Why I Joined The NPA
[Taken from the 2019 edition of the publication Dagitab.]
Currently I am a political officer in the New People's Army.
It is close to a several years now that I have left my homeland, to serve side by side with my comrades in the Protracted People's War. Unlike my comrades, I am from another country—I grew up abroad in the center of an imperialist country, never knew a word of Tagalog, but I was united in the shared struggle of workers, students, and discrimination that was shared by Filipinos. I hope my story can paint for all of those who will read this article a clear picture of the reality of working class families and immigrant families overseas. And also to reach readers in other countries as to why I joined the NPA, and this protracted people's war.
Before I came to the NPA, I was a working student. I worked to help pay for my education and also to help pay for my everyday needs like food and transportation. I didn't want to be a burden to my family so I studied hard and constantly struggled to find stable work. Being only a high school graduate, it was hard to find a job, where even for a simple job working in a restaurant, applicants with college degrees were preferred. Many times I felt demoralized and discouraged due to the instability of finding work, having low wages, and the high cost of living in my homeland. On top of that, because of my appearance, I often had been the target of discrimination by police and the wealthy. This had been an experience for me since I was young and all throughout high school. Even before college, when I was in high school I was angry and frustrated. I was sick and tired of the racism, the exploitation faced by my family members, friends, and the poor, and I wanted to do something about it. It was through this frustration and anger that I became an organizer.
As an organizer, I began to really learn and understand the experiences of the poor, and I saw the importance of an organized base — the importance of a mass movement and a revolutionary movement. There had been many protests, campaigns, and other forms of activism; however, people in my homeland struggled to unify under a solid political revolutionary line. There were efforts in the past to unite the people but they were destroyed by government campaigns targeting the mass movement. The leaders killed or arrested and the people forced to submission via neoliberal reforms. It was clear to me then that no amount of reforms can change the system as it was controlled by the rich and oligarchs via the system of capitalism. While portrayed as a democracy, it was really a dictatorship of the rich, in which we elected new leaders to tell us the same lies.
The policies passed only reinforced this reality. More and more the price of housing increased. The contractualization and disposability of workers worsened. The price of education climbed even higher forcing the poor to take lifelong debts just to study. The intervention of military troops abroad continued even under a “progressive” leader. Every year the power was concentrated more and more to the wealthy, and the basic human rights such as the right to study, for free healthcare and housing, was diminished for the poor. In such a system, I began to see the only solution was revolution.
It was at this point I became attracted to revolutionary writings. I learned that imperialism can only be destroyed at its weakest links, by destroying the power of the corporations at the source of their power — which was concentrated to the third world and in the areas where their power was most threatened, in areas where revolutionary movements are strong, where through corrupt governments, the privatization of natural resources to serve imperialist nations instead of the people was maintained. Therefore I began to study other revolutionary movements around the world, in South America, in Kurdistan, in India, but I was most inspired by the Philippine revolution. I was inspired by the Philippine revolution's solid political line, its victories against reformism and revisionism, which had already slowly began to infect other movements. I was inspired by its mass movement and its armed struggle. How even after so many years, the revolution maintained the aspirations of the poor for national liberation. I saw that by supporting the Philippine revolution, it can have impacts on the world — to inspire other countries that even in the 21st century, revolution is possible. That despite the strength of imperialist nations' militaries, nothing can stop a just war and a war based upon the aspirations of the people, that it would be one concrete step to contributing to the destruction of the worldwide system of exploitation and oppression. So I packed my bags and joined the New People's Army.
At first, life in the NPA was hard, I didn't know any Tagalog and I struggled in the jungle terrain. But I saw the examples of the comrades and it always inspired me, walking through typhoons, steep mountains, across wide rivers and ravines. It inspired me to keep going, to struggle through it, and the supporting hand of my ka-buddy was always there. As a political officer, I became close to my comrades and they became like a family that I didn't have. I was determined to never leave them behind.
Another source of inspiration was none other than the fighting spirit of the NPA, that nothing, no situation can get us down, no matter the hardships we face. I have served alongside mothers and fathers, fighting for the future of their children, the old, whom despite hardships weathered through some of the most difficult terrain and military situations and despite after fighting for over 30 or 40 years, some even experiencing being captured and tortured, never once gave up their dream of a free world. I have fought with the youth, whose burning aspirations flow through their service, people of all faiths, from every class sector, tribe, and parts of the country, men and women of the People's Democratic Republic that we are fighting to build.
After several years of my service, even with the introduction of new counter insurgency programs such as JCP Kapanatagan, I have seen that in tough situations, the Red Fighters of the New People's Army only get tougher. With every new addition of the AFP's arsenal, the Red Fighters only get more creative and more determined to seize the time and bring revolution to victory. The Filipino people have shown, despite fighting for several hundred years, they are ready to fight until total victory, and fight any and all enemies of the people until they are free.
Additionally, seeing the true nature of the Philippines, the exploitation of workers in the cities and peasants in the countryside, and the rotten nature of the government, which deploys its own troops to harass those who fight for their rights and assassinate mass leaders, all for the interests of foreign corporations and the wealthy. It was even more clear to me the only solution is the burning of the old system and rebuilding a new one. The crimes of the government only further affirmed the decision I made to join the NPA, and to continue to fight. For me, as a human being, seeing the unjust conditions of the world, the unjust treatment of the people, I felt it was my duty to fight against those who oppress and exploit, it is my duty as a human to help the poor and hungry. Even after tactical offensives, this was clear—in our atrasan we would be welcomed and thanked by the people, hugged and embraced by the poor.
Since then I have never regretted my decision to join the NPA, to build the courage to stay, to dedicate my youth to fighting for the people. I can admit, there were many times when I missed my family deeply overseas, and times where I missed the comforts of my old life. But I always reflect: where would we be without an armed struggle, without a revolutionary movement? The people would only be more and more exploited and oppressed, to continue to have their aspirations denied to them, and their future robbed by the rich. Because of the conditons of this world, there are few options. Why not fight for the people? Why not fight for what's right? I couldn't live my life right, when my children one day ask me what did I do to help others. What would I answer? Would I be satisfied with that answer?
There is a dream that constantly visits me and inspires me, where people can live happy lives free from exploitation, where my family can be comfortable and where the poor can live in a society that puts their interests firsts before the greedy and wealthy. This is a dream that I had come to live for, this is a dream that I had come to fight for, and if necessary, a dream where I am willing to give my life to see it come true.