As The Bamboos Sway: Fighting within the belly of the Beast


The first time I met Nero (not his real name), I asked him, “Why are you doing this? I mean you grew up here in the United States, you have a car, you don’t go hungry. Why are you in the movement (against imperialism, feudalism, bureaucrat-capitalism in the Philippines)?”

Flashing his youthful smile, he said, “You know the answer, Tito. There is such a thing as proletarian internationalism. I understand that my parents left the Philippines to escape the poverty there. Besides, apart from everyone else, we still have relatives that are suffering within the system.”

Rene is another FilAm activist connected with the Anakbayan-USA. He relates that he got wind of the movement in a Filipino cultural class while in college. “One day, my dad caught me reading materials that he considered subversive. He told me that I should not be reading those and that I should stop hanging out with those FilAm club members whom he deemed ‘walang utang na loob sa mga Americano’. I just retorted ‘but what if I needed to read those and be at the activities as prerequisite of the Filipino course?”

Rene’s dad is a retired Filipino US Navy veteran. To this day, he keeps telling Rene that he should not have enrolled in that class. He, however, has resigned to the fact that Rene is deep into the movement in the USA in support of the revolutionary movement in the Philippines. Rene does not stay at their home anymore being a fulltime activist. His father had come to accept Rene’s line that his father would not have joined the US Navy if he had better opportunities at home. Both Rene’s parents, from time to time, also attend activities of the youthful FilAm revolutionaries.

Letty and Cynthia are with Gabriela-USA. They share the sentiments that apart from the economic oppression of the both the Filipino and US citizens, women and LGBTQ are discriminated upon. Then there is Susan who is with Migrante-USA who champions migrant rights.

Also aligned with the International League of People’s Struggles, these FilAm activists are well versed with the Philippine Society and Revolution of Amado Guerrero and other reading materials that were used by the Kabataang Makabayan, Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan, and other youth organizations of old in the Philippines during the Marcos era. While supporting the revolutionary movement in the Islands, however, they also organize in the US mainland based on concrete needs not only of Filipinos in the US but they also interface with other revolutionary groups within the Latino, Black-Americans, Indians, other ethnic groups, and mainstream Americans. They are into organizing domestic helpers, clamoring for higher wages, tuition fee rights, and the like. They have raised funds for calamities like Yolanda, for displaced Lumads, and other needy communities in the Philippines.

Last September 30, 2017, 24 organizations were represented by 300 participants all over the USA to launch the Kabataan Alliance in San Francisco. This is to further consolidate the further growing revolutionary forces in the mainland and coordinate efforts in the Philippines and with other organizations in the world.

“Kabataan, unite! Fight for people’s rights,” is their general chant. “Defend DACA. Legalization for All! Stop the Killings in the Philippines!” is their current call.

An op-ed on the launching states “A panel of youth speakers reinforced the lessons learned during the workshops by shedding light on the experiences of migrant working-class Filipinos. One of the panelists, a 24-year old DACA recipient, rallied attendees to fight for undocumented immigrants, declaring, “I deserve to be here, and the youth are the future. I’m not going anywhere without a fight. No human being deserves to be illegal. Defend DACA and fight back!” Of the 800,000 total DACA recipients, 10,000 are Filipinos.

“Congresswoman Sarah Elago, an activist-legislator and the sole youth representative in the Philippine Congress, delivered a keynote speech reminding Filipino youth in the U.S. that their struggles in this country are directly tied to those in the Philippines. Citing the pervasive poverty and increasing killings in the country, it is ‘no wonder,’ asserted Rep. Elago, that ‘thousands everyday are forced to migrate [from the Philippines], an average of 6,000 daily.’ Of the 15 million Filipinos overseas, almost half are in the U.S. Rep. Elago’s final call to the participants challenged them to truly take history into their own hands: ‘I have high hopes that our generation will be the generation that will finally end systemic ills that have long caused suffering, exploitation, oppression, and plunder in many parts of the world. It is upon the young people of today, to tread the path of struggle, to decisively put an end to structural ills, and to prevent history from repeating itself.’”

One of the binding thread among these youths: If there was no oppression, if there were opportunities in the Philippines, their parents would not have been here. Although relatively endowed, the parents are still considered second class citizens, labor exploited to the hilt; suffering from homesickness clamoring and longing for any cultural and social customs they have been used to in the Philippines; and being separated from their other relatives.

Above all, just the humanity of it all.

And it remains, that these youths who are in the belly of the imperialist USA is part of the youth, worldwide, that is the future of the motherland. #


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