A Bucket for the Fire

By Monina A. Mercado

First published in her column, It’s a Long Story,  in Graphic, March 4, 1970, p. 18

When a conventful of nuns in Makati, listening over the radio to the progress of the January 30 street battle, concluded that their enclave would probably be besieged next, they reportedly filled buckets of water to put out whatever fires are set in their house and exclusive school. That done, they then barricaded themselves in fearful prayer inside the chapel.

Their experience, told by the nuns themselves in all naivete to their students, has leaped over the convent walls, to be told and retold in varying degrees of amusement — but how very typical of prissy old maids — and yet also of saddened realization. What have these nuns to fear — they of supposedly great faith — unless they harbor some knowledge of a part in the provocation of this unrest? (For it seems that this detonation of protest in the streets has begun to flush out into the light those every time a demonstration is announced in the papers.)

There is little escape nowadays from the social talk that often begins thusly, O rebolusyon na ba? The poor little old man who weeds my garden asks the question each time. The air conditioning maintenance man could not resist the query. My favorite glamour girl asks the same question in between stirring the mahjong pichas. And the children ask when the television set is turned on demonstrations if they are burning Malacañang again — it so looked that way when the bonfires flared last January 30.

In these times, we react with what we are and what we have. Passports are ready for those who have the wherewithal — “For the sake of the children,” they always say. Those who do not have to stay have left or are definitely leaving. Some Jews who are in business are reportedly selling out and evacuating Forbes Park homes for Brooklyn and the Bronx. A group of European nuns is in the process of relinquishing the administration and management of their girls’ school to make their departure date in the early summer.

A move to the province is contemplated by those who have roots far from Manila or Central Luzon. There is suddenly some solace in a bucolic town one tolerates on a visit, but never as a home.

Last summer, we spent two weeks in a tiny town in Misamis Oriental where all the big paths that are called streets end in the sea, where colts and mares graze on the plaza green, where meals are malunggay plucked from the bush and fish scooped up from the sea down the street, where nighttime illumination comes from gas lamps and sometimes the moon — and suddenly those 14 days, which seemed a drag then, now mean a probable future, a feasible alternative.

Yes, we meet friends in the grocery stores, buying more than the week’s supply of canned necessities. “I do this each time a demonstration is scheduled,” admitted an old school friend. “I feel silly, selfish, mad even, but if something happens I will never forgive myself.”

There are some families who have stockpiled medicine and some who keep extra supply of water. There are even families with a blueprint for evacuation — a designated place where to gather, a signified place of refuge, some means of communication should telephone wires be cut and streets barricaded.

What grim landscapes and fearful imagination paints, what even more grim humor the uneasy mind conjures. “Swim now,” said someone in a Sunday swimming party. “Who knows there may even be no water to drink tomorrow.”

Meanwhile the pockets of reasonable reaction, being undramatic, could slip by unnoticed and unappreciated. Some schools have suspended classes for teach-ins, some sort of one-two-three primer on issues of the day — “So that,” one professor said grimly, “if our students are clobbered on the head or hit by stray bullets, they’ll know why and what for.”

Other groups have taken up the teach-in — there are now teach-ins for parents, for neighborhood associations, even counter-teach-ins, I hear, for Central Luzon peasants to be conducted by college boys from Catholic schools. And then there are talkins — over the phone, across the fence, at dinner parties, in buses and beauty parlors. We are suddenly un-shy and voluble, the words and phrases springing at last with discovered meanings — “alternative for existing leadership,” “textbook for anarchy,” “the pressure of the silent majority,” “non-violence as a ploy for public sympathy,” “the Maoist line in Philippine context” and so on. We are reading, asking, watching. We are plucking the stranger’s sleeve to ask for his word, touching the young one’s hand to understand his pulse and hesitating here to restrain him.

Worrying and hoping, praising and criticizing, running away or staying put, we are at last involved. We are thinking and caring. And this could be, after all, our bucket of water to match whatever fires.#

The Best Since Pugad Lawin

By Gemma Cruz Araneta

Published in her column, Skin Deep, in the Graphic, March 11, 1970, p. 16

A climactic moment came unexpectedly during the second mammoth demonstration on the night of 18 February at Plaza Miranda. A labour leader started his speech with an exposé. Another labour group was allegedly given two million pesos by the CIA. Immediately, a sizeable sector of the crowd reacted noisily. There was a commotion which threatened to get out of hand as no one could tell whether they were crying for blood or were simply offended by allusions. The leaders on the platform pleaded for sobriety and, speaking in the vernacular, they reminded their companions that the struggle is far from being over and that we should all first study the issues before contemplating drastic action.

“Mag-aral muna tayo!” cried the leaders and twice the National Anthem had to be played to restrain the crowd and cool tempers. The leaders also warned against provocateurs, falling into their vicious traps and destroying the beautiful and peaceful union already formed. The pleas did not fall on deaf ears because even if the group left Plaza Miranda, no unnecessary violence ensued.

Verily, the student demonstrations are the best things that have happened since the cry of Pugad Lawin. Emulating the examples of the heroes of our Revolution, the students have shaken the nation out of its lethargy by informing the masses about the causes of economic dependence and the perpetuation of a corrupt and undemocratic social structure. The students are undoubtedly well-informed as they can see through the superficial, the symptoms and analyze the real causes of our problems, Soon, when the oppressed farmers, the exploited laborers and factory workers, the deluded masses see the advantage to nationalize strategic industries, make workers members of corporations and tenants owners of the land they till, then we can be assured of a future with social justice where the fruits of labor are distributed equitably.

Call it Congress of the People or Parliament of the Streets, the attempt to conduct nationwide “teach-ins” among peoples from all walks of life is historically and socially significant.

The Vigilantes who are safeguarding democratic processes in lawmaking bodies and government corporations have really forced our elders to be more conscious of public good rather than self-interest.

Frankly, to say that the students are demonstrating because they lack love (First Lady, Daily Mirror, 17 February) is to over-simplify matters.

The student leaders at Plaza Miranda never for a moment sounded like love-starved delinquents hungry for parental affection and attention. But there is another way of looking at it. Perhaps parents do not love their children enough. If they did, then they themselves would have demonstrated in their youth, formed parliaments of the streets and vigilantes groups. Had they not allowed themselves to be deluded by imperialist propaganda like Taft’s “Philippines for the Filipinos” or McKinley’s visions; had they remained idealistic like their grandfathers who fought the Revolution, then their children would not have to demonstrate today. The social cancer would not have festered and Rizal, as one writer so aptly put it, would have long been obsolete.

Some people have the most shocking attitude about what is going on. Those who have fled in panic are ludicrous and those who speak with contempt, calling demonstrators, rioteers (remember the word insurrectos, tulisanes, rebels?) are disgusting. Others have become nervous wrecks because of what everything has done to the stock market and the thought of losing their worldly possessions and privileges must have shattered them. Fear has made people resort to hurried charity projects thinking that alms are an adequate substitute for social justice. The callously apathetic — like that Blue Lady at a recent gathering — would rather not think about it and leave everything to the military. In another era, she probably would have said, “let them eat cake.”

When all is said and done — or in the unfortunate event that not enough was done, the student revolution will always be considered a blessing and a significant step toward enlightening the nation.#

Left to Right: The Student Activists

First published in The Sunday Times Magazine, February 22, 1970, p. 34-38

By Mila Astorga-Garcia

KABATAANG Makabayan is a name that has become synonymous to militant youth activism in Philippine setting. And no history of youth activism in the country can be written without making accreditation to the contribution of the KM in the national democratic movement. This is so because the KM has consistently stood for national-democratic ideals and militantly pursued them through democratic mass actions.

Kabataang Makabayan’s founding in November 30th 1964 was “inspired and guided by the patriotism of the Filipino youth who first formulated the terms of our nationhood in the Propaganda Movement and organized the Philippine Revolution of 1896 in order to express and realize in full the national and social aspirations of the Filipino people oppressed by foreign and feudal tyranny.”

Since its founding, the KM has staged demonstrations, seminars and teach-ins aimed at clarifying to the people the present state of Philippine society—which it calls semi-feudal and semi-colonial. The KM believes that the Filipino people are suffering and the country is backward because there is a monopoly of political and economic power concentrated in the hands of the big landlords, comprador class and big bourgeoisie and on top of them is a foreign power—US imperialism. The KM aims to break this monopoly of power by allying with workers, peasants, progressive intellectuals, professionals and the nationalist bourgeoisie in an effort to arouse and mobilize the masses towards the attainment of national freedom and democracy.

This outlook, more than anything else, explains the persistent anti-American imperialist and anti-landlord tone in the programme, pronouncements and protest mass actions of the KM. This explains why it is for the scrapping of the parity, the abrogation of the Laurel-Langley, bases treaty, military assistance treaty, mutual defense treaty—in short, the elimination of RP-US “special relations.”

The KM stand on these and other important national issues have always been pursued by its members with a militance no other youth organization has equalled. That is why the military has long ago started a hate-KM campaign that has been equally militant, although oftentimes ridiculous and silly. Whenever violence erupts in a demonstration participated in by the KM, the military authorities are quick in pinpointing the KM as the instigator of violence. Several times has it also been singled out by witch-hunters and downright reactionary officials as “communist-inspired,’ etc., in an effort to isolate the KM from the people and totally discredit it as a national democratic youth organization.

But these efforts, according to KM leaders, have fallen flat in the face of these accusers because the KM instead of being isolated had increased its members and mass following. Official listing of membership has reached the 12,000 mark the bulk of which come from the rural areas and factories. Mass following is estimated at 30,000 the bulk of which also come from the rural areas and factories. The KM maintains chapters in schools, offices, factories and city and rural community areas.

Unlike other youth organizations, the KM does not entertain the possibility of a non-partisan constitutional convention within the present status of the Philippine society. Although the convention may be made a forum in discussion of important political issues like the RP-US “special relations” the KM believes that the Constitutional Convention will be nothing better than a farce that will witness another squabble for power and horse trading among the exploiting classes, sectarian groups and US imperialism.

According to Monico Atienza, KM General Secretary, “We do not believe that a non-partisan constitutional convention could be done in our society since the powers, political and economic, are controlled by partisan interests. We have the landlords, the bureaucrat capitalist, and the big bourgeoisie. A truly democratic constitution, we believe, can be implemented only based on the initiative of the masses. It will be the masses themselves transforming the basic power relations in the society and then formulating a constitution based on new and progressive power relations. A Constitution does not precede a society. It comes after a society has been formed. That is why it is futile to hope for the Constitutional Convention as an opportunity to change our society.”

On the question of violence, the KM maintains the position that the people have the right to defend themselves against the undemocratic attacks of the state. Atienza said: “The KM is a militant participant in demonstrations, in fact some of its members were fighting it out with the forces of the state on the simple reason that if you are attacked in the exercise of your democratic rights, you have to defend yourself. It was correct for the demonstrators to defend themselves in front of an adversary.”

It is clearly indicated from the position of the KM on the abovementioned issues that the KM recognizes the “rise of fascism” as the pressing issue of the day. KM believes that a systematic method of suppressing the people’s democratic rights and civil liberties is on the rise and that state power— its military might—is increasingly being used for this purpose.

Such suppression, however, only serves to temper its activists. And this, in their view, only illustrates their point that the ruling class will never willingly surrender its privileged position.#


By Mila Astorga-Garcia

THAT the present temper of student activism in the Philippines can be traced, somehow or other, to the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP) could hardly be considered an exaggeration.

In the UP, long considered to be the seat of student activism, the SCAUP is recognized as the oldest and one of the major progressive student organizations.

The SCAUP, which today is a national democratic organization, has maintained a record of militance within the University even as it went through various stages of development.

Luzvimindo David, President of the SCAUP, says, “Since membership of the organization is limited within the UP, the only thing the members could do is to propagate ideas of national democracy within the UP”. That may well be the case, but the history of the SCAUP actually provides a background to student activism even outside the UP.

In 1961, the SCAUP was founded in the wake of and in reaction to the CUFA witch-hunt of the late 50’s, as well as to counter the sectarian stranglehold on the UP. It discussed and propagate liberal ideas on campus at a time (as the “old-times” in the university relate) when dissent was conducted in whispers. It was then a “non-partisan and non-sectarian” organization.

The SCAUP Inquest was published in 1962 as a forum for liberal ideas. At about this time, the SCAUP started discussing the nationalist ideas of Recto in symposia, lectures, teach-ins and seminars.

Largely as a result of the Vietnam war, the SCAUP in 1965-1968, started to assume an internationalist outlook, shunning the narrow, chauvinistic concept of nationalism. During this period, it participated actively in anti-Vietnam war demonstrations and protests against the iniquitous “special relations” between the Philippines and the United States.

1969, the year of student activism that saw Manila’s schools shaken by student strikes, also saw the transformation of the SCAUP from a “non-sectarian and non-partisan” nationalist organization into a partisan national democratic organization “partisan to the interest of the Filipino masses.” This is clearly seen and is declared in the Activist, the official publication of the SCAUP. The Activist is “guided by the ideology of national democracy.” It “takes the progressive revolutionary stand in any issue” and “refuses to engage in the empty rhetorics of frightened liberal intellectuals” (The Activist, March, 1969)

Having taken a definite stand for national democracy, the SCAUP now emphasizes the integration of the students with the workers and peasants. Towards this end, SCAUP President Luzvimindo David informs us, SCAUP members participate in workers’ strikes and constantly study the conditions of the workers and peasants. This springs from their view of student power. “It is imperative,” states the editorial of the Activist (March, 1969), “that the student movement realizes the necessity of allying itself with the social classes whose interest is to liberate themselves from the exploitation and oppression imposed by the social order.”

“At best, students can only serve as catalysts in a society ripe for a revolutionary change…Let us cast away the illusion that student power is capable of changing society and instead prepare for protracted struggle against the unjust social order…Student power, no matter how nationalistic or militant, can only rock the status quo in the university level.”

Taking a comprehensive view of Philippine society which it describes as semi-feudal and semi-colonial, the SCAUP has committed itself to working for the abolition of the iniquitous relationship between the Philippines and the US and the abolition of the feudal system in the Philippines.

Speaking of land reform, Luzvimindo David says, “The organization will not settle for the present kind of land reform…(It) is advocating a land reform without the numerous loopholes of the present code.”

Asked on the organization’s stand on the coming Constitutional Convention, he comments, “We do not believe that the Constitutional Convention will change the basic character of Philippine society. But we find a purpose for this convention — it serves as a jumping board for discussions regarding the problems of the Filipino.”

SCAUP has contributed many of its members to the nationalist movement even outside UP. Through the year, the ideas that it espoused and disseminated have gained increasing acceptance among the sectors of Philippine society interested in bringing about progressive change. At present, the SCAUP may well be on its way to becoming a national organization or at least a precursor of a Student Cultural Association on a national level. Student activists in various schools (Araneta U., Feati U., Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and Divine Word U. in Tacloban among others) established Student Cultural Associations of their own, patterned after the SCAUP. If plans materialize, they will unite to form the Student Cultural Association of the Philippines, says SCAUP Pres. L. David.#


By Nancy T. Lu

THE Movement for Democratic Philippines was born out of a decision to sustain the move to democratize the system in the country shortly after the last national election. At that time there was a nationwide protest against election frauds and terrorism. The UP Student Council boycotted classes to dramatize the issue.

Nationalist democratic in orientation, the MDP group was formally organized November 20, 1969. Different schools, reform movements, and school organizations were invited to join the MDP whose aims include basic land reform, nationalist industrialization, and militant protection of the seven liberties of the people. The MDP leaders tried to forge a united front of all the progressive organizations in the society— the students, the youth, the peasants, and the workers. The organization is run “not so much as a hierarchy with authority, but by consensus.” The MDP sponsored major rallies including the one in front of the US embassy against Agnew as well as the one in front of Congress and Malacañang last January 30.

“A constitution is a mere scrap of paper,” Nelson Navarro, spokesman of the Movement for Democratic Philippines, said. “It is a passive document. It is just a manifestation of ideals. As such it is susceptible to the dynamics of the political system of the Philippines. We have a constitution that is not meaningful because we have a semi-feudal, semi-colonial society with a hypocritically vociferous republican facade. The Constitutional Convention can not bring about any meaningful change unless we develop the power relations within the society itself, that is, the relationship between the exploiting class and the exploited class,” he observed.

On fascism Navarro says: “Fascism has always been in our country ever since the puppets of American imperialism started this republican farce that we now call Philippine democratic government. Marcos has aggravated it by the use of special forces. Marcos is trying to create an armed forces of his own within the armed forces itself.” #


By Nancy T. Lu

“I BELIEVE that the Constitutional Convention will just be manipulated by the administration in such a way that it would not really effect substantial changes in our society,” commented Reuben Seguritan, spokesman of Student Power Assembly of the Philippines (SPAP).

At the height of student demonstrations in February, 1969, some members of the UP Student Council called on the student leaders all over the country. Together they organized the First National Conference on Student Power for National Democracy.

Aware of the ascendancy of student power in the Philippines, the student leaders became very enthusiastic about forming a national organization that would more or less coordinate or consolidate the different activist organizations in the schools. On March 9, 1969, they formally ratified the general declaration which they called the Diliman Declaration. Since then they have adopted the campus as the initial battlefront. They also went beyond the campus by demonstrating against the fundamental issues concerning the ills afflicting the nation. They participated actively in the Boycott-the-Election movement. They also took interest in other major issues.

“The land reform policy of the Marcos administration suffers from many inequities,” lamented Seguritan. ‘There is, for instance, the non-inclusion of sugar lands within the provision of the act. Then there is the problem of finance and this only illustrates the insincerity of the Marcos administration as far as the alleviation of the plight of the masses is concerned.”

On violence Seguritan says: “The fascistic tactics and methods which have been adopted by the Marcos administration are meant to counteract the growing mass movements. President Marcos sees in the growing consciousness of the people a threat to his authority and power. Because violence has been inflicted upon the people, the students themselves will have to defend themselves through violent means, too.”#


By Millet G. Martinez

SAMAHAN ng Demokratikong Kabataan is another national-democratic organization whose following comes from young students, farmers, workers, intellectuals and professionals. From a handful of progressive-minded students and instructors of the University of the Philippines who founded the SDK, it has spread to other schools and in the rural areas, notably University of the East, Lyceum of the Philippines and the provinces of Rizal and Nueva Ecija.

SDK was formed as an offshoot of an internal conflict in the leadership of Kabataang Makabayan. It is said that those who formed the first batch of SDK leaders were disgruntled KM elements who were expelled for anti-KM activities. These elements conducted a systematic campaign to discredit the KM leadership to such extent that the KM leaders were constrained to expell them from the organization.

The founding of SDK in 1968 was followed by a rash of activities and recruitment motivated by a desire to put up a militant youth organization with the calibre of the KM. The UP campus was witness to this. Almost all protest actions in the UP during that time saw the SDK participation. It put out manifestoes on the UP Administration, Dow Chemicals, Vietnam demonstrations, Los Baños unrest and the February UP strike of students, faculty and non-academic workers. In all of these, SDK seemed to be bent on driving the KM from the national democratic movement.

But SDK was not entirely free from internal bickerings among its leaders. At least two major conflicts came to be known and which almost developed into a split among the rank and file members. One was when some SDK personalities bolted the organization as an expression of their dissatisfaction with the way the leadership was running the organization. One of them remarked that a certain leader developed an arrogance to the extent of considering himself a leader with the stature of Mao Tse-tung. The other conflict resulted in the repudiation of two ranking leaders by the mass membership for their arrogance, wrong style of work and for some ideological inconsistencies. Ironically, these two repudiated leaders were the most vehement in denouncing the KM leaders for wrong methods of leadership.

After going through these tests, SDK has emerged with broader organizational experience and clearer political line. With a new breed of leaders who so far have proven their mettle in the recent rash of protest mass actions, it expects to develop into a nation-wide militant national-democratic youth organization. From its active participation is mass action and from its pronouncements, it is not unlikely that the coming years will see its further growth into a major national youth organization.

SDK spokesman Gary Olivar, a UP student leader, in an interview gave the position of his organization on certain national issues.

According to Olivar, the present land reform program is a “mere palliative designed to appease the peasants’ revolutionary clamor for land.” With all the defects that go with it, notable of which is the financing problem of the farmers, the land reform program does not guarantee a better livelihood for the farmers. What is needed is genuine land reform that answers the basic demands of the farm people. This, the present state can hardly implement.”

Genuine land reform, according to Olivar, must go hand in hand with “nationalist industrialization which excludes the US imperialists, and the local big bourgeoisie.”

On the constitutional convention, the SDK believes that “The convention will focus the attention of the people on political issues. Remedial measures to achieve reforms within the present state will be presented to the people, in the same manner that civil liberties can be strengthened through a cautious and conscientious formulation of a constitution by progressive delegates.

“However, the Marcos political machine might use the convention to strengthen itself. We should expect that the exploiting classes, especially the Church oligarchs, will interfere to make the convention a convenient instrument to further entrench themselves in the government machinery and in the Establishment. Changes in laws don’t change society. It’s the society that needs change and not our laws.”#


By Millet G. Martinez


AS ITS international symbol denotes, the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation (BRPF) is concerned with the quest for peace. But its struggle for peace is quite different from the pacifist approach of passive resistance.

The BRPF Philippine Council is a nationalist organization dedicated to a struggle against monopolistic capitalism, imperialism and feudalism. Founded in May 1965, it is part of the international BRPF established in 1963 under the leadership of Lord Russell. However, the BRPF Philippine Council exists as an autonomous body, free to formulate its program of action without consultation with its London office.

Composed of about 600 professionals, students, peasant leaders and barrio school teachers, the BRPF’s main function is to help mass organizations in their educational program, for the purpose of evating the political and social awareness of the people, particularly the oppressed masses. It is presently headed by Professor Hernando Abaya of the University of the Philippines.

“The BRPF is anti-war and at the same time a socialist organization in the sense that it is opposed to monopolistic capitalism,” Francisco Nemenzo Jr., past BRPF chairman, explains. The BRPF vehemently denounces US aggression in Vietnam as a grave threat to world peace. It has consistently voiced out its protest against the Laurel-Langley and the American bases agreement.

“The Laurel-Langley agreement has rendered so much damage, so that even if it is abrogated, its evil consequences still remain. We should also cancel off the consequences of this agreement. American controlled-industries should be taken over by our people,” Nemenzo declares.

“And we should be vigilant and watch out for substitute agreements meant to perpetuate the same American interests,” he further asserts.

“The BRPF views the Marcos administration as a neo-colonial government just like the previous ones. It also denounces the clear trend towards fascism, as evidenced by the state’s increasing militarization and suppression of the nationalist movements,” Juan Tapales, Jr. BRPF general secretary declares.

As regards the Constitutional Convention, the BRPF officers explain, “You cannot change the nature of society by changing its Constitution. It will continue to reflect the same alignment of the powerful elite in Congress.”

“The slogan of having a ‘non-partisan convention’, even if attractive to those disgusted with the present political system, is utterly misleading. Even if you disqualify Nacionalista and Liberal party men, the convention would still be partisan because the composition will come from the oligarchy and the Filipino executives of American corporations. What we want is a national democratic government with a wide participation of the masses.”

Nemenzo explains that the concept of “student power” is misleading and divisive. Instead, he advocates a “People’s Power,” composed of the mass action of students together with peasants and laborers. “Students alone cannot effectively bring change unless they unite with workers in their joint struggle for real democracy,” he says.

The BRPF has specially been active in agitating for the release of the political prisoners. So far, about 28 prisoners have been released, and the BRPF continues to help release more. The BRPF is also actively involved in supporting labor strikes, as those staged by Pantranco, SSS, New Frontier workers, to whom they gave assistance recently.

Liling Magtolis, head of the BRPF Cultural Bureau, explains that the BRPF also composes songs which reveal the plight of oppressed workers. She states that these songs have been presented before labor strikers.


An allied but entirely different organization is the Malayang Pagkakaisa ng Kabataang Pilipino (MPKP), composed of some 1,000 members, 80% of which are peasants and workers.

Ruben Torres, MPKP president, explains that the MPKP is a movement for national democracy, with special emphasis on helping peasants. “The land reform program is not the genuine code which peasants are asking for. It has plenty of loopholes which lead to more oppressing conditions for the peasants.”

MPKP general secretary Romeo Dizon asserts, “The Marcos administration is not sincere in implementing reform. It is part of the deteriorating system approaching bankruptcy. Marcos is however, only an agent— a conscious agent—in this feudalistic, fascistic and neo-colonial system.”

“It is time for the Filipino people to realize that the liberation of the working class is primarily the task of workers themselves. So long as it is under the sway of the capitalist class and so long as it serves as a puppet of American imperialism, the government is in no position to look after the interests of labor,” explains Ana Maria Nemenzo, MPKP vice-president for organization. #


By Recah Trinidad

TWO VOICES, the mellow and the fiery, speak for the NUSP, the single biggest student union in the country.

Voices of the young, they come from disenchanted throats.

Ateneo’s Edgardo Jopson, the twenty-one-year-old chieftain of the National Union of Student of the Philippines speaks the union’s mellow voice.

“For our part, we have chosen to take the peaceful revolution through the constitutional convention next year,” Jopson said.

But Jopson’s tone, his thinking that social change can be achieved by taking the tamer, safer path, does not carry the whole NUSP rank.

De La Salle’s Santiago ‘Chito’ Sta. Romana, a progressive and, influential figure within the student union, voices NUSP’s fiery sentiment. The mop-haired student leader can go as far as accusing the Marcos Administration of having strong fascist tendencies.

“Fascism is the suppression of democratic rights. The use of force to suppress our rallies, particularly the one held in front of Congress January 26, is a clear display of fascism,” Sta. Romana said.

Actually, if NUSP were to live its true blood, it won’t be speaking in its chieftain’s soft voice alone. For one thing, NUSP was born out of dissension 13 years ago. The largest union of students in the country was founded by student leaders who seceded from the now-defunct Student Council’s Association of the Philippines (SCAP).

An NUSP official record listed many factors that led to the secession: “The SCAP recognized proxy voting, thus leadership was controlled by professional student leaders. These leaders promised votes to politicians, subjecting the SCAP to political pressures and silencing student opinion upon the dictates of the politicians.”

But is NUSP, which ultimately blossomed into an influential force with its 72 member-schools and some 400,000 student following, itself free from political pressure?

“We can’t be subjected to political pressures because we have never asked money from politicians for operational expenses,” Jopson said: “Last night, however, President Marcos offered money for the victims. I objected.

“Last night” was the riot-shattered evening of January 30 during which four students were slain and more than a hundred injured in a night-long battle between students and government forces inside and along the Malacañang Palace.

For his “subtle” role in the January 30th rally, during which Jopson had a dialogue with the embattled Chief Executive in the palace, the NUSP head had been dubbed a collaborator, a traitor by other student leaders. Jopson disproved the accusations.

“I’ve been unrelenting in my criticism of the Marcos regime. In fact, I condemned him for exploiting the mock elections and also for using the youth congress in Marikina, Rizal as a political fulcrum,” he said.

From his dialogue with the President, Jopson went where he had parked his car and found it badly smashed in front of the palace. He escaped being hurt in the riot by leaving the scene through the Pasig with other student leaders.

Explaining his moderate role during the rally, Jopson said he signalled an official end to the NUSP demonstration at 2 p.m. But other NUSP members and other students from other groups, refused to disperse; instead took part and endured the one-sided battle against the burly-but-frantic government troops.

Progressive Chito Sta. Romana might as well speak the fiery, militant voice of the students who faced the government troops that black January night.

“The violence that we saw was a response, rather than an initiative. If it were premeditated, I don’t think President Marcos would be alive by now,” Sta. Romana said. “If it were well-organized, the students wouldn’t be carrying sticks and stones alone.”

The rebellious De La Salle Student Council head believes there is a growing feeling among the members of the studentry that they should take adequate preparations, that they should be more determined “because with the downfall of the Liberals the students have assumed a fiscalizing role.”

“Maybe like what he did with the Liberals, Marcos will try to win the students. This I fear is the next danger,” Sta. Romana warned.

But why all these anti-Marcos sentiments?

“Because he is the Head of State, of a captive state, not a representative state. It is a state captive of a powerful elite,” Sta. Romana explained.

And so, who instead of FM?

“It seems that you don’t have much choice. You must object a guy and put up with that guy at the same time,” Sta. Romana said.

So, it would seem, the clamor was not really just for a Marcos ouster.

“Even if you put another guy, he will still be captive of the powerful elite,” Sta. Romana said. “And taking for granted that you take away Marcos, then you get the Vice-President. Well, the very name symbolizes,” he hinted.

As clearly evident , the restive studentry knows more what it doesn’t like than what it wants. It speaks in negative terms.

But as Sta. Romana would later explain, what they really want to work for is a change in the country’s social structure. While the NUSP wants to help in the political re-structuring of society, Sta. Romana said, it is hampered by its membership which is not by individuals. The NUSP is composed of a majority of student councils in the Philippines.

“The student council leadership changes every year and that prevents us from having a fixed program,” Sta. Romana lamented.

In the meantime, how do they intend to change the social structure of the country?

“The people themselves will have to play a vital role in restructuring society. The role will come in terms of representations in the forthcoming constitutional convention.” Thus the clamor for a non-partisan constitutional convention.

Sta. Romana and Jopson, the two leading figures within the current NUSP set-up, speak in conflicting voices. But it’s almost a phenomenon that the much-feared rift within the biggest union of students in the Philippines has never developed.

“We are moving as a group, despite our minor differences,” Jopson said. “The technique,” Sta. Romana explained, “lies in working on issues that would unite us more.”

The students are more united today than before, “Then you would never find NUSP, NSL or KM members in the same rally, the feeling of antagonism was high,” Sta. Romana observed. “But now the ranks are closer.”

But will the deaths and injuries suffered by the student side during the one-sided battle of Malacañang finally soften the fiery, restive studentry?

“This is just the start. The names of our fallen comrades will be our battlecry.”#


By Nancy T. Lu

“WE there the first to demonstrate for a non-partisan constitutional convention,” pointed out Benjamin G. Maynigo, secretary-general of the Young Christian Socialists Movement (CSM).

“We have a vision,” explained the twenty-two-year-old student leader. “We want a truly and fully human society — free from human misery, based on the respect for human dignity, built on justice and dedicated to progress — where every man may develop and fulfill himself according to his ability and in the service of his fellowmen,” he went on.

Organized in September 1967, the CMS is deeply involved in uprooting the various ills entrenched in the society.

“What is wrong in our society is the unbalanced social structure,” noted Maynigo of San Beda College. “We are for change in the society. For the reason we are against conservatism. We are against conservative people including certain members of the clergy because with conservative people in the coming constitutional convention, for instance, we may be brought back to the very same system we are trying to change,” he continued.

Maynigo defined the target enemies of his nationalist group to include present oligarchs, government officials, and imperialists. To make sure the sincere, hardworking, and committed legislators speak the people’s will the CSM has organized the “Project Vigilante.” The young “vigilantes” are assigned to keep an eye on the congressmen and senators when they are supposed to be working. Their presence is conspicuous because the CSM does not want the members of Congress to make a mockery or farce out of the whole project.

“With regard to our findings we intend to make a report to the nation every week,” revealed Maynigo, a second year law student. “We also intend to send copies of the reports to the civic organizations of the respective constituencies of the solons just so the people will know what their congressmen are doing,” he continued.

The CSM boasts of a nationwide membership which is 200,000 strong. This includes some 20,000 YCSP members coming from almost all schools. The CSM projects are funded by contributions from CSM members mainly. With communitarian socialism or “bayanihan” as their ideology, the CSM members seek to introduce change in the social order.

“The recent student riots should serve as a warning to the powers that be that it is time they do their duty,” Maynigo sounded out a common sentiment. At this point he is in favor of more student demonstrations because a dialogue with the president will not bring about fruitful results.

The CSM in the wake of reports of police brutality in the meantime condemned the rise of fascism. As Maynigo put it, “The fascistic tendencies are evident in the Batanes case, Corregidor, Lapiang Malaya, the last elections.”

Maynigo likes to think that the position of CSM in the ideological spectrum is left of center although many are inclined to classify CSM on the right wing. The word “Christian identifies the group with the church. And yet the church has been subjected to CSM attack because of the church’s conservatism.

“With regard to leftist groups like the Kabataang Makabayan, separately we are doing well together,” he noted. “They provide the threat and warning while we go on the move. Our differences lie in the means of bringing about change and in the ideology. As you can see Jose Ma. Sison condemned the CSM rally last year because they see in us an enemy. We are trying to suspend the revolution they are advocating,” Maynigo opined.#


By Bibsy M. Carballo

EVEN as a brewing rift within its ranks initiated by the UP group threatens to split the National Students League, the organization together with the National Union of Students of the Philippines, has been catapulted into the forefront of student activism as a proponent of non-violence in its demands for change.

Organized in 1963, the NSL is composed of 23 state colleges and universities and government-owned institutions. It seeks to look after the welfare of students in the institutions but a primary objective is the seeking of change through revolutionary but peaceful means.

Before the January 26 and 30 debacles, the NSL led a four-day sit-down rally in front of Malacañang which resulted in the acceptance of 90 per cent of its demands, which proves, acting president Portia Ilagan says, “that peaceful means are more effective than violence.” Deploring the violence of January 30, the 18-year-old sophomore BSEE major at the Philippine Normal College observed that “if your methods are peaceful you can think of so many ways to gain acceptance while if you are violent there is only one road open.”

“Aside from being destructive you lose public sympathy,” she observes but is quick to qualify that if all peaceful means have been exhausted they are willing to utilize violent methods to achieve their aims.

Primary in the agenda of the NSL is the assurance of a non-partisan constitutional convention which is to be achieved through politicizing the students and the people by means of seminars and teach-ins to which leaders are sent.

“We have already begun our meetings and soon simultaneous lectures will be conducted in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao,” Portia says.

To charges from the UP group that she has been holding her position illegally since a UP councilor, Jelly Nacino, was purported to have been elected as president of the organization, Portia explains that in elections held last December in which she said the majority of member schools were represented, Ernesto Ocampo of PCC was elected president and she, Portia, vice president. With Ocampo away on a study grant, Portia took over in an acting capacity.

While it is unfortunate that splits in the organization tend to distract the students from the pertinent issues of the day, it also remains a challenge to them and to student unity. For student power is very strong, says Portia, “although we differ in the means that we use.” The NSL also advocates dialogue with labor organizations, the peasants, and the workers so as to present a unified front.

On the issue of fascism, she says, there is indeed a rise of fascism, but those groups denouncing fascism do not seem to be aware that they too are in some way using fascism.

On the Marcos administration — “Let us give him a chance. This time he appears to be sincere.”

On land reform — “it is not adequate but only the constitutional convention can change that.”

On the two party system — “It would be better if we could have no political parties and everyone has an equal chance of running for public office.”

On the American bases agreement and the Laurel-Langley agreement — “The Philippines should be left to stand on its own but we have to do this through a gradual programming.”

Meanwhile, the NSL campaign for the non-partisan constitutional convention gained more advocates as 65 members of Congress gave their written assurances that they will not run as delegates. “This is our only hope for change now,” Portia says. #


By Millet G. Martinez

“STUDENTS and workers are discontented over state affairs. The January 26 and 30 incidents reflect not a Communist stand to take over Malacañang as Marcos says, but a belief that change is necessary — that is, changes in our political, social and economic set-up,” thus spoke Fernando T. Barican, chairman of the UP Student Council.

“The bravery of students in waging their militant struggle cannot be questioned. But the butchery and savagery of the police cannot also be denied. Fascism has become evident with the abuse of state troops for the purpose of suppressing dissent,” Barican continued.

The 20-year-old political science senior stated, “The Marcos administration has completely lost credibility with the students. His statements and his acts don’t jibe.”

In a manifesto on “The Real State of the Nation,” passed last January 26, the UP Student Council denounced Marcos’ “farcical misrepresentations and patent falsehoods.” It said that “while Mr. Marcos II loudly proclaims a program of ‘austerity’ and ‘self-discipline,’ prices continue to escalate, wages are pegged to a sub-survival level, while the country’s affluent minority of American imperialists, feudal landlords and bureaucrat-capitalists persist in their ruthless exploitation of the masses.”

When asked about the possibility of implementing change through the Constitutional Convention, Barican explained, “Under the present oppressive set-up, it is difficult to have change through this convention. We must first change the neo-colonial structure of our society. And any change in the Constitution must reflect the will of the people.”

However, in the same manifesto, it is stated “while the more visionary students noisily hold aloft the 1971 Constitutional Convention as our last hope for progress, we maintain that any such hope will be crushed by the money and power of American imperialists and their traitorous Filipino allies.

“Because of these considerations, while we may support certain candidates on a principled case-to-case basis, particularly those who have supported nationalist student activism, we must gird ourselves for the final battle against imperialism and feudalism,” the manifesto warned.

The UP Student Council believes that change can be effected only through the joint militancy of the students together with workers. “Students are not an elite with special rights in our society; they are not a ‘fifth estate’ so to speak,” asserts Barrican. “They have, and should, support workers in the struggle for meaningful change.”

The UP Student Council has actively given support to laborers, specially to the Pantranco, San Miguel, and Northern Motors strikers, to cite the more recent examples.

Barican explained that the UP Student Council denounces the exploitative and harassing acts committed by alien capitalists in the country, in the same way that it is against oppressive American imperialism. This is evident in the council manifestos issued recently in support of workers.

As regards the land reform issue, Barican agrees that land reform is essential to agrarian change and improving the lot of peasants in this country. “But there are no significant changes taking place through land reform. Much of it is mere publicity.”

The UP leader said “The forces of change lie in the students together with the peasants.

“This small elite which occupies the seats of Congress cannot be depended upon to bring justice to the masses of Filipino people they themselves have so long exploited, let alone allow them to dissent,” Barican continued.

“It is under President Marcos and now that fascism is reaching its full maturity, as the intent of past international agreements with imperialists are being enforced with expertise. Thus, no justice for the oppressed can be expected from the government and its network of economic, cultural and political apologists,” the UP Council chairman explained. #

Subversion from Left and Right

To Topple the Government

By Ernesto M. Macatuno

First published in The Sunday Times Magazine, March 1, 1970, p. 18-19

Hours after the bloody January 30 demonstration, President Marcos was reported to ponder in his study in Malacañang the explosive situation in the schools and streets. One would presume that in assessing the situation, the President could have asked: “Who are our enemies?”

For it was quite obvious that whoever fomented the violence that turned the demonstration into a riot, was no friend of the President and the government. whatever the group, as it could only be presumed to be the working of not one, not a few but quite a number of inciting persons, the students into violence and later into frontal clash with the police and military, highlighted by an actual assault on Malacañang itself, was, call it by any name, a pure act subversion.

Viewing thus the damage wrought on Malacañang after it had been cleared of the student demonstrators, the President, had he said this to be an act of the enemy of the state, had ample reason to say so. So that President Marcos, going on TV the day after the January 30 demo, told the people that the demo was “a revolt by local Maoist communists whose immediate objective was the takeover or destruction of Malacañang.”

So there it was: The Maoists, as usual, caused it all.

But did they? Or were they alone?

Had this been the case, the problem of the government could have been greatly simplified. The cause or root of the problem—the so-called Maoists— having been pinpointed, it was but a matter of small recourse to have them isolated.

Tension mounts

But, as days went by and tension mounted, the government found out that the cause of the violence that attended the January demos was not, could not be, the sole handiwork of the homegrown Maoist communists.

As it was, everybody wanted to get into the act, so to speak. Not only the homegrown Maoists, but also other sectors, other groups used, exploited, rode on the wave of student unrest so that their aims which are noble and otherwise, could be heard and listened to and acted on by Malacañang.

On one side was a demand from the government that it take measures for a non-partisan (which eventually had to include a non-sectarian) Constitutional Convention. This product of exasperation over the excessive politicking in the government, by itself, could not have caused the conflagration that were the demos. But such a demand, using the student demonstrations as forum, had, taken at such a time when other groups, for reasons of their own, were also exploiting these student demonstrations, added fuel to the fire that almost gobbled up Malacañang.

On another side were the Americans and their vested interests in the country that have to be protected from the onslaughts of Philippine nationalism. By adding fuel to the student unrest with its resultant tension, anxiety and probable anarchy, these interests could weaken the position of the government and, among other things, parley concessions from it. Although this has not been officially confirmed and probably will never be officially confirmed by the government, such American participation in the student demos was alluded to by President Marcos himself when he said that, aside from the usual scapegoats — the Maoists— there also were “noncommunist” groups exploiting this explosive situation.

The student groups were quick to follow the President’s statement on this “non-communist threat” to the government. They even went further. As one student leader, Fernando T. Barican, president of the UP Student Council, said in effect, “the Americans want to use the student unrest to topple down Marcos and institute a military junta government similar to the juntas in Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam, Latin American and elsewhere.”

Military role

With the exposure of the Rightist involvement in the demos, the role of the military in the country became of great concern. Whatever it would do in this period was more worrisome than the threat from the Left.

The military was unhesitating on where its loyalty lay. The sentiment of the military was voiced out by Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Manual Yan who said, “We are sworn to uphold the constitution. We shall resist every move to subvert the government — whether that move would come from the Right or the Left.”

As far as the military is concerned, Gen. Yan said, “it is immaterial where the threat of subversion comes from—whether from Left or Right— the military will check it.”

Having been assured that he could count on this strong counterrevolutionary force to defend the government, President Marcos declared that things since the January 30 demo “had gone back to normal.” But again, rumors floated that the military itself is not that solid, that it is permeated with officers of dubious loyalty because of their reported attachment to foreign groups like the CIA. Again, it was Gen. Yan who, although professing no knowledge of this, made assurances that “any officer found to be working for any Rightist subversive group shall be severely dealt with.”

On the other front, reports continue to mount that the military arm of the Left has been gathering forces, and that the Huks in Tarlac and Pampanga were ready to go down to Manila and agitate the student demonstrators to commit widespread violence.

“The military is taking a close look at the Huk activities,” Gen Yan said. “The subversive elements have been identified…” but will not be publicly known for reasons of security.

Assuring further the populace that all is under control and that the rumors on subversion probably result from merely a bad case of jitters, Gen. Yan said: “Rest assured that (as of this writing) the government is prepared to cope with these sorts of crises and national emergencies like the student unrest and Red infiltration, all cropping up at the same time…”

So be it. #

The Student in the Rally

By Gloria G. Goloy

Published in The Sunday Times Magazine, March 1, 1970

Try standing under a blistering 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. sun until two or three hours later and then walk all the way from Congress to Malacañang feeling hungry, thirsty, and tired, and you will realize that the student who takes part in demonstrations isn’t having fun playing hookey.

Physical discomfort is what he gets from being involved. The rally, whether it takes place in the morning or in the afternoon is all heat and dust and fatigue, the sum total of which reduces to negligible proportions whatever levity or fun there is for him in this “adventure” outside the school. Against that, even the prospect of escaping classroom boredom and recitation jitters is a weak alternative. Only the incorrigibly indifferent student would resort to the rally merely to evade these traditional student hazards.

Certainly, therefore, not heat, nor thirst, nor fatigue — not to mention the knowledge that his participation is lost to anonymity in the rally crowd — can deter the student from the strategy of the streets. For if at all, the ordeal he goes through one rally should be sufficient to discourage him from joining another, and another, and still another. But developments indicate that, the combination of deterrents notwithstanding, the rallyists have grown in numbers.

A most unusual phenomenon, no doubt. For youth is impatient, youth is impertinent, and the rally, however impressive, does not guarantee immediate repercussions. Each individual student who takes part in this collective activity contributes to the incredible proof that the young can stretch his patience beyond more than just one rally. A kind of hopeful patience, it must be stressed now, so unlike the apathetic patience of their elders.

The incredible is all the more to be wondered at because the student’s participation in today’s rally accrues to him benefits and gains which he does not immediately reap. The triumphs of a rally are of long-range effect spread out over the years. Very often, their significance and import can begin to assume real and tangible proportions only long after the last hurrah shall have echoed away from the contemporary scene.

So, why then does the student join the rally? The manifestoes he and his fellow rallyists brandish say so in so many words.

To protest against base killings. To call down congressmen for their excessive allowances. To argue about bases agreements. To dispute the country’s involvement in the Vietnam war. To press for speedy and efficacious measures for land reform. To agitate for a non-partisan constitutional convention. And lately, as an aftermath of the bloody demonstrations, to denounce police brutality.

Big issues all. Issues the average adult may not be conversant with but about which the young is familiar as a result of frequent discussions in school. Issues that lend themselves easily to the idealism of the young, to their restless hankering for change, to their call for action. Here and Now.

All of which boil down to one thing: love of country.

The sentiment rode the wave of feeling during that Friday rally in front of Congress. Vaguely yet vastly, it settled on that gathering of young men boldly keeping pace with one another, holding aloft angry-worded placards. One sensed it on the anxious faces of those who looked up in the direction of the building, watchful for cues to respond to. One felt it in the intensity with which each speaker launched into his harangue and the equal intensity with which he was lustily cheered and applauded.

The sentiment was most particularly felt each time the crowd sang the National Anthem, for once, meaningful and relevant as a battle cry. The last two lines rang loudest and clearest with the bravado of the Friday rallyists who vowed:

“Aming ligaya,

na pag may mang-appi,


Within twelve hours, four of the students in that rally were beyond the physical encumbrances of heat and hunger and thirst and fatigue. #

On the Februrary 18 Public Meeting

New Awakening Rises Higher

The February 18 Plaza Miranda public meeting, now widely called a people’s congress, has proven that the new awakening of the Filipino people against U.S. imperialism, feudalism and fascism is rising higher and can no longer be brought down by the reactionaries without being inflicted with more powerful blows.

Mass participation was even larger and even more vigorous than the February 12 public meeting. Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life thronged the plaza and filled the streets radiating from it. The public meeting was definitely larger than any held by the reactionaries of whatever party or organization.

The people who came were in outrage and shouted their determination to smash U.S. imperialism and the local exploiting classes – all on whose behalf the Marcos fascist puppet regime is resorting to the use of murder both openly and secretly. All throughout the public meeting, the speakers and mass participants vigorously demanded the overthrow of U.S. imperialism, feudalism and fascism.

A dramatic presentation re-enacted the U.S. conquest of the Philippines, the local mimicry of decadent imperialist culture and the brutality of the puppet politicians. It gave focus to the heroic resistance made by the students against the reactionary troops and police in what is now known as the Battle of Mendiola.

Many people also came with numerous placards denouncing Japanese imperialism and Soviet social imperialism as partners of U.S. imperialism. The local revisionist renegades wanting to sneak into the mass action shuddered at the comprehensive scope of the protest. Previously, they had gloated over the fact that the fascist puppet chieftain Marcos had been singling out the “Maoists” as his enemy and making assurances that he would cooperate with the revisionist counter-revolutionaries.

From Plaza Miranda, a wave of people marched in the direction of Malacañang Palace. Completely outwitted, practically all the fascist brutes – from the city police to the crack troops of the reactionaries – deployed themselves in the vicinity of the fascist puppet chieftain’s fortification. Brilliantly the people marched wave upon wave towards the U.S. embassy to express their just indignation against U.S. imperialism, the No. 1 enemy of the Filipino people and master of the Marcos fascist puppet regime.

For the first time, the outer and inner gates of the U.S. embassy were broken by demonstrators charging with sticks, stones and home-made bombs. Consequently, the demonstrators were able to make their way into the embassy grounds and buildings to smash whatever they could as a forceful expression of the people’s protest against the transgression of their sovereignty and territorial integrity by U.S. imperialism.

The fascist puppets converged on Roxas Blvd. to defend their master. All major services of the reactionary armed forces and the metropolitan police came with all their available forces. Immediately, a fretful U.S. military officer in civilian clothes took command over the puppet troops and police.

But once more they were outwitted when the mass of demonstrators broke up into several groups and attacked such alien establishments as Caltex, Esso, Philamlife and other imperialist enterprise. They carefully avoided doing harm to petty bourgeois and middle bourgeois establishments, with the exception of a gossip center owned by a paid hack of the Marcos fascist puppet regime who has been virulently attacking the national democratic movement. Nevertheless, there were plainclothesmen and hooligans directed by the fascist puppet chieftain Marcos and his notorious co-puppet Villegas to indiscriminately attack private vehicles and small establishments in a futile attempt to smear the high prestige of the demonstrators.

All through the night as the fascist brutes arrested and beat up people at random, the number of those resisting them swelled. The resistance of the people of Manila spread as far as the student quarters of Sampaloc, with that portion of Claro M. Recto Avenue bounded by Legarda St. and Quezon Blvd. as the focus. The patriotic struggle against the fascist brutes continued until the wee hours of the following day. People threw every possible disposable object at them from windows and roof tops.

The Puppets Apologize to Their Imperialist Master

The Marcos fascist puppet regime, through an old running dog of U.S. imperialism, has obsequiously prepared an abject note of apology even before the U.S. ambassador and CIA agent Byroade presented his note of protest scolding the local puppets for their “dereliction of duty”. At the bidding of their imperialist master, all the local reactionaries deplored the patriotic mass action as “riotous vandalism”. The truly deplorable puppetry of these reactionaries became obvious when the people recalled that the U.S. government had not even cared to make a reply to three diplomatic letters of the Philippine reactionary government concerning the murder of Filipinos by U.S. personnel on three separate occasions.

Insinuating themselves in a meeting of the Movement for a Democratic Philippines, the counter-revolutionary revisionists masterminded by the black Lava gang raised the question of whether to condemn or not the patriotic attack against the U.S. embassy. The kind of question raised by these scoundrels exposed once more their utterly reactionary character. It also came to light that a small pack of these counter-revolutionary pretenders had joined the Plaza Miranda public meeting only to try vainly to discourage the people from marching to the U.S. embassy.

With all vehemence that they could command, the enemies of the national democratic movement condemned the revolutionary violence employed by the demonstrators as something veering from the submissive peace that they wished. The reactionaries completely obscured the counter-revolutionary violence unleashed by them against the people. The cruder propagandists among them complained most about the militant assault on the U.S. embassy. The more clever among them attempted to discredit the main current of the public meeting and subsequent demonstration by complaining about the peripheral actions of those plainclothesmen and hooligans ordered by both Marcos and Villegas to attack private vehicles and small establishments.

The big hullabaloo raised by the reactionaries about the well-placed blows against U.S. imperialism dealt by the demonstrators was actually meant to obscure the fact that scores of patriotic demonstrators were brutally treated by the reactionary troops and police in the vicinity of the U.S. embassy and Malacañang Palace. No greater harm could be made by these fascist brutes only because the demonstrators had learned how to resist and outwit them.

The broad masses of the people, including positive elements in the metropolitan newspapers, whole-heartedly welcomed the patriotic attack against the U.S. embassy. In answer to the reactionary comments that it was uncalled for, they angrily retorted that the demonstrations had cost U.S. imperialism only a few dollars worth of glass and furniture. Even if the U.S. embassy had been leveled to the ground, the amount of destruction is nothing compared to a day’s profit or bloodsucking by U.S. monopolies on the oppressed and exploited Filipino people.

For the last seven decades, U.S. imperialism has continued to enjoy the fruits of conquest which entailed the murder of at least 250,000 Filipinos in the Filipino-American War. Until now, U.S. military base personnel continue to murder Filipinos and go scot-free with the full protection of their government.

More powerful blows against U.S. imperialism and its local puppet die-hards are bound to come. The symbolic attacks against the U.S. embassy are but appropriate part of general preparations for more sanguinary struggles to resist and oust U.S. imperialism. Even as the puppet reactionaries threaten to unleash campaigns of suppression, the Filipino people are bracing themselves for a more sustained and more determined revolutionary struggle.

Fascist Puppet Chieftain Marcos Widens Field of Combat

Refusing to learn the lesson that more counter-revolutionary violence begets more revolutionary violence, the fascist puppet chieftain Marcos called to Camp Aguinaldo provincial governors and city mayors and instructed them to organize “strike forces” against the people. Little does he seem to realize that he can no longer intimidate the people who are becoming increasingly angry at him for intensifying their exploitation at the bidding of U.S. imperialism and the local ruling classes.

Many, if not most, of the students now fighting him in the streets of Manila will themselves go very soon to their respective home provinces to explain the issue of imperialism, feudalism and fascism and express them in the most concrete terms that they will learn from the masses themselves. As of now, people in the provinces have already started to manifest their indignation against Marcos as the chief political representative of the entire rotten system. As armed force is being prepared against them by the local tyrants, they should consider as a good opportunity for exposing in a sharper way the tyranny being suffered by the people and for proving the necessity of people’s war in the countryside. As the field of combat widens, the Marcos fascist puppet regime and its imperialist masters as in Vietnam will find their financial and manpower resources more depleted.

The Marcos fascist puppet regime cannot always fool the people. It cannot indefinitely shoulder the expenses for “loyalty” rallies and for a bigger military machine. It will do so only by aggravating the inflation that has already beset the nation and by exposing further the malevolence of his puppetry to U.S. imperialism. U.S. imperialism itself is now disastrously over-extended all over the world and is suffering grave political and economic crises. In the long run, the foolish effort of the Marcos fascist puppet regime to save itself with more vicious means will only result in its more rapid downfall.

At the moment, the counter-revolutionary dual tactics being employed by the Marcos fascist puppet regime only reveal the desperate situation into which it has plunged itself. At one turn, it tries to sound ferocious in boasting about 50,000 fascist brutes and yet even at this early stage militant demonstrators have already shown greater number and unprecedented militance. At another turn, it tries to sound sweet and cajoling and yet it is ruthlessly exposed as hypocritical by the objective course of events and by the powerful analysis made by the Communist Party of the Philippines, now employing Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought as the theoretical weapon.

The Marcos fascist puppet regime wishes to silence the revolutionary mass movement by murdering its leaders and activists. But it can no longer do so without attacking the people and committing serious political errors. The Communist Party of the Philippines is now deeply embedded among the broad masses of the people.

Ang Bayan

The Students and the Masses: A Historic Juncture

By Renato Constantino

First published in his column, Viewpoint, in Graphic, March 18, 1970, p. 8-10

A single event or a series of interrelated events can constitute either a historic turning point or merely a wasted opportunity depending on the leadership of the forces directly involved. The level of consciousness and the quality of leadership during such crucial moments can be decisive in pushing history in the right direction or in allowing events to pass unutilized. This leadership can seize the opportunity provided by certain events to define, to accentuate, and to accelerate the processes at work in society or it can allow the situation to recede from the agenda of action into the memories of individual participants. As a memorable personal experience, involvement in an event does little to transform the event into a historic milestone. It is the collective and unified handling of a situation that not only tests the adequacy of leadership but also insures that collective action will result in a historic leap from the past to the future.

A New Chapter

The student action of January and February marks the beginning of a new chapter in our history of struggle for national independence and national democracy. It is a new chapter and a turning point precisely because the progressive student movement demonstrated a high quality of leadership which confronted the events, displayed a creative appreciation and utilization of these events, and manifested a consciousness correctly based on objective conditions.

The events of January were the result of qualitative accretions of events and actions which resulted in a qualitative change both in the consciousness of the people involved as well as in the objective factors which gave birth to this consciousness. The students emerged as a force despite their transitory nature as a group precisely because they were products of material reality as well as agents for the changing of that reality due to their ability to accelerate and ripen the situation through informed practice.

The advanced position of the progressive student leadership was proved when the more dynamic sectors of the studentry elected to join them, leaving behind the reformist pressure groups that had attempted to preempt the student movement. The dynamism of this leadership arises basically from its valid and relevant analysis and its concrete appreciation of the historic objective factors that have made Philippine society what it is today. Consequently, after the brutal slate actions on January 26 and 30 they were able to transform the demonstration of protest into a strong movement that dramatized the nature of the system, polarized the issues, and galvanized many more of the student population into active involvement in the pursuit of change.

A New Maturity

For  this reason we may say that the students have ushered in the beginning of a new chapter in our history. Its importance warrants a serious inquiry into its nature and its prospects. We must start by asking: What qualitative changes in thinking, action and forms of struggle mark this new historical stage?

One such qualitative change is a new maturity. The dimensions of this maturity are evident in the fact that the conglomeration of student groups did not allow their inter-organizational differences to rule out united action. This time they did not succumb to the divisive tactics obviously employed by their enemies. On the contrary, they were able to transcend their differences, for the moment at least, and recognize the broad goals which they held in common. This impressive unity, this willingness to underplay differences in the pursuit of what is in essence a common commitment has been an important source of strength.

Another qualitative change that is easily noted is the activists’ changed attitude toward our educational system. Previous generations regarded traditional education as a boon that must be sought at all costs. Education means Americanization. Mastery of the English language was the parents’ principal desire for their children. The young considered the attainment of this education as a badge of honor, as their entry card into the elite groups.

Realization of Miseducation

Today, many of the young have become acutely aware of their miseducation. Hard reality has taught them the falsity of much of what they have learned. They are no longer the victims of propaganda and miseducation; they are the products of the pressure of objective reality and events which cannot permanently be screened from them by the devices of subtle deception. Many students have realized that there is a lot to unlearn in order to really learn; they are tired of an irrelevant teaching that divorces them from society and real life. The rallies that have occurred demonstrate their realization that wisdom certainly does not reside in those charged with justifying the status quo.

Whereas in the past the school was considered as an entity esolsentially apart from the state, pursuing its noble mission of dispensing so-called “objective” truths, the students now see the education system as an agency of the state and therefore as part of the apparatus of control and deception. They also see clearly that the private school is, in addition a lucrative business like any other. Mention must be made of the salutary effect of the seemingly short-range and self-oriented demands of various student reform movements last year in focusing the attention of students on the commercial aspect of education.

The students’ acuteness of perception which they owe to their practical exposure to reality and to the theoretical awareness of some advanced youth leaders has placed the educational system in correct perspective.

Student activism, therefore, is not the salutary result of the educational system, but its very antithesis. It is a sign of the failure of a colonial device to hold for long an actively thinking sector that is a witness to the reality being camouflaged by this apparatus of colonial control. The events of January and February established the students no longer as the passive victims of the educational system but as the agents for the education of their avowed educators and the articulators of the needs and aspirations of the masses.

Their disenchantment has guided many of them to study for themselves, for their critical attitude toward traditional education has impelled them to seek alternatives. Their active minds have led them to a counter-education that is relevant to life and society.

The exclusive use of Pilipino during the rallies is an indication of their revolt against the foreign medium of instruction — a medium which is an integral part of the status quo. They use the language of the masses because they see in the masses the basis of a counter-culture, the basis of a new, meaningful life.

The students’ attempts to study what they cannot learn in their classrooms have given them a critical awareness of the ills of society. They see that the basic causes of these ills are imperialism and feudalism. In the past, these concepts were clear only to the most aware. Many still pinned their hopes on changes of leadership, election of the other party, moral exhortations against graft and corruption, etc. The educational work of the most advanced leaders was difficult, but objective conditions helped decisively. Intensifying social contradictions were making the students move, many still acting confusedly and perhaps without direction, but certainly against a situation which was becoming impossible to their idealistic young minds. Then came January 26 and January 30. The students came face to face with reality. The theories they had learned found confirmation in an experience that they can never forget.

Apparatus of Coercion

THE police brutality and state action of January unmasked the state and the appratus of coercion and repression. The battle of Mendiola Bridge exposed the myth that the state is an impartial arbiter of class conflicts, the dispenser of justice for all, and the protector of people’s rights. The indecent haste with which the military assured protection to the frightened aristocracy of wealth in their suburban enclaves further confirmed to the young the partisan nature of the state.

The students realized by actual physical involvement the repression that the peasants and the workers had suffered. They felt in a few intense moments the brutality that the masses have been suffering all their lives. The treatment of the student captives in the jails and the military camps exposed them further to the hostile attitude of the defenders of the law. With the deaths of their comrades and the disappearance of others, the students realized that if this could be done to them in the city, worse brutalities had been inflicted and would continue to be inflicted on the peasants and the workers.

Unmasking Marcos

The unmasking of the state and its military arm was accompanied by a similar unmasking of President Marcos who epitomizes a colonial leadership desperately maneuvering to preserve the status quo. His withhunting tactics, his attempts to play off one student group against another by appealing for the support of each against the others, his reactionary cabinet appointments and, finally, his advocacy of the formation of provincial strike forces and his “secret instructions” to the army have confirmed the students’ accusation of fascist puppetry. From heroic leader, an image he has tried to project, he became a beleaguered president afraid of the millions of voters who were supposed to have made political history by giving him a second mandate. From a government ostensibly democratic, the Marcos Administration emerged as an anti-popular institution of deception and repression.

But, beyond a recognition of the real nature of the Marcos leadership, there is a more fundamental awareness that many students have arrived at. It is an awareness of the impossibility of attaining an honest and popular leadership under a colonial system, as well as a conviction that no basic change can be effected within the present system. Even the reformist student activists who are asking for limited, specific changes will, if they are honest, soon come to realize that their demands even if met fully will not change anything. It is not unlikely that many of the will sooner or later grasp the truths that are now the source of revolutionary student strength.

These insights into the nature of the state and the true role of the Marcos Administration are certainly not new to the more advanced student leaders. What constitutes a qualitative change is the acceptance of these insights, if only in their generality, by the progressive protest movement as a whole. This acceptance has in turn strengthened the students’ adherence to the three basic demands against imperialism, feudalism and fascism. That the leadership regards these demands as cornerstones in the building of a new society is evident in their refusal to be swept along in the wake of an avalanche of specific projects, proposals and demands of traditionalist student groups. They correctly regard such stop-gap reforms as inconsequential and diversionary, if not altogether impractical and meaningless. In contrast, to the peripheral demands of the reformists, the basic demands of the progressive students show maturity. The 13 demands presented to Marcos by the Movement for a Democratic Philippines exhibit a skillful blending of the general and the particular, the long-term and the short-term goals without falling into the trap of reformism and thus losing the movement’s revolutionary character.

Unity with the Masses

The advanced level of consciousness that enabled the student left to abstract from the myriad ills of our society the fundamental sources of all our problems is the same consciousness that has recognized that the basic restructuring of society that is their goal will require from them and their allies many years of hard work. They have therefore adopted the concept of the protracted struggle and in so doing have given a true reflection of their dedication.

The new level of maturity, the united action, the sharper insights into education, the state, and colonial politicians, the firm commitment to fight imperialism, feudalism and fascism — all these are impressive gains. But, the most significant, the most deeply revolutionary development of the events of January and February is the awareness among the students of the need for unity with the working class and the peasants. Where before reformists thought in terms of alliances with traditionally powerful groups, now the students realize who the real agents of change are. Moreover, this alliance is not based on the elitist idea of uplifting the masses as a matter of Christian charity but on a recognition that they are the leading class and that student strength will amount to nothing in the end if it does not become part of the strength of the masses.

The enthusiasm which greeted the worker and peasant speakers during the Congress at Plaza Miranda shows the friendly solidarity between the students and the masses. This student action has undoubtedly raised the morale of the peasants and the workers for they  now realize that there are sectors of the population who are fighting with them. Those who articulate the mass goals are not hypocritical windbags like those in Congress, but idealistic youth who have now contributed martyrs to their cause. This desire for unity with the masses should be viewed in the perspective of the unity of theory and practice which will guarantee the success of the struggle for national democracy.

Two Dangers

That  victory will come is not in question. Whether it will come sooner or later will depend to some extent on the qualities of leadership displayed by the progressive forces. The success of student action has suddenly thrust upon the student leaders a grave responsibility. Events have happened so fast, the movements itself has grown so large that there now exists a two-fold danger: objectively, that the swiftness of developments may find the leaders unprepared to cope with the situation, and subjectively, that instant success may infect them with a dangerous euphoria. This can develop into arrogance and an exaggerated sense of power. More seriously, euphoria can lead to an over-estimation both of the gains made and of the resources immediately available to the movement. The leadership must not be beguiled by the big crowds, by the respect and even the fear accorded the movement, by the public attention and the publicity.

Above all, the students must never forget that the decision to institute revolutionary change ultimately rests on the people.

The leadership of the student activists must be equal to its swiftly expanded responsibilities. For this, a rapid rise in theoretical level is required. Something in the nature of an intensive study program must be launched so that theory will be equal to the practical demands of the situation. The student leaders must learn to study even in the midst of action. After each development, they must pause to analyze the import and direction of their acts lest the swiftness of events prod them to untheorized action or to blind reaction. A high degree of theoretical mastery is required to gauge accurately the ebb and flow of social movement. Appropriate actions must be devised to take advantage of a developing situation just as appropriate steps must be taken to minimize the effects of a temporary recession.

Learning and Teaching

Concretely, the students are confronted with serious tasks of great magnitude. Their present role is to expose, to explain, to teach incessantly and untiringly and therefore also to study just as incessantly and untiringly, ever aware of their own deficiencies. Initial successes must not breed in them attitudes of complacency. A revolutionary teacher once described the problem in these words:

Complacency is the enemy of study. We cannot really learn anything until we rid ourselves of complacency. Our attitude toward ourselves should be “to be insatiable in learning” and toward others “to be tireless in teaching.”

The object of this learning and teaching process is to involve more students and later, wider sectors of the population in the revolutionary movement for change. The creativity, patience and dedication of the young people will find its most stringent test in the less dramatic but more arduous task of politicalization.

Subsidiary Tasks

Four subsidiary tasks are demanded by this primary duty to politicalize. First, there is the duty of the new educators to deepen their own grasp of our reality. Second, there is the need to be more creative in devising fresh types of protest action and new educative situations so that the learning process is sustained in a dynamic way. Internally, within each participating progressive organization, there is the task of developing a larger corps of leaders: self-disciplined, dedicated, and of high theoretical competence. And lastly, for all revolutionary youth, there is the duty to intensify their unity with the peasants and the workers.

These are heavy burdens to shoulder, especially because they must be borne, not for a month or two, not only during the exciting hours of demonstrations, pickets and People’s Congresses but for many years of protracted struggle, day after day without fanfare and publicity, individually or collectively, even under conditions of harassment and persecution. If our young people are equal to the task, and I trust they will be, our nation will be rich in heroes. Their dedication to the cause of the exploited and the dispossessed will hasten the coming of that day when our people will at last attain freedom and live in justice and dignity in a country that will be their own and under a social structure that is the result of their collective choice.#

Paradoxes, Alarm, and Scandal

By Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil

First published in her column, Consensus of One, in The Sunday Times Magazine, March 22, 1970, p. 11.

We take demonstrations at once too seriously and not seriously enough. More than a month after the January riots which set every one on his head, that is the first paradox of the political scene.

At the first hint of a march, teach-in or picket line, Manila becomes a ghost town inhabited by blanched-faced wretches quaking in their shoes. All public life is suspended, schools and offices closed and the Manilan, once so garrulous and peripatetic, barricades himself behind a fortress of hastily-nailed plywood, armed guards and hoarded canned goods. This exaggerated fright makes a ludicrous contrast to the stolid and carefree sophistication of Tokyo, Calcutta, New York or Paris where the demonstrations are larger, fiercer and several years older. But the Manilan is nothing if not adaptable and perhaps in a few more weeks he will learn to live with student unrest and decide that despite all, life cannot just grind to a complete halt but must go on and on.

At the same time, and despite this overreaction of panic and hurt price, we are not taking demonstrations seriously enough. We refuse to see that they represent an irreversible trend towards radical reform (not to say revolution) and that they are not just a fad or youthful exuberance or a particularly nasty type of juvenile delinquency but a strong and perhaps irresistible public will to change. Many still hope to turn the tide with smiles and subsidies and perhaps a few plane tickets to the Osaka Expo, or with free clinics and bundles of old clothes distributed among the squatters, or a new set of government officials to answer complaints faster. But the handwriting on the wall is there, even if we won’t read it.

True, attendance in Congress and most other government offices has risen to a spectacular and unprecedented ideal and there are suddenly very few parties (mostly held “underground”), the society page has turned overnight into a prissy, highbrow bluestocking, and there will be thousands of housing units to go up in Tondo. But one misses a really dramatic turning over of a new leaf: for instance, a realistic living wage, confiscation of idle lands to support land reform a tax law that will make the Establishment a little less established, the prosecution of the really big grafters and warlords.

The second paradox about the quality of Filipino life these days is that public reaction to demonstrations is much more acute than it has ever been to the evils that provoked the demos in the first place. a few broken glass windows, some amateurish gasoline bombs fashioned out of whiskey bottles and a score of placards in ribald Tagalog seem to have caused much more anguished soul-searching than the millions of deprived farmers, workers and children. Why? The wrongs which the demonstrations are protesting have been with us for a long time, perhaps not writ so large as now, but it was not till a handful of student leaders (abetted or not, if you like, by mobsters and rioters) threw a few stones and taunts that people up there began to see them.

Poverty, social injustice, graft, legal inequality, the intolerable conditions under which millions of our people have lived for decades and centuries—did not appear out of the blue in January 1970. They have in fact been the mainstays of our life for as long as anyone can remember, yet our behavior would lead a stranger to believe that they did not exist till now. They did, of course, but we were determined to ignore them and have continued to ignore them if it had been possible to do so without rousing so much alarm and scandal.

A third paradox is that the very things some of our new revolutionaries want is what the rebels elsewhere would like to discard. The abuses of capitalism and freewheeling democracy are equaled only by those of existing socialist systems. The Soviet Union and the People’s China have succeeded in changing the subhuman conditions of their masses in a few years (50 in the first case and 20 in the second) and in making themselves into world powers, but they are quite as guilty as the capitalist, liberal-democratic world in committing excesses of imperialism (overseas and international dominance and exploitation) and fascism (thought control, force and police power). Indeed Moscow’s neo-capitalism and ruthless repression of young writers has turned many student activists away from Marxism-Leninism.

This leads one to believe that the change we need in the Philippines is not merely away from the sins of one established order to the sins of another established order, but towards an entirely different new system, evolved on home grounds, according to our own lights, a new kind of ism that will be partly this and partly that, completely eclectic but completely suitable to our own nature and to our own needs.

The saddest paradox, however, is that President Marcos is getting what has been coming to all of us during the last four hundred years. The sins of Spanish colonialism, with its mixture of innocence and callousness, American “manifest destiny,” with its cynical benevolence, domestic tyranny, all the sores and cankers of our tortuous history are now being visited on his head. We should be able to see the bitter inevitability of what is happening, but no less than us, President Marcos should see it too.#


By Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil

First published in her column, Consensus of One, in The Sunday Times Magazine,  March 8, 1970, p. 23

President Marcos’ use of the word insurrection in his TV talk after the riot of 30 January has set me building up parallels. It is a word that was probably last used — by the government that suppressed them—on the Sakdalistas of the Thirties, the peasants and farmers who decided to use bullets to give impact to their social accusations (sakdal). Before that it was used to designate the Philippine-American War of 1898 by those who won it and to this day, Filipino scholars still call the records of that war, the Insurrecto Papers, although they are careful to make the quotation marks audible in their voices.

Insurrection is a tricky word, to say the least. While editing historical calendars, articles and monographs, I wear out lots of blue pencil and elbow grease crossing it out and replacing it with revolutionaries or the Filipino forces.

Much of Philippine history was written during the American regime, or rather while we were still under the influence of that pupilage and the cliches of thought and word continue with an inertia of their own to inflict themselves on us today. The most pedestrian historical researcher or writer should know that, perhaps to be polite, we put up with that word insurrecto, but now that the Americans are gone (theoretically?) we should do it our way and call every Filipino revolutionary or soldier by his right name. One of the results of political change is, inevitably the rewriting of history or, at least, the adoption of a new vocabulary.

The point I am trying to make is: when the history of the youth movement of 1970 is written, what will it be called? What we call it now — the demonstrations? Or Marcos’ Insurrection? Or perhaps, the Democratic Revolution? Even more important — for history is written by the victors or by those who endure and overcome— who will be writing that history?

Already a friend has asked me, “Do you think this is the second Philippine Revolution? If so, which one is Bonifacio?”

“Dante or Amado Guerrero?” I said, playing the game. “I don’t know. Perhaps General Yan or General Garcia? Or some obscure boy in the slums who reads Lenin by lamplight and whose name we don’t even know?”

But it is not just a wry historical game. The parallels between that time and this include many items that are in dead earnest: the confrontation with social reality, for instance, the fine rage against injustice and the hidden personal struggles. Even from this vantage point Bonifacio and Commander Dante or General Yan do share a certain vulnerability and a suspicion of corruption that has been brought about by an initial success.

Then who is the modern Rizal—the pride of his people, the innocent, moral man whose vision fails in the end? Magsaysay? Recto? Or Manglapus? It depends what the outcome will be, as I said, and who will be writing history.

Is Emilio Jacinto to be Chito Sta. Romana of De La Salle, the Manila mestizo all over again, brilliant, articulate and far out? Or Edgar Jopson the Ateneo moderate, the logical and calculating organization man?

Is Apolinario Mabini, Pastelero or Barican of the University of the Philippines with their sedition charges and their carefully reasoned political-sciences stance?

Is today’s del Pilar the boy who rammed the fire truck into the Malacañang gate? Or some Metrocom hero? Are the young men who died at Mendiola going to be called Ang Anim na Martir and will future generations lay wreaths on the spot where they fell? Or will they be exorcised and forgotten as completely as the Sakdalistas?

One thing is certain, the modern “propaganda movement” will be represented by Jose Lansang, J. V. Cruz, Renato Constantino and other writers of the Left— or —Messrs. Mata, Jurado, Querol, Lachica and Melchor Aquino. But which side is still an open question.

And who will be Aguinaldo? And —how could one forget to ask — what is the role reserved for Marcos?

But enough is enough. Playing to history is like playing to the grandstands or picking the winning horse. An easy and vulgar triumph if we guess the outcome and choose the winning side. A pox on those historians who, in any case, are good only till they are superseded by the next batch.

The wisdom of historians cannot be our own since we do not have their advantages. We can have only the courage to continue to propel ourselves towards the unknown.#

Marcos and the Jesuit ‘Subversives’

By Amadis Ma. Guerrero

First published in Graphic, March 18, 1970, p. 6-7.

“Absolute obedience” was the command on which Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus more than four centuries ago. Today the word “obedience” is rarely uttered when young Jesuits get together. Their ranks include protest marchers, draft-card burners, bishop-baiters and jailbirds. The community of 8,000 American Jesuits is caught in profound internal ferment …

— from the Atlantic Magazine, November, 1969

THE HEADLINE in the afternoon daily caught one’s startled eye: Marcos Tags Jesuits on Revolt, and the reader’s instinctive reaction was that the President was giving the SJs more credit than they deserved.

“President Marcos today accused the Jesuits of inciting revolution in the Philippines,” the report began, bylined by a veteran Malacañang reporter. “Mr. Marcos hurled the accusation during a conference with newsmen this morning (March 2), adding that he will not countenance the ‘continued acts of rebellion’ by the religious order.’ The story was substantially duplicated in the other afternoon paper, and its lead was even more dramatic: Marcos declared today an open war against the Jesuits…

The Malacañang ploy however backfired, and reaction set in favor of the Jesuits. The following morning the Palace issued a blanket denial of the reports. Its tone was typically self-serving and innocucus:

“The President believes that the Jesuits in the Philippines are fully aware of the separation between the church and the state and will not risk being publicly condemned for interference in the affairs of government.”

Two leading Jesuit officials immediately took up the cudgels for their order. The reaction of Fr. Horacio de la Costa, provincial superior of the Society, was a model of understatement: “If the President has been correctly reported as saying what he did, I would like to state, with all due respect, that he must have been misinformed …

“As for interfering with the affairs of the state, I would simply say that those of us who are Filipinos believe that, as citizens of a free country, we have the right, and occasionally the duty, to speak our minds on what we believe to be the state of the nation, and how we believe that state can be improved to provide justice and a better life for all.”

The rejoinder of Fr. Pacifico Ortiz, Ateneo president, was more blunt: “It would be a tragedy which could bring us even nearer to revolution if no persons or institutions in this land could speak the truth about the state of the nation as he sees it without being branded as inciters of revolution.

“If we have come to such a pass, as indeed this accusation of the President might lead us to believe, then thought-control and fascism are just around the corner.”

An original impression of newsmen was that the President’s remarks had been printed in one of those “onion skin press releases.” In the trade, this means that a reporter’s contacts give him some “background” material, printed on onion-skin paper, “not for attribution.” The real story, however, subsequently filtered out to the press. Marcos had let down his guard, and revealed his feelings during an informal afternoon chat with newsmen while playing golf at the Palace greens.

The radicals were understandably annoyed, feeling that the President had conferred on the Jesuits a badge of honor reserved exclusively for their own militant groups. Those who know the Jesuits well were amused: very flattering really, but we haven’t reached that stage yet and we probably never will, unless we’re driven to it.

There may be one or two far-out radicals among the SJs, but the truth is that most of them have come out for peaceful reforms. And if only for this reason, they constitute no immediate, violent threat to men like Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Why FM Dislikes the Jesuits

The Jesuits for years now have been crying out for reforms, warning that the alternative would be a bloody revolution. This call naturally has not endeared them to the One in Power (and we do not mean the other world), it being a reflection on his Administration.

The Presidential distaste surfaced for all to see during the opening of the Seventh Congress, when Marcos openly seewled while Fr. Ortiz was delivering his invocation, causing newsmen present to exchange meaningful glances. Fr. Ortiz’s phrase — “trembling on the brink of revolution” — may sound a bit poetic, but his invocation also contained the following passage:

“With us into this hall, O God, we bring the growing fears, the dying hopes, the perished longings and expectations of a people who have lost their political innocence; a people who now know … that salvation, political or economic, does not come from above, from any one man or party or foreign ally; that in the last analysis, salvation can only come from below — from the people themselves …”

There are other reasons for the Presidential distaste for Jesuits and Jesuit-influenced laymen. Let us cite them here:

—Mr. Raul S. Manglapus, whom Mr. Marcos tried to win over to his side, unsuccessfully, not too long ago, and whose ideas he does not share. Item: Manglapus’ Decentralization bill, which sought to clip the powers of the Presidency, was opposed by Mr. Marcos. Item: the nationalistic Congressional Economic Planning Office (CEPO), which Mr. Manglapus staunchly supported, was suppressed by Mr. Marcos;

—the National Union of Students (NUSP), headed by an Atenean, Edgar Jopson, and the Young Christian Socialists (YCSP), headed by a Manglapus-influenced Bedan, Ben Maynigo, have been breathing down the Olympian neck of the President;

—A pamphlet by Fr. Vitaliano Gorospe, SJ, entitled “The Morality of Violence and Demonstrations,” which stated that violence on the part of the exploited masses is justifiable as a last resort. Now this may cause concern to those in the Establishment (particularly to those who may have been warned by their seeresses that they will be assassinated by a young man in the guise of a priest), but it is old hat really. It is inscribed in the Catechism books, and even Pope Paul — hardly a revolutionary — is not against it.

—The mysterious figure of one Fr. Jose Blanco, SJ, alleged to have unseated Mr. Sukarno with one fell swoop of his slender arms, and alleged further to have told a CSM seminar: the people better “rise up in arms before others will do it for them.”

In an interview with the Chronicle, Fr. Blanco said he had been misquoted, and that what he had actually stated was “what we need is a revolution of a change of heart… to convert someone to a real Christian, that is the revolution I sell.”

As for the allegations that he had been involved in the student uprising in Indonesia, Fr. Blanco said he had stayed in that country for six years as an English instructor, then had to leave when summoned to be near his ailing father. This slim and tall (for a Filipino) Jesuit is no stranger to controversy. Last year his remarks before another seminar — that Christ is not in the Sacrament but in the heart — were distorted and made to sound “heretical” and “communistic,” leading to a confrontation with the Archbishop of Manila which still has to be resolved satisfactorily.

Jesena and the Sacadas

—The report by Fr. Arsenio C. Jesena, of the Loyola House of Studies, which exposed the miserable conditions of the sacadas in Negros and which alienated President Marcos because his closest political allies belong to the Sugar Bloc.

The exposé opened with this sentence, almost Hemingway-like in its simplicity: “In April 1969 I went down to Negros to live as a sacada among the sacadas.” But as it began to describe in graphic detail the exploitation of the migrant workers under the hands of the hacenderos and the contratistas, the report took on a tone of bitter indictment:

“I saw the injustice of it all, and I began to understand why the Communists are Communists.”

The Jesena disclosures were an outstanding piece of Jesuit enterprise which capped the last year of the decade just over. In its wake came a challenge from the Christian Social Movement to the sugar planters to submit to an investigation. The planters agreed, then resorted to all sorts of delaying tactics. Early last month, impatient NUSP students took to the streets, and one of their demands was the immediate prosecution of sugar planters found violating labor laws.

This time a new task force team was formed, headed by Undersecretary of Labor Raoul Innocentes, and its findings substantially confirmed the Jesena report. From all indications a better deal is in store for the sacadas, thanks to Fr. Jesena and to others like him who in the past tried to secure justice in sugarland. May their tribe increase.

Through the Pages of History

The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by Ignatius of Loyola, the soldier-saint — a symbol, to all Ateneans, of manliness and virtue. Under his unwavering tutelage, the vow of obedience became an asset rather than a liability. Jesuit influence spread, and by 1650, 500 colleges had been established on the European continent. “This was the great baroque period when Jesuit drama, ballet, art and music flourished,” notes the contemporary Jesuit poet and writer, John L’Heureux.

It was also the period, he adds, “when the accusations of ‘Jesuit price’ began, the political machinations of court favorites that would finally lead to the suppression of the Jesuit order.” The Jesuits had become a threat to the absolutist monarchs of France, Spain and the two Sicilies. The autocrats banded together and applied pressure on Pope Clement XIV. Accordingly, in 1773 a papal decree outlawed the Society. The reasons have never been clarified to the present day, and the Pontiff’s statement at the time, since then often quoted by historians, said his move was “suggested to Us by the principles of prudence and which We retain concealed in Our breast.”

The Society was restored in 1814, but the old militancy was gone. “Tradition,” says Fr. L’Heureux, “with its safety and its aura of respectability, embalmed the restored Society of Jesus … The spirit was crushed beneath mountains of legislation, and the Jesuits became a group of dedicated and harmless schoolteachers for the sons of the upper middle class.

“When a few years ago change finally came to the Jesuits, it came with a rapidity and a violence which neither they nor the Church was prepared.”

The history of the Jesuits in the Philippines is divided into two, the period of 1581 to 1768 and that of 1859 to the present. The first period is more colorful, and Fr. De la Costa in his voluminous work on the subject, tells of how a Jesuit secured the allegiance of Portuguese Macao to the Spanish crown, and of how a Jesuit represented the conquistadores of the Philippines.

Jesuits were also accredited ambassadors to the sultanates of Mindanao and the Moluccas. They sailed as chaplains in the Spanish ships that fought the Dutch for the sea lanes of Eastern Asia. The epoch of the Jesuits unfolds before a panorama of “sea battles, native customs, Portuguese rivalry, court intrigue, the opening of China, martyrdom and hard work.”

Although the Society was restored in 1814, the Jesuits did not return to the Philippines until 1859 and they, like their colleagues around the world, confined themselves to the schools, to missionary work and scientific study.

The SJs in the ’50s, ’80s

A Jesuit product acquires an extreme consciousness about his background. The feeling can be an ambivalent (accept-reject), one, and perhaps one could quote here the words of an American correspondent, a hardened newsman, to a young Filipino friend: “A Jesuit education is something to be thankful for, but it is also something to be suspicious about.”

Those fortunate (or, in the view of others, unfortunate) enough to receive an Ateneo education are immediately tagged as “Jesuit boys” — in derision or in envy. But you seldom hear the label applied to the products of the Christian Brothers, the Benedictines and the Dominicans. For when an Ateneo boy goes out into the world, he identifies himself with his Jesuit mentors — or rejects them altogether.

—The author studied for seven years under the Jesuits, during the ’50s, and the pleasant memories of that seemingly distant period go hand in hand with the unpleasant ones. Academic standards were maintained at all costs, and often at a heartbreaking cost. One student was not allowed to graduate because he had a grade of 74 in Social Science, and a 71 in Latin. This youth — an orphan whose mother toiled as a teacher so he could get a good education — was only 14 years old, and so the good fathers decided he was not fit to graduate from High School. He was told to repeat the year. His mother refused, and sent him to another college.

Discipline was exerted most during High School because this is the period when the student’s character is being formed. Punishment was swift, and, depending on the gravity of the offense, could come in the form of expulsion, suspension or the Saturday morning “post.” The latter consisted of strenuous calisthenics, forced marches around the campus, the “gripping” session, during which the student gripped his fingers unrelenting, and other devices worthy of the Inquisition. The atmosphere of the school was rigid, spartan.

But in the ’60s, the winds of change blowing throughout the Jesuit world reached our shores, and what a welcome breeze it was. Student dissent was now tolerated, even encouraged. Ateneans began to expand their horizons, and to involve themselves more extensively than before in social and political issues. A more aggressive nationalism reared its head, and the American Rector — “liked as a friend but disliked as a symbol” — resigned. The torch has been passed on to Fr. Ortiz, the second Filipino to become President of the Ateneo.

Extent of Jesuit Involvement in Social Action

The Jesuits run an Institute of Social Order, whose members conduct courses on credit unions, training programs, agricultural projects, family development and research. Complementing the Institute are the smaller like-minded organizations, like the Corps Youth Group of Fr. Blanco and the Mindanao Community Development Center.

In addition there are individual Jesuits who fan out to the barrios, to the slum districts and other underprivileged areas to improve conditions. You will find a Jesuit working with the parish priest of Sapang Palay, coordinating with Maryknoll students in Pansol, a small barrio behind that school, and with Ateneo students in Barranca another small barrio, in Marikina.

The Jesuits have a common ideology calles SPES, which stands for the Social, Political, Economic and Spiritual aspects of Filipino life. Within his field of competence, a Jesuit is expected to promote the common good in these four spheres.

In their drive to give the people a better life, the Jesuits are armed only with their ideas. Perhaps they provoke so much irritation among those in power because to the totalitarian mind, an idea can be just as dangerous as a Molotov cocktail hurled by an agent provocateur.#