Two days before President Duterte is set to deliver his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA), more than 40 mostly young people participated in a meaningful discourse to discuss the state of the nation “from the lens of the Filipino youth.”
Through the initiative of Rappler’s MovePH, in partnership with Dakila #WeTheFuturePH, most important issues affecting the lives of ordinary Filipinos – labor rights, environment and climate justice, press freedom and freedom of information (FOI), road safety and transportation, gender equality, and education – were tackled in a huddle called “SO ano NA?”.
Among the interactive activities prepared for the participants was to describe the country’s current state in one word. The most interesting answers included crisis, precarious, shit, pathetic, lost, abhorrent, impunity, bullshit, joke, grim, and wasak.
The second activity involved Mentimeter, Rappler’s mood meter, and seven attention-grabbing headlines that the online news website had released recently. The aim was to feel the pulse of the participants when the following headlines were shown on the screen:
- PH among worst countries for workers – global index
- This March 2019, the youth of Negros successfully campaigned towards a coal-free Negros
- 14 media practitioners have been killed, and 128 cases reported of attacks and threats during the Duterte administration
- Over 10,000 road-related deaths have been counted since 2016, with the most frequent victims – youth aged 20-24
- 70,000 strong tayo, mga mahal! #ResistTogether
- Kolateral is a 12-track album featuring various Filipino artists, where each track is backed by real data and narratives on the Philippine Drug War
- Deped orders temporary closure of 55 Lumad schools in Davao region
After each headline was flashed, the participants were asked to click any of the eight moods to see which emotions the particular story was able to evoke from the group. Thankfully, nobody showed apathy to any of the headlines by clicking the emoticon for “don’t care”.
The third and last interactive activity required the participants to group themselves into five (all had to come from different groups/advocacies) and submit a presentation of their consolidated vision for the next three years, complete with specific and feasible solutions to the key issues plaguing the country today. That particular activity proved to be the most challenging one considering the limited time allotted to the groups to come up with a decent presentation and discuss the same in front of everyone – not to mention that that task had to be accomplished by collaborating with virtually complete strangers. The participants, however, were able to demonstrate their exemplary ability to rise to the challenge.
Based on their presentations, most of the country’s problems basically boil down to lack of education, discipline, and involvement. Thus, their proposed solutions were aligned with efforts and initiatives to ally themselves with individuals of the same advocacy, to educate communities and target groups on various key issues, to lobby and pressure the power wielders to genuinely represent and work for the interests of the majority, and to initiate the changes they want to see in society from the most basic level – themselves.
The huddle, which was held right in the newsroom of Rappler, was an engaging and fruitful endeavor, so much so that a mere two hours was not enough to discuss each and every topic as extensively as each rightfully warranted. So, hopefully, Rappler and their partner organizations will continue to come up with lengthier activities of the same kind that will be participated in by more people of various orientations, and will give birth to ideas that will translate into progressive, sustainable and inclusive actions.