I first saw Walden Bello at UST during the early ‘90s speaking to an auditorium full of hirsute student activists and Economics majors. “It’sthat guy on TV,” I thought, remembering the few times I’ve seen him on talkshows, and what impressed me the most was his unimpeachable American accent.He was discussing what had then seemed like an occult concept: GATT, andBello was virtually a lone prophet warning of its specter. “Fair trade” and“globalization” were abstractions to a society then preoccupied with“massacre” movies and party politics (especially to a student majoring inmalt liquor and bad poetry). The tragedy is that these abstractions wouldlater on prove to have damagingly particular implications. The writing wason the wall and we looked the other way. But as history has shown, prophetsare ignored and reviled in their own land. As an intellectual Walden Bellois more appreciated abroad than in the Philippines where activism is markedby shrill, petty egos and cheap, TV-genic soundbites.
Fast-forward to the present: Now we see Walden everywhere, from a cold makeshift stage on a Hong Kong street (which I had the privilege of sharingin 2005) to a banner-strewn platform in front of the WTO headquarters inGeneva itself. Or hosting his own visually hip and informative documentaryvideo series— a smart volley in a world that has gone Macluhan. Walden continues to be that prophet of caution, except that this time, his voice islouder and he is not alone
Lourd de Veyra
Palanca awardee and Vocalist of Radioactive Sago Project