My Dear Friend -- You are in your early twenties, you have just graduated from college, you are a writer, and you want to teach. And perhaps, without realizing it, you may have doomed yourself to fail when you decided to be a revolutionary.
It is a very brave and ambitious decision; revolution is nearly impossible to achieve. Not many young people these days talk like you do, aware as you are of our political system and the gross injustices that prevail all around us. Writing is not enough, or teaching, or whatever profession you choose, because there is this entity that’s bigger than us and it is this unhappy nation.
The real objective of revolution is the transfer of power from the oppressor to the oppressed. It is easy enough to see who the oppressed are, but who is the oppressor? This is one of the first things you must realize, that the enemy, the real power holders in this country, are the very rich, the oligarchs. And then you will also realize that we ourselves are also the enemy, and that revolution demands we transcend our clan, even ourselves.
Revolution is often a lengthy process, and you may not even notice it until it is exploding all around you. Here I am, 94 years old, and still wondering why the revolution has not yet happened, when so many of us have long accepted its necessity, its inevitability even.
ALWAYS UNDERSTAND THE OBJECTIVE REALITY. In what condition are we in today? Is it anarchy? Anarchy destroys a people, polarization ushers civil war, and revolution unites a people. We have never really been united. But can we not make use of our own diversity to mount that revolution?
There are many important elements that you should never miss – that revolution requires heresy and conspiracy, that it may be necessary to use naked power and violence to usher it in. One thing is sure – there must be a cabal, an organization of like-minded people to usher it in, to manage it, and to fulfill its promise. Where can these people be? In the army? In academe? Among the business elite? Wherever they are, they must believe in the revolution and, most of all, they must love this nation.
Persevere, endure. It was easy enough fighting the Spaniards, the Americans, the Japanese. They were not us. But now the enemy is our own elite, Filipinos like us. They have inherited the vices of the colonialists, who are now our exploiters and, like the old colonialists, they exploit this nation and salt their loot abroad, in Europe, in China, and elsewhere. Remember they also flaunt the flag and announce themselves as patriots who support noble Filipino causes. But never, never forget that they are very rich, and our people are very poor.
ALWAYS REMEMBER TOO THAT YOU DON"T HAVE TO BE A COMMUNIST TO BE A REVOLUTIONARY. The communists as ideologues are contemptuous of the objective reality. And this objective reality is that the Army is vicious towards the communists because so many of its officer corps and rank-and-file have already been killed in the communist pursuit of protracted war. But this country can no longer be dismembered, either by the New People's Army or the rebel Moro movements. Primarily, the Army is here to preserve this nation and it is an Army of the people, its officer corps and its rank-and file come from the masa, the very poor.
This Army, too, is profoundly aware that it is fighting an enemy from the same class. So ask yourself, when the poor kill the poor, who benefits? It would be wonderful if the army, given its social origins, were to side with the Revolution. It was what kept the country together during EDSA, or else anarchy would have gripped this country, resulting in the deaths of thousands as had happened in Indonesia with the downfall of Sukarno in 1965.
Beware of making revolution fashionable or a cliché. When it becomes popular, then it loses its essence, its sting. You now know the enemy. Work towards its destruction, its emasculation, or help transform it into what is called the modernizing elite. And never, never take revolution for granted. It must be lived, not bandied about in cocktail parties, and discussed endlessly in academic fora.
Learn from history, that revolution is not a modern phenomenon. It is an important element in humanity's search for freedom, for opposing slavery and dictatorship. This search for freedom is almost as natural as breathing. It is the very essence of life, the blood that is continuously pumped by the heart for that is where freedom also lives.
Learn from past revolutions, whether they succeeded or failed. Beware of following the examples of other revolutionary leaders, by other rebelling peoples. The Filipino Revolution must be organic and not an artificial construct. It must grow from our deepest aspirations. This is what history also teaches us -- the unique successes of other peoples because they trusted themselves and were true to themselves. Remember this when your mind is waylaid by foreign examples: We are not Cuba, or France, or Russia, or least of all, China.
In my youth, I also thought of revolution. I read all I could about it, and wandered on its fringes. But it was not until I was 35 years old that I accepted it heart and soul. I remember that moment very well, even where it happened, how suddenly free I felt. Yet with the soaring of the spirit came the realization that I may have to die for it.
But even then I knew that a dead revolutionary is a useless revolutionary. So then, my brave, young friend, live for the revolution, for your unhappy country. Work hard for her, sweat blood if necessary, and always remember, the objective of revolution is freedom, the building of a just and sovereign nation by a people who have finally established their place in the sun.
First published in The Philippine Star, May 4, 2019