After the election season, during a vote count process that took way, way longer than it should’ve, many of us felt there was no hope left to feel for a country that seemed to choose its own disrepair. Our current lineup of senators consists of plunderers, killers and fools, and we won’t be able to vote for new ones until 2022. And we’re not sure if we’re even going to last that long. The question that seems to be on everybody’s minds is: “What can we do?”
And I think what mean when people ask that question is “How can I help?” Well, firstly, we’re glad you’re on board and rightfully pissed off about the whole thing. And secondly, we understand your confusion. Not a lot of people know what participating in political work beyond just voting entails. We’ll tell you now, one way to get started is to find people who care about the same things as you, and get involved in those communities. Election season may be over, but the work isn’t. We can organize, mobilize, participate in meaningful discussions, and devote a little more time and energy to uplifting the marginalized.
So we’ve compiled a (not at all exhaustive) list of organizations whose efforts you can keep up with or possibly even join, the issues they care about, and how they go about the work of activism. We’ve classified them according to issue, so you can choose which ones to join according to the issues closest to your heart. We’re sure we’ve missed a few organizations though, so don’t be afraid to use this piece as a reason to talk about who else is making a difference in your community!
(We opted to exclude faith-based organizations and religious outreach efforts, in the interest of being inclusive. And we didn’t put any political parties here either. We believe that the collaborative effort of making this country a better place is an undertaking that goes across and beyond party lines.)
This is what we can do and these are the communities we can be a part of, moving forward, until the next senatorial elections, and even after that. Para sa bayan!
Blue collar workers just can’t catch a break in this country, systemically speaking. Their working conditions do not cater to their best interests, their pay is low, and contractualization culture prevents them from holding down a stable living. Their financial struggles are not their fault, but the fault of the corporations that exploit them and the politicians who would rather pander to the rich than the poor. SENTRO ng mga Nakakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa aims to organize the working class through unions, and sheds light on their plight through demonstrations. They’re not the only organization that does this though! Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino and Solidarity of Unions in the Philippines for Empowerment and Reforms (also known as SUPER) are also good places to start, if the issue closest to your heart is the empowerment of the working class.
But when we fight for our workers, we aren’t just talking about the ones in the city. What about our farmers, who are most affected by the haphazard (to say to the least) ways our country handles agriculture and land issues? PAKISAMA (Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Magsasaka) is a movement three decades old made of farmers, fisherfolk, and indigenous peoples that aim to organize farmers and their enterprises and push for effective policy. They’re based in Davao, but drop them a line even if you’re not from there, because they’re accepting volunteers! To keep up with news on issues on farmer’s rights and calls to action, you can also keep yourself updated on the Stop Killing Farmers movement.
Farmers and workers and indigenous peoples are the ones most affected by global warming, pollution, and the ongoing climate emergency, but the deterioration of our environment is something that affects us all. The icing on top of that metaphorical crapcake is that during the last senatorial race, we saw, across party lines, a stunning lack of platforms that promised to tackle climate change in any meaningful way. It probably isn’t a big priority for our lawmakers, but it is for us, the youth. Youth Strike for Climate PH is inspired by the efforts of Greta Thunberg to bring the seriousness of our climate emergency to the attention of governments and companies worldwide. In fact, they’re holding a countrywide protest this Friday, which is something you might want to come through to! If you’re interested in organizing your own demonstrations or discussions in your school or community, you can look to the I Am Climate Justice movement as well, to find out how.
Gender Issues and Women’s Rights
Five of our new senators are women, but let’s not be quick to call this a win for feminism. Imee Marcos is the unrepentant daughter of an unrepentant dictator, Cynthia Villar is a Vistaland corporate fiend, Pia Cayetano calls herself a feminist but has not spoken even a whisper of dissent against Duterte’s many misogynistic statements, Grace Poe has defended Ferdinand Marcos’s legacy, and Nancy Binay… well she wasn’t exactly the most progressive candidate of the 62. And while it is upsetting that we cannot look to our leaders as exemplars of empowering women, we can still look to those working close to the ground, outside of government, who share the same everyday experiences as you and me. Usapang Lalaki aims to create safe, educational spaces for others to talk about and learn about women’s issues and LGBTQ+ issues. What makes Usapang Lalaki interesting as a project, discursively, is that it also gives men a space to learn about these things without being judged. Sexists mindsets and internalized misogyny are hard things to learn, after all, so it’s something that we should be able to do together! Kababae Mong Tao is another group you can look to especially if you’re a creative! This multimedia platform aims to uplift female artists and cultural workers.
The Drug War
There are, for sure, many groups aiming to fight against the drug war and help the families of those affected by it, but let’s focus on one for a moment. SANDATA is a collective comprised of rappers Calyx and BLKD, writer Mixkaella Villalon, and development workers and researchers Ica Fernandez, Abbey Pangilinan, and Tanya Quijano. SANDATA’s aim is to combat the drug war and misinformation through art and data. In one gig for example, whose funds were donated to families affected by the drug war, a brief education session between acts was held to teach those in attendance about the numbers behind the drug war. Follow their efforts, donate to their cause, and be a part of their shows! This colliding of the worlds between data and music is a unique and potent way to combat an evil that has taken the lives of so many of our countrymen.