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Advance in the Spirit of FQS 1970
Keynote Speech
National Conference of Filipino Youth in Canada
By Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Kabataang Makabayan
Emeritus Chairperson, FQS Movement
November 25, 2005

Dear Fellow Activists and Friends,

I thank the Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance for inviting me to deliver the keynote speech in this conference, which is the culmination of a campaign to remember and emulate the First Quarter Storm of 1970 and rally the Filipino students and youth to the call "Continue: Living the Storm".

I congratulate Ugnayan for undertaking the campaign and organizing this conference. I feel honored and privileged to speak before the delegates as well as the distinguished guests, whom I personally know and who participated in the FQS. We are all bound by a high sense of unity, as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the FQS and the 10th anniversary of Ugnayan. May I also cite that Kabataang Makabayan (KM), which played a key role in the FQS, will have its 41st anniversary on November 30.

My Participation in FQS of 1970

When the First Quarter Storm of 1970 broke out in Manila on January 26, 1970, I had already gone underground and based myself in the countryside. But through radio and printed media reports and direct participants in the storm, I was able to monitor closely the preparations, conduct and direction of the mass actions. I analyzed and summed up every major mass action and, under the nom de guerre Amado Guerrero, issued a statement for the purpose of shedding light on the character, conduct and course of the mass movement.

The newly reestablished Communist Party of the Philippines had anticipated in 1968 that the combustible social conditions would soon generate a sustained upsurge like the FQS. But it could not say in advance when such a phenomenon would begin, proceed and end. The FQS began in front of the reactionary Congress when Marcos, in reaction to the throwing of a mock coffin in his direction by a group other than the KM, ordered the police to attack some 50,000 demonstrators, mostly student and youth.

Consequently, there was public outrage over the brutality of the police. A bigger number of youth and workers running into several tens of thousands mobilized for the militant rally on January 30, 1970. The military and police could not stop them from marching to the front of the presidential palace. And they fired at the demonstrators, killing a number of them. Upon the initiative of the KM, the Movement for a Democratic Philippines was quickly formed as an alliance against the US-Marcos regime.

Marcos tried to stem the momentum of the mass movement. He invited to the palace the leaders of the mass organizations and trade unions involved in the mass actions. He offered some "reforms" and some immediate concessions. At the same time he asked the mass leaders to stop the mass actions and threatened that should the mass protests continue he would not be able to stop the military from massacring the demonstrators. Some mass leaders agreed to recess the mass movement.

The FQS would not have taken full shape had Marcos succeeded in dissuading the mass leaders from carrying out the mass protest slated for the first week of February. The general secretary of the KM came to me seeking for advice and reported what transpired in the palace. I said that if the meeting with Marcos succeeded in stopping the protest actions, the mass movement would be profoundly undermined for a long time. The solution was to go on with the next mass action but take pains to keep it peaceful. Thus, the FQS proceeded to take full shape.

It gained in Metro Manila ever bigger number of participants ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 per mass action, almost every week up to March 1970. It rapidly spread to scores of provincial cities and capitals. It increased in intensity on a nationwide scale even as the US-Marcos regime became more and more violent and disruptive of the mass actions.

Historical Significance of FQS

The outbreak of the FQS of 1970 signified the clear beginning of the renewed struggle to end the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system of the big compradors and landlords servile to US imperialism. This system had been in chronic crisis but this time it entered the final stage of decomposition. The crisis became so deep and aggravated that it cried out for the people's democratic revolution through people's war.

The frontier areas for absorbing the sideward migration of the surplus rural population had become exhausted in the previous decade. Jobs available for the surplus labor from the countryside were scarce. There was no way to relieve the system of the rapidly worsening crisis. The imperialists, headed by the US, and the local exploiting classes concurred in preventing genuine land reform and national industrialization.

In its first term from 1965 to 1969, the Marcos regime had gone into heavy foreign borrowing under the auspices of the IMF and the World Bank for the purpose of going into an infrastructure program of building roads and bridges and setting up milling facilities for sugar, coconut and copper ore. These foreign-funded projects were graft ridden and were Marcos' source of the loot that he stashed away in foreign bank accounts as well as the till money that he used for electioneering in 1969.

By 1969 the rate of unemployment had become extremely high. The prices of basic goods and services soared. The repeated hikes in oil prices as well as Marcos' heavy spending for winning the elections stimulated inflation. Social unrest was widespread. The regime had a propensity to use state violence to intimidate and attack the toiling masses and even the legal critics and oppositionists from the middle social strata and the exploiting classes.

The Communist Party of the Party of the Philippines correctly described the situation by stating that the crisis of the ruling system had become so severe that the ruling classes could no longer rule in the old way, that the broad masses of the people were desirous of revolutionary change of government and that the time had come for the revolutionary party of the proletariat to arise and lead the people in an armed revolutionary movement.

The national democratic mass movement that had grown in the 1960s became the basis for the reestablishment of the CPP in 1968. The young activists that had abounded in the FQS came from the Kabataang Makabayan. They avidly studied Struggle for National Democracy in the late 1960s. And likewise they studied Philippine Society and Revolution as it came out in mimeographed form in 1969 and in printed form in 1970.

At least the leading activists were infused with a high level of patriotic and progressive consciousness. They were aware of the semicolonial and semifeudal character of Philippine society, the national democratic character of the current stage of the Philippine revolution, the basic political, economic and cultural demands of the people, the class factors and class adversaries of the revolution and the tasks to be carried out in the current stage and in the future socialist stage of the revolution.

The FQS was a distinctive revolutionary phenomenon. It was the beginning of a sustained cultural revolution of the Filipino youth along the line of the national, scientific and democratic mass culture. The young activists conducted social investigation, engaged in study groups and created and presented their cultural works in streets, factory sites, farms, plazas and community centers. Manila was the focus of the unprecedentedly huge mass actions. But these rapidly spread to many provincial cities and capitals, where the youth held marches, rallies and cultural performances against those in power.

Continuing Relevance of FQS

In 1970 the FQS became the occasion for arousing, organizing and mobilizing so many thousands of the youth. From their ranks came so many of the cadres and ardent members of the revolutionary party of the proletariat, the people's army and the mass organizations. To this day, the veterans of the FQS and their successors in the youth movement are loyal to the FQS as a revolutionary tradition. They carry forward the FQS as an ever growing living force.

The FQS has a continuing relevance to all of us Filipinos, whether in the Philippines or abroad. We recognize it as a response to the challenge posed by the ever worsening chronic crisis of the ruling system. It continues to inspire us to fight for the national and democratic rights and interests of the Filipino people, to overthrow the incumbent oppressive and exploitative system and build a Philippines that is completely independent, democratic, socially just, progressive and peaceful.

The national democratic movement would have made bigger strides since 1970 if not for serious erroneous trends of the ultra-Left and Rightist varieties that ran in the 1980s. These had to be confronted and corrected through a rectification movement. This has been successful. Thus, the national democratic movement has resumed in its advance. Clearer than ever before is the general line of struggle for national liberation and democracy against foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

By continuing to implement policies dictated by the imperialist powers and the multinational firms and banks, the post Marcos regimes of Aquino, Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo have deepened and aggravated the crisis of the ruling system. The Philippines is maintained as an underdeveloped country dependent on the export of raw materials and low value-added semimanufactures. It is ever afflicted by budgetary and trade deficits and mounting foreign and local public debt. These are incurred for the most counterproductive purposes, such as the repatriation of foreign capital, remittance of superprofits, bureaucratic corruption and military overspending.

The conditions of mass unemployment, low incomes, poverty and lack of socio-economic development have forced more than 8 million or nearly 10 per cent of our compatriots to leave the Philippines, their families and friends, in order to earn a living abroad. They become cheap labor abroad. They are compelled to receive levels of compensation far lower than those for the host people. They do not have the rights of the host people. They are exposed to all kinds of racism and discrimination.

The foreign exchange remittances of Filipino migrant workers amount to more than USD 8 billion every year. This is a huge amount which ought to be mustered for the socio-economic development of the Philippines. But the state and the exploiting classes misappropriate this huge amount through the banking system to serve the most counter productive purposes. No other Philippine export is more lucrative than the export of people, especially women. But the state wastes the income from this resource.

The mass exodus of people seeking employment abroad reveal the desperate social conditions in the Philippines. The country is now the top labor exporter in the entire world. Sixty five per cent of Filipino migrant workers are women. They are exposed to all kinds of discrimination, disadvantages, risks and pressures. Their absence has disintegrative consequences to their families. But difficulties still abound even in the relatively few cases where other family members or the entire family are able to follow and reunite abroad.

Relevance of FQS to Filipino Youth in Canada

Many Filipinos driven out of the Philippines by the crisis conditions have found their way into Canada. There are nearly half a million of them. They are concentrated in the major urban centers of Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal. The majority of our compatriots in Canada are women. Their proportion is bound to increase as the Live-in Caregiver Program attracts more women, despite all its bad features.

The general conditions of the Filipino youth in Canada are directly linked to and are circumscribed by the forced migration and cheap-labor status of their parents and families. They face systemic racism and discrimination. They experience identity crisis in not being recognized as Canadians but not knowing their Filipino heritage.

They lack access to education. Sixty per cent drop out from high schools because of alienation and racism in the school system. They are bothered by the problems of family separation and reunification. They are humiliated by racial profiling and prejudice in the justice system. The majority of them do not finish high school and become the new generation of cheap labor, limited to taking the bottom jobs.

The Filipino youth in Canada can grasp the relevance of FQS by becoming aware of the fact that the crisis conditions that brought about the FQS drove their parents out of the Philippines and delivered them to another set of crisis conditions in Canada. They must be conscious of the fact that monopoly capitalism is an ever exploitative and oppressive force that keeps on shifting the burden of crisis to the working people in the Philippines and Canada.

Imperialism has become more abominable than ever under the slogan of "free market" globalization as well as under the slogan of "war on terror". The rights of the working people and their hard-won social benefits are eroded or eliminated. The imperialist state delivers the resources to the monopoly bourgeoisie and embarks on state terrorism and wars of aggression in order to attack the people, the national liberation movements and countries assertive of independence.

The crisis of the world capitalist system is ever worsening. The people are resisting imperialism and reaction and are fighting for a new and better world. The crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system is ever worsening due to its own debility and imperialist plunder. The Filipino people are intensifying their resistance. They seek to overthrow not only the US-directed Arroyo regime but the entire ruling system. The Ugnayan and other Filipino alliances and organizations in Canada have joined and supported the Filipino people's struggle for national liberation and democracy.

In defining the relevance of the FQS, the Filipino youth in Canada must recall how the Filipino youth campaigned and fought for national and democratic rights and interests during the FQS. They must resolve to emulate the FQS and rise to a new and higher level of revolutionary consciousness and militancy in dealing with their problems in Canada. In this connection, it is fine that the Ugnayan has engaged in an educational campaign about the FQS in preparation for this current conference.

The Filipino youth in Canada must trace their roots in the Philippines, cherish their Filipino heritage and understand how the evil trio of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism drove their parents out of the Philippines. At the same time, they must understand what is exploiting and oppressing them in Canada and they must educate, organize and mobilize themselves to fight for the rights and welfare of the youth and the entire Filipino community in Canada.

It is of great significance and far-reaching consequence for the Filipino youth in Canada to link up with the youth in the motherland and engage in various forms of cooperation and mutual support for strengthening the struggle of the Filipino youth and people in the Philippines and Canada. They can learn from each other their respective histories, circumstances, needs, roles and tasks. They can share with each other their experience in educational, organizational and campaign work.

The Filipino youth in Canada can best imbibe the Filipino revolutionary spirit and sense of patriotism if they go to the Philippines and stay there for some time in order to live and work with their fellow youth and learn the conditions, needs, struggles and direction of the Filipino people. When they return to Canada, they would have a higher sense of dignity and purpose as Filipinos and they would be more animated than before in relating to and working with their compatriots among the Filipino youth and community in general.

I am aware and gratified that quite a number of the officers and members of Ugnayan have already been carrying out what I now urge you to do. They have gone to the Philippines in order to live, study and work with their fellow youth, learn from the toiling masses of workers and peasants and participate in their struggles. They come back to Canada with a more comprehensive and profound understanding of their national roots and their progressive sense of unity with the Filipino people back home and with the Filipino community in Canada. Renewing their links with the motherland has energized them to do mass work among the Filipino youth in Canada.

I hope that as a result of the present conference the Ugnayan can respond to the challenges and carry out the urgent tasks more effectively than ever before in order to further strengthen the Filipino youth movement in Canada along the line of the national democratic movement in the Philippines. At the same time, I urge you to always maintain and heighten your spirit of internationalism and cooperate with the Canadians of various nationalities in fighting for the common good of the people in Canada. I urge you to promote and strengthen the solidarity and mutual support between the people in Canada and the Philippines in the struggle for national and social liberation. ###

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