“Wag matakot. Makibaka!”
Indeed, this phrase is a prevalent statement we can hear through chant, shouts or see painted with red in a placard by group activists that gathered to protest against the government. Usually, these kinds of act are present when something is questionable that was done by the authoritative government which has spawned a problem or an issue that affects the people or some sectors in the society.
This instance exhibit activism. Activism is defined as the action of using assertive campaigning and protest to create political or social change. It is the ways the citizen participate and interact, the processes that lead them to do so, and the consequences of these acts. Because of these political activities, several social changes have occurred over the last century transforming the nature of political participation (Norris 2009, as cited in Nolas et al. 2017). In the Philippine setting, there were events that activism was involved to create social change. One example of this is the infamous people power revolution wherein people from different sectors protested against the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Elwood (1997 as cited by Schock 1999), mentioned that the people power movement succeeded through the massive protest and successfully prevented violence.
Furthermore, activism is an act that involves language wherein people communicate and interact with coequal goals. This can be either in the form of written or spoken language. In like manner, Svirsky (2010) stated that activism is not a secluded or hidden phenomenon. Therefore, it is extroverted which involves the generation of public events. This paper examines what are an integral part of the language in honing activist to fight with their rights since language is within activism and protests. This paper presents that the roles of language in activism are to uplift the minds of the individuals by imparting knowledge and to unify people with coequal objectives.
Activists groups have plenty of programs that comprise language and communication. This includes activities such as teach-ins, symposiums, and seminars. As an exercise and task, activism uses a set of complex skills and a profound level of emotional maturity. In particular, it entails the union of a wide base of historical and circumstantial knowledge, public speaking and organizing and establishing skills, demanding a character motivated towards empathic care, and the capability to engage efficiently with other people (Stitzlein, 2012). In fact, here in the Philippines, activist groups also practice such programs and events. In the journal of Garcia et al (1970), it is described that Kabataang Makabayan, a political group, which was founded in 1964 has programs such as staged demonstrations, seminars, and teach-ins which meant at clarifying to and recognizing the people in the present state of the Philippine society and politics. From these shreds of evidence, it can be interpreted that language can uplift the minds of the individuals through these activities which are associated with language usage.
First, language can broaden and enlighten the mind of a person through imparting knowledge and education among individuals who participated in these kinds of movements. In activism, there is an exchange of words and ideas through such programs, thus, language is involved. As Sullivan (1998) depicted, language can transmit information to reduce uncertainty by increasing a person’s knowledge in viewing the world corresponds to the way the world is. From this, it can be deduced that language is one of the means to transfer knowledge therefore, it has the power to educate people.
Also, through motivating it can uplift an individual’s concept and ideology regarding political and societal issues. Jones (1989) described that in EDSA people power, many of the participants in the demonstrations were motivated to fight for democracy. Language has the capability to deliver motivation and encourage. This connects to the idea that language is a moral matter that affects how we view the world around us (Kemmerer, 2006). Additionally, Sawyer and Stetsenko (2018) stated that language as a social practice tightly linked to individual consciousness. Thus, as supported by these studies, the language in the context of activism has an impactful effect through motivation among the militant groups.
Another role of language in activism is it brings unification among the members of the groups. Language and consciousness arise in a dialectical connection to the primary purpose of coordinating and sharing with others during productive interactions (Sawyer, 2018). In the Philippine setting, throughout centuries, Filipinos gather in creating and honing a true Philippine democracy. An example of these is the rally against the corrupt term of Joseph Estrada. After four days of speeches and rallies, about three hundred thousand people broke away from the main group and marched on the presidential palace, where they fought a bloody street battle with police and military forces (Abinales & Amoroso, 2005). From this situation, it can be depicted that language has a unifying part. Before Estrada was ousted from his term, thousands of people gathered to hear the speeches and rallies which of course involves the usage of language and eventually they have succeeded to terminate the president.
Individuals unify through language by the use of lingua franca. Lingua franca is defined as a contact or vehicular language developed spontaneously in order to bridge language barriers with a simple grammar and a lexicon confined to the expression of only the notions needed for the communication goals of the participants (Brosh, 2015). The Philippines is comprised of 55 ethnic groups, who speak 171 languages and dialects across the 7,100 islands that constitute the archipelago (Bernardo, 2016). In line with this Bernardo (2006, as cited in Ozaki 2011), the Filipino constitution considered two official languages in the country: Filipino and English. Thus, these are both the lingua franca in the country. Meanwhile, the language of nationalism is Filipino according to Villacorta (1991), since it is the most effective vehicle that reaches the hearts and minds of the masses.
Through lingua franca, militant groups unite for the usurpation of the authoritative government. This is because language is a symbol and instrument of national unity and integration that contributes to effective communication linking all citizens in different parts of the country (Villacorta, 1991). This prove the number of attendees from different infamous protest which has happened before and until now. Thus, language has a significant role of unification among the members of the groups.
Overall, these have implications on the activism that had happened in the past as well as in the current situation in the Philippines. Through imparting knowledge as well as unification by the effective use of language, activism continues to rise after every political and societal issue. The roles of language in activism proves the emergence of different political organizations such as Anakbayan, Gabriela, Bayan Muna, and Kabataan party lists in the current situation since they use language to communicate, interact, as well as motivate its members for them to be aware of what’s happening in the social, political, and economic situation with the Philippines. Also, through language, Filipinos unify to fight against the authoritative government. One example is the people power revolution. Hundreds of thousands of people filling up Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), facing northbound towards the Boni Serrano Avenue-EDSA intersection to rally against the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos (Boudreau, 1999).
Language as a system of communication creates a big social change through the form of activism and protest. All in all, this paper evaluates how powerful language is in the context of activism. Throughout history, language has helped in promoting and voicing out freedom and democracy in the country.