Old activists never die, they just keep on dreaming


Last of two parts

Coming to my friend and compadre Bayani Abadilla’s necrological services, I was not expecting any extraordinary event. But, upon arrival at the Funeraria Paz that evening, I was awed by the crowd, complete with video shoot. Topping the luminaries present was then House Representative Satur Ocampo, who on several occasions was a guest in our house for some important meet with either the CPP Politburo or the CPP KTKS (Komiteng Tagapagpagganap ng Komite Sentral) but who upon realizing it was I he was shaking hands with abruptly withdrew the handshake, like dropping a hot potato; he knew I was a Rejectionist (of the Jose Ma. Sison Reaffirm).

Anyway, the incident sort of humored me. Here was a crowd continuing to glorify in the romance that was the First Quarter Storm, and as I had long reckoned it, the romance had gone.

In any event, easy death is preferable to torture. And I would have much preferred to have blasted myself with the grenade assigned for me to blast the police in that US embassy rally in 1971 where Manila Police Chief Col. James Barbers got only wounded by shrapnels from pillbox bombs thrown by other activists. Had I done so, I would not have gone through this terrible torture of knowing how we all have given our best to the cause but realizing now everything’s been just to our great cost.

For some, getting thrown out of the revolutionary cart became a welcome event. Sheer chutz pah enabled them to succeed at ventures hardly expected of elements steeped in Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought. For example was one member, now deceased, of the original Armed City Partisan of the NPA who during the heyday of the overseas performing artist business in the 90s bragged of owning the two largest agencies for exporting entertainers, mostly concentrated in Japan. That was the infamous age of Japayukis, that breed of Filipino women who, for all the flak they got from self-righteous sectors of Philippine society, were actually into some kind of noble performance for the nation. It was on record at the time that Overseas Performing Artists Sector (OPAS) accounted for a large portion, if not the largest, of the country’s dollar reserves.

At the helm of the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA), the government agency in charge of OPAS, at the time was Fr. Ed de la Torre, the famous activist-priest in the seventies who got into the revolutionary cart upon the declaration of martial law and became a stalwart of the National Democratic Front (NDF) together with Fr. Luis Jalandoni and student leader Edgar Jopson, etc. Another member of the original NPA armed city partisan headed the OPAS office during Fr. Ed de la Torre’s TESDA watch.

I myself was into that interlude, acting as TESDA Testing Officer for Dance, while another member of the original ACP was consultant for the overall program.

But for many (setting modesty aside, ourselves included), they got thrown off not because they lost their hold in the cart but because the cart broke. In 1991, Jose Maria Sison issued the Reaffirm Our Basic Principles, actually a purge mandate which effectively splintered the Communist Party of the Philippines, the NPA, and the revolution they led. Purged were revolutionary elements advocating a truly winnable revolutionary option counterpoised to Sison’s never-ending, non-ending protracted people’s war.

Among these many, we found ourselves picking up from the dirt on the roadside. Oh, the agony of just pining day in and day out for revolutionary what-might-have-beens.

And then came that afternoon. A casual acquaintance, who knew who I was, called on my cellphone. Would I care to join a new group for Binay aforming?

“Name me some in the group,” I said.

“Gary Olivar, Luzvimindo David, Jinggoy Alcuaz, Victor Corpuz, Peter Mutuc…”

“Okay,” I cut the guy short. “When?”

Reunion with Jojo
I was the last to arrive at the meeting that had been set, so I was pretty sure nobody else but me among the attendance drew near the Vice President when he entered to take the lone vacant seat at the center of the table in the main Coconut Palace lounge.

I completely forgot to remember he was already vice president of the Republic of the Philippines. All I recalled was the diminutive but fiercely fighting lawyer who was counsel for KAMAO at the time of our strike at the Araneta Center and who on various occasions got me out of trouble with the police. So force of habit had me addressing him, “Jo” as I gripped his hand.

Slightly perplexed, he fixed a stare, making out who I was. It had been very long since we last saw each other, that was way back in 1977. He was then into some activity connected with the anti-dictatorship struggle, Ninoy was still on a binge of slamming Marcos in speeches all over America, a long way still to Ninoy’s return and assassination, to the snap presidential election and the civil disobedience campaign Cory unleashed by virtue of it and by which virtue in turn got herself installed as President. All throughout Jojo’s subsequent terms as Makati Mayor, I never found reason to disturb his attention to public service.

So when I was called to his office that afternoon, time and events must have erased a lot from his memory – but for a name. And I spoke that name, “Mao” as I gripped his hand, whereupon he smiled, returned my hug, then announced to all and sundry, “Kakosa.”

For a long time by then, I had already grown a distaste for elections. I lost two successive attempts at winning the mayorship of Antipolo, squandering in the process hard-earned money that would have been better off set aside for the family’s sole private consumption thereby getting me complacent as I wait for my rest.

But there’s precisely this pestering pretty romance of the First Quarter Storm that’s the culprit of it all. It’s a push or a tug you can’t repel, or an itch you just can’t stop scratching, because the more you scratch, the sweeter it feels.

The call that one afternoon was one more sweet scratching that I couldn’t resist. Instantly it evoked images of truncheons and police sticks whacking on backs, heads and torsos, boys and girls, men and women, old and young in mammoth crowds of militant rallies and demonstrations, placards and streamers, posters and leaflets flying in the midst of melees condemning the imminent declaration of martial law.

That one word statement by Jojo, “Kakosa” enthralled everyone in the gathering. Everybody turned quiet, like savoring the nice vivifying feeling of being made young again, raring to fight again, but this time with the big difference that with Jojo as President we will, at long last, win.

In a subsequent meeting, the group officially adopted the name: Barangay Binay. I was given the honor of designing the group’s logo which, with the readers’ indulgence, I am introducing here.


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  1. I hope somebody calls Rene Saguisag’s attention to this article. If Ninoy founded the NPA with Joma and Kumander Dante, and the Plaza Miranda bombing that changed Philippine politics forever because Ninoy accused Marcos of masterminding it was the NPA’s handiwork, what does that make of Saguisag’s idol Ninoy Aquino? Why does Joma prefer a never ending struggle? Because the NPA is America’s handiwork designed not to win but to co-opt all leftist anti-American movements in the country as their answer to the real revolutionaries, namely the Huks. Ninoy was a CIA agent who did some work for the Americans in Indonesia during the anti-American Sukarno’s time. Is there any other anti-imperialist communist movement that uses democracy and human rights as battlecries? Human rights is a propaganda tool that Americans strangely never use against their allies the head-chopping, stone-throwing-to-death Saudis or the genocidal Israelis but which they constantly throw at our military even if we are supposedly their strongest ally here in SE Asia. Russia’s Putin said the Americans have invented a new form of warfare, referring to the terrorists that the American-led West have formed as their mercenary/proxy army to fight their wars in Libya and Syria, and in Africa like the Boko Haram. What Putin doesn’t know is that the laboratory where this warfare was first experimented with was here in our country. Why is there no real communist country willing to give Joma a safe haven? Instead, he was adopted as a citizen by American ally Netherlands. Why are all NPA allied NGOs funded by the American- led West instead of real Anti-American countries like the BRICS? Last but not least, why did Joma issue a statement supporting the American position in the Spratlys Islands problem and not Communist Party of China’s position? The facts speak for themselves, the First Quarter Storm Romanticists got duped

  2. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Dreaming the TRUE dream and not dreaming to take over what they want to change. God bless the Philippines.

  3. Gloria M. Kuizon on

    So. where’s the logo you are supposed to be “introducing here”?
    Oh, yes, it’s the Manila Times that did not put it in!
    Merry Christmas, folks.

  4. Indeed, one of the biggest owner of a remittance company in London was even one of the most hunted guy by the Marcos military like a classmate who is into the publishing business and so as many others who have put their organizing and agitprop skills in the business world. Surely, Jojo is still adept in those skills which he is now putting into good use in his quest for the biggest price in his political career. I just do hope that if ever he wins in his struggle, he can put to good use those skills and put the people in government who still share those ideals to make the country truly a government of the people, for the people and by the people.

    If ever there are those charges attributed to him by Chismis Queen Alan or cuckold Aki, they are still to be proven with incontrovertible proofs in a court of law. Charges are just allegations. As of press time, they remain as hearsay and a man is innocent unless proven otherwise. Even assuming without granting that there may be an iota of mischief, it was to take advantage of the capitalist system and of the ruling class to amass resources for a struggle and eventual use for the common good. With his background, material possessions are just props for acceptance in a hyprocritic society.

  5. Jojo Binay recently attended a wake in Quezon City. A childhood friend from Isabela greeted him and spoke to Jojo. The VP did not recognize anymore the childhood friend. But somehow, Jojo got the support of the deceased’s relatives in the coming election, when on the way out of the building and probably on hindsight, Jojo suddenly returned again inside the building to give his sympathy to the relatives of the deceased.

  6. Rodolfo Liporada on

    You are really a vacillating petty burgis (like me) forgetting that the romance for you have ended but not for the broadening forces of workers and peasants in the countryside. Your article reeks of justifying your excuse of getting out of the movement because you could not bear the hardships to carry on, much less, glorify those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. With or without your romantic perception, the movement is raging.