REMEMBRANCES OF THE FIRST QUARTER STORM OF 1970
By Antonio Zumel
(The following article was first published
in the January-February 1996 issue of Liberation International. We are
publishing it once again to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the First
We observe this year the 100th anniversary of the 1986 Philippine
Revolution against Spanish colonization, and the 26th anniversary of the
First Quarter Storm of 1970. The two are interrelated, and are historic
events to the Filipino people since both had to do – and still have to do
– with our people’s continuing struggle for national independence and
We honor the 1986 Revolution as the collective, united effort of our
patriotic and democratic forebears in the Katipunan to rise up in arms to
finally liberate our country from more than 300 years of Spanish colonial
rule. With heads high, we do honor this historic event – even if it was
frustrated especially by the errors of the ilustrado leadership and by the
deception, the aggression and the ferocity of US imperialismwhich grabbed
colonial control over our country and people.
While we pay tribute to the bravery and dedication of the worker Andres
Bonifacio, founder of the Katipunan, and of his comrades-in-arms, we, as
today’s revolutionaries, study their experience and learn from the
positive and negative lessons, even as we also learn from the more recent
experiences of revolutionaries in other part of the world.
The Katipunan Revolution of 1896 whose centenary we celebrate this year
and the national democratic revolutionary struggle we are waging today
have the same general objective: to achieve, safeguard and advance the
national and democratic interests of the Filipino people.
Having pointed that out, we must also underscore the fact that the 1896
Revolution had a bourgeois-democratic theoretical grounding. Our
revolution of today is under the superior working class revolutionary
theory which, in 1896, was still undergoing refinement especially in
Russia. Even so, our revolutionary struggles today are a continuation of
the unfinished revolution of 1896, with a clear socialist goal.
The First Quarter Storm of 1970, which belongs closer to my generation, is
more directly connected with today’s new-democratic revolution being waged
by the allied mass organizations in the National Democratic Front of the
Philippines (NDFP) which continue to fight for the national and social
emancipation of the Filipino people.
Looking back through the last 26 years to the FQS of 1970, one harkens to
a time of cerebral and physical ferment, a time of trepidation and
courage, a time of study and education, a time for the heightening of
political consciousness, a time to make crucial decisions affecting one’s
life, going full-time into revolutionary work.
I was a journalist at that time, having been trained to be an “objective”
observer of the day-to-day life of our society. I should have appraised
the events of the FQS with some degree of “objectivity” and
“impartiality”, as my elders in newspapering would like to say. But like
many of the students, workers and peasants at that time, and like some
journalists and other professionals as well, I, too, went through a
process of political awakening. In my ensuing political conduct, I was not
to be “impartial”. I was to be partial to the cause of the broad masses of
For me, it is difficult to think back, exclusively to the political events
in the first three months of 1970 – the FQS. Like others, I also tend to
look back to political events, of say, the previous year, 1969, which
after all, helped prepare for, and culminate in, the FQS (actually,
according to Comrade Jose Maria Sison, I took a whole decade to prepare
for the FQS); I also tend to look beyond the FQS – to the political events
of the rest of 1970, 1971 and up to 1972 (declaration of fascist martial
law) which came as further development of the FQS.
The scene is January 1970. The political circus that was the presidential
election of November 1969 had just been held, and the reelectionist Marcos
soundly beat his opponent, Sergio Osmena, Jr., a puppet of US imperialism
as Marcos himself was. Did Marcos enjoy great popularity among the people?
The answer is no.
In fact, with the coming of 1970, Marcos and his US imperialist masters
decreed a devaluation of the peso (from P3.90=US$1, to P6=$1) to increase
the value of imperialist investments and property in the Philippines, and
aggravate the livelihood of the people whose income was not being
increased. The drastic devaluation thus farther aggravated the economic
and political crisis of the ruling system in the Philippines.
That is why on Jan. 26, 1970, a large mass action of the youth and
students in front of the Philippine Congress had a ready-made issue: they
were there to confront Marcos on his state-of-the-nation address to
Congress, and to expose him for his continuing subservience to US
The area in front of Congress was swollen by the student youth and worker
youth of Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic Youth-KM) when Marcos, after his
message to Congress exited nearby. Suddenly, some people flung a big
papier-machefigure of a crocodile symbolizing the corrupt big bureaucrats,
and a papier-mache representation of a coffin symbolizing the death of
national freedom, if my memory serves me right. Then all hell broke loose.
With truncheons, policemen and military troops flailed every which way,
hitting out at the radikal kabataan (radical youth) of KM. Many were hurt
and many were arrested.
Thus, a few days later, on Jan. 30, the youth and students of the KM and
other national democratic organizations went out on the streets again,
this time to demonstrate in front of Malacanang Palace to protest the
brutal dispersal of the Jan. 26 rally. This was a more indignant rally
than the first one, with the youth and students standing their ground
against the state’s armed goons’ truncheons, teargas, water cannons and
gunfire. The rally lasted until the early-morning hours of Jan. 31, when
the state goons had killed six of the demonstrators and injured several
hundreds of others.
To the marching youth, and to the people at large, this signalled the
growing desperation of the ruling system against the rising masses. But
undaunted by the mass killing of their six comrades, this gave the
awakened youth the impetus to expand to the provinces and to stage more
demonstrations on an expanding scale. This process went on until the end
of March – the Sigwa ng Unang Kwarto ng 1970, the FQS – and beyond.
The upsurge in the national democratic movement’s mass actions served to
expose and oppose a rotting system where US imperialism, feudalism and
bureaucrat capitalism held sway. The movement also served to propagate the
program of the national democratic movement which was meant to replace the
old and decaying one.
The mass movement was also a school to help prepare the cadres and mass
activists in confronting the enemy. In that sense, each mass action was a
learning process for the participants. In between those marches, there
were as well informal studies on revolutionary theory. This was undertaken
individually or by discussion groups (the “DGs”). Education was further
undertaken by integrating with the worker and peasant masses.
If memory serves me right, the reading materials, or “RMs”, at that time,
included fresh documents of the CPP’s reestablishment which repudiated
Lavaite revisionism; the CPP’s Ang Bayan, Jose Maria Sison’s Struggle for
National Democracy, and Chairman Mao Zedong’s selected writings and the
Red Book. Five Golden Rays, which inspired many people, came from Mao’s
writings. Amado Guerrero’s Philippine Society and Revolution was being
prepared for printing.
The demonstrations had to increasingly confront the state’s forces of
coercion, especially those assembled in the PC Metropolitan Command (Metrocom),
who used the gun almost as frequently as truncheons, teargas and water
cannons. Thus, one could all the more easily comprehend Lenin’s State and
Revolution, and accept armed revolution as the answer. And in integrating
with, say, the worker masses, living with them and struggling with them at
the picket line, one could more easily see their sense of exploitation and
oppression, and their receptivity to scientific socialism.
The FQS was a time for courage. Increasingly confronting the enemy’s guns
(as in the case of Jan. 30-31), one drew strength and guts from the
synergy of the tens of thousands who were one’s comrades, and those
cheering you on. One dared to do anything! “Makibaka! Huwag matakot!”
(Fight on! Have no fear!) resounded over and over again on the streets.
And to help educate the masses, and to put fear into the hearts of the
enemy, “Ano ang sagot sa martial law?” (What is our response to martial
law?), “Digmaan, digmaan, digmaang Bayan!” (War, war, people’s war!).
In the expansion nationwide, there was now a proliferation of new mass
organizations (MOs): Katipunan ng mga Samahang Manggagawa (Kasama) and
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Manggagawa (Pakmap), among the workers;
theMalayang Kilusang ng Bagong Kababaihan (Makibaka), among the women; the
Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan(SDK) and the Katipunan ng Kabataang
Demokratiko (KKD), among the youth; the Kapisanan ng mga Gurong
Makabayan(Kaguma), among the teachers; the Christians for National
Liberation (CNL), among the clergy and church people;Panulat para sa
Kaunlaran ng Sambayanan (PAKSA), among literary people; the Nagkakaisang
Progresibong Artista-Arkitekto (NPAA), among artists and architects; the
Samahan ng mga Progresibong Propagandista (SPP), the League of Editors for
a Democratic Society (LEADS) and the revived College Editors’ Guild of the
Philippines (CEGP), among campus editors, and many others.
Expansion teams from these MOs were spreading out among the various
colleges and universities of Metro Manilaand to the provinces. To
coordinate and direct this growing number of allied organizations, there
came the Movement for a Democratic Philippines (MDP). Elsewhere in Metro
Manila, activists displayed resourcefulness by boarding buses and
distributing manifestoes and statements to the passengers. Or, welcoming
the invitation of enlightened teachers, they went from schoolroom to
schoolroom to rally the students to the Red flag of struggle.
Since it was the orientation of the youth and student movement to deploy
prospective cadres and activists to integrate with the peasant masses, the
youth who were now politically conscious – and those who ere getting “hot”
(umiinit) in the urban areas – were being deployed to the countryside.
They went there to become political officers (Pos) of the newly formed
squads and platoons of the New People’s Army, and to organize the
peasants. In Manila at that time, it became common dialogue for a comrade
to ask another about a “missing” comrade. The reply was that he was
already in “I”. This meant he had gone to the hills in the new expansion
areas of Isabela (“I”), in Northeastern Luzon. Or later, to the other
expansion areas in Southern Tagalog or Bicol, or farther south to the
Visayas and Mindanao.
As a result of the FQS, the National Press Club (NPC) of the Philippines,
of which I was president, passed a resolution at its 1970 National
Convention aligning the NPC in the movement for national independence and
democracy. This was after my first term as president, where we took the
progressive course of supporting the brothers Rizal and Quintin Yuyitung
of the Chinese Commercial News who were persecuted and deported to Taiwan
by the Marcos regime and itsKuomintang cohorts, and supporting the young
staffers of the Dumaguete Times in the Visayas who were being held
incommunicado by the regime. We also opened the door of the NPC to mass
leaders and activists of the national democratic movement to acquaint them
with the reporters covering the surging mass movement, and to extend to
them whatever physical protection the press club had at that time.
When I look back to the FQS of 1970, what stands out in my mind are the
positive contributions that that period and its political activities
contributed to the national democratic revolution as a whole. Among the
things that I remember most was the spirit of learning that pervaded the
mass activists, and their sense of courage.
If we remember, the FQS was launched in the wake of the First Great
Rectification Campaign, to repudiate the revisionism of the Lavaite
renegades and to propagate the national-democratic line. Today, we are
going through the Second Great Rectification Campaign, to repudiate
revisionism, splittism, capitulationism and reformism of present-day
In the FQS, the call was for the political and theoretical education of
the young and their deployment to the countryside. Today, with the Second
Great Rectification Campaign, there is a call for education on the
rectification documents and on the varied levels of theoretical education,
especially on Mao Zedong and our own rich experiences.
I’m happy to learn that it was in the ranks of the youth and students and
workers – as in the case of the FQS – that the rectification campaign took
root, and that it was the youth and the workers who took up the cudgels
for the movement and its program, as against the deviations of the
revisionists and splittists.
I understand, too, that as in the FQS, it is again among the youth and
students and the workers that the call is being heeded for the educated
and politically conscious youth to integrate with the peasant masses in
the countryside, instead of being kept in the urban areas for possible
As this trend continues, and as we carry on the rest of our tasks at the
present time, we keep faith with our forebears who launched the Katipunan
Revolution of 1896, and we keep faith with present-day Filipinos,
especially the thousands of comrades who – before, during and after the
FQS – willingly sacrificed their lives against the US-Marcos fascist
dictatorship, the US-Aquino fascist regime and now the fascist regime of
the US-Ramos clique, so that our children and our children’s children will
live in national freedom, democracy, peace, justice and prosperity.
By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
Political awakening and the First Quarter Storm of 1970
Looking back through the last 26 years to the FQS of 1970, one harkens to
a time of cerebral and physical ferment, a time of trepidation and
courage, a time of study and education, a time for the heightening of
political consciousness, a time to make crucial decisions affecting one’s
life, going full-time into revolutionary work. – Antonio Zumel,
Remembrances of the FQS of 1970, 1996
I wasn’t a direct participant in the historic First Quarter Storm (FQS) of
1970 – a series of protest mass actions, which began on January 25, 1970
and continued up to March of 1970. I wasn’t even attuned to its
revolutionary slogans and its heart-racing, militant fervor. While already
railing against social injustice and police brutality, I was not yet an
“ND” or national democratic activist.
This January, commemorative activities on the 40th year of the FQS have
begun. They are spearheaded by the FQS Movement, an organization of
activists in the 70s dedicated to keeping alive the memory, significance
and continuing relevance of that defining point in our nation’s history.
One could sense then that Philippine society was at the brink of social
upheaval. Prices of basic commodities were rapidly rising in the wake of
frequent oil price hikes. Graft and corruption in government was rampant,
there were warlords and rival political clans in every province. Abroad,
youth revolts and anti-war protests were rife. The Vietnam War was raging
and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China had just passed.
The Marcos regime increasingly used the armed forces and the police to
suppress protest and opposition as the streets resounded with the cries of
tens of thousands of demonstrators denouncing the three social evils – US
imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism/fascism – and calling for
a new national democratic revolution that would sweep away the decrepit
ruling system and usher in an independent, egalitarian, just, peaceful and
prosperous Philippine society.
The FQS ferment and upsurge in the democratic mass movement nationwide led
to the heightened political education of hundreds of thousands of
Filipinos especially the youth and the unpararelled expansion and
consolidation of activist mass organizations. It was on this high tide of
the national democratic movement that I found myself buoyed up leading to
my own political awakening.
From a conscience-stricken, reform-minded but naïve student leader I
became a true-blue ND activist, studying Marxist and other progressive
writings, imbibing the mantra of “serve the people” and immersing myself
in the lives and struggles of the oppressed and exploited, fellow
Filipinos who, given my privileged socio-economic upbringing, I would
likely have blithely overlooked or disregarded as I pursued my middle
class dreams of success.
My first encounter with state fascism was at the barricades set up by
students and striking jeepney drivers to protest oil price hikes and the
related killing of a young activist. Marcos ordered the dreaded
Metropolitan Command of the Philippine Constabulary to launch attacks on
the University of the Philippines campus where the protesters had
established a symbolic “Diliman Commune”.
I quickly learned how an unjust system is propped up by those who benefit
the most from it utilizing the coercive powers of the state. Not only is
it exceedingly just but necessary to defend oneself and assert one’s
rights, with whatever means possible, against such state-sponsored
Little by little, I learned more about Philippine society not only from
discussion groups or “DGs” and rallies but also by undertaking practical
investigation of prevailing social conditions and class divisions during
community organizing work in sprawling slum settlements all over Metro
Martial law brought about a brief stint in the urban underground before I
was arrested and detained for several months. Upon release from prison I
entered medical school and in between arduous studies and 48- to72-hour
hospital duty, I continued my activist involvement with the health sector,
keenly aware that the ills of our indigent patients were the result not
just of the ravages of disease but deeply-rooted social problems.
When the Marcos dictatorship fell during the EDSA 1 “people power”
uprising and Corazon “Cory” Aquino assumed power, there was initial
confusion in some sections of the movement regarding the character of her
regime. In due time, it became starkly clear that only the formal
trappings of democracy had been restored, Philippine society was basically
unchanged, and in fact the socio-economic and cultural crisis was
continuing and even worsening.
The Mendiola massacre of peasants plus the exemption of Hacienda Luisita
from land reform, the grievous human rights violations when Mrs. Aquino
“unsheathed the sword of war” against the CPP-NPA-NDF, and her about-face
from her promise to remove US bases from Philippine soil – all these
provided the rude awakening for those who had harbored illusions of more
thoroughgoing and fundamental reforms under the US backed-Cory regime.
Going on from health sector activism to multisectoral issues and
campaigns, I coordinated the Network Opposed to the Bataan Nuclear Power
Plant (No to BNPP!). The BNPP scam was a clear example of the connivance
between US monopoly capital and local bureaucrat capitalists to amass
profits at the people's expense and detriment. Along with the failure of
the Presidential Commission on Good Governance to prosecute Marcos’
cronies, it also betrayed the Aquino regime's inability to rectify the
martial law regime's anti-people practices, if not its continuing
complicity with or acquiescence to graft and corruption in government.
These experiences deepened my understanding of the truth about an ailing
society in deep crisis and no less than a revolutionary overhaul of that
social system would suffice.
Clearly, the Philippine crisis continued under the Ramos and Estrada
administrations reaching unprecedented proportions under the Arroyo
regime. Its wanton plunder of the nation's coffers, unabashed kowtowing to
US and other foreign interests, feudal patronage of political clans and
warlordism all the more underscore the urgency of the calls that
reverberated during the FQS: Down with Imperialism, Feudalism and
The 40th anniversary of the FQS is best commemorated by renewing the
resolve to carry forward the struggle for nationalism and democracy to a
higher stage as local and global conditions become even more favorable
than 40 years ago. Filipino activists must seize the day, the hour to
realize the calls that resounded far and wide during the First Quarter
THE FQS OF 1970 AND THE CONTINUING PAST
by JOEL GARDUCE
(Published in his column, "Keep the Fire", in Cebu The Voice, January
29, 2010, page 6)
If democracy is truly holding sway in the Philippines today, a full-blown
official commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm
(FQS) of 1970 should have kicked off early this week.
The top public officials would have laid wreaths last Tuesday, January
26—the date forty years ago when a mammoth youth demonstration protesting
the dictator Marcos' State of the Nation Address touched off an
unprecedented hightide of the democratic mass movement—at the graves
(relocated to the Libingan ng mga Bayani) of the four FQS martyrs
(Fernando Catabay, Ricardo Alcantara, Felicisimo Roldan and Juan Tausa)
who perished at the Battle of Mendiola of January 30-31, 1970. The biggest
media would have run specials in print, TV and radio noting how this
episode in Philippine history was a breakthrough in raising revolutionary
consciousness, in building resistance to the-then emerging dictatorship,
and in inspiring generations of outstanding sons and daughters of the
Filipino people. The Cultural Center of the Philippines would have mounted
celebrations marked by music, poetry, performances and other art forms
generated and inspired by the FQS, acknowledging how it sparked a
renaissance in Philippine culture, arts and letters and profoundly
influenced the best of our country's artists.
But democracy remains unrealized in our country today. And those who rule
now would rather suppress the finest of FQS' legacies. The current hated
regime in fact fears that the key lessons imparted by FQS might be gleaned
by the masses. The ruling few dread that the people would translate into
direct collective action their full appreciation of the continuing deep
significance of the FQS in their ongoing struggle. With the help of
witting and unwitting anticommunist apologists with easy access to big
media and the academe, the establishment thus peddles postmodern rigmarole
to marginalize the FQS' import into a mere relic relegated to the museum.
After all, they will prate, hasn't the collapse of “communism” in Russia
and Eastern Europe, the horrors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the
transformation of China into a capitalist power, and the bloody purges in
the more recent history of the Communist Party of the Philippines itself
fully discredit and debunk the slogans and ideology espoused during the
FQS of 1970?
Well, indulging into a superficial appreciation of the FQS will surely
lead to a misleading and pathetic caricaturization of it. On the other
hand, an honest understanding of the lessons of FQS will show that, in
fact, the tenets underpinning the FQS spirit entailed opposing the
“revisionism” that characterized the disdainful and fake socialist
Soviet-bloc-era and Khmer Rouge regimes. These FQS tenets also encompassed
the rectification of errors committed by previous self-deluded
“revolutionaries”, errors quite similar to the hysterical madness that had
beset the ranks of Filipino revolutionaries and communists in the 1980s
and early 1990s.
Further, the utter failure of modern capitalism to bring forth a superior
social order that benefits humankind even after vanquishing its Cold War
adversaries; the plunging of the entire globe in fact into the current
Great Global Depression so soon after the Cold War, and all the attendant
misery and deprivation this brings; and the recurrence in the Philippines
of despicable regimes worse than the full-blown dictatorship portended by
the FQS events—all these point to the shining relevance of the FQS forty
We all would do well to study it and heed its prime lessons. As sure as
intolerable exploitation and oppression is resisted by the people, so is
an imminent hightide of democratic resistance that could surpass the scope
of the First Quarter Storm of 1970, a mighty political storm that will
finally cast off the continuing dark past plaguing Philippine society. ##
Joel Garduce is head of the international affairs committee of the
Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP).
SATUR OCAMPO: STILL RIDING THE (FIRST
By Satur Ocampo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 15:07:00 01/23/2010
Filed Under: history, Conflicts (general), Protest
FOUR full decades after the First Quarter Storm (FQS), I recall many
incidents as easily as though they happened just a year or even a week
I was a spectator-participant in the “Battle of Mendiola,” the protest
march to Malacañang on Jan. 30-31, 1970 that turned into a bloody see-saw
engagement between demonstrators and government security forces. Through
the next two months, mass protest actions broke out one after another in
Manila, then in provincial towns and cities, as youth activists emerged
like mushrooms after a night of summer rain.
Before then, in 1967, I had already experienced being detained by the
police, along with many others, for joining a picket against the US war in
These events had a profound influence on the direction of my life, both
political and personal.
Let me cite the ways:
1. The FQS gave shape to my youthful idealism. As a teenager, I had wanted
to do something about overcoming poverty in the country, with its
accompanying burden of injustices – a not uncommon yearning among the
young, but without much form or substance.
Involvement in the FQS broadened and deepened my perspective on these
problems and clarified in definitive terms the ways of resolving them. It
reconnected me with my family’s peasant heritage of exploitation and
2. My personal life took a new turn with the FQS. It brought me together
with a new life partner, Bobbie Malay, a fellow journalist with whom
rallies, marches and meetings got spiced up with romantic interludes and
restaurant dates. After work, we would meet at the Malay home in Quezon
City for political studies and discussions with a small group that
included Tony Zumel, Rolly Fadul, and Henry Romero (all three now gone).
After the Plaza Miranda bombing, after Marcos suspended the writ of habeas
corpus and broadcaster Orly Mercado evaded arrest at the ABS-CBN studio, I
decided to make myself scarce. Bobbie joined me and we began to live as a
couple relatively incognito, starting a family in the underground. Despite
years of forced separation as well as differences of opinion and choices,
our union has remained strong, thanks to the spirit of the Storm.
3. As a journalist, my involvement in the FQS pulled me towards the
coverage of events and newsmakers from the viewpoint of economic
nationalism. Some of my editors insisted that the function of the
newspaper’s business section is to promote business. I argued that we had
to enable our readers to understand the workings of the economy and how it
affects their lives and that of the nation.
4. Then Manila Times publisher, the late Joaquin “Chino” P. Roces secretly
supported the Kabataang Makabayan with a monthly financial contribution
arranged by me. Of course his elder sister Isabel Roces, the company
treasurer, didn’t know about it. When I wrote a series on KM, published on
the Times’ front page, she called me to her office to give me a scolding.
The Times editorial board, upon the suggestion of Crispulo Icban Jr., who
was then news editor, gave full coverage to the massive protest actions
against the Marcos government during the FQS and afterward. Chino Roces
supported his staff. No wonder that Marcos shut down the Manila Times upon
the declaration of martial law, with Chino among the many journalists
rounded up and brought to the Camp Crame stockade.
After his release from detention, Chino received me at his home alone; it
was dangerous for both of us, as I was being actively hunted by the
military. But he encouraged me to carry on.
5. It seems to me that with the passage of time, the spirit of the First
Quarter Storm tends to outweigh the ideological and political differences
that have naturally arisen among us. Ironically, it is at the wake of FQS
participants who have died, by natural causes or in martyrdom for the
cause, that this spirit is most evident. I myself am happy to enjoy the
warm friendship of FQS veterans on both sides of the bitter debates,
although it has been clear to all where I stand.
In the nine years that I have explored the possibilities of pushing for
political and social reforms in the parliamentary arena, I have come
across many FQS activists, graying like me and still trying to do their
part in the protracted, arduous and complicated struggle for fundamental
change. Differences in approach remain, but each one of us is wont to say,
"Serve the people, kasama!” with a hug and a smile. •