A day in the lives of one-time communist rebels

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Part V – Conclusion

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THE road back to Manila was, oh, so long. We departed from the Juaning Rivera house at around 4 o’clock in the afternoon and it was past 7 o’clock in the evening when we got to the Balintawak Exit of the North Luzon Expressway. That’s more than an hour travel time in excess of the average two hours of negotiating the distance under normal circumstances. The return trip proved abnormal, and it mystified.

Acceding to my request, Diego took the Sta. Rita exit so we could detour to MacArthur Highway, where I intended to buy from a bakeshop in Malolos a pasalubong for my apo.
Diego swore his eyes were on the lookout for the shop all the while that he was driving and he could not have missed the shop, not for a second; otherwise, the next inevitable landmark would be the Tabang Entry to NLEX. I myself had my eyes fixed on the right side of MacArthur Highway where the shop was. But then Diego realized we were already in Bocaue, meaning past the bakeshop and the Tabang Entry. If you are a regular commuter through this section of MacArthur Highway, you know it is impossible for you to miss the Tabang Entry, granting that something distracts you from noticing the bakeshop.

Having gone much too far from our original intended stop, I decided to ignore the pasalubong for my apo and, instead of turning back to the bakeshop, I suggested to Diego to take the Bocaue Entry to get back to NLEX. I swear Diego took the road to our left pointed to by a marker as leading to NLEX.

Five minutes lapsed. We should have reached NLEX already, but still no sight of the Bocaue Entry. Anyway, we were rather engrossed in recapping the reunion bash so that at first we were not bothered by the long passage of time. Then Diego realized he had been driving much too long for comfort, and the long straight stretch of the road told us the Bocaue Entry wasn’t anywhere ahead. So I had better started asking for directions from folks on the roadside. After a series of inquiries, we finally realized we were on the right path—but from the wrong direction.

“We are in Sta. Maria!” Diego gasped. “How did we ever get here?”

We stared at each other helplessly. The only way to get to Sta. Maria from Bocaue is to cross over through the overpass, which we were driving through now to get to the NLEX Entry on the other side of the Expressway—indeed, the Bocaue Entry. But had we done this in the first place, how could we have missed the Bocaue Entry then?

The great Ho Chi Minh had said once that revolution is like riding a cart on a bumpy road.
Many get thrown off in the process, so the rule for revolutionaries is to hold on tight in order to stay aboard. I would innovate on this saying based on our own experience: revolution is like driving a car on a meandering road. You get lost once, you get lost twice, but persevering on, you will hit the objective, though it may be in the twilight of your years.

During the farewell at the reunion, Bilog remarked to me, “Gugulin na lang natin ang ating mga natitirang araw sa kasiyahan.”

I doubted, though, if he meant what was apparent in his words. Sison was captured, together with Dante, in 1977, and since then Bilog had taken over as chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and head of the Military Commission to which the New People’s Army (NPA) was directly responsible. The revolution grew by leaps and bounds under his watch. His personal loss in the struggle counted two brothers, one who died in the botched MV Karagatan arms shipment, and the other in the MV Andrea similarly failed arms shipment incident.

How could one who had achieved so greatly and suffered so much let loose of the revolutionary cart all because the megalomaniac driver of the revolutionary vehicle that had meandered aimlessly through four decades of struggle had persevered in the wrong direction of protracted armed struggle?

One option the Central Luzon one-time communists seemed to vigorously engage in is cooperativism. Bilog is running two cooperatives in the field of manpower services, the Workers in Food Industry (WIFI) Cooperative, in Balibago, Angeles, Pampanga, and the Pulilan Manpower Services Cooperative (PULMAN), in Pulilan, Bulacan. Dante runs his own cooperative in ceramics manufacture, Mindo David is active in farming cooperative.

In sum, though vociferously proclaiming their abandonment now of the armed struggle, they nonetheless continue serving the people through non-armed methods. Significantly, during our discussion at lunchtime, Bilog pointed out the potential power for the working class offered by the cyber technology. He envisioned a situation whereby those who seize control of that technology will control politics. Diego contributed an elaboration on the idea by citing that the emphasis of the US war machine is on hiring the services of computer war games expert for formulating actual war strategies. I had my own idea to expound on, but it needed serious pondering by everyone and the situation didn’t appear suited for the purpose. I could do it perhaps the next time the group meets, which will be on Aug. 29 when Juaning Rivera turns 83. I jested that I would attend in order to have a free celebration for my birthday, which will be a week earlier, Aug. 22.

It wasn’t a bad day after all. I did not accomplish all that I had wanted to do, but I got approval of my long-held view that under conditions of deeply-consolidated bourgeois—call that capitalistic if you may—power, armed struggle for the attainment of the liberation of the working class is passé. Marx is not to be faulted for proclaiming, “Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one.” That was in 1848, when the only known method for overthrowing tyrannical rule was war. And that would be three scores short of two centuries thence. A lot has taken place in all spheres of human endeavor, bringing about precisely that condition when Marx’s thought must succumb, quite ironically, to the veracity of his own dictum: “The religious reflect of the real world can, and only then, finally vanish when the practical relations of everyday life offer to man nothing but completely intelligible and comprehensible relationship between man and nature and man and his fellowmen.”

By this, Marxism must be deemed to self-destruct. But then again, isn’t this what revolution is all about? The working class establishes the dictatorship of the proletariat in order to liberate its class, but in so liberating itself, it liberates at the same time all the other classes of society, so that when no more classes exist for subjugation, what need is there still for the state—the dictatorship of the proletariat—to exist? Lenin put it quite brilliantly, “The state is not abolished. It withers away.”

Driving now to the Bocaue Entry, we found our way back to the right track.
It was night already—but it had been a good day.

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1 Comment

  1. With his colorful work during the armed struggle, I just wonder if the busy sked kept him away from Ms. Miriam? Nagkatuluyan ba sila nun girl from Carola?