Millennials: From ‘couch potatoes’ to street warriors; from Katipunan to Luneta (Part 1)

MILLENNIALS. Deserving or not, millennials have oftentimes been placed into a box and labeled. This article juxtaposes the average millennial between their good and not so good traits:

Ambitious but lazy
Hyper-connected but self-obsessed
Non-conformist but materialistic
Hard to motivate but more engaged

And there are other labels as well — couch potatoes, easily distracted, impatient, not easy to please, and I could keep going…


Before we write them off as being more interested in their social life than what is going on in the world around them, look again.

These past few days, the Filipino millennials have began redeeming themselves. Far from being the politically apathetic generation that my generation has viewed them to be, these “couch potatoes” are getting out and pouring into the streets of the metros.

What started it all

When the Supreme Court (SC) ruled 9-5-1 in favor of having Ferdinand Marcos buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, something inside of me died. These justices came from my generation. Surely they knew of its horrors. How could they vote the way they did? In whispered conversations growing up during martial law, I heard stories about the atrocities committed. While studying in the US, I got to meet Charito Planas when she visited our university and spoke to the Filipino students there. She shared her self-exile story with me including how she had to work in an eatery, serve customers, and mop floors just to earn a living. I felt betrayed by 9 the Supreme Court justices.

To make matters worse, even before the SC decision became final and executory, the news broke that Marcos was to be buried on November 18 at noon, without regard for the motions for reconsideration still to be filed, and in the absence of President Duterte who was at the APEC meeting in Peru. How could all these military resources be mobilized that quickly with people in government continuing to deny that they knew the burial would be on that same day?

With everyone caught off guard (we were still planning to attend protest rallies set for the 25th and 30th of November to ask the SC to reconsider their decision), I dropped what I had to do that day and headed for Katipunan. I was at EDSA when Cardinal Sin called for people to surround the two camps and protect the rebel soldiers. I had to go out again this time to once again protest what the 9 SC justices found acceptable – allowing a deposed dictator to be buried on sacred grounds (the Libingan ng mga Bayani) as a hero!

Photo by Noemi Lardizabal-Dado. Some rights reserved.
Photo by Noemi Lardizabal-Dado. Some rights reserved.


Photo by Noemi Lardizabal-Dado. Some rights reserved.
Photo by Noemi Lardizabal-Dado. Some rights reserved.

The Millennial Surprise

I was not expecting the sea of millennials.

Students from UP marched towards Katipunan to merge with Miriam College and Ateneo. While it was unfortunate that the horrendous traffic in Katipunan prevented me from reaching the rallyists in time, I saw evidence of newfound courage and determination in these kids, supported by their respective schools. As I walked along Katipunan with friends, my heavy heart began to lift again. There was hope!!! These millennials, who were not even born yet during martial law, were taking up my generation’s slack. They were willing to fight for something that they just learned about in their history classes!!!

The trek to Luneta

On November 25, the day of our Black Friday protest rally at Luneta, it was raining on and off. There was not much reason to be cheerful. I knew the Luneta grounds would be muddy. The traffic going to Luneta would surely be bad. And worse of all, the bad weather could keep students and professionals away. It took some effort to keep my hopes up and stay positive.

Meeting up with a few friends at a nearby Starbucks cheered me up a bit. I was in good company. Still, in my mind, I kept asking, will the students come? The University Belt and Taft students had a great chance of coming. Will Ateneo and Miriam students show up? Someone showed me an announcement that Ateneo and Miriam were going to hold their protest rally in Katipunan to coincide with the Luneta rally. Was that going to be it?

Call time in Luneta for all was 4pm. I got there shortly before 4pm and noticed that the tents on both sides of the stage were filled with senior citizens. They were early!

But it was still raining. Would the students come?


To read Part 2 of this article, click here.



This post is supported by a writing grant from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) .

Photos by Noemi Lardizabal-Dado are indicated on captions. All other photos are the author’s. Some rights reserved.