Communist Party of the Philippines at 50
Basis for Actuele Kunst (BAK), Utrecht
December 29, 2018
A poem by Jose Maria SisonDedicated to the 50th annniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines'The Long Struggle for Freedom'Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUZ5WIQrU_s#CPP50
由 Liberation International 發佈於 2018年12月18日星期二
Long Struggle For Freedom
INVITATION TO CULTURAL CELEBRATION OF 50 YEARS
OF FILIPINO PEOPLE’S STRUGGLE FOR NATIONAL AND SOCIAL LIBERATION
Dear Compatriots and Friends,
We shall be celebrating 50 years of courageous struggle of the Filipino people for national and social liberation. In the Philippines, this will be held on December 26, 2018. Here in Europe, we shall celebrate it on December 29, 2018 in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Other celebrations will be held in other continents.
December 26, 1968 marks the day when young revolutionaries led by Jose Maria Sison established the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). This is celebrated as the beginning of 50 years of struggle for national and social liberation.
Our celebration in Europe is jointly organized by the International Information Office of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFPIIO) and the Linangan Art and Culture Network.
The Basis for Actuele Kunst (BAK) will host the event. It will be the venue of the celebration at the center of Utrecht, at Pauwstraat 13 A, 3512 TG Utrecht.
The theme of the celebration is: 50 Years of Revolutionary Culture and Arts in the Filipino People’s Struggle for National and Social Liberation.
The program on December 29 will start at 13:00 – 18:00 hours followed by a simple Filipino dinner. Among the featured speakers are:
Prof. Jose Maria Sison, Founding Chairperson of the CPP
Julieta de Lima, Member of the NDFP Negotiating Panel
Luis Jalandoni, Senior Adviser to the NDFP Negotiating Panel
Coni Ledesma, Member, NDFP Negotiating Panel
The place will open at 10 a.m. Forums, exhibits, theater presentations and other activities will be available for participation. The aim is to present a broad view of the rich culture and arts throughout the 50 years of struggle, both nationwide and in the different regions of the country.
We cordially invite you to come and participate in this Golden Jubilee celebration. We shall make it a joyful celebration with active participation of our solidarity friends and kababayan (compatriots) from different European countries. We aim to build stronger solidarity among peoples who fight for freedom and liberation, independence and just peace!
Please let us know if you or your organization will come, and how many of you, on or before November 30.
Warm regards and we hope to see you at our Golden Anniversary celebration.
Fidel V. Agcaoili
Chairperson, Negotiating Panel
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Jose Maria Sison
ON THE 50 YEARS OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE’S STRUGGLE
FOR NATIONAL AND SOCIAL LIBERATION
Speech delivered at the Basis voor Actuele Kunst, Utrecht, Netherlands, December 29, 2018
By Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
Dear Compatriots, Comrades and Friends,
Thank you for inviting me to speak at this cultural celebration of 50 years of the Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
All of us appreciate the film shows and the cultural and artistic performances that constitute the celebration. We are thankful to the NDFP and the Linangan Art and Culture Network as organizers and to the Basis voor Aktuele Kunst (BAK) as host organization and to all the directors, performers and other contributors to the cultural celebration.
It is my task this afternoon to cite and commend the great achievements of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Filipino working class and people to carry out the new democratic revolution against US imperialism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
The CPP upheld and applied the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. It was able to analyze the social history, revolutionary experience and current circumstances of the Filipino people. And it was able to carry out the First Great Rectification Movement, formulate the Party Constitution and Program for the People’s Democratic Revolution.
The new democratic revolution is a continuation of the unfinished revolution started by the Katipunan in 1896. The old democratic revolution, which was bourgeois liberal in motivation, succeeded against Spanish colonialism in 1898 but was soon thwarted by the US war of aggression since 1899.
The CPP has assumed the responsibility of developing itself as the advance detachment of the working class and providing ideological, political and organizational leadership to the proletariat and the people in their struggle in a semicolonial and semifeudal setting to complete the democratic revolution and proceed to the socialist revolution.
Since the beginning, the Party has been determined to wield the weapons of revolutionary armed struggle to seize political power by encircling the cities from the countryside and to arouse, organize and mobilize the people in their millions through various forms of alliances under the general policy of the united front.
When we founded the CPP on December 26, 1968, the 75th birth anniversary of the great Mao Zedong, we who constituted the Central Committee were only twelve individuals representing some 80 full and candidate members of the Party. We had been leading mass formations since 1959 and built trade unions and various other types of mass organizations whose members ran into thousands.
Now, the CPP membership is in the tens of thousands. It is the largest and most powerful revolutionary proletarian party that has ever arisen in Philippine history. Its organized mass base of workers, peasants, national minorities, women, youth, professionals and other sectors run into millions. These are nationwide in scale and are in nearly all the provinces of the Philippines
The CPP founded the New People’s Army on March 29, 1969. It started with only 9 automatic rifles and 26 other inferior firearms for the initial 60 Red fighters in the second district of Tarlac province.
Now, the Red fighters run into thousands and their units operate nationwide in 110 guerrilla fronts in 73 out of 81 provinces. The full time Red fighters are augmented by tens of thousands of members of the people’s militia and hundreds of thousands of members of the self-defense units of the mass organizations. These are active auxiliaries as well as reserve force for the NPA.
The NPA has surpassed the number, strength and scale of all previous revolutionary armies in Philippine history. Most importantly, it has grown in strength and advanced since 1969 by carrying out the strategic line of protracted people’s war, using the countryside to accumulate strength and create the conditions for the strategic offensive to seize the cities.
At the moment, the NPA is striving to advance from the middle phase to the advanced phase of the strategic defensive in order to enter the stage of the strategic stalemate. It has a sound basis for the rapid advance of the revolution because of the tempering and accumulated experience of the revolutionary forces and the desire of the people for revolutionary change because of the worsening crisis of the ruling system and the escalating oppression and exploitation.
The wide reliable rural mass base of the CPP and NPA is constituted mainly by the peasant masses who participate and benefit from the various stages of the agrarian revolution. It is the solid foundation of the local Party branches and the local organs of political power.
In carrying out the agrarian revolution in stages, the CPP relies mainly on the poor peasants and farm workers, wins over the middle peasants to neutralize the rich peasants, takes advantage of the contradictions of the landlords in order to isolate and destroy the power of the despotic landlords.
As a result of the advances in armed struggle and mass work, the CPP has been able to establish and develop the people’s democratic government in the countryside. At first, the organs of political power are constituted by appointed cadres of the Party and the representatives of the masses and subsequently by those elected by the mass organizations or the masses in the guerrilla bases.
The people’s democratic government is in charge of local administration, mass organizing, public education, socioeconomic programs, cultural activities, self-defense, settlement of disputes, the people’s court, environmental protection, and social work to cope with enemy-caused and natural disasters.
The enemy is whistling tin the dark when it claims to monopolize political power in the Philippines. There are now two governments fighting each other. One is the revolutionary government of the workers and peasants and the other is that of the big compradors, landlords and corrupt bureaucrat who are servile to imperialist masters.
The CPP applies the policy and tactics of the national united front. It relies mainly on the workers and peasants, wins over the petty and middle bourgeoisie and takes advantage of the contradictions among the reactionary classes in order to isolate and destroy the most reactionary clique of the big compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists.
The most consolidated organization of the united front is the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), consisting of 18 allied organizations, including the CPP and NPA. The NDFP has been effective in promoting the revolutionary armed struggle and in conducting negotiations for a just peace.
It has frustrated all attempts of the enemy to make the revolutionary forces and people to capitulate and has firmly upheld its revolutionary principles and applied its national democratic program. There is no necessity to negotiate peace with an enemy that is hell-bent on destroying the revolutionary movement of the people.
The united front policy and tactics have been effective in advancing the revolutionary armed struggle and the various forms of legal struggle. As a result, the broad united front has been successfully applied to weaken and overthrow the US-instigated Marcos fascist dictatorship in 1986 and subsequently the corrupt Estrada regime in 2001.
At the moment, a broad united front has arisen to fight and overthrow the traitorous , tyrannical, brutal and corrupt US-Duterte regime in order to frustrate its scheme of establishing a full-blown Marcos-type fascist dictatorship under the pretext of charter change for federalism . In the grossest way, this regime is culpable for treason, mass murder, corruption and other grievous crimes against the people.
The tyrant Duterte previously announced that he would destroy the revolutionary movement before the end of 2018. When he saw his impending failure, he recently moved his deadline for destroying the movement to the second quarter of next year. He will certainly fail because of the growing strength of the revolutionary forces and the people as I have described.
It is Duterte who faces the prospect of political destruction even before the end of his term in 2022 if he does not change course from trying to impose a fascist dictatorship on the people. Whether he can finish his term or not, the revolutionary movement will outlast his rule and will continue to grow stronger.
Since its founding, the CPP has exerted all efforts to reach the overseas Filipinos. The more it has done so since the 1970s when overseas contract workers increased from year to year. More than 10% of the Philippine population, equivalent to 25% of the labor force has been compelled to seek jobs abroad. The CPP has built its branches among overseas Filipinos as well as mass organizations among migrant workers and other sectors in many countries.
The CPP has established comradely relations with communist and workers parties and movements abroad in the spirit of proletarian internationalism. It has promoted the relationship of Filipino mass organizations with their counterparts abroad in the internationalist spirit of peoples’ solidarity.
The CPP has made significant contributions to the critique of imperialism, modern revisionism, neoliberalism, fascism, and all kinds of reaction and to the upsurge of the revolutionary resistance of the proletariat and people. It has availed of bilateral and multilateral relations and conferences in order to unite, cooperate and coordinate with revolutionary forces abroad. It is striving to promote the unity of proletarian revolutionary parties and the international anti-imperialist united front.
The CPP strives to do its best to achieve greater victories and aim for total victory in order to contribute to the resurgence of the world proletarian revolution and the national liberation movements amidst the intensification of all basic contradictions in the world, those between labor and capital, those among the imperialist powers and those between the imperialist powers and the oppressed peoples and nations.
We are proud that the CPP is now leading one of the foremost revolutionary movements in the world and is a torch bearer of the world proletarian revolution. We are confident that the proletariat and the people cannot accept the worsening crisis conditions of the world capitalist system and will break their chains in order to realize a fundamentally better and brighter world of freedom, democracy and socialism.
Long live the Communist Party of the Philippines!
Advance the people’s democratic revolution!
Long live the Filipino people!
Long the international solidarity of the peoples of the world!
Long live proletarian internationalism!
Juliet De Lima
On the Pen and the Gun
The CPP’s 50-year Cultural Achievements
Keynote to Golden Festival
December 29, 2018
Julie de Lima
The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it.
Karl Marx, The German Ideology
Honored guests, comrades and friends!
I am honored to be able to address you today in celebration of the founding anniversary of the Reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which completed its 50th year three days ago. It is still fitting to have the celebration today because the Congress was still going on finalizing the documents and the program for distribution to the general membership.
My address on the 50-year CPP’s cultural achievements was intended to be short and sweet because Joma has written much on the subject in “Revolutionary Literature and Art in the Philippines from 1960s to the Present,” https://josemariasison.org/revolutionary-literature-and-art-in-the-philippines-from-the-1960s-to-the-present/. What I mean by CPP cultural achievements is the impact and influence of the Party’s cultural and artistic endeavors on Philippine society and the Filipino people’s revolutionary struggle, but not that all works cited are by Party members.
To paraphrase the great Mao Zedong, successful revolutions employ two weapons: the pen and the gun, the cultural and the military. “To defeat the enemy, we rely primarily on the people’s army wielding the gun. But this is not enough, we must also have an army wielding the pen.”
It is significant that Mao mentions the pen first before the gun. Our experience shows that we must first arouse before we can organize and then mobilize people, whether it is in taking up the pen, or the gun, or further, the gun and the pen. Reviewing its 50 years of uninterrupted revolutionary struggle, we can say that the CPP has been successful in wielding both weapons,
The CPP takes the stand that even before wielding the gun, it must start wielding the pen. Its progressive precursors understood this well from the the historical experience of the Filipino people. In the old democratic revolution, our revolutionary ancestors waged the First Propaganda Movement. With pens, they lobbied for reforms in the Spanish Cortes (legislature) pressing for the recognition of the Philippines as a province of Spain equal to its provinces in the Iberian Peninsula. Graciano Lopez Jaena, Marcelo H. del Pilar and Jose Rizal published La Solidaridad. Rizal wrote the novels Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo exposing the exploited and oppressed conditions of Philippine natives under Spanish yoke.
Having failed in the reform movement, Rizal returned home and founded La Liga Filipina, which Andres Bonifacio joined before founding the Katipunan to finally fight for independence with the gun.
When the Katipunan opted to wield the gun, it did not drop the pen. It wielded the pen to power the gun. Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto (Dimas Ilaw) collaborated on writing the Kartilya ng Katipunan, , a primer on how Katipunan members should conduct themselves in the fight for freedom. Bonifacio wrote the poem “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa” to instill patriotism, defense of and struggle to free the motherland at the price of sacrifices. Jacinto edited the Katipunan organ Kalayaan, wrote manifestoes, essays and poems on freedom, work, faith, and patriotism to facilitate recruitment of members for the armed revolution, and inspire and guide the people.
The Second or New Democratic Propaganda Movement (1959-1968)
The CPP precursors were at first informal and voluntary discussion groups, well read in liberal, progressive and Marxist-Leninist-Maoist literature (Marxist philosophy, political economy and revolutionary practice) who whiled away their time to discuss ideas that they could not find in classrooms. They formed small university-based groups and associations—put up their cultural, literary and artistic instruments, such as the irregular and financially unstable little magazines (Fugitive Review, Cogent, and Diliman Observer) and rode on or used existing publications such as the UP student papers Philippine Collegian (weekly), Collegian Folio (monthly) and Literary Apprentice of the UP Writers’ Club, which had large circulation (as these catered to the UP student body and alumni) and the quarterly Diliman Review for their creative production of progressive propaganda literature, such as essays, poetry and literary criticism, still much influenced by progressive liberal ideas.
When the Student Cultural Association of the UP (SCAUP) was organized, its propaganda vehicles expanded to include frequent forums and symposia in addition to the formal and informal discussion groups to raise the political and ideological consciousness of its members and associates. It had guest speakers from outside UP and progressive visiting foreigners. The subjects included the semi-feudal and semicolonial domestic conditions, imperialism, socialism, the Cold War and other world developments that could not be found in the university curricula. These discussion groups predated the campus teach-ins popularized by the Students for a Democratic Society from 1965 to 1968 to oppose the US war of aggression in Vietnam.
SCAUP’s initiatives served to break through the dominant climate of anti-communism flowing from the US McCarthyite witch hunt and the religious sectarianism of the feudal-patriarchal and comprador culture into the university and the country. It served as a university within the university. Its objective of continuing the unfinished Philippine revolution went beyond the UP confines and liberal parameters. With the defeat and almost total silence of the old merger party of the communist and socialist parties in most of the 1950s, SCAUP picked up the call of Claro Mayo Recto, a progressive nationalist and anti-imperialist, for a second propaganda movement but went beyond his call for nationalism to adopt a socialist perspective.
SCAUP also formed regular clandestine study groups to study such works as the Communist Manifesto, Dialectics of Nature, Materialism and Empirio Criticism, Wages, Prices and Profit, Mao’s Selected Works, “On Contradiction” and “On Practice”. Some like Edberto Villegas and a few others ventured to read and discuss Das Capital. Ideological work was very important because among the activists not a few were somehow influenced by aesthetic theories and works adhering to currents as art for art’s sake, petty bourgeois self-titillation, mystical flights or art supposedly transcending classes but truly in the service of the exploiting classes.
SCAUP cooperated with the UP Journalism Club, the Philippine Collegian, the UP Writers’ Club and the fraternities and sororities to promote its political line and advocacies, such as the fight against the anticommunist witchhunt undertaken by the Committee on Anti-Filipino Activities. Its members associated with progressive elders like the revolutionary poet and novelist Amado V. Hernandez, Jose Lansang, Renato Constantino, Andres Cristobal Cruz and former members of the old merger party. They connected with trade unions and built contacts with student leaders in the downtown universities such as Far Eastern University, University of the East, Manuel L Quezon University, Philippine College of Commerce, Lyceum of the Philippines and others.
An attempt was made to build a pre-party formation, the Alliance for Socialist Action (ALSA) consisting of activist leaders among them Satur Ocampo, Carlos Padilla and others. It is unfortunate that we have not found an extant copy of its Manifesto that Joma drafted and I typed in multiple layers of bond paper with carbon paper in between each. The project was dropped when some of its prospective founders joined the Progressive Party of the Philippines or Party for Philippine Progress, actually a CIA-instigated pro-US religio-sectarian reactionary party put up to oppose the Filipino first policy of then President Carlos Garcia.
By 1963, the CPP precursors were able to establish Progressive Publications to publish the Progressive Review, which was relatively more stable than their earlier little magazines and the book Struggle for National Democracy (SND) in 1967. However, they continued to use the Philippine Collegian and from time to time liberal publications such as the Philippines Free Press, Kislap-Graphic to which they submitted their literary works, press releases, statements and manifestoes. They made friends and recruited journalists and writers.
The writing tools were still the typewriter, the mimeograph machine-rented or owned, for periodikit & leaflets, and of course paints and brushes for posters, placards and streamers.
After Kabataang Makabayan (KM) was established in 1964, the national-democratic mass movement grew all over the country. Emulating Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto, KM had a cultural bureau which sought to organize writers and artists,and performers. The composer Felipe de Leon composed the music for the KM anthem. Amado V. Hernandez’s Kung Tuyo na ang Luha mo and other poems were set to music, and performed in dance and recitation.
The KM systematized and conducted cultural work consistently. More groups were formed. Social investigation and mass integration teams doubled as cultural teams to perform in factories, urban and rural communities, college and high school campuses where more performers were recruited and organized to popularize revolutionary songs and other art forms.
Doing propaganda and cultural work among the masses necessitated the use of the national language and the local lingua franca. Propaganda and other educational materials were translated into Tagalog. English continued to be used for Progressive Review and other publications, including the book Struggle for national democracy published in 1967. The essays in this book and statements and manifestoes were translated into Tagalog for distribution to the masses. Flyers and leaflets were printed in both Tagalog and English.
KM campaigned for the national language as the principal medium of education and literary development. University professors and instructors, high school teachers, and writers in English were encouraged to use, write, and conduct discussions in Pilipino. Tagalog and other local languages were used in the conduct of propaganda and agitation among the toiling masses.
The cultural and propaganda performing teams conducted systematic social investigation, mass integration, propaganda and organizing among the youth in urban and rural communities, in factories and school campuses (including high school) targeted for organizing into KM chapters. Aside from staging performances, they conducted discussion groups and meetings where urgent issues of the day were taken up in addition to the educational materials they brought with them, consisting of the KM Constitution and Program and mimeographed parts of SND. The schools for national democracy were organized.
KM also stressed the importance of studying the works of great Marxist-Leninist-Maoist masters and other revolutionary literature among activists who were honed to conduct social investigation, integrate with the masses and put what they learn into practice, in the spirit of following Mao’s mass line of learning from the masses to be able to teach the masses.
In their mass work, activists learned at first hand the concrete manifestations of the evils of US imperialism and their subservient domestic ruling classes of landlords and compradors; and the double exploitation and oppression these imposed on the toiling masses. They learned how to expose these evils, to imbibe the aspirations of the masses for a better life; and work out with them the tactics of fighting the manifestations of these evils in their localities. Thus they were able to produce propaganda, literature and art of social and revolutionary significance that easily resonated with the masses and inspired them to join the movement.
The CPP Reestablishment and Advance: the First Quarter Storm to Martial Law
Towards the CPP’s founding in 1968, intensive ideological, political and organizational work were conducted. Aside from drafting and discussing basic documents, including the rectification document, Rectify Errors and Rebuild the Party, in preparation for the Congress of Reestablishment, revolutionary literary and artistic works were produced to inspire the masses.
Philippine Society and Revolution was written shortly after the Party reestablishment, presenting from the standpoint of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism the main strands of Philippine history, the basic problems of the Filipino people, the prevailing social structure and the strategy and tactics and class logic of the people’s democratic revolution. First mimeographed in the last quarter of 1969, it was the main study material for the Party’s primary course but its circulation went well beyond the Party as this was published serially in the Philippine Collegian under the title Philippine Crisis and Revolution; the Collegian editor Antonio Tagamolila being a clandestine Party member. Its first printed edition was published in the third quarter or 1970, followed by the first foreign edition published by Ta Kung Pao in Hong Kong.
The central translation bureau was organized upon the the Party reestablishment. But the work went full blast only in the early part of 1970 when we able to organize several groups to translate the Communist Manifesto, Mao’s Selected Military Writings and Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Zedong, Lenin’s State and Revolution and Marx’s Wages, Prices and Profit, which were urgently needed for the Party secondary course.
With the founding of the CPP in 1968, cultural work became much more systematized. The CPP more firmly wielded the pen and, shortly after, the gun. The cultural, the propaganda and the translation bureaus were organized under the Education Department. More cultural groups were organized in the regions, provinces and communities . NPA propaganda teams were dispatched to start social investigation, conduct mass work and build the mass base for more guerrilla operations. Among the first groups they organized were those of cultural workers (painters, reciters of poems, actors, musicians, singers, dancers, etc) especially among the youth and the women in the communities.
1. Pre-Martial Law and the FQS
Cultural work was already well developed by the time the First Quarter Storm (FQS) broke out. Groups such as KM’s Panday Sining, Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan’s (SDK) Gintong Silahis and of the Philippine College of Commerce’s (*now Polytechnic University of the Philippines) Kamanyang did outstanding work among youth organizations in Manila and became models for youth and student cultural groups that proliferated in the provinces and regions.
Performance groups arose in the late 1960s to present solo and choral singing, instrumental music, poetry recitation, dances and skits and to create illustrations on publications, posters and walls in order to enliven and invigorate the meetings, mass protests and workers’ strikes.
Writers and artists organized themselves. Panulat para sa Kaunlaran ng Sambayanan (Pen for the propserity of the People-PAKSA) was founded in 1971 by creative writers in Pilipino & English and other major Philippine languages, who were determined to serve the Filipino people.
Fine Arts and Architecture students and young professionals from UP and other universities founded the Nagkakaisang Progresibong mga Artista at Arkitekto (United Progressive Artists and Architects-NPAA) also in 1971. Most of them were members either of SCAUP or KM and had been very much involved in propaganda work in either of these organizations.
Many creative writers and artists joined the underground and armed revolutionary movement and created more works about the dire social conditions, the sacrifices and struggles of the Filipino people. Literature and art flourished most among the NPA propaganda and cultural teams with the masses in the countryside. The central and regional publications of the CPP, NPA, and NDF published songs, poems, short stories and illustrations. Cultural organizations published, performed or exhibited the literary and artistic works of their members.
Songs, poetry recitations and educational lectures were popularized through audio cassette recorders and players. Revolutionary songs were recorded and reproduced for distribution to the provinces and regions for popularization. These were performed in celebrations and community gatherings in urban and rural communities. Primary and elementary school children sang them while at play.
The central publishing house was established as was the Revolutionary School of Mao Zedong Thought. It took charge of producing the stencils of Ang Bayan and other central CPP publications for distribution to the regions and more importantly for collating, selecting, formatting, printing and distributing the seven-volume Philippine Selections of the Selected Works of Chairman Mao Zedong. The central publishing house had two mimeographing machines and several IBM ball-type electric typewriters to cope with the great volume of printing to be done.
The portable V-type silkscreen printing was developed to decentralize the printing of Party and other publications for education and propaganda. This was also used for producing art works. The stencils were produced centrally for better quality control and sent out to the regional committees for reproduction (using the v-type portable printers) and distribution to the Party membership.
2. Martial Law: from 1972 until the fall of Marcos in 1986
When martial law was proclaimed, artists and creative writers joined the underground and became Red fighters and at the same time practiced their craft. Their works were published in the revolutionary publications.
Many writers and artists became martyrs, and many more were imprisoned. (The latter were the lucky ones because quite a number were killed while fighting or captured and tortured to death.)
Fascist repression took a toll as Party cadres and members were captured and imprisoned. It was futile for the fascist regime to detain and silence them. But neither prison walls nor barbed wire fences could silence them. In prison, they reflected on their experiences, maintaining their strong ideological viewpoint and political standpoint, nurturing and polishing their craft with even more revolutionary relevance.
Arts and crafts flourished and flowed out of prisons to celebrate and inspire the struggling masses in songs, poetry, paintings, drawings, carvings, and myriads of handicrafts from materials that could be found in prison. Though they lost grip of the gun, the imprisoned cultural activists firmly grasped the pen to inspire their comrades and friends outside wielding both the gun and the pen.
The poems in Prison and Beyond were written in an isolation cell in Fort Bonifacio and smuggled out by the author’s defense lawyer, passed on to definite activists and sent abroad to be published by Epifanio San Juan, who led a signature campaign of prominent writers and artists all over the world for the author’s freedom.
Prisons all over the country became crucibles of artistic creations, especially because despite the deprivations, these were ideal venues for reflection (even for those in isolation cells) and for continuous regular revolutionary education. ( songs, poems paintings, drawings, carvings, pins, cards, handicrafts and others). Their works could be brought outside in various open and clandestine ways; and were sold and circulated far and wide; to help boost the spirit of antifascist and anti-imperialist international solidarity among solidarity groups in Europe and North America and to a lesser extent domestically among allies and friends.
Among the outstanding songs created in prison were the lyrics and composition of Kay Taas ng Pader by Aloysius “Ochie” Baes, Awit sa Kasal by Jose Lunetaandthe music of Andres Bonifacio’s Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa by Luis Jorquein Bicutan. The Bicutan political detainees also wrote and performed plays on the struggles of the workers, peasants and the urban poor. They staged under direction of Behn Cervantes Bonifacio Ilagan’s Pagsambang Bayan, the Sinakulong Bayan or street version of the Passion of Christ and Aurelio Tolentino’s Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas (a play written 115 years ago in 1903 on the struggle against US imperialism (Bagong Sibol) with a look back on Spanish colonialism (Halimaw) and China’s economic dominance (Haring Bata) relevant then and still today.
Despite intense repression, cultural and propaganda groups and cultural work proliferated. Elaborate stage presentations and socially relevant mainstream movies were produced by such directors as Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Behn Cervantes and Mike de Leon. The movies had popular stars and were box office hits. Among these were Brocka’s Bayan Ko Kapit sa Patalim (My Country, Grip the Knife), Insiang, Manila, sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (In the Claws of Light), and Tinimbang ka Ngunit Kulang (You were Weighed but Found Short; Bernal’s Nunal sa Tubig (Mole in Water), Himala (Miracle), and Hinugot sa Langit (Pulled Out from the Sky); and and Mike de Leon’s Batch ’81, Sister Stella L. and Kisapmata (Twinkling of an Eye). Many won national and international awards.
Graphic and visual artists organized themselves. Pablo Baens Santos, Antipas Delotavo, Renato Habulan, Papo de Asis, Orlando Castillo, Edgar Fernandez, Al Manrique, Neil Doloricon and Jose Tence Ruiz organized Kaisahan in 1976, which defined artists’ role in society and produced works depicting the oppression of workers, peasant and urban poor by imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
Cultural groups and organizations proliferated and their various productions increased. Anniversaries of the Party, NPA and NDF were celebrated with much cultural fanfare. Revolutionary songs and poems were recorded in cassette tapes and distributed to the regions and provinces for popularization such that one would know the guerrila areas by hearing children singing.
Anthologies of literary works and songs were published in the Philippines and abroad, under the direction of the Party’s National Commission on Culture. The Instityut sa Panitikan at Sining ng Sambayanan (Institute for the People’s Literature and Art-IPASA) published Akdang Pandigmang Bayan, Ulos; and Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win(1973); Hulagpos(1981); Mga Tula ng Rebolusyong Pilipino 1972-80; and more.
Literary works circulated among the people. Lightning cultural performances were held even in city centers. Protest graffiti, periodikits and sticker-posters of various sizes could be found on walls, waiting sheds, and inside buses and jeepneys. A collective of creative writers and illustrators were able to illustrated version of Philippine Society and Revolution in Tagalog translation. Prison & Beyond 1985 (JMS prison poems mostly) was published in 1985 and won the Manila Writers’ Award and later the Southeast Asian Write Award.
National Midweek Magazine (1984-1991)and New Progressive Review; together with Philippine Collegian, Diliman Review, as well as campus publications continued to criticize the fascist regime and reported on the state of the national-democratic struggle and on issues confronting the Filipino people.
T-shirts with slogans and creatively designed placards and streamers, to huge murals and paper mache effigies were displayed at big marches and rallies. Protest music and street theater became widespread and popular through many small musical and theater groups based in unions, urban poor communities and schools, and through the more regularized or professionalized ones such as Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA). The resurgence of revolutionary art in the urban areas ran parallel to the constantly rising artistic and other cultural activities in the countryside.
To this day, the richest sources of literary and artistic works of revolutionary writers and artists are the central and regional publications and literary journals of the CPP, the NPA and the NDF. They publish songs, poems, short stories, illustrations and comic strips, aside from disseminating news and information about the revolutionary forces and the people in their respective areas. For an enumeration of these publications, you may refer to https://josemariasison.org/revolutionary-literature-and-art-in-the-philippines-from-the-1960s-to-the-present/
The best known central publications are: Ulos (literary journal of ARMAS-NDF), Sine Proletaryo (video production-CPP Information Bureau), Kalayaan (Freedom-KM), Liyab (Flame-KAGUMA) and Malayang Pilipina (-Free Filipina-MAKIBAKA).
In Northern Luzon: Baringkuas (Breaking out-Cagayan Valley), Dagitab (Spark-ARMAS-TK), Dangadang (Struggle-Northwest Luzon), Ramut (Root- revolutionary edication and culture -Norhwestern Luzon) and Rissik (Light Rays – revolutionary cultural journal-Cagayan Valley).
In Central Luzon:Himagsik (Revolt), Inang Larangan (Mother Field-cultural anthology, Central Luzon), Lakas ng Masa (Strength of the Masses-Central Luzon), Dyaryo Pasulong (Forward newspaper-Revolutionary People of Mount Sierra Madre),
In Southern Tagalog region: Diklap (Spark-South Quezon-Bondoc Peninsula) and Alab (Flame-a revolutionary publication for the masses in Mindoro), In Bikol region: Gerilya (NPA Bicol Regional Command) Punla (Seedling-literary publication-Bicol Region), Silyab (Flame – CPP-NPA in Bicol), and Ang Kusog (Strength – Masbate)
In the Visayas, Ang Panghimakas (Struggle – Negros Island), Ang Budyong (Trumpet – Leonardo Panaligan Command-Central Negros), Daba-daba (Panay), Sublak (revolutionary cultural magazine-Panay) Pakigbisog (Struggle – Central Visayas)
In Mindanao, Ang Kahilukan (NDF in Northern Mindanao), Asdang ( Advance – NDF-Far South Mindanao), Lingkawas (Liberation – CPP-Northwestern Mindanao), Pasa-bilis (NDF-Southern Mindanao), Sulong! (Advance – NDFP-Mindanao).
The CPP and the national democratic movement in both urban and rural areas gained momentum and grew in size and strength during the pre-martial law and martial law rule of Marcos, despite the counterinsurgency strategy using the triad concepts of intelligence, psywar and combat operations under the AFP Oplan Katatagan.
Marcos’ assassination of Aquino led to an upsurge in the antifascist struggle that before long convinced the US policy makers to drop Marcos, encourage a fraction of the military to organize themselves into the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) against Marcos and support the anti-Marcos reactionaries to try to drive a wedge between the rapidly growing alliance between anti-Marcos reactionaries and the revolutionary forces. Marcos followed the US pressure to call for a snap election.
The US-supported opposition candidate was Aquino’s widow, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, who since 1983 after her husband’s assassination had been working closely with the revolutionary mass movement. Unfortunately the CPP made a tactical error by calling for an election boycott on the ground that Marcos would stack the cards and win the elections anyway. Thus the Party-led mass movement or advanced section of the broad masses missed an opportunity to take advantage of the anti-Marcos electoral campaign as venue for reaching the greater number of the masses to raise popular consciousness from the usual politicking issues to more fundamental issues affecting people’s lives and to raise their struggle to the level of necessary reforms against the US imperialists and the worst among local exploiting classes of compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists that had further enriched themselves through land-grabbing and corruption with Marcos in power.
Indeed Marcos won the elections using sheer fraud and intimidation. But this further so outraged the people that again they took to the streets. RAM took this as a signal and attempted a coup against Marcos. However, they were foiled by the Marcos loyalists in the military. Fortunately for the RAM, the mass movement combining with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (Church) led by Jaime Cardinal Sin and the Aquino supporters came to their rescue in the EDSA Uprising that led more of the military to abandon Marcos. Finally the Marcos fascist dictatorship fell.
3. Cory Aquino’s regime: 1986 until 1992
Marcos’ fall catapulted Corazon Aquino to the presidency. She declared a revolutionary government and made good on her word of freeing all political prisoners, against opposition from the US and the military. The goodwill built through the united front with the anti-Marcos reactionaries during the anti-Marcos struggle lasted for a while. Rumors were floated that a national reconciliation commission would be put up having the CPP founding chairman as head or that representatives of the revolutionary forces would be appointed to the Constitutional Commission to draft the prospective 1987 Constitution.
All these remained rumors as the US and the military were against having representatives of the revolutionary masses in these bodies and in other agencies of the government. However, three clandestine Party member became members of the Constitutional Commission. One of them was the movie director and revolutionary cultural activist Lino Brocka, who vigorously pushed for progressive reforms, especially in the field of art and culture but he resigned in protest when he saw that many of the policies adopted worked against the rights and interests of the Filipino people and took back to the streets and of course to directing social realist films such as Ora Pro Nobis that won him the Palm d’Or award and Gumapang Ka sa Lupak (Crawl in Mud).
Other progressive individuals that Aquino appointed and later removed or resigned were Joker Arroyo, her first executive secretary ; Augusto Bobit Sanchez, her Secretary of Labor blamed by the reactionaries for the many workers’ strikes and the growing strength of Kilusang Mayo Uno.
Ceasefire negotiations were supposed to graduate into peace negotiations of substantive issues but failed due to the opposition from Aquino’s US handlers and the military. Aquino proved to be putty in the hands of the military of which she was to be the commander-in-chief. The presidential security guards with some reinforcements carried out the Mendiola massacre of peasants demanding implementation of agrarian reform on January 22, 1987.
By February 1987, Aquino unsheathed the sword of war. Behind the bourgeois constitutional processes, militarization was intensified and the fascist repression of the basic masses and the progressive forces returned and continued to be widespread. In June 1987 there were the attempts to assassinate Buscayno, the former NPA chief; and shortly after, Dr. Nemesio Prudente the revolutionary patriot ex-president of the Philippine College of Commerce and cooperator in the NDF founding.
Then there were the assassinations of legal leaders of the national democratic movement, among them Lean Alejandro Bayan secretary general, on August 28, 1987 and Rolando Olalia, KMU and Partido ng Bayan chairman and his driver Leonor Alay-ay who were tortured, mutilated and murdered on November 12, 1987.
These atrocities were part of Aquino’s Oplan Lambat-Bitag I and II campaigns, with her AFP Chief of Staff and later Defense Chief, Gen. Fidel V. Ramos as chief implementor. The campaign did some damage to the revolutionary movement but failed to destroy its strong Marxist-Leninist-Maoist foundation even as the enemy campaign coincided with the growth of internal ideological and political errors within the CPP, the NPA, and the NDF, which loosened their grip on the gun as they did on the pen.
The loosened grip on the gun was ironical because, the revolutionary armed struggle had reached a new peak in 1983 as both the urban and the rural mass movement and revolutionary propaganda successfully supported the expansion efforts of the revolutionary movement in the countryside, especially the armed struggle.
Ironically, the successes in the armed struggle induced erroneous notions of quick victory deviating from the line and strategy of the people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war, of building strength in the countryside to surround the cities before the strategic offensive to seize the cities. Ideas of insurrectionism gained ground. The Party and NPA leadership adopted a so-called strategic counteroffensive (SCO) program, whipping up erroneous currents in various parts of the movement, including the premature and unsustainable ”regularization” of the guerrilla units from the main formation of platoons into companies and all-out armed partisan warfare, the obsession with “general paralyzing actions” and the reckless concept of peasant uprisings.
Operatives of the NPA were dispatched abroad as early as 1983 or 1984 to find connections to the Soviet Union, wishing to acquire from there the “heavy” weapons the leadership thought was necessary for raising the level of the armed struggle, even as the number of NPA fighters and the company formations had already started to decrease from 1986 onward as a result of Kampanyang Ahos hysteria and similar phenomena.
The inroads and propagation of big errors and deviations in almost a decade were traceable to the main weaknesses and shortcomings in building the Party ideologically, politically and organizationally. Within the Party, the comprehension and distinction of what is right and wrong on many issues regarding the theory, principles, history and practice of the movement got blurred.
The Education and Propaganda Commission and the National Instructions Bureau were dismantled in 1982. Education work at the basic and intermediate levels was passed on to the territorial commissions and the regional committees while the Executive Committee of the Central Committee assumed responsibility for the advanced course and the publication of a theoretical journal. But these works were not attended to as the cadres were too busy trying to build up the factors for their would-be insurrections and seizure of the seats of power and in the process dropped the pen. Attention to the ideological, political and organizational work at the basic levels and the localities slackened.
Liberalism ran rife, muddled thinking and confusion proliferated. Trotskyism and Gorbachovism made some inroads among some leading cadres, the Party’s revisionist critique were muted or stopped, leading later to groups splitting from the Party and the people’s army.
4. Four succeeding regimes: 1992-2016
The four following regimes (Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo and Aquino II) were not much different from each other. General Fidel Ramos succeeded Cory Aquino to the presidency (1992-1998). Although as Aquino’s chief of staff and later secretary of national defense, Ramos obstructed peace negotiations with the NDF, he moved and made feelers to the NDFP for the preparation and resumption of the peace negotiations. The Hague Joint Declaration was signed and approved on September 1, 1992. Two years and six months after he assumed the presidency, the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations formally opened in June 1995. Negotiations succeeded in completing the first substantive agenda with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) between the negotiating panels. However, Ramos as GRP principal did not sign it.
Notwithstanding the peace negotiations, Ramos continued his regime’s “counterinsurgency” plans under Oplan Bantay Laya III and IV. The peace negotiations came under the rubric of the low intensify conflict strategy of these operational plans. The NDFP competently managed the propaganda and educational aspects of the peace negotiations and continued to wage tit-for-tat struggles to counter every attempt of the reactionaries and the military to undermine and violate the agreements reached. The start of the Ramos administration coincided with the start of the Party rectification movement.
The significant losses in some parts of Party work–ranging from the Party itself to the people’s army, the united front and the mass movement, drove the leadership to reassess their experience and identify the reasons for the revolutionary movement to fall into such a threatening situation. They held the 10th Plenum which decided to conduct the Second Great Rectification Movement (SGRM) in all aspects of the Party’s work. The Party started again to tighten their grip on the pen and the gun. All the regional Party committees made their respective summings-up, identified their errors and weaknesses and started to correct and overcome them.
The rectification documents, “Reaffirm Our Basic Principles and Rectify Errors”, “Stand for Socialism against Modern Revisionism” and “General Review Of Important Events and Decisions (1980 To 1991)” were issued and distributed for study by the entire Party membership. The SGRM was a massive education movement conducted to reaffirm the CPP’s ideological and political line. Regular Party education on the basic and intermediate courses were revived. Social investigations, including grievance sessions to ferret out errors and shortcomings, reassessments summings-up were conducted to regain the trust and confidence of Party members and the masses, especially in the abandoned guerrilla areas
NPA units worked hard to recover and expand the mass base in the countryside. The NPA strove to overcome the series of “counterinsurgency” plans of successive post-Marcos presidents after Aquino’s Lambat Bitag I and II, Oplan Lambat Bitag III, IV and Oplan Pagkalinga under President Ramos; Oplan Makabayan under President Estrada; Oplan Enduring Freedom (Bush’ so-called anti-terrorism plan) adopted by President Gloria Arroyo; and Oplan Bayanihan by Aquino II.
Incorrigible advocates of anti-Party ideas were either booted out or got out of the Party as they continued to attack the basic principles of the Party in an all-round way. They had to be combated. Wielding the pen, the loyal Party cadres and members set out to fight the propaganda battle on two fronts, the reactionary media of the ruling classes and those produced by the anti-Party breakaway groups that found favor in the enemy media. The anti-Party elements eventually nestled themselves in the reactionary regime, with some of them becoming highly placed officials in the government and becoming silent as they were too busy enriching themselves and building their mansions. The loyal Party cadres and members had to work doubly hard to be able to win over those whom the anti-Party elements had misled.
Ang Bayan the Party organ was reoriented from the liberal and revisionist direction to which it was steered by the former editor who got enamoured with the Gorbachov’s ideas of glasnost and perestroika and turned out be an incorrigible anti-Party element. Revolution the CPP theoretical journal was revived and carried the rectificaiton documents of the central organs and the regional committees as well as theoretical articles on people’s war, the united front and the international communist movement.
The regional Party publications that had fallen silent for some time were revived. They started to use the internet and posted their works. Cultural and artistic activities all over the country steadily picked up in variety, volume and quality reached during the anti-Marcos dictatorship struggle.
Alternative online media outfits, such as Bulatlat and Kodao Productions, were established since 2001, and have since then published commentaries, special reports, multimedia productions and poetry.
Like all his precedents since Marcos, Ramos embraced the neoliberal policy regime of trade and investment liberalization, deregulation and privatization. He artificially buoyed up the economy with foreign loans and investments for a boom in private construction until the disastrous Asian crisis of 1997, at the expense of the people‘s sovereignty and national patrimony as he proceeded to sell off government corporations such as the Metropolitan Waterworks & Sewage System and even Fort Bonifacio to foreign monopoly corporations.
When Estrada was elected and assumed the presidency in June 1998, he approved and signed the CAHRIHL. This seemed to augur well for the peace negotiations. But less than two months after, he ratified the Visiting Forces Agreement and the NDFP called him to task for violating Philippine sovereignty and integrity. When the NPA captured and took as prisoners of war two ranking AFP officers, Estrada declared a unilateral suspension of the peace negotiations and the JASIG in May 1999. The peace negotiations stopped until it was resumed after his ouster and the assumption of the presidency by his vice president Gloria Arroyo.
Estrada’s tenure was very short. In October 2000 a corruption charge was brought against him involving the acceptance of bribes from a number of game operators. Impeachment proceedings were brought against him by leaders of the mass movement but the members of the Senate blocked the presentation of evidence. As a result, mass protests mounted against him and on January 20, 2001, he was driven off Malacañang and his vice president Gloria Arroyo ascended to the presidency.
During the mass campaigns to oust Estrada, Arroyo declared that if and when she assumed the presidency, she would “reverse the all-out-war policy of the Estrada government and resume peace negotiations with the NDFP and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)”. Shortly after being sworn into office, Arroyo reconstituted the GRP negotiating panel for talks with the NDFP. Again, this seemed to augur well for the peace negotiations.
In April 2001, formal talks in the peace negotiations resumed in Oslo, Norway, with the the Royal Norwegian Government as facilitator. A second round was held in June with a four-day agenda to start substantive discussions on social and economic reforms. However, the GRP panel was ordered to suspend the talks on the second day as a protest against the killing of the most notorious human rights violator during the Marcos fascist regime. Later Arroyo requested the US government to designate the CPP, NPA and the CPP founding Chairman as terrorists by November 2001.
In August 2002, shortly after the visit of US State Department Secretary Colin Powell to Manila, Arroyo declared all-out war against the revolutionary movement and ordered offensives under Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines, a US-instigated COIN plan against a so-called war on terrorism against various NPA guerrilla fronts. The USSD Secretary announced the listing of the CPP-NPA in the US list of foreign “terrorist organizations” and the NDFP chief political consultant among the specially designated nationals (SDGN) and specially designated global terrorist (SDGT) of the US Dept. of the Treasury.
The military implemented the US-Arroyo campaign of terror under what it named Oplan Bantay Laya. Kidnappings, torture, killings of mass activists, including peasants, workers, students, human rights advocates and defenders, lawyers and priests ran rampant, surpassing post-Marcos levels. The mass movement responded with sizeable mass protests and demonstrations in the Stop the Killings campaign but could not muster numbers reaching hundreds of thousands to cause the ouster of Arroyo. Several books were published and circulated in the Philippines and abroad exposing the crimes of the regime and complaints brought to agencies of the United Nations.
The Hacienda Luisita massacre of peasants in November 2004 with seven killed, more than a hundred, including women and children, injured, also more than a hundred arrested and subsequent killings of 7 supporters and advocates sparked outrage among the people. Artists and writers rallied to the cause of the peasants with songs, poetry, dances, paintings, drawings and other art works. Campaigns worldwide were launched to condemn the massacre and support the cause of the peasants and sugar farm workers.
Arroyo was brought to trial and found guilty by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal Second Session on the Philippines held in The Hague, the Netherlands on March 21-25, 2007 for gross and systematic violations of 1) civil and political rights; 2) economic, social and cultural rights; and 3) right to national self-determination and liberation. Worldwide campaigns on these comprehensive issues were launched, boosting solidarity for the Filipino people’s struggle.
The terrorist listing met with mass actions and demonstrations, editorial cartoons, internet postings, petitions and fund campaigns in several countries abroad among the Filipino community and solidarity friends The proceedings and documents of the Tribunal were published in book form and online. The trial itself was supported by a broad range of organizations and prominent human and people’s rights activists, including lawyers, jurists, academicians, bishops, priests of various religious denominations, artists, etc. and was attended by hundreds of delegates and guests from 18 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It was well-covered by both Philippine and foreign media.
To some extent, the campaign against the atrocities lowered the level of human rights violations. When Noynoy Aquino (Aquino II) succeeded to the presidency, the level of human rights violations and military atrocities remained where this settled toward the end of the Arroyo regime. Nonetheless, thiswas still high enough for the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, a global network of organizations campaigning for human righs and Filipino people’s rights, in cooperation with Permanent People’s Tribunal and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) to bring a case against him and his imperialist master US President Barack Obama. The trial was held in Washington, DC on July 16-18 2015 and, found them guilty of all the charges brought against them: gross and systematic violations of 1)civil and political rights, especially but not limited to extrajudicial killings, disappearances, massacre and torture, arbitrary arrests and detention as well as other vicious, brutal and systematic abuses and attacks on the basic democratic rights of the people; 2) human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights of the Filipino people through the imposition of neoliberal “free market” globalization to exploit the people; transgression of their economic sovereignty and plunder of their national patrimony and economy; and attacks on the people’s livelihoods and the destruction of the environment; and 3) the rights of the people to national self-determination and liberation through the imposition of the US war of terror and US military intervention; as well as the perpetration of crimes against humanity and war crimes; misrepresentations of the people’s right to national liberation and self-determination as “terrorism” and the baseless “terrorist” listing of individuals, organizations and other entities by the US and other governments.
Generally propaganda and protest art from 1992 to 2016, remained the same in substance and variety. An abundance of books of poetry and short story collections, conferences and assembly proceedings, commemorative volumes of major and minor national and regional organizations were published. This particular period is very well docunmented in books, pamphlets, videos, internet blogs, and others.
Altermidya (People’s Alternative Media Network) which describes itself as a network of independent and progressive media outfits, institutions and individuals was established in 2014. It conducts regular newscasts, commentaries on issues and media production training among mass activists and mass organizations. Tudla Productions, a multimedia production outfit has been reactivated since 2011 to produce progressive and revolutionary videos reporting on current issues and cultural activities among the masses.
Mass demonstrations, though not as large as those during the Marcos fascist regime and Aquino I regime were enlivened with placards, tarpaulin, streamers, t-shirts, and elaborate effigies. Movies and documentaties were made; the Green Guerrillas a film on the NPA campaign in Mindanao for the protection of the environment and the culture of the indigenous people, released in 1995. The feature length documentary on the Philippine-American war in 1899, Memories of a forgotten war, was produced in 2001. Sa Liyab ng Libong Sulo, the documentary based on PSR to mark the 30th NDF founding anniversary was released in 2003. So many more video documentaries and some feature fims followed from 2003 onward, including The Guerrilla is a Poet (2013) and Ang Kababaihan ng Malolos (2014).
Theatrical productions on the history of the national-democratic movement were also produced, among them Kalibre45 (2004) and the more elaborate intermedia production Ang Mandirigma’y Makata, ang Makata’y Mandirigma (2015) and recorded in a video.
5. Duterte regime: 2016-present
A major victory of the revolutionary movement in the Duterte period is the holding of the Party Congress in the fourth quarter of 2016, which was ceremonially capped with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the victory of the Great October or the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
Party cadres and members representing the regional committees, staff organs and departments assembled to strengthen the Party’s unity, amend its program and constitution based on accumulated victories and lessons; and elect a new set of leaders. The theme “Greater unity, greater victories,” guided the Congress in reviewing the Party’s 48 year history, taking stock of the current objective and subjective conditions and reaffirming the Party’s determination to advance the national democratic revolution to greater heights.
It updated the the Party’s Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution, presenting an updated critique of the semicolonial and semifeudal social system, with particular attention to the post-Marcos succession of pseudo-democratic regimes, the worsening forms of oppression and exploitation of the broad masses of workers and peasants and the deteriorating socio-economic conditions of the Filipino people in almost four decades under the neoliberal regime.
The Congress took a significant step to ensure a Party leadership that is vibrant, closely linked with the lower levels of leadership and capable of leading the practical work and day-to-day tasks of the Party, especially in waging revolutionary armed struggle against the reactionary state through the combination of senior Party members with the young and junior Party cadres to ensure the ideological, political and organizational training of a new generation of Party leaders who will be at the helm of the Party in the coming years.
With renewed vigor, the Party is entirely capable of confronting the challenges posed by the US-Duterte fascist-terrorost regime. It is already well on the way to frustrating the regime’s Oplan Kapayapaan whose objective is to destroy the revolutionary movement through violence and deception. Having survived and prevailed over so many failed US-instigated and supported Oplans from Marcos’ down to Aquino II, the Party and the people are confident and certain that Duterte’s Oplan would fail miserably and the national democratic movement would grow in strength and move closer to victory.
When Duterte made a feint at peace negotiations with the NDFP as soon as he assumed office, the Party saw through his real intent and gave guidance to the NDFP negotiating panel. It became clear after the third meeting held in Rome that what Duterte really wants is the surrender and destruction of the revolutionary movement; not social, economic and political reforms to address the roots of the armed conflict. Now it is entirely clear that what he desperately wants to the point of lunacy, is absolute power through a fascist dictatorship with him as dictator for the rest of his life, and perpetuated through his children so that they can continue grabbing wealth through bureaucratic corruption.
The Party and the legal mass movement are growing. New alliances are forming to intensify the struggle against the tyranny and state terrorism of the Duterte regime. The Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) is gradually gaining ground and needs solidarity from peoples all over the world. Organizations of Filipinos abroad, must expand on existing formations and initiatives and strengthen themselves to build a broad united front of solidarity organizations to expose, oppose and fight the Duterte terrorist regime.
The International People’s Tribunal held in Brussels, Belgium September 18-19, 2018, found Duterte, US President Donald Trump and the US government guilty.]of gross and systematic violations of [all the charges brought against them: 1) human rights, particularly civil and political rights, with focus on extrajudicial killings, massacres, trumped-up charges, arbitrary arrests and detentions, the imposition of martial rule in Mindanao; 2) human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, with focus on labor, peasant, women, and migrants rights, and the rights to education, livelihood and housing, through the imposition of neoliberal policies and other imperialist impositions to exploit the people; transgression of their economic sovereignty and national patrimony; and various forms of economic plunder; and 3) the rights of the people to national self-determination and development and violations of international humanitarian law, with focus on attacks on civilian communities and schools, massacres of hors d’ combat, “terrorist” labeling and profiling, destructive mining and environmental degradation, and crimes against humanity; and misrepresentations and attacks on the people’s right to national liberation.
Using this document, the campaign must broaden to include lobbying in parliaments, United Nations agencies and other relevant international bodies to act on the various aspects of the criminal acts and violations.
There are more media channels available now and their use must be maximized. I visited a lot of websites of mass organizations and discovered that the majority are not updated, have scarce significant educational and propaganda materials, tend to be rather parochial in their coverage of issues, and insipid and uninteresting. Even major NDF member organizations only have Facebook pages with scarce content. We would expect KM having millennials for its members to be internet savvy in reaching out to the youth but it is not. Only some of its regional chapters have facebook accounts.
If the aim is building the broadest united front for the ouster of the Duterte fascist-terorist dictatorship, the NDF member organizations need to improve on their record in using the fastest methods of communications and propaganda to reach out to the general public. Of course, the internet is not enough. Nothing beats going among the masses, conducting social investigations for the purpose of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the backward sections of the public to join in the endeavor to oust Duterte and his corrupt bureaucrat capitalist clique of plunderers and murderers.
It is heartening that special formations of artists against Duterte tyranny such as RESBAK (Respond and Break the Silence Against the Killings), SAKA (Sama-Samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo), LODI and Artist Forces of the Philippines (AFP), as well as existing artist organizations and collectives such as the revitalized Concerned Artists of the Philippines are bringing art and culture to the revolutionary mass movement and into their mass actions and demonstrations in well designed giant tarpaulins, streamers and posters with well couched slogans in brilliant colors and in elaborate depictions of Duterte’s tyranny and terror, effigies reflecting the monstrosity of his criminal acts burning and aflame at the height or end of massive demonstrations, spectacular but ephemeral images signifying the people’s victory and recorded for posterity on video posted on the internet to heighten the anger of the masses and inspire them further to resist and fight.
Many cultural activists of today were shaped and tempered in the struggle against the Marcos fascist dictatorship when both repression and resistance were most intense. The practitioners of resistance and revolutionary art and literature produced exemplary works of great sociopolitical and revolutionary significance as they drew inspiration from the heroic struggles of the people. Since then, the revolutionary movement has accumulated their songs, dances, poetry, drama, short stories, novels, plays, playlets and skits, video documentaries, movies, painting, posters, streamers, murals, sculpture, carvings, handicrafts, etc., reflecting the sufferings, the struggle, the achievements and the victories of the people against the enemy and which are still very relevant today.
Now, we see extreme repression under the current regime several times worse than that of the Marcos fascist dictatorship. Duterte fascism surpasses Marcos’ in infamy: tens of thousands of people massacred or tortured to death, and intended still to be brought to millions, massive impoverishment of the people through the anti-people economic, financial and fiscal policies, utter subservience to wishes and demands of two imperialist masters to satisfy his own greed for wealth to the detriment of the people’s sovereignty and national patrimony, and so forth.
Would the intensity of the people’s resistance against this evil regime produce, shape and temper new cultural activists to create great literary and art works from all the media available to them, surpassing in quantity, quality and variety those of their predecessors? Can we discern signs that they would? The new cultural activists born of the struggle against the evils of Duterte have a lot to learn from their predecessors’ experiences and works.
Although the mass street actions and demonstrations have have not yet reached the levels reached even only during the Estrada regime, they are now now picking up. The leaders and cadres of the Party need to exert more efforts to revive the mass movement to levels reached in the struggle to topple the US-Marcos fascist dictatorship, considering that the current regime has by far already surpassed the latter by its extreme violations of human rights and people’s rights. Using the internet, the revolutionary propagandists and artists today can very easily overwhelm the rants and raves of Duterte and his paid hacks with their bots that spout nothing but senseless curses.
Cultural workers and artists now must take up such protest themes as agrarian problems, foreign economic domination, export labor, exploitation of women and children, and ecological damage, while they express their aspirations for genuine freedom and combat the neoliberal attacks on progressive Philippine culture. For example, the ongoing struggle of Tanggol Wika or Alyansa ng mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino (Alliance of Defenders of Filipino) to restore the subject of Filipino language and Philippine literature that was removed from the core curriculum for college courses need to be supported. As Rizal wrote, “While a people preserves its language; it preserves the marks of liberty.”
I would like to cite a successful and vibrant propaganda campaign worthy of emulation. One Billion Rising (OBR ) came on the international scene in 2012 and found its way to the Philippines. It started as a movement of feminist or gender identity politics. In 2014, by focusing on justice for all survivors of gender violence, it escalated the demand for justice to revolution, exposing the root causes of violence; and calling in 2015 for a “Rise for Revolution” demanding accountability and system change.
The theme of revolution, solidarity, and resistance continued through 2016 to 2018, from adding focus on marginalized women, solidarity against exploitation of women and girls through layers of exploitation, the patriarchal structure, economic exploitation and oppression within capitalism, imperialism, colonization, environmental plunder and war–to unity against the fierce escalation of fascist, imperialist, neo-liberal attacks on the lives of people around the world with the rise of more anti-women, anti-people leaders and governments all over the the world. Now for 2019 the call for resistance continues against fascism and tyranny.
The OBR global risings looked beyond itself and engaged with other social movements to build deep and vigorous solidarity everywhere for the advocacy of women’s rights, the protection and defense of indigenous lands and the rights of indigenous peoples, struggle against fascism and tyranny, discrimination and racism, environmental plunder and destruction, corporate greed, economic violence, poverty, state brutality and repression, war and militarism.
Women from all countries worldwide responded to the calls and acted on them. The OBR makes very effective use of the internet. Its website is distinctively slick, well maintained and its contents constantly updated with news, blogs on women’s oppression and important issues affecting the lives of women. A very broad spectrum of women in the Philippines have since 2014 actively participated in the campaigns. It forms a very broad cultural united front, which although focused on the issue of gender, encompasses all the fundamental issues confronting humanity–from gender oppression to class war and environmental plunder. Their cultural activities, such as theatre and other intermedia productions in between the risings presents excellent opportunities for our cultural workers to expand their reach and organize multimedia productions.
The evolution of OBR from gender to comprehensive anti-imperialist and anti reactionary concerns owes much to its dynamically creative Filipino international coordinator Monique Wilson, activist, theatre director, performer as actor & singer, campaigner, organizer. OBR presents an excellent vehicle and opportunity for expanding and consolidating our cultural and propaganda work. This means further organizing and education work deepen revolutionary commitment and militancy among the masses.
Let me end with a quote from my concluding exhortation to cultural workers in my keynote address to the ILPS 5th International Assembly Commission No. 14 Workshop on the Imperialist Cultural Offensive :
Let us train ourselves to understand and deal with facts and events, as these unfold in the real-world conditions experienced by the masses. Let us not confine ourselves in ivory towers, honing our individual imaginations and crafts, away from the real world and the masses, but let us study current events, study history, immerse ourselves with the masses in their struggles, and in the course of our struggle develop, together with them the peoples´s culture based on concrete realities.
- Let us all contribute our utmost to the peoples’ unified cultural offensive against imperialism, aware that its overwhelming dominance necessitates strong organizations with strong leaderships guided by the ideology, politics and methods of a party of the most advanced and most productive class in our society today. Especially in this age of the Internet and multimedia, let us also help build powerful alternative and counter-media—powerful in that they are able to support the people’s struggles and effectively amplify the people’s voice, and in turn find resonance in and draw concrete support from the masses in their millions. It is not enough for us to compete with the imperialists in such superficial terms such as trending hashtags, viral Youtube views, and TV ratings.
- More important to us are the long-term results, measured in the sustained growth by leaps and bounds of the anti-imperialist mass organizations and mass movement at the national and international levels. Let us help build many channels, flowing in one general direction. An apt analogy is that of the people’s struggles as many small rivulets eventually conjoining into one endless current of strength to swamp the cultural bastions of the enemy.
The essential task of progressive and revolutionary forces all over the world today is developing unity, cooperation and coordination of all peoples and raising their level of struggle to weaken and defeat imperialism and reaction, in particular against imperialist plunder and war led by US imperialism, the foremost terrorist power, towards building a society that is just, peaceful and progressive. #
In reaction to De Lima’s paper, Lisa Ito of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) and professor of the College of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines stressed that the “ongoing Philippine revolution—in the 70 years from 1898-1968 and in the 50 years from 1968-2018—is one that continuously resists, rectifies, and renews itself: against capitulation, against collaboration, and always for the advance of national liberation. De Lima makes clear how, since its humble origins in 1968, the Party achieved all these contributions through correct analysis, practice, and rectification.”
She says in her reaction paper entitled Key Words: Notes on Manifestoes for the Future, De Lima’s stories teach us how we must learn to be self-reliant and daring in waging the cultural and propaganda counter-offensive, in the same way the activists of the First Quarter Storm did: by vigorously and systematically pursuing study, production, translation, and dissemination to break the normalization of fascism and to now prevent another tragic return to authoritarian rule.
There is an urgency to overcoming this learning curve. For the world we inhabit now is not the same as the world back in 1968. Most of the technology present today did not exist then: including computers, the Internet, electronic and digital media, video, data visualization, cybernetics, and social media platforms. These are but a fraction of technologies imagined and invented for agriculture, industry, medicine, scientific inquiry, and war. These technologies make today’s state of material and mental or cultural production possible and are developing at a rate unimaginable fifty years ago. But they will also remain largely in control by the ruling regimes unless channeled towards revolutionary practice, Ito says.
In concluding her reaction to De Lima , Ito says: A good friend and comrade recently described cultural work not in terms of its surface forms or strategies, but as a selfless act and process. If there is anything this and the 50 years of culture and resistance teaches us, it is that drawing the line of the revolutionary is also an immense assertion of love. Cultural work in the revolution transforms individualism, which reenacts the status quo on personal or structural levels, into a radical force that finds its fullest potential in being one with the struggles of the people.#
Dr. Joi Barrios, another reactor to De Lima’s paper maintained in a video message after De Lima’s input, that as De Lima’s speech traces the cultural achievements of the Party, it provides us with the following five frames by which we can discuss the revolutionary art and literature produced in the past fifty years: historical and contemporary contexts; organizational commitment and the process of creation; centrality of language; exploration and appropriation of forms and spaces; and solidarity work with allied artists and writers.
Emphasizing the need for solidarity with allied and other artists, Dr. Barrios who teaches at the University of Berkeley in California, says that we celebrate today not only the work of those we can name, such as National Artists Amado V. Hernandez, Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal, not only the unnamed cadres who have achieved national stature for their artistic and literary achievements, not only the creativity of our current army of writers and artists, but also the countless allies we have in theater, music, dance, visual arts, media arts, and literature.
The sustained creation of revolutionary art and literature, Dr. Barrios says, allows us to envision what Julie de Lima describes as the triumph of a “unified cultural offensive of the people against imperialism” towards a “just, peaceful, and progressive society.”
“No matter the pronouncements of the current dictator, fascist regimes cannot annihilate our persistent radical bodies, nor our revolutionary texts,” Dr. Barrios concludes.
Keynote speech by Julie De Lima