El Barro de la Revolución /book

2019

Artist book. Research project directed by Paloma Polo with the support of Rey Claro Casambre and M&M&M.

With texts by: Lorena Barros, Vicenta M. Buenafe, Roja Esperanza, Ara Gaag, Maria Guerra, Fiel Guillermo, Amado V. Hernandez, Ka Hoben, Rebo Iwag, Ka J.O., Emmanuel Lacaba, Silvia Madiaga, Lucia Makabayan, Bayani Obrero, Joven Obrero, OC Red, Jan Alexander Reyes, Oliver B. Rosales, Rowena V. Rosales, Felix Salditos (aka Maya Daniels and Maya Mor), Ka Sam, Silvia, Jose Maria Sison and other anonymous authors.

This artist’s book has been published on the occasion of the exhibition El barro de la revolución [The Earth of the Revolution], presented at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo from July 26, 2019 to January 5, 2020.

Editor’s note

Many are the cultural products that express sympathy for revolutionary processes, especially during their initial phases. The mysticism attached to revolution has even given shape to a genre in film, literature, and publicity. This perpetuates a romantic vision of antagonistic struggles in which only moments of intensity and rupture are presented as worthwhile and are therefore documented for posterity. As if the act of uprising was an end in itself and there was nothing after that.

The publication you are holding in your hands strives to dismantle this fallacy of “the decisive moment.” In some revolutionary processes, time be- comes an indeterminate coordinate, as continuity and disruption are complex variables that often overlap. There are revolutions that only last ten days and revolutionary processes that go on for centuries. The latter is the case in the Philippines: a progressive struggle against colonial oppression that finds its roots in the first revolts against the Spanish invaders and consolidates four centuries later with the communist revolution that has been underway for the past fifty years. This is a struggle in which one can both see and not see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is significant to note that, despite the protraction of the Philippine Revolution, militant commitment has not been undermined, in spite of the various stages of waxing and waning in intensity that are to be expected over such a long period of time.

Such a circumstance is especially noteworthy in a time of political disengagement like the present one. To clarify and seek a better understanding of the persistence of this revolution—justified primarily by the struggle to stop the ongoing exploitation and destruction of life—we have made our best effort to bring together, without any pretention of thoroughness, a series of texts written at different times and places by agents of the Philippine Revolution. This anthology has been compiled with the conviction that, as Eric Selbin states, “If we are to explain how and why a revolution persists, it is crucial to consider shared and circulating narrations about revolution, rebellion, and resistance, as there lies the key to such understanding.”

Both narrative and poetry—in this case almost al- ways written in the first person—are an unsurpassable form of diffusion in the Philippine case, where educa

tion and culture have always been considered funda- mental pillars in the shaping of emancipated subjects. By way of these writings, guerrilla fighters construct imaginaries that are both personal and universal, shar- ing their deepest reflections on their militancy, the need to work together with the people, or their intense bond with nature.

Given the clandestine nature of the Philippine Revolution, most of the texts are anonymous or signed with pseudonyms. Some come from militant publications which are also clandestine, others have been specifically written for this publication by fighters who, in more than a few cases, are now political prisoners. In our effort to rid ourselves of the prevalence of the historical moment, we have included texts written from the 1970s to the present. However, this does not hinder the presence of notable singularities nor stops patterns from emerging, such as the gradual abandonment of classic Communist Party jargon in favor of an increasingly free and poetic literary construction of the struggle.

Whether originally written with militant purposes or with an artistic inclination, literary quality has been a determining factor in selecting these texts. What drew our attention was how these writings step off the beaten path, reinterpreting the conventional format of the testimony and the rhetoric of agitation and pro- paganda. We want to underscore the balance achieved by these narratives between the strict and steely com- munist discourse—identifiable for example in well- known discourses about the work in conjunction with the masses and the struggle for land (phrases that, from our Western perspective, may sound like echoes from another time)—and the effort to find new images and metaphors that timelessly invigorate the struggle they depict. What best characterizes this selection of texts is the transversal contemporaneity they distill—again, an undecided temporality that marks both continuity and renovation.

Oscar Fernández.

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