This is a short review of 3 organizations revolving the people’s struggle for national democracy in the Philippines. The 3 organizations are the Kapataang Matabayan (KM), the League of Filipino Students (LFS), and the National Democratic Movement.
The Kapataang Matabayan (KM) was founded in 1964 by Filipino revolutionary Jose Maria Sison. It is a radical and political group comprised of mostly students and youth, affiliated with the National Democratic Movement of the Philippines. On a short essay commemorating the 50th founding anniversary of the organization, Sison writes, “We wanted to base the KM on the revolutionary tradition of the Filipino people” (National Democratic Front of the Philippines). Inspired by figures of Philippine history who fought against Spanish imperialism, KM sparked revolutionary political awakenings within youth and “appealed to many who sincerely hoped for change but were disappointed by the dull choices offered by mainstream politics” (Manila Today). With the majority of members ranging between the ages of 16 to 22, the population of youth and students led massive actions that directly influenced the Philippine Revolution; however, the group was forced to work underground under Marcos’ fascist dictatorship around 1968.
League of Filipino Students
The League of Filipino Students (LFS) was founded September 11th, 1977. It had its beginnings in the Marcos era, initially fighting against tuition hikes and student repression under martial law and the Marcos dictatorship. “It gathered the militant students and student organizations committed to the protection of the student’s democratic rights. The LFS played a crucial role in dismantling military presence in the campuses and in the restoration of student publications and student councils” (LFS-SFSU Website).
One of the largest mass student organizations, the League of Filipino Students have chapters in universities, secondary schools, technical & vocational institutions all across the Philippines. They also have opened their first international chapter in the United States, at California’s San Francisco State University (LFS-UP Dillman FB Page).
With the fight for education still within the hearts of LFS, in 1982 the Leaque of Filipino Students also fully embraced the National Democratic movement and program.
The National Democratic Movement
Inspired by socialist, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist principles, the National Democratic Movement is a transnational alliance of progressive political groups advocating for social, economical, and political justice against three fundamental problems behind the oppressive conditions of Philippine society: Imperialism, Feudalism and Bureaucrat Capitalism. The main objective is to unite and liberate the Filipino masses: the disenfranchised poor and working class, indigenous peoples, youth, students, and other oppressed populations. Through organization and direct action against government corruption, landlordism, monopoly capitalists, and foreign imperialism, they strive to achieve the genuine national liberation of the Philippines, and preserve and the national democratic rights of the people.
❝ A nation that does not renew itself– Jose Maria Sison
through progressive minded and
militant youth cannot possibly advance.
A world of timid and apathetic youth merely feed
all the regimes of injustice and exploitation.
Only through militant struggle
can the best in youth emerge. ❞
Concluding thoughts: The political atmosphere is arguably more tense within the Philippines than within the US—you can also argue that the atmospheres are incredibly similar, especially in this year 2017. While the “red scare” and skewed misrepresentations of communism throughout history cast Marxism and socialism in a bad light, we must take a closer look at their underlying ideas that truly value the livelihood and welfare of the people in comparison to how capitalism, imperialism and colonialism has been known to value us so far; and why is it more common for youth of today to be more left-leaning than our previous generations.
This post was an assignment from my Fall 2017 course, Sociology 142, Filipina/o American Community Issues by Professor Roderick Daus-Magbual, Ed.D. View the original post and the rest of my group’s (A Brother & Three Sisters) posts here.
Also previously published on my old blog, The Plant That Never Blooms (on Blogspot)