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October 17, 2004

Filipino community and supporters in the Netherlands hold successful cultural evening to uphold the democratic rights of Jose Maria Sison

(Amsterdam, Netherlands) Over 250 members of the Filipino community, advocates and supporters came together in the Netherlands this past weekend to resoundingly uphold the democratic rights of Professor Jose Maria Sison. Organized by Committee Defend - Netherlands, this cultural evening provided an exciting opportunity for artists, performers, and concerned community members to raise awareness and heighten support for Professor Sison's ongoing legal battle and the legitimate struggle of the Filipino people for national liberation.

Under the theme: "Portrait of a Revolutionary," artists and performers donated their talents and skills to creatively declare their solidarity with Sison. From second generation Filipino-Dutch youth to supporters from Belgium and other countries, participants and audience members united with Sison's struggle to defend his democratic rights as part of promoting the democratic struggles of the people of the world against imperialism. "Let us all be aware that mankind does have the solemn duty to fight for justice," asserted Theo Droog, Chairman of Committee Defend - Netherlands.

Sison, Chief Political Consultant of the National Democratic Front in the Philippines (NDFP) in the peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), had been a political prisoner subjected to torture and isolation for more than eight years under the Marcos dictatorship from 1977 to 1985. He has been recognized as a political refugee by the highest administrative court of the Netherlands. The U.S., without factual basis and without any due process, designated Sison as a terrorist in August 2002. The Dutch and British governments and the Council of the European Union followed suit in order to take punitive actions against him shortly thereafter.

At the cultural evening, donated art pieces from local and internationally-acclaimed artists were displayed and auctioned to support Sison's campaign, including wood cut prints by Manuel Baldemor, an accomplished sculptor, printmaker, and painter from Paete, Laguna, Philippines. Highlighting the cultural program was a 2-hour production of video clips and photographs tracing Sison's life over the years as a student activist in the Philippines to his life in exile in the Netherlands. Interspersed were live performances by Filipino and solidarity organizations such as Filipino Refugees and Exiles in the Netherlands and Dutch supporters from Committee Defend. Talented personalities such as Rica Nepomuceno, a Filipina soprano soloist based in Italy, and Raul Tan Buru, from the Intercultureel Muziek Instituut in Nijmegen, gave inspiring performances.

To underscore Sison's leading role in the Filipino people's struggle for national liberation, Luis Jalandoni of the NDFP explained that for more than 15 years, Sison has been directly involved in promoting peace negotiations which have resulted in 12 peace agreements between the NDFP and the GRP. "Joma has shown his capacity to overcome obstacles, help break out of impasse, and push the peace negotiations forward," described Jalandoni.

Of particular significance were remarks by Prof. Jose Maria Sison himself in defense of his democratic rights. "Because of your support, I am inspired to fight those who violate my rights. I fight them not only because I have all the right to do so, but because of the far greater interest of so many Filipinos and others in the world who suffer the ever worsening conditions of exploitation and oppression," affirmed Sison to friends and supporters. Pleasing the audience tremendously, he then sang the patriotic song, Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa (Love for one's Native Land) and the partisan song against fascism, Bella Ciao.

While the whole evening focused on Sison and his role in the Filipino people's struggle for national democracy, the event's resonant success demonstrated the valuable contributions of Filipinos in the Netherlands along with their international supporters in working together towards achieving national liberation, social justice, progress, and world peace.

pinays posing with art auction 

computer video preparations 

last minute rehearsal 

Joma signing his book 

Joma signing more of his books 

Filipino exiles do a song number 

pinays performing 

pinays performing 

pinays performing 

pinays performing 

Joel Vega reading a poem 

Sol reciting a poem with music accompaniment by Jasm  

Soprano Rica Nepomuceno accompanied by Jonjon 

Rica doing another number 

Raul Tan Buru singing Latin American revolutionary songs 

Raul Tan Buru accompanied by Y. A. L. Collet 

Friends from the Dutch Solidarity 

Annemiek as Premier Balkenende 

Paul and Annemiek perform a traditional Dutch satire 

Paul and Annemiek 
Masters of ceremonies Rio and Luti 

Toto Zamora singing 

Toto Zamora singing 

Toto Zamora singing 

pinoys performing a drama 

pinoys performing 

pinoys performing 

Louie Jalandoni of the NDFP negotiating panel giving a message 

Joma Sison delivering a speech 

Joma sings Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa accompanied by Jonjon 
Joma sings Bella Ciao accompanied by Jonjon 


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