Free Ericson Acosta! Free all political prisoners!
Palma Hall, UP Diliman campusI
February 10, 2012
■ Who is Ericson Acosta?
■ Sign the petition ■ Two poems ■ Video
Dean Roland Tolentino of the UP College
of Mass Communications
and president of Contend-UP. He recited Ericson's "Pambihira"
|Kerima Tariman, herself a former political prisoner, wife of Ericson|
UP, artists reiterate call for release of Ericson Acosta
Marjohara Tucay, editor in chief of Philippine Collegian
Writer Epifanio San Juan Jr
UP Prof. Sarah Raymundo
Noel Colina, a member of the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign (FEAC)
Dennis Longid, former UP Student Regent, member of FEACUP
Regroup!: Conversations with Kerima Tariman
My work with Ericson began when we were convenors of
the Student Alliance for the Advancement of
On February 13, 2011, Ericson was arrested in Western
Samar and has since become a political prisoner.
This conversation is the result of our initial plan to
draft a statement for a press conference and cultural activity to be
organized by the All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU) and the Free
Ericson Acosta Campaign to be held this February 10, 11:30-1:00pm at the
Palma Hall lobby, UP Diliman.
The fight for freedom is foreclosed when there are more
than 350 political prisoners unjustly detained. Meanwhile, the Aquino
government claims change and righteousness while it remains loyal to the
dictates of foreign interests. Ericson has remained steadfast in his
political work even behind bars. Beyond this lies our people’s infinite
potential for ushering in a new order.
Sarah Raymundo (SR): Is there any experience from our
undergraduate days in UP that resonates with your current undertakings?
Kerima Tariman (KT): When I entered UP, I was
particularly struck by the determination of young radicals to establish a
broad alliance of mass organizations under the banner of National
Democracy (ND). As you know, it was a very challenging period. National
democrats were not very popular. With the split in the student movement,
the ND line was severely being discredited at the time.
SR: I distinctly remember that newbies of this period
joined the movement as walk-ins. Small numbers of activists stake their
claims at the tambayans between the Faculty Center and Palma Hall. That
specific area was a space for educational discussion-jamming , and those
who were curious enough would gravitate around mojo sandal-wearing
activists who sang and talked about lingering social ills.
KT: True. It was their persistence under conditions of
marginalization and stigma that hit me. Looking back, if the young
activists then succumbed to populism, I would have had a different view of
the necessary connection between the Iskolar ng Bayan and the basic
masses. I personally would have not survived my ordeal in 2000 if not for
the commitment instilled upon us back then.
SR: I have come to appreciate that commitment as a way
of deriving a whole regime of consequences from the First Quarter Storm of
the 1970s and the great challenges that shook the movement in the 1980s.
It is an endeavour to provide consistency to the practicable truth of the
revolution amidst declarations of its failure. This commitment means to
proceed with the intention to rectify—a reminder of the need to always
begin anew and not merely continue. However, I clearly recall a time when
certain figures in the University called this dogmatism, even naiveté. We
called it remoulding and hoped that we would never get old.
KT: We got old?
SR: (Laughter) Of course! How did you reconcile these
vile insinuations with your stakes as an artist? We know how the
gatekeepers in the arts tend to disavow anything ‘political.’
KT: I’ve been exposed to state-sponsored art forms
since I was a kid. The Cultural Center of the Philippines—where my father
served as employee in the 80s—became, by default, a playground for me and
my two sisters. I went to a state-run high school for the arts. This
background has actually made it easier for me to see how art is utilized
politically, wittingly or unwittingly. But I view the movement as the only
venue for me to understand art in theory and in actual practice.
SR: Even the Art for art’s sake movement was a bold
claim against feudalism. Nothing can be more political than a claim to
autonomy at a time when art was being dwarfed by feudal patronage. That
this claim has been diluted and de-historicized is a stumbling block to
understanding art as a form of labor.
KT: When one creates art without being apologetic about
its political implications, one is actually being quite ethical.
Concretely, one is defining her position between reaction and revolution.
SR: I have always noted the bluntness in your poetry.
KT: Poetry is something that I share with my husband.
But I feel we have come to go beyond poetry on account of Maoist
SR: Your arrest in 2000 created a stir in the cultural
scene. But what really shocked me was a feature article by your father
(Pablo Tariman) in the Inquirer…there was a picture of a 3-year old
ballerina who went to ballet school with the Marcos couple’s youngest
daughter. You never told me about those ballet lessons. But seriously, I
was shocked that someone close to me can actually be held in prison for
doing what we are all supposed to do as scholars who claim to serve the
people. What do you recall of that time?
KT: I was in Isabela on a Basic Masses Integration
program. I was only hoping to gain better understanding of the peasant
situation in that area. I was all the while keeping an open mind despite
petty inconveniences. Of course imprisonment was such a remote idea. But
the whole experience, from living with the peasants to my arrest and
detention, is an indispensable lesson on the reality of class struggle.
SR: It was indeed an unmistakable validation of the
instrumental role of the State in the violent suppression inflicted on
peasants and their advocates. My initial shock was followed by a need to
forge stronger ties with fellow activists across sectors.
KT: Interestingly, even non-activists came through for
me. I observe the same now in our campaign to free Ericson. Not all of our
supporters share the same advocacy for national democracy. But I
appreciate their recognition of the role of activists and their respect
for human rights.
SR: Extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances
have mainly targeted organized peasants. Can you tell us how those who
have decided to align themselves with the peasant struggle fall victim to
KT: At the time of his arrest, Ericson was a volunteer
researcher for KAPAWA, a local peasant organization in Western Samar. He
wrote articles and reports on large-scale foreign mining and human rights
violations. Like most cases of illegal arrests, Ericson has been made to
appear like a terrorist, what with trumped- up criminal charges and
tedious legal processes that have only delayed the delivery of justice.
SR: What do you think is he missing now?
KT: Aside from monitoring the progress of our son’s two
front teeth, he is also being deprived of other simple joys. And I am not
even talking about seeing movies or splurging on ice cream. Our work as
peasant advocates has altered our preferences and lifestyle. I realized
this about us when I read his prison diary entries that poignantly depict
his yearning for sky and sea. ?
*Sarah Raymundo is a faculty member of the UP Diliman Center for International Studies. She is currently the public relations officer of the AUPAEU -System and the secretary-general of the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy.
UP Prof. Sarah Raymundo and Kerima Tariman:
CUT THE CRAP, FREE ERICSON ACOSTA!
Rappers Blkd and Lanseta
UP Faculty Roselle Pineda, a member of the Congress of Teachers
for Nationalism and Democracy (Contend) sings Tracy Chapman’s Revolution
Poet and singer-composer Jess Santiago
and visual artist Boy Dominguez
Award-winning scriptwriter and playwright Ricky Lee chats with Ericson's wife Kerima
and autographs copies of UP Manila faculty Rose Roque
Icarus in Catechism Class
by Dominador Ilio
In Greek mythology, Icarus was the son of Daedalus, the
architect of the labyrinth of Knossos in Crete where the minotaur was
imprisoned. King Minos also imprisoned Daedalus and Icarus for they knew
the secret of the minotaur. So in order to escape, father and son devised
wings which they put on using wax. They flew out of the labyrinth, but the
ambitious Icarus flew close to the sun which melted the wax and thus fell
into the Icarian sea.
About the author:
This is no love poem
|Signing the Free Ericson Acosta petition ▼|
Award-winning director, UP Regent
and daughter (below) came to sign the petition
Binigkas na tinig
From Philippine Collegian
The first time I went to the
countryside to integrate with farmers, government troopers tried to show
me first-hand how fascism, counter-insurgency and psychological warfare
work. As if to make sure I don’t forget, they gave me a minor grenade
shrapnel wound, and a major, lingering fear of any man with a golden
wristwatch who’d seem to loiter in public places to watch me.
They held me in a military camp,
asked me tons of questions before I can even get to a lawyer, and
presented me to media in handcuffs. They slapped me with a criminal charge
of illegal possession of a high-powered firearm and had me imprisoned.
First to see me in jail was my
father, a really anxious Pablo Tariman. Everyone knows he’s never the
activist. He could only turn to his Pavarotti records whenever he’s down.
Then from out of nowhere, on my
birthday, came Ericson Acosta, a dear friend from the Collegian. He
probably spent his own birthday in transit to that strange town just to
see me. He looked like he was in such a hurry to get there he even forgot
After I was released on bail, I found
myself in an ABS-CBN studio confronted with the very showbiz question “Is
there someone special in your life?” from no-less than Kris Aquino. The
query came as a surprise, I might have quickly replied defensively in the
negative. After two years, my court case was dismissed. It was also at
that time I married Ericson. So in case she’s still interested, I guess
Kris should be updated.
Ericson was arrested by the military
in San Jorge, Samar on February 13. He was brought to court last September
21—significant date for an activist named after an FQS activist, too
ironic for someone born the same year Marcos declared Martial Law. Now I
couldn’t drop everything to see him as he did for me more than ten years
ago, even if the world expects the wife to do so. Why?
But to people who know him, Ericson
has transformed himself from a “troublesome” artist to a serious activist.
His artistic and political awakening started early in the theater
workshops of the PETA, which he joined since grade school.
He identified himself with artists
and their eclectic habits but refused to join political organizations like
the LFS, as a self-styled bohemian brimming with intellectual arrogance.
As campus writer and editor, his grasp of social, political and aesthetic
theory relied mainly on his collection of Marxist literature and books
salvaged through missions of the notorious “Main Library Liberation
The split in the student movement
during the ‘90s challenged him to seriously heed the call to learn from
the masses. The slogan “The masses are the true heroes and makers of
history” sounds passé, but it humbles even the disinterested once they
realize its truth.
Ericson gave up his crazy drinking
habit for the natural high of activism. He became a prolific poet,
songwriter and cultural worker. Years under the obscenely corrupt Arroyo
regime led us to choose to return to the countryside to live and learn
with the people.
To our son, Ericson is tatay, the
funnyman shipcaptain of the AcostaUniverse inter-galactic band. In robo-character,
tatay tells him he is actually a Gordoxian child; we his parents need to
navigate to and fro the distant Planet Gordox and that’s the reason why we
can’t always be with him here on Earth. This sci-fi antic amuses him, but
it still sounds stupid even to kids. So he tells us he knows that we just
need to ride a bus and walk several kilometers uphill to be transported to
Samar is one such realm, and its
people continue to suffer from militarization even after Palparan’s time
as general in the region. Now Ericson has gone from documenter of
violations to human rights victim himself. It is this tragic irony that
has underscored the political context of his case and has given us
compelling reason to heighten the call for his immediate release.
Ericson’s fault was to bring a laptop
to the barrios, just as it was botanist Leonardo Co’s fault to do research
in the forest while the army was conducting “regular patrol.” The story
that he could have blown his captors to smithereens with a grenade is like
telling our son that his father was kidnapped by alien forces of the
It is unfortunate that while PNoy
promises accountability and justice, the AFP remains untouchable. Jeepney
drivers halt operations to protest spikes in gas prices, government calls
them “perjuicio.” Students strike for greater state subsidy, government
mockingly advices them to focus on their studies. Bewildered families call
on the son of Ninoy to release all political prisoners—his government says
these prisoners don’t even exist.
I guess like Ditto or Donat, we’d
always be associated to this paper as its “imprisoned members” – “’yung
mga taga-Kulê na kinulong.” But from the time the PSR was serialized in
the Collegian’s pages, people have come to realize how big a prison cell
Philippine society really is.
*Kerima Lorena Tariman first served as one of the editors of the Culture Section of Kulê under the editorship of Seymour Barros Sanchez.
ERICSON ACOSTA is a former editor of the U.P. Philippine Collegian. He is
also known to his peers at the university as a poet, thespian, and
songwriter. He was arrested without warrant by the military on February
13, 2011, in an upland barrio in Samar just because the laptop he carried
roused the suspicion of soldiers. He was accompanied by a local barrio
official at the time of his arrest, as he was doing human rights work<http://bulatlat.com/main/
Acosta was named finalist of the 2011 Imprisoned Artist
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