Continuing Bonifacio’s legacy | Narratives of youth resistance

The two-hour play emphasized the historic role of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) in continuing the unfinished Philippine revolution against foreign and feudal domination in the country. The lessons from the decades-long uprising waged by KM were creatively portrayed through the play. It laid down the different levels of contradictions faced by youth activists in their eagerness to offer their lives for the revolution.

By MENCHANI TILENDO
Bulatlat.com

Ang Naratibo ng Bayan ay Naratibo ng Digma (The Nation’s Narrative is a Narrative of Revolt) is a straightforward narrative of the youth’s pledge to continue Bonifacio’s revolution.

On November 30, Andres Bonifacio’s 155th birth anniversary, progressive youth groups celebrated the glorious years not only of Bonifacio but also the 20th founding anniversary of Anakbayan, and the 54th founding anniversary of Kabataang Makabayan. Anakbayan is a comprehensive national democratic mass organization of the youth with over 20,000 members and hundreds of chapters nationwide. Its main objective is to unite the Filipino youth from various sectors – workers, students, peasants, out-of-school, professionals for a radical change. With Anakbayan’s lead, cultural formations of the youth such as Panday Sining and Alay Sining have joint forces in the creation of the play “Ang Naratibo ng Bayan ay Naratibo ng Digma”.

The two-hour play emphasized the historic role of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) in continuing the unfinished Philippine revolution against foreign and feudal domination in the country. The lessons from the decades-long uprising waged by KM were creatively portrayed through the play. It laid down the different levels of contradictions faced by youth activists in their eagerness to offer their lives for the revolution.

One thing that was exceptional in the play was its effective depiction of the worsening political situations that have time and again challenged generations of youth activists – from their decisiveness to break away from the negative notions of joining activist organizations, to their firm belief in the correctness of waging a revolution against the social injustices. The seemingly difficult task of educating, organizing, and mobilizing the youth was reflected in the play through popularized revolutionary songs such as “Awit ng Kabataang Makabayan” and “Ang Gabay”.

A scene in the play “Ang Naratibo ng Bayan ay Naratibo ng Digma” staged Nov. 30. (Photo by Efren Ricalde)

Aggression that confront the youth

The main characters in the play personified the youth from all walks of life and their personal remolding in the name of fighting for their country. This was very evident in the character of Eli, a college student majoring in Economics. He represented the typical intellectual who had a lot of misgivings with the ideology being upheld by the armed revolution. Reminiscent of how universities during the Marcos dictatorship served as bastions of student activism, Eli blossomed into a youth activist after attending educational discussions that tackled the Philippine social realities that eventually shattered his status quo predispositions.

Also elucidated in the play is the continuing reality that many Filipino workers are members of the youth. Mirrored through the character of Ana is the struggle of a young factory worker suffering from poor working conditions and indecent wages. Her dire situation in the factory compelled her to confront the idea of joining a union, a thing which she had long evaded and denied. Her father was a unionist, and she saw how he sacrificed his livelihood to attend to the ‘bigger’ calling and be part of a workers’ strike. Confrontations between Ana and her father were provocative, with many layers of contradictions experienced by an individual and that of the individual as a part of society. For an exploited woman worker like Ana, there is no escape from the grim reality. She could not detach herself anymore from the struggle. As the narrative progresses, Ana was awakened by the material conditions and finally decided to be part of the strike.

From the schools to the picket lines, the third act of the play sealed the narrative by presenting the realities faced by youth farmers in the countryside. Julian embodied a young peasant worker who fell victim to state security forces. The scenes manifested the long-time consequences brought by the administration’s counter-insurgency programs against ‘rebels’.

The modern day-Bonifacios

The narrative was weaved into a one bold declaration of the youth’s undying revolutionary fervor by recognizing the continued existence of the KM, which was deliberately established in honor of the birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio. In celebration of Bonifacio’s legacy in the Philippine revolution, the play signified the KM as the modern day Katipunan of the youth. Like Bonifacio, the new generations of the youth have produced their own unsung heroes and martyrs who have offered their lives for the country.

Overall, “Ang Naratibo ng Bayan ay Naratibo ng Digma” rekindled the important role of the youth in bringing to life aspirations for national liberation and democracy. From the local ruling elites during the Spanish colonization, the years of national unrest caused by the Marcos dictatorship, to the current Duterte administration’s looming tyrannical rule – the youth’s painstaking commitment to serve the oppressed and marginalized has never faltered. The worsening political crisis has indeed generated greater resistance; and history has taught us that every revolutionary resistance has caused the downfall of this country’s every tyrant. ()

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