Student Christian Movement Report

by Athea Penalosa and Lei Sanchez


SCMP in the context of Philippine Realities



SCM Philippines has roots in the campus ministerial work of the Philippine Federation of Christian Youth Fellowships (PFCYF), the youth department of the Philippine Federation of Christian Churches (PFCC; now the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, or NCCP). Its aim is to bring together Christian students, regard­less of their denomination, and effectively spread the Good News in the academic communities.

The studentry, being relatively free and mobile among the youth, became the more active and vocal part of the PFCYF. Thus, the Student Work Committee (SWC) was formed; designed to coordinate student Christian groups and organizations, and to be fully in-charge of the campus ministry work.

During the holding of the WSCF General Committee Meeting in India on January 1953, the SWC received recognition as a corresponding member. After 4 years, the WSCF General Committee voted to make SWC an associate member during its gathering in Germany.

On December 27, 1960, the First National Assembly was held in Baguio City and the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines was officially established. It declared its autonomy and independence from the Office of Student Work. The Draft Constitution was ratified by 57 official delegates from 32 SCM units already existing in the country, with 7 participating churches. Earlier, the WSCF moved to recognize the Movement as a full affiliate member approved by the General Assembly held on August 1960 in Salonika, Greece. SCM thus began as a purely ecumenical movement among the students.

During the late 60's and early 70's, the country's social crisis was getting worse. This resulted to public unrest, igniting protests and mass actions specially among the ranks of students. SCMP's life was rekindled when it held a Special Assembly redefining its objectives and directions. There was great awareness among the members of the nationalist and democratic aspirations burning in the mainstream of student life. SCMP's belief in the faith of totally liberating the oppressed people gave impetus to its active involvement in the social struggle. It realigned itself with the larger student and people's movement taking the side of the poor and the oppressed.

It was during the May 1971 Congress that the decision for the SCMP to adopt National Democracy as its political line was made. Immediately, SCMP joined the Movement for a Democratic Philippines (MDP), the national alliance of national-democratic mass organizations. Its slogan then was: Love your neighbor. Serve the people. Struggle for national liberation and democracy!

The Movement became more militant in performing its sectoral task. It called for the maximum participation of Christians in the overall struggle of the people. This call was realized when the Christians for National Liberation (CNL) was established, with SCMP as one of its founding members. However, when Martial Law was declared on September 21, 1972, SCMP had mellowed down in terms of its organizing work in the campuses. Several of its members were arrested, detained, tortured and murdered by the fascist Marcos dictatorship while performing their Christian duties. Other members participated in the armed struggle in the countrysides, choosing the arduous and difficult path of liberating the people through the destruction of the un-Christian setup of society.

At the end of the 1970's, SCMP was able to consolidate its remaining members and hold seminars and bible studies. It was among the first organizations that dared to reorganize in the open. On January 20-22, 1978 the SCMP was formally re-established in a National Assembly held at UP Los Banos. It steadily grew in the following years, with organizing work expanding outside Metro Manila. It also strengthened its international solidarity work with other SCM's worldwide and forged stronger relations with them. The movement was truly revitalized.

The 80's saw the Movement at the forefront in forwarding the ecumenical movement among youth and stu­dents. It regained its militancy and progressive stance in immersing completely with the people's struggle. It openly participated in the anti-dictatorship mass actions. A year after the "People's Power" uprising in 1986, the newly ­installed Aquino administration declared its US-tailored Total War Policy against the Filipino people. On January




1987, peasants holding a peaceful rally were massacred in Mendiola (at the doorstep of the government's seat of power in Malacanang). This situation challenged the Movement to persevere in organizing and building links with other people's and students' organizations.



SCM Philippines believes that faith alone cannot change social structures.      It is important to have a clear political line. The process of changing social structures entail analysis of concrete conditions, program of action and alternative to the existing order. Thus, the SCM embraces the National Democratic line and program which offers concrete solution to the concrete problems of our society.

As a national-democratic mass organization, SCMP believes that the root causes of the Filipino people's oppression and repression is the unholy trinity of Imperialism, Bureaucrat Capitalism and Feudalism. These basic problems are manifest in the landlord and bourgeois-comprador-ruled government that is subservient to imperialist interests; in the export-oriented, import-dependent, debt-driven economy; and in the colonial, commercialized and repressive culture.

SCMP believes that nationalist industrialization founded on genuine agrarian reform is a fundamental step towards liberating the Filipino people from the bondage of poverty. SCMP also believes that the strength of the national democratic alliance lies on the basic alliance of workers and peasants, and its unity with other oppressed sectors in the Philippine society.

As an ecumenical organization, SCMP encourages common understanding of salvific history as contextualized in Philippine society. Therefore, it is a meeting place of Christian students, of different faiths, discerning its Chris­tian calling amidst suffering and poverty.

SCMP is also a student organization, with many chapters on campuses nationwide. It promotes and defends students democratic rights and welfare.

SCMP is mass organization. It is open to all regardless of faith, gender and economic status.



Ecumenical Liturgical Fellowships. This is an ecumenical encounter which nurtures indigenous and crea­tive worship reflective of people's life and struggle. This is done among members as well as non-members.

Study circles. These are study groups which tackle Philippine History Current Realities and Biblio-Theo­logical Reflections (BTR).

Worship dialogues. This is a joint worship between SCM, workers, peasants and other oppressed sectors in society, celebrating the life and struggle of each sector.

Basic Masses Integration. This is an immersion program open to members and non-members alike. Integra­tion areas include countryside (peasants), factories and picketlines (workers), slums (urban poor), etc. There are also Weekend Exposures open to students.

Men and Women Caucuses. These are caucuses that help men and women members to identify, understand and resolve the roots of oppression and exploitation of women.

Leadership Training Camps. These are venues to hone members' skills on organizing, facilitating study groups, liturgy-making, writing, and other skills.

Social Action. Through this program, SCMP is able to participate in relief and rehabilitation of victims of man-made and natural calamities, mainly through medical missions and relief operations.

International Solidarity Work. This program nurtures relations of SCMP with other organizations abroad. It also strengthens relations with SCMs of different countries through exchange exposure programs and constant communication.




Current problems and difficulties in SCMP

SCMP currently has around 2,000 members nationwide. Its membership is steadily increasing, specially since last year. But the biggest problem facing SCM organizationally (or internally) is consolidation of its members. This means that SCMP cannot consolidate its members as fast as it can recruit them.

One of the problem areas being looked into is organizational education. SCMP is currently reviewing its Education Curriculum, with the objective of providing sufficient organizational and political education to its mem­bers. In the past, there is overlapping and imbalance between organizational and political education in SCMP.

As part of the larger student movement, SCM suffers the same difficulty as other student organizations in the country. The repression of students democratic rights and welfare hits SCMP concretely through the banning/black listing of student organizations in some campuses; control of organizational activities in the campus by school admin­istrators; repressive student policies; and attacks on freedom of speech (censorship) and organization in some cam­puses, among others. Under the Philippines 2000 program of the Ramos regime, there is the Education 2000 pro­gram under which the repression students' rights and welfare is further heightened.


Women in the SCM Philippines

Half of SCMP's membership is composed of women. Many of them hold important positions in the organiza­tion. SCMP provides members of all genders equal opportunity to develop as good Christians, as well as competent leaders of the community and the nation. Its structure and principles does not discriminate between the genders. It also holds educational discussions on gender issues, as well as criticism and self-criticism (CSC) sessions to weed-out discriminating tendencies.

But admittedly, this is not enough. After all, SCMP members are part of Philippine society where the culture is predominantly colonial, commercialized and repressive. This culture looks at women as second-class citizens; treats women as commodities and objects of sex; and expects them to be docile. Although SCMP tries to subvert this kind of culture through education, CSC, and integration, there are still members (male and female), who carry this kind of thinking. But this is no reason to be sad. SCMP recognizes the fact that its effort is but part of the larger cultural struggle being launched by the national-democratic movement.

SCMP as a national-democratic organization believes that women's liberation is brought about by liberation from class oppression . Gender discrimination is not without class basis. In the Philippines, 76% of the population live below the poverty line. Most of them come from the peasant and worker sector, and half are women. Filipino women therefore, suffer the double burden of class and gender oppression. The liberation of women from their class oppression, and their full participation in the country's production, will greatly pave the way to further the struggle in the cultural sphere. At present, women's concern and agenda (including analysis and resolution of the roots of gender inequalities) is very much a part of the on-going cultural struggle being waged by the national-democratic movement.

As such, SCMP has no separate women's program or desk inside the organization. Women's issues and agenda is an integral part of SCMP's overall program. As stated in the earlier paragraphs, SCMP holds educational discussions, "Men and Women Caucuses", CSCs, and integration to raise the consciousness of its members regarding gender issues.


The Role of WSCF Asia Pacific

The WSCF Regional Women's Program can support and assist SCMP with regard to women's concern and empowerment by:

-     providing information on women's issues, situation and organizations in the region and in the world; -providing venues for interaction, discussion with women from other countries;

-     providing venues for unity with other women on common issues and concerns;

-     assisting different SCM's, and women's desks in forging common programs of action, exchange programs for mutual benefit;

-     providing material and financial assistance for women's activities and programs.

Thus, SCMP is of the opinion that RWP would be invaluable as a link with other women and women's movements; as educators on women's issues and concerns; as initiators of women's unites; and supporters of wom­en's activities and programs.





by Elvy Ria Pasaribu and Lisda Marianti

A. The National Movement and the Role of Women SCMs

Indonesian SCM (ISCM) was born at February 9, 1950 as a movement bears the function of church service in the midst of student context. ISCM existed through the participation of Christian student in two struggles, ecumenical movement in one side and Indonesia's fight for freedom in the other side. It means from the beginning ISCM involved to the double responsibilities, for ecumenical movement and national development in student context. Stu­dent is a typical social groups who need a special spiritual service so that they could give the positive and creative contribution to the faith and humanity concern in church and society. ISCM choose to bear this point of service. ISCM has a biennial service term of the ex. Co. in local and national level. We had once woman general chairperson and twice woman general secretary in the past. In local ex. Co. we always have women leaders, even it still little in number.

ISCM has a vision to prepare the future Christian leaders who have competency to move social transformation. To catch this vision ISCM arranges much way and facilities for empowering student. The objectives of ISCM are to invite student to know Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior and serve Him faithfully in daily work through student actions as Bible study, worship, leadership training, workshop, discussion on human-life issues and service-action to empower every subjects of life.

There are two kinds of ISCM programmes, first, regular cadre education (with the formal curriculum ) from basic level in local branch until the national level. Second is the service-action in the midst of university, church and society, it is an efforts to practice the concern of ISCM for human empowering which emphasizes on solidarity with marginalized people, pro-democracy movement, building human right and building justice for all creation.

Right now there are 56 local branches of ISCM spread out in university-towns in 27 provinces of Indonesia. The student members are listed 55.400 and the senior members are estimated two fold of that number.

In ISCM's constitution there is no point discriminate man or women, because the constitution contains the principal points of movement existence, like the theological and legal foundations, vision, mission, objectives, how to manage the business meeting in local-national level, the ways to practice the objectives, etc.

The classical problem we face is the financial support. We don't have regular aid from government. Senior members as the donors could help us partially because they have so many other service fields need their financial support. So we have to search other possibility from some institutions (including churches) which has same vision and concern with ISCM.

Another problem, we work voluntarily, we could not ask people we served to pay some many and we could not get some profit from that work. Until now we still try to raise money from publishing some books ( contains report of some discussions/study meeting). Until now EAP-WSCF become the only continual financial assistance we get and it really helpful for our programmes.

Women members are quite many in ISCM, more than 50%. The participation of women in leadership, 50% on an average in local branch level ( sometimes more than it ). There are eight women become local chairperson and secretary right now. But unfortunately, in national ex. Co. women just 2-3 persons in every service term. This 1996­1998 term there are 25 persons members of national ex. Co. and there only three women.

Actually women members participate actively in every programme of ISCM. They involved deeply and seriously in every committees of activities. But until now near most of women prefer the technical jobs like arranging consump­tion-accommodation, doing secretariat jobs , cleaning, cooking, etc, than doing the more complicated job like man­agement and making decision. All of the women activities just like an expansion of housekeeper works. It happened not because the women are not qualified, not because the structure or policy of ISCM and not because ISCM did not open a chance for women, but it is the problem of social values. ISCM women members had internalized patriarchal values since their childhood, that the leader is father and mother is a housekeeper. The second problem, most of women prefer to looking for the professional works than to spend their ages in ISCM. And it is normal for Indonesian women to get married in 25-35 years old ( or younger than it ). Working in SCM become uninteresting choice. Once more, it is the problem of social-traditional values.

ISCM responded these problems through giving the special attention and policy for empowering women. For long time ago until now ISCM has women department and working group on gender issues in local and national levels. The objective is to search many ways to help women to express themselves.


B. The Women's Programme or Concern

Women department and working group on gender issues functioning in every biennial period of service. In local level it works to manage women activities like Bible study ( especially focused in women problems ), study group on women issues, leadership training and presentation of women in every activities. In national level the working group on gender issues arranges the national women programmes like leadership training, workshop and collecting data. To do all of these ISCM always makes a partnership with as many as possible other women's groups.

Women's department is formed by local ex. Co. and just the same in national level. In present situation both level still work actively. The growth of women leaders in many local branches is the real result to women training we did from the past till now. The problem of women's department is some normal difficulties in student circumstances like voluntary management, the lack of financial support, etc. To resolve these we try to rise the human and financial resource through doing the real programmes that other people want to support.


C. The Role of WSCF Asia Pacific

The WSCF Regional Women's Programme ( RWP ) should become a wider reference to do the Women's pro­grammes in ISCM. If it possible WSCF RWP could make more facilities to support women, by giving scholarship, support programme, etc. For this aim we really appreciate the good communication like sharing women information, publications and also financial support. The role of WSCF in empowering women in ISCM is quite good. We really felt the continual support and got so much constructive experiences from WSCF in empowering women.