This video says about itself:
Kuwaiti authorities have closed down the office of the Al Jazeera news channel in Kuwait City.
In a statement, Kuwait’s ministry on Information described Al Jazeera’s coverage as “intervention in a Kuwaiti domestic issue”.
It follows a police crackdown on Wednesday in which four Kuwaiti MPs and at least a dozen others were injured.
Al Jazeera’s Shiulie Ghosh reports.
From the Kuwait Times:
Maid: Employer tried to gouge out my eyes
Published Date: August 04, 2011
By Ben Garcia, Staff Writer
KUWAIT: A Filipina domestic helper who was rendered blind by her sponsor sought assistance from the Philippines Embassy yesterday after making a miraculous escape on July 27. She worked with her employer for a year without being paid, enduring severe torture since she began working with the employer in August 2010. The housemaid, named Angela, 24, is a native of Lanao Del Sur Philippines. She formally lodged complaints with the local police station on Tuesday, acting on the advice of the embassy’s Assistance to National unit.
According to her account, she endured ruthless treatment under the hands of her employer. “My female employer attempted to gouge out eyes with her fingernails several times,” a visibly somber Angela told Kuwait Times yesterday. “My eyes were severely bleeding, I can see only darkness. They took me to a hospital for treatment. Both my eyes were hurt. I didn’t know what to do that time. All I ever wanted to do was to escape. I have no other chances as all the doors were locked,” she said.
Angela recalled being treated like an animal, with her sponsors slamming her head against the wall, strangulating her, pounding her feet until it bled, burning her with flat iron, constant kicking and depriving her of food. She also suffered from serious emotional trauma due to death threats issued to her and not being in touch with family members. Angela also claimed to never have received monthly salary although her employer asked her to sign an undertaking stating that she received it.
On July 27, Angela escaped when her employer forgot to close the main door. An Asian couple helped her and brought her to the embassy. Old and fresh bruises are still evident on her body. Both of her hands are still swollen, there were burn marks, broken and swollen fingers, feet, face, broken nose and the most brutal act – attempt to blind her with fingernails, leaving her partially blind.
She believes that she was deliberately blinded by her employer because two of her sons were blind. Angela’s health condition deteriorated after performing back-breaking work to accommodate the needs of her bosses. Philippine Labor Attaché to Kuwait David Des Dicang promised to assist Angela and ensure that justice is meted out.
Kuwait’s abused domestic workers have ‘nowhere to turn’: here.
Man arrested for raping his brother’s maid in Kuwait: here.
Britain: HUNDREDS of migrant domestic workers will be gathering in Old Palace Yard, Westminster at 11.00 am this Sunday to demonstrate against the government’s proposed changes to the domestic workers visa: here.
‘NO return to slavery, we are workers!’ chanted over 200 migrant domestic workers and their supporters outside Parliament yesterday: here.
Cables show how US intervened in the Philippines
By Amando Doronila
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 12th, 2011
Former US Ambassador to Manila Kristie Kenney is at the center of the furor over the release by WikiLeaks of secret diplomatic cables dispatched by the US Embassy to Washington from 2006 to 2010 during the most tumultuous years of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration.
The embassy files were pilfered by WikiLeaks, a group of Internet hackers, which then released the material to the international news media in the biggest security breach of state secrets since the leaking of the “Pentagon Papers,” a classified government history of the Vietnam War, by a whistle-blower, Daniel Ellsberg.
The release of the sensitive documents from the US Embassy in Manila prompted the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to issue a statement that “unauthorized disclosure of sensitive diplomatic reports is very disturbing.”
A DFA official said the disclosure “would probably serve no useful purpose in the long run, other than to delight those who wish to embarrass the US government, and the foreign personalities named in the report.”
The official added that the disclosure “may… prejudice the safety of well-intentioned people who have worked with the Americans for the benefit of both countries.”
“Confidentiality is vital in the give-and-take among countries,” the official said. “Political leaders will rarely compromise if such is to be done in the full glare of the media.”
The Aquino administration has been offended by the scathing dispatches of Kenney describing the “weak” leadership styles of both the President and his mother, the late former President Cory Aquino.
Kenney, who is now American ambassador in Bangkok, has also come under fire for being sympathetic to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and for downgrading the corruption scandals that engulfed her regime.
Blind eye to graft
A total of 1,798 diplomatic cables from the embassy in Manila are part of more than 251,000 documents uploaded on the WikiLeaks website in November 2001.
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, described the documents as a “diplomatic history of the United States” that would cover “every major issue as governments braced for damaging revelations.”
The files contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the US Department of State. These cables include “orders sent out from the Department of State reporting about the local governments and details of US government activities in each country.”
A cable leaked in November 2010 contained an order by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton directing diplomats to acquire credit cards and information of diplomats from France, Russia and China in the United Nations.
The cables covered from Dec. 28, 1988, to Feb. 28, 2010. “The cables show the extent of spying on its allies and turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in the ‘client states’; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them,” WikiLeaks said.
The embassy in Manila ranked 44th among embassies and consulates that have the most cables in the leak. There are 65 secret and 749 confidential files pertaining to the Philippines from Dec. 28, 1966, to Feb. 28, 2010.
It should not come as a shock to Filipinos to read the released files on the Philippines as it is no secret to them that the US Embassy in Manila is an important listening post for intelligence in Asia.
Leaked cables published in the local media reveal accounts of interventions by US diplomats in Philippine affairs, ranging from then President Arroyo’s “defiant stare” at an embassy official who told her that Washington could not “go along with the plan” to declare martial law as her government was under siege after the “Hello Garci” tapes showed she interfered in the counting of results of the 2004 presidential election, and to other sensitive issues from 2006 to 2010.
Arroyo did declare a state of emergency on Feb. 24, 2006, which lasted a week, after the Marines officers called for a mutiny and the overthrow of her government.
The published cables include an embassy report that the Vatican “pressured” Filipino bishops to remain neutral and stay away from calls for the ouster of Arroyo during the “Hello Garci” scandal in 2005.
According to the cable, the papal nuncio at the time, Archbishop Antonio Franco, made it clear to the bishops during their annual meeting that the Vatican “did not support popular uprising as a method to remove government.” He urged the group “to be cautious, keeping in that it should refrain from political activism.”
Caught in a bind
Another cable said that Arroyo knew of the “heavy involvement” of her husband, Mike Arroyo, in smuggling and illegal gambling syndicates but refused to stop him because he “got her elected as President.”
According to the cable, classified “confidential” by the embassy and sent by then Charge d’Affaires Joseph Mussomeli, some of the Philippines’ top business leaders “raised the issue before American officials in 2005 as they feared for the worst for the country.”
Washington Sycip, a founding partner of the accounting firm SGV, reportedly told US officials that Mike Arroyo “is heavily involved in the illegal gambling (jueteng) networks and closely connected with major smuggling syndicates.”
The memo said that according to Sycip, “President Arroyo is aware of her husband’s misdeeds, but she is unwilling to do anything to cut his activities because he was instrumental in marshalling campaign donations and is now keeping those supporters in line to help her maintain her grip on power.”
According to the cable, Cabinet officials were also caught in a bind. “Many of their subordinates—Arroyo loyalists who were placed in key government positions—reported directly to the First Gentleman, bypassing the chain of command.”#
For US interests
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
In August 2008, at the height of the furor over the aborted Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the Arroyo government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that was supposed to have been signed in Malaysia in the presence of US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, Sen. Joker Arroyo expressed the nagging thought in many people’s minds when he said: “Nobody has asked the question of why Ambassador Kenney was there. What is the interest of the Americans there? The US does not participate in any affair without thinking it over. It was not a simple ribbon-cutting [at the opening] of a flower shop.”
Because no official explanation was forthcoming from the US government, the public had to make do with speculation and conjecture. Party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna charged that America was intent on cornering Mindanao’s vast untapped natural resources by husbanding the creation of, and then dealing directly with a presumably more malleable, Bangsamoro nation. Others said the US was interested in basing rights in that newly carved-out section of Mindanao as a bulwark in its fight against Islamic terrorists, many of whom had found refuge in the region.
The only response from the Americans came in the form of text messages from Rebecca Thompson, embassy spokeswoman, who said Kenney and the other diplomats were invited to the signing ceremony, but that “[the] US is not a party to negotiations… It’s between [the Philippine government] and MILF with Malaysia’s help, but the US is [a] committed partner for peace, development and prosperity in Mindanao.”
Online whistleblower WikiLeaks has just dismantled Thompson’s denial for the disingenuous double-talk that it was with the release of secret diplomatic cables touching on the MOA-AD, among other documents pertaining to the Philippines, that were sent by the US Embassy to Washington. While many of the memos purporting to be analyses of local conditions, especially those relating to the tumultuous years under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, appear to have been dressed-up regurgitations of everyday gossip, opinion and conventional wisdom that had otherwise freely floated in the country’s streets and airwaves, the cables do offer unexpected clarity and revelation about America’s movements and activities in the Philippines.
It can now be safely asserted, for instance, that the US had a direct and purposeful hand not only in the final draft of the proposed MOA-AD, but also in nudging the government and the MILF to agree to the terms of the deal—which, incidentally, would have stipulated that funding for socioeconomic projects in Mindanao be handed over to the World Bank and the US Agency for International Development. On the basis of a letter sent by then Moro rebel chief Hashim Salamat to US President George W. Bush on Jan. 20, 2003, the US government also took the unprecedented step of meeting secretly with the MILF—first with its vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jafaar in 2006, then with MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim in 2007.
In her report, Kenney said: “Our direct engagement is clearly welcomed by all parties and can help pull the complex peace process toward concrete progress, possibly including step-by-step eradication of terrorists from Mindanao.” No word of the Arroyo administration ever protesting the US government’s unilateral tête-à-tête with the MILF, which could mean it had finessed a separate understanding with the US, and was itself at pains to get the MOA-AD framework up and running.
Salamat’s plea for help from the US offered the wooly notion that America’s involvement in any peace agreement would help rectify its “sins” when it ceded Bangsamoro land in Mindanao to its then Philippine colony. No idea could be more deluded. America has never been repentant of its imperialist adventure in the Philippines, nor of its never-ending campaign to shape, influence and redirect developments to its favor, here or in any other part of the globe where it has planted the flag of American self-interest.
Realpolitik, not benevolence, guides its relations with the world. Like any self-respecting country, it acts chiefly on the basis of its vested needs and wants—a fact once more underscored by the WikiLeaks cables, which shows the US dipping its hand into various local concerns it felt it had a stake in, from the Mindanao problem to the threat cheaper medicines might pose to American pharmaceutical companies. America’s interests, it should be said, can and do often run diametrically against the Philippines’ own. Caveat emptor.#
UPHOLD FILIPINO AU PAIR RIGHTS AND WELFARE
MIGRANTE International Europe is one with Filipino au pairs in welcoming the long-awaited lifting of the travel ban by the Philippine government on the deployment of au pairs to Europe.
From the very start, Migrante International Europe has begun an information campaign to uphold the rights and welfare of Filipino au pairs in Europe, that included a strong demand to the Philippine government to look into the plight of Filipino au pairs in Europe in light of consistent reports of exploitation and abuse, and to effectively address those same complaints.
The measure to prevent the mostly young Filipino women au pairs from going to Europe to become au pairs has not effectively addressed the complaints but instead have persisted. Instead of taking corrective measures to prevent the abuse of the au pair system, the Philippine government arbitrarily banned the deployment of au pairs to Europe. Migrante International Europe campaigned for the lifting of the ban and took measures to respond to crisis situations of many au pairs.
Now that the gate has again been opened for young Filipino women to become au pairs, it is high time for the Philippine government to make sure that the rights and welfare of these young au pairs are protected and upheld. Towards this goal, the Philippine government should enter into bilateral talks with au pair-receiving countries in Europe to ensure that the International Convention on the Protection of Au Pairs is strictly observed on the ground. Further, we call on the Philippine government to immediately implement a monitoring system and a viable program to advance au pair rights and welfare and protect their interest as Filipino nationals on foreign soil.
Moreover, support should be given to au pairs to organize themselves for empowerment and to avail of platforms to advance their rights and welfare.
Unable to provide productive opportunities for its citizens in the Philippines, the Philippine government is all the more duty-bound to defend and protect the interests of its citizens while abroad, young Filipino au pairs included, despite, correctly, not being categorized as migrant workers.
Deployment abroad, whether as migrant workers or as au pairs, because of lack of domestic opportunities, should exempt them from being unjustly taxed or from paying fees that are burdensome to them and profitable to the government and a few greedy private recruitment agencies.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
27 February 2012
2 May 2012
Europe migrants join forces to fight for migrant and refugee rights
“Strenthen our ranks and struggle”, with these words echoing, more than 100 migrants and refugees representing mass organizations from several European countries gathered to convene the founding assembly of the Europe section of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) in Rome, Italy last April 29. The migrants and refugees at the IMA Europe launching came from the Philippines, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Nigeria, Senegal, Romania, Ukraine, Albania, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Tunisia.
With the theme, “Strengthen the unity of migrants to advance the struggle for rights and welfare in the midst of the worsening economic crisis, deportations and the criminalization of migrants in Europe”, the delegates militantly vowed to raise to a higher level their organized strength, voice and visibility, including their advocates in Europe, according to Grace Punongbayan of Migrante Europe, a member of the IMA International Coordinating Body, and one of the convenors of the IMA Europe founding assembly.
The IMA is a broad anti-imperialist alliance which defends and promotes the rights of migrants, immigrants and refugees in all parts of the globe. It has a membership of 108 organizations of various nationalities in 25 countries and was founded in June 2008 in Hong Kong. Since then, it has spearheaded various international campaigns advancing migrant and refugee rights and welfare, and the convening of the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR), in Manila in 2008, in Athens in 2009, and in Mexico in 2010, as counter to the government-led Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD).
The migrants and refugees, who assembled at the Casa per Ferie Sacro Cuore in the Italian capital, unfurled a mural crafted by a young Filipino refugee in the Netherlands, offered candles, flowers and a one-minute silence for migrants and refugees who died in detention, deportation and on the borders of Europe. There are now 14,000 recorded deaths of people trying to cross Europe’s borders, particularly those crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe, according to the Amsterdam-based anti-racist group United for Inter-cultural Action. In 2011 alone, there were 1,500 deaths.
“We are holding this assembly to fight for justice – against the anti-migrant policies of the US and EU governments, we fight for justice for the working people, the unemployed, the pensioners and the poor. In our home countries, we fight for a social system that creates jobs, where family members are not forced to migrate and look for work abroad as a means of survival. In so doing, we fight for a world where there are jobs for the jobless, homes for the homeless, food for the hungry, and justice for all,” stressed Punongbayan in her keynote speech to the assembly.
The whole-day assembly was highlighted by animated and passionate discussions on the general situation of migrants and refugees in Europe, which is host to some 72.6 million migrants, and the particular situation in several European countries such as Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Belgium and Germany.
The delegates talked about their exploitation, threats of expulsion, loss of jobs, the denial of their right to access social services, the isolation of refugees in camps and asylum centers denying them social contact with the local people, denial of their right to free movement, deportations, tragic deaths of relatives, co-migrants and refugees,missing loved ones, the imperialist-instigated wars they suffered from, and racism and discrimination.
The delegates adopted the IMA constitution, bases of unity, general program of action, and resolved – to break the silence on the inhuman treatment of refugees, particularly in Germany; to call on the Italian state to locate Karim Mbarki, a missing son of Tunisian parents, while attempting to seek safe refuge in Italy; to call for democratic reforms in Ukraine; and, to actively engage other migrants and advocates during the upcoming Alternative Forum being organized by the IMA parallel to the World Social Forum on Migration to be held in Manila in November this year.
The delegates also vowed to launch this year a vigorous campaign against the European Union “Return Directive” that seeks to criminalize some 12 million undocumented migrant workers in Europe and deport them back to their home countries.
To lead the IMA Europe is a 7-person committee that will ensure that the program of the alliance adopted at the assembly is advanced, and that this international movement of migrants and refugees reaches out to more migrants across the continent.
The IMA Europe committee is composed of the following: Luz Miriam Jaramillo (Colombia) of Comitato Immigrati-Italy, chairperson; Teddy Dalisay (Philippines) of Umangat Migrante-Rome, vice chairperson; Grace Punongbayan (Philippines) of Migrante Europe-Netherlands, secretary general; Manuel Sarmiento (Philippines) of Migrante-Austria, treasurer; Bye Uba (Senegal) of DIOUF-Milan, member; Marcia Quizpi (Ecuador) of Frente Unido de Inmigrantes en Espana-Spain, member; and, Osaren Igbinoba (Nigeria) of the Voice Refugee Forum- Germany, member.###
MIGRANTE Europe (IMA Europe section secretariat)
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Emails: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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CRISIS OF GLOBAL CAPITALISM ENGENDERS PEOPLE’S RESISTANCE
Lecture to a Class on Political Mobilization
at the Centre for Conflict Studies, Utrecht University
16 May 2012
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
I would like to discuss how the current crisis of global capitalism has
affected the long-running revolutionary mass movement in the
Philippines. I presume that you can follow my references to my country
with the help of the previous lecture I gave on how I participated in
the organization of the revolutionary movement. Prof. Fumerton has been
kind enough to distribute copies of this to you.
I would also like to give you my reflections on mass movements that have
surged in several countries during the last 18 months. I refer to the
so-called Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East, the movements
ignited by austerity measures in Europe and the Occupy Movement, which
started as the mass action to occupy Wall Street. I may make quick
references to other mass movements but time constraint does not allow me
to discuss these at length.
In my discussion of the past and present of the mass movements, I shall
take into account the objective conditions and subjective factors that
determine the character and course of development of a particular mass
movement and that show the similarities and differences of several mass
movements. I shall offer, as the last part of my discussion, a general
estimate on the future of militant activism and socio-political
Revolutionary Mass Movement in the Philippines
When my fellow students and I organized the Student Cultural Association
of the University of the Philippines in 1959, we advocated a patriotic,
scientific and pro-people system of culture and education. In that
connection, we had the clear intention of developing a mass movement
among students in our university as well as in other universities in
Manila and nationwide and eventually of linking up with a potential mass
movement of workers and peasants against US domination, domestic
feudalism and bureaucratic corruption.
We were determined to carry out the immediate objective of raising the
level of debate from one between the bourgeois liberals and the
religio-sectarians within the university to a higher one between the
Filipino people and the few who benefited from the semi-colonial and
semi-feudal ruling system. Our overriding objective was to continue the
unfinished Philippine revolution of 1896 as well as the armed revolution
led by the old Communist Party, which was defeated in 1950-1952.
In our study circles, we adopted a course on the Philippine revolution
along the general line of struggle for national liberation and democracy
and an additional course on Marxism-Leninism to shed light on socialism
as our revolutionary perspective. We sought to learn from the
revolutionary teachings and experience of Filipino revolutionaries as
well as from the thinkers and leaders of the international communist
We learned from Marx and Engels that the development of industrial
capitalism had opened the way for the working class to take power and
build socialism. We learned from Lenin that the emergence of monopoly
capitalism had ushered in the era of modern imperialism and proletarian
revolution and that revolutions in the less developed parts of the world
could be led by the working class and could bring about not only
democracy but subsequently also socialism.
Lenin pointed out that for a revolution to succeed there must be a
revolutionary crisis of the ruling system which prevents the ruling
class from ruling in the old way, the broad masses of the people desire
revolutionary change and the revolutionary party of the proletariat must
be strong enough to lead the revolution. Mao taught us further that the
chronic crisis in a semi-colonial and semi-feudal country like China and
the Philippines can sustain not only a militant mass movement but also a
protracted people’s war for the purpose of achieving the people’s
The student organization which I chaired held its first big extramural
demonstration in 1961. With 5000 students, we rose in defense of
academic freedom and in defiance of the Anti-Subversion Law which the
reactionary Congress was using to witch hunt professors and students
like me who had written anti-imperialist and anti-feudal articles in
Subsequently, we linked up with the workers and peasants in mass protest
actions for national independence against unequal treaties and
agreements with the US, particularly those involving US economic
domination and the persistence of US military bases. We also demanded
national industrialization and land reform. We, the student activists,
found our way into the trade unions and peasant associations, as
volunteers in social research, initiators of seminars and participants
in strikes and protest actions.
In 1964 we formed the Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic Youth), a
comprehensive organization of students, young workers, young peasants
and young professionals. This became practically the spearhead of
campaigns to arouse, organize and mobilize the masses. It promoted the
national united front against imperialism and local reaction. It helped
to pave the way for the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the
Philippines under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought in
December 1968 and the founding of the New People’s Army in March1969. It
provided these two revolutionary forces with the nationwide basis for
The mass protests spearheaded by the Kabataang Makabayan often ranged
from 5000 to 20,000 until the First Quarter Storm of 1970. This involved
huge marches and rallies of 50,000 to 100,000 people in Manila every
week from January to March in 1970 against the Marcos regime on various
issues. The protest actions spread to the provinces. We can say that the
foundation for the overthrow of the Marcos regime through gigantic mass
actions was firmly established in 1970.
But Marcos forestalled his overthrow by engaging in brutal actions and
by proclaiming martial law in 1972 in order to impose a fascist
dictatorship on the people. The US and the puppet Marcos thought that
they could put an end to the mass movement for national liberation and
democracy. But the fascist dictatorship unwittingly served to strengthen
the armed revolutionary movement. It forced the mass organizations to go
underground and many of the mass activists to join the people’s army and
spread the people’s war throughout the country.
Ultimately, the Marcos fascist regime fell as a result of sustained mass
actions ranging from 50,000 to 500,000 participants repeatedly
converging in Manila and thousands more thronging provincial capitals
and cities from 1983 onwards. The mass actions peaked to 2 million
participants on the Edsa alone in the days leading to the fall of
Marcos. The fascist dictatorship lasted for 14 years because it had the
support of the US, most of the bishops in the Catholic Church and most
of the big compradors and landlords. The counterrevolutionary forces
gave up their support for Marcos out of fear that the entire ruling
system might be brought down with his regime by the growing
revolutionary mass movement.
So far until now, the US and local reactionary forces have managed to
preserve the reactionary ruling system. They always try to dress up all
the regimes succeeding the Marcos regime as democratic. But these
regimes continue the anti-national, anti-democratic and anti-people
policies of Marcos and are hated by the people, because of the ceaseless
deterioration of economic, social and political conditions and because
of persistent corruption and repression. The militant mass movement
succeeded in overthrowing the Estrada regime in 2001 and nearly
overthrew the Arroyo regime.
The militant legal mass movement and the armed revolutionary movement
have grown in strength, especially since after the CPP undertook its
rectification movement from 1992 to 1998 to correct major errors in the
!980s and to strengthen the revolutionary forces. The US-instigated
neoliberal policy of imperialist globalization and the US-directed
campaigns of military suppression have inflicted terrible suffering on
the Filipino people and have generated ever more fertile conditions for
The current grave crisis of the US and the world capitalist system is
aggravating the chronic crisis of Philippine society. The reduced US and
global demand for the raw-material, semi-manufacture and cheap-labor
exports of the Philippines is resulting in huge trade and budgetary
crisis and a mounting public debt burden. The people are suffering from
massive unemployment, lower incomes, soaring prices of fuel, food and
other basic commodities, homelessness, more expensive but deteriorating
social services and other maladies that aggravate poverty and misery.
The militant mass movement of the workers, peasants, youth, women and
other people is on the upsurge in both urban and rural areas. The New
People’s Army led by the Communist Party is intensifying its tactical
offensives in order to advance from the strategic defensive to the
strategic stalemate in the people’s war. The guerrilla fronts are being
increased. The revolutionary organs of democratic political power are
displacing the reactionary government in the localities. They are
supported by the mass organizations and the broad masses of the people.
Mass Movements in the Last 18 Months Elsewhere
In the last 18 months, militant mass actions have broken out in several
continents and in many countries, as if the whole world were on fire.
They are reminiscent of the 1960s when the youth and working people
worldwide rose up to denounce the US war of aggression in Indochina and
raise a wide range of social and political demands. This time the
widespread protest mass actions are generated by the crisis of the world
capitalist system which has become extremely severe since 2008.
Mass uprisings started in Tunisia on 17 December 2010 and spread to
various countries in North Africa and the Middle East in succeeding
months. The regimes tried harshly to suppress the uprisings but these
persevered and brought down the rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and
Yemen. Mass uprisings also broke out in major proportions in Bahrain and
Syria. Mass protest actions burst out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait,
Morocco and elsewhere.
The bourgeois mass media have referred to the mass uprisings as the Arab
Spring. They have also given so much credit to the high-tech
communication gadgets in the hands of the youth and the internet social
networks for the agitation and mobilization of the people. But to look
for the causes of the mass uprisings, it is much more important to focus
on the objective conditions, especially the socio-economic and political
The worsening crisis of the world capitalist system has brought about
the deterioration of national economic, social and political conditions.
The young people, the working people, and even the middle class have
become discontented with the rising unemployment, decreased incomes,
soaring prices of goods and services, and the rampant corruption and
repressiveness of the long-running autocratic regimes. The
self-immolation of the young man, Mohamed Bouazizi, served to ignite the
conflagration in Tunisia and in the other countries.
The first to be overthrown was Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben
Ali on 14 January 2011, and followed by President Hosni Mubarak on 11
February 2011. Both Ben Ali and Mubarak lost their personal grip on the
armed forces under the pressure of the mass uprisings. In Libya, the US
and the NATO undertook a bombing campaign and special operations of
several months to enable the opposition to finish off the Qadaffi regime
in October 2011.
Of the fallen rulers, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh lasted the
longest until he quit power on 27 February 2012 under the pressure of
the relentless mass actions. Currently, the US and the NATO are
collaborating with the local opposition and the so-called Free Syrian
Army in Syria in order to overthrow President Bashar al Assad.
In the countries where regime change has occurred, the ruling system
persists and the same exploiting classes remain. The imperialist powers
retain their dominance and control of the armed forces, whether these
are slightly reorganized or drastically reorganized as in Libya. Thus,
many people who rose up against the despotic regimes in Tunisia, Egypt
and Yemen are manifesting their desire to continue what they consider as
unfinished revolutions. In Libya, many people consider themselves
betrayed by the new rulers and robbed of their political independence,
oil and financial resources by the imperialist powers.
For a long period of time before the recent mass uprisings, autocratic
regimes suppressed revolutionary parties of the proletariat and other
Left formations. . But despite their limited strength, these have been
able to draw benefits from the mass uprisings and the sharpening of
contradictions among factions of the reactionary classes. The
progressive and revolutionary forces have found a growing space for
their political activity.
But certain Islamic forces of various reactionary types (Salafi, Muslim
Brotherhood and the like) are also drawing political advantage from the
situation more than the secular progressive forces. They are generally
regarded by the imperialist powers as less dangerous and more manageable
than the categorically anti-imperialist and democratic forces. The
complexity of the situation challenges the forces and people who wish to
overthrow the ruling system and achieve social revolution.
As a consequence of the crisis of the world capitalist system, the
public debt crisis became conspicuous in the Europe in late 2009. The
countries most adversely affected were Portugal, Ireland, Greece and
Spain. Their economic conditions became depressed and the rate of
unemployment rose beyond 20 per cent and among the youth beyond 40
percent. The European finance ministers decided on creating the European
Financial Stability Facility to bail out the distressed governments in
exchange for the enactment of austerity measures at the expense of the
The communist parties, trade unions, progressive associations of youth,
women and professionals, civic associations, communities, anarchists and
other groups of people joined the mass movement against the austerity
measures, unemployment, reduction of wages and social benefits and the
rising costs and deterioration of social services. The austerity
measures adopted by the bourgeois ruling class and governments were seen
as measures to further shift the burden of the crisis to the people and
to aggravate the problems rather than to solve them. I can refer to the
mass movements only in Portugal, Spain and Greece because of time
The people of Portugal registered their opposition to the austerity
measures with more than 200,000 marching and rallying on 12 March 2011
in Lisbon and Oporto alone. Protests were also held in all other major
cities in Portugal to exert nationwide pressure on the government and
the political parties supporting the austerity measures. The prime
minister was forced to resign as a result of the failure of parliament
to pass the austerity measures.
The people of Spain launched their nationwide series of demonstrations
starting on15 May 2011, with 50,000 people in Madrid. The participants
tended to rise from thousands in various Spanish cities in May to
hundreds of thousands in July, and to 500,000 to a million in major
cities in October. Many of the participants called themselves the
indignados (the indignants or the outraged). They contacted each other
through the internet social networks and through the Democracia Real Ya
website. They counted 200 small associations as their base and
prohibited members of political parties from bringing their party
banners to the demonstrations.
The so-called Indignant Citizens Movement in Greece started its
demonstrations on 25 May and held them in various Greek cities from May
to July. It held the biggest one in front of the Greek Parliament on 5
June, with around 500,000. It allowed communists, trade unionist and
communist youth to join the demonstrations but not to bring their
banners. On their own account, the communist formations and their trade
unions and mass organizations of youth, women and professionals launched
strikes and street protest actions in various places in Athens and in
all the other Greek cities. Affiliates of the International League of
Peoples’ Struggle were able to participate in the mass protests.
The protest actions in Greece were much heralded for their militancy
because their pressure caused a crisis in government and because they
kept on arising up to July, then in October and further in 2012 despite
attacks from the police, starting on 29 June 2011 in Athens. The rich
tapestry of people’s resistance included all the mass actions in the
major cities of Greece and several converging points in every city.
The communist and other Left organizations and their united front Syriza
scored high in the recent parliamentary elections because of their
consistent opposition to the austerity measures and the troika of the
IMF, European Union and the European Central Bank that imposed the
measures. These imperialist institutions continue to worry about and
maneuver against the progressive political forces and trends in Greece.
The initiators launched the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US in
September 2011. They were imaginative at choosing the Zucotti Park to
put up their tents and raise the issues against the financial oligarchy
and against the growing disparity of incomes between the overwhelming
majority of the people and the tiny elite. They proclaimed that they
stood for the 99 percent against the 1 percent of the population who use
the banks and corporations to exploit the people and accumulate wealth
and power. As in the ÂArab SpringÂ and in the case of the Indignados,
they availed of the high tech gadgets and the social networks to
broadcast their cause and communicate with each other.
Because they made good propaganda, hitting the mark against the most
exploitative and aggressive tip of the US social pyramid, the
progressive forces of the youth, the workers, and various sections of
the population supported the Occupy Wall Street movement and joined in
spreading the Occupy movement to hundreds of US cities. They did not pay
much attention to the prating of the anarchists about leaderless
movements and nonviolent resistance. The important thing to them was
that urgent social issues were being taken up against the US ruling
system, and that the methods of occupying public places and setting up
tents were good tactics.
The influence of the Occupy movement spread fast in the US and
worldwide, far beyond the control of the few anarchists who in the first
place had proclaimed that they were averse to forming vertical
organizational structures and that they were for horizontal
participatory democracy. The movement was quite open and did not ban the
participation of any group interested in raising the issues and demands.
Thus, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, which I chair,
decided to contribute to the undertaking of mass actions under the name
of the Occupy movement in many US cities and countries of the world.
The Indignados Movement and Occupy Movement reached their highest peak
in October 2011. Since then, they have tended to subside. They are not
as militant and as sharp as the mass uprisings of the so-called Arab
Spring which have sought to overthrow anti-democratic regimes and have
been subjected to the ferocious reaction of the rulers. Nevertheless,
the police have harassed, disrupted and dispersed the Occupy activists,.
The winter also discouraged camping in tents. The initiators of the
Indignados and Occupy movements have been trying to revive their
movements since March this year.
Left formations in the US like the United National Antiwar Coalition and
the ad hoc Coalition against NATO and G8 have been planning and
preparing mass protest actions against the G8 and NATO in Chicago this
May. The various Communist formations and other Left groups in Europe
have been able to form alliances and launch militant workers’ strikes
and protest mass actions against the governments responsible for the
public debt crisis and the austerity measures, especially in Greece,
Spain, Portugal and Italy. The recent big demonstrations of the
Indignados in Spain to celebrate the first anniversary of their mass
movement show its continuing high potential.
The various Communist formations competing for the role of the
revolutionary party of the proletariat in the imperialist countries
still suffer from the limitations and weaknesses that developed during
the decades of the Cold War, the spread of revisionist ideas, the
neoliberal economic policy and other kinds of imperialist offensives.
The imperialist states in Europe are still shielded from the Communist
challenge by a panoply of parties, including the Christian democrats,
the liberals, the social democrats, and the greens, and by the see-saw
of public sentiment between the relative Left and the absolute Right in
electoral contests. The polarization of political forces will continue
as the socio-economic conditions deteriorate.
The bankruptcy of the neoliberal economic policy has brought imperialist
countries to the worst economic and social crisis since the Great
Depression. This crisis is becoming worse. And the imperialist powers
and the business magnates cannot solve it because they cling
dogmatically to the policy that has brought it about in the first place.
Upon the prolongation and worsening of the crisis, the revolutionary
parties of the proletariat and the revolutionary mass organizations of
workers, women, youth, professionals and other people have the chance to
strengthen themselves in the course of the struggle against those who
exploit and oppress them.
In the third word countries, the anti-imperialist and democratic mass
movements are becoming more militant and stronger in response to the
escalating exploitation and oppression by the imperialists and local
reactionaries. The peoples being subjected to imperialist wars of
aggression, intervention and occupation are becoming more ferocious in
fighting back and in trying to win back their national independence. The
armed revolutionary mass movements for national liberation and democracy
The Future of Militant Activism and Socio-Political Mobilization
The severity of the crisis of global capitalism is now generating and
will continue to generate, militant activism and socio-political
mobilization. The aggrieved working people and the youth have no choice
but to protest and fight against the dire social conditions of rising
unemployment, decreasing incomes, soaring costs of living, homelessness,
reduced social benefits and deteriorating social services, and to demand
respect for their rights, dignity and well-being. They will continue to
struggle for democracy and aim for socialism. They will fight back even
more as the monopoly capitalists and all kinds of reactionaries engage
in actions to suppress or derail the mass movement of the people.
The 1 percent that have the most wealth and power insist on maintaining
the capitalist system and in particular the neoliberal economic policy
which has resulted in the crisis comparable to the Great Depression of
the 1930s in terms of gravity and global scope in the destruction of
productive forces. They know no bounds for engaging in debt financing,
increasing the public debt and aggravating the public debt crisis; and
for adopting austerity measures to further shift the burden of crisis to
the people. To protect their narrow interests, they whip up
ultra-reactionary currents like chauvinism, racial discrimination,
religious bigotry and fascism, and they engage in repression, state
terrorism and wars of aggression.
At the root of the crisis is the internal law of motion of capitalism
that drives the owners of capital to maximize their profits and further
accumulate capital by minimizing the wages of the workers. This leads to
the crisis of overproduction, as the real producers of wealth cannot
afford to buy their own products. In their attempt to overcome the
crisis of overproduction and the tendency of the profit rate to fall,
the monopoly capitalist class has resorted to the abusive expansion of
the money supply, credit, and all kinds of financial derivatives in
order to raise their profits and overvalue their assets. All these
maneuvers have led to the catastrophic financial and economic crisis
which confronts us now and in more time to come.
The adoption of high technology means higher productivity. But in the
capitalist system this has served to accelerate the private accumulation
of capital by a few, the reduction of wage incomes, and the rapid
recurrence and aggravation of the crisis of overproduction. Those who
strive to constantly expand the market ultimately shrink it. High
technology has been used to accelerate the creation of one big financial
bubble after another, to speed up superprofit-taking from the
underdeveloped countries, to make the mass media more effective as
weapons of mass distraction, and to produce the deadliest of the weapons
of mass destruction.
The use of high technology by the monopoly bourgeoisie and the financial
oligarchy has brought about terrible suffering to the people. But this
also drives the people to wage mass resistance. And they can make use of
some of this technology, especially in the field of communications, in
order to aid and accelerate their own mass movement against their
exploiters and oppressors.
They have now in their hands the means of communication that can
broadcast revolutionary ideas and information in a matter of seconds to
the whole world, and that can facilitate the mobilization of people for
political action. Their fighting spirit is also raised high by the hope
that someday they shall be in control of the high technology for the
purpose of producing goods and services to serve the needs of the people
and not to serve the profit-making by a few.
The struggle between labor and capital will sharpen in the years to
come, as the structural crisis of capitalism and imperialism worsens. We
see only the beginnings of a powerful mass movement in the widespread
workers strikes and people’s protests in capitalist countries like
France, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain; in the mass actions
for jobs, in defense of migrants, and against wars of aggression as in
the US; and in the militant protests of the unemployed youth, in the
student strikes for the right to education, and against rising tuition
fees and decreased state support for education as in the US, Canada,
United Kingdom and other countries. The phenomena of mass protests are
increasing. The workers and the rest of the people cannot accept the
painful paradox of rising productivity resulting in mass lay-offs, less
income and impoverishment
The global depression involves the reduction of demand from the
developed countries for the raw material and semi-manufacture exports of
the underdeveloped countries. This is resulting in the massive
destruction of productive forces and the aggravation of poverty in the
underdeveloped countries. Social discontent is widespread and
deep-going. It is fuelling mass protest actions, unprecedented mass
uprisings, and the growth of armed revolutionary movements for national
and social liberation led by revolutionary parties of the working class
and in the context of the revolutionary united front. Social unrest and
people’s resistance are growing in big countries like China, India,
Russia and Brazil previously praised by the imperialists as partners in
the exploitation of cheap labor and cheap raw materials under the
neoliberal policy of globalization.
Beset by internal economic and financial crisis and by the crisis of the
world capitalist system, the imperialist powers are still trying to keep
their unity and cooperation at the expense of the underdeveloped
countries, even as they are tending towards protectionism and
intensifying competition with each other economically and politically. A
struggle for a re-division of the world among the imperialist powers is
becoming conspicuous as they compete for sources of fuel and raw
materials, markets, fields of investment, and spheres of influence.
The escalation of military expenditures for war production and wars of
aggression, and the rise of such ultra-reactionary currents as
chauvinism, anti-migrants, racism, religious bigotry, and fascism
challenge the people in imperialist countries and in the whole world to
be vigilant and militant in upholding, defending and promoting their
democratic rights and their struggle for a fundamentally new and better
world of greater freedom, democracy, social justice, all-round
development, international solidarity and peace.
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FIGHTER FOR THE LIBERATION OF WOMEN AND THE PEOPLE
Tribute to Maita Gomez (Final Text)
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
13 July 2012
Julie and I wish to express our most heartfelt condolences to the children and other relatives of Maita Gomez; and to all her comrades and friends. All of us are deeply saddened by her unexpected demise.
Until her cardiac arrest, we had thought that she had many more years to serve the people in their struggle for national liberation and democracy and the women in their struggle for gender equality and for their full participation in all social endeavors. Nevertheless, her life is full of significant and outstanding achievements in fulfilling her revolutionary commitment and in rendering service to the people and the women’s liberation movement.
Since the resurgence of the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal movement in the Philippines in the 1960s, the patriotic and progressive forces have always taken a special interest in the development of the women’s movement and in the increased participation of women in the struggle for national liberation and democracy.
We are enlightened by the writings and deeds of revolutionary women leaders like Clara Zetkin and Aleksandra Kollontai and inspired by the heroic examples of Gabriela Silang, Melchora Aquino, Gregoria de Jesus and other revolutionary Filipino women leaders. We are guided by Mao’s teaching that the women hold up half of the sky. The activists of the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines, the Women’s Bureau of Kabataang Makabayan and the women in the labor unions, peasant associations and professional circles carried forward the progressive role of women.
As cadres of the national democratic movement, we were elated by the emergence of Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (Makibaka) from the Women’s Bureau and women members of Kabataang Makabayan and the dramatic ways by which Makibaka demonstrated the necessity and importance of the role of women in the struggle to achieve the radical transformation of society in all major respects. Even as Makibaka was initially a small organization, its protest actions stirred the interest of women in various fields.
Makibaka and its leading figure Lorena Barros succeeded in attracting to the progressive movement women who were nationally prominent. They included beauty queens who won in prestigious pageants and were known to be exceptionally intelligent. Among them was Maita Gomez, Miss Philippines of 1967. They used their celebrity status to advantage in denouncing not only the reactionary character of beauty contests but also the entire ruling system. They spoke on major issues affecting women and the entire people.
Maita Gomez was inspired and energized by the First Quarter Storm of 1970, the Diliman Commune of 1971andthe furthermass protest actions until 1972. She wanted to be a revolutionary. And she availed of the opportunities in sight for learning about the revolution. She was influenced by the events that led to the making of Makibaka. However, she received her initial education in Marxism-Leninism and Philippine society and revolution in the Humanist League of the Philippines which was a small and laid-back group in the University of the Philippines, under the influence of the Cultural Bureau of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
After the First Quarter Storm of 1970, in which large numbers of women activists participated, Lorena Barros came to our mountain camp in Barrio Dipogo in Isabela to report on developments in the women’s movement and to discuss plans regarding Makibaka. She mentioned some former beauty queens being sympathetic to the national democratic movement and she regarded them as figures whose celebrity was effective for supporting the patriotic and progressive stand on national issues.
Lorena and Maita knew each other and the latter would eventually maintain an enduring relationship with Lorena’s family even long after her death.
When martial law was proclaimed by the Marcos regime in order to impose a fascist dictatorship on the people, Maita decided to go underground in Manila. I was aware of her situation through the officers of the Education Department of the Party General Secretariat who were in charge of her. For a while I considered taking her into my outer staff in Nueva Ecija. There was then a possibility for posting her in the hacienda house of an ally. But comrades decided to assign her for underground staff work in Baguio City. The house she was in was raided by the enemy and she was arrested.
Through the National Liaison Committee of the Party, I came to know her plan to escape from Camp Olivas and I monitored how she actually escaped, with the help of a military officer who brought her out of the camp with him. Then some comrades in charge of accommodating Maita became concerned about the motive and behavior of the officer and about the vulnerabilty of the underground house which was close to a police station. They were able to consult me. Thus, a plan was adopted and carried out by the Party organ concerned to separate her from him and further ensure her safety.
I leave others to narrate in more detail how subsequently she and her partner Joey Decena were at first deployed in a guerrilla zone in the Quezon-Bicol border area and how they were redeployed to a guerrilla zone in eastern Nueva Ecija in Central Luzon. In both guerrilla zones, they lived and performed duties as communist cadres and guerrilla fighters. In the latter guerrilla zone, Ka Joey died as a martyr in a battle. When Ka Maita fell sick, she was brought to Manila for treatment and recovery.
Other comrades can better narrate how as a result of certain tactics and certain circumstances, Ka Maita was able to surface and join the legal movement against the Marcos fascist dictatorship in the 1980s. She co-founded the Gabriela in 1984. This emerged as the largest patriotic and progressive alliance of women’s organizations. She was also one of the principal leaders of the Women for the Ouster of Marcos and Boycott (WOMB). She co-founded in 1986 the first political party of women in Philippine history, Kababaihan para sa Inangbayan (KAIBA).
Julie met Maita in 1984 and they became friends as they worked together in the movement to oust the Marcos fascist dictatorship. The three of us met at her Ermita apartment after I was released from military detention in 1986. We became barkada. We attended many public meetings and social gatherings together. On many occasions, we exchanged ideas about women and the revolutionary movement. She was then engaged in women’s studies as an activist, scholar and teacher at St. Scholastica. We had become very close comrades and friends by the time Julie and I left for abroad for our global university lecture tour at the end of August in 1986.
From abroad, I learned that she had serious differences with Popoy Lagman with regard to her candidacy in the 1987 elections. She drew away from his organizational sway. But she stayed committed to the principles of the revolutionary movement. I sent word to her to stay firm in order to encourage her. At first, she did not recognize the necessity and importance of the Second Great Rectification Movement but ultimately she embraced it as soon as she came to understand the issues. She became more active in the national democratic movement. Others can narrate how she spoke and fought in the service of the people from the 1990s to the time of her death.
I met Maita for the last time in May 2009 in Amsterdam. She was winding up her work as economist in IBON Foundation. And she was happy that in the previous month she was elected co-chairperson of the Makabayan Coalition and that Gabriela which she had co-founded celebrated its 25th anniversary and all its glorious achievements.
Our conversation was wide ranging, covering so many topics, serious as well as funny. It lasted from about 8 pm to 4 am. She expressed her strong commitment to the cause of development through national industrialization and land reform and her outrage over the plunder of natural resources and destruction of the environment by the imperialist and big comprador mining firms. She was optimistic about how the patriotic and progressive forces would advance further in the legal democratic movement and in the anticipated elections of 2010.
We are all proud of our beloved Comrade Maita Gomez as an outstanding freedom fighter. She has bequeathed to us and future generations a rich legacy of writings and activism in the service of women and the entire people. We shall always love and remember her for her hard work, intelligence, sacrifices and for all her positive contributions to the national democratic movement.###
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: +31 (0)30-2310431 Fax: +31 (0)84-7589930
Mailing address: Amsterdamsestraatweg 50, NL-3513 AG Utrecht, Netherlands
By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
Maita Gomez (1947-2012): Beauty transfigured
“The new woman, the new Filipina, is first and foremost a militant…She is a woman who has discovered the exalting realm of responsibility, a woman fully engaged in the making of history…” – Ma. Lorena Barros, “Liberated Women II”
I only met Maita Gomez, one of two fabled beauty queens turned revolutionaries (the other one is Nelia Sancho), after she had already surfaced from the underground in the early ‘80s and became one of the leading lights of the resurgent women’s liberation movement in the Philippines. She helped found the nationalist and democratic women’s alliance GABRIELA, the anti-dictatorship women’s alliance WOMB (Women for the Ouster of Marcos and Boycott) and, after the Marcos Dictatorship had been overthrown, the first all-women political party, KAIBA (Kababaihan para sa Inangbayan), under whose banner she ran but lost for a seat in Congress representing the Malate district in Manila.
Still, she and I were only peripherally acquainted with one another. She was then studying for her masters degree in Development Economics, was involved with several non-government organizations that were politically more liberal than Left and, except for the annual March 8 International Women’s Day rally and some other GABRIELA activities, seemed busy with concerns other than mainstream Leftist projects or activities.
It was only as recent as 2008, when a long-time common friend asked us out to lunch, that Maita and I warmed up to each other. I had till then no idea that she had been holding some kind of grudge against me because she had been told I was spreading nasty rumors about her. She casually brought it up and when I denied it as completely false, she immediately took my word for it, setting the matter aside.
Thereupon we plunged into an animated discussion on how to broaden the movement to oust Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from power. That was the beginning of our friendship and more fruitful cooperation in projects with that objective.
In time, she grew more and more active again in the national democratic movement in varied ways. She agreed to be a co-convenor of the broad formation, Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change in 2009, together with such personalities as activist nun Sr. Mary John Mananzan, writer Bibeth Orteza, whistleblower Jun Lozada, UP professor Judy Taguiwalo and myself as BAYAN chairperson.
She was also active in the human rights movement; she agreed to be in the National Council of SELDA (Samahan ng mga Ex-detainee Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya), the martial law-era human rights organization that has consistently worked for freedom and general amnesty of all political prisoners. She worked for a time with the progressive think tank, IBON Foundation.
But what really excited her was the founding of the Leftist political party Makabayan that launched the senatorial bids of GABRIELA Women’s Party representative Liza Maza and Bayan Muna congressman Satur Ocampo. Maita was elected Makabayan Co-Chairperson. She was in the thick of brainstorming, tacticizing and working to build up Makabayan organizationally in time for the 2013 elections when she died unexpectedly last July 12 due to a heart attack.
Maita’s sudden demise and the consequent revelation of many of the lesser-known details of her extraordinary life, has only further deepened what to many is an enigma.
Why did someone like Maita Gomez – scion to landed clans, toasted as tallest and prettiest in the exclusive circle of debutante-models of high society, with a sharp intellect and an uncommon wilfulness to boot – turn into a revolutionary, a guerrilla fighter of the New People’s Army in her youth, then a champion of women’s liberation, an advocate for the voice of the Left in the electoral arena, and a defender of the national patrimony (against wanton exploitation by mining companies) among many of her specific causes in later years.
On the one hand, those who knew her well would say, it was vintage Maita. As she had emphatically taught her children, the important thing in life is to choose to do the right thing when the time comes, and to do it the best way you can, quietly and without fanfare.
Mara Llanot, a close friend, wrote: “At UP (University of the Philippines), the bedrock of student activism, Maita befriended poor students, went to her first demo against the Vietnam War, got her first exposure in the rural areas on a medical mission, where she collected medicines, donations, etc… From AB Pre-med, she shifted to Philosophy. ‘The movement appealed to all my deepest beliefs. My involvement translated ideals into action.’”
According to Jose Maria Sison, founding chairperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines: “Maita Gomez was inspired and energized by the First Quarter Storm of 1970, the Diliman Commune of 1971and the further mass protest actions until 1972. She wanted to be a revolutionary. And she availed of the opportunities in sight for learning about the revolution.”
When martial law was declared, Maita, like so many youth and student activists at the time, decided to go underground, initially in Manila and then Baguio City. She was arrested, escaped detention and was deployed, upon her request, to the countryside and the NPA, first to the Bicol-Quezon border, and then Central Luzon, where she endured the rigors and hardships of a guerrilla’s life.
Llanot describes matter-of-factly how Maita sundered her relationship with her first husband when he asked her to choose between their marriage and her deeply-felt beliefs and commitments. And how she turned her back to her father’s entreaties that she abandon her plans to go underground. It gives us an idea about her decisiveness to indeed translate her ideals into action but not half of the pain that accompanies such decisions.
For Maita was not impervious to emotions. As Llanot avers, “Maita recalls, teary-eyed, how the people sheltered her in times of danger, how they shared with her what little they had.”
Llanot’s quote from Maita reveals a profound insight that transcended class prejudices, and could explain why Maita would thereafter consistently take the side of the downtrodden even against her own class : “Decent poor people have incredible courage because they face the same vicissitudes in life we face with nothing, without a bank account, without connections, no electricity, no back-up system. They’re so incredibly brave just to face their day-to-day life. I have come to appreciate their intelligence and their scientific knowledge. They live with nature. They know the laws of nature so intimately. I find this fascinating and admirable. I find that the poor are such generous people. Really, they are the children of God.”
Maita resumed her political activism in the legal arena after she got sick and came down from the hills. Not immediately but eventually. She could have gone back to her former carefree and privileged life or quietly earned a living, taking care of her children and safely pursuing her non-political interests that she had neglected while she was a full-time revolutionary. But she chose not to.
“Hindi importante yan, pero bahala sila sa gusto nila,” she would tell her children and friends whenever her current passions and lifestyle were juxtaposed to her having once been rich and famous. She especially hated it and was visibly annoyed when even in “movement” affairs she was introduced as a former beauty queen, as if it matters all that much to what she believed in and dedicated herself to doing.
Once she told me, in between puffs of cigarette smoke, that she had come to a point in her life when she decided she would not spend the time, money and effort to try to keep her youthful looks. She had far more important things to do.
But she was not beyond using – or enduring – her celebrityhood as a means to gain adherents to causes and projects she considered worthwhile. What was important was the purpose it served; that ultimately, lending her famous name and face would help advance the people’s national and democratic aspirations and women’s emancipation.
Maita, however, had already proven that she had much, much more to contribute other than the public persona urban lore had constructed around her. Apart from being an assiduous student of political economy, she did research and wrote on the causes she espoused, helped run progressive NGOs and taught young people what she knew as a teacher in the University of the Philippines and De la Salle University.
She also took pride and pleasure in raising her children into the caring, socially aware adults that they have become including two who have followed in her footsteps as activists.
Maita Gomez’s journey in life is indeed the stuff of urban legend. In the end her story shows us how one can transcend one’s social class and upbringing and go on to live a fulfilling, productive life serving the people as part of a historic, revolutionary mass undertaking. #
Published in Business World
20-21 July 2012
Maltreated maid claims being locked up for 3 years
By Jeannette I. Andrade
Philippine Daily Inquirer
1:33 am | Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
MANILA, Philippines—The maid who has accused her employers of maltreating her until she went blind said the couple she served conspired to lock her up in their home for close to three years.
During her Monday testimony in the court of branch 77 Judge Germano Francisco Legaspi, which was hearing the petition of the accused couple for bail, Bonita Baran said that when Ana Liza Marzan locked her up inside the house at Las Villas del Cielo, Visayas Avenue, her husband, Reynold, consented to it.
When defense counsel Joel Ferrer raised more clarificatory questions, Baran told the court in Filipino, “Ana Liza locked me up. Reynold consented to it. He knew.”
She further maintained that whenever the couple left, they locked her up inside the house.
The Marzans have been accused of conspiring to unlawfully detain Baran inside their home from June 2009 to May 2012.
When the defense counsel asked Baran if she was ever able to leave the house during her employment, she said that she was able to before the maltreatment by the Marzans started. But in those instances, she said, she was in the company of Ana Liza or the entire Marzan family.
Asked to describe the locks installed at the only door of the Marzan house, Baran said that the main door had four locks, inside and out. One inside the door was a double lock, which required a key to open.
“You might be able to turn and unlock the door knob from inside and twist a lock open under it but there is a double lock on top. You would need a key to open it,” Baran explained.
When Ferrer emphasized that he had been asking about being inside the door going out, a seemingly exasperated Baran said, “You twist the door knob from inside, it is unlocked but it still will not open because there are still other locks. There is a lock you twist at the bottom, it gets unlocked but there is still the double lock on the upper part (of the door). You cannot get out without a key. You need a key. It will not open without the key. It is like that.”
Both the defense and the prosecution asked that the continuation of the cross-examination be deferred until Wednesday afternoon after Baran displayed signs of nausea right after she recounted the mechanism of the door locks.
Legaspi set the continuation on Wednesday and said that the petition for bail would be resolved by November 20.
Meanwhile, Judge Legaspi denied a request of Ana Liza Marzan to seek medical treatment outside of the Quezon City Jail Female Dormitory. He also turned down a motion filed by the defendant’s lawyer to allow them to inspect the house where the maid said she was locked up and subjected to abuse by the suspect and her husband.
In both resolutions dated October 12, Legaspi cited the lack of testimonial or documentary proof presented to support couple Ana Liza and Reynold Marzan’s requests.
In denying the defense motion for ocular inspection of the house at 75 Las Villas del Cielo along Visayas Avenue, Quezon City, the judge said that the request was premature since the prosecution had not ended its presentation of evidence in the hearings for the bail petition.
“If the defense wants to use the physical appearance and location of the rooms inside the house as their evidence in contradicting the testimony of the complainant (Bonita Baran), the proper time to ask for an ocular inspection would be during the presentation of its evidence,” the judge said.
He said that during the defense presentation of evidence, they could have a witness testify on the condition of the house and its rooms during Baran’s alleged detention.
Legaspi pointed out that neither an assurance by the Marzan couple’s lawyers that nothing was altered inside the house nor an ocular inspection without a witness testimony would suffice.
Judge Legaspi turned down Ana Liza Marzan’s request for medical treatment outside the Quezon City Jail after she failed to cite a compelling reason for it.
Legaspi said that while Marzan was able to present the results of a laboratory examination and a doctor’s certification of her kidney ailment, the doctor did not recommend medical examination or treatment.
“No explanation was made in the motion as to the nature of accused’s disease and its effect on her physical condition. Accused did not even correlate the results of her laboratory examination to her disease,” the judge said.
He further explained, “Accused failed to give the reason why the medical examination and attention she seeks should be done in a hospital of her own choice. She did not identify in her motion the medical procedure and facilities which she needs and which the Quezon City Jail lacks or cannot extend to her.”
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