Rapping Filipino Youth Demand Funding ‘Education Over Militarization’

Apr. 26, 2018 / By


Above, Carson High School student Diane Mediano raps with her peers during the Kabataan Unite forum at the Long Beach City College Liberal Art Campus on April 21, 2018. Photos by Crystal Niebla.

NARRATOR: Youth from South Bay schools gathered for rap, dance, poetry, and a call to action as part of their first Filipino youth social justice forum on Saturday April 21, 2018 at the Long Beach City College Liberal Arts Campus.

The youth were part of Kabataan Unite, meaning youth unite in Tagalog, a six-week leadership training series of the Kabataan Alliance and the Filipino Migrant Center.

There, Filipino youth took what they learned and demanded that governments in the U.S. and the Philippines prioritize funding education over militarization.

ROBERT BAGALAWIS: It’s a collective gathering of youth and mentors, and we try to fight for the rights of students.

NARRATOR: That’s Robert Bagalawis, a junior at Cabrillo High School.

ROBERT BAGALAWIS: One of the things we want to fight for is free education because we don’t want to have to pay for college because it costs like too much for our income and our parent’s income.

NARRATOR: Youth then connected these obstacles to those in the Philippines as the U.S. spends millions of dollars in military assistance.

Here is one youth’s poem about the ongoing drug war in the Philippines read aloud in Tagalog.

Since President Rodrigo Duterte enacted his anti-drug crackdown, police have arrested and killed thousands of people suspected of using or selling illegal narcotics in the Philippines.

JEDI JIMENEZ: You know this problem is not just an isolated problem. Like, this problem is actually not just affecting Filipino youth.

NARRATOR: That’s Jedi Jimenez, an organizer at the Filipino Migrant Center who helps mentor youth.

JEDI JIMENEZ: It’s affecting black and brown, whoever you are, especially poorer, oppressed, low-income communities, black and brown communities in this country who are deprived of their education. And they won’t be able to succeed because of how this government has set up its priorities, which is foreign spending of militarization in this country and militarization of other countries. And the youth are really are really affected by that.

NARRATOR: Most notably, youth channeled their concerns through rap and song.

DIANE MEDIANO: Basically for me, I never knew hip-hop before. Like, I never kn[e]w how to rap.

NARRATOR: That’s Diane Mediano, a student at Carson High School, who joined Kabataan Alliance last September. Here’s her dropping some bars earlier.

DIANE MEDIANO: When I got involved in [the] community, I bec[a]me more [free] to express myself with rap. And I feel like expressing yourself by art is powerful since it’s more [of a] creative way for me.

NARRATOR: This is Crystal Niebla for VoiceWaves.

For more on the cause against the drug war in the Philippines, visit malayamovement.com



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Crystal Niebla

Crystal was raised in South Los Angeles and is the first college graduate in her family. She is a class of 2016 CSULB graduate who has served as an editor for her campus newspaper and freelanced for the Long Beach Post and Random Length News. Crystal is now a Report for America corps member, covering the Westside for the Long Beach Post. Follow her work @crystalniebla on Twitter and @crystalniebla_media on Instagram.