Lessons from Two Revolutionary Iskolar ng Bayan Martyrs

Katatapos ko lang basahin ang “Recca: From Diliman to Cordillera.” In two words, inspiring, enraging. Napakahusay ng pagkakasunod-sunod sa mga artikulo; nabaybay ang pag-unlad ng komitment ni Recca/Tet/Bibo, bilang anak, kapatid, estudyante, aktibista, magulang, hukbo, at martir. Pinakatumatak sa akin ang “Black” ni Alamon sa bandang huli; marahil dahil na rin sa masining nitong pagsuma sa lahat ng kwento, pakiramdam, at katotohanan na nabasa ko na pagkarating sa piyesang iyon. Pero karamihan sa artikulo ay kailangang mabasa ng mas marami pa.

Kaugnay nito, noong nakaraang buwan lang din ay nakadalo ako sa huling gabi ng lamay sa UP Diliman para kay Eddik Serrano, isang political prisoner at gaya ni Recca ay tunay na iskolar ng bayan. May una dapat akong post tungkol sa kanya pero nabura ang draft, kaya dito na lang ulit. May mahusay din silang contrast.

Recca Noele Monte (1981-2014)

1. Maintain bridges

Recca has remarkably maintained and developed connections and friendships some would have effortlessly let go. Genuinely combating liberalism, she actively engaged everyone close to her: she wrote political yet very personal letters for her high school friends, enthusiastically reached out to her lie-low activist friends, etc. Her ability/proficiency to develop relationships should have been more manifest in her relations with the indigenous people and farmers of the communities she lived with/for – which I think the book has somewhat not shown enough just through letters from groups/communities.

2. Cherish revolutionary songs

Recca is a singer too. Before taking up arms, she was a member of a cultural national-democratic organization. And she was so diligent; perhaps most perfectly shown in “Buddy,” where her friend talks about how they ride university jeepneys only to sing progressive song to its passengers, not getting down even if the vehicle already restarts its route. And of course, other anecdotes of her general love of songs, of course particularly progressive and revolutionary ones.

Personally, this has reinforced my conviction to really do away with my very bourgeois appreciation of the mostly bourgeois songs I ever listen to. Since admittedly, bourgeois ideology sneakingly seeps in to my world view through culture – and a huge part of culture I consume are songs.

3. Uphold international humanitarian laws

It is only through the very brutal and unjust circumstances of Recca’s death that I have now understood the crucial difference between human rights and humanitarian laws. International humanitarian laws (IHL) applies in situations of armed conflict and aims to protect those who do not or no longer taking part in the hostilities; while human rights apply both during war and peace, and applies to everyone. One can not just simply say that IHL are applications of human rights during war. Since war is essentially the violation of various human rights: to life, to freedom of movement, to property, etc. The very existence of IHL, implies a recognition that situations where the violation of human rights become inevitable (ie. war), should at least be made humane. Hence that wars are not merely just about the violation of rights as caused by inhumane/evil people, as the ruling class would want everyone to believe.

Recca and the seven other martyrs who died with her on September 2014, were combatants in an on going armed conflict between the Manila government and the Communists – it is just expected that soldiers from both sides will die. But as Recca’s relatives would repeatedly point out with much anguish and rage, the killing need not be so barbarically violent (eg. to the point that the autopsy report literally described Recca’s skull as resembling a “crushed egg”).

Hence, the upholding of IHL is a very crucial and essential part of the pursuit for peace. The mere recognition of IHL is a recognition of the reality of war (as in violations of human rights) on the one side and the ever-present need for humanity. It is at the same time a recognition of the prevailing historical necessity/inevitability of armed conflict and a manifestation of longing for a just and lasting peace after.

4. Science can only be for the people

If not, then it can hardly be called as “science,” but must be exposed as another of the numerous mechanisms/schemes of the ruling class to lord over the people (i.e. genetic modification of foods as monopolized by huge agro-chemical transnational corporations). And so, Recca is a true practitioner of science. One of the more outstanding feats she has done is to successfully lead the construction of a simple hydraulic dam deep within the jungles of the North in order to provide electricity. This is actual science in action, taking into consideration the technical, social, economic, political, etc. aspects of its application.

Eduardo Serrano (1954-2016)

1. Build bridges.

“Ka Eddik” tirelessly connects with everyone he meets. Literally everyone he has a chance of talking to. Guards, nurses, co-patients – anyone. He consistently looks for a connection, be it common province, common interests, common situations, common opinions. He actively strives to connect with the common men.

2. Raise the consciousness of your family

We are born into conditions we have no control over, one of which is our families – which becomes obvious during our early teenage years. The characteristic and future of the family as an institution interestingly begs for another discussion, but it is now sufficient to say that the family we are born into is part of the great masses we aim to arouse, organize, and mobilize and hence we must. Political education for our families may sometimes prove to be more urgent and actually strategic for our own disposition and political performance – since obviously, depending on the level of understanding our family has of what we do, we are limited/capacitated. Ka Eddik has done a great job in this aspect of his revolutionary life.

3. Tirelessly pursue knowledge

Ka Eddik was on a Masteral course in University of Copenhagen when Martial Law broke out in the Philippines in 1972. He could have safely stayed in the certainly more comfortable halls of the foreign school but his response was that of a hero being called upon by his people – he went home and started working among Mangyans. After being illegally jailed in 2004, he later on enrolled in a Masteral program in University of the Philippines Los Banos and promptly finished its requirements while in jail.* And those are just his endeavors on formal education.

4. Create revolutionary art

Ka Eddik consistently created various forms of art while in prison: poems, paintings, crafts, etc. This may be said as a natural tendency given that political prisoners are torturously inflected with sheer boredom and isolation, but his art has inspired lots of activists – while he has successfully passed his time. Art is the crystallization of reality as expressed by wo/men. And Ka Eddik’s through form and content, truly expressed that of revolutionary optimism.

Padayon!

Armed Haikus

1601280109
Neglected moonlight
guides barefoot soldiers, marching
– protracted journey.

1601280119
Our barefoot army:
doctors, engineers, artists,
ever-seeking us.

1601280129 (Map I: On the edge)
A colonel’s resto.
Highway: jeeps, trucks. Railroad: train.
Guerrillas abound.

1601280138 (Map II: Bird’s eye view)
Outpost. Cover. Tents.
Clinic. Hall. Kitchen. Tents. Stream.
Privy. Pit. Outpost.

1601292230 (Map III: A stage)
Flag. Streamer. Flag.
Flag. Hosts. Tableau. Flag. Choir. Rifles
People. Tent. People.

1602220238

Ang pagluluto
ay maihahalintulad
sa pag-oorganisa.

Kailangang tukuyin sa simula
kung ano ang kailangan.
Konsiderasyon ang panahon,
mga nariyan nang sangkap
at kagamitan, mga panlasa,
lugar, kultura, lalo na’ng
kalusugan ng mga paghahainan.

Pagka’y iisa-isahin
ang mga ‘di pa nalilikom
na panahog, pampalasa, panluto;
maaring mapadayo pa sa malayo,
at mapatagal sa pamimili,
o sa maraming pagkakataon,
buuin ang resipi ayon
sa mga naririyan na sa kamalig.

Mahabang panahon
ng masinsing paghahanda
ang susunod:
Babalatan at hihiwain ang matatapang na rekado,
lilinisin ang dumi ng pangunahing karne at gulay,
iiinit ang mantika sa malawak na kawali
(sa de-pihit na kalan o de-paypay na uling at tungko),
maingat na tatayain ang balanse ng mga karaniwang panimpla,
matiyagang hahaluin o mapagmatyag na babantayan
ang pagkulo o pag-iiba ng kulay ng obra, hanggang sa
ang sari-sari, hiwa-hiwalay, at di-makakaing mga bahagi
ay ganap na magbagong-anyo at maging ganap
na putahe.

At pwede nang maghain.
Mabilis matutuklasan ang kaangkupan
ng mga naging hakbang at estima
– buhay ang lahat ng pandama.
Maaring lumabis ang asim o anghang,
‘di kaya’y kulangin sa alat o tamis,
o ‘di sapat ang lambot o katas,
o masobrahan sa dapat ay pampabango lang,
o ‘di pa ganong malapot sa halip, malabnaw,
o masyado namang matingkad ang pagka-dilaw, tiyak
na laging may pagkakataong dudungaw
para (lalong) magpahusay.

Ang pag-oorganisa
ay maihahalintulad sa pagluluto: ating
ginagawa’t pinauunlad nang may pagmamahal
kasabay ng malupit nitong pangangailangan.

Melancholy in Diliman I

Edi bigla ko na lang nakita ang sarili kong naglalakad sa gitna ng dambuhalang campus ng UP Diliman nitong nakaraan. Marami-rami rin akong nadaanang gusali dahil binaybay ko ang Acad Oval, na gaya pa rin ng dati ay napapaligiran ng mga acacia na nagpapaambon ng malalamyang dahon – kaya siguro di ko rin naiwasang manariwa ng alaala. At gaya sa pagkakasulat ko ng tinahak kong landas mula Kristyanismo tungong Materyalismo, napahaba rin ang dapat ay maikli-ikling post lang na ito. Kaya hahatiin ko sa ilang bahagi, eto ang simula.

Entrance

The first steps (that I remember) I took in University of the Philippine (UP)’s Diliman campus was when I was still in elementary, I was dragged along by a relative. I was amazed then by a “garden” that was the track oval.

Then UPCAT (UP College Admission Test). I was 15 years old. Relatives accompanied me to Melchor Hall. It was like six in the morning. I was groggy as hell. Wanting to sleep, I tried to answer really quickly; the desire to pass pulls me back. As I remember, I actually slept in the middle of it after finishing early a section of the exam. Going home required me to walk a bit around the campus: its vast roads, huge trees, and wide fields (heck just the very facade of Melchor hall) ominously overwhelmed me.

Arte at Literatura

Then it was mostly Rizal Hall and CAL (College of Arts and Letters) New Building (CNB).

Katag (Kainan at Tagpuan, eatery and meeting place), was where I initially ate regularly. Until I discover more sulit shops.  But I still frequented it because of  free water.Rizal Hall’s Galleria 1 and 2 was easily the default tambayan (place to spend time at?). Whether to tick a few minutes away before the next class, or to meet friends, and chat, or eat, or read, or write. We just sat there, and be.The rooms of Rizal Hall, which houses the Faculty Center, are witness to various dramas (and comedies!) – in my case mostly of despair. There would be wooden swings very much later on but I’d been too old to enjoy them by then.

CNB’s lobby is another tambayan. Protest gatherings, discussions, group/organization meetings, cultural programs happen here. CNB’s rooms hosted my major classes: on poems, on short stories, on plays, on TV scripts, on essays, a lot on the history of Philippine literature, two or three on literary criticism, on journalistic writing, etc. Here, I was literally trained to write. At first, I have only went up CNB’s fourth and fifth floors during political room-to-room discussions (RTRs) held by our peasant-advocacy organization. I was even expecting then to suddenly see couples snatching away some alone-time in some of the most-of-the-time empty rooms, as rumors had it. I would later on be more familiar of the floor because of a tedious foreign language class.

The Tambayan Complex beside the two buildings was where the hut of a Filipino writing organization I joined early on, stood. The original hut will be replaced twice during my stay in the university. Awkward memories abound here.

Askal

This was the short passageway connecting the colleges of Arts and Sciences (AS) and CAL; its a play on the Filipino asong kalye or stray dog. I regularly pass by this way, as with hundreds of other students as it connects two of the most frequently visited colleges (because of its many general education classes).

On more productive and meaningful days, this is where we stay when distributing various political propaganda materials such as brochures, fliers, stickers, etc. A few hundred of such materials are easily distributed here for the successive waves (as we jokingly refer to hundreds of students simultaneously getting in and out of classes during particular time slots, a reference to the then popular Plants Versus Zombies) of students.

A.S.

But there was also the great Palma Hall. Like CNB’s uppermost floors, I knew the rooms of Palma first as venue for RTRs. There are a lot more students taking classes here so we spent more time going around talking and talking here.

And so bigger protest actions are held in Palma. Perhaps most memorable for me was the historic 2010 Student Walkout* against government budget cuts in college education. It will only be challenged by the 2015 Manilakbayan Campout* in Diliman. Both had culminating activities at the steps of Palma.

More memorable were my classes in Palma, most of which are GE (General Education): two history classes  (first of which I failed, necessitating the second), two Rizal classes (first the real class dedicated for Rizal, the second not so but just because our professor was dedicated about him), one on African culture, on geography, on translation, etc. Perhaps because most of it was during latter years of my stay, when I was less immature.

Beside the great Palma Hall was the great CASAA Food Center. It was one of the more sulit dining places because of having more stalls to choose from. And it was also the habitat of the CASAA ninjas. Sadly, it’s already in ashes now. Rumored so in order to brush away the sellers and make way for bigger private stalls.

Books for 2016

Books to read for 2016, in no particular order. I’d push myself to put up brief reviews or commentaries about each after. This list shall grow as time passes. Markers: finished reading, currently reading.

  1. Liberating Life: Woman’s Revolution (Abdullah Ocalan, 2013)
  2. From Rebellion to Revolution: Afro-American Slave Revolts in the Making of the Modern World (Eugene Genovese, 1979)
  3. Herr Duhring’s Revolution in Science (Friedrich Engels, 1877)
  4. On the History of Early Christianity (Friedrich Engels, 1894)
  5. Proletarian Feminism 101: Study Packet (Ed. Nikolai Brown, 2012)
  6. Ten Days that Shook the World (John Reed, 1919)
  7. Recca: From Diliman to the Cordilleras (Ed. Judy Taguiwalo, 2014)
  8. Louie Jalandoni: Revolutionary, An Illustrated Bibliography (2015)
  9. Daigdig ng Tao (Pramoedya Ananta Toer as translated by Thelma Kintanar, 1989)
  10. Tigang na Palay (Minfing Ho as translated by Jun Cruz Reyes, 1988)
  11. Aseano: An Anthology of Poems from Southeast Asia (1995)
  12. Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata (Ricky Lee, 2011)
  13. Mula Tarima Hanggang (Ericson Acosta, 2015)
  14. Neoliberal Subversion of Agrarian Reform, (IBON, 2014)
  15. Moby Dick (Herman Melville, 1851)
  16. Kafka on the Shore (Haruki Murakami, 2002)
  17. Fundamentals of Political Economy (George C. Wang, 1977)
  18. Desaparacidos (Lualhati Bautista, 2007)
  19. In Cold Blood (Truman Capote, 1966)
  20. Philippine Sociological Review Volume 63 (Ed. Jayeel Soriano, 2015)
  21. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Basic Course (CPI)
  22. Post-Modernism Today (CPI)
  23. The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka, 1915)
  24. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger, 1951)
  25. “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder (Vladimir Lenin, 1920)
  26. Writings on Cities (Henri Lefebvre, 1996)
  27. On the Jewish Question (Karl Marx, 1843)

1601121148

Tuwing gabi, ang mga alitaptap
sa mga dahon ng niyog
ay mga bituing abot-kamay.

Gaya ng ating mumunting tagumpay,
pahiwatig ng mas matatayog pang mithi:

ilan-daang ektaryang sakahang
ang nagbubungkal na rin ang umaani,
bago ang nasyunalisasyon ng lupa;
mapapangahas na bigwas ng hukbo ng api
sa malalayong kabundukan
laban sa mga hukbong mapang-api,
bago ang pagpapalaya sa Maynila;
libo-libong mamamayang nagpapasya
sa takbo ng kanilang kabuhayan at komunidad,
bago ang pagkakaisa ng milyon-katao nating bayan
sa gobyerno ng nakararami
– hanggang sa pagwawakas
ng nagsasamantala, at kung gayo’y
pinagsasamantalahang, uri;
ng kahirapan, ng kagutuman,
ng digma.

Tuwing gabi,
ang mga bituin ay abot-kamay
na mga alitaptap sa mga dahon ng niyog.

Gaya ng minimithi nating tagumpay,
pinahihiwatig sa mumunting mga bagay:

ang nakahahawang ngiti’t sigla
maging sa mga ‘di pa kilalang kasama;
ang mahinahong pagbalik sa mga datos at prinsipyo
sa mga ‘di-maiiwasang pagtatalo;
ang paghiga, pagluha, pagsigaw
muna, para lang makasulong pagkatapos;
ang mahihigpit na taas-kamao
sa mga di-inaasahang parangal.

Tuwing gabi,
sa mga dahon ng niyog,
mga alitaptap, mga bituing abot-kamay.

***

Every night, fireflies
on coconut leaves
are stars within reach.

Much like our small victories,
expressive of loftier aspirations:

hundreds of hectares of farmlands
whose tillers are now too its sowers,
long before the nationalization of land;
bold strikes of the army of the oppressed
on far-flung mountains
against armies of the oppressor,
long before the liberation of Manila;
thousands of people in control
of their livelihood and community,
long before the unity of our million-strong nation
in a government of the majority
– until the end of the exploiter,
and hence exploited, classes;
of poverty, of hunger,
of war.

Every night,
stars are within-reach
fireflies on coconut leaves.

Much like our long-wanted victories,
expressed in small things:

of contagious smiles and warmth
even amongst yet unknown comrades;
of calmly reviweing data and principles
during invetible disputes;
of lying down, weeping, screaming
first, only to advance after;
of tight fists on unexpected
tributes.

Every night,
on coconut leaves,
fireflies, within-reach stars.

Eating on jeepneys

Edi kumain kami ni Nikki sa Gerry’s Jeepney. Habang naghihintay makakain (marami kasing tao), ang tanong: bakit patok kumain sa ganitong mga kunwaring dyip pero hindi naman sa totoong buhay?

Obviously, its very unlikely that any of that resto’s customers will ever enjoy, if at all have the chance, of actually eating in a jeepney. Actual jeepney drivers eat on their jeeps almost every day, but they certainly don’t feel the same excitement and awe our fellow customers do (eating there without taking photos with/of the awesome jeep replicas defeats the purpose). So why do its customers enjoy so in such an imitation/simulation? Nikki points out that it must be because the jeepney (plus the inihaw food served, the jologs music, etc.) is part of Pinoy culture.

And that must be right. Pinoy culture is necessarily the culture of the majority of Pinoys, of tsupers and barkers and tinderas; its the way of life of the masses. Simulations such as that provided by Gerry’s Jeepneys provide upper classes the chance to get the feeling of participation in this “Pinoy way of life” without the actual/real hardships which accompany it by appropriating some of its aspects into a more familiar upper class venue/activity (e.g. turning the experience of eating in a jeepney into a fancy restaurant). It extracts the experience out of reality and romanticizes it, appealing to the customers’ feeling of nationhood and patriotism. Hence both painting as fancy the not-really-so-fancy way majority of Filipinos live and confining nationalism as consumption choices.

On the other hand, it allows us to imagine a world where actually eating in jeepneys is not as awful as it is in the current state of Philippine society. Or perhaps one where eating in jeepneys is but a relic of the past, of a nation so lacking in food and jobs that transportation workers are compelled to work more and more hours each day thereby eating on the vehicles.

Ultimately, one must appreciate businesses like Gerry’s Grill by its promotion of Pinoy culture amidst the overpowering omnipresence of transnational McDonald’ses, KFCs, etc.

Besides, the food and service was really great.

/160107