Makata'y Mandirigma, Mandirigma'y Makata:
Musical and poetic reprise of the basics of a continuing struggle

 

University Theater, UP DilimanI

 

November 30, 2009

 

 

 

The play provides a one-and-a-half-hour glimpse of decades of the Filipino people's struggle mirrored by the lives and passions of several characters. Its scenes and colors reminiscent of the 1896 revolution, it traverses the path leading to the founding of the Kabataang Makabayan up to when the revolutionary youth organization turns 45, as well as Joma Sison's treks in his 50 years of serving the Filipino people.

 

Makata'y Mandirigma's narrates various facets of waging struggle seldom highlighted in conventional productions – if not presented as points of weakness and eventual surrender. These include family issues, love stories and self-contradiction—ordinary concerns that affirm that activists and revolutionaries are human after all, and that their efforts to face these in the course of pursuing their duties with the help of comrades-in-struggle and inspired by the broad masses – further endear them to the people. The union of revolutionaries and the people forms a bond that the people's enemy in the reactionary state or ruthless army -- cannot fathom nor break.
 

   
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BRIEF ADDRESS ON KABATAANG MAKABAYAN
ON ITS 45TH FOUNDING ANNIVERSARY

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman
Kabataang Makabayan


It is a great honor for me to have been the founding chairman of Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic or People's Youth). And it is my pleasure to talk to you about KM on the occasion of its 45th founding anniversary.

The KM was founded on November 30, 1964, the birth anniversary of the great worker and founder of the Katipunan, Andres Bonifacio. Since the beginning, the KM has been dedicated to the just cause of continuing the revolutionary struggle of the Filipino youth and people for national liberation and democracy against foreign and feudal domination.

The Filipino people are proud for being the very first nation in Asia to fight and defeat a Western colonial power, specifically Spain. But unfortunately, a modern imperialist power, the United States, intervened and launched a war of aggression against the Filipino people to destroy the Philippine republic and kill 1.5 million Filipinos in order to recolonize and occupy the Philippines. To this date, the US continues to dominate the Philippines through the local exploiting classes and their political agents.

The KM has inherited the rich revolutionary tradition of the Filipino people in fighting against Spanish colonialism for more than three centuries, in defending their national sovereignty against the US war of aggression, in resisting the colonial power of the US and the Japanese fascist invasion during World War II and in carrying out a people's war against the semicolonial and semifeudal system under the US and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords.

Since the beginning, Kabataang Makabayan has been determined to carry out a national democratic revolution under the class leadership of the working class in the global era of modern imperialism and proletarian revolution. This new type of national democratic revolution is meant to overcome the weaknesses and failures of the bourgeois leadership in the old democratic revolution of 1896.

The KM has assumed the task of assisting the working class in carrying out a new democratic revolution on the basis of the worker-peasant alliance, with the augmentation of further alliances with the urban petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie against the big comprador-landlords and their foreign masters. Under certain circumstances, the united front is further broadened against the narrowed enemy force.

The KM is conscious of the fact that in Philippine history and current circumstances the Filipino youth have been in the forefront at every upsurge of the Philippine revolution. This is not surprising because the youth are receptive to revolutionary ideas, they tend to rebel against the reactionary system, they are energetic and are willing to contribute their time, effort and abilities to a just cause.

The KM did not drop from the sky. It emerged in response to the extreme reaction and rabid anti-communism that followed the defeat of the old people's army and the armed revolutionary movement of the people in the early 1950s. It arose from the concrete conditions of sharpening oppression and exploitation of the Filipino youth and people from the early 1960s onwards.

The KM is a comprehensive youth organization of the students and the young workers, peasants and professionals. The student component of what would become the KM took shape in the late 1950s in the form of study circles on the Philippine revolution and Marxism-Leninism under the auspices of the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP). The university study circles arose ahead of the youth contingents from the working class, peasantry and the professionals.

After a decade of intense reaction since 1950, the first protest mass action with an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal character occurred on March 15, 1961 upon the initiative of the SCAUP in a united front with other campus organizations. Five thousand students literally scuttleda hearing of Committee on Anti-Filipino Activities of the reactionary congress conducting a witchhunt against UP faculty members and student who had written anti-imperialist and anti-feudal articles.

As a result of the anti-CAFA mass action, I was removed from my teaching fellowship in the UP. But I gained time to do further revolutionary student organizing in several universities in a clandestine way and encouraged the formation of progressive student organizations on a national scale. I went to Djakarta to study the Indonesian language and observe the strong mass movement there during the first half of 1962. When I returned home in the second half of 1962, I joined the trade union movement and the Worker's Party. In both I was assigned to do research and education work.

As vice chairman for education of the Workers' Party, I organized seminars for trade unionists from several major labor federations and big independent unions. . Then, I established the youth department of the Workers' Party. This would become the source of young workers for KM. I wrote articles on land reform and from early 1963 gave refresher courses to peasant leaders and veteran fighters of the old people's army. They recommended their children and other young relatives to become members of the KM at the preparatory phase of its founding starting at the beginning of 1964.

The young professionals that had been the first to join the KM came from the ranks of teachers. Eventually, they came from the various professions because they had become progressive while they were still students. It is not surprising therefore that in the succeeding years the progressive mass movement would have activists from the ranks of health professionals, lawyers, scientists, engineers, artists, cultural workers and other professionals.

After its founding in 1964, the KM became a training school for activists in the national democratic movement for the purpose of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the youth in the schools, factories, farms, communities and offices. The schools for national democracy were instituted at various levels of the KM and in various spheres of work. The emphasis was on training young cadres for the trade union and peasant movement and students and young teachers for rapid nationwide expansion of the KM.

The KM became outstanding in mobilizing the youth in mass protest actions against the unequal treaties with the US in the economic and military fields, against new dictates by the US in every field, against the killing of Filipinos in US military bases, against the puppetry of the reactionary regime, against the big compradors and landlords, against oppressive and exploitative school authorities and against the US war of aggression in Vietnam and elsewhere.

The KM became the largest militant youth organization. Its members had a high level of political education and training for the advance of the national democratic movement. Thus it became a major part of the Workers' Party in 1964 and then its successor the Socialist Party of the Philippines (SPP) in 1966. It also became the major part of the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN), a national united front formation in 1966. I became the general secretary of SPP and MAN because of the well-rounded political and organizational strength of the KM.

At the core of Kabataang Makabayan were proletarian revolutionary cadres, who had become members of the old merger party of the Communist and Socialist parties (OMPCSP) since 1962 and who from year to year became dissatisfied with the growing current of modern revisionism. From 1964 onwards, the proletarian revolutionaries increased and outnumbered the old members of the old merger party. They demanded a rectification movement to criticize the major errors and shortcomings of the old merger party since the 1930s.

The Lava revisionist renegades opposed the rectification movement and sought to expel the proletarian revolutionaries. The young proletarian revolutionaries and their senior comrades separated from the Lava revisionist renegades in April 1967, intensified the rectification movement and began preparations for the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) under the theoretical guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought on December 26, 1968.

The newly-reestablished CPP benefited from the nationwide scale and grassroots organizing of the KM among the workers and peasants, youth, women and professionals. The proletarian revolutionaries linked up with their counterparts in the old people's army, repudiated the Taruc-Sumulong gangster clique and formed the New People's Army on March 29, 1969.

The KM became an even larger and more effective assistant of the working class and the CPP when the protest mass actions that had been intensifying since 1969 peaked in the First Quarter Storm of 1970. This involved the weekly mass actions of 50,000 to 100,000 people in Metro Manila and spread to many provincial cities and capitals. It provided thousands of KM recruits on a national scale and led to the strengthening of KM regional and provincial committees and KM chapters at the grassroots level.

But at that time, Marcos became ever more determined to impose a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people. He engineered the Plaza Miranda bombing in order to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and start suppressing the KM and other progressive mass organizations on August 21, 1971. Subsequently, he declared martial law on September 21, 1972 to suppress the entire range of opposition.

Since 1971, when its national and regional offices were raided and some of its leaders were arrested, the KM had made a systematic retreat from the aboveground level of mass struggle. It organized the underground in Metro Manila and other cities in order to provide immediate safety for the known KM activists and to prepare for their systematic distribution to the guerrilla zones in the countryside and to underground work in other cities where they were not known to the enemy and could find support.

The KM played a key role in the Filipino people's struggle against the Marcos dictatorship. It was broadcaster of the revolutionary message and organizational seeds. It supplied cadres and mass activists for the expansion of all revolutionary forces, including the CPP, the NPA, the mass organizations, the organs of political power and the alliances. Wherever they went to perform their revolutionary duties, the KM cadres and activists were tempered further as revolutionaries and developed others to become revolutionaries.

Many KM cadres and activists became martyrs for the revolutionary cause but many more prevailed over tremendous odds and assumed higher responsibilities in the revolutionary movement. After the fall of the Marcos fascist dictatorship in 1986, the KM could have chosen to surface, pursue the legal forms of struggle and benefit from the prestige of having fought valiantly and effectively against the fascist dictatorship. But it decided to stay underground and perform the role of the Communist Youth League and be a key member of the National Democratic Front.

The Kabataang Makabayan continues to carry out the tasks of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the Filipino youth in line with the Filipino people's struggle for national liberation and democracy. It provides ideological, political and organizational training to the mass activists to become advanced and to the advanced mass activists to become proletarian revolutionaries and become full-fledged members of the CPP. It deploys the personnel with a high level of revolutionary consciousness, competence and militance to all kinds of work demanded by the revolutionary movement in the political, economic, military, cultural and other fields.

Thank you.###
 

     
     
     
     
     
           
           
           
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Looking forward to Makata'y Mandirigma, Mandirigma'y Makata
Musical and poetic reprise of the basics of a continuing struggle

Reading the script, one would look forward to renditions of classic revolutionary music interspersed with verses and rhythms old and new. The lines echo the heartbeat of the people's continuing and comprehensive struggle for land, jobs, wages, dignity, justice and sovereignty.

The context is all-familiar. Today, society has only aged, but the situation in the early ‘60s was not too different. Poverty, joblessness landlessness and the lack of social services prevailed. Bad working conditions and misery in the farmlands ran high, while civil rights were being suppressed. Indeed during the latter half of the 20th century, the subservience of several regimes to US and elite interests translated into unsound and deceptive policies that triggered mounting discontent among workers, peasants and students as well as professionals and small-scale businessmen. Yet, as in today – in various corners such as schools, offices, factories and farms – where various sectors of society came together to learn and draw lessons from a rich variety of experiences and common travails – hope sprung eternal despite the odds.

One such corner was a factory where a group of students and other youth leaders immersed themselves and embraced the plight of workers as their own. Years of strengthening the trade unions with multi-sectoral support would lead to the La Tondeña strike, which was among the first big strikes to be launched during the Martial Law years. After sit-down strikes by workers in Laguna, Gentex-Libis and Pampanga Sugar Mills, as well as a picket regarding wages by Lirag Textile Mills-Malabon in 1974, about 800 La Tondena workers protested hiring on a contract basis. Aside from the youth and the religious -- professionals and even businessmen were supportive of the strike where more than 500 were arrested. Despite Malacañang's Presidential Decree banning strikes, the following years saw the launching of 'illegal' strikes by tens of thousands of workers nationwide.

Against this backdrop, the developmental script of concert-play and multimedia production Makata'y Mandirigma, Mandirigma'y Makata tells the story of Ador – poet, political detainee, husband and father – vis a vis that of political icon Joma Sison, himself a writer, poet and political prisoner. It shows how the the cause for genuine social transformation is much larger than the self and binds and inspires people – indeed from all walks of life – but especially the lot of workers, peasants and the middle-class – to commit not only their resources but their entire lives.

This lengthy introduction to this one-of-a-kind play everyone is enjoined to see aims at the very least to reflect the arduous and painstaking prerequisites of change which the plot’s characters either underwent or witnessed: The constant study of society. Encouraging various sectors to unite and coordinate. Charting various courses of action from the parliament of the streets to armed and unarmed movements in the countryside. Individuals constantly striving to sacrifice – and overcome personal interests to serve the greater good – but never faultless nor invulnerable. These individuals morph into dynamic organizations and alliances that become the people's weapons against those who seek to undermine their interests and aspirations.

The play provides a one-and-a-half-hour glimpse of decades of the Filipino people's struggle mirrored by the lives and passions of several characters. Its scenes and colors reminiscent of the 1896 revolution, it traverses the path leading to the founding of the Kabataang Makabayan up to when the revolutionary youth organization turns 45, as well as Joma Sison's treks in his 50 years of serving the Filipino people.

An interweaving of ARTIST Inc. director Edward Perez' Shrapnel sa Pluma ng Makata and National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera's Dalit (long poem), Makata'y Mandirigma poetically presents the youth as a potent force of struggle – matches that light many candles before they are cast and lit together to endure burning – yet glow even brighter. From being young activists, both Ador and Joma would mature into revolutionaries, carry on with their commitment and take part in effecting change – and touching lives in various manners – enjoining generations upon generations to take part in people's war.

Makata'y Mandirigma's narrates various facets of waging struggle seldom highlighted in conventional productions – if not presented as points of weakness and eventual surrender. These include family issues, love stories and self-contradiction—ordinary concerns that affirm that activists and revolutionaries are human after all, and that their efforts to face these in the course of pursuing their duties with the help of comrades-in-struggle and inspired by the broad masses – further endear them to the people. The union of revolutionaries and the people forms a bond that the people's enemy in the reactionary state or ruthless army -- cannot fathom nor break.

The lives of Joma Sison and many Filipino patriots have been written about and put in books, music and poetry. On November 30, Makata'y Mandirigma crochets these efforts showcasing a powerful cast and production crew that is a synchronization of multi-sectoral and multi-organizational talents, the majority being the sector in celebration – the youth.

Taking inspiration from Joma's 1968 poem “The Guerrilla is Like a Poet”, Makata'y Mandirigma also creatively displays the adaptability of revolutionaries in waging struggle on all fronts and in all spheres possible. The dancers, singers and interpreters—who are mostly not professionally in the field of theater – as well as those who crafted, supported and supervised the play, were themselves akin to poets and fighters. They exerted their every strength even in face of limited resources. They braved and overcame uncertainties and difficulties in developing a production with a highly varied mix of talent, experiences and know-how. These they utilized to enrich the project, be it in terms of content or presentation. They also maximized the best that they had that was available – their unity and determination to present this concert-play – and came up with something that might just invite viewers to also find the poets and guerrillas in themselves.

(Makata'y Mandirigma, Mandirigma'y Makata. Handog ng ANAKBAYAN, KMU, BAYAN, DEFEND-PHILIPPINES at ILPS-PHILIPPINES bilang pagdiriwang sa ika-45 anibersaryo ng pagkakatatag ng Kabataang Makabayan, at sa 50 taon ng paglilingkod sa sambayanan ni Ka Joma Sison. Ipapalabas sa Nobyembre 30, 2009, 2:00 ng hapon at 6:30 ng gabi. Pinagsanib na “Shrapnel sa Pluma ng Makata” ni G. Edward Perez Jr. at “Dalit” ni Bienvenido Lumbera. Direksyon ni Rommel Linatoc. Musika ni Ricamela Saturay-Palis at Kalantog. Ilaw ni Katsch Katoy. Koryograpiya ni Jun Bueta & Edwin Quinsayas. Bahagi ng malilikom ay mapupunta sa mga nasalanta ng bagyong Ondoy at Pepeng.)
 

     
     
     
     
     
           
 

Click here for more photos, music and notes on the sucial:

http://tatayk.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/makatay-mandirigma-mandirigmay-makata/

 
           
 
A scene from the musical play Makatay's Mandirigma

L-R: Tula by National Artist Bien Lumbera, script by  Edward Perez Jr.

Direction bu Rommel Linatoc

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