Monday, August 23, 2010

UP History: Sustaining the Cornerstone of the National Democratic Movement

by Jose Maria Sison and Julieta de Lima

The US colonial regime established the University of the Philippines in 1908 in order to attract the cream of the Philippine intelligentsia towards a pro-imperialist and conservative kind of bourgeois liberalism, to draw them away from the anti-colonial and progressive kind of liberal ideas which had guided the old democratic revolution and to train and assimilate the professionals and bureaucrats for a semi-feudal social system in which the interests of US imperialism and domestic feudalism were harmonized.

In the first fifty years of its existence, the UP carried out well its colonial (1908-1946) and then neocolonial (starting 1946) mission of coopting and training the youth that passed through its portals. It maintained its equanimity as an academic institution of the status quo despite occasional controversies between its constituency or its officials and the state or government officials as well as the recurrent efforts of the sectarians of the dominant church to undermine the university's avowed secular and liberal character.

The founding of the Communist Party of the Philippine Islands in 1930, the Great Depression and the anti-fascist struggles in the 1930s and the revolutionary movement during World War II and up to the early 1950s stimulated the study of Marxism and the Philippine revolution among a few UP faculty members and students. But these successive events did not bring into being the cellular multiplication of study circles and revolutionary party groups nor any sustained mass movement, with an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal character, among the UP constituency.

The most outstanding of the patriotic and progressive intellectuals produced by the UP before World War II included Jose Lansang, Salvador P. Lopez, the Lava brothers Vicente, Jose and Jesus, Dr. Agustin Rodolfo, Angel Baking, Samuel Rodriguez and Renato Constantino. With the exception of some, these intellectuals would continue to take and express the Left position and face the extreme reaction from the US imperialists and local reactionaries after the war. Some of them would be arrested and detained in 1950 and thereabouts. Those who were released tended to be cautious and expressed themselves in Aesopian language, within the bounds of nationalist and liberal terms. Aside from keeping academic and newspaper jobs, they became speech writers and political analysts for nationalist members of Congress.

Dr. Elmer Ordoñez the best living witness who has written about the anti-communist witchhunt and the resistance that took place on the UP campus from the early fifties to 1957. Even the liberal and logical positivist Dr. Ricardo Pascual was pilloried as a communist by religious sectarians and other anti-communists for supposedly organizing secret cells. Dr. Agustin Rodolfo was among those who formed the Society for the Advancement of Academic Freedom to resist the witchhunt. In those years of severe anti-communist suppression, the anti-imperialist speeches of Senator Claro Mayo Recto kept alive the spirit and hopes of the progressives in the UP from 1951 onwards. Recto was assisted by Renato Constantino. Senator Jose Laurel also expressed nationalist and liberal positions on certain major issues. He was assisted by Jose Lansang. 

When we were in UP Diliman for our undergraduate studies from 1956 to 1959, the Cold War was running high and the rabid anticommunists in our country were still touting McCarthyism, which had already been discredited in the US. The US puppet president Ramon Magsaysay and the like-minded UP president Vidal Tan sought to make the UP a regimented bulwark of anticommunism by using religious sectarianism as its base. Subservience to US imperialism was cultivated among faculty members and students through the US-influenced curricula and study materials as well as prospects of Fulbright, Smith Mundt and other US scholarships and travel grants, or highly-remunerated employment in US and local comprador corporations.

The struggle between the liberals and the religious sectarians was intense. Under the direction of their American Jesuit chaplain Fr. John P. Delaney up to his death in early 1956, the UP Student Catholic Action (UPSCA) and its faculty version the Iota Eta Sigma had made political capital out of some fatal initiation hazing incidents in certain fraternities to discredit and subvert the nonsectarian and liberal character of the UP. They gave an anticommunist spin to their virulent opposition to the influence of the Recto nationalist crusade, the UP publication of Teodoro Agoncillo's Revolt of the Masses: the Story of Bonifacio and the Philippine Revolution, the clamor for the study of Rizal's Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and so on.

The Anti-Subversion Law was passed in 1957 supposedly in order to destroy once and for all the Marxist ideology and the CPP or any of its successor, extension or front by imposing the death penalty on the officers. It was drafted by the American Jesuit Fr. Arthur Weiss and the political officer of the US embassy openly lobbied for its passage in Congress. It was a bill of attainder, establishing guilt by association, and was meant to suppress the freedom of thought, speech and assembly. It would become a constant weapon of anti-communist witchhunt and oppression.

After Magsaysay died in a plane accident in 1957, his vice president, Carlos P. Garcia, assumed the presidency and won it in the elections in the same year. He appointed Dr. Vicente Sinco as UP president in 1958. The latter suspended the UP Student Council after it held a rally against his policy of preventing a religious organization like the UPSCA from dominating the council. He introduced the General Education Program with the objective of giving all college students a well rounded basic knowledge of the sciences and the humanities and developing their ability for critical thinking. He appointed as full professors Hernando Abaya, Teodoro Agoncillo, I.P. Soliongco, Armando Malay, and others who were well known for their patriotic and progressive writings. He also appointed as deans and heads of departments those who were patriotic and progressive. He promoted the colloquia on nationalism among the faculty members and students.

In the year 1958 we gained access to some Marxist books in the UP Main Library. The military had ordered these to be destroyed in 1950 or thereabouts. But the librarian simply put most of these aside, piled up uncatalogued and unclassified, at the basement of the UP Main Library where one of us found them among other donated second hand books. Students of library science were encouraged to volunteer in retrieving usable books from among the dusty piles. These were brought upstairs for cataloguing and classification and eventually added to the UP Library System collections. Thus were many Marxist and progressive books retrieved and made available to those interested in them.

We avidly read and studied these books as well as others that we borrowed from private collections, including that of a non-communist university professor and an Indonesian graduate student. We learned, particularly from Lenin and Mao, that the bourgeois democratic revolution of the new type (under the leadership of the working class) rather than of the old type (under the leadership of the liberal bourgeoisie) was necessary for the people to win victory in the struggle for national liberation and democracy in the era of modern imperialism and world proletarian revolution. We also learned that the toiling masses of workers and peasants and the urban petty bourgeoisie must unite for the revolution to win victory.

The progressive liberal trend in the UP proceeded well even as an ambiguous side controversy occurred. The UP Journalism Club in early 1959 had invited Fr. Hilario Lim, a recent expellee from the Society of Jesus, to speak on the need to Filipinize religious institutions. We and the faculty adviser Prof. Armando Malay were chagrined by the refusal of the Sinco administration to let Fr. Lim speak on the ground of his being a religious, despite the fact that he was demanding the nationalization of religious and religious-run institutions in the Philippines. A few years later, Lim would step out of the Catholic clergy, join the faculty of the UP history department and become an outspoken advocate of the national democratic movement.

I. From SCAUP Founding to the Eve of KM Founding, 1959 to 1964

By 1959 when we founded the Student Cultural Association of the UP (SCAUP), we who were the core organizers drew from our study of Marxism and the history and circumstances of the Philippines the understanding that the Philippine revolution could be resumed under the leadership of the working class and that such a leadership could bring together the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords.

We considered the character of the UP and the possibility of developing the national democratic movement within the UP. We had no illusion that SCAUP or even all the UP students could change the character of the UP as a pro-imperialist and conservative liberal institution without the prior victory of the national democratic movement in society at large. But we aimed to build a ?rogressive university within the reactionary universityor develop the national democratic movement among the students, faculty members and non-academic employees.

It was with some sense of humor that we adopted the acronym SCAUP to stress the fact that we were diametrically opposed to the UPSCA as it was then. We also stressed that we were a cultural group, not a religious one. But we were most interested in raising the level of debate in the university from one between the liberals and the religious sectarians to one between the Left and the Right or one between the progressives and the reactionaries on basic and urgent social, economic, political and cultural issues. We used the terms nationalism and liberalism in a progressive way to mean anti-imperialism and anti-feudalism, respectively.

We called for a Second Propaganda Movement to prepare the resumption of the Philippine revolution under global conditions of modern imperialism and proletarian revolution as well as under local semi-colonial and semi-feudal conditions. We were for the resumption of the Philippine revolution against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes. We were for national liberation, democracy, social justice and development. We were for academic freedom and civil liberties in the UP and we were definitely for upholding, promoting and advancing a system of education and culture that is of national, scientific and mass character.

We were of the view that that the Marxists and the progressive liberals could and had to unite in order to form the national democratic movement in the university and that they could also ally themselves even with the conservative liberals on certain issues, like academic freedom, civil liberties and welfare for all UP constituents. The SCAUP adopted two levels of education through seminar-style discussions. One was openly done on the principles, program and basic issues of national democratic movement among members and applicants for membership. The other was discreetly done among the most politically advanced SCAUP members because the Anti-Subversion Law prohibited the study of Marxism-Leninism and its relevance to the Philippine revolution.

It was sufficient for every SCAUP member to have a basic knowledge of the national democratic movement. As a form of initiation, applicants for membership were collectively and individually instructed on the movement and were assigned a book, article or a current issue to analyze and discuss. The discussions were carried out anywhere the participants wished, be it in a classroom, cafeteria or in the open air. The discreet discussions on Marxism-Leninism were done either on the campus grounds or in private homes.

The charter members of the SCAUP were graduate and undergraduate students. The organizational policy was to give priority to the recruitment of those who were already holding responsible positions in other campus organizations, who had the ability to write for the Collegian as editors and feature writers or who had the qualifications to run for the UP Student Council in case of restoration. The political and academic quality of the SCAUP was so high that sometimes some SCAUP members immodestly joked among themselves that they could someday take over the reactionary government from within. In fact, some would join and become cadres of the revolutionary movement and others enter the reactionary government and rise to the high positions of cabinet members, governor of the Central Bank, ambassadors, congressmen and senators and justices of the Supreme Court.

SCAUP members were encouraged to debate with their teachers and oppose reactionary ideas inside and outside classrooms. They had a keen interest in attending the colloquia on nationalism and in initiating or joining open forums where they had the opportunity to raise questions and debate with the speakers. Some SCAUP members regularly attended the seminars and informal discussions organized by the graduate assistant Petronilo Bn Daroy on behalf of Dr. Ricardo Pascual, dean of the graduate school of arts and sciences. They went there to test their knowledge of dialectical materialism by debating with the dean who was a logical positivist and to ventilate their political views and seek consensus on current issues with participants who were mostly graduate students and faculty members, including Dr. Agustin Rodolfo who could skilfully transliterate Marxist ideas in liberal language.

The members of fraternities who were members of SCAUP stood above inter-fraternity rivalries and took a common ground in opposing the UPSCA and attended SCAUP study meetings. Because of the vacuum created by President Sinco's suspension of the UP Student Council, they took the initiative in spearheading the formation of the Inter-Fraternity and Sorority Student Council (IFSC). This alliance would later make up for the limited membership of SCAUP and provide the broad organized base for arousing, organizing and mobilizing the UP students in 1961 against the witchhunt conducted by the Committee on Anti-Filipino Activities (CAFA) against the UP faculty members and students.

The CAFA invoked the Anti-Subversion Law and targeted for inquisition the editors of the Philippine Social Sciences and Humanities Review for having reprinted in 1958 the 1946 pamphlet Peasant War in the Philippines: A study of the causes of social unrest in the Philippines--an analysis of Philippine political economy the 1960 Philippinensian for the editorial ?ower of Babeland the Philippine Collegian for the March 1, 1961 feature article ?equiem for Lumumbaunder the SCAUP chairman's nom de plume, Andres Gregorio. The articles had an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal content. The editors were accused of subversion, promoting Marxism and the outlawed Communist Party.

The key leaders of the IFSC, who were also SCAUP members, convened the meeting of all campus organizations to agree on holding a demonstration in response to the CAFA witchhunt. The SCAUP, the IFSC and the Philippine Collegian rallied the students to the defense of academic freedom and civil liberties. The SCAUP drafted the manifesto and organized the machinery for the March 14, 1961 rally against CAFA. We prepared the placards at our rented cottage in Area 14 and at the Stalag 17 (the moniker for the quonset barracks left by the US Army). The SCAUP chairman and the graduate assistant Petronilo Bn Daroy arranged with the JD bus company and signed the rent contract for the buses to ferry the students from Diliman in Quezon City to Congress in downtown Manila.

Five thousand students converged on Congress and literally scuttled the CAFA hearings. This was the first demonstration of its kind, protesting against the anti-communist witchhunt and the Anti-Subversion Law and defending the freedom to express anti-imperialist and anti-feudal ideas, which the targeted publications carried. Following the resounding success of the anti-CAFA rally, the Philippine Collegian published a crescendo of editorials, columns and feature articles that did not only defend academic freedom and civil liberties but also propagated the ideas of the national democratic movement against imperialism and feudalism.

The consecutive editorships of Reynato Puno, Leonardo Quisumbing, Luis Teodoro, Jr., Ferdinand Tinio and Rene Navarro from 1961 to 1962 firmly established the predominance of Philippine Collegian editors who adopted the editorial policy that adhered to the line of the national democratic movement in the 1960s and thereafter. The editors either belonged to or were friendly to the SCAUP and welcomed the contributions of the SCAUP writers. The Philippine Collegian became a highly important vehicle for carrying and ventilating the ideas of the national democratic movement not only in the UP but also beyond. We also aimed to avail of the pages of the Literary Apprentice of the UP Writers' Club and the Diliman Review.

In addition to the Collegian, we had the Diliman-based littlemagazines that were dedicated to the task of stirring up anti-imperialist and anti-feudal ideas. These were the Fugitive Review, Cogent and Diliman Observer in 1960 and 1961. They were edited by such SCAUP writers as Peronilo Bn. Daroy and the SCAUP chairman, and were invariably short-lived for lack of funds to pay for printing. It would only be in 1963 that the Progressive Review could come out as a relatively stable publication, lasting up to 1968. The editorial board consisted of UP faculty members and graduate students.

As a result of the anti-CAFA rally, the teaching fellowship of the SCAUP Chairman was not renewed by the UP English Department. Also before being fired from the department, he engaged the department head in a debate on the pages of the Philippine Collegian regarding the content of a subject called Great Thoughtsin which the study materials were written predominantly by Catholic thinkers, like Cardinal Newman, G. K. Chesterton, Jacques Maritain, Belloc, Gibson, and so on. He demanded that progressive writings, including those of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and other Marxist thinkers and revolutionaries, should also be accommodated in the subject.

Having lost his job at the UP, the SCAUP chairman gained time to do political work not only on the UP campus but also on other campuses. As a result of the anti-CAFA rally, students in other universities in downtown Manila took interest in the student movement in the UP. SCAUP promoted the formation of study circles among students in the Philippine College of Commerce, the University of the East, the Manuel L. Quezon University and the Lyceum University in 1961 and 1962. Eventually, the SCAUP members and their friends in the other universities in Manila would constitute a significant part of the student contingent at the founding of the Kabataang Makabayan in 1964.

The general secretary Jesus Lava of the underground merger party of the communist and socialist parties (MPCSP) tried to contact the SCAUP chairman soon after the March 1961 anti-CAFA rally. But the intermediary failed to deliver Lava's message to him. The SCAUP chairman went to Indonesia on a scholarship grant to study Bahasa Indonesia in the first half of 1962 and had the opportunity to study the Indonesian mass movement. From there he effected the flow of Marxist-Leninist reading materials to some faculty members and student activists in the UP and some other universities in Manila. It would only be in December 1962 that he could link with and join the MPSCP.

Soon after the anti-CAFA rally in 1961, we of the SCAUP were already planning to form a comprehensive youth organization by linking up with young workers, peasants and professionals. We joined the Lapiang Manggagawa (LM, Workers Party) and became active in its youth and research and education departments in the latter half of 1962. From this, we gained access to the young workers in several labor federations and major independent unions. We established links with the peasant association Malayang Samahan ng Magsasaka (MASAKA, Free Peasant Association) in 1963 and we visited a number of barrios in Central Luzon in order to encourage the peasant youth to join the projected Kabataang Makabayan.

After the anti-CAFA rally, the SCAUP initiated or joined a number of other mass actions. These included the campus protest action (in cooperation with the UP Student Union of which Enrique Voltaire Garcia III was chairman) against the appointment of Carlos P. Romulo as UP President and off-campus rallies and pickets against US imperialism on the issues of the US-RP Military Bases Agreement, the Laurel-Langley Agreement, US military intervention in Cuba and so on. The political mass actions initiated from1962 to 1964 by Lapiang Manggagawa on various issues were small, ranging from 500 to 1000 participants. The SCAUP promoted and assisted the campaign against the Spanish Law, which required students to take 24 units of Spanish. The campaign culminated in the demonstration of 50,000 people (the majority of whom came from the youth of Iglesia ni Cristo).

National Expansion of the New Democratic Movement, 1964-1968

The national democratic movement that started in the UP in the period of 1959 to 1964 became well established on a national scale in the period of 1964-1968. The UP student contingent took an outstanding role in the founding of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) on November 30, 1964 and in its further development as a comprehensive youth organization for students as well as young workers, peasants, professionals and women. In turn, the national democratic movement developing in the entire country had salutary effects on the patriotic and progressive forces within the UP. The KM echoed and amplified the call of the SCAUP in 1959 for a Second Propaganda Movement.

Through the KM, students and young faculty members of the UP led by the KM chairman gained access to and cooperated with the Lapiang Manggagawa, which became the Socialist Party of the Philippines (SPP) in 1965, the trade union movement and the Malayang Samahan ng mga Magsasaka (MASAKA, Free Peasants Association). By its own efforts, the KM was able to organize new trade unions as well as community organizations in both urban and ruling areas. Eventually, it spearheaded the formation of the broad anti-imperialist alliance, Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN) on February 8, 1967.

As soon as it was founded in 1964, the KM established a chapter in the UP.. This had interlocking membership and always cooperated closely with SCAUP as a partner. The KM and SCAUP had their respective internal educational activities but they also had joint public activities. The SCAUP held the Claro Mayo Recto Lecture Series every year and the KM members attended these. The KM and SCAUP cooperated with other organizations such as the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation (Philippine chapter) headed by Dr. Francisco Nemenzo, Jr. to popularize the anti-imperialist teach-ins, especially against the US war of aggression in Vietnam in the mid-1960s. The KM organized the inter-university Lecture Series on Nationalism.

In most semesters during the 1960s, the Philippine Collegian had as editors and writers either members or close friends of the the KM and SCAUP. It often carried feature articles promoting the national democratic line against imperialism and reaction. When revived in1966, the UP Student Council chaired by Enrique Voltaire Garcia III cooperated very well with the KM and SCAUP in promoting the national democratic line on intramural, national and international issues. It held the National Student Congress for the advancement of nationalism. The delegates joined the KM and gave it a national spread. As UP Student Council chairman and later as Collegian editor-in-chief, Garcia was outstanding in pursuing the national democratic line.

The KM dispatched educational-organizational teams to organize chapters in schools, factories, urban poor communities and rural areas. It also availed of the national conferences of national student organizations like the College Editors' Guild, National Students' League, Conference Delegates Association (CONDA), Student Council Association of the Philippines (SCAP) and the Student Christian Movement (SCM) to recruit KM members nationwide. The students recruited during such conferences were followed up by members of the KM National Council and by organization-education teams and were encouraged and guided to form KM chapters. Until after 1970, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and the Student Catholic Action of the Philippines were usually run by the conservative and reformist student leaders from the Catholic schools.

The KM played the key role in planning and organizing the youth participation in the omnibus rally of 25,000 people on January 25, 1965 against US imperialism with regard to the Laurel-Langley Agreement, the US Military Bases Agreement and other forms of US control over the Philippines. The people rallied in front of the US embassy and marched in a torch parade to the presidential palace. The youth contingent was larger than those of workers and peasants. The protest action marked a new peak in mass mobilization by the national democratic movement. Some elements of the national bourgeoisie gave support to the mass action.

When US President Lyndon B. Johnson attended the so-called Manila Summit to round up support for the US war of aggression in Vietnam from governments in the Asia-Pacific region, UP students belonging to the KM were among those who picketed the summit at its Manila Hotel venue on October 23, 1966. The following day UP students mustered by both the KM and the UP Student Council composed the bulk of the 5000 students who protested against the summit and were attacked by the military and police. Consequently, the UP Student Council led by Enrique Voltaire Garcia III formed the UP Nationalist Corps to wage a nationwide campaign against state brutality and to conduct mass work among workers and peasants, thus reinforcing the work of the KM ?earn from the Masses, Serve the Peopleteams . The KM chairman had drafted the manifesto launching the UP Nationalist Corps.

In 1967, soon after the establishment of the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN) the MAN general secretary made the first draft and together with Renato Constantino formed a working group to make the MAN report against the further Americanization of the University of the Philippines under the presidency of Carlos P. Romulo. Romulo was acting as chief agent of the cultural agencies of the US government, US corporations and the Rockefeller, Ford and other US foundations. The KM and the SCAUP cooperated with all other patriotic student organizations, student leaders, campus writers and faculty members in a sustained campaign against the ideological and cultural dominance of US imperialism in the UP.

The Philippine Collegian, under the editorship of Miriam Defensor, would expose in 1968 the contract between the UP College of Agriculture in Los Bas and Dow Chemicals Inc. which was notorious for supplying the American armed forces in Vietnam with napalm and defoliants. This was followed by another Collegian exposof the contract between the same college and the US Air Force regarding the study of plant life, which could be used in US chemical and biological warfare in Vietnam and elsewhere. The student protests on the Diliman and Los Bas campuses forced the UP administration to cancel the contracts.

The chairman of Kabataang Makabayan who was concurrently vice chairman of the Socialist Party of the Philippines and general secretary of MAN published his book, Struggle for National Democracy, in 1967. This was a compilation of his articles and speeches on the issues and concerns affecting Philippine society as a whole and its various major sectors. It was avidly read by the activists of the youth, labor and peasant movements and served to consolidate their understanding of the national democratic movement. It stimulated the further advance of the movement for national liberation and democracy against US imperialism and the local reactionary classes.

Within the old merger party of the CPP and SPP, the debates and contradictions between the proletarian revolutionaries and the Lavaite revisionists came to a head in April 1967 when the latter made an organizational maneuver against the former who were the ones actually leading the mass movement. The proletarian revolutionaries had long criticized and wanted to repudiate the influence of modern revisionism centered in the Soviet Union and the major subjectivist and Right and Left opportunist errors in the previous 25 years within the MPCSP. They carried out a rectification movement to prepare for the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the waging of a protracted people's war against the ruling system.

By 1968 the Kabataang Makabayan had established chapters in the universities, colleges and high schools in nearly all provinces of the country. It provided the organizational framework for building a nationwide revolutionary movement. It established the schools for national democracy. It provided a nationwide broadcast network for the ideas of the national democratic movement. It was the training school of young activists not only from the schools but also from the factories, urban poor communities and farms. It gained repute for the spread of student strikes on a national scale. It was involved in a number of outstanding worker strikes. It struck roots among the peasant youth in Central and Southern Luzon.

As a result of the break of the proletarian revolutionaries from the MPCSP, the Lavaite revisionists formed the Malayang Pagkakaisa ng Kabataang Pilipino (MPKP) which took away a few scores of members from KM in 1968. Also in the same year a group of KM members who opposed a pre-congress proposal to elect Nilo Tayag as KM chairman broke away from the KM and formed the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK). The contradictions involved were not promptly and properly handled because we were then preoccupied with the intensified struggle against the Lava revisionist clique. However, the SDK proclaimed a national democratic line similar to that of the KM.

Mass Movement Against the Rise of Fascism, 1968-1972

What incubated in the UP from 1959 to 1964 and conspicuously spread nationally from 1964 to 1968 helped greatly in paving the way for the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, 1968, and the rise of a powerful mass movement challenging the entire ruling system from 1969 to 1972. The national democratic movement grew in strength among the toiling masses of workers and peasants and the middle social strata as the crisis of the semicolonial and semi-feudal ruling system worsened and the Marcos regime became more servile to imperialism, corrupt and brutal and prepared to impose a fascist dictatorship on the people.

Workers' strikes spread throughout the country in an unprecedented way in 1969. The peasants were likewise restive and demanded land reform, even as the Marcos regime became more intimidating and the religious sectarians, reformists and revisionists tried to lead them astray and calm them down. On March 29, 1969 the CPP founded the New People's Army and launched people's war. In November 1969, peasants from Central Luzon numbering 20,000, joined by their workers and youth supporters, massed in front of Congress in order to demand land reform.

Student strikes continued to spread throughout the country. They inspired the students to join the chapters of the KM and attend the KM schools for democracy. The UP Chapter of Kabataang Makabayan and SCAUP allied themselves with other student organizations to launch a strike in January 1969 and succeeded in moving the university administration headed by UP president Dr. Salvador P. Lopez to give in to most of the demands of the students, faculty members and non-academic employees. Being himself a libertarian and an advocate of the university as social critic, Dr. Lopez showed sympathy for the cause of the students and led the UP administration in preventing the outside police forces from entering the university campus.

Among the reforms demanded by the students and met by the UP administration were the representation of the students in the Board of Regents and the university councils and in the process of electing college deans and department heads, the autonomy of student organizations and optionality of having faculty advisers, transparency of university financial accounts, the spending of students' fees for the very purpose for which these are collected, and so on. Until now, many of the reforms won by the students in the period of 1969 to 1972 have been retained despite reactionary efforts to reverse or undermine them.

The Philippine Collegian under the editorship of Ernesto Valencia serialized Amado Guerrero's Philippine Society and Revolution (PSR) under the title Philippine Crisis in 1970. It was enthusiastically received and closely read by the students, especially with the understanding that it was a further development of Struggle for National Democracy (SND). The first edition of the PSR in book form in 1970 was sold out mainly in the lobbies at UP Diliman. The Collegian under the editorship of Antonio Tagamolila and the Amado V. Hernandez Foundation under the chairmanship of Antonio Zumel cooperated in publishing the second edition of the Struggle for National Democracy in 1971.

The Collegian under the editorship of Victor Manarang,Valencia, Tagamolila and Rey Vea from 1969 to 1972 brought to a new and higher level the adherence of the student publication to the national democratic line by publishing documents of the reestablished Communist Party of the Philippines and articles of CPP chairman Amado Guerrero and other prominent progressives and anti-imperialists. Creative works in the form of short stories, poems and plays reflecting social reality and the discontent and revolutionary aspirations of the people appeared in the Collegian, Collegian Folio, Literary Apprentice and Ulos.

In late 1969 the KM and the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) reconciled along the national democratic line, with the former welcoming the latter's formal founding in January 1970.

The reconciliation gave further impetus to the development of the national democratic movement in the UP. It came in time for the preparations for the student strike on the UP campus in the second week of January 1970 and the demonstration in front of Congress against President Marcos' state of the nation address on January 25, 1970. The police brutality inflicted on the 10,000 mainly student demonstrators on this day ignited the First Quarter Storm of 1970.

The KM and other organized forces of the youth and the workers launched militant mass protests of 50,000 to 100,000 people every week (excluding the people who cheered along the streets and from windows of houses) during the first three months of 1970. They formed the Movement for a Democratic Philippines to broaden and strengthen the alliance against the rising brutality of the Marcos regime and at the same time frustrate the attempt of the revisionist party to outflank the progressive forces with the false charge that they were purely anti-Marcos and were not at all opposed to US imperialism.

The First Quarter Storm subsided. But mass protest actions by the student masses proceeded throughout 1970 in provincial capitals where the KM had established chapters. The mass protests resumed in Metro Manila with the May 1 worker-student demonstration and continued in earnest though intermittently through the rest of the 1970s on a wide range of domestic issues such as the superprofit-taking by the foreign monopolies, rising prices of fuel and basic commodities, anti-labor policies and practices and the lack of land reform and also on international issues such as the use of US military bases for aggression and military intervention in Southeast Asia and the escalation of the US war of aggression in Indochina.

On February 1, 1971 the UP students declared a strike to protest successive oil price hikes. The Marcos regime deployed military and police forces against the UP after a pro-Marcos member of the faculty killed Pastor Mesina, a freshman student. These prompted the students, the faculty members, nonacademic employees and other campus residents to unite and resist the hostile armed forces. They took over the entire university from the administration and proclaimed the Diliman Commune. They established barricades and other forms of defense and they improvised missiles and fireworks to discourage the helicopters from landing armed personnel.

They used the radio facilities of the university, increasing its power and range to broadcast to as far as Palawan revolutionary propaganda against the Marcos regime, including the reading of all three chapters of Philippine Society and Revolution. They also used the UP printing press to print leaflets and publish their own revolutionary newspaper. They renamed the buildings of the university after revolutionary leaders. The Diliman Commune promptly captured national attention and gained wide and enthusiastic support. Food, clothing, and all sorts of donations and other forms of encouragement poured in continuously, some coming from far-flung provinces. Workers, public transport drivers, students from other schools and assorted volunteers came to reinforce the barricades.

The Diliman Commune ended on February 9, 1971 only after the UP administration accepted several significant demands of the students and the Marcos regime accepted the recommendation of the UP president to end the military and police siege and declare assurances that state security forces would not be deployed against the university. After the Diliman Commune, the broad masses of the Filipino people continued to engage in legal protest actions on a nationwide scale. The Marcos regime confronted these with increasing violence. On August 21, 1971 it attacked the opposition by lobbing grenades at the Liberal Party miting de avance at Plaza Miranda in order to have the pretext for blaming communists and suspending the writ of habeas corpus. It arrested the leaders of KM and other progressive organizations and raided their offices and homes.

The KM and all other progressive forces in the Movement for a Democratic Philippines recognized the rising threat of fascism and expanded their alliance by forming the Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties (MCCCL). This included the reformists, bourgeois nationalists, anti-Marcos reactionaries and religious organizations. Activists most likely to be arrested by the regime either went underground or prepared to go underground. Nevertheless, the legal forces of the national democratic movement continued to mobilize the people in order to make protests and demands.

Under the auspices of the MCCCL, the legal mass protests continued until September 21, 1972 when 25,000 demonstrators denounced the plot to declare martial law. Indeed, Marcos started the mass arrests on September 22, issued the declaration of martial law on September 23, 1972 and imposed a fascist dictatorship on the people for the next 14 years. The legal forces of the national democratic movement went underground but took deeper roots in the UP and in the entire country, especially because the armed revolution raged in the countryside and kept the hopes of the people alive.

Enrique Voltaire Garcia III set the example and established the tradition of pursuing the national democratic line in the UP Student Union and Student Council. But more importantly, the student organizations and the student masses welcomed and followed the national democratic line. Student parties competed for support from the students along this line during the campus elections. By 1970 every student party and almost every campus organization wanted to be recognized as having a national-democratic character.

The KM and SDK were the engines of the student parties that excelled in espousing the national democratic line. They generated the kind of student leadership that culminated in the militant presidency of Gerry Barican of Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan and the student party Partisans and Eric Baculinao of Kabataang Makabayan and the student party Sandigang Makabansa (formerly Partisans) in 1969 to 1971. However, as long as the ruling reactionary system remained, the national democratic line in the UP Student Council could not always remain secure. 

The Marcos regime and the intelligence services pushed the fraudulent election of a reactionary student leader to the presidency of the UP Student Council for 1971-1972 by literally using smear tactics against the Sandigang Makabansa candidates. Famous slogans from the writings of Mao (like ?ppose Book Worshipand ?ombat Liberalism were smeared in red paint on the walls of the university and furniture were thrown out from buildings on the eve of the campus elections. This vandalism was ascribed to the progressive student party in order to misrepresent it  and swing the votes to the reactionary party. It was a coup calculated to cripple the UP Student Council and national democratic movement in the UP in preparation for the Marcos coup d'etat. But in the campus elections of 1972, a few months before the declaration of martial law, the Sandigang Makabansa headed by the candidate for chairman Jaime Tan won by a landslide.

Due to space constraint, we have referred to the principal mass organizations as active factors and indicators in the development of the national democratic movement. Also deserving of attention were those traditional organizations and institutions that adopted in varied ways and degrees the aims of the national democratic movement. Many individual officers and members of the fraternities and sororities became militants of the national democratic movement and tried to reorient their organizations. The Alethea, the Kilusang Kristyano ng Kabataang Pilipino (KKKP) and the Christians for National Liberation (CNL) gained adherents among religious believers. The rabid religious sectarians that were associated with the UPSCA and Iota Eta Sigma seemed to recede.

The years 1969 to 1971 saw a flurry of mass organizing along the national democratic line. Various student organizations arose as affiliates and allies of KM and SDK. They formed their respective cultural performing and visual arts groups, like Panday Sining and Nagkakaisang Progresibong Artista at Arkitekto (NPAA) of KM and Gintong Silahis and Sining Bayan of SDK.There were the mass formations based on certain colleges in UP Diliman, such as the Progresibong Samahan sa Inhinyeria at Agham (PSIA) in the College of Engineering, the NPAA in the College of Fine Arts, the Progresibong Kilusang Medikal (PKM) in the College of Medicine and the Samahan ng mga Makabayang Mag-aaral ng Batas (SMMB) in the College of Law. The propagandists formed the Samahan ng mga Progresibong Propagandista. The UP faculty members had their own progressive organization, Samahan ng mga Guro sa Pamantasan (SAGUPA).

The national democratic movement reached and swept the UP units in Los Baños, Baguio and Tarlac. It was strongest in UP Los Baños because the SCAUP, KM and SDK chapters were formed soon after their Diliman counterparts were established and because this unit had the largest student population among the UP extension units. The progressive students led the student government and edited the student publication. They aroused and mobilized the student masses to support the Diliman Commune and make their own demands. UP Los Baños became the beacon of other schools and colleges in the Southern Tagalog region and the staging base for long protest marches to Metro Manila.

The basis and course of development of the national democratic movement in UP Baguio were similar to those of UP Los Baños . Progressive students and young instructors built chapters of the KM and SDK. The student members led the student government and took charge of the student publication. The teachers espousing the same general line formed the Ugnayan ng Makabayang Guro (UMAGA). UP Baguio became a base for organizing KM chapters in other schools, universities and communities in Baguio City and the provinces of the Cordillera. UP Tarlac also became a base for progressive student organizing in Central Luzon.

National mass organizations came into being, with UP students, faculty members and alumni as members. They included Students for the Advancement of National Democracy (STAND), League of Editors for a Democratic Society (LEADS), Katipunan ng mga Samahang Manggagawa (KASAMA), Pagkakaisa ng mga Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (PMP), Katipunan ng mga Gurong Makabayan (KAGUMA), Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA), Panulat para sa Kaunlaran ng Sambayanan (PAKSA), Samahan ng mga Makabayang Siyentipiko (SMS) and Makabayang Samahan ng mga Nars (MASANA). The CPP formed party groups in various types of mass organizations and groups of professionals. From these would arise the allied organizations within the National Democratic Front.

The fascist dictatorship failed to destroy the national democratic movement in the university and in the entire country. It only succeeded in unwittingly persuading many of the UP students, teachers and alumni to join the people's struggle for national liberation and democracy. The best sons and daughters of the university became communists and sought to remould themselves as proletarian revolutionaries. Many of them decided to participate in the people's war, contributing whatever abilities they had and ever ready to make the necessary sacrifice in order to advance the revolutionary cause.

From one reactionary regime to another after the fall of Marcos in 1986, the national democratic movement has kept a deeply-rooted foundation in the UP and has always strived to grow in strength against tremendous odds. So long as the semicolonial and semifeudal system persists, the movement goes through ups and downs and twists and turns for whatever reason at any given time. So far, it continues to exist and grow because there is a fertile ground and need for it and the activist organizations and individuals are inspired by the noble cause of serving the people and carrying on the struggle to which so many revolutionary martyrs and heroes from the UP have dedicated their lives. The UP constituents are ever critical of the dire conditions of society and are ever desirous of change for the better.

In the last fifty years, the national democratic movement has become the principal challenge to the pro-imperialist and reactionary character of the University of the Philippines. It aims to overthrow the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system and liberate the university completely so that it can become the shining center for upholding, defending and promoting national independence and democracy, development through national industrialization and land reform, a national, scientific and popular system of culture and education, and international solidarity and peace. ###

(Reprinted with permission from Mr. Joma Sison)


Sison, Jose Maria and de Lima, Julieta. "Foundation for Sustained Development of the National Democratic Movement in the University of the Philippines." In  Serve the People: Ang Kasaysayan ng Radikal na Kilusan sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas. Ed. by Bienvendo Lumbera, Judy Taguiwalo et al (Manila: IBON Foundation, CONTEND & ACT, 2008)

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