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kabataang makabayan

Happiness is in the Revolution

in Mainstream


In truth, it was never what she expected.

After five years in the New People’s Army (NPA), Ka Nina, who was a youth activist, admitted a lot of her earlier perception of what a Red fighter is had changed.

For one, she thought Red fighters don’t know how to laugh, “Akala ko laging seryoso. Laging politika ang inilalabas ng bibig. Di marunong tumawa. Kaya laking gulat ko pagpasok ko dito sa sonang gerilya dito sa aming rehiyon (in Bicol) napakakwela pala ng mga kasama (I thought they were always serious, unsmiling, and talking only about politics. So I was surprised they were a cheery bunch when I came to the guerrilla zone here in Bicol),” she commented. They laugh at the littlest of things—when a dog that passes by, while practicing new songs, the pronouncements of Pres. Duterte. It must be “because we know we always face a life and death situation. That brings us closer and builds our rapport and camaraderie,” Ka Nina explained.

Ka Nina’s life in the NPA was far from the image she once held about the red fighters. Even as an activist she had no idea what kind of life they lived. Curiously, Ka Nina found her way into a guerrilla zone. And she stayed on. “Perhaps it was also because as a student activist, I saw the brutality of the state—in rallies, in picket lines,” she added.

Life with the masses

Half a decade in the people’s army, Ka Nina’s integration with the masses sustained her even as she misses her family and friends. “Mayaman kasi sa mass work ang Hukbo. ‘Yun ang isa sa pinakamahalagang salik kung paano namin napapangibabawan yung mga sakrispisyo, mga hirap, mga pisikal na pagod,” she narrated. Sharing stories with the masses erases their tiredness. “Kahit na wala ka pang kain buong araw. (Even if we haven’t eaten the whole day).”

We do a great deal of mass work. That must be one factor why we are able to overcome sacrifices, hardships and physical difficulties.

She was bursting with stories on her life with the masses. Asked to give a highlight, she begged, “pwede pong dalawa? (May I share two?).”

The first story she loved to tell and retell was when she was still new in the NPA. “Nag-ikot kami sa bahaging coastal area. Tapos yung masa doon talagang hirap sila sa pananim. Sabi nila, wala daw tumutubo doon sa lupa nila. Hirap din sila sa tubig tapos wala rin silang mga ipantatanim (As we went around the coastal community we saw the difficulties of the masses to grow plants. Nothing grows on the land. They have no fresh water and they don’t have anything to plant),” she related. Through the efforts of the comrades and the organized masses, they were able to solicit cassava cuttings and distributed these to the community members for planting. “They were so euphoric. They hugged us. That was great. It was satisfying to have done something for the masses,” Ka Nina exclaimed as she relived the moment.

The second story was when their unit had an encounter with the military. Two comrades fell, recalled Ka Nina. The masses went with them to retrieve the remains of the comrades. “It was a long walk, it was raining, and worse, we had to pass through enemy lines.” When the community members got to the place, they immediately tended to the remains of the comrades, like their own. “Bagamat malungkot ang pangalawang halimbawa na binigay ko, isa po ‘yun sa pinakamatingkad na karanasan ko kung gaano kamahal ng mga masa ang mga kasama, (The story may be sad but I just wanted to show how the masses love the comrades),” Ka Nina noted.

Collective life

Like the masses, Ka Nina’s collective carried her through hard times. “When you feel weary and weak because you miss your family, the collective is there to guide you, help you, listen to how you feel.” She said all their concerns are discussed in the collective. “Lahat ng bagay dito sa Hukbo—problema mo sa pagkain, sa pagdumi, kalungkutan— napag-uusapan, nabubutbot po yung mga ganun tapos nagagawan ng solusyon. (We discuss everything in the collective—food, poop, loneliness. We dissect and find solution to everything).”

It has also never been a problem that she is a woman. “Totoo na may pantay na pagtingin sa kababaihan dito sa loob ng rebong kilusan.

It is true. Women in the revolutionary movement are treated equally and fairly.

In her five years with the NPA, or even when she was still an activist, she claimed she has not experienced discrimination.

She admitted though that this is not true for all the masses they meet and so they have to reorient the masses on this. The same goes for the new recruits in the NPA. But the new recruits, Ka Nina said, immediately get it, citing “We are together 24/7, death is always upon us, we could encounter the enemy anytime” as possible reasons.

“Ang sabi nga ng mga kasama dapat laging maging handa, babae ka man o lalaki kasi di namimili ang punglo. Babae ka o lalaki, tatamaan ka niyan. Sa pagpapaputok ng baril, di mo kailangan macho ka o sobrang lakas mo. Babae ka o lalaki, o anuman ang kasarian mo, ang kailangan mo ay ang kapasyahang iputok ang baril. Kalabitin ang gatilyo. (A comrade said we should be prepared, always. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female because bullets don’t discriminate. One need not be macho or tough. Whether you are male, female, or whatever is the gender preference, the most important is the will to fire the gun., to pull the trigger.)”

A new generation of cadres

As the CPP and the NPA celebrate its 50th year, Ka Nina recognized the contributions of the revolutionary movement to Philippine society—from understanding its nature to instituting meaningful changes while advancing the people’s war. “In the last five decades we have proven we can rise above all challenges because what we are fighting for is just and right.”

She sees a bright future ahead with the kind of unity among the people’s army, the masses, and the Party members. There was obviously pride and elation as Ka Nina takes part in the celebration, “Masarap sa pakiramdam kasi umabot yung henerasyon namin sa ika-50 anibersaryo. Napakasarap sa pakiramdam. (I feel joyful because our generation is part of the 50th anniversary.)”

As the conversation closed, Ka Nina cracked her third highlight without a prompt: “Tapos, yung simple po na pagtawag nila lagi sa amin na kasama o Kas, o anak, ganyan po ang tawag nila sa amin. Samantalang dun sa kabila ay kaaway. Ang sarap sa pakiramdam. Talagang tama ‘tong ipinaglalaban natin.

When the masses call us comrade, or Kas [short for kasama, also comrade], or my child while they call the reactionaries as the enemy, that makes us feel good. We know that what we are fighting for is right.




*Quote from Benito Tiamzon on his June 2014 interview

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From Telenovelas to the Real World of Armed Struggle

in Mainstream

A visual artist and film director finds himself in the rugged mountains of the Cordilleras and he’s loving it. “Dati teleserye lang, kathang-isip. Pero ngayon, ito ang totoong buhay (Before I was just into telenovelas, fiction. But now, this is for real. This is real life),” Ka Migo quipped.

He acknowledged he was never a serious activist as a young man. Although, as early as 1999, he was already a member of the Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic Youth, a founding member organization of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines [NDFP]), it was only almost after a decade, in 2008, that he joined a formal collective. In between those years, he was studying and at the same time into “racket”, accepting various projects for a fee. There were few times though when he would join rallies to document the event “but not as an active participant”, he claimed.

Through a wide-angle lens

The disappearance of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan and the testimony of the case’s witness Raymond Manalo, who was also a political prisoner who met the two in the detention center, was a turning point for this artist. He was, he recalled, stunned to learn that a “concentration camp” existed in our midst— where activists were brought and killed. “Civilian lang pero kapag napaghinalaan tinutuluyan na nila dun. ‘Yung kwento ni Manalo parang nasa Nazi concentration camp (The civilians once suspected were finished off in that place. Manalo’s story depicted that of a Nazi concentration camp.)”

While this artist firmly believes in the power of video to educate people, it was just that. It was only after he learned of the circumstances of the disappearance of the two students and how they were tortured and molested by the military that he seriously considered going into documentary films on social issues.

In 2009, a year after he took his basic Party course, he decided to join the New People’s Army (NPA). Having skills in film making, he expected it would be one of his tasks. But the NPA unit where he was assigned only learned about his artisty much later, which he said, worked in his favor.

No cuts, no edit

It was to his advantage that Ka Migo was able to immerse with the masses, do territorial work and participate in tactical offensives, “all the elements of the work in the countryside—armed struggle, base building and agrarian revolution.” The experience enriched him as a Party cadre and a red fighter.

While deep into the work in the countryside, Ka Migo realized that if only the public could see what the people’s army is actually doing then they would start to appreciate the importance of armed struggle—realistic telling moments that would definitely touch the hearts of the masses, the youth, and professionals in urban centers. “Ito yung katotohanan, na yung tao, dahil sa pagsasamantala, talagang lalaban yan, at ito yung isang itsura niya, yung armadong pakikibaka.”

This is the stark reality. Exploitation impels people to fight back through armed struggle.

Armed struggle it is. Life in the guerrilla zone affirms what Ka Migo studied in Party courses that armed struggle is the primary form of struggle. “My experience showed me how effective and important it is.”

He talked of the political power the NPA holds in the villages over the enemies of the people, which he quickly attributed to Comrade Mao Zedong’s adage, “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Erring companies, for example, operating within the guerrilla zone, would cower in fear or in respect. Wala ka pa ngang sinasabi, naka-Sir na agad yung mga guard (Even without saying a word, the guards are quick to address them, ‘Sir’).”

Comparing this to filmmaking, Ka Migo explained, “When doing a documentary, the camera is the main weapon to depict how people are exploited and oppressed. You may criticize and warn the perpetrators with your films but it remains their choice to take action. But if you have a gun, you can actually restrain the perpetrators and make them account for the wrongs they committed.”

But the combination of the two—the camera and the gun—is most powerful. “Kung ipinapakita mo ang ginagawa ng armadong pakikibaka, na totoo ito, na ito ang dapat nating gawin tapos makikita ang iba’t ibang scenario ng paglaban ng tao para ipagtanggol ang kanilang karapatan, mas powerful yun (When you are able to show that the armed struggle is real and we all should engage in this; and you show various scenes of how people fight back to defend their rights, this is most powerful.”)

Without saying it, Ka Migo finds himself in the same scene with an artist he met in the Cordilleras—Ka Libre, whose real name is Artus Talastas. He was a revolutionary martyr who was killed in 2014 in a firefight with the military. He was a red fighter, a commander of the NPA. He was also a painter and a musician. He is known in many villages because he gamely indulged those who wanted a sketch of themselves or their families. His songs, mostly in the form of saliddumay (local folk song), talked about the people’s struggles.

Composing the future

Ka Libre always told Ka Migo, “Nandito ang materyal sa paglahok sa digmang bayan. Makisalamuha ka sa magsasaka at manggagawa para ma-portray natin sila, yung kanilang pakikibaka, yung armadong pakikibaka ng malawak na masa, kung gaano ito kawasto at totoo at dapat na ginagawa ng nakararami.”

You get your material from your participation in the people’s war. Integrate with the peasants and workers so we can portray them,their struggles, the armed struggle of the broad masses of people and to show how just and true it is and that more people should engage in this.

In Ka Migo’s 10 years in the people’s army, he has cherished Ka Libre’s words. Paraphrasing him now, Ka Migo called on the artists and cultural workers, “Pumunta tayo sa sona, andito yung material para sa armadong pakikibaka, yung pinakamataas na antas. Heto sana yung gamitin nating inspirasyon ng kahit ano’ng sining natin (Come to the guerrilla zones, the material for and on the armed struggle is here, in its highest form. Let’s use this as our inspiration for our art).”

Know, learn, and muster inspiration from the life experiences of the masses, the people’s army and their lives together in the guerrilla zone to compose songs, paintings, poetry and literature. Ka Migo’s words ring true in the heart of every revolutionary artist. “Mas palapitin natin ang tagumpay (Let’s push forward to victory),” Ka Migo said as he uses his camera and his gun to serve the revolution.




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Malaya na si Maya

in Mainstream
isinalaysay kay Ester Martires

Dalawang linggo ang ipinaalam niyang “bakasyon” sa mga kakolektibo niya. Kasama na rito ang ilang araw na biyahe papunta at pabalik. Kalkulado ang haba ng oras ng byahe; kung gaano kahaba ang lalakarin lalo’t maulan (at petiburges/laking lunsod siya); at kung gaanong ibayong pagtalima sa mas pinahigpit na palisiya sa byahe.

Ilang linggo pa lang mula nang ibaba ng Malacañang ang Memorandum Order 32 na nagdagdag ng pwersa ng pulis at militar sa rehiyon ng Bikol at sa mga probinsya ng Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental at Samar.

Pero mas maigting ang pananabik at determinasyon niyang makapasok, sa unang pagkakataon, sa larangang gerilya. Dagdag pa sa kanyang pananabik ang nalalapit na pagdiriwang ng ika-50 anibersaryo ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas na gaganapin sa eryang kinikilusan ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan sa ilalim ng Rodante Urtal Command sa Samar.

Makalipas ang mahigit isang linggong pakikisalamuha sa hukbong bayan, nagdesisyon siyang manatili at magdeklarang fulltime na pulang mandirigma.

Narito ang kaniyang kwento.


“Sabi ko sa kolektib (collective) ko, magpapaprograma ako mag-CS (larangang gerilya). Halos lahat sila nakapunta na sa mga taunang anniv (anibersaryo). Sabi ko, magtu-two weeks ako para matagal ang stay. Sayang naman ‘yong panahon na walang pasok.

In-expect ko naman ‘yong ganito talagang sitwasyon, ‘yong mahirap umakyat. Kasi marami na rin naman akong ka-collective na nagkukwento. Sa tingin ko naman kakayanin ko or kung hindi man, and’yan naman ‘yong mga kasama para ikonsolida ka, ganyan.

Dapat magkasama kami ni Rei, ‘yong kasama kong galing na rin sa ibang larangan. Kaso may kailangan siyang kausapin sa kabilang larangan. E, hindi raw ako pwedeng pumunta do’n. So, magkahiwalay kami. Sobra akong kinakabahan kasi wala talaga akong idea. First time ko ‘to.

Bilin nang bilin si Rei, ‘O ganito, ganyan-ganyan. ‘Wag kang mahiyang magtanong. Magpa-buddy ka. Wag kang mag-isang maliligo. Maglagay ka ng efficascent.’ Sobrang nanay! Hahaha!

Kinabahan ako kasi una, language barrier. Ang hirap makipag-usap. Buti na lang maraming nakakapag-Tagalog. Medyo mabilis akong nakakaintindi ng mga sinasabi nila kasi marunong ako ng salitang Bicol. Saka basic at may context naman.
Sobrang swerte ko kasi ‘yong mga kasama, sila mismo ‘yong lumalapit para magtanong, makipag-usap. So, ang mode na lang ay sumagot do’n sa mga tanong. Hahaha! Bago talaga lahat. Hindi lang sa mga tao, pati sa environment.”


“Malaking tulong na may scholarship ako no’ng college. Bawas na ako sa iisipin ng magulang ko. So, ang pinaka-main goal na lang talaga e maka-graduate—makatapos ng pag-aaral, makapasok sa magandang paaralan lalo na sa kolehiyo—tapos makatulong sa pamilya at magkapamilya rin nang sarili.

Pero hindi rin ganoon ipinupursige ng mga magulang ko ‘yong magka-career ako dahil babae naman ako; mag-aasawa lang din naman. May takdang edad sila na dapat by 26 may asawa ka na. Sa kolehiyo, e di mas namulat na hindi naman kailangan na magpamilya kaagad. Parang pwede namang mag-focus muna sa career—women empowerment, ganyan. Unti-unti akong namulat na hindi naman kailangang isantabi ‘yong mga pangarap dahil babae ako. Mas gano’n na ‘yong naging mode.

Matindi rin noon ‘yong issue ng free education sa college. Ang pagtingin ko pa no’n okey naman ‘yong sistema na kung may pera ka, e di magbayad ka. E marami rin ‘yong nagpu-push ng “Hindi! Scrap natin! Kailangan free education!” So, mas na-curious ako sa gagawin ng school kung walang magbabayad ng tuition? Kasi ganyan talaga ‘yong sistema ngayon. Hindi kasi sila nagsisikap e. Nando’n ako sa pagtingin na ‘yon.

Tapos highschool pa lang, may mode na ‘wag kayong sasali ng mga rally-rally’ sa college. Hindi naman negative ang pagtingin ko sa mga aktibista no’n. Mas sa akin, ano ba ‘yong ihahain nilang alternative solution?

Dahil solusyon ang hanap ko, sumama ako sa pag-aaral nila. E di, kumbinsido naman ako. Pero wala pa ‘ko do’n sa mode na sumali talaga. Hindi ako nagpa-member. Nando’n din kasi ‘yong connotation na ‘pag aktibista ka, hindi nakaka-graduate.”


“Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ako no’ng second year. Naengganyo akong sumali kasi napadalas na ‘yong mga pag-aaral tapos marami na ring mga kaibigan na kasali na. So, parang hatak din ng barkadismo, gano’n? Hahaha! Nag-decide akong sumali pero hindi pa ‘ko nag-active.

Pagtuntong ng third year, doon na ako mas lumubog sa gawain. Nagbibigay na ako ng mga pag-aaral. Mas dumalas na ang pakikisalamuha sa mga tao labas sa unibersidad. Lumawak ang mundo. Tapos February no’n, may nag-invite na sa akin na sumali sa underground organization ng kabataan—‘yong Kabataang Makabayan. Do’n na rin ako pinasumpa.

Naging mas malalim na ‘yong commitment ko. Pero kasabay din no’n ‘yong pagtatago sa magulang. Dahil Journalism ang course ko, ang dali kong nailulusot—kasi may legwork; field; kailangan sa project, kailangang may interbyuhin.
Hindi ko rin naasikaso ‘yong pagma-mass work sa pamilya. United naman sila sa mga issue. Alam naman nilang may maling nangyayari, e. Pero ang mode nila, tanggapin na lang natin kasi ganyan na ‘yong nangyayari. Kailangan silang paliwanagan kung ano ang dapat. ‘Pag nagkukwentuhan kami, parang katulad ko rin sila, nagtatanong sila—o bakit ganito? Anong magiging solusyon d’yan?”


Ang mode ko pa rin noon kahit kumikilos, maka-push pa rin na maka-graduate. Tinapos ko ‘yong thesis ko. Tapos e di ‘yon, naka-graduate. Tingin ko, okey lang naman na magtrabaho ako. Sa tingin ko ‘yong linya naman ng trabaho ko malaki pa rin ang maitutulong. Tapos mapi-please ko pa ‘yong magulang ko na nagtatrabaho ako. Kung dati napagsabay ko naman ‘yong pag-aaral at pagkilos, e di kaya ko rin naman siguro ngayon kasi mas hawak ko na ‘yong oras ko, mas may resources ako na makatulong.

Five months akong natengga dahil sa sobrang tagal ng proseso ng interview ng kumpanyang in-apply-an ko. Na-depress na rin ako kasi halos lahat ng kasabayan kong grumadweyt nagtatrabaho na. So kinuha ko na ‘yong opportunity do’n sa kakilala ng tatay ko. Kulang na kulang daw talaga ng empleyado.

Dahil sa sobrang demanding sa oras ng trabaho ko, hindi rin talaga napagsabay ang pagkilos. Wala rin ako halos naitutulong sa kolektib ko. Mas abot lang ng resources. Hindi rin ako laging nakakapagpa-update sa kanila. Nakakausap ko sila thru social media, hindi talaga personal kaya hindi sila makapagbigay ng payo kung ano na bang dapat kong gawin.

Naging cause din ‘yong trabaho ng depression. Doon ko napatunayan na kapag namulat ka na, mahirap na talagang pumikit. Sobrang totoo n’ya! Hahaha!

‘Yong mga ini-interview ko, puro pro-government ang sinasabi. Tapos hindi ka makapag-komento. ‘Neutral’ dapat. Buti sana kung “neutral” talaga e, kaso hindi. Kailangan talagang panigan ‘yong government. Gustong-gusto kong magsalita pero hindi ko magawa. Laging pigil. Ako mismo, alam kong hindi totoo ‘yong mga isinusulat ko. Sobrang labag na labag s’ya sa kalooban ko.

Hindi ko ibinibigay ‘yong best ko kasi alam kong wala naman s’yang magandang naidudulot. Hindi ko rin napapaunlad ‘yong sarili ko. Pwede ko pa sanang masabi na ‘Ok, naggo-grow ka. Naho-hone mo ‘yong talent mo’ pero hindi s’ya totoo.

‘Yong work ethics din mismo, hindi rin maganda. Puro basura ‘yong ginagawa ko, basura pa ‘yong paraan ng paggawa. Pero ok lang din naman sa kanila. Hindi rin maayos ‘yong pagtse-check. As in pangit talaga! Hahaha!

‘Yong time na may hinalikan si Duterte, may chat box ‘yong team namin sa trabaho tapos ginagawa pa nilang joke! Gustong-gusto kong mag-leave group kasi puro basura ‘yong pinag-uusapan nila, pero hindi ko magawa.

Tinatanong na ‘ko ng tatay ko noong una pa lang kung kumusta ako. Parang alam din naman n’ya ‘yong mga posisyon ko sa mga bagay-bagay. ‘Kinakaya mo pa ba na ganyan ‘yong mga sinusulat mo? Mga ginagawa mo?’ E di, dumating ako do’n sa puntong sobrang hirap nang lunukin ng mga bagay para sa’kin. Sinabi ko ‘yon sa mga magulang ko. Sinabi ko lahat ng dahilan. Nag-decide na ‘ko na mag-resign. Parang okey naman sa kanila, ‘Sige, kung hindi mo na talaga kaya.’ ”


“Pumasok na ‘ko sa grupong lilipatan ko noon pa sanang pagka-graduate ko. Nagdeklara na ‘kong fulltime no’n sa grupo ko pero sa magulang ko, nagtatrabaho ang alam nila. Dahil alam nilang nagtatrabaho ako, kailangan kong mag-abot ng pera. So ayon, doble-doble lahat: raket tapos nagpu-fulltime.

Lahat ng nakukuha ko sa raket, binibigay ko sa magulang ko kasi ang alam nila may sweldo ako. Hindi ko rin sinabi na nag-staff house na ‘ko. Alam nila nagbabayad pa rin ako ng bahay para alam nilang may mga gastos ako.

Hindi ko rin kinaya. As in hindi ko na kayang rumaket kasi sobrang dami na ng gawain. Nahihirapan na ‘kong magsinungaling kasi kailangan ko ring umuwi ng weekend sa bahay namin. Nahihirapan na rin akong mag dahilan kung bakit hindi ako nakakauwi. Nag-decide na ‘kong sabihin na nag-fulltime na ‘ko. Aware naman sila do’n sa konseptong fulltime kasi nasasabi ko naman ‘yon lalo na no’ng college na may mga kaibigan akong kilala nila na nag-fulltime na.

Unang tanong agad sa’kin ng tatay ko, ‘NPA ka na ba?” Sabi pa niya huwag daw akong mag-e-NPA! As in ‘yon kaagad! Hahaha!

Sabi ko, ‘Haggard! FT pa lang ako dito sa labas. Hindi pa nga ako nakakapunta do’n (sa sonang gerilya)!’ Sabi ko kung NPA ako, nando’n na ‘ko. ‘Tsaka wala akong baril! Hahaha! Tapos sabi niya, ‘wag daw akong mag-e-NPA; wag na wag daw akong aakyat ng bundok.

Tuloy-tuloy ‘yong pagkumbinsi ng mga magulang ko na pag-isipan ko ‘yong desisyon ko. ‘Pa’no na ‘yong future mo? Kung magpu-fulltime ka, pa’no ‘pag nagkapamilya ka? Sa’n ‘yong trabaho mo?’

Tuwing may chance na umuwi, kukumbinsihin ako ng nanay kong ‘wag nang umalis. Tapos magkaaway kaming maghihiwalay kasi hindi siya papayag na aalis na naman ako.

Tapos ‘yong tatay ko, tinatanong din kung ano bang plano ko. Ituloy ko na lang daw ‘yong dati kong balak na mag-law. Sagot na raw n’ya buong tuition. Ako na lang daw bahala kung sa’n ako titira.

Sunod-sunod ‘yon! – O gusto mo ba ng ganito? Gusto mo ba ng bagong ganyan? – May mga pamba-bribe talagang ginagawa.

Sabi ko, hindi ko naman kailangan ‘yan. Pinapaliwanag ko, di ba nga part ng pagpapanibagong-hubog. Hanggang sa dumating ‘yong time na parang medyo natanggap na nila na gano’n.”


“Lagi naman nandoon ‘yong perspective ng magsi-CS ako. No’ng nag-decide akong mag-fulltime sa lungsod, naisip ko na magsi-CS din ako. Kahit naman no’ng college, do’n ko rin naman nakikita ‘yong sarili ko. Pero parang long term pa. Magtatrabaho muna saka magsi-CS.

Tapos no’ng nakasama ko si Rei, kasi galing na rin s’ya ng CS, ang dami n’yang kwento. So, do’n pa lang namumulat ka na. ‘Pag nasa lungsod kasi parang vague pa rin ‘yong tungkol sa agreb (agrarian revolution); totoo ba ‘yong rev government (revolutionary government), parang hindi naman—parang sobrang imposible, parang ang hirap n’yang gawin, or hirap n’yang i-maintain.

Naiisip ko rin kung kakayanin ko ba? Kasi parang mode ko no’ng una, three months muna, six months. Alam mo ‘yon, parang may option ka pa ring bumalik. Sobrang petibs (petiburges) n’ya na gusto mong may back up plan ka lagi—na kung sakaling ayoko na—naka-graduate naman ako so pwede pa rin akong magtrabaho sa labas kung sakaling hindi ko na talaga s’ya kaya.

Tapos nabanggit ni Ka Jag ‘yong “burning the bridge” daw ng pagbalik sa petibs na pamumuhay. Na may mga desisyon s’yang pinili para wala s’yang fallback.

Sabi ko, hala parang oo nga. Hindi mo mapu-fulfill ‘yong sinasabi mong pagpapanibagong-hubog kung ang thinking mo lagi ay may fallback ka.”


“E, di mukhang nabubuo na ‘yong mga kundisyon para mag-fulltime. Ito na ‘yong nakita kong paraan para hindi na ‘ko bumalik sa dating ako. Dito ko na nakikita ‘yong sarili ko, bakit pa ‘ko nag-iisip ng option? Alam mo ‘yon, nakikita ko na ‘yong sarili ko kung pa’no ko kakausapin ‘yong mga masa, kung pa’no ‘ko magpo-propa (propaganda) sa kanila.

Decided naman na ‘ko mag-fulltime. Pero uuwi muna ‘ko after ng anniv. S’yempre para sana mag-ayos ng mga maiiwan. Naisip ng mga kasama dito na baka mahirapang makauwi at makabyahe pabalik. Nabanggit ko rin kasi sa kanila ‘yong hirap namin sa pagso-solicit ng pamasahe. Tapos ayon, matindi na rin ‘yong seguridad.

Paulit-ulit din ‘yong pag-iisip na s’yempre iba ‘yong mga tendensya ‘pag nando’n ka na ulit sa lungsod. Una, kultura. Malaki talagang pagpapanibagong-hubog kasi ibang-iba talaga ‘yong kalagayan dito sa nakasanayan natin sa labas. Kahit fulltime din ako sa labas, iba pa rin ‘yong kultura. Tapos ‘yong ganitong kalagayan na maputik. Tapos ‘yong kinagisnan mong bahay talaga—na may CR—‘yong maliliit na comfort.

Pangalawa, ‘yong usapin sa pamilya. Matindi talaga ‘yong emotional blackmail. Hindi sila aware do’n pero ang laking epekto no’n sa’tin. ‘Yong kailangan mong magpakatatag kasi hihilahin ka talaga. Sobrang hirap lagpasan. Lahat naman daw ng nagpu-fulltime pinagdadaanan ‘yon. Natural lang daw ‘yon.

Wala naman ako do’n sa mode na takot akong mamatay. Kasi given naman s’ya. ‘Yong takot ko lang sa hindi pag-uwi ay mas titindi ‘yong galit ng pamilya ko sa kilusan. Hindi man lang ako nakapagpaliwanag sa kanila. Hindi ko naayos ‘yong mass work sa sarili kong magulang. Kakulangan ko ‘yon na imbes na maintindihan nila, kung hindi man sila sumali, ‘yong pinaglalaban ng kilusan.

Pangatlo, na mas magiging mahirap ‘yong pagkilos dito kumpara do’n sa nakasanayan natin sa labas. Although matindi rin naman ‘yong militarisasyon sa labas pero relatively mas “safe?” Mas dito mo mapapatunayan ‘yong buhay-at-kamatayan talaga ‘yong dahilan ng paglaban n’yo. Mas matindi talaga ‘yong panganib pero sa sitwasyon kasi natin ngayon, pwede nang may mangyari sa’yong masama, e. Mas dito mo maiintindihan ‘yong pangangailangan ng pagtangan ng armas.

Alam mo ‘yon, kung ikukumpara ‘yong mga problema ko sa lungsod, walang-wala s’ya sa problema dito! Hahaha! Kahit wala ako do’n, kakayanin ng mga kakolektib ko ‘yan. Pero dito, kung mas malaki ‘yong pwersa, mas mapapabilis ‘yong gawain.”


“Napaisip ako sa mga sinabi nina Ka Ambo at Ka JR. Sabi ng mga kasama, malaking bagay raw sa mga parag-uma na may mga tagalungsod na pumupunta dito at nagpu-fulltime. Malaking bagay sa mga parag-uma na may mga tagalungsod—na relatibong mas okey ‘yong buhay at mas may ibang opportunity at option—pero pinipiling pumunta dito.

Sila mismo naiisip nila na ‘Bakit hindi kami kikilos? Bakit hindi kami magbibigay ng same effort na ibinibigay ng mga tagalungsod, eh kami naman ang pangunahing makikinabang sa rebolusyong agraryo?’

No’ng kinausap ko si Ka Jag na magpu-fulltime na ‘ko, mass work talaga ‘yong ni-request ko. Sabi n’ya, ‘E di magpalakas ka muna dito, mag-integrate ka muna nang three months para meron ka talagang panghahawakan na nakapag-mass work ka na—na mas lumubog ka na talaga, nakita mo na kung ano ‘yong mga pwede mong gawin dito. Kesa do’n sa aalis ka nang puro kwento ng mga kasama ang dala mo.

Ngayon, mas positibo na ‘yong pagtingin na magpakahusay sa gawain. Para naman ma-prove ko sa sarili ko na tama ‘yong pinili ko, tama ‘yong pagtanggal ko do’n sa option na meron akong babalikan. Kailangan ko ring ma-prove sa mga kakolektibo ko sa labas na kailangan talaga dito.

So kailangan ko s’yang galingan para mas maging maayos ‘yong gawain. Alam mo ‘yon, may maibabahagi ka talaga.

Na kailangan kong patunayan na tama ‘yong ginawa kong desisyon na piliin ang pagkilos kesa sa pagtatrabaho. Na hindi sayang ang buhay ko o ‘yong pinag-aralan ko dahil alam kong kailangang baguhin ang mali sa sistema.

No’ng nag-aaral pa ‘ko naisip ko na may maitutulong pa rin ako sa bansa kahit nagtatrabaho kasi prop pa rin s’ya. Pero ‘pag nando’n ka na sa loob mismo, makikita mo na hawak ka pa rin ng estado kahit nasaan ka mang kumpanya. Tapos kung private pa s’ya, mas matindi ‘yong pag-censor sa mga istoryang ilalabas mo.

Kaya mas pinili ko ang kilusan kesa sa trabaho dahil alam ko ‘yong kalagayan at mulat rin na merong kayang iambag na mas malaki. Relatibong mas malaki talaga kesa do’n sa maiaambag ko do’n sa trabaho.

At mas totoo ‘yong mga istoryang magagawa ko dito.”

Lalabagin ng kanilang yunit ang palisiyang “huwag mag-ingay” bago pa man pumutok ang liwanag. Aalingawngaw ang sigawan ng pagpupugay: “Mabuhay ang ika-singkwentang anibersaryo ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas!” Sabay-sabay na sasagot ang mga makakarinig mula sa ibaba, sa may bandang tagiliran, sa likuran, sa may kusina, sa lahat ng nakaposisyong pormasyon ng mga mandirigma: “Mabuhay!”

Naroon si Ka Maya. Buong giting na nakatindig sa hanay ng hukbong bayan: nagagalak, nagpupugay, nakataas-kamaong inaawit ang Internationale. Sa pagtatapos ay ang muling koro ng “Mabuhay! Mabuhay!”

Mula rito, kasama ng pulang kawan ng mga rebolusyonaryo, lilipad si Ka Maya. Para maging malaya. Para magpalaya.

An Afternoon with Ka Rio: Kabataang Makabayan, A People’s Warrior

in Mainstream
by the Liberation Staff

Family and school life. Aspirations and life in the struggle. An afternoon with Ka Rio in a guerrilla zone. Listen to this millennial who has defied the norms of a petrified society to bloom and become another hope of the motherland. (The interview was originally published in Filipino.)

Liberation (L): When did you become an activist?

Ka Rio (KR): I first got organized when I was a college sophomore in a local state university. That was at the height of the campaign against tuition fee increase. Dahil pabibo, e di join-join ako. (Because I wanted to be everywhere, I joined). You know, the typical adventurous youth. I gathered signatures for the petition against tuition fee increase. The petition helped the students pursue their fight. And we were able to stop the school’s plan. But I wasn’t consistent then. There were times when I did not join student activities. There was a gap.

But when I joined an environmental investigative mission in one of the provinces beset with a problem on mining, I got agitated. At first, the adventurous me joined because the area was by the seaside. But when I got there, I began to ask questions. Why are the people poor—the peasants, the fisherfolk—when we have these rich resources in the country? From then on there was no stopping. The following Christmas, I went to a community of indigenous people for gift-giving.

L: Were you already a KM (Kabataang Makabayan) member at that time?

KR: Not yet. (Laughter) I was an eternal KK (Kandidatong Kontak, candidate contact, a term used to those who are long-time activists but were not recruited into the KM). It took some more months before I became a KM member. But after I came in, no one could stop me. I joined RTR (room-to-room) recruitment and ED (educational discussions) with the students.
A month after I became a KM member, I attended study sessions in a guerrilla zone. I took up the MKLRP (Maikling Kurso sa Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino, a condensed course on Philippine society and revolution).

L: How was your studies after you became an activist?

KR: I attended my classes. Then, the rest of the time, I was in other colleges talking to students, recruiting among them. I did my tasks in the movement simultaneous with my studies. Because I was guided by the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM), I was able to do it. I applied these same principles to my studies, resulting in a much broader and sharper analysis of my school work.

I was a consistent college scholar. I did not pay tuition fees. My mother tolerated my activism because I did not neglect my studies. Even during exams, I continued with my activities outside the school. I went to different provinces. There were times I would ask my professors to excuse me from the exams because I needed to attend to other activities. Since I was a diligent student, they trusted me and granted me permission. I took the exams after the activities. At the time, I was also the president of an academic organization in our school.

L: What course did you take up?

KR: AB Psychology. Once, our academic organization sponsored a “pajama” party which coincided with KM’s study session. Since I was the president of the organization, I could not attend the ED. (Laughter.) I missed the opportunity.

L: Didn’t your teachers or classmates warn you from becoming an activist?

KR: There was a time when many students from our school joined the New People’s Army (NPA), so they assumed my organization was an activist organization and a recruiter for the red army. They did not tell me not to join but only cautioned me, ingat (keep safe) they said. OK!

L: You were a scholar. How did you balance your studies and your activism?

KR: I could set aside my studies every now and then and return to it after the activities. Activism did not keep me from studying. Or should I say my studies did not hinder my activism. Nothing can keep you from fighting if you have the will and commitment to serve the students and the masses.

In my fourth year, I became the chairperson of a university-wide organization. That required much of my time. It was also the time when we had to campaign again against tuition fee increase—explaining to students that the school’s budget should not burden them… chu chu… that it was the government’s responsibility. That! So we had another round of petition signing, recruitment, ED, RTR propaganda.

I was able to do all those while studying and working on my thesis and on my OJT (On-the-Job Training, a graduation requirement). My OJT was thrice a week but in between I still went to school for the campaign, recruitment, and ED. When I think about it, bongga lang (top-notch). Tumbling! Lagare (literally, a saw; a term used to describe one’s tight schedule and activities).

L: How did activism affect your studies?

KR: Before I became an activist, I was a careerist. My goal was to graduate with laude—cum laude. That! So, I had to maintain my high grades. I had to be a consistent college scholar.
When I became an activist, I got higher grades. I became a university scholar. So, activism is not a hindrance. Actually, it helps you broaden your understanding of things. And you become more intelligent in class, hahaha! It’s true! Because you are no longer confined in just the four walls of the classroom. I applied to my course the theories I learned from the movement, especially because my course is psychology—how society affects the thinking of a person. Eme! That!

L: You graduated cum laude, did your parents convince you to work?

KR: After graduation, I did not go home right away. I immediately reported for work in the movement. My mother asked me to come home for a graduation party but I begged off. My high school friends, some of whom also graduated with honors, also wanted a party. But, I only went home months later. The food reserved for me was already spoiled! (Laughter.)

L: What did you do after your graduation? Where did you go?

KR: I went to a community during the school vacation. When classes resumed, I went back to my school-based activities but I requested my collective not to deploy me in my alma mater because the dean and the professors knew me. Besides, I heard the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) comment that I did not deserve to graduate cum laude because I was an activist chuva chuva. That! Bitter! (Laughter.)

L: When did you join the people’s army? How did you prepare for it?

KR: I had spent two years with a youth organization before I went to the countryside. How I joined the NPA was a comedy. I went to a guerrilla zone only to “meet-and-greet” the people’s army. I was just a ‘joiner”. It wasn’t even for a TOD (tour-of-duty). But when I sat in the orientation on the NPA for the new KM members, I was most affected. So I stayed behind. (Laughter.)

We had an educational festival at the camp that time. One of my companions wanted to join the army. But because he was only 16, he was not qualified. I was touched that at 16 he was ready to join the army while it has never even dawned on me. And I was already 22! I felt ashamed of myself.

Then, there was this military cadre, a peasant, who had difficulty reading. On my way to my tent, I passed by him and he was reading aloud, slowly and in syllables “Da-pat pag-a-ra-lan (What need to be learned).” He was in his senior years. “Ano ba yan! (What’s this!)” Again, I was touched and told myself, “Stay here, teh! (teh is from the word “Ate” used to refer to an elder sister but has now become an expression used among peers). That was it! You see, this man was such a good military cadre yet he still wanted to read so he could study and hone his tactics in warfare to better serve the people. I told myself, “What are you doing, you’re a college graduate!” (Laughter.)

L: Was it in your plan to join the army?

KR: I didn’t plan to stay behind. It was my companion who was on TOD. I still wanted to study medicine. That was my dream. I had already borrowed a reviewer for the entrance exam in a medical school. My mother knew about it. I also told the people at the camp I wanted to be a doctor. “Then be a doctor here,” they told me. That made sense. Because around seven of 10 sick people in the countryside had not even seen a doctor before they died. It’s such an ordeal for the masses to travel long distance to see a doctor. Some of them die on the road.

I also realized that if I became a doctor I could only serve those who could afford it. So, I stayed for a month. But even before the month ended, I already said I wanted to be fulltime in the NPA. Aside from the “pressure” from comrades, hahaha, the eklavu of comrades that “gusto nga nating baguhin yung chuva chuva (“we want to change), it was my own

L: Joining the army is a difficult decision especially for someone like you. But it’s even more difficult to persist. How was your more than a year in the NPA?

KR: Actually, wait, where’s my English. Handkerchief, please! (Laughter.)

Well, I am now one year and three months in the army. Of course, life in the NPA is not always fun. It is coupled with sacrifice, loneliness, longing for family, and, yes, for the food out there. Char! (Laughter.) There should always be food in my bag. Even if I don’t eat them as long as I see them, it’s enough morale booster. It’s like go girl, you still have some food here! Hahaha!

The hardest part is not about the long treks but one’s morale. Mao has said courage stems from one’s consciousness. We have to feed our consciousness, raise our ideological level to overcome hardships. On our consciousness anchors our goal, our principles, our will to fight. I find my strength when I read documents like “I Engage” or the “Diary of Tuy” of Vietnam. You can actually do anything as long as you have the will.

L: How do you overcome the physical strain, especially for a woman like you?

KR: Of course, I am capable because… I am big, hahaha! The ascents are indeed back-breaking especially because I have a pack and an armalite. But the comrades will never leave you, they are always there to help. They even carry your backpack if they see you are having a hard time. They help you overcome your difficulties. That’s it!

As a woman, it’s a hassle during rainy season. Also it’s hard not to be able to take a bath. Menstrual period is another burden. But over time, you’ll get used to it. Before, I could not even put up a clothesline for my wet clothes. Like, 30 minutes would pass, my shoulder numbed, and I wasn’t done with the clothesline yet. After a month, I could easily pitch even my tent.

When I came here, I brought along some wipes (wet tissues, used to cleanse after defecating) for a month’s supply. But as days passed, and as the wipes were consumed, I slowly learned to use plant leaves as substitute. Now I know that banana leaves are the softest and the best.

L: How many women are there in your unit?

KR: Less than 10; two are married and one of them has a child. If we include the other units, there are 20 in all—an undersized platoon. We are a mix of petty bourgeois from the cities and local folk. Majority are from the youth sector.

L: What were your other trying moments?

KR: Perhaps the long walks. I am still adjusting to this, especially when it rains and we pass through muddy paths, where at times the mud is up to my knees. There were also times when we can’t turn on our flashlights because the enemy is around.

We had this two weeks of food shortage. We only had galyang (a rootcrop) for rice and another part of galyang for viand. We mashed them together. Even the salt was already wet. I asked myself, “What have I gotten myself into?” Then there was also a time when there was really no rice, no coffee, no sugar. There was really no food supply. The enemies blocked the entry of supplies that even the food of the masses were not allowed. In fact, the soldiers urged the masses to leave the barrios supposedly to prevent them from bringing food to us.

There was a time, too when we were not able to take a bath for 10 days. There were also instances when we were sweating the whole day, then it would rain. Yet, nobody left the army during those trying times.

L: Have you experienced actual battle? How did you feel?

KR: The time when we had nothing to eat, that was also my first experience with an actual firefight. I wasn’t nervous but the first shot stunned me. At first, we thought a bamboo tree just fell down. But, when we heard the volley of fires, we realized it was no longer just a bamboo tree falling down, hahaha! “Hindi na ‘to kawayan, kaaway na to! Hahaha! Laban na pala ‘yun. (This is no longer a bamboo tree, these are enemies! That was real firefight.)”

Initially, I did not know what to do. I just took my backpack and followed the command. I had a hard time getting to the top of the mountain because of my weight, and the heavy pack and rifle. Presence of mind is important. That’s that!

I’ll tell you something. It is about food again. (Laughter). That time, we only had two unripened bananas for breakfast. But, the two bananas sustained us to face our enemies in a firefight. Dalawang saging ka lang (You’re good for just two bananas)! Hahaha! Our two bananas equaled our enemies.

The battle itself was not that difficult. The retreat was more challenging because a helicopter kept hovering over us. We felt it could see us. As first timers our fear was being shot by a machine gun from above. I am energized just by remembering how we overcame those difficulties.

L: How about when loneliness sneaks in?

KR: I criticize myself for not sharing my problems. I just stay in my hammock, in my hut and stare blankly at anything. I do try hard to open up to comrades now because it’s hard to carry emotional baggages.

Totoo naman, di ba? Mas madaling maglakad na malaya ‘yung isip mo. Kahit nga ‘yung wala kang dala, kapag may mabigat kang iniisip, ang hirap maglakad, di ba? Mahirap makalayo, mahirap makarating sa gusto mong puntahan. (It’s true! It’s easier to move around when your mind is free from worries. When your mind is troubled, it’s difficult to walk even without a pack, to go far, to reach your destination.)

L: What experience is your happiest?

KR: When I witnessed the actual setting up of the people’s government — the election of officials, the charting of plans and the one-year program, and the way they govern the barrio. Recently, I got high with the anti-feudal campaign — how it was planned and how the dialogue between the farmers and the traders resulted in the lowering of loan interests. That’s it! This was the most successful anti-feudal campaign that the army had launched in recent years.

L: How did your parents react when you joined the NPA?

KR: I was home after my graduation, one month before I entered the guerrilla zone and decided to join the red army. After two months in the army, I requested to go home to formally tell my parents that I would go fulltime. The comrades did not allow me. Five months later, I wrote my parents that I had joined the NPA. No reply. (Laughter)

But they later sent word asking me to go home just to dispel people’s suspicion that I had joined the NPA. I told them not to mind them; people would eventually grow tired and lose interest in it.

L: Have they visited you here?

KR: Not yet. They are still afraid.

L: How about you? Have you visited them? What was their reaction?

KR: Recently, I went home with my buddy. My mother cried because I had lost weight. Tears of joy! (Laughter). My buddy told me my mother could not stop crying when they talked “because it is only now that Rio has lost weight.” My buddy kept on laughing.

When we went to market, my mother remarked, “Hala, mangongotong kayo.” (“Hala, you are going to extort.”) I replied, “Hala, is that how you raised me? Did I graduate just to extort? If I wanted to extort, I could have just landed a job. There are more to extort there.” (Laughter) She kept silent.

L: Didn’t they ever reprimand you? The usual thing parents tell their children: “I sent you to school…!”

KR: I never heard any of that. When I asked my father for some pizza, his reply was: “How much would it cost to put up a pizza store? Come home and just sell pizza.” (Laughter) Sell pizza! Haggard! My father knows that food is my weakness. (Laughter). When parents see how decisive and determined their children are in carrying out their work, they eventually support us.

L: How do they support you now?

KR: With food, of course! (Laughter). Once, I “begged” for some groceries. My mother sent me all that I listed down with a note that Papa was waiting for payment. (Laughter). I could not help laughing because now my father no longer asks when I would go home but when I would pay for the groceries. When I went home, my mother and my sister bought me things I needed. My sister even packed my things. Happy! Less worry!

L: How did you prepare them for that?

KR: I did nothing, because I wasn’t even prepared myself, hahaha! It was a surprise for all of us!

When I was not yet a KM member, activists would go to our house. They spent Christmas there. My mother asked me if they were activists and I said no. I truly did not know then if they were activists. I wasn’t aware of what an activist was.

L: Did you explain to them what you were doing?

KR: Yes. I told them about our community immersions, the mining, the semi-feudal exploitation, things like those. I told them my experiences in school. They understood of course because they, too, felt the hardships. They see corruption as a cause of poverty. They just need orientation on the correct line. I just need to inject the prime role of imperialism to help them complete their analysis.

L: Did you also share your experiences here in the guerrilla zone? What was their reaction?

KR: Yes. I sent them a letter but when comrades read the letter I was about to send, they said it was not a letter, “This is ED (short for Educational Discussion).”

My parents reaction? E di mayat! (Fine!) (Laughter) But of course, as parents their usual concern is safety. I told them about the land distribution we do. Papa retorted “but the enemies are hunting you.” I told him our enemies are those who deprived the farmers of land. My father just lapsed into silence and he simply said, “Take care.” They have truly accepted my being here.

L: Love life?

KR: None! (Laughter.)

Once, someone proposed a “program” (a process of courtship within the Party and NPA). I accepted the proposal to see how it will prosper. But, nothing happened. I do not want to enter yet into a relationship. I want to be better in what I do first. Hmm char! But of course, at my age… There was someone I liked. But, haayyy… he went down (left the revolutionary movement).

L: What are the most valuable things you receive from friends in the city?

KR: What’s this, questions in a slumbook? (Laughter). Letters make me happy. But, I am happier when food goes with the letters, hahaha! When there are people coming from another Front or from the city, I always hope, I always ask if there are letters for me. Of course, I miss my friends and comrades in the city.

L: What is your most cherished experience?

KR: Now, this one is really for a slumbook! (Laughter). Plenty, especially in the guerrilla zone.

Like, I told my mother not to worry about me because there are many mothers here who take care of me. You know, when the people’s army starts packing our things to leave a barrio, the masses are upset. They did not want us to leave. They wanted the army to stay. Of course, we could not stay in a place forever. We want to go on expanding the movement.

There was also that mother who, because I was single, wanted me to stay and be her daughter-in-law. Another suggested that when I get married, the wedding should be held in their barrio so they could attend. I just smiled when I heard these. Then, there were these simple things they gave voluntarily­—shampoo, soap, even a bag. It would be embarrassing not to accept these gifts from them.

We leave a mark among the masses because they feel the warmth in how we relate with them. You know, the masses need not work if the army were there. Somebody from the army cooks, another cleans. The comrades go on shifts in their tasks. That’s probably one of the reasons why the masses seem not to want the army to leave, hahaha!

“‘Yung kahit gaano kalayo at nakakapagod ‘yung lakaran, kapag sinalubong ka nila nang kasing init ng iaalok nilang kape, yun ang pinakamasarap” (The most gratifying, after a long and tedious hike, is the masses’ warm welcome, as warm as the coffee they offer).

L: Have you experienced any difficulty in dealing with the masses?

KR: In the expansion areas in another province, yes. We were also assigned there; just a team. Our task is to hold meetings in the villages and form a GP (Grupong Pang-organisa, organizing group). Because it is an expansion area, which had not been visited for decades by the NPA, it was exacting. But since we relentlessly pursued raising their consciousness and explaining the need for a GP, they finally agreed to form one. It seemed difficult to relate with the masses at the beginning. They were hesitant to put up the GP. But because they looked up to their elders, the most senior in the barrio, we invested on the latter by raising their awareness. So finally, they agreed to put up a GP.

They have issues on the prices of gabi (taro root) and ginger. Traders buy these from them at only Php 3.00 per kilo. Then there was also the issue of mining. We explained these issues to them as well as other issues on feudal exploitation.

L: What has changed now that you are with the people’s army?

KR: Now, this one is really for Miss Universe! Water, please! (Laughter).

Before, I was shy to face people. Perhaps, this is the breakthrough—I have overcome my shyness. I have also improved on how I deal with people. I can now easily relate with all kinds of people. My perspective broadened. Before, I was full of subjectivism and idealism. “E bakit ganito? Dapat ganito! (Why is it like this? It should be like this!)” I had a lot of “should be’s” and “why this?” without knowing how things happened. Now, I have become more discerning as I continue to broaden my understanding of things, especially because my tasks include ensuring the high morale of comrades, to help them solve their problems.

Pero syempre, ‘yung pinakaimportante du’n, ‘yung kapasyahan mo na kapag may gusto ka talagang gawin na pagpapaulad sa sarili mo, syempre ibukas mo ‘yung sarili mo sa pag-unlad. Tulungan mo ‘yung sarili mo para umunlad ka. Kaya ‘yung lahat ng gawain, kung gusto mong matutunan, ‘yun ‘yung dapat mong maging aktitud. ‘Yung gusto mo laging may matututunan. (But of course, the most important thing is your determination to become better, to be open to change, development, and help yourself grow. The right attitude is to learn the different tasks, to crave for new knowledge.)

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