Student leaders from contending political parties in UP Los Baños (UPLB) gathered for the iTalk: Bayaning Filipino sa Makabagong Siglo Forum organized by the Alpha Sigma Fraternity last March 4, 2011.
Fresh from the recently concluded student council elections, UPLB student leaders participated in an afternoon of discussion on nationalism, heroism, servitude, and leadership. Among the speakers were former University of the Philippines College of Law Dean Raul Pangalangan, Artist Revolution’s Mae Paner a.k.a. Juana Change, and Paula Bianca Lapuz from Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation.
Mae Paner displayed photos of her taken by various photographers including Jim Paredes, as well as samples of paintings where she was the subject. The artworks were used to raise funds for their Juana Change advocacy, a viral campaign that touches on various social issues such as corruption, agrarian reform and migration. The campaign was launched in 2008 as a creative form of protest against social ills.
Paner shuns being hailed as a hero, but says she is a fearless advocate of change with nothing but the best intentions for the country and the President. It can be recalled that Paner was recently caught in a squabble with Malacañang’s communication group for her criticism of the President’s purchase of a Porsche, saying it was unnecessary and extravagant.
Former UP Law Dean Raul Pangalangan, on the other hand, emphasized the importance of having strong democratic institutions as a pre-condition for a developed country. In cases where democracy fails, institutions serve as the final arbiter, thus the significance of having credible and reliable democratic institutions.
Meanwhile, Lapuz stressed the need to find societal solutions that actually work. She said that while ideology should play a part in politics, leaders should focus more on trying to “hit the ground running.” Likewise, she explained that like big bureaucracies, student councils need to function long after the elections are over and this requires a great deal of political maturity especially if one is forced to work with other rival groups within the student council. Finally, she encouraged all parties to undergo self-criticism to check on themselves every now as part of internal organizational assessment. For Lapuz, this is a crucial component of the success of any group.
Organizers from the Alpha Sigma fraternity explained that they really targeted student political party members and leaders because they wanted to ensure that the newly elected student council officers and their respective parties will work pro-actively on the issues that really matter to the UPLB community.# PBL