Not a Red Fighter

November 14, 2017

I don’t personally know the former priest Rustico “Tikoy” Tan. I only saw him once when he was still a practicing priest in the ’80s, and we didn’t even talk much. But I remember him for surfacing as one of the National Democratic Front (NDF) negotiatiors during the peace talks with the government of then president Corazon Aquino in the late 1986 and early 1987. Those were heady days for the revolutionary movement in Cebu and was adjudged a mistake by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) years later, as it exposed many of its local cadres.

A headline on the arrest in a Cebu newspaper labeled Tan as a New People’s Army (NPA) member, something that I don’t think he was. In the revolutionary movement, there is a difference between armed elements and organizers. Tan is known to be have been mainly based in the urban areas while Red fighters, save for armed city partisans that are not many, are based in the countryside. I think he is an organizer, not a fighter. Also, I thought all along that Tan had gone back to the mainstream. If he is in his 70s now, then he probably already did so. This seems to ba a case of his past hounding him.

For reporters, it is probably good to note that not all who are in the underground are NPA members. The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP. Its formation is in keeping with the armed struggle that the party is waging against the government. The other CPP cadres are organizers either in the countryside or the urban areas, recruiting to the underground the masses of workers and peasants, youth and students and the middle class and forging alliance work with the national bourgeoisie and rich peasants, and even with  enlightened comprador bourgeoisie and landlords. Others are engaged in forging alliances with politicians.–November 14, 2017

Advertisements

CPP’s 2nd Congress: My Thoughts

August 14, 2017

The biggest story to come out from the underground is the successful holding by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) of its second congress in 2016. The first congress, as we all know was held eons ago, or when the party was founded in 1968. That congress laid down the ideological foundation of the revolution and elected members of the Central Committee, with Jose Ma. Sison (a.k.a. Amado Guerrero) as founding chairman. Consider that the party will be celebrating its 50th year of existence next year and you will realize how long since the first congress was held. In the intervening years, many central committee members either were martyred, arrested or laid low.

While the holding of the second congress is most welcome, I still believe that it should have been held in the late ’80s before the party split into the Reaffirm and Reject factions. That was the time when new ideas from “ideologue-cadres” surfaced, or when a “hundred schools of thought” contended, sort of, after the Marcos regime was toppled and the party failed to capitalize fully on the 1986 Edsa people power uprising. I read the “Communique  of the Second Congress of the Communist Party of the Philippines” published in the website Philippine Revolution Web Central and I noticed nothing earth-shaking in its content except for the replenishment of the Central Committee membership with the introduction of the proverbial young blood.

This is because the congress was held around two decades after the Reaffirmists succeeded in fending off the challenge of the Rejectionists and “reaffirmed” its adherence to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as the ideological foundation of the revolution. It was not surprising that the congress would reflect that adherence and come up only with peripheral changes to answer minor needs. Even the claim of “presenting a clearer picture” of the revolution’s strategy and tactics can only be a reaffirmation of the old one considering how repetitive CPP’s stand is on many issues. But the congress did consolidate the party’s gains after the tumultuous split and expresses its readiness to continue the struggle in the decades to come up.

The biggest achievement of that congress is, of course, the strengthening of its leadership. The election of new Central Committee members, half of which are “young and middle-aged cadres” means that the days of having the party run either by remnants of the Central Committee elected in 1968 or their appointees is over. That I think is the context of the resolution giving “highest honors” to Sison for his “immense contribution to the Philippine revolution.” While Sison still leads the revolution in spirit, the actual running of the party is now in the hands of the new party Central Committee, Political Bureau and Secretariat. Let us see how the new leadership will fare amidst the challenges of continuing the revolution in a different milieu from the ones prevailing in the late ’60s, under the Marcos dictatorship from 1972 to the 1986 Edsa uprising, and the tumultuous ’90s.–August 14, 2017

PHOTO: from the Philippine Revolution Web Central wbsite


Will This Be for Keeps?

August 14, 2017

I’m reactivating–again–this site after a short talk with my son and my wife, both of whom wanted me to open a Facebook page where I can post my SunStar Cebu columns and other views. I told them I have a blog and they mocked me because I haven’t been posting anything here in a while.

I am in the process of creating an FB page, but I will be using this blog to post anything, then post these on the FB page that I will be creating. Quite a plan. But will it be for keeps? I don’t know. Time will tell.


Meeting Harry Fenton’s Kin: Dirk Barreveld letter

March 20, 2015

Here’s another letter from Dirk Barreveld, an update on his upcoming book on the Cebu World War II guerrillas. There are interesting infos here. I received this on March 16, 2015:

“Thanks for the nice piece last December about my Cushing-book. The book comes out on May 19, 2015 in the US and in Europe and on May 28 in Australia. You can find details about the book on the website www.cushings-coup.com.

“Recently I came across some information I am sure you are interested in. You know if you write a book and it is finished it does not mean the story ends there. Often information keeps on dripping in long after you did cut off your investigation.

 “During Christmas I had a few discussions with Steve Trent Smith, the author of “The Rescue.” I am sure you know the book. I know Steve for long. He brought me into contact with Anna Pearman. Anna is the daughter of Betsy, the wife of the late Harry Fenton (Aaron Feinstein). The former co-commander of the Cebu Area Command. In other words she is the step-daughter of Harry Fenton.

 “Betsy married Harry in 1939. They had two sons Steve and David. At the time of Harry’s execution (1943) Betsy and her two sons were prisoners of the Japanese. The ended up in Santo Tomas internment camp. They survived the war and Betsy remarried in 1945 an American sailor by the name of Pearman. They moved to the US where Anna was born. Betsy passed away in 2010, she was in her nineties. David died last year, but Steve is still alive.

 “Harry’s grandparents arrived from Polish Russia in the late-1800’s. His father was a milliner in Schenectady. Harry graduated from Schenectady High in 1925. He was very active in music, singing, oration, and theatrics in high school and college. He was also a record-setting sprinter on the college track team. Harry attended three years of medical school in Ireland, before quitting in 1934. At some point he enlisted in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and was sent to the Philippines. He became a popular radio announcer in Manila. In 1939 he married Betty. In 1940 he moved to Cebu.

 Some of Frank Cushing’s family is living on Guam. A son of Charlie Cushing lives in Chicago. I think one of the most interesting of the brothers was the heroic, dashing Walter, about whom little has been written. I could not find any trace of him (so far).

“All this information is not in my book, I was not aware of it during writing.”


Dirk Barreveld on James Cushing, First Letter

March 20, 2015

Dirk Barreveld is a former professor at the University of San Carlos in Cebu and once wrote for Sun.Star Cebu where I am working. He wrote to me late last year to inform me about the book on the Cebu guerrilla’s struggle in World War II. I wrote about the Cebu guerrillas when I was with The Freeman in the ’90s. Here’s Dirk’s letter:

“My name is Dirk Jan Barreveld. I used to live and work in Cebu from 1987 until 2002. That was in the Sun.Star  time of Reina Bernaldez and (Wilfredo) Veloso. Most probably we met, but to be honest I do not remember. I was involved in the Mactan International Airport renovation and reconstruction project and at the same time Professor in Economic Science at the San Carlos University. I had my own column on the Sun.Star Cebu business page for many years.

“You wrote a number of articles about Col. James M. Cushing. Well, I just finished a book about Cushing and his World War II struggles with the Japanese and his capturing of Admiral Fukudome. The book will come out next March or April under the title: Cushing’s Coup: The True Story of How Lt. Col. James M. Cushing and His Filipino Guerrillas Captured a Japanese Admiral and Changed the Course of the Pacific War. It will be published by the American publishing house Casemate Publishers.

“For Cebu it will be a major chance to be put on the world map.”

 


Edsa 1 Not a Beginning

February 27, 2013

COMMEMORATING Edsa 1, or the first People Power uprising, always generates conflicting views instead of just being remembered as our best moment as a people. Two points there: repetitiveness and politics.
The date the uprising broke out surfaces once every year, and the number of times its narrative has been retold, including this year, a total of 26 times already. There have been attempts to present different angles and provide the narrative with additional details, but the repetitiveness in rituals invites the feeling of monotony in some people.
Also, the uprising was mainly a political act, thus it has been viewed using different politically colored lenses.
The general view of the uprising has shifted with the pendulum-like swing in the political standpoint of the majority. Progressive thought permeated in the few years after the uprising, thus the good vibes Edsa 1 generated. The shift to a moderate and even conservative stance (punctuated by the reacquisition of political influence by the Marcoses) has prompted a reinterpretation, even revision, of the Edsa 1 narrative.
Relative to this is the use of Edsa as a marker from where the country’s march to the present is being viewed and assessed. The tendency is to attribute the success or failings of the country post-Edsa to the realization or non-realization of the uprising’s supposed goals.
Perhaps, Edsa would be better viewed as the culmination of a struggle and not as a beginning of a process. A big chunk of those who joined the uprising did so because they wanted to topple the “hated” dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. They might have seen the outline of a democracy restored, but it was secondary to the main goal.
Edsa 1 was mainly about the toppling of a dictatorship. In this sense, it should be celebrated in a positive light, as a success.
This is what makes the remembrance relevant. As for how the democracy and the country was rebuilt after that, or what happened to this country almost three decades after Edsa, that can be considered a separate and continuing narrative whose end we still have to see.
Edsa 1 was the culmination of a process. The new process it ushered, that of making democracy work fully, is up to us and the coming generations to bring into a successful conclusion.

(I wrote this for Sun.Star Cebu (Editorial, Feb. 27, 2013)


Bayan Ko and Other Edsa Songs

August 6, 2009

It’s good to hear the songs that were an important element of the anti-Marcos struggle of the ‘80s. Sung by some of the Philippine’s finest singers during Cory Aqunio’s funeral yesterday, the songs conjured reminisces of the Filipino people’s heroism of old while being re-introduced to the present MTV and iPod generations.

Of these songs, “Bayan Ko” is the most recognizable, and rightly so considering its history. It has accompanied every patriotic struggle, from the American period down to the 1986 Edsa people power uprising. The song’s lyrics were written by the poet Jose Corazon de Jesus a.k.a. Huseng Batute and music was by Constancio de Guzman.

Lea Salonga’s rendition of the song yesterday was classy, befitting a global-level artist like her, but it tended to wean the song away from the masses. “Bayan Ko” is best sung in unison by a crowd, preferably with raised fist. By the way, I prefer the version where the line “Kulungin mo at umiiyak” is changed to “Kulungin mo at pumipiglas.”

“Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo” and “Magkaisa” were composed after the fact, or after the February 1986 uprising. The intent of Jim Paredes of the APO Hiking Society in composing “Handog” was obvious, which was to “offer” to the world our “people power” as a method of fighting tyranny. It was recoded by 15 Filipino artists in April 1986.

“Magkaisa” is the more haunting among the three songs. The lyrics are a mish-mash of preachy lines but the music is its drawing power. Composed by former senator Tito Sotto, Ernie de la Peña and Homer Flores, the song prods one to raise a hand and sway to the chorus, “Magkaisa/ At magsama/ Kapit-kamay/ Sa bagong pag-asa…”

When my wife, who was in his early teens during Edsa, heard the version of “Magkaisa” by Sarah Geronimo, she asked me about the original singer. I can still conjure in my mind the image of the girl at the Edsa stage in 1986 but could not recall the name. I checked the Net and rediscovered Virna Lisa (true name: Virna Lisa Loberiza).

The website Positive News Media (www.positivenewsmedia.net) has an interesting article about the then 20-year-old Filipino-American who could have made it big as a recording artist in the Philippines had she not preferred to pursue her dream of becoming a social worker (she’s now US-based). With all due respect to Sarah, I would say Virna Lisa, with her superb voice, still owns “Magkaisa.”

(I wrote this for my August 6, 2009 “Candid Thoughts” column in Sun.Star Cebu)