The Jologs In Our Midst

“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.

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14 thoughts on “The Jologs In Our Midst”

  1. in his analysis on why the President would stay in office, blogger Scriptorium pointed out that one factor emerging in society is the disenfranchised urban poor. Their urban insurrection in May 2001 galvanized opposition and a closing of ranks of the middle and upper classes. Your entry suggests this is a manifestation of that growing recognition of the power they have in their hands. The power of numbers.

  2. I think the gates have been long in order -with dozens of rape, theft and other incidences of violence. The last straw I think was the robbery of Veteran’s (?) in the Bahay ng Alumni.

    In all, I think you’re spot on about UP being an elite university.

  3. fyi. ‘latest news about the “gulo” at the UP Fair: the policeman hit with a brick in the head died.’ a u.p. writer friend posted this in my blog sometime this morning. but nothing on news sites the last time i looked.

  4. So shouldn’t a lawyer first find the facts? Were they beggars, those who crashed the walls, or did many of they have enough money to buy tickets?

  5. This article is insightful indeed. Personally though, I do not associate being poor as jologs but rather a person’s conduct and character.

    I have seen people with money act like “jologs” and I have seen people from depressed community act with proper decorum.

    Are the Jumping Jologs aka “orcs” the representation of the poor or is it a mere fad for the youth?

  6. Jumping Jologs, EMO kids, these brands evade the real issue. The culture of violence of these young individuals is a clear sign of how little we had cared and how little we know of fellow Filipinos. Violence is a passing thing– but we choose to emphasize this particular passage of violence because of further perversions of the formula– kids did it, not adults. In a way, we are simply spectators enjoying the show, as always.

  7. I share Lace Llanora’s idea of what I consider as “jologs”. As much as Jologs has become a colloquial term to refer to, the uh, “marginalized” and “economically challenged”, I prefer to use the term “jologs” to refer to a person who lacks the ability to control himself/herself and act with at least a grain of decency. For me, being poor is not an excuse to give in to the baser instincts. Similarly, being economically blessed does not automatically make you a better person… it just means you can afford more stuff.

    you know what they say…not all that glitters is gold.

  8. @ MLQ3, the mini-uprising of the urban poor in May 2001 was indeed a flexing of their political muscle in protest over the perceived persecution of their champion, Erap. But whether they have a conscious awareness of their emerging clout is still unclear.

    Blooger Karlo Mongaya, commenting here under Riposte (Mis) readings, suggests that vigorous organization by progressives might rekindle the sense of solidarity and purpose which the middle class and opposition had with this sector during past struggles.

    @ Caffeine Sparks, I agree that some sort of “gating” is due in order to keep criminal elements out. As I commented in Marck’s blog, a school has the right to take reasonable measures to protect students, faculty and staff in order to provide and sustain a safe learning environment. This is according to an SC decision which incidentally involved U.P.

    @ Angela, I hope and pray that the info you got on the death of the U.P. policeman is untrue. I haven’t seen any updates in the traditional media on how he’s doing. On a personal level, it’s a great tragedy for his family and friends. I have known more than a few U.P. cops during my day and, by and large, they are as honest and hard-working as any of U.P.’s non -teaching staff. On an institutional level, this incident (taken together with others in the past) might prompt the admin to give up some of the university’s autonomy and allow the regular PNP a bigger role in maintaining order on campus. With the attendant problems such a move would bring.

  9. @ The Equalizer, I don’t think a class war is on the horizon, in the Marxist sense, unless there is some effective effort to organize and articulate the grievances of the urban poor, including the “jologs”. They have a limited grasp of their capabilities as a revolutionary force.

    @ Mike H., they may have had the money to buy a ticket but their rage was fueled by their exclusion from all the “better things in life” enjoyed by their more affluent contemporaries. The wall around the concert area symbolized this and became a convenient target to let out their frustrations.

    @ Lace Llonora, agree. Having or lacking money does not determine “jologism”. It’s an attitude, a way of behaving and looking at the world.

    @ Furball, agree. Being poor is not an excuse for antisocial behavior. But knowing the economic stratification of society just might give us some insights on why these things happen.

    @ Marius Carlos, Jr. , I fear that violence is not just a passing thing and is becoming embedded in our culture.

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