For Mark Lovis Galanga or Kuya Mark as his fellow activists and friends call him, there is a need to participate in the forthcoming 2007 elections to further assert the youth’s right for brighter future and have an avenue where they could impart their potentials in nation building.
NOMINEES. (From left to right) Kabataan’s 4th nominee Mark Gallanga, Congressman Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano of Anakpawis, Congresswoman Liza Masa of Gabriela Women’s Party, Suara Bangsamoro’s 1st nominee Zaynab Ampatuan, and GWP’s 3rd nominee Flora Belinan. Photo by Brenda S. Dacpano/NORDIS
“Dahil sa matinding pasanin na dinulot ng rehimeng Arroyo sa mga kabataan at sa mamamayan, kinakailangan na makilahok ang kabataan sa eleksyon upang higit na maisulong nito ang interes ng bayan,” (Because of the burden the Arroyo government imposed on the youth and the citizens, the youth have to get involved in the elections to advance the people’s interests.) Mark said referring to the Arroyo government as unconcerned to the demands of the people particularly the youth. “It’s now time for us to be heard.” He added hoping to win a seat in the congress under the party-list system.
As the 4th Nominee of Kabataan Party, Mark’s contribution to the people’s movement in the Ilocos Region has been significant from the struggle of students for campus press freedom, tuition and other fees increases and other democratic rights up to multi-sectoral issues such as human rights, charter change and political repression.
“Hangad ng Kabataan Party na pagtibayin ang maka-saysayang papel ng kabataan sa makabu-luhang pagbabago ng lipunan,” (Kabataan Party hopes to strengthen the historic role of the youth in effective meaningful changes in society) Mark stressed.
Mark attended College at the University of Northern Philippines-Candon campus and took up Secondary Education major in Social Science. Mark was forced then to study in Ilocos Sur because his family could not afford college education for him. His relatives took him to their custody and sponsored his schooling.
The eldest among five siblings, his family’s hope lies on him especially when his father died. He recounts, “Noong namatay ang tatay ko, nakita ko kung gaano ang hirap na dinanas ng pamilya namin lalo na ng mama ko.” (When my father passed away, I saw the hardships of my family, especially how my mother suffered.)
His siblings would work for their family’s survival. There, he realized that poverty separated them from each other.
Mark became active in various co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. He became an officer of their class and a writer of Gazette, the official publication of the UNP Candon. He later joined activities of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP)-Ilocos Sur chapter and eventually became its Vice-Chairperson in 2001.
Mark saw various campus press freedom violations. He witnessed how administrators in schools suppressed the campus press, from witholding of funds to suspension of editors. These challenged him to serve the interest of the majority and not only himself. “Sobra ang ginagawa ng mga kapitalista-edukador upang pigilang maisiwalat ang kanilang anti-estudyanteng mga pakana sa hanay ng mga kabataang estudyante,” (I could not stomach the way capitalist-educators suppress the attempts at exposing their anti-student moves against the youth and students.) he remembers.
After a year of his term in the campus writiers’ guild, Mark later became the Chairperson of Anakbayan in Ilocos, which spearheaded the struggle of students against tuition and other fees increase, as well respect for their academic freedom.
Mark and other leaders launched various student mobilizations against tuition increases and violation of academic freedom of students in UNP, Divine Word College of Vigan (DWCV) and Macro Computer College. They also fought for the ousting of the repressive deans in Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College (ISPSC) as well in other colleges in UNP.
“The educational system is commercialized, colonial and repressive. The students must unite to uphold our right for a nationalist, mass-based and scientific education for our bright future. We cannot expect administrators to spoon feed our rights, it is a product of a long struggle of the youth and students movement,” he said.
Mark continued his studies at UNP in Vigan, where he served as an Editor for Tandem, the official student publication of UNP main campus and also convenor of various student organizations including the Alliance of Concerned Students-Partido ng Demokratikong Mag-aaral (ACS-PDM).
Mark maximized his potential as a student leader and campus journalist and led the students in their struggle for genuine student leadership.
However, the school administrators and even state security forces launched attacks against him and even exerted efforts to prevent him from pursuing the students’ issues.
Last year, Mark received several threats in his mobile phone on his involvement in the people’s movement. An intelligence agent, meanwhile, revealed that he is number one in the Order of Battle (OB) list of the military and the police.
Mark was then barred from entering several schools and was even placed under surveillance by student intelligence network (SIN).
“It was then that I witnessed how the state and its agents are doing its best to silence the growing clamor for student rights and welfare. GMA has her fair share in suppressing the people’s and the students’ rights,” Mark commented on his harassments.
Despite the attacks against him, Mark remained steadfast in serving the people. “It does not matter if I am subjected to the OB. It is expected. The best thing we can do is to continue our task to arouse, organize and mobile the broadest number of students and youth to participate in our struggle for genuine change and to oust an anti-people president,” he furthered.
Mark still has chosen to work with the youth and student movement in spite of what happened to him and the many opportunities knocking at his door. “I now understand that there are no equal opportunities for the youth especially for new graduates,” he said referring to his previous work in a radio station and as a secretary for an organization of hoteliers and restaurateurs.
Mark currently works as an executive official of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Ilocos while continuing his work with the youth and student movement.
Earlier this year, Mark was chosen as the 4th Nominee of Kabataan Party. “Dinaranas ngayon sa Ilocos ang matinding krisis sa edukasyon kung kaya naman kakaunti lamang ang nakapag-aaral gayundin ang kakulangan sa trabaho at lugar kung saan maaring ibahagi ng kabataan ang kanilang mga galing kung kaya naman ito ay isang simula upang maisulong ang mga karapatan ng kabataan sa Ilocos,” (The Ilocos provinces are suffering from an intensifying crisis in education that only a few are in school, as well as joblessness and venues where the youth could share their talents. Running for a congressional seat may start the advancement of youth rights in Ilocos)
At the age of 24, Mark is not a neophyte in the party-list elections. In 2004, he served as the Regional Coordinator of Anak ng Bayan Party-list and has been exposed in various campaigns and alliance work.
Now that Mark is fully taking part in the elections, he sees to it that the youth in Ilocos will be able to exercise their rights to suffrage. He envisions Kabataan Party to win at least one seat to represent the youth in the congress.
“The Congress is a powerful tool of the Arroyo administration to prevent the people from impeaching her from her stolen post and with that, we should participate to hear our voices,” Mark said of the junked impeachment cases against GMA.
Added to this, Mark remained strong in these trying times despite the spate of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
Kuya Mark, as described by his colleagues, is still like an ordinary youngster. He loves to sing, dance (like he did before he became an activist) and read fiction novels. During his free time, Mark plays the guitar or hang around videoke machines. He also loves to gossip about showbiz and other personalities. He also loves to immitate cheesy lines in shows he saw.
As a writer, he finds time, which he says, “reflect his views about the people’s struggle”. I have learned so much so I like to share it to the youth and give it back to the people,” he added.
Asked about his plans after the elections, he just smiles and says, “Serve the people.” # Rod Tajon for NORDIS