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Philippines: Planking Against Education Cuts

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.

Thousands of students in the Philippines took to the streets on July 19, 2011, to demand a higher budget for education from President Noynoy Aquino just a few days before his State of the Nation Address. The protesting students used the planking craze to register their grievances.

Planking is one of the latest trends to hit the Philippines. Described as “the practice of lying down flat with arms to the side, to mimic a wooden plank,” it involves posting photos of the participants on the net. They are usually photographed planking on unusual locations.

Some critics have connected planking to the stowing of African slaves upon the planks of a slave ship's lower hold during the slave trade era. The protesting students’ riding on the popular craze puts a new dimension to the activity. From a form of slave oppression in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, planking has now evolved into a creative form of protest that involves occupying public space and contesting this space's original representation by the dominant social order.

The student protesters railed against the Aquino government's budget cuts for state universities and colleges and lack of decisive steps to curb tuition and other fee hikes by organizing the “Mass Planking for our Right to Education” event. Below are the photos of the planking protest in the University of the Philippines which were uploaded onto Facebook:

Tochipat of misguided adventures said that this is part of the students’ efforts to strengthen their campaign for higher state subsidy for the education sector.

Creative forms of protests have been resorted to by students to broaden support to their advocacy.

Here are some reactions to the planking protest on Twitter:

@plsburydoughboy: planking is an exercise. It's a stupid way to protest, though I admit I've heard stranger things have happened.

@mayk_beltran: Planking protest 4 education by students tinyurl.com/3uvj2kg (personally i feel to old for this, but this was engaging).

@glenleonard: UP students new way of protest is PLANKING! hahaha at least sumasabay sa panahon [at least they adapt with the times].

@lancekatigbak: Mass planking as a form of protest? Wtf.

@venzie: UP students to hold “planking” protest tomorrow. Yun daw yung makabagong “die-in” [it is said to be the new "die-in"].

Here is a video of the planking protest by the Pinoyweekly media:

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.

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