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KASANGGA: From the Outset

Words by: Mia Tacoloy

[A candid interview given by Paul Uy, KASANGGA’s party head. He recounts what happened in last year’s election and tells of what’s to come for KASANGGA this AY 2017-2018.]

In the same way that much has been seen to change in UA&P around the start of this new term, some things have remained firmly in place. Looking back over the recent years, there were some developments that have taken root in the school population’s consciousness and are now further solidifying its integration within the university.

KASANGGA is one such entity, the other one of the two student-led political parties that embody the school’s political state of affairs. Having arrived on the scene just a year back and conceived mainly as an alternative choice to the longest running political party, some changes might also be in order for the neophyte group.

On the day of KASANGGA’s general assembly, party head Paul Uy spared a few minutes of his time to share his sentiments as to what transpired in last year’s student government elections and what to expect from the party this second time around.

The party and its members had proven themselves to be a worthy competitor in the race and an able socio-political body in service when they won an overwhelming majority of the seats in the previous USG elections. Expectations within KASANGGA itself actually exceeded this fact, as Paul shared:

“Actually, if we’re gonna be realistic with the founders and the old core, which was a really strong team, and the amount of training and effort they gave for our candidates…we were actually hoping to get all the seats of power in the USG.”

At the time KASANGGA was fully aware of the strong competition from ANIMA, particularly for the position of School of Management representative, and the party gladly welcomed the student body’s decision. Moreover, during Siklab 2017, the major culminating debate which preceded the week of the elections, Paul notes how their party’s efforts reflected well in the debate, and how KASANGGA humbly accepted “those who came out on top.” Post-elections period, Paul had this to say:

“They brought me in after the elections but I saw the progress of their training all throughout. The thing is, how the win affected Kasangga in itself, it really helped motivate our members…because of the fact that we weren’t all talk now. So our bragging came into fruition and we actually won enough seats to become an adamant presence in the university.”

The team drew strength and motivation from their victory, inspired to perform even better come next elections. In retrospect, the manner in which KASANGGA projected itself to be before and during campaign season may be described as “aggressive”, which was the consensus among students. For Paul, this perception has mainly to do with the party’s core beliefs. He clarified:

“I think, in general, we were aggressive, but not irrationally so… If you want to reach someone from across the room and it’s very crowded, aren’t you going to shout? That’s the logic in our aggression last year. We were tired of the lukewarm atmosphere in the university, the comfort that students had with staying amongst themselves, minding their own business. Because in society, that’s not how it works.… What we wanted was just like our battle cry, ‘shatter apathy.’ And that takes the greatest effort to do especially in an institution that isn’t really about conflict. Or controversy, for that matter.”

KASANGGA’s brand of socio-civic participation and active political engagement may prove to be a double-edged sword to wield at times. The party head imparts that just as the group’s appearance of personified “strength” attracts, this also tends to drive people away. Determined to pacify the seemingly intimidating vibe of the party and adopt a more truly approachable stance, Paul furthered:

“Usually the misconception is the political party that’s tagalog-speaking or the political party that’s very aggressive, yung mga aktibista, rallyista. But that’s not entirely us, what we’re trying to do is make them feel that our end goal at the end of the day is to actually reconnect the students with their fellow students in the university.”

Today, KASANGGA plans to solidify their niche within the university and simply deliver on the promises made the previous year through various year-round projects. So far, a sign of success for the party is that most students have started to recognize varied affairs and concerns in their surroundings and question why these are so. Passivity is becoming obsolete as a certain kind of noise now floats across rooms within the school, suggesting an increasing comfort with the sharing of opinions. For the party head, these are the fruits of KASANGGA’s efforts. Paul added to the party’s current direction:

“The change in strategy is more of finding a more solid structure for our organization because what we are afraid of is that when we graduate, or when the key members of KASANGGA graduate, it’s going to fade into nothingness. There are a lot of political parties in the university that have really just come and gone because of the lack of planning for continuity so right now, at least this year, that’s what we want to focus on. Continuity.”

All things considered, KASANGGA will be looking to dispel any doubts on what the party has in store for the student body and ultimately, what it will be leaving as its legacy. For the newcomer, it only takes the reconnecting of a people within society.

“I think both parties will be giving it their all. It’s just that of course, I think ANIMA has a lot to expect from us as well.”