This early, the 2004 national elections have given rise to unconventional and non-traditional political figures through the party-list system. Progressive groups are in fact supporting six party list groups: Bayan Muna (People First) which topped the 2001 party-list elections, and the newly formed Anakpawis (Toiling Masses), Gabriela Women’s Party, Anak ng Bayan (Youth Party), Migrante Sectoral Party and Suara Bangsa Moro (Voice of the Moro People) Party.
For this issue, Bulatlat.com gives space to the nominees of Anak ng Bayan Youth Party.
By ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
(Second of a six-part series)
A student of the University of Santo Tomas, attending a demonstration for the first time in 1997, commented that Apolinario Alvarez reminded him of Apolinario Mabini. The comparison is apt in more ways than one.
Twenty-seven year old Apo, as he is widely known in the cause-oriented movement, limps slightly as a result of polio, which Mabini also suffered from. (The difference was that the ailment completely paralyzed Mabini’s lower body.)
Like Mabini, Alvarez was born to a poor family. His parents are peasants in Bicol who earn a living by planting and selling dalandan, a local citrus fruit. Because of this, he has been able to see first-hand the effects of trade liberalization on the livelihood of farmers, who have lost to competition from agricultural imports flooding the market.
Alvarez has been a leading voice against the economic subordination of the Philippines to the United States. He was one of the convenors of the Philippines: Out of the WTO Youth Coalition, a broad formation against the World Trade Organization formed in mid-2003.
The WTO has been criticized by militant groups for imposing on its member countries destructive economic policies that promote globalization.
A former student of Political Economics at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Apo’s activism goes a long way. He is a former chairperson of the League of Filipino Students and now chairs Anakbayan. He was also one of the convenors of the broad Estrada Resign Youth Movement. In high school, he was involved in the campaign against U.S. military bases.
One of the most charismatic youth leaders of today, Apo is admired for his ability to combine fiery oratory with sound analysis.
Eric Jude Casilao
Casilao, 25, shot to national prominence late last year, when he spoke at a rally commemorating the anniversary of martial law. He spoke poignantly about the human rights situation in Mindanao.
But before that he already had a solid reputation as a youth activist in Davao City. He is known for his courageous leadership in the defense of students’ rights.
His voice booms when he speaks in rallies, but off-stage he is soft-spoken and mild-mannered.
The most commonly-heard comment about her is that she does not have the stereotyped image of activists, i.e. that of a grim and determined firebrand. True, but this slightly-built woman is nevertheless a compelling presence on the stage, especially when she speaks on campus press freedom.
Twenty-five year old Len, as fellow youth activists call her, took up Journalism at the Lyceum of the Philippines, where Satur Ocampo and Antonio Zumel also studied. She became editor-in-chief of its school paper—the first ever to attain the position as a junior.
As a campus journalist, Len proved to be a worthy heir to the militant tradition of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, tackling in her writings campus issues as well as national ones.
As a writer, her strength lies in being able to compel the reader without going into high-falutine terminology.
She is also a poet. Last year she won first place in a poetry contest sponsored by writers’ groups based in the University of the Philippines.
Len was also the secretary-general of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) during the Estrada administration, which was characterized by blatant violations of press freedom among other things. That early, she was deeply involved in campaigns for press freedom.
As CEGP president, she has also been a strong presence in national campaigns for media freedom. She was one of the main voices in protest actions against media killings under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. She also took the lead in involving the CEGP in the campaign of Media for Peace against U.S.-led war of aggression.