Friends and comrades of Sison also turned the celebration of his lifework into the launching day of the campaign to revitalize and expand the work of the Center for Social Studies.
By MARYA SALAMAT
A day after his 75th birthday, on 8 February 2014, Sison, or ‘Ka Joma’ to friends, comrades and media, was feted by his Filipino and European friends as he celebrated his 55 years of service to the Filipino people, at the Mirror Centre in Amsterdam. He received congratulatory messages and video presentations from the Philippines and other parts of the world.
Sison launched his latest book of selected writings, ‘Building Strength Through Struggle’, and the campaign to revitalize the Center for Social Studies, a school for students and practitioners of social change, during his birthday celebration. His friends and comrades treated him with various cultural performances, including the reading and musical renditions of his poems, chants and dances of his recent speeches, showing of music videos like “Pulang Saludo, Ka Joma” (Red Salute, Comrade Joma!), and other surprise numbers from his family.
Joma began to be active in the movement for national democracy in the Philippines in the late 1950s, said Luis G. Jalandoni, NDFP Chief International Representative and longtime comrade of Prof. Sison. He told the groups who gathered to toast Joma’s life about the latter’s continuing political life even when abroad.
Founder of Communist Party of the Philippines
Jalandoni traced Joma’s contribution to Philippine revolution. “Together with 12 young revolutionary colleagues, Ka Joma founded the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on 26 December 1968. He led the formation of the New People’s Army on 29 March 1969, with only nine automatic rifles and 26 inferior firearms against the US-backed Marcos regime. He co-founded the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in 1973,” said Jalandoni.
By now, those revolutionary organizations have expanded in the Philippines. Jalandoni praised what he described as rich fruits of “Ka Joma’s daring, vision and trust in the masses.”
It is now a historical fact that despite massive attacks by the US-Marcos regime and succeeding reactionary governments, the CPP has grown to 150,000 party members throughout the country. The New People’s Army (NPA) also reportedly operates in more than 110 guerrilla fronts in 71 out of a total 81 provinces.
Where the CPP and NPA operate, they build organs of democratic power, which are like alternative people’s governments in the area, Jalandoni explained. These alternative peoples’ governments “carry out land reform, health, education, and cultural programs.” These are also the activities which the succeeding “reactionary governments” have been seeking to crush, and to vilify for the rest of the population, via the state-funded, US-aided counter-insurgency operations, the latest of which is President BS Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan. In much of Joma’s 55 years of service to Philippine revolution, whether he was in Philippine soil or not, he has been hounded by what the revolutionary groups call as reactionary state military.
Countering reactionary offensives
Friends and comrades of Sison also turned the celebration of his lifework into the launching day of the campaign to revitalize and expand the work of the Center for Social Studies. According to his wife, Julie de Lima-Sison, “The CSS was formed in 1991 as a center for research and training of activists in order to counter the ideological, political, economic, cultural and military offensives of the US, its allies, and its puppets.”
To revitalize and expand the work of CSS, she proposed to hold a campaign to raise financial and other resources. De Lima-Sison said the resources raised through the campaign will fund social research; increasing the number of interactive conferences and seminars among activists from various countries; producing audiovisual materials in aid of mass education and organizing; and supporting the staff of Prof. Sison.
In launching his latest book, ‘Building Strength Through Struggle’, Joma explained that the book “extends, reinforces and further develops the principles, policies and major lines of action for carrying out the people’s democratic revolution, as put forward by the earlier two books in the series, ‘Foundation for Resuming the Philippine Revolution’ and ‘Defeating Revisionism, Reformism and Opportunism’.”
This latest book includes major documents of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines which Sison drafted, and the major articles he wrote under the ‘nom de guerre’ Amado Guerrero, from the formal declaration of martial law on 21 September 1972 to his capture on 10 November 1977.
Although the political clan of Aquinos and Cojuangcos has benefited hugely from the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship, it is actually the selfless efforts of the revolutionaries that mainly caused their ouster. According to Joma, reading the contents of ‘Building Strength Through Struggle’ will help one see why and how the people’s democratic revolution had led to the overthrow of the Marcos fascist dictatorship; how this peoples revolution has continued to fight and win victories against “the pseudo-democratic regimes; how it has frustrated subjectivist and opportunist trends; and how it has excelled as a torch bearer of armed revolution led by the proletariat, amidst the dominance of neocolonialism in the underdeveloped countries, the full restoration of capitalism in former revisionist-ruled countries, and the neoliberal plunder and aggression of the imperialist powers worldwide.”
Joma celebrated his birthday, but it is for the achievement of the people’s democratic revolution in the Philippines, the CPP, NPA, NDFP, that he gave a toast, saying they “enjoy the respect, appreciation and support of the world anti-imperialist movement and the international communist movement.” His book ‘Building Strength through Struggle’ will help readers understand that fact, Joma said.
He thanked those who sent him congratulatory messages from all over the world, including Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, USA and Canada; Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, UK, Russia, and Ukraine; Turkey, Korea, Japan, Hongkong, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. In his birthday celebration, his comrades read excerpts of some messages during the program.
They also sang and recited several of the most favorited poems of Joma, such as ‘Sometimes the Heart Yearns for Mangoes’, ‘The Forest is Still Enchanted’, ‘Rose for a Waking Woman’, ‘A Cool Breeze’, ‘Bartolina Muli’, ‘Mga Yugto ng Buhay Ko’, ‘Monsters in the Market’, ‘Across the Blue Waters’, ‘Inquisition’, ‘Cry for Freedom’, and ‘The Guerrilla is Like a Poet’.