Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Vol. IV, No. 27 August 8 - 14, 2004 Quezon City, Philippines
UN body will confer a “youth empowerment” award to Mong Palatino, an
activist and youth leader often compared with former student leaders Edgar
Jopson and Lean Alejandro. Mong says the recognition only strengthens his
resolve to live up to the ideals of these two great Filipinos.
Monday, in celebration of the International Youth Day, a youth leader
often described as the Edgar Jopson of his generation will receive an
award from the United Nations Association of the Philippines (UNAP) for
“youth empowerment on national concerns.”
D. Palatino, or Mong to his friends and colleagues, said the award was a
pleasant surprise. “I was not expecting this,” he said.
who could have? A former teacher of his at the University of the
Philippines could not believe it either.
“She called me to ask if I was really the Raymond Palatino she
had read in the papers.
She asked me ‘Kailan pa
kumilala ang UN ng aktibistang katulad mo?’ (When did the UN start
recognizing activists like you?),” Mong said.
Rene Romero, national chairman of the UNAP awards committee, told Mong
that his advocacy as a youth leader, as an activist, was a plus factor for
his selection as one of the five UN youth awardees.
UNAP certainly recognized Mong’s consistent efforts in empowering the
youth. A graduate of education from the University of the Philippine-Diliman,
Mong was active in student politics. He was chairperson of the college
student council in 1999.
A year after that, he was elected as chairperson of the University
2001, Mong was elected as the national president of the National Union of
Students of the Philippines (NUSP), the biggest alliance of student
councils and governments in the country. As NUSP president, Mong was the
voice of the students in various hearings called upon by the Commission on
Higher Education (CHED) and by the House of Representatives.
was one of the convenors of different broad youth formations, including
the Estrada Resign Youth Movement (ERYM), Youth Action Network (YAN),
Filipino Youth for Peace, Kabataan Kontra-Kartel (Youth Against the Oil
Cartel), and TxtPower.
formations use different forms of activities to advance their objectives.
Mong mobilized the youth for protest actions, trained youth leaders,
lobbied in the Congress and Senate, and wrote statements and articles.
is also a columnist of Tinig.com,
a Filipino youth magazine on the Internet and a co-host of Apolinario
Lozada in the radio program Sabado
Live in DZAR.
he serves as the national executive vice president of Anak ng Bayan
(Nation’s Youth) youth party.
said the Filipino youth’s future would remain bleak if reforms are not
undertaken. The youth leader said education and employment are two
hope the UNAP will not stop at recognizing youth leaders. I hope to find
allies in UNAP in calling for the re-channeling of foreign debt servicing
to the education budget. I encourage my fellow youth leaders to see the
problems comprehensively, to look at structural inequalities and flaws,”
protests at media’s portrayal of the youth as apathetic. “We should
not allow them to brand us as such. The Filipino youth undertakes tasks,
responsibilities for the country,” he said.
noted the active involvement of the youth in the People Power 2 uprising
and in the anti-U.S. war movement last year. “We opt to be called
GenPeace instead of Gen X or Gen Y,” he said.
said he looks forward to meeting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo again.
He said it was in February 2002 when he last saw Arroyo.
could still remember how we called her attention to the youth’s
problems, particularly on education.
She said access must be addressed and scholarships must be
expanded,” Mong related. “I want to ask her what has happened since
does not let an opportunity to advance the youth’s concerns pass. He
often writes letters to the editors of national dailies to bring up an
issue. From Bayani Fernando’s plan to prohibit playing basketball in the
streets to GMA’s education-for-all program, Mong always has something to
is not typical of youth activists.
One could not hear him speak on top of his voice even during
He is rather soft-spoken but assertive. Mong is often described by
his colleagues as the sober type.
fact, Mong is a jester. When asked about his strengths as a youth leader,
he deadpanned: “I am handsome. When I speak, people don’t listen to my
speech. They look at me.” He then laughed and pleaded not to include the
quote in this article.
Romero had told Mong the youth leader could be the next Edgar Jopson or
To which, Mong replied, “Sir,
mga patay na po yun eh.” (Sir, all of them are already dead).
though, Mong said he is always flattered whenever people compare him to
Edgar Jopson. “At the same time, I consider it a big challenge living up
to the ideals of Edjop.”
could have been the president or one of the senators of this country. Yet,
after a successful academic career, he chose to be involved in the trade
union movement. He chose a simple life, a life not chosen by many, and a
life which is difficult to choose.”
said, “I may not be able to match Edjop’s great contributions but I
can look up to his examples. Like him, I hope to inspire future youth
describes his life as an activist as something addictive. “I feel
fulfilled. There are concrete gains, reforms for the youth and the
Filipino people in general.
I can never give up such sense of fulfillment.”
He added, “I don’t want to lose the idealism, the passion to serve. I don’t want to be like those who took advantage of their experiences as youth activists to advance their personal career.” Bulatlat