“You made me indestructible because with you I do not end in myself.”
— Pablo Neruda, “To My Party”
There is no bright future for the youth under the present dispensation: suffering from the worsening commercialization of education, they face a future of joblessness, low wages, and oppression under a system that serves the ruling classes and their foreign masters.
The old social order is rotting. But the new one has yet to be born. This in sum is the condition that compelled concerned students in 1987 to establish NKE in order to advance the students’ rights and welfare and to serve the people.
If there is one thing that sets NKE apart as a distinct political force in UP Cebu, it is the party’s recognition of its being part of a greater whole, a totality that is not confined to the four walls of the classroom or within the fences of the campus.
Tracing the roots of campus issues to wider social ills, NKE has proven itself time and again to be at the forefront of collective action to advance the nationalist and democratic interests not only of the students but of the Filipino people.
Like any other organization, NKE have had its ups and downs. I remember a back when I was still a student how some student activists became contented with the usual close-knit circles of friends, a small group culture which I hope the current batch has or is striving to overcome.
More could have been aroused, organized, and mobilized. More victories could have been attained. There was in short no Golden Age in the past, only a history of struggle to overcome weaknesses and reaffirm ideals in order to serve the students and the community better.
And yet NKE has remained an independent force within the campus and greater society that is neither a pawn of the university administration nor a puppet of succeeding governments in power.
Last Tuesday night, I dropped by in a meeting of the NKE slate, campaigners, and supporters after buying milk for my baby at the grocery. I wasn’t able to stay long but there I saw a new crop of student leaders energetically discussing issues affecting the students and society.
This is what makes NKE the bearer of the New even in its 28th year. For it continues to represent a rupture with the old way of conceiving and doing student politics: militancy over compromise, activism over indifference, principled criticism over black propaganda, organization over disunity, collective action over individualism.
“The true question is always,” according to the philosopher Alain Badiou: “what happens that is new?” For all its flaws, NKE can be credited for continuing to uphold the New in an old situation that has yet to be superseded by the march of history.
I am glad to see NKE as a party that remains bonded together by principles rather than a motley collection of discordant voices brought together only by vested interests or old resentments.
Rest assured I am always willing to give advice based on my past experiences as a former student leader in UP and full-time activist. But I also respect the decisions you take as a collective directly immersed in the issues confronting your milieu.
Finally, in whatever course of action you undertake, may you never forget Chairman Mao’s words of truth that it is “The people, and the people alone, who are the motive force in the making of history.” Continue to lead in the ushering of the New.
Dare to struggle, dare to win! Padayon NKE!