Sunday, January 31, 2010

From Within: ‘Inside the Philippine Revolution’ Book

I do not intend, in any way, to make an extensive exposition of the contents of the book; I do not have the full arsenal of strength, even the capability, to lift this narration into the level of a review. Instead I desire to put the book in a personal perspective. Communism in the Philippines has been, and will always be, a topic that would attract people and studies. Not just for the sake of the ideologies from within them. The stories of the Red have figured in the 20th-century Philippines, and books like this should not be considered taboo. They are important in the way history books serve as documentaries of the past, and the moving present of the Philippine politics and its people and living.

The Sojourns of a Journ

Without resorting to the easiest way of searching the name William Chapman in the internet, he is obviously a foreigner, not simply because of the name, but he himself have admitted his work as journalist and his experiences in digging into this contemporary ‘revolution’.

The book unfolds the story of the CPP, starting from its roots after the Second World War and its decisive break from their original group. Most of the contents are first hand – interviews reinforced the narrations of details of their history and ‘development’. A book like this is essentially accessible to anyone, but without truly dealing with it, one cannot possibly internalize some of the seeming small aspects of the whole group. There were the stories of how some of the members finally decided join the Party and the Army: friend of a husband being nabbed by the military, a husband getting shot for no apparent reason, people brought up amidst the guerrilla people, among other.

Pivotal to the book is the narration of the beginnings of the problems on land ownership, a thing that has always been highlighted in the problems the revolutionaries are attempting to solve – from the Spanish era, to the maneuvers to salvage American investments during their stay in the country, to the seemingly random ‘abuses’ and excesses of the Filipino landowners that resulted to equally (seemingly) random retaliation against these. And although short, a life story of Jose Ma. Sison is introduced in the context of his divergence from Claro M. Recto and his ideas.

Into the Path of the Martial Rule

I do not know how I should put it here for, alluding again to the admission of my lack of necessary abilities to fully effect a well-prepared exposition, it is definitely hard to make a note on the origins of the imposition of Martial Law. Chapman wrote of the uncertainty on the realness (or fraud) of the disorder before martial law. Much of what the government did at that time is now found to be staged. And on the part of the ‘subversives’ (as the book have termed it), they really have posed no real threat to the stability of the government. And so whether the Marcos government really had a profound knowledge and has truly assessed the situation to bring down Proclamation 1081, it would most likely be left to his group. But to a certain extent, the existence of the insurgents was taken as a stepping stone for the dark times of the martial rule.

At the Demise of the Dictator

What I found most interesting, I would admit, is the explanation (if that word would suffice) on how the party misjudged their action towards the 1986 snap election. Believing that their successful move in the past, both in 1981 and 1984 in which boycotts were effected, would certainly have its strength again, they were inevitably isolated in what was to become an event of international acclaim, when people went to cast their votes, believing for the first time perhaps all through the martial rule, that they could make the difference, and eventually win back the democracy (a word that is now being abused) that has been forcefully taken away from the citizens. All led of course to the first People Power.

A singular part there, enough to explain the action, was the belief that the moment Marcos is able to assert his power again, and Cory set aside, people would really have that openness that an armed struggle is but the only way to achieve back their freedom. This did not happen. And when Cory assumed office, the inevitable happened in the existence of a popular leader: peace negotiations were made between the government and the rebels.

In the End

In the end, it is a very enlightening read. Not too bias on one side or to the other, but is bravely replete with personal comments and views. Certainly, it was informative as to the issue on the roles of CPP, NPA and the NDF and their connections; and the important function that mass strikes assumed to strengthen and move these groups (as well as their ideologies) into action. I hope that this has not been a spoiler and a short read on this, hopefully, would compel you to find his book.

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