By Freedom Siyam
Seattle, Washington, USA
4 June 2003
1. Can you tell us how and why Kabataang Makabayan was established and what were its highlights?
Answer: The Kabataang Makabayan was established in response to the need for a patriotic and progressive organization of the Filipino youth. From the beginning on November 30, 1964, it was committed to arouse, organize and mobilize the youth from the toiling masses of workers and peasants and the middle social strata for the revolutionary struggle for national liberation and democracy. This struggle is directed against US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
Only about 80 delegates attended the founding congress. But they had good political education along the line of the national democratic struggle of the people and were determined to expand and consolidate the organization. They wanted KM to work hard for the rights and interests of the youth and to serve as the training school for activists in various types of organizations. They also wanted the KM to assist the working class in bringing about the new democratic revolution.
2. How have the conditions that gave birth to KM in 64 changed from then to now?
Answer: The basic social conditions that necessitated the birth of KM have persisted fundamentally. US imperialism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism still ride roughshod over the people.
The semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system of big compradors and landlords, servile to US imperialism, continues to oppress and exploit the Filipino people.However, the revolutionary organizations like the KM have proven their mettle. They have preserved and strengthened themselves in the course of struggle against the ruling system, under the Marcos fascist regime and the succeeding regime. The KM has chosen to be in the underground in the Philippines in order to guard against the possibility that the imperialists and reactionaries might again try to wipe out legally existing patriotic and progressive organizations as in 1972.
3. Why has the US labelled you a terrorist and the CPP and NPA FTO’s? (why do they say so, but what are the real reasons for this decision)
Answer: There is one thing in common among the CPP, NPA and me, which the US imperialists hate and drive them to call us “terrorist”. We are all opposed to US imperialism and we are all desire and work for the national liberation of the Filipino people. The US has the evil policy of labelling as “terrorist” governments assertive of national independence as well as movements of people and leaders fighting for national liberation.
US imperialism is super-terrorism. It is the biggest terrorist monster that the Filipino people have ever known. To conquer, occupy and colonize the Philippines, it killed 1.5 million Filipinos from the beginning of the Filipino-American War in 1899 to the end of the so-called pacification campaigns in 1913. It has unleashed the most destructive kinds of terrorism against mankind like wars of aggression, the use of weapons of mass destruction and instigation of puppet regimes of open terror to commit massacres. Imperialist super-exploitation itself is super-terrorism victimizing billions of people.
4. Why should Filipino-Americans care about the struggle for freedom in the Philippines?
Answer: The Filipino-Americans should care about the struggle for freedom in the Philippines. They have their roots in the motherland. They can retain the option of returning to and rendering service to the Filipino people. Even as they integrate, they retain a Filipino national idenity in the US multi-nation society.
In any case, whether they remain US citizens or not, they have strong kinship with the Filipino people and they can do a lot in order to join or support the struggle for national liberation and democracy in the Philippines. They can go there to do some work for certain periods and make direct contributions to the liberation struggle. But even while they are in the US, they can form patriotic organizations of overseas Filipinos as well as organizations of international solidarity in support of the revolutionary struggle of the Filipino people.
5. What is your response to the fact that Filipino immigrants tell their US- born children not to be concerned about the Philippine struggle?
Answer: I come from a region, Northern Luzon, from which so many Filipino farm workers and professionals came in so many decades to the US. My relatives and towns mates are among them. I know and understand why they went to the US. They went there to seek greener pastures. For fear of putting at risk the better living conditions that they have earned, they tend to be overprudent and advise their children to keep away from the Philippine liberation struggle.
But I think that the children feel more secure about their rights than their economic-oriented parents and are more confident in asserting their rights in a country where they have been born or grown up. Being young, they are receptive to progressive and revolutionary ideas and more ready to act according to their convictions about the need for social change in the US, the Philippines and the world at large.
At the same time, I think that an expanding ground exists for common understanding and common action between parents and children as the crisis of imperialism, mass unemployment, wars of aggression and repression increasingly expose the rottenness of the US social system and as the parents begin to grasp or understand that US wealth and power are made at the expense of the people of the world and are being used against them.
6.. How could Filipino- American youth best contribute to the struggle?
Answer: They can and should join the patriotic and progressive organizations of overseas Filipinos (sectoral and multisectoral) or at least international solidarity organizations supporting the Filipino people’s struggle for national freedom and democracy. It is by being organized and sharing experience, ideas and goals with others that they can discover or choose the best and the most that they can contribute to the Philippine struggle.
The Filipino-American youth should take time to study Philippine history and current affairs and to visit the Philippines in order to discover their roots and strengthen relations with the people’s organizations and the people. They can go there on programs of study or work of one or more years. They can also combine short vacations with meaningful interactions with the people and progressive forces.