To Joma, for his brilliant journey
I feel so honored to have been invited to participate in a much-deserved tribute to Professor Jose Maria Sison, more fondly known as “Ka Joma” or simply “Joma”. I am not exaggerating when I say that no person has more influenced the radical social change taking place in the Philippine homeland and migrant communities and the features of a future just Philippine society than Joma.
With the International League for People’s Struggle, to which I belong, and other progressive networks, the shining light of his ideas and his leadership example has reached far beyond Philippine shores and the gatherings of Filipino expatriates and illuminated so many people’s actions against imperialism worldwide.
In my own journey as an activist, I have always appreciated the brilliance and profound sharpness of his writings that describe the Philippine situation and agenda with great clarity and keenness for the correct theory. And then, his life-story itself has been an inspiration to all Filipino activists like me and to the international solidarity movement. From the times he and Julieta de Lima revived the anti-imperialist movement in the Philippines in the 1960s and 1970s from its depths in the 1950s, to his and her defiant courage, their revolutionary integrity intact and his poetry abloom, in the face of the extreme torture and prison chains of the Marcos dictatorship in the late 1970s and early 1980s, to his work in exile that serves as a bright beacon for liberation and socialist struggles worldwide.
On a more personal note, I as well as other comrades and friends will always cherish his many endearing personal qualities. The way he infects the people around him with his incurable optimism. The mischievous eyes and smile of a child he projects when he teases and banters. The youthful élan and zest for the life of struggle and liberation that he and Juliet de Lima have traveled through the years with exemplary tenacity and luster.
The struggle for a better world is so fortunate for having a great mentor and guiding force in the person of Jose Maria Sison. And like all his other comrades and friends, I know that I have become a much better activist because I have been enriched and enlightened by his 70 years of life and 50 years of struggle in the movement for a just, humane and prosperous future. The new world, fast rising on the ruins of a crisis-ridden and crumbling imperialism, deserves many, many more years of his luminescence.