Remembering the Diliman Commune of 1971:

Feb 1 - 9, 1971

UP Diliman

Posted: Feb. 1. 2011

 

 

■    Pagbabaliktanaw sa Diliman Commune ni Mong Palatino

■    Foundation for Sustained Development of the National Democratic Movement in UP by Jose Maria Sison and    Julieta de Lima

■    UP will forge through risk-filled neoliberal terrain; so will militant activism persist: An Outsider’s View of the University of the Philippines by Satur Ocampo

 

 

 

 

 

  Photo by Steve Santos
   
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Pagbabaliktanaw sa Diliman Commune
Mong Palatino

 

Kapag may nakakausap akong beterano ng First Quarter Storm, ang una kong itinatanong ay kung naging bahagi ba siya ng makasaysayang Diliman Commune noong 1971. Sa tingin ko’y hindi pa ito nahihigitan kung ang pag-uusapan ay ang militansya ng mga kabataan. Sa katunayan, nananatili itong inspirasyon ng mga aktibista sa pagsusulong ng mga mapangahas na aksyon sa mga eskuwelahan.
Sariwain natin ang mga nangyari sa loob ng kampus ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas sa Diliman noong unang linggo ng Pebrero 1971, nang tinangkang tumbasan ng mga UP “communards” ang ginawa ng mga manggagawa sa Paris noong 1871.
 

Pamana ng FQS ang malalimang pagsuporta ng mga kabataan sa laban ng ibang mga sektor ng lipunan. Kaya bilang pakikiisa sa welga ng mga drayber ng jeepney noong Enero 11, 1971 dahil sa pagtaas ng presyo ng langis, nagtayo ang mahigit tatlong daang mag-aaral ng UP ng isang human barricade sa University Avenue upang pigilan ang pagpasok ng mga sasakyan sa kampus. Naging matagumpay ang aksyong ito, at inulit noong Pebrero 1 nang magpasya ang mga unyon ng mga drayber na ipagpatuloy ang kanilang welga.
 

Mas maraming mag-aaral ang lumahok sa naturang barikada. Naglagay din ng blockade sa Katipunan gate ng UP. Isang propesor ng Matematika, si Propesor Inocente Campos, kilalang kaaway ng mga aktibista, ang nagpilit na ipasok ang kanyang sasakyan. Napahinto lamang siya nang may pillbox na ibinato sa direksyong pupuntahan ng kanyang kotse. Bilang reaksyon ay isinuot niya ang kanyang vest, kinuha ang kanyang baril at pinaputukan ang mga mag-aaral. Tinamaan at namatay agad ang estudyanteng si Pastor Mesina Jr.
 

Sinunog ng mga estudyante ang kotse ni Campos. Inaresto ang huli ng UP Security Force at dinala sa Quezon City Police Department. Ibinaling ng mga estudyante ang kanilang galit kay Presidente Salvador Lopez at sinugod nila ang Quezon Hall.
Bandang alas-kuwatro ng hapon nang sumugod ang pulis at Metrocom sa UP. Binuwag nila ang barikada at hinuli ang mahigit labing-walong estudyante. Mula sa panahong ito ay hindi na pagtaas ng presyo ng langis ang isyu kundi ang panghihimasok ng militar sa loob ng kampus.
 

Hindi nagpadala sa takot ang mga estudyante at nagtayo pa sila ng mas malaki at maraming barikada sa harapan ng kampus kinabukasan. Marahas na tinangkang buwagin ng Metrocom ang barikada. Nagsimula ang karahasan at kaguluhan. Umatras ang mga estudyante sa Palma Hall habang tinutugis sila ng mga pulis. Naglagay sila ng mga upuan, mesa at bulletin board sa paligid ng gusali upang hindi makapasok ang militar. Ang mga kalalakihan ay nagtago sa dormitoryo ng mga babae (Sampaguita at Kamia Residence Halls) pero hinabol pa rin sila ng mga pulis na may dalang mga tear gas cannister at nakasuot ng gas mask. Mahigit 50 estudyante ang nahuli.
 

Isang pagpupulong ng buong komunidad ng UP ang ipinatawag ni Presidente Lopez sa harapan ng Palma Hall kinabukasan. Nagdesisyon ang asembleya na ituloy ang barikada bilang manipestasyon ng oposisyon sa panghihimasok ng militar sa malayang kampus ng UP. Sumugod ulit ang mga pulis sa UP subalit umatras din sila pagkatapos ng negosasyon. Inutos din ni Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos ang pagkalas ng militar sa kampus basta’t ang administrasyon ng UP ang aako ng responsibilidad sa sitwasyon.
 

Nagpatuloy ang Diliman Commune mula ikaapat hanggang ika-siyam ng Pebrero.

Nagkaroon ng sistematisasyon ng mga gawain sa loob ng pinalayang Republika ng Diliman. Malawakang teach-in at pulong masa ang isinagawa araw-araw sa hanay ng barikada. Gumamit ang mga estudyante ng mga bocaue rocket at kwitis sa ibabaw ng Main Library para itaboy ang mga helicopter ng militar. Pinasok ang Chemistry department, laboratoryo, at store room para sa mga kemikal at glassware na kailangan sa paggawa ng mga molotov cocktail at pillbox. Ang Presidente ng UP Woman’s Club at Kamia Residence Hall Student Organization Body ang nanguna sa food committee. May libreng pagkain para sa lahat ng kalahok ng Commune.
 

“Pinalaya” ng mga estudyante ang maraming gusali sa kampus. Nilagyan nila ito ng pulang bandila at binigyan ng bagong pangalan. Ang Faculty Center ay naging Sison Hall. Ang Palma Hall ay tinawag na Dante Hall, at ang Gonzales Hall ay kinilala bilang Amado Guerrero Hall. Nakuha rin ng mga mag-aaral ang radyo DZUP. Pinapatugtog nila tuwing umaga ang International at susundan ito ng “Dovie Beams” recording. Laman ng tape recording na ito ang boses ng dalawang taong nagtatalik; hinihinala ng marami na ang kasiping ng Amerikanang aktres ay walang iba kundi si Pangulong Marcos.
 

Naging bahagi din ng Commune ang UP Press. Naglabas ito ng maraming isyu ng Bandilang Pula. Sa huling araw ng barikada ay binuhusan ng mga mag-aaral ang Oblation ng pulang pintura. Pagkatapos ng ilang araw, kusang inalis ng mga mag-aaral ang barikada. May ilang komentarista ang nagsabing nabigo ang Commune dahil dahil walang nakuhang suporta ang mga aktibista mula sa akademya. Ito ay hindi totoo. Sa katunayan, kaagapay ng mga mag-aaral ang kanilang mga guro at empleyado ng pamantasan.
 

Iniurong ang barikada dahil kinilala ng mga aktibista na kahit malaya na ang UP, nananatiling bihag ng lumang sistema ang buong lipunan. Pinagkaisahan ng mga mag-aaral na ang paglaya ng sambayanan ang dapat nilang pagtuunan ng pansin bago ang paglaya ng eskuwelahan. Marami sa mga graduate ng commune ang namuno sa iba’t ibang porma ng pakikibaka laban sa diktaturang Marcos. Marami rin ang naging lider ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan pagkatapos ng deklarasyon ng batas militar.
 

Niyanig ng Diliman Commune ang buong bansa. Naging dress rehearsal ito para sa mga aksyong boykot sa mga eskuwelahan sa mga sumunod na taon.
Dito muling napatunayan ang radikal na katangian ng mga mag-aaral ng UP. Sinubukan itong pantayan ng mga estudyante noong dekada otsenta at nobenta subalit hindi nila ito nakamit nang buong-buo. Kahit ang matapang at mapangahas na pagkilos ng UP sa dalawang EDSA ay hindi kayang tumbasan ang rurok ng militansya ng Diliman Commune.
 

Nananatiling buhay ang diwa ng Diliman Commune. Malaki ang papel ng kabataan para tumulong sa pagpapalaya ng sambayanan. Nag-umpisa ang Commune sa pakikiisa ng mga mag-aaral sa mga nagwewelgang drayber at natapos ito nang magpasya ang mga aktibista na dapat unahin ang pagpapalaya ng lipunan. Ito ang rebolusyonaryong aral ng Diliman Commune.
 

Sa tuwing nakakausap ko ang mga beterano ng Diliman Commune ay lumalaki ang aking tiwala sa kakayahan ng mga kabataan. Nagawa nila ito sa kabila ng pasistang banta ng estado at napalaya ang isang pamantasang pinagmumulan ng mga reaksyonaryo at burges na ideya.

 

     
     
           
     
     
     

 

FOUNDATION FOR SUSTAINED DEVELOPMENT OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT IN THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
By Jose Maria Sison and Julieta de Lima
 


Published in Serve the People: Ang Kasaysayan ng Radikal na Kilusan sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas, edited by Bienvendo Lumbera, Judy Taguiwalo et al (Manila: IBON Foundation, CONTEND & ACT, 2008)


The US colonial regime established the University of the Philippines in 1908 in order to attract the cream of the Philippine intelligentsia towards a pro-imperialist and conservative kind of bourgeois liberalism, to draw them away from the anti-colonial and progressive kind of liberal ideas which had guided the old democratic revolution and to train and assimilate the professionals and bureaucrats for a semi-feudal social system in which the interests of US imperialism and domestic feudalism were harmonized.

In the first fifty years of its existence, the UP carried out well its colonial (1908-1946) and then neocolonial (starting 1946) mission of coopting and training the youth that passed through its portals. It maintained its equanimity as an academic institution of the status quo despite occasional controversies between its constituency or its officials and the state or government officials as well as the recurrent efforts of the sectarians of the dominant church to undermine the university’s avowed secular and liberal character.

The founding of the Communist Party of the Philippine Islands in 1930, the Great Depression and the anti-fascist struggles in the 1930s and the revolutionary movement during World War II and up to the early 1950s stimulated the study of Marxism and the Philippine revolution among a few UP faculty members and students. But these successive events did not bring into being the cellular multiplication of study circles and revolutionary party groups nor any sustained mass movement, with an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal character, among the UP constituency.

The most outstanding of the patriotic and progressive intellectuals produced by the UP before World War II included Jose Lansang, Salvador P. Lopez, the Lava brothers Vicente, Jose and Jesus, Dr. Agustin Rodolfo, Angel Baking, Samuel Rodriguez and Renato Constantino. With the exception of some, these intellectuals would continue to take and express the Left position and face the extreme reaction from the US imperialists and local reactionaries after the war. Some of them would be arrested and detained in 1950 and thereabouts. Those who were released tended to be cautious and expressed themselves in Aesopian language, within the bounds of nationalist and liberal terms. Aside from keeping academic and newspaper jobs, they became speech writers and political analysts for nationalist members of Congress.

Dr. Elmer Ordoñez the best living witness who has written about the anti-communist witchhunt and the resistance that took place on the UP campus from the early fifties to 1957. Even the liberal and logical positivist Dr. Ricardo Pascual was pilloried as a communist by religious sectarians and other anti-communists for supposedly organizing secret cells. Dr. Agustin Rodolfo was among those who formed the Society for the Advancement of Academic Freedom to resist the witchhunt. In those years of severe anti-communist suppression, the anti-imperialist speeches of Senator Claro Mayo Recto kept alive the spirit and hopes of the progressives in the UP from 1951 onwards. Recto was assisted by Renato Constantino. Senator Jose Laurel also expressed nationalist and liberal positions on certain major issues. He was assisted by Jose Lansang.

When we were in UP Diliman for our undergraduate studies from 1956 to 1959, the Cold War was running high and the rabid anticommunists in our country were still touting McCarthyism, which had already been discredited in the US. The US puppet president Ramon Magsaysay and the like-minded UP president Vidal Tan sought to make the UP a regimented bulwark of anticommunism by using religious sectarianism as its base. Subservience to US imperialism was cultivated among faculty members and students through the US-influenced curricula and study materials as well as prospects of Fulbright, Smith Mundt and other US scholarships and travel grants, or highly-remunerated employment in US and local comprador corporations.

The struggle between the liberals and the religious sectarians was intense. Under the direction of their American Jesuit chaplain Fr. John P. Delaney up to his death in early 1956, the UP Student Catholic Action (UPSCA) and its faculty version the Iota Eta Sigma had made political capital out of some fatal initiation hazing incidents in certain fraternities to discredit and subvert the nonsectarian and liberal character of the UP. They gave an anticommunist spin to their virulent opposition to the influence of the Recto nationalist crusade, the UP publication of Teodoro Agoncillo’s Revolt of the Masses: the Story of Bonifacio and the Philippine Revolution, the clamor for the study of Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and so on.

The Anti-Subversion Law was passed in 1957 supposedly in order to destroy once and for all the Marxist ideology and the CPP or any of its successor, extension or front by imposing the death penalty on the officers. It was drafted by the American Jesuit Fr. Arthur Weiss and the political officer of the US embassy openly lobbied for its passage in Congress. It was a bill of attainder, establishing guilt by association, and was meant to suppress the freedom of thought, speech and assembly. It would become a constant weapon of anti-communist witchhunt and oppression.

After Magsaysay died in a plane accident in 1957, his vice president, Carlos P. Garcia, assumed the presidency and won it in the elections in the same year. He appointed Dr. Vicente Sinco as UP president in 1958. The latter suspended the UP Student Council after it held a rally against his policy of preventing a religious organization like the UPSCA from dominating the council. He introduced the General Education Program with the objective of giving all college students a well rounded basic knowledge of the sciences and the humanities and developing their ability for critical thinking. He appointed as full professors Hernando Abaya, Teodoro Agoncillo, I.P. Soliongco, Armando Malay, and others who were well known for their patriotic and progressive writings. He also appointed as deans and heads of departments those who were patriotic and progressive. He promoted the colloquia on nationalism among the faculty members and students.

In the year 1958 we gained access to some Marxist books in the UP Main Library. The military had ordered these to be destroyed in 1950 or thereabouts. But the librarian simply put most of these aside, piled up uncatalogued and unclassified, at the basement of the UP Main Library where one of us found them among other donated second hand books. Students of library science were encouraged to volunteer in retrieving usable books from among the dusty piles. These were brought upstairs for cataloguing and classification and eventually added to the UP Library System collections. Thus were many Marxist and progressive books retrieved and made available to those interested in them.

We avidly read and studied these books as well as others that we borrowed from private collections, including that of a non-communist university professor and an Indonesian graduate student. We learned, particularly from Lenin and Mao, that the bourgeois democratic revolution of the new type (under the leadership of the working class) rather than of the old type (under the leadership of the liberal bourgeoisie) was necessary for the people to win victory in the struggle for national liberation and democracy in the era of modern imperialism and world proletarian revolution. We also learned that the toiling masses of workers and peasants and the urban petty bourgeoisie must unite for the revolution to win victory.

The progressive liberal trend in the UP proceeded well even as an ambiguous side controversy occurred. The UP Journalism Club in early 1959 had invited Fr. Hilario Lim, a recent expellee from the Society of Jesus, to speak on the need to Filipinize religious institutions. We and the faculty adviser Prof. Armando Malay were chagrined by the refusal of the Sinco administration to let Fr. Lim speak on the ground of his being a religious, despite the fact that he was demanding the nationalization of religious and religious-run institutions in the Philippines. A few years later, Lim would step out of the Catholic clergy, join the faculty of the UP history department and become an outspoken advocate of the national democratic movement.

I. From SCAUP Founding to the Eve of KM Founding, 1959 to 1964

By 1959 when we founded the Student Cultural Association of the UP (SCAUP), we who were the core organizers drew from our study of Marxism and the history and circumstances of the Philippines the understanding that the Philippine revolution could be resumed under the leadership of the working class and that such a leadership could bring together the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords.

We considered the character of the UP and the possibility of developing the national democratic movement within the UP. We had no illusion that SCAUP or even all the UP students could change the character of the UP as a pro-imperialist and conservative liberal institution without the prior victory of the national democratic movement in society at large. But we aimed to build a ?rogressive university within the reactionary universityor develop the national democratic movement among the students, faculty members and non-academic employees.

It was with some sense of humor that we adopted the acronym SCAUP to stress the fact that we were diametrically opposed to the UPSCA as it was then. We also stressed that we were a cultural group, not a religious one. But we were most interested in raising the level of debate in the university from one between the liberals and the religious sectarians to one between the Left and the Right or one between the progressives and the reactionaries on basic and urgent social, economic, political and cultural issues. We used the terms nationalism and liberalism in a progressive way to mean anti-imperialism and anti-feudalism, respectively.

We called for a Second Propaganda Movement to prepare the resumption of the Philippine revolution under global conditions of modern imperialism and proletarian revolution as well as under local semi-colonial and semi-feudal conditions. We were for the resumption of the Philippine revolution against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes. We were for national liberation, democracy, social justice and development. We were for academic freedom and civil liberties in the UP and we were definitely for upholding, promoting and advancing a system of education and culture that is of national, scientific and mass character.

We were of the view that that the Marxists and the progressive liberals could and had to unite in order to form the national democratic movement in the university and that they could also ally themselves even with the conservative liberals on certain issues, like academic freedom, civil liberties and welfare for all UP constituents. The SCAUP adopted two levels of education through seminar-style discussions. One was openly done on the principles, program and basic issues of national democratic movement among members and applicants for membership. The other was discreetly done among the most politically advanced SCAUP members because the Anti-Subversion Law prohibited the study of Marxism-Leninism and its relevance to the Philippine revolution.

It was sufficient for every SCAUP member to have a basic knowledge of the national democratic movement. As a form of initiation, applicants for membership were collectively and individually instructed on the movement and were assigned a book, article or a current issue to analyze and discuss. The discussions were carried out anywhere the participants wished, be it in a classroom, cafeteria or in the open air. The discreet discussions on Marxism-Leninism were done either on the campus grounds or in private homes.

The charter members of the SCAUP were graduate and undergraduate students. The organizational policy was to give priority to the recruitment of those who were already holding responsible positions in other campus organizations, who had the ability to write for the Collegian as editors and feature writers or who had the qualifications to run for the UP Student Council in case of restoration. The political and academic quality of the SCAUP was so high that sometimes some SCAUP members immodestly joked among themselves that they could someday take over the reactionary government from within. In fact, some would join and become cadres of the revolutionary movement and others enter the reactionary government and rise to the high positions of cabinet members, governor of the Central Bank, ambassadors, congressmen and senators and justices of the Supreme Court.

SCAUP members were encouraged to debate with their teachers and oppose reactionary ideas inside and outside classrooms. They had a keen interest in attending the colloquia on nationalism and in initiating or joining open forums where they had the opportunity to raise questions and debate with the speakers. Some SCAUP members regularly attended the seminars and informal discussions organized by the graduate assistant Petronilo Bn Daroy on behalf of Dr. Ricardo Pascual, dean of the graduate school of arts and sciences. They went there to test their knowledge of dialectical materialism by debating with the dean who was a logical positivist and to ventilate their political views and seek consensus on current issues with participants who were mostly graduate students and faculty members, including Dr. Agustin Rodolfo who could skilfully transliterate Marxist ideas in liberal language.

The members of fraternities who were members of SCAUP stood above inter-fraternity rivalries and took a common ground in opposing the UPSCA and attended SCAUP study meetings. Because of the vacuum created by President Sinco’s suspension of the UP Student Council, they took the initiative in spearheading the formation of the Inter-Fraternity and Sorority Student Council (IFSC). This alliance would later make up for the limited membership of SCAUP and provide the broad organized base for arousing, organizing and mobilizing the UP students in 1961 against the witchhunt conducted by the Committee on Anti-Filipino Activities (CAFA) against the UP faculty members and students.

The CAFA invoked the Anti-Subversion Law and targeted for inquisition the editors of the Philippine Social Sciences and Humanities Review for having reprinted in 1958 the 1946 pamphlet Peasant War in the Philippines: A study of the causes of social unrest in the Philippines–an analysis of Philippine political economy the 1960 Philippinensian for the editorial ?ower of Babeland the Philippine Collegian for the March 1, 1961 feature article ?equiem for Lumumbaunder the SCAUP chairman’s nom de plume, Andres Gregorio. The articles had an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal content. The editors were accused of subversion, promoting Marxism and the outlawed Communist Party.

The key leaders of the IFSC, who were also SCAUP members, convened the meeting of all campus organizations to agree on holding a demonstration in response to the CAFA witchhunt. The SCAUP, the IFSC and the Philippine Collegian rallied the students to the defense of academic freedom and civil liberties. The SCAUP drafted the manifesto and organized the machinery for the March 14, 1961 rally against CAFA. We prepared the placards at our rented cottage in Area 14 and at the Stalag 17 (the moniker for the quonset barracks left by the US Army). The SCAUP chairman and the graduate assistant Petronilo Bn Daroy arranged with the JD bus company and signed the rent contract for the buses to ferry the students from Diliman in Quezon City to Congress in downtown Manila.

Five thousand students converged on Congress and literally scuttled the CAFA hearings. This was the first demonstration of its kind, protesting against the anti-communist witchhunt and the Anti-Subversion Law and defending the freedom to express anti-imperialist and anti-feudal ideas, which the targeted publications carried. Following the resounding success of the anti-CAFA rally, the Philippine Collegian published a crescendo of editorials, columns and feature articles that did not only defend academic freedom and civil liberties but also propagated the ideas of the national democratic movement against imperialism and feudalism.

The consecutive editorships of Reynato Puno, Leonardo Quisumbing, Luis Teodoro, Jr., Ferdinand Tinio and Rene Navarro from 1961 to 1962 firmly established the predominance of Philippine Collegian editors who adopted the editorial policy that adhered to the line of the national democratic movement in the 1960s and thereafter. The editors either belonged to or were friendly to the SCAUP and welcomed the contributions of the SCAUP writers. The Philippine Collegian became a highly important vehicle for carrying and ventilating the ideas of the national democratic movement not only in the UP but also beyond. We also aimed to avail of the pages of the Literary Apprentice of the UP Writers’ Club and the Diliman Review.

In addition to the Collegian, we had the Diliman-based littlemagazines that were dedicated to the task of stirring up anti-imperialist and anti-feudal ideas. These were the Fugitive Review, Cogent and Diliman Observer in 1960 and 1961. They were edited by such SCAUP writers as Peronilo Bn. Daroy and the SCAUP chairman, and were invariably short-lived for lack of funds to pay for printing. It would only be in 1963 that the Progressive Review could come out as a relatively stable publication, lasting up to 1968. The editorial board consisted of UP faculty members and graduate students.

As a result of the anti-CAFA rally, the teaching fellowship of the SCAUP Chairman was not renewed by the UP English Department. Also before being fired from the department, he engaged the department head in a debate on the pages of the Philippine Collegian regarding the content of a subject called Great Thoughtsin which the study materials were written predominantly by Catholic thinkers, like Cardinal Newman, G. K. Chesterton, Jacques Maritain, Belloc, Gibson, and so on. He demanded that progressive writings, including those of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and other Marxist thinkers and revolutionaries, should also be accommodated in the subject.

Having lost his job at the UP, the SCAUP chairman gained time to do political work not only on the UP campus but also on other campuses. As a result of the anti-CAFA rally, students in other universities in downtown Manila took interest in the student movement in the UP. SCAUP promoted the formation of study circles among students in the Philippine College of Commerce, the University of the East, the Manuel L. Quezon University and the Lyceum University in 1961 and 1962. Eventually, the SCAUP members and their friends in the other universities in Manila would constitute a significant part of the student contingent at the founding of the Kabataang Makabayan in 1964.

The general secretary Jesus Lava of the underground merger party of the communist and socialist parties (MPCSP) tried to contact the SCAUP chairman soon after the March 1961 anti-CAFA rally. But the intermediary failed to deliver Lava’s message to him. The SCAUP chairman went to Indonesia on a scholarship grant to study Bahasa Indonesia in the first half of 1962 and had the opportunity to study the Indonesian mass movement. From there he effected the flow of Marxist-Leninist reading materials to some faculty members and student activists in the UP and some other universities in Manila. It would only be in December 1962 that he could link with and join the MPSCP.

Soon after the anti-CAFA rally in 1961, we of the SCAUP were already planning to form a comprehensive youth organization by linking up with young workers, peasants and professionals. We joined the Lapiang Manggagawa (LM, Workers Party) and became active in its youth and research and education departments in the latter half of 1962. From this, we gained access to the young workers in several labor federations and major independent unions. We established links with the peasant association Malayang Samahan ng Magsasaka (MASAKA, Free Peasant Association) in 1963 and we visited a number of barrios in Central Luzon in order to encourage the peasant youth to join the projected Kabataang Makabayan.

After the anti-CAFA rally, the SCAUP initiated or joined a number of other mass actions. These included the campus protest action (in cooperation with the UP Student Union of which Enrique Voltaire Garcia III was chairman) against the appointment of Carlos P. Romulo as UP President and off-campus rallies and pickets against US imperialism on the issues of the US-RP Military Bases Agreement, the Laurel-Langley Agreement, US military intervention in Cuba and so on. The political mass actions initiated from1962 to 1964 by Lapiang Manggagawa on various issues were small, ranging from 500 to 1000 participants. The SCAUP promoted and assisted the campaign against the Spanish Law, which required students to take 24 units of Spanish. The campaign culminated in the demonstration of 50,000 people (the majority of whom came from the youth of Iglesia ni Cristo).

National Expansion of the New Democratic Movement, 1964-1968

The national democratic movement that started in the UP in the period of 1959 to 1964 became well established on a national scale in the period of 1964-1968. The UP student contingent took an outstanding role in the founding of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) on November 30, 1964 and in its further development as a comprehensive youth organization for students as well as young workers, peasants, professionals and women. In turn, the national democratic movement developing in the entire country had salutary effects on the patriotic and progressive forces within the UP. The KM echoed and amplified the call of the SCAUP in 1959 for a Second Propaganda Movement.

Through the KM, students and young faculty members of the UP led by the KM chairman gained access to and cooperated with the Lapiang Manggagawa, which became the Socialist Party of the Philippines (SPP) in 1965, the trade union movement and the Malayang Samahan ng mga Magsasaka (MASAKA, Free Peasants Association). By its own efforts, the KM was able to organize new trade unions as well as community organizations in both urban and ruling areas. Eventually, it spearheaded the formation of the broad anti-imperialist alliance, Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN) on February 8, 1967.

As soon as it was founded in 1964, the KM established a chapter in the UP.. This had interlocking membership and always cooperated closely with SCAUP as a partner. The KM and SCAUP had their respective internal educational activities but they also had joint public activities. The SCAUP held the Claro Mayo Recto Lecture Series every year and the KM members attended these. The KM and SCAUP cooperated with other organizations such as the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation (Philippine chapter) headed by Dr. Francisco Nemenzo, Jr. to popularize the anti-imperialist teach-ins, especially against the US war of aggression in Vietnam in the mid-1960s. The KM organized the inter-university Lecture Series on Nationalism.

In most semesters during the 1960s, the Philippine Collegian had as editors and writers either members or close friends of the the KM and SCAUP. It often carried feature articles promoting the national democratic line against imperialism and reaction. When revived in1966, the UP Student Council chaired by Enrique Voltaire Garcia III cooperated very well with the KM and SCAUP in promoting the national democratic line on intramural, national and international issues. It held the National Student Congress for the advancement of nationalism. The delegates joined the KM and gave it a national spread. As UP Student Council chairman and later as Collegian editor-in-chief, Garcia was outstanding in pursuing the national democratic line.

The KM dispatched educational-organizational teams to organize chapters in schools, factories, urban poor communities and rural areas. It also availed of the national conferences of national student organizations like the College Editors’ Guild, National Students’ League, Conference Delegates Association (CONDA), Student Council Association of the Philippines (SCAP) and the Student Christian Movement (SCM) to recruit KM members nationwide. The students recruited during such conferences were followed up by members of the KM National Council and by organization-education teams and were encouraged and guided to form KM chapters. Until after 1970, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and the Student Catholic Action of the Philippines were usually run by the conservative and reformist student leaders from the Catholic schools.

The KM played the key role in planning and organizing the youth participation in the omnibus rally of 25,000 people on January 25, 1965 against US imperialism with regard to the Laurel-Langley Agreement, the US Military Bases Agreement and other forms of US control over the Philippines. The people rallied in front of the US embassy and marched in a torch parade to the presidential palace. The youth contingent was larger than those of workers and peasants. The protest action marked a new peak in mass mobilization by the national democratic movement. Some elements of the national bourgeoisie gave support to the mass action.

When US President Lyndon B. Johnson attended the so-called Manila Summit to round up support for the US war of aggression in Vietnam from governments in the Asia-Pacific region, UP students belonging to the KM were among those who picketed the summit at its Manila Hotel venue on October 23, 1966. The following day UP students mustered by both the KM and the UP Student Council composed the bulk of the 5000 students who protested against the summit and were attacked by the military and police. Consequently, the UP Student Council led by Enrique Voltaire Garcia III formed the UP Nationalist Corps to wage a nationwide campaign against state brutality and to conduct mass work among workers and peasants, thus reinforcing the work of the KM ?earn from the Masses, Serve the Peopleteams . The KM chairman had drafted the manifesto launching the UP Nationalist Corps.

In 1967, soon after the establishment of the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN) the MAN general secretary made the first draft and together with Renato Constantino formed a working group to make the MAN report against the further Americanization of the University of the Philippines under the presidency of Carlos P. Romulo. Romulo was acting as chief agent of the cultural agencies of the US government, US corporations and the Rockefeller, Ford and other US foundations. The KM and the SCAUP cooperated with all other patriotic student organizations, student leaders, campus writers and faculty members in a sustained campaign against the ideological and cultural dominance of US imperialism in the UP.

The Philippine Collegian, under the editorship of Miriam Defensor, would expose in 1968 the contract between the UP College of Agriculture in Los Ba?s and Dow Chemicals Inc. which was notorious for supplying the American armed forces in Vietnam with napalm and defoliants. This was followed by another Collegian exposof the contract between the same college and the US Air Force regarding the study of plant life, which could be used in US chemical and biological warfare in Vietnam and elsewhere. The student protests on the Diliman and Los Ba?s campuses forced the UP administration to cancel the contracts.

The chairman of Kabataang Makabayan who was concurrently vice chairman of the Socialist Party of the Philippines and general secretary of MAN published his book, Struggle for National Democracy, in 1967. This was a compilation of his articles and speeches on the issues and concerns affecting Philippine society as a whole and its various major sectors. It was avidly read by the activists of the youth, labor and peasant movements and served to consolidate their understanding of the national democratic movement. It stimulated the further advance of the movement for national liberation and democracy against US imperialism and the local reactionary classes.

Within the old merger party of the CPP and SPP, the debates and contradictions between the proletarian revolutionaries and the Lavaite revisionists came to a head in April 1967 when the latter made an organizational maneuver against the former who were the ones actually leading the mass movement. The proletarian revolutionaries had long criticized and wanted to repudiate the influence of modern revisionism centered in the Soviet Union and the major subjectivist and Right and Left opportunist errors in the previous 25 years within the MPCSP. They carried out a rectification movement to prepare for the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the waging of a protracted people’s war against the ruling system.

By 1968 the Kabataang Makabayan had established chapters in the universities, colleges and high schools in nearly all provinces of the country. It provided the organizational framework for building a nationwide revolutionary movement. It established the schools for national democracy. It provided a nationwide broadcast network for the ideas of the national democratic movement. It was the training school of young activists not only from the schools but also from the factories, urban poor communities and farms. It gained repute for the spread of student strikes on a national scale. It was involved in a number of outstanding worker strikes. It struck roots among the peasant youth in Central and Southern Luzon.

As a result of the break of the proletarian revolutionaries from the MPCSP, the Lavaite revisionists formed the Malayang Pagkakaisa ng Kabataang Pilipino (MPKP) which took away a few scores of members from KM in 1968. Also in the same year a group of KM members who opposed a pre-congress proposal to elect Nilo Tayag as KM chairman broke away from the KM and formed the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK). The contradictions involved were not promptly and properly handled because we were then preoccupied with the intensified struggle against the Lava revisionist clique. However, the SDK proclaimed a national democratic line similar to that of the KM.

Mass Movement Against the Rise of Fascism, 1968-1972

What incubated in the UP from 1959 to 1964 and conspicuously spread nationally from 1964 to 1968 helped greatly in paving the way for the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, 1968, and the rise of a powerful mass movement challenging the entire ruling system from 1969 to 1972. The national democratic movement grew in strength among the toiling masses of workers and peasants and the middle social strata as the crisis of the semicolonial and semi-feudal ruling system worsened and the Marcos regime became more servile to imperialism, corrupt and brutal and prepared to impose a fascist dictatorship on the people.

Workers’ strikes spread throughout the country in an unprecedented way in 1969. The peasants were likewise restive and demanded land reform, even as the Marcos regime became more intimidating and the religious sectarians, reformists and revisionists tried to lead them astray and calm them down. On March 29, 1969 the CPP founded the New People’s Army and launched people’s war. In November 1969, peasants from Central Luzon numbering 20,000, joined by their workers and youth supporters, massed in front of Congress in order to demand land reform.

Student strikes continued to spread throughout the country. They inspired the students to join the chapters of the KM and attend the KM schools for democracy. The UP Chapter of Kabataang Makabayan and SCAUP allied themselves with other student organizations to launch a strike in January 1969 and succeeded in moving the university administration headed by UP president Dr. Salvador P. Lopez to give in to most of the demands of the students, faculty members and non-academic employees. Being himself a libertarian and an advocate of the university as social critic, Dr. Lopez showed sympathy for the cause of the students and led the UP administration in preventing the outside police forces from entering the university campus.

Among the reforms demanded by the students and met by the UP administration were the representation of the students in the Board of Regents and the university councils and in the process of electing college deans and department heads, the autonomy of student organizations and optionality of having faculty advisers, transparency of university financial accounts, the spending of students’ fees for the very purpose for which these are collected, and so on. Until now, many of the reforms won by the students in the period of 1969 to 1972 have been retained despite reactionary efforts to reverse or undermine them.

The Philippine Collegian under the editorship of Ernesto Valencia serialized Amado Guerrero’s Philippine Society and Revolution (PSR) under the title Philippine Crisis in 1970. It was enthusiastically received and closely read by the students, especially with the understanding that it was a further development of Struggle for National Democracy (SND). The first edition of the PSR in book form in 1970 was sold out mainly in the lobbies at UP Diliman. The Collegian under the editorship of Antonio Tagamolila and the Amado V. Hernandez Foundation under the chairmanship of Antonio Zumel cooperated in publishing the second edition of the Struggle for National Democracy in 1971.

The Collegian under the editorship of Victor Manarang,Valencia, Tagamolila and Rey Vea from 1969 to 1972 brought to a new and higher level the adherence of the student publication to the national democratic line by publishing documents of the reestablished Communist Party of the Philippines and articles of CPP chairman Amado Guerrero and other prominent progressives and anti-imperialists. Creative works in the form of short stories, poems and plays reflecting social reality and the discontent and revolutionary aspirations of the people appeared in the Collegian, Collegian Folio, Literary Apprentice and Ulos.

In late 1969 the KM and the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) reconciled along the national democratic line, with the former welcoming the latter’s formal founding in January 1970.
The reconciliation gave further impetus to the development of the national democratic movement in the UP. It came in time for the preparations for the student strike on the UP campus in the second week of January 1970 and the demonstration in front of Congress against President Marcos’ state of the nation address on January 25, 1970. The police brutality inflicted on the 10,000 mainly student demonstrators on this day ignited the First Quarter Storm of 1970.

The KM and other organized forces of the youth and the workers launched militant mass protests of 50,000 to 100,000 people every week (excluding the people who cheered along the streets and from windows of houses) during the first three months of 1970. They formed the Movement for a Democratic Philippines to broaden and strengthen the alliance against the rising brutality of the Marcos regime and at the same time frustrate the attempt of the revisionist party to outflank the progressive forces with the false charge that they were ?urely anti-Marcosand were not at all opposed to US imperialism.

The First Quarter Storm subsided. But mass protest actions by the student masses proceeded throughout 1970 in provincial capitals where the KM had established chapters. The mass protests resumed in Metro Manila with the May 1 worker-student demonstration and continued in earnest though intermittently through the rest of the 1970s on a wide range of domestic issues such as the superprofit-taking by the foreign monopolies, rising prices of fuel and basic commodities, anti-labor policies and practices and the lack of land reform and also on international issues such as the use of US military bases for aggression and military intervention in Southeast Asia and the escalation of the US war of aggression in Indochina.

On February 1, 1971 the UP students declared a strike to protest successive oil price hikes. The Marcos regime deployed military and police forces against the UP after a pro-Marcos member of the faculty killed Pastor Mesina, a freshman student. These prompted the students, the faculty members, nonacademic employees and other campus residents to unite and resist the hostile armed forces. They took over the entire university from the administration and proclaimed the Diliman Commune. They established barricades and other forms of defense and they improvised missiles and fireworks to discourage the helicopters from landing armed personnel.

They used the radio facilities of the university, increasing its power and range to broadcast to as far as Palawan revolutionary propaganda against the Marcos regime, including the reading of all three chapters of Philippine Society and Revolution. They also used the UP printing press to print leaflets and publish their own revolutionary newspaper. They renamed the buildings of the university after revolutionary leaders. The Diliman Commune promptly captured national attention and gained wide and enthusiastic support. Food, clothing, and all sorts of donations and other forms of encouragement poured in continuously, some coming from far-flung provinces. Workers, public transport drivers, students from other schools and assorted volunteers came to reinforce the barricades.

The Diliman Commune ended on February 9, 1971 only after the UP administration accepted several significant demands of the students and the Marcos regime accepted the recommendation of the UP president to end the military and police siege and declare assurances that state security forces would not be deployed against the university. After the Diliman Commune, the broad masses of the Filipino people continued to engage in legal protest actions on a nationwide scale. The Marcos regime confronted these with increasing violence. On August 21, 1971 it attacked the opposition by lobbing grenades at the Liberal Party miting de avance at Plaza Miranda in order to have the pretext for blaming communists and suspending the writ of habeas corpus. It arrested the leaders of KM and other progressive organizations and raided their offices and homes.

The KM and all other progressive forces in the Movement for a Democratic Philippines recognized the rising threat of fascism and expanded their alliance by forming the Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties (MCCCL). This included the reformists, bourgeois nationalists, anti-Marcos reactionaries and religious organizations. Activists most likely to be arrested by the regime either went underground or prepared to go underground. Nevertheless, the legal forces of the national democratic movement continued to mobilize the people in order to make protests and demands.

Under the auspices of the MCCCL, the legal mass protests continued until September 21, 1972 when 25,000 demonstrators denounced the plot to declare martial law. Indeed, Marcos started the mass arrests on September 22, issued the declaration of martial law on September 23, 1972 and imposed a fascist dictatorship on the people for the next 14 years. The legal forces of the national democratic movement went underground but took deeper roots in the UP and in the entire country, especially because the armed revolution raged in the countryside and kept the hopes of the people alive.

Enrique Voltaire Garcia III set the example and established the tradition of pursuing the national democratic line in the UP Student Union and Student Council. But more importantly, the student organizations and the student masses welcomed and followed the national democratic line. Student parties competed for support from the students along this line during the campus elections. By 1970 every student party and almost every campus organization wanted to be recognized as having a national-democratic character.

The KM and SDK were the engines of the student parties that excelled in espousing the national democratic line. They generated the kind of student leadership that culminated in the militant presidency of Gerry Barican of Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan and the student party Partisans and Eric Baculinao of Kabataang Makabayan and the student party Sandigang Makabansa (formerly Partisans) in 1969 to 1971. However, as long as the ruling reactionary system remained, the national democratic line in the UP Student Council could not always remain secure.

The Marcos regime and the intelligence services pushed the fraudulent election of a reactionary student leader to the presidency of the UP Student Council for 1971-1972 by literally using smear tactics against the Sandigang Makabansa candidates. Famous slogans from the writings of Mao (like ?ppose Book Worshipand ?ombat Liberalism were smeared in red paint on the walls of the university and furniture were thrown out from buildings on the eve of the campus elections. This vandalism was ascribed to the progressive student party in order to misrepresent it
and swing the votes to the reactionary party. It was a coup calculated to cripple the UP Student Council and national democratic movement in the UP in preparation for the Marcos coup d’etat. But in the campus elections of 1972, a few months before the declaration of martial law, the Sandigang Makabansa headed by the candidate for chairman Jaime Tan won by a landslide.

Due to space constraint, we have referred to the principal mass organizations as active factors and indicators in the development of the national democratic movement. Also deserving of attention were those traditional organizations and institutions that adopted in varied ways and degrees the aims of the national democratic movement. Many individual officers and members of the fraternities and sororities became militants of the national democratic movement and tried to reorient their organizations. The Alethea, the Kilusang Kristyano ng Kabataang Pilipino (KKKP) and the Christians for National Liberation (CNL) gained adherents among religious believers. The rabid religious sectarians that were associated with the UPSCA and Iota Eta Sigma seemed to recede.

The years 1969 to 1971 saw a flurry of mass organizing along the national democratic line. Various student organizations arose as affiliates and allies of KM and SDK. They formed their respective cultural performing and visual arts groups, like Panday Sining and Nagkakaisang Progresibong Artista at Arkitekto (NPAA) of KM and Gintong Silahis and Sining Bayan of SDK.There were the mass formations based on certain colleges in UP Diliman, such as the Progresibong Samahan sa Inhinyeria at Agham (PSIA) in the College of Engineering, the NPAA in the College of Fine Arts, the Progresibong Kilusang Medikal (PKM) in the College of Medicine and the Samahan ng mga Makabayang Mag-aaral ng Batas (SMMB) in the College of Law. The propagandists formed the Samahan ng mga Progresibong Propagandista. The UP faculty members had their own progressive organization, Samahan ng mga Guro sa Pamantasan (SAGUPA).

The national democratic movement reached and swept the UP units in Los Baños, Baguio and Tarlac. It was strongest in UP Los Baños because the SCAUP, KM and SDK chapters were formed soon after their Diliman counterparts were established and because this unit had the largest student population among the UP extension units. The progressive students led the student government and edited the student publication. They aroused and mobilized the student masses to support the Diliman Commune and make their own demands. UP Los Baños became the beacon of other schools and colleges in the Southern Tagalog region and the staging base for long protest marches to Metro Manila.

The basis and course of development of the national democratic movement in UP Baguio were similar to those of UP Los Baños . Progressive students and young instructors built chapters of the KM and SDK. The student members led the student government and took charge of the student publication. The teachers espousing the same general line formed the Ugnayan ng Makabayang Guro (UMAGA). UP Baguio became a base for organizing KM chapters in other schools, universities and communities in Baguio City and the provinces of the Cordillera. UP Tarlac also became a base for progressive student organizing in Central Luzon.

National mass organizations came into being, with UP students, faculty members and alumni as members. They included Students for the Advancement of National Democracy (STAND), League of Editors for a Democratic Society (LEADS), Katipunan ng mga Samahang Manggagawa (KASAMA), Pagkakaisa ng mga Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (PMP), Katipunan ng mga Gurong Makabayan (KAGUMA), Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA), Panulat para sa Kaunlaran ng Sambayanan (PAKSA), Samahan ng mga Makabayang Siyentipiko (SMS) and Makabayang Samahan ng mga Nars (MASANA). The CPP formed party groups in various types of mass organizations and groups of professionals. From these would arise the allied organizations within the National Democratic Front.

The fascist dictatorship failed to destroy the national democratic movement in the university and in the entire country. It only succeeded in unwittingly persuading many of the UP students, teachers and alumni to join the people’s struggle for national liberation and democracy. The best sons and daughters of the university became communists and sought to remould themselves as proletarian revolutionaries. Many of them decided to participate in the people’s war, contributing whatever abilities they had and ever ready to make the necessary sacrifice in order to advance the revolutionary cause.

From one reactionary regime to another after the fall of Marcos in 1986, the national democratic movement has kept a deeply-rooted foundation in the UP and has always strived to grow in strength against tremendous odds. So long as the semicolonial and semifeudal system persists, the movement goes through ups and downs and twists and turns for whatever reason at any given time. So far, it continues to exist and grow because there is a fertile ground and need for it and the activist organizations and individuals are inspired by the noble cause of serving the people and carrying on the struggle to which so many revolutionary martyrs and heroes from the UP have dedicated their lives. The UP constituents are ever critical of the dire conditions of society and are ever desirous of change for the better.

In the last fifty years, the national democratic movement has become the principal challenge to the pro-imperialist and reactionary character of the University of the Philippines. It aims to overthrow the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system and liberate the university completely so that it can become the shining center for upholding, defending and promoting national independence and democracy, development through national industrialization and land reform, a national, scientific and popular system of culture and education, and international solidarity and peace. ###

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mathematics professor Inocente Camnpos wanted to enter the campus and fired at the students manning the barricades. Pastor "Sonny" Mesina, a freshman chemistry student and member of the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan, was shot. He died three days later.

 

▼  Photos by Steve Santos  ▼

Philippine Collegian photographer in 1970-71   

Ericson Baculinao, USC Chair and UP Student Regent

Ericson Baculinao and Julius Fortuna, chair of the Lyceum chapter

of the Movement for a Democratic Philippines

UP President Salvador P. Lopez
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
           
     

 

UP will forge through risk-filled neoliberal terrain; so will militant activism persist: An Outsider’s View of the University of the Philippines

Satur Ocampo

(The speech is part of the UP Centennial Lecture Series, one of the events marking 100 years of UP)
 

Before we begin, may I invite everyone to stand up for three minutes of silence in honor of the former students of the University of the Philippines who gave up their lives in the continuing struggle for national liberation, economic emancipation, social justice, equitable development and genuine and lasting peace for the Filipino people.

Thank you. I also thank you for inviting me, through President Emerlinda R. Roman, to be one of the speakers in this Centennial Lecture Series. I hope that my sincere and humble efforts to cope with your expectations will be met with relative satisfaction. If not, I’ll ask for another chance, but please not in the next Centennial.

Your first speaker representing an “Outsider’s View,” the businessman and civic leader Ramon R. del Rosario Jr., banteringly attested to his being “truly an outsider” as a “true-and-through Green Archer” whose encounters with UP to this day have been to root for the De La Salle team against the UP Maroons during UAAP basketball games. Then he delighted you with his proud declaration that his two daughters graduated from UP with academic distinctions.

I am an “outsider” not in the sense that Mr. del Rosario is, he having freely chosen not to study in UP but acquiring his education here and abroad in his field of choice. On my part, I dreamed of studying in UP as early as my high school days in the early 1950s in my hometown of Sta. Rita, Pampanga. For reasons I’ll explain, I never got to do so. My college education was rough-edged, and I never got a college diploma. I am proud to say, however, that the alumni association of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (formerly the PCC or Philippine College of Commerce) chose to consider me an outstanding PCC alumnus in 1999 for pursuing my political advocacy.

My boyhood dream of studying in UP began when my father’s cousin happened to bring a copy of The Philippinensian to our home. I leafed avidly through its pages. Gazing at the photographs of student leaders at that time, I thought I could also be like them in UP. I soon realized that it was an impossible dream. Still, some years later, enrolled at the Lyceum of the Philippines, the influence of UP intellectuals there — notably Sotero H. Laurel, who was the president of the Lyceum, and Dean Jose A. Lansang of the school of journalism — reinforced my nationalist orientation and honed my analytical skills. Yes, you could have that experience outside of UP – just as today our young people continue to be taught by UP products in many of our institutions of learning, at least those UP graduates who have chosen to commit themselves to this country (and they are many).

The youthful hope of being able to enter UP fired me up to study hard even as I continued to help my parents and siblings with the work on the farm. Thus, finishing high school as class salutatorian was a cruel blow, because being valedictorian would have entitled me to a UP scholarship. That was one of my earliest frustrations in life and I remember it with pain to this day. But then again, my parents would not have been able to afford the other expenses entailed by having a son in UP, even on a scholarship. (Let us note that more than half a century later since then, the new UP Charter now explicitly mandates the University to take affirmative action to enhance the access of disadvantaged students to its programs and services.)

There are thousands upon thousands of poor boys and girls for whom the doors of the state university failed to open in the last 100 years. Former Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban was one of them in the early 1950s, who although he had been granted a UP scholarship had to enroll instead at the Far Eastern University. As the head of the FEU student council, he recently reminisced, he “specially prized” the friendship of fellow student leaders from UP because they were trained to think and behave independently and upheld student rights at the risk of their own studies and careers. In my own encounters with UP student leaders at the time, I held most of them in high regard for their intellectual keenness and boldness in taking the initiative. I also encountered some who annoyed others by their intellectual arrogance and hubris, and yes, frivolousness.

My first experience of student life in Manila was at PCC – the quintessential college for the poor, with its overcrowded classrooms in cramped wooden buildings. It was at various student conferences, held annually, that the budding politicians and fledgling writers among us met each other. At a YMCA conference held in Baguio, I was put in charge of the daily newsletter, one issue of which came out with two steamy poems by UP’s Sonny San Juan (now a staid but unrepentant academic in America). This earned me an upbraiding by the conference adviser, a well-known guardian of conservative politics.

At another conference, I met other UP students among them the writer Pete Daroy, who invited me to a colloquium in Diliman which I was too intimidated to attend. Then Jose Ma. Sison invited me to join several small group discussions with members of the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP). Being unfamiliar with the UP Diliman campus, I would meet somewhere else with the poet Jun Tera and he would lead me to Little Quiapo and other nooks. In the group were Luis V. Teodoro, Vivencio Jose, Ferdinand Tinio and Reynato S. Puno, now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who was the group’s authority on issues surrounding the RP-US military bases agreement. From those SCAUP discussions emerged the publication of the Progressive Review, a radical quarterly, and subsequently the Kabataang Makabayan which was organized in 1964.

So much for the musings of a frustrated UP alumnus. Allow me now to begin my main discussion by paying the highest tribute to those who gave their best efforts and sacrificed their lives – most of them in the prime of their youth – to the revolutionary cause. While many of these heroes had studied in UP there were others, more numerous in fact, from other schools and from all walks of life, who contributed to the national-democratic revolutionary movement since the mid-1960s and early 1970s.

Similarly, let me salute the thousands of activists today, the older and the young, from UP and elsewhere who, with commitment, enthusiasm and hope, carry on the revolutionary struggle shoulder to shoulder with the masses — through its multifarious ramifications, means and methods and up to its highest form.

Regardless of how some people, or perhaps a good number of people, may view its continuing relevance to our national life, or its prospects of succeeding in its avowed goals, the national-democratic revolutionary movement is undeniably alive. It is persevering to advance and to win. In the process of waging life-and-death struggle against the forces seeking to destroy it, the movement is endeavoring to establish a genuine state of the people from its basic units in the countryside communities. It has had its ups and down, its ebbs and flows. It has suffered setbacks from serious errors committed at various levels of its leadership, the most serious of which took place in the 1980s. A painful campaign was launched to rectify the errors, which has been largely successful, although some manifestations do appear now and then indicating that lessons from the past have yet to be completely comprehended and assiduously applied.

There are those who believe that armed struggle has become passé in this day and age. They include some who used to be involved in it and who still yearn for revolutionary change in our society but have opted to contribute towards that end only through peaceful and legal means. Certainly that is a positive, worthy undertaking. Having been part of the legal democratic mass movement all these years, I have found rich meaning in my own work in the parliamentary arena despite its numerous pitfalls and limitations. But let us listen to the insight of Angel Baking, editor of the Philippine Collegian in 1940-41, twice jailed for political offenses. In a university convocation at the Abelardo Hall on January 23, 1970, shortly after being released from prison the first time, the grizzled revolutionary said:

“Not all those who desire revolutionary change in the existing order subscribe to armed struggle, and the majority perhaps to this day, believe they are contributing their share to the over-all revolutionary struggle through peaceful and legal means. But this does not negate the reality of the armed struggle going on in our midst, and whatever settlements might be arrived as resolutions to the basic conflicts in our society can no longer be said to have been resolved independent of this armed struggle. This is an important aspect of our concrete historical situation which renders theoretical discussion of means academic.”

Sometimes, indeed, it has been necessary to set aside the consideration and discussion of theoretical or academic issues due to the urgency of continually defending one’s life and fundamental rights against vicious, murderous attacks. But through it all the movement lives on. As the Macapagal-Arroyo regime itself acknowledges, it remains the most formidable and most consistent challenge to the sense of security and the survival not only of the current government but of the entire ruling system that continues to rot and decay.

What was UP’s role in the beginning of this movement – or rather, its self-renewal in the 1960s and 1970s, for the present revolutionary struggle stretches back to the 1930s — and how can it continue to be a relevant part of this great collective effort towards radical transformation? I need not go through many details of how the national-democratic mass movement spread nationwide after the formation of the Kabataang Makabayan in 1964, with key founding leaders mostly coming from UP, and the consequent flowering of national-democratic oriented youth and student organizations in secondary and tertiary level schools and in communities of the urban poor across the country on the heels of the First Quarter Storm of 1970.

While the resurgent revolutionary movement will always be associated with the student activists, it is important to remember that even earlier, UP was already a seedbed of new ideas, where nationalists and freethinkers like Teodoro Agoncillo, Cesar Adib Majul, Ricardo Pascual, Leopoldo Yabes, Renato Constantino and others did research, published their books, engaged in intellectual combat, and took promising young people under their wings. Books written byAgoncillo, notably “The Revolt of the Masses”, and Constantino’s “Dissent and Counter-consciousness” and “A Past Revisited” were among the staple readings of the activists. Academic freedom, so strenuously defended, ensured that acrimonious debates nevertheless produced good fruit on all sides. Even we who did not enjoy the luxury of these sharp discussions vicariously benefited from it.

Student activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s thrived on any and all issues: foreign monopoly of the oil industry and oil price hikes, the US war of aggression against Vietnam, the presence of US military bases, graft and corruption, foreign domination of the economy, police brutality and fascism, even beauty pageants. In 1971 UP experienced its own Diliman Commune – spurred by the students’ support of jeepney drivers striking against the increased cost of fuel and police intrusion into the campus — when for nine days the campus was barricaded with classroom tables and chairs and activists operated DZUP round the clock. Students dropped out of school to go fulltime into mass organizing, supporting labor strikes and other revolutionary work. The movement very soon spread to other schools, then to the provinces.

And when Ferdinand Marcos attempted to solve the political crisis by imposing martial law in 1972, UP students and faculty alike were put to the test. Would they resist, putting theory into practice, or would they search their books anew to justify compliance if not subservience? Historic choices were made, the nation moved forward, while some were left behind.

Armed only with their theories and a few unreliable weapons to defend themselves, the students who fanned out to the countryside found that they would be learning their own lessons from the peasant masses, much more than they would be teaching. At the same time, the sincerity and dedication of these youth, almost all in their teens, inspired the people, who then found their own ways of supporting and undertaking the struggle for change, and making it their own.

It has become commonplace to point out that the issues that spurred student unrest and militant protests forty years ago are still burning issues today, but they have become part of the landscape, so to speak. We remember how three-centavo increases in the price of diesel would spark strikes in protest; today gasoline is still rising from sixty pesos per liter but many now simply resign themselves to walking or taking the train. The US war of aggression billed as a “war on terror”, domination of the Philippine economy, its renewed military presence since 2002 – it’s the same, and yet not quite the same. If in the past hackles were raised by the “Americanization” of UP, today it’s about “commercialization of education” and “privatization” of the University that critics within and outside UP say are some disturbing aspects of the new UP charter.

Under RA 9500, aside from its usual academic, research and service duties, the UP as the National University will have an enhanced fund-generating corporate structure, orientation and operation. It is also mandated to “regularly study the state of the nation in relation to its quest for national development in the primary areas of politics and economics, among others”, identify key concerns and formulate responsive policies on these and give advice and recommendations to Congress and the President of the Philippines. Is this not the responsibility of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), to which many UP economic professors have been seconded or named to head it over the years? Can the UP give advice and recommendations that would be counter to established policies or programs of the government?

What to do with this charter now will be a big challenge to the UP community. How will it maintain the highest possible level of academic excellence and academic freedom, and without impairing these roles ensure the financial viability of the corporate entity that it will now become? I share the apprehension of many of you that the reorientation and expanded roles of the UP will surely align it to serve the requirements of global capital via neo-liberalism or globalization with its three prescriptions: liberalization, privatization and deregulation. The destructive impact of unbridled globalization over the last 18 years in every part of the world has been widely acknowledged: first among the poorest countries, such as those in Africa, then among the less-developed countries including the Philippines, and now in the heartland of capitalism itself, the United States. What then is the sense in proceeding along this perilous path?

The UP is thus forewarned of the risks it faces as it sets out to forge its path through the neo-liberal terrain. For now the adherents of neo-liberalism are dominant both in the Macapagal-Arroyo government and within UP itself, and they are much more optimistic than me. Still we all know that the road will not be easy to traverse. The militant activism that underwent the ups and downs of ideological and organizational struggles in the last decade, even as it was able to mobilize a significant part of the UP community to oppose tuition fee increases and commercialization of education, can build up strong opposition. The debates, the struggles over policies and programs will play out in the UP, as they have in the long tradition of the University, with the “iskolar ng bayan” and their supporters in the UP community vigorously asserting their right to have a bigger say in how the university will be run.

Undoubtedly, all these issues provide a legitimate basis for militant activism to persist and spread throughout society and specially within the campuses of colleges and universities, including the UP. On the other hand, the University can maintain its social relevance only by continuously taking part in the dynamics of the larger society. It must do this not only through the militant participation of the UP community in political questions of the moment, but also through the concerns that guide its teaching and research activities – among the most important of which, today, are the delineation and affirmation of our Filipino identity in the midst of globalization, and speeding up the broad democratization process.

In this regard, there have been criticisms that the present-day national-democratic activists tend to sound outdated in their political sloganeering. One such criticism from the UP, way back in 1993, referred to the activists as “a dwindling breed who isolate themselves by ranting obsolete slogans and re-enacting the First Quarter Storm.” The old slogans of the 1970s, for instance “Imperyalismo, Ibagsak!”, may grate on the ears of many people, but this cannot negate the continuing validity of the slogan’s message. Even if US imperialism now sports a new name, its essential exploitative character has not changed – in the era of neo-liberal globalization this has only worsened. It is true, however, that more creativity on the part of the new generation of activists would be highly appreciated. I have personally witnessed the emergence of new cultural forms or themes of protest in street marches, rallies and cultural presentations all over the country. It seems to me that the cultural activists are now becoming more adept at comprehending the social and economic conditions and the struggles of the people and are expressing these in various ways that appeal to a broad audience.

Another criticism raised against present-day activists is actually an old, recurring complaint — that they tend to be arrogant and self-righteous, a weakness that turns off many people (especially from UP!) who would otherwise be more open to the movement’s analyses and proposals. Already in 1970, Angel Baking pointed this out in his lecture at Abelardo Hall, and he suggested that “the recognition that the masses are really the most powerful controlling elements in a revolution, the most stable base and the profoundest source of revolutionary wisdom” should be an effective antidote to such self-importance. “All too often,” Baking observed, “intellectuals without firm links with and faith in the masses tend to go astray, unable to maintain the clarity of their vision and the steadfastness of their affiliations.”

Apparently, Baking was aware that the “diverse distractions and preoccupations of students” and the periods of lull in their activities might make it difficult for them to maintain their revolutionary ardor and momentum. “To solve this difficulty,” he counselled, “it would be necessary to relate in a sustained manner the activities of students to the problems and struggles of the masses especially of the organized and revolutionary masses. This would dissolve the psychological barrier which makes student activists think there is no value in their work if it is not dramatic enough to attract wide attention.” In effect, Baking was saying, and I concur, that a sustained relation between the activism of the youth and students and the work of the revolutionary masses would make the former more relevant and enhance the latter.

In that same speech Baking paid rhapsodic tribute to the masses of the people that he pledged to serve even as he endured bitter disappointments and crushing failures. “In the most difficult of times,” he said, “it is the revolutionary masses that never lose sight of the revolutionary goals and keep intact the hard core of unity and organization. It is their ardor which keeps aflame the fires of revolution even when everything seems lost. The reassuring warm hand one feels on the shoulders during darkest moments of temporary defeat is often the hand of a peasant worker. This is a tested lesson derived from revolutionary experience….” It was this lesson that he wanted to get off his chest, as soon as he could, to the young people who were eagerly listening to his every word.

As I come to the end of this talk I think of Ka Angel Baking, UP engineer, intellectually gifted, who gave up a promising career in the foreign service to serve the Filipino people through revolutionary struggle, enduring imprisonment for almost two decades, and lending his brilliant mind and experienced hand in the movement’s self-renewal. If during his time they were but a handful to take the difficult path of revolution, the two succeeding generations have produced a bountiful harvest of capable, intensely motivated patriots who have taken up the challenge to carry on. I am now nearly the same age as Ka Angel was in the early 1990s when I used to visit him and ask for his advice. I am proud to have marched along the same road with him, and I can say to him now with confidence, “Tumula ka, Abe. Be glad, comrade, because the youth will not fail us.” ###

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 Report of the Committee of Inquiry

on the Events and Occurences at the Diliman Commune

from Feb. 1 to 9, 1971

Submitted to  UP Pres. Salvador P. Lopez

Chapter 1 - Feb. 1

 
 
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
 
 
   
 
   
 
   
           
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/p

  
 

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