The Gist


Contrary to the belief of online personality and former flight attendant Jen Barangan, the Filipino youth does not see activism as ‘additional noise'.

/ 2 March 2021

“Ever since I had the power to vote this has been my practice. I support the leader that the people chose and yes, there are instances that I don’t agree with how they run the country, but if I don’t have the best idea or any suggestion on how to resolve certain issues or crisis, I’ll remain silent and do my part as a good citizen in my own country. Because if I kept on complaining without any suggestion on how to resolve those, then I will just be additional noise.”

Social media personality and former flight attendant Jen Barangan, who has over two million followers on her Tiktok platform, was on top of the trending topics last weekend over her remark on activism. 

People on social media could not help but highlight the importance of airing grievances especially in the Philippines where the plight of the ordinary people remains invisible in the eyes of the ruling class. 

Simply put, Barangan made it clear that the government’s ears have no room for complaints if the people do not offer solutions that could make the system work properly. The Tiktok star even implied that withdrawing support for the government would also mean that people would just add up to the ‘noise’ that has been going around for ages. 

However, she seems to have forgotten that the freedom and opportunity to ‘complain’ is a fundamental right that we enjoy as Filipino citizens. Time and time again, activism has been used to alleviate oppression and amplify the calls of those who are in dire need of the government’s support. 

To understand what activism has done for us, we must understand its history. 

When the Spaniards first came to the Philippines, our forefathers rejected being ruled over by foreigners. Activism was already there. The youth would later go on and build small groups like the Kabataang Makabayan (founded November 30 of 1964), upholding youth’s devotion to our nation’s sovereignty.

This group was inspired by the young Filipinos who fought against the Spanish colonial authorities during the Philippine Revolution in 1896.

The University of the Philippines also became the cradle of student activists since the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP) was conceived in 1961.

SCAUP is remembered as the “oldest and one of the major progressive student organizations.” The ideas disseminated by this organization was accepted by the sectors of Philippine society interested in bringing about innovation and change.

The group, Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan was founded in 1968; joined by different people such as students, farmers, workers, intellectuals and professionals with the same ideals.

Another group has emerged on November 20, 1969, the Movement for Democratic Philippines. This group consists of assorted school organization, and reform Movements.

In April 1970, MAKIBAKA or the Malayang Samahan ng Bagong Kababaihan (Free Movement of New Women) was founded by Maria Lorena Barros.

The groups mentioned above eventually became a posse of young advocates who believe that oppression will only be perpetuated by those who do not stand up and speak.

In 1972, at the height of Marcos’ power, activists brought their grievances to the streets. Twenty years of democratic deprivation brought by the Martial Law only ended through the EDSA uprising. 

In more modern times, oppression is still rampant in the Philippines. That is why, now more than ever, we need to come together and put an end to the series of injustices brought by people in power. 

It is impossible to do so if we are blinded by our own privileges.