Serve the People, Ang Kasaysayan ng Radikal na Kilusan sa Universidad ng Pilipinas: A Book Review

The section of the book dealing with the fourth period 1983-93 is very interesting as it not only describes the state of activism among the students then. More importantly, it described the equally important role and development of the progressive movement in the communities within UP and the union of employees.

Writings about the fifth period 1993-2000 showed the difficult times during the period, that of discernment and struggles, unities and contradictions that led to a break in the student movement within the university and beyond. This section also manifested the comprehensiveness of the book as it contains articles describing the further development of the progressive cultural movement and the growth of the movement of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals within the university.

The last period 2000-2008 presented the state of the activism in the UP community now and the numerous issues and challenges it is facing especially amid the period of neoliberalism and crisis. It showed the different important issues and challenges confronting the UP community namely, the RGEP, the phenomenal increase in tuition and other fees, the new UP charter and the commercialization of the state university.

To give a human face to the development of activism in UP, the book chronicled the lives of some of its martyrs.

The epilogue of Prof. Judy Taguiwalo described the thread that permeates in all periods in UP’s history, which she described as the struggle of the university within the university versus the prevailing reactionary character of UP as an institution being as it is a tool of colonization and the status quo.


The book is profoundly comprehensive in content and style. It chronicled the periods in the development of activism from the beginnings of the university up to the present. And it did this using different forms: essays, testimonies, editorial, poems.

In the process of describing the development of activism, no sector was left without being described: the movement of the students and faculty, the sons and daughters of the UP academic community, the communities within UP, the non-academic employees, the women, gays and lesbians. And of course, no progressive movement could flourish without the development of the progressive cultural movement.

But the descriptions tend to center on activism in UP Diliman. As it is, the book is already 458-pages long. Perhaps future books could also describe the history of the radical movement at UP Los Baños and Baguio, as well as other units in the UP system.

There were also overlaps in the descriptions of certain events in some articles. This , perhaps, could be attributed to the fact that the book is a collection of writing about UP by different authors. On the other hand, the overlaps provide the reader with more than one perspective about certain events.

To present-day activists of the UP community, the book is a must reading. For no progressive movement could ever develop and achieve victory without drawing lessons from history .

For the un-initiated or to the mass of UP students and faculty, the book is a wealth of information and knowledge, from trivia about the names one sees in the halls and buildings, to the lives of the people you see around you, to the history of our beloved university.

Share This Post