By Francis Ryan B. Pabiania | News Writer
Vol. XCI No. 4
People have to be “pabibo” and not have to wait for authorities or experts “to make real effective change,” said Silliman University alumnus, Val Amiel Vestil, during the AC US Embassy Talks at Luce Auditorium, Aug. 19.
“Gone are the days when we have to wait for policy-makers, academic institutions, lawyers, engineers, scientists, and experts to make real effective change. We just have to wake up that inner pabibo in us,” he said.
Vestil, Founder of Association of Young Environmental Journalists, explained how the term “pabibo” was associated with negative connotations.
He mentioned a definition he found online; stating, “Pabibo is a Filipino slang word that means someone who wants to show off, who wants to be famous but infamous, acting like a star, a know it all.”
He also cited on students in attendance during the event that they may have remembered their ‘pabibo’ classmates in high school. “Na nasa harap parati, teacher’s pet, raise nang hand every 5 minutes kahit hindi tinatawag. Oo yung mga pabibo nating friends,” he said.
Despite this, Amiel, who is advocating for Environmental Journalism, said he is becoming a ‘pabibo.’
“In this day and age, considering our pains and considering our privilege, we need to start becoming pabibo,” he added.
Vestil defined ‘pabibo’ as making relevant noise and causing proactive disruption.
“When people rally, they don’t just scream out senseless things. They are actually fighting for equality, fighting for social justice and fighting to get back the inherent human dignity that was stripped away from them,” he said.
He also added that there’s also a need to disrupt the systems that keep us from progressing. “We need to disrupt the order of things that we know isn’t right. Our Filipino resilience has taught us to smile it away, accept things as they are, and try to move forward with life.”
Vestil mentioned his friends, Toby, Mac and Anna, who lead the clean-up of Maningning creek after years of being a polluted river, served orphanage children with rescued foods from public market and trained young people about marine conservation, respectively.
“[They are] young people who feel the pain of the community they are a part of and acknowledge the privilege that they have been afforded with,” Vestil proudly said while introducing his ‘pabibo’ friends.
For Vestil, the conversation on climate crisis is no longer a debate on who is right or wrong, but a “debate on human survival.”
Remembering his heartbreak eight years ago and his fight for the environment, he said, “We don’t stop at being broken hearted. We try to heal.”
“We don’t need to wait for another storm or another typhoon or another disaster to hit us. We don’t need to wait for another heartbreak to come our way. What we can do now is to transform our heartbreak into social good. Kasi may magandang dahilan kung bakit tayo nasaktan,” he added.
Vestil was among the three other alumni Atty. Myrish Cadapan-Antonio, Harvard Hero Awardee; Asst. Prof. Ian Fermin Rosales Casocot, five-time Don Carlos Palanca Awardee; Academic Fellowship fellow Shamah Bulangis, Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI).
Silliman University (SU) Librarian Dr. Myra Villanueva said the event was held through the partnerships of US Embassy and SU through its network of University-based American Corners in key locations throughout the Philippines.
According to Dr. Villanueva, the AC US Embassy Talks is a platform of the US embassy to invite the youth of Negros Oriental to become members of YSEALI and US Government scholarships.
“This event is an attestation that a 21st century library is not only a learning hub but also a space of opportunity. The American Corner Dumaguete, which is located inside the SU Library, provides resources to the students, not only of SU but throughout Negros Oriental,” Dr. Villanueva said.
She also added that students may also have the opportunity to be trained and avail the programs of US Embassy such as Foreign National Student Intern Porgram, Philippine-American Educational Foundation, YSEALI, and Education USA.