Vencer Crisostomo | Fighting for the future

Vencer Crisostomo with his son Andoy. (Photo from Vencer Crisostomo's Instagram account/ Bulatlat.com)
Vencer Crisostomo with his son Andoy. (Photo from Vencer Crisostomo’s Instagram account/ Bulatlat.com)

The rage of Vencer Crisostomo, chairperson of the progressive youth group Anakbayan, is rooted on his aspirations for his son, Andres Emiliano, or Andoy, as well as for the next generation’s future – a better society where the majority are no longer exploited and oppressed.

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – You see him in the streets and in television, marching, holding a banner in a protest, facing the anti-riot police, standing on top of a makeshift stage, lambasting incessant tuition and other fees increases, raving against government’s ineptness, and just “sticking it” to the system.

The rage of Vencer Crisostomo, chairperson of the progressive youth group Anakbayan, is rooted on his aspirations for his son, Andres Emiliano, or Andoy, as well as for the next generation’s future – a better society where the majority are no longer exploited and oppressed.

The present social system is comprised of a government mired in corruption, led by representatives of big landlords, big businesses and foreign monopoly capitalists.

Who would not dream — and fight — for a better society for the next generation? Crisostomo said.

“These are things that we hope Andoy and his generation would not have to deal with,” Crisostomo told Bulatlat.com.

Andres Emiliano, who is turning 10 years old, is named after two great, national liberation fighters, Filipino Andres Bonifacio and Mexican Emiliano Zapata.

Young father

Vencer Crisostomo and Andoy during March 8, International Women's Day rally. (Photo from Vencer Crisostomo's Instagram account/ Bulatlat.com)
Vencer Crisostomo and Andoy during March 8, International Women’s Day rally. (Photo from Vencer Crisostomo’s Instagram account/ Bulatlat.com)

Crisostomo and his wife, Silay Lumbera, had Andoy at a young age. They admitted that they faced challenges, especially when Andoy was still an infant.

“It was a struggle, because I was still finishing my undergraduate studies then, and Vencer had to also do his work in the movement. There are times when one of us had to stay at home and be with our son,” Lumbera said in an interview with Bulatlat.com.

But both were determined activists, and with support from their families, Lumbera was able to graduate college and is now a professor at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. She is a member of the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND) and the All-UP Academic Workers Union. She is also the current host of Eskinita, a documentary show of Pinoy Media Center.

“I was worried then, when Silay got pregnant, because she had to stop her work in the movement to take care of our son. I am happy that she was able to return and continue,” Crisostomo said.

He expressed gratitude to their families who supported them, even financially, so they can continue with their cause. Crisostomo said he was appreciative of comrades who guided them when they were still starting as a family.

Raising Andoy

Lumbera described her husband as a “cool and loving father.”

When Crisostomo has the time, he and Andoy would eat out or play basketball or chess, said Lumbera. When he was six, Andoy learned to play chess, upon his father’s instructions. Although Crisostomo is “not always there,” he makes it a point to be present in special occasions in the family and in school.

As an activist, most of Crisostomo’s time is devoted to his duties for the mass movement. He said it is difficult, as his work really demands most of his time. But he sees to it that he spends quality time with his family.

“Because he is an activist, Vencer is not the kind of father who’s there when his child comes home from school. He is away most of the time, but even then, when he has the chance, they spend time together,” said Lumbera. She said this has never been an issue with Andoy because they explained to him their work.

Andoy taking picture of the Hacienda Luisita poster during the Hacienda Luisita massacre anniversary. He said Andoy is also among the "digital natives," he has his own Instagram account. But even then, Crisostomo sees to it that Andoy do other physical activities other than being busy with the social media. (Photo from Vencer Crisostomo's Instagram account/ Bulatlat.com)
Andoy taking picture of the Hacienda Luisita poster during the Hacienda Luisita massacre anniversary. He said Andoy is also among the “digital natives,” he has his own Instagram account. But even then, Crisostomo sees to it that Andoy do other physical activities other than being busy with the social media. (Photo from Vencer Crisostomo’s Instagram account/ Bulatlat.com)

And quality time also means joining protests together, especially when Andoy has no classes.

“This is also our bonding moment,” Crisostomo said. Last year, he brought Andoy along in the 10th year commemoration of the Hacienda Luisita massacre in Tarlac. This year, they went together to the protest on International women’s day, on March 8.

“The children can easily understand the issue if they hear it straight in rallies,” Crisostomo said.

He said it is such a joy when he sees Andoy listen attentively to the speakers, including him, in protests.

Crisostomo said there was a time when Andoy debated with his teacher because what the teacher said was opposed to what he learned from rallies. At home, Andoy also starts discussion on issues.

Although Andoy often speaks in English and is now into gadgets, Crisostomo would stress to him the teachings of his own activist parents– to live a simple life and serve those who are in need. ()

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