Thursday, October 01, 2015

ni E. San Juan, Jr.

Kailan lamang sapilitan tayong na-detour
Ng walang-hiyang Yolandang ibinunyag ang bulok
Na pamamalakad ng gobyernong buktot
Nalubog sa putik ng kasinungali't korapsyon

Pabalik mula sa Tacloban ng mga Romualdez
Naligaw tayo ng patayan sa Mamasapano, sinilip
Kung saan idinuro ni Marwan si P'Noy nasipit
Utos ng Kanong sa pandarambong di mailigpit

Di naharang nina Jennifer Laude't Veloso, biktima
Ng patuloy na neokolonya't alipin ng dayuhang kapital
Liku-likong landas ang tinahak ng berdugong Palparan
Tinutugis ng multo nina Burgos Empeno't Cadapan

Hirap ituwid ang liku-likong daan nina Marcos & Macapagal
Vigilante ni Cory mula Mendiola't masaker sa Ampatuan
Daang madugo'y lumawig mula Davao Bukidnon hanggang
Surigao del Sur ng Magahat-Bagani ng AFP, ng Alamar

Di maituwid ang tusong landas nina Monsod at Coloma
Sisihin man ang NPA o Abu Sayyaf at libu-libong Lumad
Dagdag na ang 280 biktima ng rehimeng P'noy, huwag kalimutan
Ang pinaslang sa Hacienda Luisita--Ay naku, matinik na landas

Ang tatahakin ng U.S. imperyalismong  sa krisis nahulog
Habang tumatawid sa lupain ng Moro't Lumad, sinakop
Ng korporasyong kasabwat ng mga oligarko't trapong
Yumaman sa pagnanakaw--paano na ang hustisyang pangako?

Kung walang katuwiran sa "daang" binaluktot, imbi't taksil
Ang hagkis na dahas ng gobyernong suwail
Sa masang tuwirang bumabanat, naghihimagsik
Upang tuwiring makamit kalayaa't kararinlang minimithi.  -##

Monday, September 21, 2015


Culture and Revolution

By E. San Juan Jr.

As this century of wars and revolutions comes to a close, Mark Twain's "person sitting in dark-ness" is bound to experience a lightning shock of recognition. Those dark-skinned natives in southeast Asia, conquered by the brute force of "Manifest Destiny" soon after the occupation of the homelands of the American Indi-an nations, have now stood up by expelling US military bases from their sovereign territory.
The event may come as a surprise to western observers. But not to the countless martyrs from Macario Sakay, Salud Al-gabre, and Crisanto Evangelista to the nameless victims of Mal-iwalu, Escalante, Lupao and of other still undiscovered sites of anti-communist barbarism; and surely not to Maria Lorena Bar-ros, Macli-ing Dulag, Rolando Olalia, and thousands more who have sacrificed their lives so that the Filipino masses can achieve a measure of autonomy, justice, and equality . Such, indeed, has been the destiny of the "White Men’s Burden" in the Philippines after the 1986 revolution against Spain and the protracted resist-ance against the invading power of the United States.
It has taken almost a centu-ry for us to appreciate the vi-sionary force of what our com-patriot Jose Rizal prophesied in "The Philippines A Century Hence": the people's struggle for national liberation, though suppressed many times, will overcome in the end. Amid the triumphalism of a hierarchical "New World Order," one harks back to the enduring truth of Marx's statement in 1870 with reference to the British colonial subjugation of Ireland: "The peo-ple that oppresses another peo-ple forge their own chains." Qualified accordingly, Marx's insight applies to the United States where today a social-dem-ocratic brand of nationalism is being propagated throughout the whole society at the expense of the peoples of Puerto Rico, the Philippines and the "internal colonies" (inhabited by millions of African Americans, Ameri-can Indian nations, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, and Asian Amer-icans) whose mass mobilizations constitute the cutting edge of modern emancipatory and life politics in late capitalism.

Today, in the periphery of the "New World Order," the domination of the human species by commodity fet-ishism and the alienating power of the cash-nexus encompasses all spheres of private and public life. Even the negative can be coopted if not neutralized. The celebration of Columbus's "dis-covery" of the New World by the northern centers of privilege is symptomatic of a new theoretical program to constitute the field of "the postcolonial" as a regulated mode of discourse, another disci-plinary regime for elaborating theories of difference, alterity, and positional identity.
The fashionable signs for this strategy of recuperation are "multiculturalism," pluralism, and literacy. In Philippine Stud-ies administered by American scholars, for example, this rec-olonizing move is exemplified by the ascription of responsibil-ity for domination to the victims themselves, under the guise of liberal objectivity and the post-modern vogue of relativized power in a consensual norma-tive order. Even paradigms like "Third World" or "underdevel-opment" are stigmatized as to-talizing and therefore totalitari-an. Only a micropolitics of local pragmatism and deconstructive cosmopolitanism (or self-serving op-portunism?) seem tolerable to academic pundits and would-be public intellectuals. In brief, as Raymond Williams points out in The Year 2000, global transnationalism can ar-ticulate for its own interest the emancipatory politics of oppo-sitional forces - the struggle for fully active social identities and for egalitarian self-governance within the market parameters of exchange value and profit that continue to inform the "ration-al" discourse of the social sci-ences and humanities in the Unit-ed States and Europe at this his-torical conjuncture.

Within this overdeter-mined field consti-tuted by the still per-vasive cultural authority of the west, voices are exploding from the margins, traversing borders and boundaries, challenging this discourse of universal postcoloniality and transnationalist interdependency. This layered, heterogeneous zone of conflict is what Fredric Jameson calls "cultural revolution" after the Chinese experience of the sixties and seventies.  But a more precise figuration of this dialectic of the new evolving from the old can be gleaned from C.L.R. James's homage to the Rastafari's culture of subversive exuberance (quoted in Paul Buhle's excellent biography C.L.F James: The Artist as Revolutionary): "Their world is just beginning .... The colossal stupidities, the insanities of the Rastafari are consciously motivated by their acute consciousness of the filth in which they live, their conscious refusal to accept the fictions that pour in upon them from every side. These passions and forces are the "classic human virtues." As long as they express themselves, the form may be absurd, but the life itself is not absurd."
We confront the dialectics of form and content, the universal and the historically specific. What is fundamental here is the perception that form cannot be essentialized and valorize in itself, that forms of cultural expression as well as of political allegory and social representa-tion need to be grounded in the complex of historical antago-nism in a world system whose relational dynamics has deter-mined the configuration of na-tional, class, gender, and racial forces in our contemporary mi-lieux. What commands priority is the mode of production and the social relations in which culture, ideology, beliefs, and purposes are inscribed.
In the triumphalist celebra-tion of neoliberal, technocratic modernization through racial, gender and class divisions amid widespread ecological disasters, it is important to note that the current ascendancy of the capi-talist market together with the legitimacy of the bureaucratic welfare-state is only a moment in a world-historical process that began with the genocidal ex-ploitation of the Indians in the Americas and the triangular slave trade. US imperial hegemony is thus built on the cadavers and skulls of its victims.
One moment of that process is of course the Spanish-Amer-ican War of 1898 which led to the US colonization of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines. But how long can the oppression and exploitation of people of color go on? Almost everyone anticipates massive problems reproducing and intensifying the crisis of global capitalism: un-employment, homelessness, ru-ral exodus, corruption, inflation, worsening social inequalities, decline in health care and other social services, aggravated ra-cial and ethnic conflicts, ram-pant criminality, subordination of national economies to the mul-tinational banks, unmitigated ex-ploitation of migrant labor (spe-cially women of color), height-ened sexist violence, moral decay and general decadence.
In this context, Henri Lefe-bvre, the great philosopher of la quotidienne, reminds us that the all-inclusive agenda of Marx-ism, that of changing life itself, remains unsurpassed: "Marx en-visaged a total person of the future, being deployed as a body, as a relation between the senses, as thought. What remains to be thought now? Marx certainly thought the world in which he lived, but the modern world has not yet begun to think Marx-ism." As Sartre and others have reminded us, Marxism is still the unsurpassable philosophy of our time.

The restoration of oligar-chic rule in the Philip-pines in 1986 ushered a new stage of retrogression, a time for the retooling of the neocoloni-al apparatuses of domination which today are mediated through the World Bank/International Monetary Fund, various interna-tional agencies and foundations, including fundamentalist sects. The myth of the United States' redemptive mission in the Philip-pines, its almost unlimited poten-tial for self-aggrandizement, has been given a new lease on life with the recuperation of "people power" for preserving inequities in all sectors.
But while bourgeois elitist values saturating the mass me-dia persist, a praxis of national liberation in art and literature has emerged on the face of Pen-tagon-sponsored "low intensity warfare" and globalized mass consumer-ism. Ideas, styles, conventions of feeling and conduct, artistic forms - all have become sites of ethical, political, and ideologi-cal contestation which implicates authors, texts and audiences alike. What is at stake? Not so much the fate of reading or writ-ing as such, but rather the mate-rial and spiritual life chances of nearly seventy million Filipinos - people of color whose voices have been silenced for a long time, but whose labor has virtu-ally enabled artists and writers (including their western coun-terparts) to survive and fulfill themselves.
Grounded in the struggles of women, tribal and ethnic na-tionalities, workers and peas-ants, youth, and people of the church, a culture of resistance has emerged to interrogate the status quo, forge new subjectiv-ities as collective agents of em-powerment, and unfold possi-bilities of alliances among vari-ous groups sharing common memories of being victims and
of revolt. New initiatives for intervention by the marginal-ized, the excluded and subordi-nated, have sparked creative acts speaking truth to power. Within the space demarcated by the ero-sion of traditional client-patron politics and the bankruptcy of oligarchic-comprador revival of election rituals, one can discern new structures of self-govern-ing communal life particularly among women's collectives and in peasant villages of the liberat-ed zones.

Hermeneutics is thus political in its grounding and effects. The process of "reading" western hegemony gen-erates its complemen-tary act of "writing" by the subju-gated native as creative reappro-priation, a reorientation of old forms given new content or sub-stance by this catastrophe of bond-age, witness to transgression and deliverance. These two dimen-sions of cultural interaction are integral parts of the Third World experience, polarities of one his-torical event. When Filipino writers began to “read” the culture and ideological practices of US power, imperial authority exposes the limits of its legitimacy, its transcendentally mystified but ul-timately historical truth.
A phenomenology of mas-ter and slave is necessarily in-scribed in East-West confronta-tions, given the unequal and un-even development of the world system. In such an inquiry, the "critique of weapons" can yield the weapon of criticism for those already convinced that what is needed is not merely to interpret but also to transform the social texts of our everyday reality. "Change your lives!" - such is the calling, the vocation, of the Third World artist in her embat-tled situation.
The resurgence of revolu-tionary nationalism in the Phil-ippines in the last two decades can be viewed as a response to this necessity. In the genealogy of subaltern intransigence, even the writing and career of a die-hard aestheticist like Jose Garcia Villa can be interpreted as a mode of dissonant and sublimat-ed articulation of protest. The cunning of Caliban's dissent/dis-sidence against the Ariels of capital - art's goal of metamor-phosing the real - is as protean and resourceful as the ruses of imperial pacification. Every artistic work is ideological and utopian at the same time; every poem is both a document of culture as well as of barbarism.
In the variations of this transition from past to future, what this critique of symbolic exchange hopes to convey is that Marxism is (in Lenin's phrase, "concrete analysis of concrete conditions") the principle of hope in action. It is a sense of the beginning of a long-range jour-ney of socialist reconstruction; the play of utopian energies in-vesting the counter hegemonic art of the everyday life with value. This process becomes actualized by Fili-pino activists in cities and coun-tryside where the crisis of neo-colonial dependency, indeed the claims of "Manifest Destiny" recycled today by the apologists of transnational capital, will be finally resolved.

[From:  Conjuncture Vol. V Number 5  May 1992]

Monday, September 07, 2015

TAHIMIK tula ni E. San Juan, Jr.


Payapang lugar   walang tilii   bulahaw  hiyaw  kulog  dagundong 

             walang imik


Walang tinig   taghoy  halinghing  sigaw  saklolo tahol  tugtog   palakpak  iyak 

Walang bigkas    atungal   palahaw  tanguyngoy  usap   ngalngal  tagulaylay

Walang  ingay  ungol  haginghing  himutok   irit   hibik  hagulgol  angil


          walang ingay

Walang hikbi  daldal  haluyhoy  lagaslas  alingawngaw   saklolo

Walang huni  sipol  pagaspas  lawiswis  halakhak  agas-as

Walang siyap  sutsot  bulong  alatiit   kuliling  kaluskos  paswit


    walang imik

            walang kibo    talagang naumid

Piping lahat--negunit bakit may kumakatok   humihingi ng saklolo

         ugong sa sulok 

                anasan sa butas ng bungo 

    bulong  buntong-hiningang   sayang  

               sinayang ---

Wednesday, August 05, 2015



Ni E. San Juan, Jr.


 Ako'y may tapat na irog saanman paroo'y kasunod-sunod;
 Mapatubig ay di nalulunod, mapaapoy ay di nasusunog.

 Mayroon akong alipin, sunod nang sunod sa akin.

Kung araw, yumao ka; kung gabi'y halika;
Sa araw ay nagtataboy, sa gabi ay nag-aampon.

Laging nakasakay ngunit di nagpapasyal.
Lumalakad ang bangka, ang piloto ay nakahiga.

Hindi hayop, hindi tao, walang gulong ay tumatakbo.
Takbo roon, takbo rito, hindi makaalis sa tayong ito.

Nang maalala'y naiwan, nadala nang malimutan.
Pasurot-surot, dala-dala ay gapos.

Dalawang magkaibigan, unahan nang unahan.
Dalawang batong itim, malayo ang nararating.

Maputing parang bulak, kalihim ko sa pagliyag.


 Apat katao, iisa ang sombrero;  paa'y apat, hindi makalakad.

Ang bahay ni Pedrito, walang pinto, puro kuwarto.
Mayroon pitong bentanilya, tatlo lamang ang naisasara.

Isang bahay na bato, ang takip ay bilao.
Isang bakuran, sari-sari ang nagdaraan.

Kakalat-kalat, natitisod-tisod; kapagka tinipon, matibay na moog.

Nagbahay ang marunong, nasa ilalim ang bubong.
Limang magkakapatid, tig-iisa ang silid.

Bahay ni Santa Maria, naiinog ng sandata.
May bintana, walang bubungan; may pinto, walang hagdanan.

Bahay ni Ka Huli, haligi ay bali-bali, ang bubong ay kawali.
Bahay ng anluwagi, iisa ang haligi.
Maliit na bahay, puno ng mga patay.

Sarado roon, sarado rito; sarado hanggang dulo.


Kung saan masikip, doon nagpipilit.
Isang butil ng palay  sakop ang buong bahay.

Kung gabi ay hinog, kung araw ay hilaw.
Nagbibihis araw-araw, nag-iiba ang pangalan.

Sa araw ay nakahimbing, sa gabi ay gising.
Lumuluha walang mata, lumalakad walang paa.

Kulay rosas ang pulseras ng reyna, pumuputok walang bala.
Walang ngipin, walang panga, mainit ang hininga.

Kung bayaan ay nabubuhay, kung himasin ay namamatay.
Kung ako'y mamamatay, pilit siyang madaramay.

May katawa'y walang mukha, walang mata'y lumuluha.
Kung kailan pinatay, saka humaba ang buhay.

Kung bayaan ay nabubuhay, kung himasin ay namamatay.
Kung kailan pa ako pinatay, saka nagtagal ang buhay.

Iisa na kinuha pa, ang natira ay dalawa.
Kapag ako'y minsang pinatay, buhay kong ingat lalong magtatagal.

Apat na kapapang kumot, di matakpan ang tuhod.
Isang butil ng trigo pinapagsikip ang buong mundo.


Isang reynang maraming mata, nasa gitna ng mga espada.
Nakayuko ang reyna, di malaglag ang korona.

Ang sombrero ni Bernabe sa bundok itinabi.

Maliit pa si kumpare, nakaakyat na sa tore.
Naunang umakyat, nahuli sa lahat.

Nakatindig walang paa, may tiya'y walang bituka
Naligo ang kapitan, hindi nabasa ang tiyan.

May likod walang tiyan, matulin sa karagatan.
Lumuluha'y walang mata, lumalakad walang paa.

May ulo walang tiyan, may leeg walang baywang.
Tag-ulan o tag-araw, hanggang tuhod ang salawal.

Mataas kung nakaupo, mababa kung nakatayo.
Ang ina'y gumagapang pa, ang anak ay umuupo na.
May dala, may bitbit, may sunong  may kilik.

Di matingkalang bundok, darak ay nakakamot.

Kay raming nakahiga, iilan lamang ang abot sa lupa.
Masarap na hantungan, ngunit iniiwasan ng tanan.


Maputing dalaga nagtatalik sa lila.
Isang reynang maraming mata, nasa gitna ng mga espada.

Balahibong binalot ng balat, balahibong bumalot sa balat.
Pagsipot sa maliwanag, kulubot na ang balat.

Tubig na binalot sa papel, papel na binalot sa bato
    batong binalot sa balahibo.
Kawangis ay palu-palo, libot na libot ng ginto.

Nang wala ang ginto ay doon nagpalalo,
Nang magkagintu-ginto, doon na nga sumuko.

Gintong binalot sa pilak, pilak na binalot sa balat.
Tinakpan bago minulatan.

Itinapon ang laman, balat ang pinagyaman.
Abot na ng kamay, ipinagawa pa sa tulay.

Binalangkas ko't binalutan, saka ibinilad sa araw.
Kinalag ang balangkas, sumayaw nang ilagpak.


May kawalang lumilipad, nakawalang kumikislap.
Bumbong kung maliwanag, kung gabi ay dagat.

Isda sa Kilaw-kilaw, di mahuli't may pataw.
Munting hayop na pangahas, aaligid-aligid sa ningas.

Hayan na, hayan na, hindi mo nakikita, buto't balat lumilipad.
Walang pakpak, mabilis lumipad.

Hawakan mo ang buntot ko, sisisid ako.
Munting tiririt, may baga sa puwit.

Ang ibabaw ay tawiran, ang ilalim ay lusutan.
Tubig na sakdal linaw, nadadala sa kamay.

Nakaluluto nang walang init, umaaso'y malamig.
Sa init ay sumasaya, sa lamig ay nalalanta.

Di man isda, di man itik, nakahuhuni kung ibig.
Maliit pa si Kumare, marunong nang humuni.

Nang munti pa'y may buntot, paglaki ay punggok.
Hanggang leeg kung mababaw, kung malalim hanggang baywang.

Nang umalis lumilipad, nang dumating umuusad.
Itinanim sa kinagabihan, inani sa kinaumagahan.


Nakatalikod na ang prinsesa, mukha niya'y nakaharap pa.

Mukha ko'y totoong tinikin, ngunit busilak ang kalooban.
Aling mabuting litrato, kuhang-kuha sa mukha mo.

Isang panyong parisukat, kung buksa'y nakakausap.

Hindi pa natatalupan, nanganganinag na ang laman.
Binuksan ang kanyon, perdigones ang nakabaon.

Dalawang bolang sinulid, abot hanggang langit.
Kung manahi'y nagbabaging, dumudumi ng sinulid.

Binili ko nang mahal, isinabit ko lamang.

Mataas ay binitin, kaysa pinagbitinan.
Pusong bibitin-bitin, masarap kainin.

Kinain mo't naubos, nabubuo pang lubos.


 Nagpiging ang bayan, iisa ang hugasan.
Tubig na pinagpala, walang makakakuha kundi bata.

Nang bata ay nakasaya, naghubo nang maging dalaga.
Nang maliit pa'y nakabaro, nang lumaki'y naghubo.

Tatlong magkakapatid, sing-iitim ang dibdib.
Magkakapatid na prinsesa, lahat nama'y pawang negra.

Maitim na parang alkitran, pumuputi kahit di labhan.
Nagbibigay na, sinasakal pa.

Isang balong malalim, punong-puno ng patalim.
Tubig sa ining-ining, di mahipan ng hangin.

Dalawa kong kahon, buksan walang ugong.
Sa buhatan ay may silbi, sa igiban walang sinabi.

Dumaan ang hari, nagkagatan ang mga pari.
Hindi pari, hindi hari, nagdadamit ng sari-sari.

May binti walang hita, may tuktok walang mukha.
Sumususo ang anak habang lumilipad.


Punong layu-layo, dulo'y tagpu-tagpo.

Hinila ko ang baging, nag-iingay ang matsing.
Binatak ko ang baging, bumuka ay tikin.

Aling kahoy sa gubat ang nagsasanga'y walang ugat?
May puno, walang bunga; may dahon, walang sanga.

Bawat dahong binabaksak ay araw na lumilipas.

Limang punong niyog, iisa ang matayog.
Tinaga ko sa puno, sa dulo nagdugo.

Usbong nang usbong, hindi naman nagdadahon.
Sa araw ay bumbong, sa gabi ay dahon.

Tinaga ko sa gubat, sa bahay umiyak.
Halamang di nalalanta, kahit natabas na.

Bunga na, namunga pa.


Munting tampipi, puno ng salapi.
Malalim kung bawasan, mababaw kung dagdagan.

Baboy ko sa Marungko, balahibo ay pako.
Baka ko sa palupandan, unga'y nakararating kung saan.

Baston ni Adan, hindi mabilang-bilang.
Tungkod ni Kurdapyo, hindi mahipo-hipo.

Tumakbo si Tarzan, bumuka ang daan.
Buka kung hapon, kung umaga ay lulon.

Isang matinik na tampipi, asim-tamis ang pinagsama
    sa maputing laman niya.
Malayo pa ang sibat, nganga na ang sugat.

Baka ko sa Maynila, abot diyan ang unga.
Bumubuka'y walang bibig, ngumingiti nang tahimik.

Naupo si Itim, sinulot ni Pula; heto na si Puti, bubuga-buga.
Iisa ang pinasukan, tatlo ang nilabasan.

Baboy ko sa Sorsogon, kung di sakya'y di lalamon.
Urong-sulong panay ang lamon, urong-sulong lumalamon.

Sa isang kalabit, may buhay na kapalit.
Pumutok ay di narinig, tumama'y di nakasakit.

Baboy ko sa kaingin, nataba'y walang pagkain.
Habang iyong kinakain, lalo kang gugutumin.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015



 -- ni E. San Juan, Jr.

ANG tao ba ay katumbas lamang ng kanyang katawan, o bahagi nito? Ang kasarian ba ay walang iba kundi organong seksuwal? Seks ba ang buod ng pagkatao?

    Kung hindi man ito kalakaran, ang tumututol ay siyang nagtatampok ng problema, bagamat salungat sa namamaraling opinyon o doxang pangmadla. Sinomang bumanggit ng seks ay kasabwat na ng mga bastos at mahalay. Sabi-sabi ito. Batikusin mo, ikalat mo't palaganapin. Bakit mali ito?

    Ang usapang seksuwal ay di na masagwa o mahalay ngayon. Buhat noong maging sikat, bagamat kontrobersiyal, ang "Vagina Monologues" ni Eve Ensler, tila hindi na nakasisindak tumukoy sa mga maselang bahagi ng katawan ng babae. Ang estilong bugtong o talinghaga sa seks--gawaing pakikipagtalik--ay itinuturing na sintomas ng neurosis o maselang sakit ng budhi. Paano ang seks ng transgender, hybrid o cyborg? Ordinaryo na lamang ang seksuwal chitchat. Bakit hindi kung laganap na ang advertisement sa Viagra at iba pang drogang nagpapaudyok sa hindutan? Anong masama sa masarap na "dyugdyugan"? Di ba utos kina Eba at Adan: "Multiply...Magparami kayo!" Kung di kaya, uminom ng pilduras o di kaya'y virgin coconut oil. OK ito sa mga pariseo ng simbahan.

    Wala bang sariling ating pukaw-pukyutan? Katutubong pukyotan-putakang pangsarili. Biro ng iba, kung instrumento ng progresibong sektor ang popularidad ni Ensler, bakit di pumatol ang "Penis/Balls Monologue"? Kung sobrang tsobinismo o makismo ito, e di symposium o colloquium ng mga genitalia? O sunod kina Bakhtin at Levinas, diyalogo ng balun-balunan, bukong-bukong at puwit? Demokratikong pagpapalitan ng kuro-kuro at kiliti. May reklamo ka?

Pambihirang Pakulo

    Iwan na muna natin ang katawang performative. Dumako tayo sa milyung  espirituwal, sa palengkeng neoliberal. Pambihira talaga. Walang clone si Ensler. Isa na siyang korporasyon ng Power Elite ng Global North. Isang haligi ng Imperyong U.S. Naging selebriting burgis si Ensler, kumita ng di-makalkulang yaman at prestihiyo sa di umano'y peministang hamon sa moralidad ng puritanismong lipunan.

    Nagsilbing kultural kapital ang cause de celebre, ginawang passport o pretext para isalba ang kababaihan saan mang lupalop tulad ng neokolonyang Pilipinas. Talo pa niya si Mother Teresa. Ililigtas sina Mary Jane Veloso, Andrea Rosal, Wilma Tiamson, at iba pang inaaping babae sa rehiyon ng BangsaMoro at Lumad.

    Huwag nang idawit ang Birhen, o babaylang Reyna sa TV at pelikula. Hindi biro, naging talisman o magayumang lakas ang seks ng babae. Sino ang  may reklamo sa One Billion Rising ni Ensler? Ang Vagina Men sa Quezon City o sa Congo? Pati mga gerilya ng New People's Army ay nagsasayaw sa direksiyon ni Ensler sa tulong ng mga kakutsabang kabaro. HIndi na monologo kundi koro ng mga diwata sa gubat kung saan ang masa ay mga isda, ayon kay Mao.
Magaling! Tuwang-tuwa ang mga hito, talakitok, dilis, bia, tanggigi, bakoko at tilapya. Mabuhay ang rebolusyong umiindak, naglalambing. Kung hindi tayo kasama sa sayaw, sambit ni Mother Jones, bakit magpapakamatay?

Karnibal ng mga Paru-Paro?

    Kaalinsabay ang usapang puk# sa liberalisasyon ng diskursong seksuwal sa klimang anti-kapitalistang protesta sa buong mundo. Tampok dito ang Women's Liberation movement (simula kina Simone de Beauvoir o Shulamith Firestone) noong dekada 1960-1970. Bumunsod na nga sa pagturing sa prostitusyon bilang sex work/trabahong makalupa. Ewan ko kung anong palagay ni Aling Rosa at mga Lola ng "Lolas Kampanya Survivor" na naglakbay sa kung saan-saan, salamat sa tulong ni Nelia Sancho, ang coordinator ng grupo.

    Sa ngayon, 300-400 Lola ang buhay pa sa bilang ng 2000 "Comfort Women" sa Pilipinas. Wala pang hustisya sina Lola Jullia, Lola Fedencia, atbp hanggang ngayon. Patuloy nilang iginigiit na ang ginawa ng mga Hapon noong giyera ay hindi pag-upa sa babaeng trabahador kundi talagang gahasang tortyur, panggagahis sa sibilyan, isang masahol na krimen laban sa humanidad. Usapang putangna iyon, walang duda. Ang babae ay makinang ginamit upang magparaos ang mga sundalong Hapon, tulad ng mga "hospitality girls" sa Angeles City, Olongapo, at iba pang R & R sentro ng US sa kanilang pandaramong sa Vietnam, Cambodia at Laos noong mga dekada 1960-1980.

Radikal at Mapanuri?  Bawal!  Huli 'yan!

    Bago sumabog ang peminismong radikal, mahaba na rin ang tala ng rebelyon ng mga alagad-ng-sining laban sa sensura, ipokrisya't pagbabawal sa malayang paglalahad. Historya ito ng ebolusyon ng modernidad. Kasi, laging pinaglalangkap ng Patriarkong Orden ang militanteng sining at pornograpya. Hindi sumusunod sa istandard ng burgesya. Taktikang pagbubusal iyon sa kritikang kamalayan. Isipin na lang ang kaso sa dalawang nobelang Ulysses ni James Joyce at Lady Chatterley's Love ni D.H. Lawrence, o mga libro ni Henry Miller. Pati Catcher in the Rye at Huckleberry Finn ay pinagbabawal sa ilang aklatang pampubliko sa U.S.

    Nakakabagot itong ipokrisya, testigo sa paghahati ng lipunang mapagsamantala't makahayup. Huwag na nating balik-tanawin pa ang mga sinaunang halimbawa ng Satyricon ni Petronius, Decameron ni Boccacio, Gargantua at Pantagruel ni Rabelais, at mga akda ni Marquis de Sade. Sinubok nilang sugpuin at pigilin ang pag-unlad ng kamalayan. Laging umiigpaw sa kontrol ng mga naghahari ang lasa at nais ng madla, hindi ng mga awtoridad na umuusig sa mga "ideological State apparatus" ng makauri't mapagsamantalang lipunan.

    Sa larangan ng pintura, masilakbo't maengganyo ang balitaktakan. Armadong puwersa ang nakapangingibabaw, hindi argumentong rasyonal. Nakasalalay ang kapangyarian ng Patriyarkong Burgesya. Pwedeng banggitin ang eskandalo tungkol sa "Olympia" (1865) ni Edouard Manet, "The Origin of the World" (1866) ni Gustave Courbet, "Ecstatic Unity" (1969) ni Dorothy Iannone, at mga litrato ni Robert Mapplethorpe. Halimbawa naman ng mga paggamit ng tema o imaheng relihiyoso, mababangit ang eskandalo tungkol sa "Piss Christ" (1987) ni Andres Serrano o "The Holy Virgin May" (1999) ni Chris Ofili.

    Sa atin naman, magugunita ang pagsasara ng "KULO" exhibit at ang "Politeismo" (2011) ni Mideo Cruz. Kung itinanghal ang "KULO" sa Pransiya o Italya, marahil walang problema. Baka naging mabenta pa ang mga mapangahas na likhang-sning, karibal ng mga milyong dolyar na produkto nina Andy Warhol at De Kooning.

    Ngunit sa neokolonyang mahal, ang diskurso ng libog o praktikang pukaw-pukyutan ay tabu pa rin, sa pangkalahatan. Merong pasubali. Sa akademyang sekular, umiiral ang regulasyon sa takdang lugar ng usapang libog. Ngunit nananaig pa rin ang tradisyonal na moralidad ng iba't ibang simbahan--mga ugali, gawi, kostumbre sa kilos, salita, at sentido komun ng bayan.Sino ba ang nakikinabang sa ganitong paghihigpit? Di na tayo makababalik sa hardin ng karinyo't lampungan. Magtiyaga na lang kayo sa kampo ng mga nudist. O pornograpikong eksena/video sa Internet. Mag-ingat ka, ang surveillance ngayon ay di lamang estratehiya ng pulis, kundi maniobra ng mga espiya sa Internet, satellite, drones---wala kang ligtas! Puputaktahin ka ng isang katerbang buwisit at kamyerdahang panghihimasok.

Hamon kina Gabriela Silang at Mga Babaylan

    Paano kung ambisyon mo ang tumulad kay Shigeko Kubota? Lalaki ka man, puwede ka ring gumaya kay Kubota.

    Sino itong Kubeta? Kubota po, hindi kubeta. Ipinanganak siya sa Niigata, Hapon, noong 1937, kalahi ng mga Budistang monghe. Naging kasapi siya sa organisasyong Fluxus sa New York noong dekada 1960. Si Kubota ay tanyag na avantgarde video-iskultor,  lumilikha ng video installation, sumusuri sa pamana ni Marcel Duchamp, ama ng modernismong sining. Kalahok ang mga maraming likha niya sa Dokumenta 7, Kessel (1982) at iba pang museo't galeri. Naging propesor siya ng teknolohiya ng video/pelikula sa iba't ibang unibersidad at institusyong global. Unang napag-aralan niya ang komposisyon ni John Cago noong 1963 sa pagsasanib niya sa grupong musikero sa Tokyo, ang Ongaku, kasama si Yoko Ono.

    Naging tanyag si Kubota sa "Vagina Painting," na ginanap sa Perpetual Fluxus Festival,Cinematheque, New York noong Hulyo 1965. May foto ng akto niya sa libro ni Peter Osborne, Conceptual Art (New York: Phaidon, 2002), pahina 71. Subaybayan din siya sa Internet sa dokumentasyon ng "Vagina Painting" at iba pang likhang-sining niya.

    Sa pangyayaring ito, inilatag ni Kubota ang isang malapad na papel sa sahig. Doon nagpinta siya nang abstraktong linya sa pulang kulay sa bisa ng galaw ng brotsa. Nakakabit ang brotsa sa singit. Huwag mo nang itanong kung gaano katagal ang aksyon at ano ang reaksyon ng awdiyens noon.  Sinasagisag ang kanyang vagina bilang bukal ng inspirasyon. Ang pulang pinta ay kahalintulad ng dugo sa regla na hulog mula sa lugar na tinaguriang kawalan ng phallus (sa metaporikang pakahulugan; ibig pahiwatig, hindi penis o titi). Sa gayong palabas, pinasimulan niya ang isang perspektibang makababae sa tipikal na pagtatanghal ng Fluxus hinggil sa operasyong pagbabakasakali, pasumala o patsansing-tsansing("chance operations").

    Iminungkahi ni Kubota sa kanyang akto ang isang alternatibo sa agresibong teknik ng action o drip painting ni Jackson Pollock. Isang hamon din ang ginanap ni Kubota sa papel ng babaeng artista na laging pinapatnubayan, ginagabayan, at inuugitan ng kalalakihan--awtoritaryong disiplina ng mga Patriyarko. Dagdag pa, pinuna ni Kubota ang paggamit sa babae bilang brotsang buhay, nilubog sa pintang kulay asul, na pinagapang sa kanbas, na masasaksihan sa Anthropometrie serye ni Yves Klein noong dekada 1950-1960.

    Salungat si Kubota (na asawa ng bantog na si Nam June Paik) sa ganoong paggamit ng katawan ng babae, isang uri ng "human traffiking" ng kababaihan. Kapanalig niya sa krusadang ito sina Yoko Ono at Carolee Schneeman, na hindi masyadong nagustuhan ng kanilang grupong Fluxus.

Makibaka, Huwag Magsipsip

    Sunod ba ang One Billion Rising sa pintang pukyutan ni Kubota? Aktibo pa rin si Kubota sa New York. I-Google ninyo. Uliran ang kanyang halimbawang napasimulan sa pagpukpok sa pukyutan upang pukawin ang bihag at nakukulong na kamalayan. Isang sandata iyon sa conscientization ng madla.  Bakit hindi? Bakit hindi gamitin ang katawan--na siyang lugar ng "Kingdom" ng Tagapagligtas--upang palayain ang pagkatao't kaluluwa (kundi pa naisangla o naipagbili)? Bakit pa nagkaroon ng inkarnasyon kung tayo'y mga anghel na walang puwit o bunganga, walang titi o puk%?

    Anong reklamo mo? Manunuod na lang ba tayo ng "Fifty Shades of Grey" at YOUTUBE seryeng pornograpiko, at mga artifaktong pabalbal sa Internet tulad ng  "Kakantutin ka lang nila" (mahigit 4,081,933 ang taga-subaybay? Kuntento na ba tayong laging nakatungaga sa mga strip-tease at sirko ng mga egotistikong selebriti sa TV at pelikula? Marami tayong reklamo, sigurado, kaya dapat ipahayag na ito. Pasingawin at ibilad ang mga pasakit, himutok, hinanakit. Kundi, baka magkarambulan sa sikolohiyang pantayo't pambarkada.

    Alam nating lahat ang tunay na situwasyon. Tulad ng anumang bagay, puspos ng masalimuot na kontradiksiyon.  Lahat ng bahagi ng katawan ay may reklamo, laluna ang sikmura, uhaw sa hustisya. Marami nang pasubali: kaya bang ipahiwatig ang damdamin ng buong body politic sa makitid at partikularistikong paraan ng Vagina Monologue o Vagina Painting? Binugbog at pinarusahang mga katawan ng sambayanan, isinasangkot sa pambansang mobilisasyon ang lahat ng kasariang inaapi. Bukod ito sa One Billion Rising. 

    Pag-ugnayin muli ang pinagwatak-watak na bahagi ng katawan upang mabuo muli ang kalayaan at pagkakapantay-pantay na winasak ng imperyalismo't kapitalismong global. Usapang mapagpalaya, hindi lang usapang puk%, ang rebolusyong sumusulong, kabilang ang lahat ng nakikiramay ngayon kina Ka Leoncio Pitao at  Ka Vanessa Limpag, biktima ng barbarismong kabuktutan ng rehimeng Aquino at US imperyalismo. Mabuhay sina Kumander Parago at Ka Vanessa, bayani ng lahi, laging buhay sa puso ng masa.--###

Tuesday, June 02, 2015


Munting tampipi, puno ng salapi.
Malalim kung bawasan, mababaw kung dagdagan.

Baboy ko sa Marungko, balahibo ay pako.
Baka ko sa palupandan, unga'y nakararating kung saan.

Baston ni Adan, hindi mabilang-bilang.
Tungkod ni Kurdapyo, hindi mahipo-hipo.

Tumakbo si Tarzan, bumuka ang daan.
Buka kung hapon, kung umaga ay lulon.

Isang matinik na tampipi, asim-tamis ang pinagsama
    sa maputing laman niya.
Malayo pa ang sibat, nganga na ang sugat.

Baka ko sa Maynila, abot diyan ang unga.
Bumubuka'y walang bibig, ngumingiti nang tahimik.

Naupo si Itim, sinulot ni Pula; heto na si Puti, bubuga-buga.
Iisa ang pinasukan, tatlo ang nilabasan.

Baboy ko sa Sorsogon, kung di sakya'y di lalamon.
Urong-sulong panay ang lamon, urong-sulong lumalamon.

Sa isang kalabit, may buhay na kapalit.
Pumutok ay di narinig, tumama'y di nakasakit.

Baboy ko sa kaingin, nataba'y walang pagkain.
Habang iyong kinakain, lalo kang gugutumin.

--ni E. SAN JUAN, Jr.

Saturday, May 02, 2015




The first thing that will surprise you about Ambil, Mga pagsubok, pahiwatig & interbensyon (2014) by E. San Juan Jr. is its form, one that we rarely see our more established writers using for their work. A chapbook of 36 pages stapled together, with parts unapologetically xeroxed and others obviously print-outs from a standard printer, the form of Ambil is reminiscent of the old Peso Books of Alberto Florentino, but more in tune with the zines and chapbooks of contemporary independent publishing.

But San Juan is not being faddish here. Reading through his poetry and prose in Ambil one realizes how the works lend themselves to the form of the chapbook, where there is an experimentation with how a poem might look, and what else might be done with words.

And not just in terms of stringing words together, but more importantly in terms of how these look on the page, against an image, relative to graphics and shapes. There is a playfulness here that is unexpected.

Interventions against the word
The value of the word is premised on its function within the struggle of the classes, where words used by the louder voices, the ones we hear from the seats of power, become the dominant words of the status quo. While words are also what we use to exercise our freedom to speak, certain words and voices are more important. Besides many other words are used to keep us silent and contained. There is also this: what are words when these are ignored and dismissed to be coming from a few?

San Juan intervenes in this state of affairs in Ambil, where the title itself pertains to the interpretation of a word different from original intention (7), something that he employs in the poems that reconfigure the works of other writers, putting into question the task itself of writing, and in effect, literary history. From “Asignatura sa mga Anarkista (Hinangong ambil mula kay Yoko Ono)” (5):

C. Tipunin lahat ng librong nagkukunwaring siyang pinakamabuting balarila o gramatika ng wika, pati lahat ng mga arte poetika mula sa Vocabulario nina Noceda at Sanlucar hanggang sa mga turo nina Lope K Santos at Julian Cruz Balmaseda, pati na lahat ng tulang may tugma’t sukat ayon sa regla ng mga awtoridad at premyadong pantas.
C1. Ilagay sa isang trak, dalhin sa Payatas, buhusan ng ilang balde ng gasolina, at sunugin.

The play with rhymes familiar also reminds of how we are hewed from the same cloth of nation, where the dominant seemingly meaningless tunes can remain spaces of intervention still, as with “Sitsiritsit” (21), but more importantly in “Sa Hagupit Ni Yolanda, Nagkabuhol-buhol” (28-29):
Ang laki sa layaw, magsalawal ma’y aliswag.

Ang di lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makatatawid ng karagatan.
Ang bibig ng ilog iyong masasarhan hanggang wala ka sa langit.
Mayaman ka man sa sabi, kung singili’y napopoot.
Ang taong nagigipit ay wala ring laban kapag nag-iisa.
Di man makita ang ningas, kung patay na ang kabayo.

Meditations on nation
But what dominates Ambilis a play with repetition and redundancy, which San Juan employs especially for the poetry that dares discuss issues of nation: hunger and poverty, injustice and impunity. In “Mantrang Inanod Sa Maitim Na Butas Ng Cyberspace” (22), the repetition is also about a conversation riddled with disbelief:

Datapwat lalong lumala ang sakit at gutom kahit 7.2% lumago ang GNP

Datapwat wala pang $2 kada araw ang pantawid-buhay ng nakararaming pamilya

Datapwat wala pa rin hustisya ang mga biktima ng Mendiola’t Ampatuan masaker

Datapwat pinatay pa si Ricardo Ramos at mga kasapi ng unyon sa Hacienda Luisita

Datapwat nagdarahop ang mga pesante sa mga hacienda sa Pampanga’t Negros        Ay ewan

Meanwhile in “Pagninilay” (15) the redundancy completes the telling of the narrative of oppression, in the end asserting that to read it is not the point at all:

Sapagkat bulag at bingi ang awtoridad sa harap ng mulat at mabalasik na trabahador Sapagkat may wakas din ang pagtitiis at laging nag-uumipsa ang himagsik
Sapagkat marupok ang poder ng politiko’t matibay ang lakas ng sambayanan
Sapagkat may takda ang salita at walang hangganan ang kilos at gawa ng masa
Sapagkat tuyo na ang luha ninyo kaya’t panahon nang paagusin ang galit at poot

It is due to San Juan’s deft creative hand that there is a balance between the playfulness in these poems and the severity of the situations these talk about. There is no sense that the content is being sacrificed for the form, as there is fact of repetition as meditation layering the discussion with an almost calm and quiet, the kind that demands introspection, but also necessarily is about movement beyond the page.

And this is really the gift of Ambil: issues are not being shoved down one’s throat. The play with words, the experimentation, ends up asserting oppression and violence to be matters of fact and nothing else. In the process one is left with a bad taste in the mouth, but one that was a by-product of reading as act: an act that in the case of Ambil is enjoyable and exciting in its playfulness, provocative and enraging in its meditations on nation.

<…>Dahil mali ang akalang laging pipi’t bulag ang mga patay-gutom
Dahil walang balato sa pulitikong bantay-salakay sa pork-barrel

<…> Dahil tayo’y sawa na sa pakulong Oplan Bayanihan at gayuma ng America
Dahil wala raw dahilang hindi iginuhit ng tadhana natin (9)

Meditations, interventions on the State of Nation
April 18, 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

BETWEEN EMPIRE AND INSURGENCY--published by U.P. Press, 2015


Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Mga Sanaysay sa Kritika, Kasaysayan, at Politikang Pangkultura

ni E. SAN JUAN, Jr.
Dulang Algoritmong Potensiyal
(Alinsunod sa paraan ng Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle)

ni E. SAN JUAN, Jr.

[Paunawa: Lahat ng tauhan sa dulang ito ay pawang likhang-isip; kung sakaling kahawig ng mga personaheng buhay, ituring na aksidenteng pagkakataon lamang iyon at hindi talagang sinasadya--Awtor]


Balisa si Presidente Obama at mga upisyal sa Pentagon, Washington DC..Baka bumagsak ang dolyar at ordeng kapital-pampinansiyal, pag-ulit ng 2008 krisis, kung hindi mahuhuli sina Zulkifli bin Hir at Abdul Basit Usman. Binabalaan na sila ng mga CEO ng Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, IMF at World Bank na dapat kagyat lutasin ang ugat ng panganib sa Pilipinas. Tulala si Obama dahil sa dalawang bagay, na dapat piliin ninyo:

    Walang mahanap na Pinay/Pinay na eskiroll na magkukumpisal kung     nasaan ang dalawang terorista (tingnan ang Tagpo 8)

    Itinago ni Putin ang dalawang rebelde dahil sa panghihimasok ng U.S. sa     Ukraine (tingnan ang Tagpo 9)


Nagsuplong kay P'Noy Aquino ang isang ahente ng Taliban sa Afghanistan kung saan nagtatago ang dalawang kontrabida.  Pinatawag si Heneral Alan Purisima na suspindido noon, ngunit nawawala ang heneral.  Siya ba ay nakompromiso ni:

    Kurt Hoyer, Press Attache ng US Embassy, na sikretong CIA ahente, na     naghahanda ng planong Wolverine sa Manila Hotel? (tingnan ang Tagpo     5)

    O ni bise-presidente Binay habang nagliliwaliw siya sa isang casino sa     Makati?  (tingnan ang Tagpo 7)


Pinagpayuan ni Sec. Leila de Lima si P'Noy na dapat sa PNP (Philippine National Police) lamang sumangguni sapagkat hindi maasahan ang AFP
na matakaw din sa pabuyang limang milyong dolyar sa paghuli sa dalawang terorista.  Hindi makapagpasiya si P'Noy sanhi sa alin sa dalawang dahilan:

    Marami siyang utang kay Heneral Pio Gregorio Catapang, hepe ng AFP     (tingnan ang Tagpo 6)

    Binantaan na siya ni PNP Heneral Leonardo Espina at Int. Sec. Mar     Roxas dahil sa pakikipagsosyo sa isang seksing "socialite" (tingnan ang     Tagpo 2)


Enero 25, 2015, lumunsad na ang 6 tropang Amerikano sa TCP (Tactical Command Post) ng Sheriff Aguak sa Manguindanao. Ngunit di nila alam ang tiyak na situwasyon ng Special Action Force ng PNP sapagkat ang planong Wolverine ay hindi katugma sa planong Exodus. Bakit nagkaganoon? Piliiin sa dalawang posibilidad:

    Nagsusugal ang dalawang heneral  sa Zamboanga AFP Western     Command, Rustico Guerrero at Edmundo Pangilinan, nang ipahatid ang     utos batay sa utlat ng drone ng mga Amerikano (tingnan ang Tagpo 2 )

    Inilihim ni PNP Chief Getulio Napenas ang tunay na sabwatan nila ng     MILF at BBP sa gagawing "pintakasi" sa Mamasapano  (tingnan ang     Tagpo 7)


Sinabi ni P'Noy kay Purisima noong Enero 9 sa Bahay Pangarap--"Ayusin mo na kina Espina at Roxas... Ako na ang bahala kay Catapang."  Inutusan niya ang staff sa Malacanang na kontakin ang Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities.  Bakit hindi nagawa iyon?  Piliin ang dahilan:

    Okupado sina Mohagher Iqbal sa US Embassy sa pakikipag-ugnayan sa     US Institute of Peace at mga kinatawan ng Malaysian Embassy tungkol sa     "investments"  sa kanilang "ancestral domain" (tingnan ang Tagpo 9)

    "Busy" si Chief Napenas sa pakikipag-usap sa isang kaibigan sa Moscow,     Russian Federation na nakahimpil sa Teheran, Iran (tingnan ang Tagpo 1)


Sumugod na ang 44 na PNP SAF sa Tukanalipao, baryo ng Mamasapano, hindi alam kung ang kalaban nila ay kabilang sa Abu Sayyaf, Al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters), o NPA (New People's Army), at walang muwang sa posisyon ng kanilang tinutugis. Ano ang rason ng ganitong pagkalito? Piliin:

    Pinangakuan na sila ng bahagi ng pabuya sa pagkahuli o pagkapatay kina     Marwan at Usman, kaya hindi na kailangan  tiyakin kung anong     pulitika o prinsipyo ng mga kaaway (Tingnan ang Tagpo 3)

    Binigyan sila ng kopya ng VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement), EDCA     (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) at CIA Counterinsurgency     Manual laban sa terorismo upang magamit sa pagdumi sa gubat      (Tingnan ang Tagpo 8).


Iginiit ni Napenas na "iniwan kami sa ere," ibig sabihin, walang ibinigay na "reward money" ang Washington nang makumpirma sa DNA test na napatay nga si Marwan. Naibalita naman sa Al Jazeera na nakapuslit si Marwan sa tulong ng ilang barko ng Tsina patungo sa Spratley/Kalayaan Isla. At si Usman naman ay nakalusot sa tulong ng MNLF ni Nur Misuari patungong Sabah.

    Gusto ninyo ba ng masayang wakas?  (tingnan ang Tagpo 9)
    Gusto ninyo ba ng masaklap na wakas?  (tingnan ang Tagpo 6)


Tinanggap na ni P'Noy na responsable siya sa palpak na Exodus, ngunit galit siya kay Fidel Ramos sa panawagan na magbitiw. Mula sa Mamasapano, taglay pa ng mga tao roon ang mga regalo nina Usman at Marwan, ayon kina Boyong Unggala at Farhannah Abdulkahar, dalawa sa 72,585  biktima ng giyera ni P'Noy buhat pa noong Pebrero 25. Nitong Marso 10-13, nadiskubre ng Suara Bangsamoro at Kawagib Moro Human Rights Alliance na nagkalat ang mga nilagas na dokumentong VFA at EDCA sa gubat kung saan nasawi ang 44 PNP pulis, 3 sibilyan, at 17 gerilya ng MILF at BIFF.

Nais ninyo ba ng makatwirang wakas? (tingnan ang Tagpo 5 & 7)
Nais ninyo ba ng balighong wakas?  (tingnan ang Tagpo 4 & 9)


Samantala, nakipagkita ang Ombudsman sa isang sugo ni Putin sa Singapore at ibinalita na may "gantimpala" sina Heneral Catapang at Espina, pati na sina Mar Roxas at Sec. Leila de Lima, sa "fiasco" ng Wolverine/Exodus. 

Sa Washington DC naman, binalak ni Obama na tawagan si P'Noy at ipahatid ang Congratulations ng FBI, Nais daw ng FBI na makapanood ng makulay na dulang "moro-moro"....

Samantala, nagpipista ang mga investors sa Wall Street na naglalaway sa pagbukas ng likas-yaman ng Mindanao na may halagang $840 bilyon-$1 trilyon sa mga korporasyong dayuhan, salamat sa napipintong kasunduang Bangsamoro Basic Law. Mabuhay ang mga "bayani" ng Mamasapano!



           Kilalang kritiko at manlilikha sa larangang internasyonal, si E. SAN JUAN, Jr.
ay dating Fellow ng W.E. B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University at Humanities Center, Wesleyan Uniersity. Emeritus professor of English, Comparative Literature & Ethnic Studies, siya ay kasalukuyang fellow ng Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin.

    Si San Juan ay awtor ng maraming libro, kabilang na ang Balikbayang Sinta: An E. San Juan Reader (Ateneo University Press), Sapagkat Iniibig Kita (University of the Philippines Press), Tinik sa Kaluluwa; Rizal In Our Time (Anvil Publishing), Alay Sa Paglikha ng Bukang-Liwayway (Ateneo University Press), Salud Algabre (University of San Agustin Publishing House), Balikbayang Mahal:  Passages from Exile, Sutrang Kayumanggi  & Bukas Luwalhating Kay Ganda (, Ulikba (UST Publishing House) at Kundiman sa Gitna ng Karimlan (U.P. Press).

    Inireprint kamakailan ng U.P. Press ang kalipunan ng mga panunuring pampanitikan niya. Toward a People’s Literature.  Inilathala ng Lambert Academic Publishing Co., Saarbrucken, Germany, ang kanyang Critical Interventions: From Joyce and Ibsen to Peirce and Kingston, kasunod ng In the Wake of Terror (Lexington) at US Imperialism and Revolution in the Philippines (Palgrave).--###

Friday, April 10, 2015


Reflections on the Bangsamoro Struggle for Self-determination

by E. SAN JUAN, Jr.

 [The 1789 Reign of Terror] is the rule of people who themselves are terror-stricken. Terror implies mostly useless cruelties perpetrated by frightened people in order to reassure themselves.

---Friedrich Engels, letter to March, 4 Sept. 1870 (Marx and Engels 1965)

Beginning January 2002, hundreds of U.S. Special Operations Forces have been stationed in the Southern Philippines as part of the US “global war against terror” after 9/11. This deployment was called “Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines,”  part of the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. In October 2004, then President Bush singled out the Philippines as one front (the other two are Iraq and Afghanistan) in the US attempt to assert its hegemony in the Middle East, Asia, and throughout the world (Docena 2008).
Last October 2010, US Ambassador Harry Thomas flexed imperial muscles by demanding that the Philippines must eliminate, not just reduce in size, the Abu Sayyaf (ASG), a self-styled Islamic sect which is always linked to Osama bin Laden and the Indonesian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) responsible for the Bali bombing in 2002 (Bloomberg 2010).  In 2001 the ASG beheaded one of three American hostages seized from a Palawan resort, while in 2004 it bombed a passenger ferry on Manila Bay, killing over 100 people. Both groups are always connected with Al Qaeda. Thomas said that “we are at a critical threshold” and the US will continue to send military advisers and aid (such as 25,000 helmets and fast-deploying rubber boats, among others), “as part of its security engagement with Manila” (Agence France-Presse 2010). At the same time, Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin stated that there was no fixed time-table for the presence of US troops in the Philippines involved not only in military campaigns but also in”peace and development,” as verified  by US undersecretary of State Wiliam Burns (Siam Daily News 2010). Based on photos taken by Agence France-Press of US troops entering combat zones riding Humvee armored jeeps fully armed, then Makati mayor Jejomar Binay commented that the Arroyo administration was “apparently subcontracting the job of leading the fight against Muslim insurgents to the Americans” (Tribune Online 8/16/2007).
Various websites have confirmed the active participation of the US military (roughly 580-620 members, as of 2009) in combat operations against the ASG and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) where 15 soldiers have already been killed, “including the ten who were lost in a 21002 helicopter crash” (Yon 2009). Civic projects (managed by US-AID and other agencies such as Military Information Support Teams) such as road building, schools, textbook distribution, medical programs, and information outreach, are accessories to the military and police operations, part of the twin policies of drying up the sanctuaries and killing or capturing the hardcore members of ASG.
A month before Thomas’ warning, the US and the Aquino regime staged a demonstration of the threat with the October 21 bombing in Matalam, North Cotabato, attributed to the JIL and a new terrorist sect called Jihadist Ulama intended to replace the ASG.  Obviously this recurrent hype about security threats occurs every time there is a move to review the onerous Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a travesty of Philippine sovereignty which has kindled mass outrage. The latest attempt to amplify the panic is the US State Department’s attempt to tag remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as possible funding sources for the ASG. The Department’s October report cited the group’s appeal for funds via the Internet You Tube video of late ASG leaders Abdurajak and Khadaffy Janjalani (killed in 1998 and 2006, respectively) as its basis. No concrete evidence has been offered to substantiate the suspicion. This provides a ploy or ruse not only to renew the VFA but also for the US to intervene in the formal and informal banking and finance sectors of the country through which billion-dollar remittances are channeled to keep the local economy afloat (Esplanada 2010; Madlos 2010). One should also mention the widely publicized indictment of Filipino citizen Madhatta Haipe, allegedly a founding member of the ASG, in a Washington federal court.  Extradited to the US in 2009, Haipe pleaded guilty to four counts of hostage taking in a 1995 abduction of 16 people, including 4 US citizens, near Lake Sebu, southern Mindanao (Inquirer 2010). What this bureaucratic legal exercise is meant to accomplish is clear: the Phiilippines is not a safe refuge for anyone who threatens to challenge the long tentacles of the  imperial power of the United States.

US Caught In the Quagmire

 A direct U.S. colony for about half a century, the Philippines remains a neocolonial formation, with a client collaborative regime (Petras 2007) subordinate to U.S. interests. This singular status of clientship or subordination is erased in current historiography. Consequently, the fallacy of treating the US and the Philippines as equal partners in inter-state relations results in gross misjudgments and absurd expectations.
The strategic US military bases in Clark and Subic Bay, Philippines, was evicted by the Philippine Senate in 1991.  However, by virtue of the anomalous Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) signed by then President Estrada in 1999, the US succeeded in establishing a Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines in Camp Navarro, Zamboanga City, the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Western Mindanao Command. This allows the US to participate in counter-insurgency operations against the Moro fighters in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA), and factions of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that refused to accept the Arroyo regime. Both the NPA and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) are classified as “terrorist” organizations by the U.S. State Department.
For now, the ASG has become the target of US surveillance by unmanned spy planes (drones); this intelligence gathering directly aids in the AFP’s combat operations. In 2002, for example, a Moro peasant in Basilan suspected to be an ASG follower, Buyong-buyong Isnijal, was shot by US Sgt. Reggie Lane; no serious investigation was made about this incident despite a Congressional resolution. In Feb. 2008, one of the few survivors of the Maimbung massacre in Sulu, Sandrawina Wahid, witnessed US troops engaged  in the Philippine military’s assault on the town where eight civilians were killed, including Rowina’s husband, two teenagers, two children, and a three-month pregnant woman. Another incident hit the headlines recently when a Philippine Army captain Javier Ignacio was killed while investigating the previous murder by US military personnel of a Filipino employee Gregan Cardeno. Hired by US company DynCorp International, Cardeno was assigned to the Liaison Coordination Element, a unit of the US military, based in Camp Ranao, Marawi City (Carol Araullo, “Streetwise,” Business World, 11-12 June 2010). The death of Cardeno exposed the clandestine unit engaged in work that appears in violation of Philippine laws and its sovereignty; the activities of DynCorp and other secret companies have likewise not been disclosed, contradicting the US Embassy claim that the US Special Forces are confined to openly conducted civic/humanitarian projects such as building roads, schools, etc.
On September 29, 2009, two American soldiers were killed by a landmine planted by the MNLF in Indanan, Jolo. These two are now considered the first casualties since the Balikatan exercises in 2001, although several US soldiers died in fighting in Sulu three or four years ago. This was a reprisal for the Philippine Marines’ bombing of Muslim devotees in religious rites on September 20 in the same town. A local observer, Prof. Julkipli Wadi noted that the US muted this incident to avoid jeopardizing its humanitarian stance. Wadi cites the October 2009 visit of US embassy officials to the MILF leadership in Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao, where these officials were lectured by the MILF deputy chieftain Ghazali Jaafar; according to Wadi, Jaafar told them that “Washington must help in the resolution of the Mindanao problem by addressing the root cause, which is political, emanating from the grant of US independence to the Philippines,” which “immorally and illegally incorporated the Bangsamoro homeland” (“US Strategic Avoidance,” MindNews, 20 October 2009). Wadi described US soldiers entrenching themselves in many parts of Zamboanga, Basilan, Jolo and parts of Tawi-Tawi, and asks “how long would US authorities pursue the policy of strategic avoidance by hiding under the veneer of counterinsurgency and war on international terrorism while entrenching deeper in the hinterlands and seas of the Sulu Archipelago without being known by the American public?” Obviously, aside from propping up the neocolonial Filipino elite and thus advancing its global geopolitical strategy, the US would like to take advantage of the natural and human resources of Mindanao and Sulu, and its ideal location as a springboard to intervention in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the whole of Indochina as a means of encircling China, their ultimate competitor.
Certainly, U.S. power and legitimacy or cultural authority are at stake. But the preponderant use of military power and logistics undermines any pretense of humanitarian motives.  Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich reminds the US public that in 1903, Theodore Roosevelt ordered General Leonard Wood to pacify the Moro province, home to about 250,000 Filipino Muslims then. In March 1906, at Bud Dajo, Jolo, just to cite one incident, the American pacifiers killed 600 Muslims, including many women and children—a “disagreeable” by-product, what is called by the Pentagon “collateral damage” (“Caution: Moral Snares Ahead,” Los Angeles Times, 22 Jan., 2002). It is not just moral snare or hubris that explains this propensity to complacently offer thousands of human lives to the altar of Empire; it is the logic of capitalist expansion, the motor of profit gained from alienated labor/lives, that propels white supremacy and its civilizing mission—the hallmark of US imperial presence in Mindanao and Sulu, an an amoral hegemon whose crimes against humanity elude the MILF leaders, thus their naive plea to Washington to assist their cause by mediating the conflict between them and the Arroyo regime.
            But there are other players in the scene, of course. In 1987, the Moro historian Samuel K. Tan expressed his belief that the national community remains divided between the Christian “national community” and what he calls the “cultural communities,” referring to the Moros and the non-Christian Lumads and Cordillera peoples. Is democracy coming to an end in the emergence of “a nation of multiple state-systems”?  Tan is critical of the Christian sector’s drive to create a “Christian nation in Asia regardless of the implications to the cultural communities,” as evinced in the program to unite the Philippines on the basis of an ideological secular basis summed up in the slogan “one nation, one spirit” (1987, 72). What Tan ignores is that the secular neocolonial state as it has historically evolved cannot fully exercise its sovereignty over all the communities without the aid of US political, military and diplomatic assistance. It is indeed an instrument to foster global capitalism’s welfare. Moreover, the problem of unequal power is not primarily a question of culture but of control over resources and land, ultimately a question of political leadership and organization. In any case, the fate of the “three communities” is now a matter of international or global concern, as evidenced by the sordid plight of OFWs languishing in jails around the world and by Filipino progressives appealing to the UN Human Rights Council and the World Council of Churches on behalf of thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, and a reign of impunity for crimes against humanity by the U.S.-funded military and police forces of the Arroyo regime and its oligarchic allies.  Since the end of the Cold War, the upsurge of counterhegemonic forces against US imperial dominance in Asia, Africa and Latin America cannot be ignored or under-estimated.
At least since the Tripoli Agreement of 1976, the Moro struggle for autonomy or independence has become internationalized.  With the entry of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference), the MNLF and MILF have become dependent on the mterial and political support of Islamic countries. The mediating roles of Indonesia and Malaysia as key members of the OIC need no further clarification. The preponderant US role remains ineluctable. What is occurring in the Philippines as an arena of class and national struggles should be analyzed in this historical geopolitical context to understand properly the significance of the Moro people’s struggle for self-determination.
In the last twenty years, particularly after the reinstatement of “elite democracy” with the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, the US re-asserted its total domination of the Philippines with the Aquino-Ramos regime. While Corazon Aquino’s “total war” on the Communist-led New People’s Army continued under U.S. direction (sanctioned by numerous treaties and executive agreements), the power of the nationalist movement since formal independence in 1946 demonstrated its subterranean force in the expulsion of the U.S. military bases in 1992. It was the loss of these bases that confronted US imperial planners, a loss immediately solved by means of the “Visiting Forces Agreement” initiated by Fidel Ramos, a general tutored by the Pentagon. But this agreement required justification or legitimacy, which explains the “Abu Sayyaf” phenomenon and the elaborate overt and covert intervention of the U.S.—directly, this time, via the Pentagon, US State Department (via US Embassy), US Institute of Peace, US-AID, and others (see Chaulia 2009)—in the initially secessionist/separatist insurgency led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Missing Link: CIA Frankenstein

What is most intriguing is the persistence of the “Abu Sayyaf” (ASG) terrorist group as an integral part of an expanding US military presence in the Philippines. Not a day passes when somewhere a news report of the Abu Sayyaf is found with always a mention of its Al-Qaida link, origin, or connection. For example, the Feb. 2005 BBC “Guide to the Philippine conflict” lists down the MNLF, MILF, the NPA, and the Abu Sayyaf as the “main rebel factions” in Mindanao. It recites the oft-repeated factoids:  The ASG split off from the MNLF in 1991 under the leadership of Abdurajik Janjalani (killed in December 1998), succeeded by his less doctrine-driven brother Khadafi Janjalani, whose death in September 2006 precipitated the disintegration of the group into multiple factions. From a thousand combatants in the beginning, it has shrunk to 400 or less members
Given its record of kidnapping-for-ransom, massacres, and bombings (often mentioned is the October 2004 bombing of the Superferry 14 in Manila Bay, with 116 people killed, the ASG has acquired a high-profile “terrorist” aura. The kidnappings in Sipadan, Malaysia, in April 2000 and the May 2001 raid on a Palawan resort and the subsequent rescue of Grace Burnham, catapulted the group into the status of media celebrity. Meanwhile, the Al-Qaida connection has been reinforced by association with the Indonesian group Jemaah Islamiyah  (JI) noted for the 2002 Bali carnage. The April 13, 2010 raid in Isabela, Basilan, by ASG members disguised as police commandos, led by Puruji Indama, revitalized its 2 decades of deadly mayhem.
All accounts agree about the origin of the ASG in the US Central Intelligence Agency ‘s (CIA) role in training mujahideens from various countries to fight the US proxy war in Aghanistan against the Soviets (1979-1989). In May 2008, Senator Aquilino Pimentel described the ASG a “CIA monster” trained by AFP officers in the southern Philippines and directed by informers/spies such as its former leader Edwin Angeles (Santuario 2009). In his book Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, American and International Terrorism,  Jon K. Cooley documented the CIA training and funding of the ASG—freedom-fighters such as Osama bin Laden engaged in jihad against the communist infidel—around 1986 in Peshawar, Pakistan; one of the veterans was Abdurajak Janjalani (Santuario 2009; Bengwayan 2002).  Accordingly, Prof. Mahmood Mamdani of Columbia University calls the CIA-created ASG and bin Laden’s followers as “alternatives to secular nationalism,” and fundamentalist terrorism as an integral modern project, for which US imperial aggression around the world is chiefly responsible (2002).
      A recent writeup of this  “al-Qaida-linked extremist group” now claims that its present leader, Khair Mundus, has been receiving funds from Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. It is alleged that he once transferred these funds to Khadaffy Janjalani in 2001-2003. No less than the US State Department alleges that Mundus, while in police custody in 2004, “confessed to having arranged the transfer of al-Qiada funds to an ASG chief to finance bombings and other attacks” (“Abu Sayyaf faction,” GMANews.TV). The US is offering half-a-million dollars for the arrest of this ideologically inspired agent. The Basilan-based group has supposedly given sanctuary to Dulmatin, a key suspect in the Bali carnage, hence the interest of the US State Department (which explains why he has been reported killed several times). Aside from Mundus and Dulmatin, another Bali bomber Umar Patek has been tagged by the US-funded Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research as operating in Tawi-Tawi province ( 2010).
Since Abdurajak Janjalani’s death, the group has lost interest in Islamic goals and degenerated into banditry and “high impact terrorist activities.” But Mundus is trying to revive its Islamic evangelism and unite the factions spread out in Basilan, Sulu and Zamboanga, influencing even Puruji Indama, the guerilla blamed for the brutal beheading of 10 marines in a 2007 encounter in Basilan.  A clear tendency of the media propaganda machine has emerged to infuse ideological and political substance to the ASG which, since at least 1998, has simply become a criminal outfit for easy containment by the local police, not by the heavily armed US Special Forces with technologically sophisticated spy equipment and drones. The journalists Marites Vitug and Glenda Gloria named Gen. Guillermo Ruiz, former Marine commander and police officials Leandro Mendoza and Rodolfo Mendoza as coddlers/patrons of the ASG (Bengwayan 2002).
Anatomy of a Faction

     Clearly, without the presence of this group with its flagrant, highly visible kidnappings and bombings, the rationale for US military intervention would lose credibility. It is not secret that the AFP, so much dependent on US Pentagon logistics and equipment, would not really be able to challenge the NPA, its perennial military target, as long as the political, economic and social conditions warrant its existence. US geopolitical strategy for maintaining hegemony in Asia and around the world requires its presence in the Philippines, hence the need for ASG’s terrorist identity and anti-people behavior.
         We can learn more about US ideological rationale from a U.S.Institute of Peace academic expert Zachary Abuza’s recent summing-up in response to the April 13 raid on Isabela City, the capital of the island province of Basilan. Abuza rehearses the founder’s past as an Afghan mujahidin and the founding of the group in 1991 “with al-Qa’ida seed money” (Abuza 2010, 11). Muhammad Jamal Khalifa, an Osama bin Laden connection, and Ramzi Yousef, famous for plotting the bombing of multiple commercial airliners, are mentioned to reinforce its international terrorist standing. ASG orientation changed from being sectarian (1991-1996) to being purely monetary (2000-2001), with over 140 hostages (16 of whom were killed) ranging from Western tourists, school children, priests and ordinary people.
Clearly the ASG will never disappear, if not in reality at least in the media. In 2003-2004, with leaders Abu Sabaya and Ghalib Andang killed (followed by Abu Solaiman in January 2007), ASG is tied with the Indonesian terrorist JI as well as with Malaysian terrorists. It is at this point that the ASG becomes more frequently associated with the MILF which employs the ASG for bombing campaigns and also for infiltrating the Sulu archipelago, mostly controlled by the Tausug-dominaed MNLF. Despite the loss of its leaders (the latest being Albader Parad), the ASG keeps coming back like a hydra-headed monster, almost chameolonic too in adapting to changing environments. Its public face will metamorphose or metastize relative to the two main groups, the MNLF and MILF.
The latest attempt to spread the ASG contagion to other parties in the region may be gleaned from Abuza’s claim that the ASG has recruited new combatants from the MNLF under Habier Malik in March 2007. But the bombings and kidnappings did not subside in 2008-2009, with two US soldiers killed in the 2009 Jolo bombing. Philippine generals and Marine commanders all concur that the ASG has been decapitated and falling apart, even while attacks are continuing. A new line is being established: the Pakistani connection. One Abdulabasit Usman was killed by a U.S. drone attack in Waziristan, the Afghan-Pakistan border. This Usman is suspected to be a member of the MILP, the JI, ASG, and also “an independent gun for hire.”  Abuza nonetheless states as a fact that “What is clear is that he worked at times as a bomber and trainer for both the ASG and MILF.” Thus linkages are at first hypothesized, posited, and then simply asserted as a factoid for the record.
The death of Dulmatin occasions the suspicion that al-Qai’da in Malaysia and Aceh are using the ASG and the MILF as channels connecting Arab militants and South Asian (Pakistan and Afghanistan) fighters with southeast Asian organizations. In any case, the ASG and MILF are now interwoven with Al-Qai’da operations in the Indonesian-Malaysian region. The MILF has been accused of harboring Rajah Solaiman (recently labeled “terrorist” by the US State Department), Pentagon Gang and JI terrorist agents. Jihadist violence and criminal kidnapping-for-ransom characterize ASG with close working relations with the MILF and disaffected elements of the MNLF. Abuza concludes that despite its successes, the “Philippine military does not appear to have the capacity nor the will to finish the job militarily, and the government’s refusal to develop a holistic peace process in the southern Philippines….will continue to support the ASG’s ranks” (2010, 13). The unstated implication is that US military intervention to advance its own strategic geopolitical-cum-economic interest, cannot be given up lest the whole battlefront is lost to anti-systemic Islamic-led extremism. Meanwhile, Ibrahim Murad of the IMLF warned last August that US troops’ sojourn in Mindanao “only complicates the situation. They are just simply justifying their presence for terrorist elements” (News Essentials 2010).
Provisional Inventory

What is the situation now after 13 years of GRP-MILF peace talks?  Let me provide a drastic schematic framework within which to view the current impasse affecting at least 6-9 million Muslims (10% of the total population) in over 700 villages, mainly within the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The 2008 agreement between the GRP and MILF was scrapped in 2008 as “unconstitutional.” The MNLF is deeply factionalized, with Misuari still in jail. From its official emergence in Nov. 14, 1972, immediately after Marcos’ declaration of martial law, to Dec. 1976, with the signing of the Tripoli Agreement, and its final actualization in the 1996 peace agreement between Fidel Ramos and Nur Misuari, the MNLF (with 30,000 fighters in 1973-75) seems to have wasted its decades of lessons and experience. Misuari’s arrest after the failed Jolo and Zamboanga rebellion in Nov. 2001 may lead to the gradual  exodus of his followers into the camps of the MILF, the ASG, or even government fronts. Meanwhile, splitting from the MNLF in 1977, the MILF pursued the armed struggle under Hashim Salamat as “jihad fi sabilillah (struggle in the way of Allah)—a sectarian, fundamentalist trend which runs immanent in the peace negotiations with the Arroyo regime (Klitzsch 2009).  The peace agreement signed on May 7, 2002, with Arroyo culminated in the Memorandum of Agreement on “Ancestral Domain” (MOA-AD) and the issue of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (JEC), which was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008. Now, the March peace talks in Kuala Lumpur witnessed a controversy over the use of the Philippine Constitution and the Republic’s jurisprudence as the existing legal framework (requiring amendment) for a revised peace agreement (Balana 2010; Rosauro 2010). The resort to the internationalist idiom of “self-determination” (with its Wilsonian, not Leninist precedents) does not guarantee actual political/military control over territory and natural resources if it conflicts with the overarching sovereignty of the neocolonial State. Misuari’s experience in administering the ARMN fully bears this out (Dela Cruz 2006).
Given the severely uneven development of the region, diverse class and sectoral interests are involved. The Lumads or indigenous ethnic communities have recently mobilized. The hostility of the Christian landlords, business, comprador,  and foreign corporate fronts in Mindanao rests on varied grounds, some diehard and some amenable to compromise. The present regime speaks of course for the US/Washington Consensus, for global capital and transnational corporate interests and their local allies, so that unless the MILF addresses this structural and institutional constraints, the iniquitous status quo will not be altered in any substantial or meaningful way so as to improve the material lives of the Moro masses, not to speak of the Lumads and other indigenous communities.
Meanwhile, notwithstanding the mobilization of 10,000 armed combatants and several thousand partisans, MILF ascendancy remains contested, hence their wobbly diplomatic stance. Overall, the primary cause for persisting armed confrontations is the absence of any hegemonic (intellectual and moral leadership, in Gramsci’s sense) power in Mindanao as a whole, though the MNLF once enjoyed such in the Tausug homeland of Sulu. The MILF has suffered from a marked opportunism, as evidenced in Salamat’s January 2003 letter to George Bush “seeking his good offices,” and the MILF’s assent to allowing the US Institute of Peace (USIP) to intervene. In fact, by June 2003, the US State Department laid down its policies for the GRP-MILF peace negotiations. USIP Philippine Facilitation Project Executive Director Eugene Martin’s explanation for US involvement deserves to be quoted here:

The continued conflict was seen as a source of not only domestic instability but a potential threat regionally and even globally. As such, it became part of the war on terror, although the MILF is not considered a terrorist organization. Increased military assistance to the AFP and joint exercises, like Balikatan, were focused on helping the AFP be more professional and effective against designated terrorist groups such as the NDF and the Abu Sayyaf Group (quoted in Santos 2005, 100).

Martin acknowledges that the conflict cannot be solved “by purely military means,” so he cites the underlying causes—poverty, lack of development  and education, and displacement of Muslims from ancestral lands—as the reason why the US is involved.  This of course does not overshadow the main concern, “the war on terror.” Unlike other commentators, Martin does not neglect naming the NDF together with the ASG as “terrorist organizations.” 
In terms of profit-centered Realpolitik, US interest in the Moro insurgents is designed to coopt this force as much as possible and manipulate it for geopolitical ends. This does not preclude its purpose of serving as a pretext or cover for preparing the ground in suppressing the NDF/NPA as well as the possibly more dangerous Indonesian and Malaysian affiliates of al-Qaida/Osama bin Laden.  Aside from USIP ideological and political input, the US has made overtures to the MILF leadership on the possibility of using MILF “ancestral domain” for military bases, to which the MILF leadership replied that “everything is negotiable.” Astrid Tuminez (2008), a USIP operative, confirms the US focus on Mindanao as a new “Mecca of terrorism,” a half-concealed rationale which thus legitimizes the thorough involvement of the US government in the current peace talks as well as the regular “Balikatan” war exercises and civic-action activities of the US military contingent in the Philippines.

            Never Again “Benevolent Assimilation”

US dominance, both political, military and ideological, cannot be discounted. Even those who purport to be neutral or well-intentioned observers succumb to the fallacy of believing the US a neutral or benevolent mediator in the conflict. In his book, Dynamics and Directions of the Grp-MILF Peace Negotiations (2005) that Soliman Santos Jr., for example, naively claims “that US clout can play a positive role as guarantor of a just and lasting peace agreement” even as he admits that for the US the global war on terrorism is its chief concern.
Terrorism, die-hard separatism, is not necessarily the polar opposite of compromise and bargaining with the Arroyo regime for temporary concessions. Like the MNLF, the MILG knows that it cannot win solely by military means. With the realization that conventional warfare is not feasible to advance a separatist project of full independence, esp. with the loss of fixed camps (first, the Abubakar camp and then the Buliok Complex) and millions of their followers displaced and reduced to refugees, the MILF has shifted to a pragmatic, if somewhat opportunist, mode of diplomacy.  While the aim of Islamization seems to persist as a cultural identity  brand, despite the passing of Hashim Salamat and his adherence to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s doctrine of jihadism {Klitzsch has ably documented this genealogy of Salamat’s thinking), I think the present MILF leadership has realized that they cannot deliver immediate benefits to its ranks and the popular base unless some gains in the diplomatic/legal front are achieved. While Islamism (jihadist or merely didactic) appeases those militants vulnerable to the ASG appeal, the need to produce material rewards is urgent lest the mass base turn to the MNLF or, even worse, the traditional Moro oligarchy. The tactical changes may be discerned in the  2004 statement by the MILFG Peace Panel Advisor that the MILF “strives for a ‘political solution’—‘neither full independence nor autonomy, ‘but ‘somewhere in between’ “ (quoted in Klitzsch 2009, 166). Murad Ebrahim was also quoted in saying that the territory they will administer as BJE will be “governed with Islamic precepts”  (Robles 2010). Of course, these may just be propaganda ploys or publicity subterfuge.
Varying commentaries on the conflict register as symptoms of disparate theoretical frameworks and axiomatic paradigms. The common error of mainstream academic scholarship, as well as media punditry, in this matter—i.e. the failure to locate the Moro struggle within the US global strategy to maintain its imperial hegemony—stems, of course, from either deliberate advocacy for neoliberal free-market worldview, or from misguided naivete. The shift of the intellectual paradigm from leftist or progressive historicist views to narrow empiricist and even eclectic postmodernist stances may be perceived in a recent volume edited by Patricio N. Abinales and Nathan Gilbert Quimpo. With the single exception of Herbert Docena’s effort to document active U.S. military collaboration in the war against the Moro insurgents, the contributors range from the narrow “all politics is local” stance of Abinales to Quimpo’s endorsement of the view that the situation in the southern Philippines is a product of internal causes, with the US as peripheral or not centrally involved. Quimpo chimes in with Establishment voices that welcome US intervention. Quimpo harps on the bossist, “patrimonial and ethnocratic” Philippine state, as though it had no historical genealogy or political provenance in US colonial and neocolonial control of the country.  He even laments that the US has not addressed the corruption endemic to a patrimonial state. Quimpo believes that the USIP is “an independent federal institution” (2008, 189),  while the cynical Abinales celebrates “the fading away of the US in the postauthoritarian scene” pervaded by globalization anomie (2008, 199).
In general, the prospect seems bleak to Quimpo and his associates. In his detailed description of the ASG included in the volume, the military-affiliated academic  Rommel Banlaoi dismisses the solid, irrefutable findings of the 2002 International Peace Mission published in their report, “Basilan: The Next Afghanistan?” that the ASG is basically the product of local political and social conditions, in a U.S.neocolony. This judgment has been meticulously supported by a rich trove of stories, interviews, and textured accounts of the ASG’s symbiotic ties with the military, local politicians, and government bureaucracy in many books published since the ASG appeared, among them Marites Danguilan Vitug and Glenda Gloria’s Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao (2000).
While recognizing that the ASG and other groups are struggling to solve structural inequity and injustice, as well as cultural discrimination and the loss of sovereignty, Banloai’s recommendation is to improve governance into one “more transparent, accountable, responsive and participatory.” (2008, 145). Meanwhile, Kit Collier rejects the primordialist analysis for a more instrumental, postmodernist approach, which uses an ethnographic phenomenological method similar to the anthropologist Frake’s picture of a contested, ambiguous, invented identity of the ASG combatant (see Frake 1998; and my critique in San Juan 2007). All deflect attention away from the larger global context of US re-tooling of imperial hegemony in the wake of the end of the Cold War and, in particular, the post-9/11 “global war on terrorism” launched by George W. Bush and carried on by Barack Obama.

Toward Historical Dialectics

A more serious endeavor to grapple with the vast historical and political landscape into which the Moro struggle is inscribed, is the volume The Moro Reader (2008) published by CENPEG. The volume correctly defines the subordinate role of the Philippine nation-state to the US and its neoliberal program of globalization. What is missing is further elaboration of the concept of “ancestral domain” and  the abstract “right of self-determination” within a rigorous historical-materialist analytic. I venture a preliminary clearing of the stage for such an inquiry with a few general propositions/theses.
Only a general review of what is needed can be made here.While I myself (San Juan 2007) have previously endorsed the fundamental imperative of solidarity with the Moro aspiration for independence and separation from the neocolonial domination of the oligarchic landlord-comprador ruling bloc,  I would like to reformulate my views in light of the more pronounced MILF ideological doctrine of Islamic evangelical confrontation with the West (deriving either from Egyptian or Saudi Arabian traditions). A theoretical reframing is in order.
 Progressive activists need to take into account the primacy given by the MILF and the ASG to Islamization and the project of an Islamic state patterned after Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt and other Arab countries. Unlike the MNLF program, the MILH (to my knowledge) has not come up with a thorough analysis of Manila/Christian colonialism, nor its dependence on the imperial US patron, despite its denunciation of settler greed, injustice, ethnic discrimination, etc.  To my knowledge (I stand corrected), the MILF  has no anti-systemic (anti-capitalist) policy or operational ideal functioning at present. The marginalization of the secularly-oriented MNLF and the outright rejection of Marxist and other socialist-oriented revolutionary ideas aiming for a class-less society is symptomatic of a retrograde impulse influencing the actual tactics and strategy for autonomy.  Some have noted the separatist motivation of the Bangsamoro nation to encourage the development of an autocratic, tributary and highly hierarchical sociopolitical formation. “Self-determination” cannot be an absolute principle but must always be historicized and dialectically apprehended within the manifold determinations of social historical development of specific formations within a global context. Can we envisage a popular, democratic civil society/public sphere flourishing within the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity?
Of course, the everyday practice of Moro militants yields a rich complex of data for formulating hypothesis and theoretical propositions that may engender a socialist-democratic ethos. Since culture is a creative process, such is theoretically possible. But empirical data cannot substitute for a valid theoretical framework. I agree with Kenneth Bauzon (2008) that the current conjuncture has to be read within the framework of a resurgent neoliberal restructuring of global capitalism. This is occurring within the US hegemonic “crusade” against Islamic fundamentalism, or violent extremism, itself framed by the neoconservative Huntingtonian paradigm of the “clash of civilizations.” This culturalist interpretation obviates any structural or systemic critique. This is why the understanding and theorization of terrorism as a political phenomenon is also superficial, misleading, and tendentious. It acquires a life of its own divorced from the analysis of dynamic political forces (for example, the antagonism between capital and labor) and their specific agendas and long-range platforms.
Terrorism becomes a political and moral issue when the political group using it adopts a subjectivist mode of imposing its will on the masses.  When Marx objected to the Jacobin use of the guillotine as a tactic to impose bourgeois interests on everyone, instead of developing it within the given conditions, he was objecting to this means of enforcing the interests of a particular group/class on the whole society. In opposing the conspiratorial terrorism of utopian socialists and anarchists, Marx argued his dialectical stand that “socialist revolution must develop from within the given social relations and must be directed to the establishment of universal  interests’”(Hansen 1977, 102-103)—the revolutionary process, in short, is not superadded but inheres within the existing nexus of sociopolitical relations.  Critical analysis of the interaction between the collective actors and their changing sociopolitical environment is needed, together with constant appraisals of the direction of the changes of both subject and object of the field of conflict, to ascertain what can be changed and what cannot—the possibilities and limits of radical historical transformation in the multi-layered Philippine setting.
In this context, the MILF goal of claiming the sovereign power of a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity to rule over “ancestral domain” has been promoted through both conventional war and terrorist tactics (as evidenced by links with Jemaah Islamiya, ASG, and others). Forced to renounce publicly their connections with such groups, Salamat and the MILF leadership has to resort to the OIC and the US to enhance its status as a legitimate political party. Nonetheless, their supreme goal is no longer secession or a separate independent state, but political power over a definite territory and its inhabitants via  combination of force and diplomacy. Essentially, it is an attempt to universalize the Will of a political party—the agent of historical change--that claims to represent the whole Moro peoples (across ethnic and class divisions). Now the reality is that any revolutionary party with a democratic-popular orientation has to take into account the social-economic reality and the political alignment of forces both within the Philippines, the southeast Asian region, and within the capitalist world-order (global war on terror by the US-led bloc, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, etc. against Iraq, Aghanistan, Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and other nation-states). 
Ultimately, the Moro rebellion has to confront the power of global capital (at present led by the US power bloc) as the enemy of genuine Moro sovereignty,  freedom and progress in a planetary habitat of peoples with diverse cultures, religions, histories, and aspirations.

Self-Determination as Means or End-In-Itself?

     The ultimate goal of self-determination cannot be attained simply by fiat, of course, but by a revolutionary program of rejecting colonial occupation and imperialist domination. The MILF rejects the Manila/Christian state and its military forces and affirms its subjective identity (as the MNLF did in opposing Marcos and its US patron). However, the MILF does not mediate its self-proclaimed Islamic identity by the otherness (the concrete social context of a secular world of commodity-relations)  in which it finds itself. Hence, it imposes on its mass base a view absorbed from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Islamic centers while paying lip-service to the history of the anti-colonial struggles of Moros as a whole. It is thus caught in a unity of contradictions. “Ancestral domain” tends to be fetishized  in its purely Islamic heritage. An abstract self-affirmation of Islamic identity (to distinguish it from Christian/Western others) remains subjectivist/voluntarist as well as philosophical/idealist, susceptible to terrorist realization. Its obverse is the positivist or pragmatic dependence on the OIC, the US, and other sponsors that it calculates will advance its self-identified agenda, given the current volatile contingencies.
           From a dialectical stance, the only way to resolve the contradiction between the subjectivist/voluntarist Islamic self-identification of the MILF and its objectivist/pragmatist resort to US/OIC determinants, is to analyse the nature of the unity of these abstract opposites. In other words, the way to resolve the contradictions is by way of discovering the universal logic/principle underlying the project of revolutionary action, assuming that the MILF is engaged in a revolutionary project of emancipation of the Moro people’s potential for expressing its full humanity with others in the world. The past and the present will have to coalesce to shape the historical agent of change whose interests are not particular but universal, the interest of all members of the given society. The search for the revolutionary class or agent which, from the beginning, is the necessary condition of the present—that agent which will bring the future to the present because of its past—is not a theoretical problem but a practical one: “It is a problem of the unity of theory and practice, the co-determining conditions of which are in the present because of the past. Consequently, whereas the subjectivist [terrorist] desires the restoration of the past by means of externalizing a particular subjectivity, the revolutionary needs revolution to realize what is already given in the present through the past” (Hansen 1977, 108). Hence the revolutionary agent does not force onto people a particular view because his view is already present (though occluded or suppressed) in the existing reality.

In Quest of  Critical Universality

From a radical-democratic standpoint, the crucial question then is: what is in the existing reality that needs to be released or brought to self-realization? What is that emerging universal within the historical present? To answer this, one needs to critique the total situation to move beyond the abstract subjectivist/voluntarist position and the positivist/determinist one.  One needs to achieve a concrete dialectical comprehension of the whole global capitalist totality. To grasp the concrete universal immanent in the historical conjuncture,  one needs to generalize the unique condition of the Moro peoples so as to get beyond the particularity that imperialism/capitalism has imposed on it. Capitalism is precisely what enables particularism in social relations and conflicts arising from this, so that the elimination of distinctions cannot be carried out by presupposing differences (cultural or religious values, for example) without unity. 
One manifestation of such a unity is perhaps what Muslim historian-philosopher Cesar Majul had in mind when, at the end of his scholarly history of the Moro sultanates and the Moro Wars, he proposed that the Muslim struggle should “be considered part of the heritage of the Filipino people in the history of their struggle for freedom…part of the struggle of the entire nation” (1999, 410). If the surveys are to be believed, more Filipinos  now than before (63% in 2005, compared to 43% in 2002) are sympathetic to the Moro struggle for their right to govern themselves (Robles 2010).
We are not proposing pluralism or status quo multiculturalism, a bazaar of affective flux and performative gestures, either corporate liberalism or individualist libertarianism, both apparent opposites concretizing the ideology of bourgeois society based on the division of labor and its attendant disparities in the distribution of power and resources. What we are proposing is to free ourselves from this enslaving ideology that teaches the idea that authentic self-expression (or, by extension, national self-determination) depends on an abstract property which guarantees authenticity, freedom, fulfillment. In short, we are searching for the politicized, active mass base of the Moro revolution that will universalize its goals by a thorough critique of global capitalism (led by the US imperial power) and, in the process, forge organic solidarity with the entire Filipino people struggling for democratic socialism. Such a critical universality will resolve the contradictions between subjectivism and objectivism I have outlined earlier.
As of now, such a critical universality is absent. One sign is the lack of a critique of the Moro dynasties and clans and the property relations characterizing the everyday experience of the Moro peasants, women, workers, youth (Wadi 2008), or of the prison conditions afflicting Moros in Camp Bagong Diwa (Vargas 2005), not to speak of taking cognizance of analogous Lumad demands for self-determination over ancestral domains (for Lumad aspirations, see Rodil 1993). A way of revising the deployment of the principle of self-determination is proposed by Talal Asad by distinguishing between the concept of Arab nationalism and a classical Islamism that contains an element of “critical universality” by an implicit critique of the secular bourgeois nation-state. It is necessary to define the narrow bourgeois nation-state parameters into which the Bangsamoro nation is being confined. Asad observes:
The fact that the expression  umma ‘arabiyya is used today to denote the “Arab nation” represents a major conceptual transformation by which umma is cut off from the theological predicates that gave it its universalizing power and is made to stand for an imagined community that is equivalent to a total political society, limited and sovereign like other limited and sovereign nations in a secular (social) world. The ummatu-l-muslimin (the Islamic umma) is ideologically not “a society” onto which state, economy, and religion can be mapped. It is neither limited nor sovereign, for unlike Arab nationalism’s notion of  al-umma-al-arabiyya, it can and should embrace all of humanity….The main point I underline here is that Islamism’s preoccupation with state power is the result not of its commitment to nationalist ideas but of the modern nation-state’s enforced claim to constitute social identities and arenas (2003, 197-98, 200).

One inspiring sign of “critical universality” may be found in the MNLF’s participation in the 1981 Permanent People’s Tribunal and its solidarity with the NDF and other forces in opposing US imperialism. At present, it is difficult to say whether the MILF recognizes the need to achieve a “critical universality” (Lowy 1998, 78) in its program, policies, and diplomatic positions.  In my view, subject to the pressures and exigencies of every phase in its negotiations with the GRP and relations with the OIC and the US, the alternating options of subjectivist/voluntarist and objectivist/pragmatist handling of the struggle distinguish the MILF record so far. With unpredictable dynamic changes in the Islamic world vis-à-vis the US, the internal antagonisms in the OIC and its relations with other blocs (Europe, Russia, China), and the advance of the national-democratic forces in the Philippines,  it is not impossible that the succeeding generation of leaders and rank-and-file militants will respond to the need for articulating that critical universality without which the revolutionary project of collective emancipation will remain doomed to repeat the horrors of the past and miseries of the present.

The Prospectt Before Us

The Moro people’s struggle in the Philippines for national self-determination has placed under critical interrogation the hallowed theories of cultural pluralism, liberal tolerance, and muticulturalism that continue to legitimize the domination of diverse ethnic groups under elite control in contemporary Filipino society.  Bourgeois political norms and laws have led since colonial times to the severe dispossession, exclusion, and utter impoverishment of the Moro people as a distinct historical  community united under Islamic faith and an uninterrupted history of preserving its relative autonomy through various modes (collective, familial, personal) of anticolonial resistance. Since the Spanish (1621-1898) and American colonial period (1899-1946) up to the present Arroyo government’s neocolonial polity subservient to U.S. hegemony, the Moro people have suffered national, class, and religious oppression. The Moro insurgents are labeled “terrorists” and stigmatized daily by the media, schools, Christian churches, and international business. They tend to be lumped with the Abu Sayyaf bandits, wholly a product of gangsterism involving the military, police, local officials, and the central government bureaucracy.  It is the obligation of Filipino Marxists and progressive organizations around the world to recognize the Moro people’s right to self-determination and offer solidarity. In my book US Imperialism and Revolution in the Philippines (2007), I have tried to express this solidarity by a preliminary critique of neoliberal ideology, including sectarian ultra-leftism, that apologizes for, and foments overtly and covertly, the genocidal wars currently raging in the Moro homelands of southern Philippines. This paper is an attempt to explore the theoretical and practical limits of “self-determination” as a political strategy when, in this specific conjuncture, U.S. imperial manipulations are defining this Wilsonian principle for its own hegemonic interests. I propose that a historical-materialist socialist perspective (following Lenin’s use of the principle of the right of nations to self-determination), with modifications as suggested by Talal Asad, be pursued and developed in the light of the singular historical circumstances of the BangsaMoro struggle against local compradors, landlords, and bureaucrat-capitalists allied with the U.S. imperial hegemon and its transnational criminal accomplices. At the least, we need to pursue the ideals of justice and principled solidarity with all oppressed peoples who have long been victimized by global capitalism and the neoliberal market in the name of the global North’s deadly ideas of freedom, democracy, and cosmopolitan progress.


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ABSTRACT: The December 2010 indictment in a Washington federal court of the Filipino citizen Madhatta Haipe, presumed a charter member of the Abu Sayyaf Islamic separatist group in the Philippines, demonstrates the United States’ strategic drive to criminalize the struggle of the Moro peoples. Without analyzing the manifold context of “terrorism” as a socio-historical symptom of injustice and inequality, the U.S. persists in trying to delegitimize the Bangsa Moro demand for self-determination. Working through Filipino neocolonial instrumentalities, the US and its local elite agents attempt to convert age-old class, racial and ethnic conflicts into a discourse of war between civilizational/religious forces (Christianity versus Islam), or a war between extremists and civil society. Mixing propaganda of Cold War vintage and neoliberal globalization rhetoric, the Global North’s hegemonic power finds a way to resolve its accumulation crisis by intensifying ideological schisms that reproduce genocidal oppression and indiscriminate violence.  Meanwhile, the Moro people’s struggle for autonomy and sovereignty, for equality and independence, continues to serve as a challenge and crucible for the U.S. reassertion of its imperial “Manifest Destiny” in Southeast Asia. In the context of the renewed negotiations between the government headed by newly-elected President Benigno Aquino Jr. and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, this essay re-examines the concept of self-determination from the viewpoint of critical universality and materialist dialectics.--##