (g) breadth, (h) significance and (i) fairness. Critical thinking, therefore, is simply a disciplined way of thinking which is clear, rational, open-minded and informed by evidence. “Tatak UP” will even go beyond the mere motions of intelligently answering questions but question the question until the right and relevant question is presented. In my mind, ito ang “Tatak UP”… and I’m glad my daughter and I shoot in the same direction on this matter.
Just my little thoughts…