THINGS are turning out just the way I had sized it up in a recent article in this column, “A week of tremblor and omens of social unrest.”
I said then, “If, then, the beginning of the week (the Socialista celebration of the 99th Anniversary of the Russian October Revolution) augured anything at all, it is that an upheaval approximating the height and breadth of the Russian October Revolution is needed to bring about a truly qualitative change responsive to the concrete needs of the Filipino people. On the Sunday preceding the Socialista affair, traditional anti-Marcos crowds, already anticipating a SC ruling averse to them, held an anti-Marcos concert rally at the Luneta Park, in which rally, immediate past President Benigno Aquino III lent his intriguing presence. Certainly, Aquino asserted he was there as an observer, but considering the game of subterfuge, that observer status foretold of graver implications to come.
“Recall that a series of protest rallies in which an Aquino–Noynoy’s mother Cory–was the rallying point led to the overthrow of President Ferdinand E. Marcos. What the Supreme Court decision on the Marcos burial seems to have spawned now is a brewing uprising by an unforgiving Cory throng who much early on in the President Joseph Ejercito Estrada administration had twisted Erap’s arm, making him back off from Marcos burial
preparations already underway even before he was sworn into office in 1998.”
Friday saw outpourings of anti-Marcos rage. In a rally at the Rizal Park, crowds of over a thousand (by police estimates; the rally organizers put the figure at 15,000) carried a mock coffin containing an effigy of the late President Ferdinand Marcos hugging what were supposed to be his loot in dollars and pesos amassed through his martial law administration.
That same Friday, nude masked male students conducted the annual University of the Philippines Oblation Run with added features: placards condemning the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mgaBayani, to go with ones on extra-judicial killings and calls for an end to contractualization.
Also at the UP in the evening of that day, a group calling itself BlockMarcos met to plan out activities for November 29 and 30, to also raise the issue of the Marcos burial but from a uniquely delineated perspective: historical revisionism.
What’s historical revisionism? Search me.
But the concept strikes me as quite typical of UP, ever the wellspring of political newness. According to its vociferous spokesperson, whose black, stylishly cut chiffon dress or something made her look more like a fashion model–what with black boots to complete the nocturnal look–than an activist, historical revisionism consisted of passing Marcos off as a hero when he is not. To combat the evil of historical revisionism must simply mean, then, that the Marcos remains must be exhumed out of the heroes’ cemetery.
But exhuming the Marcos remains from the Libingan ng mgaBayani will surely not be an undertaking of the Marcos family, definitely not in the lifetime of any of them. Who else, therefore, to do the exhuming but Marcos’ enemies?
Now, will these enemies–whether the Rizal Park protesters, the UP Oblation runners, the IDefend, or any such other group that may rise up in due time as the BlockMarcos–have the civility at least to re-inter the Marcos remains wherever it will be in a decent manner as befits any dead for that matter? But no, they will be doing it out of rage. So, damn civility, damn decency. Dump Marcos, or whatever remain of his remains, into the gutter.
That will be the last straw.
How admirable the Marcoses have been through all this uproar. The upheavals are beginning to be reminiscent of those four days in February when the Yellow Cult, starting from the measly 50 which Butz Aquino and his August Twenty One Movement (ATOM) mobilized at the corner of EDSA and Aurora Boulevard, called out millions from schools and homes to comprise the so-called EDSA people power revolt. As Marcos did then, exercising exquisite calm and restraint in refusing to fire at the EDSA protesters, so now his survivors still keep cool and balance in tiding themselves over this another brewing of an EDSA storm.
But when the mob do commit the ultimate desecration of the Marcos remains, how much more Marcos magnanimity will be there still remaining?
This is what must truly frighten the nation at this hour. Events are being crafted to push the Marcoses against the wall where, if they were indeed the dogs their enemies had proclaimed them to be, there is no other recourse for them but bite finally.
If, then, Marcos in his life had averted the outbreak of Philippine civil war in February 1986 by insisting in not using gunfire against the EDSA crowd, in his death he is simply powerless to do it one more time.
Desecrate the Marcos remains and you get the nation divided instantly. Bear to your heart’s content with all the woes and horrors of civil strife such as those that has already turned Syria into shambles: communities devastated, bombs making no distinction between innocent civilians and combatants, people fleeing in panic to seek refuge in they-don’t-know-where.
In the 1970s, I was an easy prey to similar agitations by such groups as the BlockMarcos and its ilk which are doing it now. In rallies and demonstrations, in DGs and teach-ins, in wall graffiti, I echoed each stirring chant: “Marcos Hitler! Diktador! Tuta!”
I was young, idealistic, and seized with a naivete that made me incapable of distinguishing between the proletarian revolutionary line which I held high and the national democratic revolution which purported to carry it.
By no private preference of mine, I choose to side with the employees of the Makabayan Publishing Corp. in their dispute with management, of which I already was part, by accepting their challenge for me to be their union president. Again, by no private preference of mine, I found myself completely immersed afterward in the mainstream of the Jose Maria Sison-led national democratic revolution, beginning with my stint as secretary general of the Katipunan ng mgaSamahan ng mgaManggagawa (KASAMA) all the way to my task as head of a unit under the direct command of the general staff of the New People’s Army (NPA). All throughout this involvement in the revolutionary struggle, the pervading question that confronted me was: For whom was I rebelling? And the consistent answer was: For the working class.
I was never inclined to subordinating the role of the workers as the vanguard class in the national democratic revolution. The current acknowledged chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines and now out of prison for being a consultant in the ongoing “peace talks” in Oslo, Norway, Benito Tiamzon, would attest to this. We had had verbal tussles over the matter in the early days of the Marcos dictatorship, with me already questioning the Jose Maria Sison line in applying the principle of protracted people’s war in the Philippines. I took the participation of the petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie in the revolution as a mere question of tactical alliance, a matter rightly pursued for its ramifications in due time. Like that visit I did with a scion of the prominent Palancas whom I once approached for support of the working class struggle and who threw the question in my face: “At pagkatapos, kami naman ang babanatan nyo (And afterward you will train your guns on us.)” When I raised the matter to Banero (NoliCollantes) who was head of the National Trade Union Bureau (NTUB) of the CPP, he snapped: “Natural. Ang kapal naman niya kung aasa siyang makapamumustura pa siya noon (Naturally. The gall to expect he could still prevail by then.”
In other words I believed in the Communist Party of the Philippines as, as conceived by Lenin, the advance detachment of the working class; therefore, the party of the working class. Thus did I give my all to the movement, to the Party, to the Army. A number of those in the negotiations in Oslo, Norway now would attest to this.
The turning point came in 1991. That year, Jose Maria Sison, freed by Cory early in her takeover in 1986, issued his infamous “Reaffirm Our Basic Principles, Stand By Marxism, Leninism, Mao Tse Tung Thought.” Ostensibly meant to be a document for a thorough rectification movement within the party, the Reaffirm effectively splintered the party into warring factions, in several cases truly engaging in shooting wars. Ultimately, as a consequence of the Reaffirm, NPA Chief Rolando Kintanar, whose advocacy of a Nicaragua-type of city insurrection had gotten him irreconcilably at odds with Sison, was gunned down by assassins while dining in a restaurant at the Quezon City Circle on January 23, 2003. Shortly after, Sison’s spokesman in Southern Luzon, owned up to the killing.
It dawned on me. What Sison did to Kintanar was standard operating procedure among leaders of revolution. Emilio Aguinaldo did that first to Andres Bonifacio (whom the nation, by the way, will be remembering on November 30), then next to Antonio Luna. At aSocialista party event early this month, a speaker revealed that Lenin did not die from a heart attack, as historians would put it, but from poisoning. By whom? Stalin, who succeeded Lenin as head of the Union of Soviet Republics (USSR), had the motive.
None of the past revolutions the world over has been a revolution of the working class. Revolutions have all been of the class that ultimately got installed in power. Just recently I came across this question posed by Twitter friend Ilda, who asked a question in the perfect perspective: What are we celebrating for with the commemoration of the 1986 EDSA revolt? Is it the downfall of Marcos or the rise of the Cory oligarchy?
Either way the people don’t figure–much less the working class.
Thus, my final resolve. All revolutions have been for advancing only the interests of their leaders. There is no exception to this. And this was what I declared at the founding assembly of the ManggagawangSocialista (MASO) to which I was invited to speak on the topic of the political situation under the Duterte administration but which topic I sensed as hooking me into talking about the revolutionary method of achieving political power for the working class. Revolutionary being meant to be armed, I no longer subscribe to the notion.
I chose to get out of the box. I was seeing the stirrings all around. What a many-colored spectacle. No longer just the yellows, nor just the reds, but the blacks, too, this time. All demanding the exhumation of the Marcos remains from the Libingan ng mgaBayani. And I have grown wise, and having grown thus, grown white. Never again shall I repeat the chant of my all too naïve, gullible youth– “Marcos Hitler! DiKtador! Tuta!”–this time echoing it to damn Duterte instead.
I am old but I have learned.
And there’s enough time left to impart that learning to workers: economic power begets political power, political power serves economic power.
The key to solving the working-class problem of seizure of political power lies in understanding the phrase. What must first come about and what should follow? The answer is obvious: economic power first. The first thing to do, therefore, is economic empowerment of the working class.
What’s to be done in this regard?
On that, I can teach them, too.