During the global climate strike last March 15, thousands upon thousands of young students took to the streets to protest against the lack of climate action, the lack of seriousness our governments and our elders in tackling the issue, one that will dictate our future. What I’m sad about is that few came to participate in the Philippines. Sure, there were events here and there but unlike other countries, the turn out to these events could easily be counted — and the usual suspects too.
I’ve been wondering why. Do young Filipinos not care about climate change? Do they not see it as urgent as other issues? But when I think about it, there hasn’t actually been any protest as of late (correct me if Im wrong) that has made thousands of young people come out to the streets. Not the Maria Ressa freedom of press issue. Not the recent water crisis. Not the China loans. I would think environment and climate change issues would be issues that are easy to support because it spares no one. Everyone is affected by climate change, noh? It’s an issue of food, water, poverty, peace, gender.
So is it because most young people are too busy with their own lives? Or have they come to dislike the idea of protest? Or were they raised to follow and obey rules instead of changing them and solving a broken system? I don’t know, and I would like to know.
Meanwhile in other countries, young people ranging from toddler to teens have come out. Sure, the toddlers came because their parents came out with them but this shows how their parents are raising them — questioning the system, fighting for their future. And these children’s efforts are not to be looked down on. Greta Thunberg, only 16, started this movement and is now nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. The UN has called for an assembly citing the global strike as a wake up call for urgent climate action.
Which begs to be asked again — how are we raising children in the Philippines? Do we raise them to be quiet and obedient at all times? “Basta sumunod ka na lang,” said the Filipino parent. Do we raise them to stop speaking for themselves? “Aba sumasagot ka pa!,” as if speaking for one’s self is wrong.
This is all theory of course, as I dont think anyone has studied it. But I can’t help but think Filipino parents (not all, of course) are raising children who will just accept things as they are. Will we ever teach our children that raising their voice and speaking up when something’s wrong is admirable and not punishable? Will we ever let them find their voice? Will we ever listen to what they say?