People’s State of the Nation Address 2021

On July 25th, Sulong UBC joined other progressive Filipino forces and solidarity allies to say goodbye to Duterte’s regime and give our own State of the Nation Address. Watch our abbreviated statement from the rally and read the full statement below, and watch our cultural performance at the bottom of this page:

Mabuhay sa inyong lahat! Warm and militant greetings from Sulong UBC at this People’s State of the Nation Address!

We are speaking to you today about the true conditions of the Filipino people. In a few hours, Philippine time, Duterte will be delivering his sixth State of the Nation Address to 200 of his cronies and other lawmakers, dignitaries, and media. But here and now, we are delivering a state of the nation address that is directed to the Filipino people. We are here to make sure that we expose the realities of the situation of our kababayan. We are here to make sure that this is Duterte’s last State of the Nation Address. We are here to proclaim that we have not forgotten the crimes that have happened under his orders, and that the eyes of the Filipino diaspora around the world are watching. 

As students, we know that education is a place of ideological struggle. From Spanish friars to American Thomasites, schools have been used against the Filipino people by colonizers to crush our patriotic spirit. This is why it is so urgent for us to organize as students. Students face exploitation at every turn — as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the economic crisis which pushes the working class further and further into debt, universities in the Philippines and in so-called Canada raise tuition costs and exploit student workers so that bureaucrats can reap the profits.

Filipino students come to occupied and stolen Coast Salish territories because they cannot live in their homelands. More and more young Filipinos are migrating to Canada as international students because their opportunities for labour migration are increasingly few, even as conditions in the Philippines continue to worsen. Here at the University of British Columbia, they are met with international student tuition rates which have increased 297% in the last twenty years, while the average wage has increased by only half as much. Those who remain in the Philippines struggle to survive and put themselves through school, as COVID-19, contractualization and falling rates of pay hinder their prospects of achieving anything close to a livable wage.

These conditions push us to study the situation of the people and fight to change it. We learn the truth of Philippine history and politics not in neoliberal K-12 educational programs geared towards producing graduates for labour export, US-funded grad programs nor overseas in the imperial core, but by uniting with the masses and struggling alongside them.

A genuine people’s education happens when Indigenous children learn their history and language in the Lumad schools of Mindanao. It happens when student organizations teach Philippine history and politics on university campuses across the Philippines and around the world. It happens when youth integrate with migrant workers struggling for their rights and welfare right here on farms in British Columbia.

Yet our people’s education has been met with bombs from the US-Duterte regime and with red-tagging and legalized harassment. It has been met with extrajudicial killings. In February of this year, Chad Booc was arrested after facing death threats for the so-called crime of teaching Lumad children at the University of San Carlos, after these children had escaped state-backed violence in their home territories. He was arrested for the so-called crime of protecting Lumad culture while exposing the violence of martial law in Mindanao and the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Chad Booc has since been released, but Karina Dela Cerna, who was arrested in October 2019, is still in prison after her arrest during rehearsal for a cultural performance — a rehearsal like the ones we’ve been having for the song we’ve prepared today. Karina is a student and Deputy Secretary General of the National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates Youth — she was arrested at 19, and has spent two birthdays in jail. While in jail, Karina remains to us an example of the strength of women, of peasant youth, and of students in the movement as we echo her calls to Defend Negros, Defend Peasant Advocates, and Free Political Prisoners!

The US-Duterte regime has responded to our cries for justice with violence, just as the US-Marcos dictatorship did decades ago. In 1989, UP-Diliman students struggled for the UP-DND Accord in the wake of a long and brutal struggle against the repression of the Marcos dictatorship. The UP-DND Accord protects the university campus from unauthorized entry by police and military. In 2021, Duterte and the UP administration used “student safety” as a cover to unilaterally terminate the accord, all so that armed forces can more easily harass and intimidate student organizers. As students at UBC’s Vancouver and Okanagan campuses, we understand that here the RCMP presence on Musqueam and Syilx land is yet another manifestation of the Canadian state’s militarized incursions into Indigenous territories. 

While students unite with the broad masses to struggle for freedom and justice, the US-Duterte regime has intensified its war on the people. Our correct analysis of the situation — our understanding of the relationship between the rotten bureaucrat capitalism which governs our nation, the feudalism which exploits land and peasant, and the imperialism which exploits labour for profit — is met with violence and murder. But state-sanctioned terror in reaction to the awakening Filipino people will not destroy our commitment to advance Philippine society.

Estudyante at kabataan, magkaisa at makibaka! Students and youth, unite and struggle! Remember and uphold our legacy of resistance, for we are the descendants of the Katipunan! We are the descendants of the First Quarter Storm! We are the descendants of the Diliman Commune! We draw inspiration from our history. We draw strength from the broad, toiling masses of the Filipino people. From Turtle Island to the Philippines, we unite against fascism and struggle for national liberation and genuine democracy!

Estudyante ng bayan! Palaban militante!

Ang tao makabayan! Lumalaban!

Imperyalismo ibagsak!
Pyudalismo ibagsak!
Burukratang kapitalismo ibagsak!

Duterte mismo babagsak!