By NDFP International Information Office
[Amsterdam, 10 February 2014] A day after his 75th birthday on 8 February 2014, Prof. Jose Maria Sison – or Ka Joma to friends and comrades – was feted by Filipino and European friends and comrades as he celebrated his 55 years of service to the Filipino people, at the Mirror Centre in Amsterdam. Friends from the Philippines and other parts of the world sent congratulatory messages and video presentations.
The celebration was highlighted by the launching of Prof. Sison’s latest book of selected writings, Building Strength Through Struggle, and the launching of a campaign to revitalize the Center for Social Studies, a school for students and practitioners of social change. The afternoon program was accentuated by various heartwarming cultural performances, such as readings and musical renditions of his poems, chants and dances of his recent speeches, showing of music videos like “Pulang Saludo, Ka Joma” (Red Salute, Comrade Joma!), and surprise numbers from his family.
In his introductory speech, Luis G. Jalandoni, NDFP Chief International Representative and longtime comrade to Prof. Sison, related how Joma began to be active in the movement for national democracy in the Philippines in the late 1950s up to his continuing political life while abroad.
“Together with 12 young revolutionary colleagues,” Jalandoni explained, “Ka Joma founded the Communist Party of the Philippines on 26 December 1968. He led the formation of the New People’s Army on 29 March 1969, with only nine automatic rifles and 26 inferior firearms against the US-backed Marcos regime. He co-founded the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in 1973.”
Jalandoni stressed, “Ka Joma’s daring, vision and trust in the masses have borne rich fruit. Despite massive attacks by the US-Marcos regime and succeeding reactionary governments, the CPP has grown to 150,000 party members throughout the country. The New People’s Army operates in more than 110 guerrilla fronts in 71 out of a total 81 provinces.
“Organs of democratic power, alternative people’s governments,” he explained, “carry out land reform, health, education, and cultural programs.”
Julie de Lima-Sison introduced the campaign to revitalize and expand the work of the Center for Social Studies. “The CSS,” she said, “was formed in 1991 as a center for research and training of activists in order to counter the ideological, political, economic, cultural and military offensives of the US, its allies, and its puppets.”
She continued, “We propose that a campaign be undertaken to raise financial and other resources for the purpose of revitalizing and expanding the work of the CSS.”
According to de Lima-Sison, the resources raised through the campaign will be used for undertaking social research; increasing the number of interactive conferences and seminars among activists from various countries; producing audiovisual materials in aid of mass education and organizing; and for Prof. Sison’s staff support.
In brief remarks launching his latest book, Building Strength Through Struggle, Joma expressed his happiness and satisfaction. He explained that the book “extends, reinforces and further develops the principles, policies and major lines of action for carrying out the people’s democratic revolution, as put forward by the earlier two books in the series, Foundation for Resuming the Philippine Revolution and Defeating Revisionism, Reformism and Opportunism.”
This latest book, he said, “Includes the major documents of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines which I drafted, and the major articles that I wrote under the nom de guerre Amado Guerrero, from the formal declaration of martial law on 21 September 1972 to my capture on 10 November 1977.”
Joma emphasized that it is necessary to read and study all the contents of Building Strength Through Struggle in order to understand why and how the people’s democratic revolution had led to the overthrow of the Marcos fascist dictatorship; how it has continued to fight and win victories against the pseudo-democratic regimes; how it has frustrated subjectivist and opportunist trends; and how it has excelled as a torch bearer of armed revolution led by the proletariat, amidst the dominance of neocolonialism in the underdeveloped countries, the full restoration of capitalism in former revisionist-ruled countries, and the neoliberal plunder and aggression of the imperialist powers worldwide.
“The CPP, NPA, NDFP, and the people’s democratic revolution in the Philippines enjoy the respect, appreciation and support of the world anti-imperialist movement and the international communist movement. This book Building Strength through Struggle illumines the path to understanding the fact,” Joma stressed.
Congratulatory messages came from all over the world, including Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, USA and Canada; Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, UK, Russia, and Ukraine; Turkey, Korea, Japan, Hongkong, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. Excerpts of some messages were read during the program.
Several of the most-loved poems of Joma were sung and recited during the program, including Sometimes the Heart Yearns for Mangoes, The Forest is Still Enchanted, Rose for a Waking Woman, A Cool Breeze, Bartolina Muli, Mga Yugto ng Buhay Ko, Monsters in the Market, Across the Blue Waters, Inquisition, Cry for Freedom, and The Guerrilla is Like a Poet.
A simple dinner prepared by Filipinos living in the Netherlands was served for all the guests. Admirers and well-wishers queued to have their copies of Joma’s books signed, while cultural performances continued in the background.