“Violence is man re-creating himself.”
– Frantz Fanon
The riot at the U.P. Pre-Valentine’s Day Fair in which 18 were wounded, including a university police force officer who remains in critical condition, has provoked a lot of condemnation of those said to be responsible. A group of youths tried to enter a concert at the UP Sunken Garden during the fair, and became unruly after being refused admission. They literally “crashed” the affair, kicking down the fences surrounding the concert area, which prompted the cancellation of all further activities. Thwarted, they became even more violent and started throwing paving slabs which were then lying along the Academic Oval. Manolo Quezon’s blog pointed me to several interesting posts on the incident, notably that of The Construct and the compelling video in thisiscoy.net.
The perpetrators of the violence, disparagingly denoted as “Jumping Jologs”, apparently resemble what we would have called “punks” during my day. It is a superficial similarity, of course, as true punks are defined by their preference in music rather than their sartorial outlook or social status. Jologs are a different breed altogether.
Per Smoke, Jologs “carries the hybrid connotation of having no class and being poor. Incidentally, a similar process previously resulted in the word “bakya” carrying exactly the same signification as jolog: poor and tacky.” Or “baduy”, as we would have said, although baduy is not necessarily poor, just uncool. They are called Jumping Jologs because they “jump around in mosh pits” and exhibit what is perceived to be uncouth behavior. According to Smoke:
So, Jumping Jologs (or JJs) is how UP students have come to refer to people they consider poor and tacky – tacky being defined as espousing an aesthetic that is at variance with the preppy fashion currently in vogue in Diliman.
Watching the video of Coy, the seemingly mindless violence shown by the Jumping Jologs reminded me of the rampaging French youth of a few years back, albeit on a much smaller and milder scale and without the racial or religious undertones for their outrage. Although the economic and social bases for their alienation is certainly there.
The JJs have been marginalized and while this certainly does not excuse their conduct, one can understand the frustration of being on the outside looking in. Of having one’s nose pressed to the window. This was literally true last Friday, when they could hear the bands playing but could not get in for whatever reason. They weren’t from U.P. but reportedly from surrounding depressed communities (when we say a community is depressed is everyone in it sad ?) . Maybe they had no access to tickets or couldn’t afford to buy. Maybe they sensed the fear and loathing of the college crowd. Maybe they were simply angry at not being invited to the party. Whatever their motives, they decided to act, spontaneously it seems. Hence, the clash (incidentally the name of an iconic punk band).
A witness to the French youth riots observed: “There’s a lot of rage. Through this burning, they’re saying, ‘I exist, I’m here.’ ”
It can be said that the JJs were likewise demanding recognition, through violence if need be. As succinctly stated by psychiatrist, philosopher and revolutionary Frantz Fanon:
He who is reluctant to recognize me opposes me.
Marxists will of course airily dismiss the JJs as lumpen, a rabble or the “refuse of all classes” , which include “confidence tricksters, brothel-keepers, rag-and-bone merchants, beggars, and other flotsam of society” (that Karl was a snob in his own way). As such, they are counter-revolutionary. But I would not dismiss them outright as totally devoid of revolutionary value. In both EDSA 1 and 2, I have seen jologs, individually and in a group, exhibit wildly courageous or foolhardy acts, depending on how you look at it, crossing rows of barbed wire and going toe to toe with the riot police. They would be the first to breach Mendiola.
This is not to condone or romanticize hooliganism, but simply an attempt on my part, however inept, to understand what happened. It is particularly important for U.P. as a community to come terms with this phenomenon as the
poor jologs, in one incarnation or another, will always be with us according to the Bible. How does U.P. now reconcile its vaunted (and oft proclaimed) libertarianism and egalitarianism in the face of the undeniable reality that it is an elite elitist institution ? Not just in reference to it being an intellectual meritocracy but in the immediate and real sense that it is actually dominated by social, political and economic elements popularly described as “burgis”. By its very nature, it is exclusive. U.P. is as upper class as Ateneo, at least on the surface. As had been pointed out innumerable times, the demographics of the state university has changed over the years. Anyone can see it. There are certainly much more cars, and late model ones too, than there had been two or three decades ago.
So U.P. is caught in a dilemma. How to keep out elements which are admittedly disruptive of an academic environment, if not downright criminal, and yet not disenfranchise the vast majority of those who have a right to visit the place simply by virtue of their being law-abiding citizens. It is, after all, THE national university. A strong argument for open gates is made by radicalchick, while the opposite position is just as convincingly argued by all the blogs which bewail the breakdown of law and order on campus, as exemplified by the Attack of the Jumping Jologs.
I have no ready answers myself. The problem is as complex and intractable as the whole U.P. system. But it will have to be addressed soon, as the tension between those from “within” and those “outside” continue to rise.