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Viva Singkwenta

in Arts & Literature


Orihinal na awit mula sa ARMAS


Hakbang-hakbang sa paglakbay

ang masa’t pag-aaral dakilang gabay

sama-samang lagpasan mga hamon

padayon sa rebolusyon!


Libu-libo man mga kaaway

Huwag matakot lumaban hanggang tagumpay

Laksa-laksang tumitindig

magwawagi, di padadaig!


Ilang dekada mang dumating

liwanag mo’y magniningning

sa puso ng masa nagliliyab

apoy ng digma!


VIVA NDFP! sa buong kapuluan

VIVA NDFP! ginintuang kasaysayan

VIVA NDFP! sa tagumpay ng digmang bayan

Viva, mapagpalaya!

Viva, Singkwenta!


Halina’t magbigay-pugay

Bandila ng CPP, i-wagayway (viva!)





MRLO,MKP, KSM (viva!)


CPDF, LUMABAN! (viva!)

Repeat Refrain

Repeat Chorus

Mga martir at bayani ng bayan

Viva! Sambayang lumalaban

Viva! Pambansang demokrasya

Viva! paglaya ng bayan

Viva! Demokratikong Rebolusyon ng bayan

Viva! Hanggang sa Tagumpay

Viva! NDFP

Viva! Singkwenta


Ericson, Artista ng Digmang Bayan

in Arts & Literature

Ericson Acosta was a gifted writer and performer who could have landed a comfortable gig on any mainstream publication or production outfit. He was already writing for a major broadsheet—rubbing elbows with rising bands such as the Eraserheads and Yano—when his life would take a detour during the mid-90’s.

Despite the proverbial rock n’roll lifestyle he was enjoying as an up and coming writer, there was still something missing in his life. During his early years in UP, he dabbled in theater productions and became involved in the human rights organization Amnesty International. His life was colorful and somewhat wild. He did not figure in any of the activist organizations like the LFS (League of Filipino Students).

He did however become an editor of the Kultura section of the Philippine Collegian. It is here where he became exposed to UP activists from a cultural group who were about to mount a mini-production.

Ericson would engage with the activists and would find himself helping out in the cultural production and then later, joining discussions and protest actions. It was in the summer of 1995 when he would join a cultural integration in the countryside of Southern Tagalog. There in the peasant communities, his understanding of the problems of society and the need for revolutionary struggle would deepen.

The encounter with the poor peasants and the revolutionary forces who were organizing had such a great impact on Ericson that he returned to Manila a full-time activist. He became even more active in the militant student movement and took on leading roles in various organizations. It was during this time that he would start composing original songs and later on, write an original play for a multi-media production.

Ericson’s early music—heavily influenced by blues, folk and rock—attempted to capture the feel of the times, including the rectification movement that was sweeping the entire mass movement. “Balik aralan ang kasaysayan, iwasto ang pagkakamali” went the song Awit ng Kasaysayan. And as if foreshadowing his transition from student activist to the peasant organizer in the countryside, many of his songs spoke of the decision to embrace the revolutionary struggle full-time. “Ang paalam, ko’y iyong tanggapin, paglisan ko’y iyong salubungin” went the first line of the song “Paalam”.

In his years as a UP activist, Ericson was able to mount plays, compose songs, perform in various gigs, and compile an impressive body of work as a young writer. But it was in the countryside, far from the limelight and literary circles, where his full potential as an artist in the service of the people would be realized.

Immersed in the communities of peasants and farm workers, he would create epic songs that highlighted class oppression and resistance. They would mirror the daily struggles of the workers and peasants. Under the nom de guerre Sonya Gerilya, and in collaboration with wife Kerima Tariman who went by the nom de guerre Marijoe Monumento, they released the literary booklet Anahaw. It was a collection of songs and poems of life in the countryside. The song Anahaw told of the various practical uses of the country’s national leaf, from roofing material, fan, head cover, and later on, a means to conceal the guns of the Red fighters. The song Duyan is a metaphor for the distance apart of guerrillas and their loved ones, with a witty reprise of the national anthem’s “duyan ka ng magiting”.

Even the from or style of his songs would evolve and would now be more in line with popularization among the people, even as he sought to raise lyrical and musical standards. Whereas his songs during his UP days would require a degree of technical skill, his later songs would be more “sing-able” for ordinary folk. A still “unreleased” song called Ating Paaralan is literally a PADEPA (Pambansa Democratikong Paaralan) hymn that could be sung before educational discussions are held. “Sa abang barong-barong ni Inay at ni Tatay. Sa lihim na lilim ng punong malabay. Ay laging bukas, bukas na, bukas na ang ating paaralan. Pambansa demokratikong paaralan!”

He would journey with Kerima from the mountains of Bicol region to the rugged hills of Samar, where he would be arrested by the military on trumped-up charges.

It was in prison that Ericson would find a new perspective on waging revolutionary struggle. He needed to fight even behind bars, overcoming the limits of physical confinement through his words and songs. Everyday as he looked out the window of the Calbayog Sub-Provincial Jail, he would see soldiers camped outside the facility. The soldiers were there to make sure he wouldn’t escape. But as in the song “Usok”, where smoke would escape between the steel bars of a prison cell, so did his poetry reach beyond the prison walls.

Ericson’s two years in the Calbayog jail would result in an even more powerful body of work that included “Isang Minutong Katahimikan, Astig, Kosa, Usok, Palad, and what would be the title of his book, Mula Tarima Hanggang.

The song “Palad” tells of the tragic conditions of toilers whose calloused hands would transform into clenched fists and the hands that would take up arms against the oppressor.

Having been released from jail, Ericson would again be part of the legal democratic movement and would maximize the relative freedom he enjoyed to perform, give workshops, write, and most importantly, organize. Upon his release, he rejoined the peasant movement. In his time helping the farm workers of Hacienda Luisita, he would write the song “Sampung Taon”, to mark the 10th year of the Luisita Massacre.

Ericson’s class origin was from the lower petty bourgeoisie but having enormous talent and skill, he could have easily moved up the social ladder. However, throughout his activist life, he sought to remold his outlook to become a proletarian revolutionary. He accomplished this by working and living with the poor peasants of Bicol, Samar, Tarlac and Negros. And it was this period of intense revolutionary struggle that brought out the best in Ericson as an artist for the people.

Ericson and Kerima quietly left for Negros Island in 2018 to continue their revolutionary work among the peasant masses and sakadas. Kerima would be martyred in a firefight in August 2021, while Ericson would be summarily executed by the military on November 30, 2022, in Kabankalan, Negros. Their legacy would remain even after their untimely passing, as these reflect not just artistic excellence but more importantly, the great cause of freedom and democracy. (Juan Monumento) ###

LISTEN TO DEAD BALAGTAS: Our Latest Cool Rakistang Babaylan

in Arts & Literature

by Ava Sumera

Since its launching in late 2017 a lot has been said about Emiliana Kampilan’s first full-blown comics, Dead Balagtas tomo 1 Mga Sayaw ng Dagat at Lupa (The Dances of Sea and Land, Volume 1 of Dead Balagtas).

Despite the sad trend that the once huge Filipino serial comics publications ceased operation from the 90s to 2000s, we are happy to note that many Filipino artists including Kampilan have continued producing and publishing their works in zines and on the internet. Kampilan’s “Dead Balagtas” comics strips, released over Tumblr and WordPress and her social media, has cultivated a strong following and with good reasons. She is uniquely fusing her comics with history, nationalism, satire and many Filipino stories of love and laughter. As with other successful artists who have produced memorable comics, hers is honestly reflecting as well as saluting the revolutionary Filipino culture and struggle. In her comics she furnishes historical facts with contemporary vibe, steeped in the Filipino’s brand of wit and satire and Kampilan’s feminist and patriotic leanings.

On her first full comics book published by Adarna House, Kampilan delivered a daring cover featuring two same-sex dance partners moving in harmony, and another dance couple separated but looking at the same direction. She placed the dancers knee-deep into the blue waters of Philippine seas, creating a flamboyant cover that lures you, “Dive into me! Try Me! Dance with me.”

Dead Balagtas tomo 1 Mga Sayaw ng Dagat at Lupa (The Dances of Sea and Land, Volume 1 of Dead Balagtas), compiles four graphic stories two of which are unabashedly pro-LGBTQ and progressive. The first serving, about Santinakpan (universe), greatly differs from the three that followed it in design and content. It is a myth retold by Dead Balagtas herself, and it reads also as an announcement of more stories to follow.

Presented as “Created by Emiliana Kampilan and the Filipino People,” (underscoring ours), this first Tomo forays into relationships and character development that few (if any) illustrated children’s books in the Philippines have dealt with before.

That graphic stories like these have been published not as a zine but by an established publisher of children’s books speak a lot about the bridges artists can create with their signature use of colors, visual and “sound” patterns, science, history and social commentary. (The sound effects in Kampilan’s comics are mostly in baybayin, but the creator included a bookmark with a legend to help readers translate the baybayin.)

The opening story is a poetic smorgasboard about the creation of the universe. The narrator, Dead Balagtas, appears here like a babaylan rakista (rocker priestess). She began by intoning or praying while playing the kudyapi, asking the gods to bless her so she can correctly tell the stories.

Kampilan is reportedly intent on ramping up what artists could do with komix, and indeed, she executed some unusual paneling in Dead Balagtas’ story of creation from the time the universe was all darkness to the time Tungking Langit started creating and he and Laon Sina got married. But, later, in a lovers’ spat that generated further bursts of creation, Laon Sina disappeared and Tungking Langit went looking for her everywhere.

From there, we welcome the implied promise of Dead Balagtas to go on and sing about many more Filipino lives’ narrative. For now, let’s appreciate the love and understanding her comics generate for friends who might start close and yet drift apart, and people who might “collide” and thereafter enrich their life.

The next three stories in Dead Balagtas’ first offering trace, in this order: (1) the story of two friends (girl and boy) and how their lives drift apart as in tectonic shifts over the years; (2) a gay couple who transcended not just the social pressure to conceal their true sexual preference but also the divide between white and blue collar workers, and the religious leaders’ misuse of church teachings to discriminate against being gay. And (3) the story of two women in a relationship who find personal and career uplift (and growing political awareness as well as acceptance and support of their family) amid their steadfast support of each other.

It is amazing how Kampilan has crammed her komix panels with nuanced character development. She delivers a solid gift and reverberating call for understanding the LGBTQ, the ordinary hardworking employees of mall chains, call centers, the critical and nationalist job seeker, the prayerful Muslims, the activists such as the volunteers of Gabriela women’s alliance, etc. This is clearly something good to emulate despite or especially because misogynistic government leaders keep disrespecting the LGBTQ, the workers, the women, and the activists.

In the last story of the first tomo Kampilan presented characters directly criticizing exploitation and finding solutions to the agonizing problems in this country through activism. And Kampilan did it without coming across as didactic, boring, or uncool, as other reviewers seem to have feared would happen when artists espoused social conscience.

This is a great example of what art could do, reflect the love and struggle of the masses in an inspiring way. In the last story, Kampilan tenderly shows each of the women going through the ups and downs in their “careers” given the kinds of jobs available (which they could stomach) in the Philippines. One of them had to resign from a government job because she can’t allow herself to lie about the country’s real jobs data.

Outside of Dead Balagtas’ tomo 1, Kampilan produces or collaborates in producing brave zines and stickers.

Here’s to hoping Kampilan will follow through on the next tomo with narratives of even more Filipinos who find affirmation, love, laughter and color and bigger family in living their life resisting society’s prejudices, fighting exploitation and oppression.

Here’s to hoping also that she would shed light on why she goes to literary gatherings hiding her face under a bayong. As a lover of history, she couldn’t have failed to know that the “makapili” donned bayong as they informed on the guerrillas in the Second World War. It is understandable, of course, if her motive is the opposite of the Makapili, and that she’s only protecting herself. But why bayong?

Here’s to hoping also that in the next tomo, we will learn more about the narrator, babaylan extraordnaire, Dead Balagtas. ###

[Dead Balagtas Tomo 1 Mga Sayaw ng Dagat at Lupa is written and illustrated by Emiliana Kampilan. It is published by Adarna House Inc. in Quezon City, Philippines in 2017.]


PAGBABALIKWAS (Break the Chains!)

in Arts & Literature

In the course of the National Democratic Revolution, the Filipino language has been transformed and enriched. New words have been needed to capture the revolutionary aspirations and activities of the masses. “Pagbabalikwas” is one of these words. Originally, it meant “to turn about”. Today, it has been given a new meaning which emanates out of the Filipino mass struggle.

The countryside which has traditionally been the most backward area now has become the most advanced base for the New People’s Army. In the countryside, basic revolutionary land reform is being realized. Education and medicine, in the past luxuries, are more readily available. This kind of change will expand as the revolution surrounds the cities from the countryside. This is an example of “turning over” the old.

“Pagbabalikwas” has come to mean that the Filipino masses, who have been held down by foreign powers for centuries, have now “turned about” to confront their enemies in a raging people’s war.

Lifted from
PHILIPPINES: Bangon! Arise!
Songs of the Philippine National Democratic Struggle


Pagbabalikwas (Break the Chains!)

Panday Sining, 1971

Luha’y pawiin na, Inang Pilipinas
Pagkat sa bukirin ngayo’y namamalas
Mamamayang pilit iginupo ng dahas
Pawang nakatindig at may hawak na armas
Ang mga pasakit pilit na kinakalas
Mapagsamantala’y aalisan ng lakas

Dugong magsasakang dati’y idinilig
Sa iyong larangan, daloy pa ay dinig
Sa panahong ito’y nagsisilbing bisig
Ng mga manggagawang siyang ngayo’y may tinig
Sa bagong kilusan sa buong daigdig
Na siyang magpapatid ng kadena sa bisig

Masdan mo ang parang sa iyong paligid
Lahat ay nariyan, anak mo ang papatid
Sa kawing ng imperyalistang ganid
Hanggang ang demokrasya’y maitayo nang tuwid

Huwag ka nang malumbay, Inang Pilipinas
Kahit kung may ilang anak kang malagas
Moog nating bakal na kubling likuran
Ang mga bukirin ay isang katiyakan
Uring mapang-api ating ibabagsak
At mailalatag ang mapulang bukas!



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