Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

Activism After College

August 14th, 2019

Published by Squeeze

For many student activists, the ‘long march’ encounters a fateful challenge immediately after the graduation march.

This is when youthful idealism is tested by mainstream ideologies which many equate with realism.

The lifelong commitment to fight for social justice is suddenly put on hold. Will he resume his role in the struggle or will he submit his résumé to potential employers?

Contrary to the popular notion of the graduate as a resolute achiever who is ready to claim his place in society, this individual is actually besieged by contradictory feelings of euphoria and fear of the unknown. A kindergarten graduate is more hopeful about his success because he knows the next thing to do, which is to get an elementary education.

But what are the options of a college graduate? He thinks his life choices are plenty which includes the pursuit of graduate studies, embarking on a travel adventure, becoming an entrepreneur, and getting his dream career.

But deep inside he knows what everybody else expects him to do: apply for a job, even if it’s an endo job.

Bombarded since childhood by parental preaching that the goal of schooling is to secure a good employment in the future, the new graduate is keen to fulfill this obligation.

All his accumulated knowledge about life on this planet is deemed useful only if it generates a stable financial return.

An activist graduate is not immune from this societal pressure even if he is aware that education should serve a more holistic role in the community instead of simply reducing it as a job preparation phase in life.

He believes in social liberation even if he has yet to unlearn and renounce the feudal values that guided most of his life.

It doesn’t help that his Leftist worldview is intermittently interrupted by a self-praising mentality.

Consider the perspective of a new graduate who sees the self as highly skilled, articulate, tech-savvy, multitasking innovator, and primed for success. At this point in his young life, he is ready to declare that he is going to conquer (instead of changing) the world.

He takes a look back at his undergraduate years to understand how he became an activist. Perhaps he was tutored by an activist scholar, he made friends with activists, and supported several campaigns in the campus. His curiosity for new knowledge was supplemented by radical texts, discussion groups, immersion in the grassroots, and collective actions. Despite its conservative politics, the university provided a space for the nurturing of activist minds.

But after graduation, how can the activist sustain his involvement in radical politics?

His circle of activist friends is already dispersed, he can no longer listen to the lectures of freethinking academics, his library privileges are gone, and he is now officially not young in a place teeming with high school freshness and exuberance.

It is reassuring if he leaves the familiar comfort of the university to face new tasks with fellow activists in other sectors of the mass movement.

There he is thrust into a different environment that required him to quickly adapt, master new habits and the language of community organizing, and devote more time to planning mass campaigns while battling his inner doubts. Sometimes these personal struggles are processed during brutally frank criticism and self-criticism sessions. It helps that a group initiative is countering his vanity, but there’s always a lingering subjective feeling that he is unfairly targeted by an internal disciplinary campaign.

He begins to realize the unglamorous future that awaits him; the romanticized concept of being a radical is replaced by the initial hardships of embracing full-time activism.

His petty bourgeois angsts, which used to be a source of harmless fun among friends interested with existentialism, now appears to be irresponsibly out of place and unproletarian.

But as an aspiring radical, he perseveres. He tries very hard to disprove the popular belief that employment is the only prize for getting a university diploma. His activism is his ‘rebelling’ against a system that punishes the idealism of young people.

During this painful transition, he wrestles with the question of whether he made the right decision in life. Is it rational to spend his productive years earning nothing as an activist? Is it sensible to hurdle almost two decades of formal education just to engage in a non-paying, high-risk, and difficult work of community organizing? Is it reasonable for a college graduate to use his mental abilities for the realization of seemingly utopian political goals? In other words, is he wasting his life?

He makes fast calculations, listing the opportunity cost of choosing radicalism, and comparing it with what he and his fellow activists are doing every day.

He grapples for answers. Seeking inspiration, he delves into the classics of Marxism and later its modern interpretations. He learns more about the lives of philosophers, warriors, and other outstanding individuals who rejected transient pleasures in the fight for eternal truths.

But can these ideas and theoretical reflections ease his ambivalence?

Perhaps yes. But only after spending a substantial time gaining experience in conducting a painstaking mass work in the grassroots.

It is when she stopped thinking about her predicament that allowed her to see the bigger picture affecting her views about life, love, politics, and the prospect of happiness. That the stakes are beyond her need for validation. That the struggle is not about herself joining the Cause but the grounding of real-life consequences of linking arms with the oppressed to destroy the unjust structures in society. That activism is not about emphasizing the self but the collective endeavor to uplift the conditions of the many, especially the marginalized ‘others’.

It is when she truly immersed herself in the struggle that she understood the poetics of resistance. Farmers, workers, and the urban poor giving everything they have to win the revolution. When people act in this way, when they sacrifice more than what is necessary, isn’t this the best example of leading an ethical life?

Her grasp of history is enhanced by her commitment to work with others in changing the present to claim the future. Her political maturity rises with her intense participation in the struggle for a new democracy amid small victories and big losses. She now sees the latter as a temporary setback to achieve greater victories for tomorrow. And she is already better prepared to assume many roles in the mass movement whether as an agitator of the parliament of the streets, a dutiful public servant, or a peasant organizer in the countryside.

She never fully resolved her dilemmas in life. (And she still can’t pay the bills). But this time, her sense of balancing life issues is now rooted in the pursuit of radicalism, and her concept of the self is linked to the empowerment of the grassroots. Her crucial decision in life after college is the affirmation of progressive praxis.

Published by Bulatlat

Vow of poverty. Activists are encouraged to live simply, but unlike priests, they don’t have a vow of poverty. They don’t fetishize poverty; instead, they work with the poor to fight the structures that engender oppression in society. Indeed, activists renounce material riches and the glorification of wealth but it doesn’t mean they can no longer indulge in simple pleasures like going to movies, eating in restaurants, and singing in videoke bars. Also, activism is a duty and way of life that can be embraced by all sectors, including those who belong to the middle classes and even the rich.

Pro-China. Some accuse activists of being rabid anti-Americans who ignore the transgressions of China. They want activists to stop burning US flags and instead hold demonstrations in front of the Chinese consulate. These are inaccurate and unfair assertions. Activists are not anti-Americans; what they denounce are the destructive policies of the US government. Activists have not been remiss in defending our sovereignty against foreign intruders whether they involve the US military, multinational mining firms, or Chinese bullies. Activists read Mao but they are not supporters of China’s leaders today. In fact, they describe China’s government as revisionist and even anti-Mao.

‘Silent’ activists. Every time there is a public scandal or national crisis, some will complain about the supposed silence of activists and their alleged complicity with the dark forces in society. How ironic that those who reject rallies are egging on activists to protest in the streets against this or that issue. Those who rant against arrogant activists are condescendingly commanding others to carry out a political action. What their sentiments truly reveal is their own political impotence. They seem to forget that they can organize their own protest with or without the participation of activists. But either they can’t do it because they have no organizing work or they refuse to act because they are more comfortable preaching in their virtual worlds. Tragic that they need to outsource political commitment.

Bad citizens and lawbreakers. Activism is not a crime, joining rallies is not against the law, protesting against a government program is not rebellion. Only the state and its clueless apologists will spread the insidious propaganda that activism is disruptive, inutile, illegal, and anti-Filipino. On the contrary, activism embodies what it means to practice responsible citizenship. What better way to inculcate responsibility among the people and especially the youth than to encourage a group of citizens to work together and establish solidarity in order to challenge the wrongdoers and push for reforms in society.

Professional rallyists. Man does not live by bread alone…and rallies. Some think that activists earn their living by organizing rallies. This is another blatant government-sponsored lie. It is wrong to equate activism with mere participation in rallies. It is also wrong to assume that activists spend most of their time attending and coordinating rallies. Activists devote greater attention to talking to people, studying a social problem, lobbying with officials, conducting education and information-awareness campaigns, integrating with the masses in the peripheries, and planning meetings. A rally is the most visible manifestation of what activists are doing but it doesn’t really capture the comprehensive political work of activists. The term ‘activist’ is also half-complete because most have professions. Many are teachers, doctors, artists, writers, government employees, entrepreneurs, lawyers, priests, scientists – nearly every sector in society has a dedicated group of individuals who organize themselves in order to become activists. Some become full-time organizers in urban poor and rural communities. They are like volunteer individuals in charity groups whose advocacy is gratefully acknowledged and supported by their adopted communities. Some turn to freelance work to pay the bills while others rely on the political and financial support provided by their families and close friends. No activist depends on rallies to survive precarious living. No one becomes rich by joining rallies. But everybody becomes ‘richer’ and more fulfilled in life by wielding the weapons of activism to hasten the emergence of a better world and brighter future.

Blind followers. Let’s specify the criticism: Blind followers of an obsolete ideology; and uncritical, robot-like followers of communist leader Joma Sison. What ideology are they referring to? The ideology that unmasks the system of exploitation and mass poverty? The philosophy that combines theory and practice so that the ‘best of all possible worlds’ can be rendered knowable by all? Any critique to the existing system is deemed invalid by those who think we have reached the ‘end of history’ and the only rational action left for us to accomplish is to improve life under the ruling order by demanding some doable, tangible reforms. Hence, the indifference and even ruthless hatred against those who continue to insist that no less than a revolutionary upheaval is needed to uplift the conditions of all. As for Joma, his ideological enemies assume that the Western propaganda against the cult-like following of Stalin and Mao can be used to demonize the revolutionary struggle in the Philippines. It is a standard red-baiting tactic. True, activists read the writings of Joma and they serve as useful guide to better understand the interplay of political forces in Philippine society. But the strength of the people’s resistance in the country is not attributed to how well activists are subscribing to the doctrines laid down by Joma. The National Democratic movement thrives and is even resurgent mainly because of the heroic contribution and sacrifice of its ‘organic intellectuals’ immersed in the grassroots and building real democracy and political power from the countryside to the cities.

Candidates belonging to the coalition endorsed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte won in the senate amid reports of widespread vote tampering and other irregularities documented on election day.

Election monitoring groups said there were more cases of faulty vote counting machines this year compared to the 2016 election. Local poll officials solved the issue by replacing the malfunctioning machines, but this already caused a delay which disenfranchised many voters.

Written for The Diplomat magazine. Read more

Midterm Elections in the Philippines: The Risk of a Pyrrhic Duterte Victory

Majority of the senatorial candidates endorsed by the coalition headed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte are doing well in mainstream surveys. Many of them are popular re-electionist senators who come from established political dynasties which means their election victory is almost assured, barring any unforeseen major scandal or crisis in the next three weeks.

But among the candidates who have soared high in the surveys are former presidential aide Bong Go and former police general Ronald Bato. These two are closely associated with Duterte. Go is known as the ‘national photobomber’ because he is often seen accompanying Duterte in official events. Meanwhile, Bato is the police general who gained global notoriety for enforcing Duterte’s bloody ‘war on drugs’.

Written for The Diplomat Magazine. Read more

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Published by Bulatlat

When you see a rally, you assume it is a hakot crowd. Maybe you think rallies are similar to the assemblies organized by trapos during campaign sorties. But only politicians pay people to attend events and their own self-serving rallies. Unfortunately, too, there are educated people who insist that urban poor rallyists get paid for marching in the streets. It reflects an elitist thinking because the same people wouldn’t accuse Ateneo students who protested against drug-related killings of receiving cash to join a rally.

When you see a rally, you dismiss it as another anti-government action. Hence, it is anti-progress and part of destabilization. On the contrary, activists want so-called development to benefit all. They also demand an equal and efficient delivery of vital government services. They condemn abuse of power, corruption, and betrayal of public interest. They are actually protesting against authorities who are undermining the integrity of the government. Interestingly, nobody accused Iglesia ni Cristo members of being anti-government when they set-up camp at Padre Faura and Edsa Shaw several years ago. Why can’t we acknowledge that activists have legitimate grievances when they protest in the streets?

When you hear activists criticizing the president, you describe them as perennial and nuisance critics of the government. And you urge them to stop being a problem by being part of the solution. But shouldn’t we support people whose lifelong commitment is to protect and advance our rights and welfare? Unless you think politicians can be fully trusted in the management of our country, then we should at least recognize the persistence of activists to correct what is wrong and change what needs to be done in our society. You easily get offended by the slogans and complaints of activists when the real problem is the recidivist behavior of politicians who keep on vowing to uplift our lives and continue to make empty promises because they even get praised for their tiresome lies.

When you see a rally, you condemn it as violent. And you were able to confirm this when reports broadcast the clash between the police and protesters. Yet it is always the police who violently disperse rallies while activists only defend themselves and their right to express their views. But an uneventful protest (read: no tension with the police) is still considered violent and even unlawful. All activities that challenge the status quo is condemned as chaotic, a threat to our values, and terribly out-of-place in the modern world. What is tragic is that you think rallies are violent yet you fail or feel powerless to fight the structures that oppress many. Worse, you believe ordinary citizens have no right to fight back against law enforcers even if the latter were acting in behalf of evil trapos and greedy oligarchs.

When you see activists on media, you mock them as epal or papansin. Do you respond the same way when politicians speak on TV? Do you deride the rich, famous, and other members of the elite when news reports feature their views? We should probe our negative reaction: Is it because the activist articulated a contrarian perspective or is it because we feel the working classes and those who represent them have no right to speak?

What is common with these examples of anti-activist bias? They all reinforce the point of view of the reactionary ultra-rich. They reiterate how politicians think and their stubborn and dogmatic belief on how people should behave in the community. They represent years of absorbing conservative ideas propagated as the normal and modern way of interpreting the world.

Only those who exploit the poor are afraid of the ‘specter’ of the coming together of the masses to break the chains of bondage and modern slavery. They demonize the struggle of the poor to preserve the present and they use their massive but ill-gotten resources to brainwash the rest of society with their anti-poor bias.

We may think we are being wise in denigrating activists and rallies but most likely it is the result of an inception engineered by those who stand to benefit from discouraging the people to be more critical, assertive, and militant.

Unlearning the anti-activist bias does not mean we need to be activists or we have to embrace their advocacies. We simply have to acknowledge the right of the people to practice dissent and that this is crucial in enabling real democracy.

Speculation is running rampant in the Philippines regarding Duterte’s health, not to mention political forces aiming to see him removed.

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Written for The Diplomat magazine. Read more…

The Philippines’ Extrajudicial Killing Problem

Extrajudicial killings in the Philippines are more than simply a product of the war on drugs.

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Written for The Diplomat magazine. Read more….

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Facilitating the session on 30 January are rapporteurs from Senegal, Pakistan and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The report about Cambodia’s UPR proceedings will be released on 1 February. The final outcome of the 32nd session, including the response of the government, will be adopted by the plenary of the Human Rights Council in June 2019.

Read more on IFEX

Published by Kodao

A plaque honoring Philippines’s Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) was installed at the Haymarket Square in Chicago, Illinois, USA last May 1 at the monument honoring workers whose deaths led to several labor reforms, including the implementation of an eight-hour work day.

The installation of the plaque was organized by the Illinois Labor History Society.

Raymond Palatino Bagong Alyansang Makabayan represented KMU during the activity. Below is the text of Mong’s speech:

Salute to the working class of the United States! Salute to all working peoples of the world! Mabuhay!

It is an honor to represent the Kilusang Mayo Uno or May First Movement of the Philippines.
Today, we honor the Haymarket workers whose martyrdom did not only pave the way for labor reforms, but more importantly, it empowered and inspired the growth of the labor movement all over the world.

So powerful was the legacy of May One that it eventually became the International Workers Day.
The Philippine labor movement acknowledged the heroism of the Haymarket martyrs when its largest and most militant labor federation chose the name Kilusang Mayo Uno or May First Movement to unite all workers in the Philippines and lead the struggle of the working class.

KMU was established to strengthen the ranks of Filipino workers at a time when the country was under a dictatorship. KMU led the workers in resisting tyranny and linked arms with the farmers, the urban poor, and other freedom-loving Filipinos in ousting a dictator from power.

Since then, the KMU has been at the forefront of the labor movement, and it has consistently and bravely asserted, without compromise, the just demands of workers for higher wages, decent work, safe workplaces; and it has been a strong voice in pushing for democratic rights, an end to feudal oppression in the rural regions of the Philippines, the resistance against foreign control of the local economy, and the realization of the people’s national democratic aspirations.

For almost four decades now, the KMU has been an influential force in the people’s struggle for real democracy and lasting peace in the Philippines.

And so it is fitting that, as we place a KMU marker here in Chicago, we dedicate this in honor of all who devoted the best years of their lives, many of them even sacrificed their lives, in pursuing the revolutionary struggle for national democracy.

This plaque is also for the Filipino migrant farmers who arrived here in the US in the early 20th century. Some of them would become pioneers in union organizing. Their work is remembered today as we continue to fight for immigrant rights and the improvement of conditions of all migrant workers in the US.

This is for the assembly workers in the Philippines’ export processing zones who are toiling in sweatshop conditions, the plantation workers of Mindanao who are herded in militarized camps, the service sector employees denied of benefits, the migrant workers who are forced to be separated from their families because of poverty, underdevelopment, and unjust immigration policies. This is for all the working classes who do not surrender and who continue to march forward to fight for change.

This is for the labor organizers in the Philippines who are fighting a rising dictatorship amid nonstop attacks by state forces. Some of them are in prison yet the only crime they committed was to promote the welfare of workers.

In response, we proudly assert that union organizing is not a crime. Empowering the grassroots is not a crime. Standing up for migrant rights is not a crime.

The real criminal act is the exploitation of the working class, the greedy appropriation of profits and surplus value while workers are subjected to slave-like relations, and the collusion of big capitalists and corrupt politicians in violating labor rights.

KMU stands in solidarity with the American working class in challenging the neoliberal economic policies that drive down wages, destroy unions, and harm the health and well-being of workers.

KMU joins all workers in the world in smashing this inhumane system that perpetuates oppression and inequality.

The capitalists have money, the police, the courts, and dirty politicians; but the workers are stronger because we have unity and solidarity and the peoples of the world are one with us in building a better future, a beautiful tomorrow where there is real peace, justice, democracy, and respect for human dignity.

Long live the working class! Mabuhay ang uring manggagawa!

Published by Pinoy Weekly, 12 May 2018

The ‘Stop the Killings’ caravan organized by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – United States chapter conducted a rally in Portland on May 5, 2018. Speakers of the rally included community leaders, human rights, activist, a representative of Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Bayan Metro Manila Chairman Mong Palatino. Below is the text of Mong’s speech:

Our dear friends, allies and kasamas, thank you for coming and for showing support to the ‘Stop the Killings’ campaign.

There were those who wanted to silence our voices by preventing one of our speakers, Jerome Aba, from joining the caravan. But they failed because despite his deportation, Jerome was still able to deliver his message; and more importantly, he succeeded in uniting various groups here in the United States to denounce the torture he endured and the impact of the so-called war on terror on the civilian population in Mindanao.

Our caravan started in D.C. before coming to New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Seattle, and now in Portland, Oregon. From East to West of the U.S., we were overwhelmed by the warm welcome shown by the American people to our delegation. We met legislators, church leaders, university professors, union officials, students, migrant activists, journalists, and kababayans who all expressed concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines.

Here in Portland, we held meetings and informal caucuses about President Rodrigo Duterte’s triple wars – the misnamed ‘war on drugs’, the war on terror, and the all-out-war against communist rebels. But all these should be known as a war against the poor because they involve the massive use of force to arbitrarily kill thousands of urban poor residents, hundreds of landless farmers, indigenous peoples, while forcing the evacuation of almost half a million residents of Marawi.

These wars have nothing to do with protecting the people and defending democracy. The truth is that these wars reflect the tyrannical rule of Duterte who wants to instill fear in society and deter people from opposing his unpopular policies.

Duterte is aware that his anti-people policies – from imposing higher taxes, reneging on his promise to end labor contractualization, allowing foreign military buildup, to changing the constitution – would generate intense political backlash. The use of repressive tactics is clearly intended to prevent citizens from challenging these unpopular programs and Duterte’s insulting pronouncements against women, the LGBT, and indigenous peoples.

Aside from the triple wars, Duterte is also attacking the free press, the critical members of the political opposition, the chief justice, and the organized Left. He even branded many activists as terrorists.

The killing spree, the widespread human rights abuses, and the undermining of civil liberties are done to promote the selfish agenda of Duterte and the ruling party. This deadly regime is propped up by foreign powers, big business, and dynastic oligarchs who all seek the establishment of an authoritarian government which would enable them to grab more power and profit at the expense of the working people.

They stand to benefit from the rise of a dictatorship which would eliminate any opposition to destructive mining operations, expansion of palm oil plantations, exploitation of cheap labor, plunder of the country’s resources and invasion of our territories.

Our mission here in the US is to raise awareness about these issues and explain that the human rights atrocities committed by state forces are not limited to the bloody anti-drug campaign.

We are here to appeal for your support in reminding your government about its role in enabling Duterte’s triple wars.

We are here seeking more voices who will join the clamor for the resumption of the peace process, the implementation of genuine land reform, the building of an economy that will uplift the conditions of all Filipinos, and the advancement of the people’s national democratic aspirations.

We are thankful for the opportunity to share the stories of the urban poor, the farmers, the Moro, and the Lumad. We are extremely touched by messages of solidarity which give us hope as we continue the struggle for human rights protection and democratic reforms in society.

Seeing all of you here today affirms our faith in the power of solidarity.

We know you are one with us in our call to stop the killings in the Philippines, and the withdrawal of US military aid and the deployment of war drones that are being used in Duterte’s repressive wars.

We are friends, allies and kasamas in the common struggle for respect for rights and dignity.

From Portland to Mindanao, we stand up for the rights of the Lumad and migrants.

From the US to the Philippines, we raise the banner of the people’s movement resisting tyranny, opposing wars of aggression, and fighting a brutal system that separates families, dehumanizes social relations, and kills the poor.

And so from both sides of the Pacific, we say, stop the raids, stop the killings!
Long live international solidarity! Mabuhay!

Written for Bulatlat

‘Resistance is Our Right, Solidarity is Our Duty’ was the call to action printed on t-shirts, tote bags, and flyers distributed during our speaking tour across the United States about the human rights situation in the Philippines.

It meaningfully captured the political orientation guiding Filipino activists in the US: The legitimacy of practicing dissent and the accompanying obligation to support the national democratic struggle in the homeland.

This was my initial understanding of the slogan until I met both Filipino-Americans and non-Filipinos who had been working hard to raise awareness about the Lumad, the plight of landless farmers, and the destructive impact of President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal wars against the people.

It was then I realized the real significance of that one-liner and what it meant to many. The astonishing and remarkable coming together of Americans, even those who have no Filipino ancestry, to advance the cause of democracy and people empowerment in the Philippines.

Indeed, the slogan is not country-specific. Here was a group of Americans from diverse backgrounds who would later join the global condemnation of the massacre in Gaza. But they were also part of the growing number of Americans who have committed to raising the banner of people’s resistance in the Philippines.

It was inspiring to meet Americans who uphold solidarity as a full-time advocacy. Internationalists in the most positive sense who, at the same time, have also pledged to fight side by side Filipinos in overthrowing the yoke of neocolonialism and feudal oppression in the Philippines.

Part of my admiration for these dedicated activists of the Philippine cause is their resolve to learn more about the revolutionary past of Filipinos and their intention to make it relevant again. Today. In America.

Out of the hundreds, if not thousands of political struggles and other real existing movements in the world today, they chose to walk with their kasamas in the Philippines. They speak of adobo, sinigang, and most importantly, makibaka. They see the Philippines not as a tourist destination waiting to be explored but a home, their home where US-backed regimes have oppressed the people for so long.

But doing solidarity is more than just volunteering for a social event. It demands greater attention, time, and sacrifice. It is a political work that must be undertaken while battling the many evils that plague American society.

What is the place of solidarity when the political question of the day is linked to domestic affairs?

There is state-sponsored violence in the Philippines but it is no more horrific than the rising levels of violence in the US today. Think of the gun control issue, police brutality, and proliferation of race-based hate crimes. Eviction of the poor in Manila and other urban centers mirrors the intensifying gentrification in American cities. Workers are exploited, the gap between the rich and poor is widening, and the political system of both countries are tragically hostaged by elite interest.

Which political task should be prioritized?

I grappled with this question during the initial phase of the caravan but I quickly got my answer after learning about the work of activists doing solidarity work for the Philippines.

Perhaps I framed the question in the wrong way. Solidarity should not be seen as the opposite of addressing local political issues. Solidarity should be integrated into the comprehensive political work of activists. And if I may add, it should be considered as one of the core principles to strengthening the resistance of the grassroots.

Building solidarity networks, establishing new ties, and making friends on the other side of the continent enhance the depth and resilience of community organizing in the US. Solidarity is a useful antidote to parochialism and individualism since it anchors political organizing on a broader set of objectives.

Solidarity is not a matter of strengthening our ranks to support the struggle of marginalized classes in the remote parts of the world, but an enlightening political duty that ultimately contributes to our resistance against homegrown enemies of the people. It is never about extending aid to seemingly powerless victims but a life-affirming act of humanity, the collective pursuit of a progressive type of politics which also boosts the prospects of our local struggles.

Thus the vigorous campaign of Filipino activists and allies not just for Lumad rights, but also the protection of immigrant rights, the demand for adequate welfare services, mobilizing the community against skyrocketing house rent, fighting discrimination and racism, and challenging US militarism. Solidarity should never be a hindrance for us to embark on campaigns that require urgent action today.

Seen from this perspective, solidarity becomes an even more beautiful and powerful word. Our duty, our right, our commitment. Solidarity is resistance. Solidarity and resistance from both sides of the Pacific.