By: Shaina Semaña
In this modern and digital times, it’s disheartening to see that we keep on finding ourselves in a rather dark path. As if the pandemic isn’t enough, you will hear the world crying—seeking for justice and freedom. As most of us are stuck in the community quarantine, it gets more and more disheartening, frustrating and maddening knowing that there is very little you can do to fight for the freedom and justice that the system is taking away from us. But is it really that hard? Will we stop fighting what we think is right just because we’re confined in the four walls of our homes?
Never. Because you can be at home and be active—it’s called slacktivism. According to Oxford Languages, slacktivism is the act of supporting a social cause using social media or any online platform, “characterized by very little effort or commitment”. Due to the lack of commitment, the relevance of slacktivism has been criticized over time but it’s also been proven countless of times that your activism at home matters.
Here are some simple ways you show your activism online.
Online petitions are the easiest and simplest way to show support. You can do your part in just three steps; log in, sign then share the petition to your friends. It’s so easy that a lot of people can’t help but ask; do online petitions really do something? Well, online petitions do not magically solve issues in our society but it definitely does something. Online petitions are able to unite supporters from all around the country or world to create noise loud enough to start a movement or even rattle decision makers.
An example of a powerful and successful movement that started from online petition is the order to demolish Torre de Manila in Taft Avenue. In 2012, a petition started calling for the demolition the condominium that is offensive to sight of the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park. The petition started a three-year battle against the contractors, ending with multiple building ordinances in Manila. In 2015, the court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), stopping the construction of the building. It was until 2017 when the TRO was lifted and the construction was allowed to resume. Even so, the suspension of the building construction and with Manila City Ordinance 8310—which prohibits construction of any infrastructure that would ruin historical and cultural sites—being passed during the petition, proves that online petition can really do something.
Support donation drives.
If you really feel like doing something tangible, supporting donation drives is the way to go. Instead of simple signing and sharing links, this one requires financial effort. The thing about donation drives, though, is that every cent counts. It doesn’t matter if your contribution is big or small, as long as you shell something out, it will definitely make its way to support the subject cause.
Besides, donation drives are not just about the money, it can be in kind too. For example, the Community Technical College of Southeastern Mindanao organized a call for book donations in 2018 for Lumad students to get through college. Again, it’s not black and white; donation drives don’t automatically solve the problem but it contribute to alleviating the hardships of the people involved.
Bianca from Pampanga has turned to donation drives as well to support her causes. “It sparks conversations about the issue.” She said about the importance of such drives to the bigger cause and to herself. “(It’s) low risk and low cost so it’s easier for everyone to engage.”
Art as an expression speaks volume, especially in times of oppression. What can’t be said through speech can be expressed through art and can be even louder. Protest art started as early as the 1900s and just like how art progresses in time, protest art evolved as well. Today, protest art grows vigorously with digital technology. A lot of young artists today turn to their art to support what they believe in, contribute to or even start a movement.
The Concerned Artists of the Philippines has always turned to art to express their thoughts and stand on the current issues of the country, using all forms of art—from music, film, literature and, mostly, digital art. In 2019, they expressed their opposition to the proposal to lower minimum age of criminal responsibility in the country through an editorial art.
Ashka, a young artist from Makati, is one of the many artists who turned to their medium as well to voice out her support in the recent societal issues that our country faces. She admitted that she was initially scared to make and post illustrations and post online but she knows as well that making noise is an integral part of activism.
“I think, nowadays, having a social media account bears responsibility for you to inform your followers, no matter how big or small your following is,” she explained. “I think I create as part of taking a stand and for informing others.”
Joining online protests.
Our parents, lolos and lolas, titos and titas are witnesses or part of the history that built our nation. They can all prove that going out on the streets to rally and make noise is the strongest form of protest. When people are out, shouting for their rights, there is no way they can’t be heard and seen. But amidst the pandemic and as most of us are stuck at home, we are faced with yet another challenge, how can we rally for our beliefs? Luckily, we live in the digital age where protest can start and go big online.
To celebrate the 2020 Labor Day amidst the quarantine, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) held the country’s first ever virtual rally on Facebook. The organized rally is joined by different women and youth activist group with Senator Lisa Hontiveros and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno jumping in as well. In a statement on their Facebook page, KMU stated that the voices of labor forces must be heard even amidst the COVID19 fight. “Workers are separated by social distancing, but still stand together in solidarity as they urgently call for mass testing and treatment, and adequate relief and support for workers, quarantined community and others affected by the lockdown.”
Meanwhile, Toni from Makati shows support in online protest and participates as well. “Protests don’t only happen on the streets, it could happen online too,” she said. Toni explain how the importance of online protests is a drive to educate those who are still in the dark amidst the current issues in our society. She hopes that they can also stand for the greater good. “With digital campaigns, hashtags to be used, along with the help of the creatives, Twitter can be our next La Solidaridad.”
Speak. Be loud.
Sometimes the weight of everything happening at once takes a toll on us. It’s overwhelming and frustrating, especially when it feels like there’s nothing that you can do. When you are starting to feel small amongst all the oppression, remember that there is a reason why people are fighting. People are going out to rally, they’re signing petitions and making donations, they’re turning to art to express their anger—people are doing everything in their means to fight because it is a fight worth fighting for. People are fighting for justice, for their rights, for their freedom—for the country. And you, too, can do something.
So, if you find yourself in a growing frustration and anger but don’t know what to do, get your mobile. Write a status, tweet something or post something. Speak up. Be loud. Fight the oppressors and tell them that you don’t deserve to be deprived of your rights and of justice. It may look like a long shot but it is definitely worth the shot.
“Patuloy lang ‘yung pag-ingay! (The noise continues!)” Ashka added. “Mabuti nang may ginagawa kaysa wala. (It’s better to do something than nothing.)” Just like her, don’t let the walls of your house kill the fire in your heart. Fuel your activism right at your fingertips.