Rock The Vote PH - Where does the youth stand today

Originally posted, April 10, 2013
Where does the youth stand today?

Record numbers of jobless Filipinos. Real incomes are falling. Poverty is widespread. Landlessness persists. Domestic manufacturing and agriculture are on the brink of decline. The government is mired in debt. Social inequality is severe. Political repression is still persistent. Human rights violations continue to escalate. Corruption remains a systemic problem. Institutions of governance are weak and undemocratic. National sovereignty is always under threat.

More concretely, in the youth sector: Dropout rates are pegged at alarming levels. Only a few percentage of students are able to enter and finish college. Graduates have to scour for decent jobs with living wages but they are left with no choice but to accept subpar jobs. Health services remain inaccessible to many of our youth, especially in the countryside.

Past and present leaders have flooded the youth and the people with a barrage of rosy promises and bold declarations of economic prosperity and national development, but where do we stand today?

The mere fact that the Philippines remains embroiled in problems that have long plagued our nation and that development in the country has not been progressive belie declarations that the prevalent system works in the interest of the youth.

That the many of the youth today still dream of leaving the country and seek better opportunities in foreign lands says so much about the cynicism and hopelessness that has pervaded in the mindset of the youth. What better indicator could properly describe how the youth feel toward their country than the migration of the young Filipinos—they who were lured by the prospect of a much better life elsewhere, they who have lost hope in the country that supposedly treats them as “the future.” If the youth cannot find hope in their own country, what does it say about they type of society that we have created for them? The sense of hopelessness and indifference that the youth today feel is enough cause for alarm, but why do we continue to preserve a system that is rotten to the core?

Amid these glaring social realities, the youth is being accused of apathy and indifference. The said observation is not without basis. Today's generation of young Filipinos are slowly withdrawing from the social because they are too enamored with their individual lives. This individualism is reinforced by the dominant economic system commandeered by capital. The result is a commodty culture that manipulates the people into passivity, transforms the individual into a docile subject.

The Facebook generation are too busy with their virtual lives. While the internet has the potential to be utilized for bigger causes, it has contributed to the passivity of many of our young people today who prefer to live in the cyber world rather than immerse themselves into the society. It is even more distressing that many believe that they can change the world by tweeting and blogging about it. They are ready to fight for justice and democracy through debates in online forums.

Many young people also want to divorce themselves from politics because of the impression that it is only for the old, the learned and the professional. It also does not help that the government provides a limited arena for youth involvement—one that underestimates and misinterprets the capacity of the youth. It is almost insulting how the government limits youth participation to volunteerism and charity work when in fact, as history has shown, the youth has the capacity to partake in grand causes.

We always say that we stand at the crossroads. Perhaps such statement only reinforces the much desired need for systemic changes. We always say it because the previous roads that have been laid down for us lead to nowhere, to destitution, to perdition. We are thus confronted with a choice: do we choose the same path that our forebearers have chosen, or do we tread a new one?

It has been said a countless times: the youth is the wealth and hope of our nation. Sadly, this nation happens to be mired in a state of poverty—of living conditions, of genuine leaders, of radical imagination—and trapped in a web of social ills woven by traitors in history and preserved by the few who benefit from the chaotic social order. In order to break free from the chains of uncertainty and hopelessness, the youth must not only strive to change his/her conditions. The youth must struggle for the general uplifment of the people, especially the biggest segment of our population—the marginalized peasants and farmers whose basic rights to land and decent wages are sacrificed in favor the profiteering and wealth accumulation of the few.

The youth is a sleeping giant. They have not yet realized their potential because they are discriminated against, largely due to the feudal system in place. Their ideas are often dismissed as careless, reckless and unfounded by the old. Traditional politicians and leaders should not mistake the youth's preference for leisurely activities for apathy and indifference.

The youth must once again embrace the concept of revolution, this time learning from history and the correcting the mistakes of the past. The youth must be allowed to steal the concept of revolution, and prevent the old from distorting the all powerful meaning of this word. When the youth have found their place in society and in the revolution, they will be a force to reckon with—a force that will break the vicious cycle of inequity and disenchantment, a force for genuine change.

Rock the Vote PH is accepting volunteers who wish to engage in advocating transparency for 2013 national elections. These individuals will undergo a curriculum focusing on the release of materials about election related circumstances and other parliamentary subjects both nationwide and globally. For details, send an email to!