Welcome remarks, International Conference on Progressive Culture

Distinguished friends, colleagues, students, comrades and guests,

Welcome to the Philippines, to the University of the Philippines and to the College of Mass
Communication. The University of the Philippines is an ideal site for the simultaneous conferences
on people’s struggles. Since 1970 through the First Quarter Storm or the series of protest actions by
workers and students that paralyzed transport and claimed the university, UP’s history of activism has
become an indelible part of its social position as critic of Philippine society. The College takes pride in
co-sponsoring this very important and historical conference on progressive culture, especially at a global
juncture when a discussion of progressive culture is most needed and timely.

Imperialist globalization has brought in technological dreams of social mobility, saturating everyday
experience with malls, Hollywood films, cellphones, computer notebooks, the Internet and Facebook,
for example, that have heightened the social life of citizens in practices of consumerism and lop-sided
liberal democracy. Imperialist globalization has also been maneuvered through wars, anti-insurgency
campaigns like the Oplan Bayanihan, political killings and abductions, military presence through the
Visiting Forces Agreement,military aid, and dispersals of rallies and pickets.

The combination of hard-sell and soft-sell creates a culture that produces docile subjects. How can
people see the US as oppressor when, in the Philippine case, the US has the most number of Filipino
immigrants in the world, regularly sending remittances and balikbayan boxes to loved ones in the
country? Or that their familiar experience with the US in the everyday of the nation is contained in
Marvel superhero films, McDonald’s fast food outlets, social community networks that reify the logic
of imperialism? The conditioning of people’s hearts and minds has created a culture that is able to
subjugate behavior and thinking in favor of imperialist globalization.

But imperialist globalization is not a monolithic structure of power. Counter-hegemony and counter-
culture are simultaneously present, able to defy and liberate, even temporally, people into a progressive
consciousness and defiant action,even revolution, against imperialist globalization. Che Guevarra has
said that “We should struggle every day so that this love for humanity becomes a reality.” It can be
added that this great love for humanity needs to be stressed and asserted in the everyday struggle of
people. Only by modifying culture to its progressive potential can people act to liberate themselves.
It is our role as progressives therefore to constantly arouse, mobilize and organize people into the
liberatory potentials of culture and politics.

The College has taken firm stands in various media issues. It was part of the protest against the
Ampatuan massacre that killed 58 people, including at least 34 journalists, the single worst killing not
just in the history of Philippine journalism but in the history of journalism in the world. It has also taken
a strong stand against the 178 journalists killed from 1986 to Arroyo’s time, and the seven so far killed in
President Noynoy Aquino’s administration. The College has also been active in the struggle against the
budget cuts in education.

Philippine national hero Jose Rizal who this year is celebrating his sesquicentenary through his lead

character in the novel Noli Me Tangere, Crisostomo Ibarra said "I have observed that the prosperity
or misery of each people is in direct proportion to its liberties or its prejudices and, accordingly, to the
sacrifices or the selfishness of its forefathers.” Let it not be said that in our life and lifetime that we
were in deep sleep. We create the future through vigilance and perseverance in the struggle. Here’s
looking forward to a fruitful conference on progressive culture.

Long live international solidarity!