Every year, on December 26, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) celebrates its founding anniversary. This year, as the Party turns 55, various celebrations will be held in the Philippines and abroad. For this issue, Liberation International highlights the masses’ participation in these celebrations through the anecdotes shared by comrades who have been part of the many Party anniversary celebrations in the revolutionary mass bases in the countryside.
The masses’ involvement
“The masses and their organizations are involved in all aspects of the celebration – from planning to implementation. Each task is vital, from washing dishes to preparing speeches, for the success of the celebration. The masses happily perform tasks because they know that the anniversary is for them and that it is a celebration of victories as well as an assessment of losses and shortcomings.”
Tasks are delegated to volunteer masses and Red fighters. Admittedly, women are usually tasked to cook. But they would then assert to male comrades, “No, you have to do the cooking tasks as well. You have to take part in this.” At the same, there is cooperation and friendly rivalry.
“When it comes to bigger anniversary celebrations, while the New People’s Army (NPA) does the construction of the structures, the masses together with the NPA units would do the clearing and grubbing of the place. It takes them around 48 hours to do this.”
“When the masses know that the NPA is nearby, they are certain that there will be a celebration. So, on December 25th, though it is Christmas day, which the masses celebrate as well, they start to prepare food for the next day. For example, they cook various kinds of rice cakes (biko, puto and suman). The NPA takes care of the lechon, which is provided by the allies.”
“In terms of cooking equipment needed such as big pots and pans, the masses take care of those. They either borrow or bring their own. They perform these tasks in a decentralized manner. There are committees and groups in-charge of what to bring, for instance, rice. Everyone is tasked to bring rice for a certain amount or number of people.”
Aside from food, the masses also prepare for the cultural presentations. All sectors in the community participate in the program. They would practice various songs, forms of dance and poetry days before the celebration. “The children are very enthusiastic of the anniversary and are part of the program. Their parents encourage them to perform – to sing, dance or recite a poem.”
Like their parents and everyone in their community, the children are not afraid to interact with the NPA. They accept them as part of their community as opposed to fascist troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who constantly terrorize the masses.
Off to the celebration
“The masses, one way or another, know where the celebration would be. All families attend, so no one is left behind. It is as if they are going to a fiesta.
Depending on the location, they leave before the break of dawn to arrive at the venue at around six’ o clock. The program starts in the morning and usually ends at 12 or one o’ clock. The masses partake and share food, gree their friends from other barrios, and socializing before the program starts. Highlights of the program include the reading of statements, speeches, messages as well as cultural presentations. Afterwards, they go home before dusk sets in.”
Pettybourgeois forces from the cities also visit the countryside to take part in celebrations. “There are two things that they are most surprised with: electricity and sound system. They did not expect a city in the middle of the mountains. They would exclaim upon arriving, “Wow, there is electricity here! How?” this is usually followed by, “Wow, there is a sound system! A loud one even!”
Another thing that impresses the masses and the people, particularly the middle forces, is transportation. In their mind, the NPA areas are in the far-flung places. They would often be surprised when after they get picked-up, they find themselves already at the area in less than 30 minutes. They would exclaim, “Oh, seemingly, an NPA area that can be reached by a vehicle!” So, it has become a joke: door-to-door, meaning no walking involved. So, you arrive fresh at the venue. Next time, they would joke, “Is this going to be door-to-door celebration?”
In regional celebrations, the media are often impressed by the presence and speeches of comrades, who come from the peasant class. The comrades are able to expound on the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the situation of their area when responding to the media’s questions. “They did not need any media briefing! The media were surprised at the comrades’ commanding presence – young and old. They were also impressed by the close interaction and cooperation between the masses and the NPA, which in turn allayed their fears.”
Aside from these outward appearances, the organised and non-organised masses could directly see the strength and fortitude of the revolutionary movement. They are impressed by such feats and by the fact that the Party and the NPA can mobilize a huge number of people from a broad range of forces for the celebrations. This is also a reflection of the strength of the armed struggle in these areas.
Light moments with comrades
“In one anniversary celebration, a jeep got stuck in a road. The jeep was big enough to fit a water buffalo, and it could usually handle tough roads because it had double tires. This time, though, the road was a dried-up river bed with big rocks, so it got stuck. It was just a short distance away from the celebration venue. The 20-30 passengers, however, could not walk so we waited for the comrades’ help. After some time, a comrade came. People were frustrated as they thought he was the only one. There were others as well, but they were walking behind him so people did not see them. He was just a fast walker. People were asking where the others were. Then, this comrade said, “let’s try”, and lifted the jeep seemingly on his own. Viola, the jeep moved again! People were surprised and amazed at him!”
“Another instance was when three big flags had to be hanged on tall coconut trees. First, the question of who would do it and which coconut trees. After finding the right ones, comrades made a contest out of who would get to the top and get down first. In less than five minutes, the task was done!”
“The biggestchallenge is security. There is no guarantee that the base areas are clear of enemy influence. The mass organizations have to be mindful and function to ensure the safety and security of the masses and the comradeswhile preparing for the celebration.”
The next challenge is during the celebration: securing the periphery from arrival to the dispersal of the masses and the NPA. While there is a big unit in-charge of the central celebration, there must be a unit that ensures the periphery, and this is a big challenge to the host front especially if it is a regional celebration. The logistics concern is less compared to the security. Food can be sacrificed, for instance, over security. Contingency plans must be in place.
“If there is military operation or news of military presence in the area, the masses are not able to join with comrades. If the comradesare camped far from them, the masses initiate their own programs since there are Party branches in the barrios. The masses really remember the December 26 anniversary. They consider it as their own birthday.”