WATCH: Juan Miguel Severo performs spoken word poem at the Mendiola walkout
MANILA, Philippines — Aside from students from various universities and local sectors, artists like Juan Miguel Severo also participated in the youth-led march for freedom and democracy #WalkOutPH on Friday, February 23.
Severo, a spoken word artist and an actor, is famous for his performances that usually delve on unrequited love. What is unknown to many is that he also tackles themes related to his advocacies. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Thousands join nationwide walkout vs Duterte)
In the protest, he recited his piece "Teorya ng Paglikha," a spoken word poem he wrote following the decision of President Duterte to allow former president Ferdinand Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani last November 2016. (READ: TIMELINE: The Marcos burial controversy)
Severo shared in an interview with Rappler that he also experienced being accused of wasting the money of the government for joining in rallies.
"Minsan na rin nasabihan na walang utang na loob ako bilang iskolar ng bayan para sa pagwawalk out, sinasayang ko daw ang pera na binibigay samin ng gobyerno di umano," he said, "Pero hindi eh, responsibilidad ng mga estudyante, ng mga mag-aaral na magsalita para sa kanilang mga hindi magagawa pa na makapagsalita."
(Being a scholar, there are times that I was told I was wasting the money of the government because I joined walkouts... But I think it is the responsibility of the students to speak out for those who can't speak.)
He acknowledged that responsibility comes with having a bigger platform to influence others.
"I do acknowledge my priviledge. I do acknowledge that I have a bigger platform. As much as I enjoy having this kind of platform, there's also a responsibility that comes with it. There are youth who are following me, and I don't want to disappoint them by staying silent," Severo said in a mix of Filipino and English.
He said that he knew some celebrities who also share the same views but are still reluctant to go out to the streets. (READ: PH celebrities express support for Rappler, press freedom)
"Marami sa mga tao in the showbiz industry are actually against din sa kung anong nangyayari sa kasalukuyan. It just so happened na siguro, I don't know, parang napipigilan sila ng kanilang stature or ng kanilang posisyon para magsalita," Severo said.
(There are people in showbiz who are actually against what's happening now. Maybe it just so happened that, I don't know, maybe there's something holding them from speaking up.)
He added that he believes in the power and capacity of those in the entertaintenment industry to become a positive influence to the public.
"I am waiting for them to speak up. Kung ang mga celebrities ay may kakayahan na magbenta ng mga produkto sa kanilang mga followers, most likely ay meron rin silang kakayahan na magbenta ng tamang idea sa mga to, kaya nilang magbago ng isipan ng maraming tao," Severo said.
(I am waiting for them to speak up. If celebrities have the capacities to sell products to their followers, most likely they also have the abilities to share correct ideas and change people's perspective)
When asked if he's afraid of what might happen after joining the protest, Severo answered "Takot? No. Bago ako maging artista, Pilipino muna ako. Bago ako maging artista, estudyante muna ako. Kaya 'yung pagka-Filipino ko dapat parati ang lagi kong inuuna kesa sa celebrity status."
(Scared? No. Before I am a celebrity, I am a Filipino first. Before I am a celebrity, I am a student first. My being a Filipino is the first thing I think of first over my celebrity status.) — Rappler.com