(Photo by Nicole Manzana) Left to Right: Dexter, Marcus, Emerson, & Kevin. These boys followed me all around.
It was the crack of dawn and I haven’t been able to write about my experience in Payatas. First off, I just wanted to explain what we were doing in Payatas was that we were joining Kabataan Partylist in their Medical Mission. I was informed the night before that were going to join them and I was notified to wake up at 6am. I’ve been waking up first in the group for the past week and it is just out of the eagerness of myself to be able to take in every moment and every second I breathe here in the Philippines and with the National Democratic Movement. So I initially thought that we were leaving at 7am to head to Payatas with the Medicine.
Troy from KPL (Kabtaan Partylist) told me the latest we’ll be leaving would be around 9 am. We got in our collective and decided to pick what tasks we wanted to take part in during the Medical Mission. The tasks laid out were the Medical Mission, Telling stories to the kids in the neighborhood, and the final task was to help outreach for KPL.
Payatas is an urban poor community located in Quezon city where the entire community is living next to and in the dump site. I won’t lie, for I held thoughts about what the smell would do to my health and the ever increasing list of Kasamas feeling ill. We all boarded a Jeepeny filled with Medicine and the ulam (Lunch) we would be having, along the way we picked up 3 Doctors from Sacred Heart who would be providing the Medical Check-Ups for the community. We had to stop by the Barangay Hall first before we headed to the Phase 2 (A Basketball Court). As we arrived on site, Waki our guide reminded us that we would have to speak Tagalog as our Primary language. I’ve been able to speak Tagalog more than ever during this trip and I must say it has helped me create dialogue and share stories here in the Phils. I came in thinking that I was going to be part of the Medical Mission and help check blood pressure and give out medicine as a Pharmacy tech.
I hear Faye shout my name and along with Roger of KPL I joined the outreach team that would help notify the Community about the free medical mission and be able to recruit for Kabataan Partylist and hand out an LFS Brochure as well. I was surprised on how my role changed, but I felt open minded and my attitude towards it was far from negative at all. We began to walk around the community in Payatas A and Rodger held a speaker and wireless mic as me and Faye would directly speak to the members of the community. I found it challenging that I was going to speak to random strangers, but this trip for me has been rewarding at the most when I’ve completely opened myself to the integration with the masses. I’ve never seen such outreach in my organizing life, I was at awe at how Roger was doing his outreach and even tho he held a speaker and mic, for every person he walked by he talked to them personally. Right when we got to the entrance of the dump, Roger told me that there were communities in Smokey Mountain and even tho the trash has been a little less than before, it still was filled with trash. We continued our outreach and then I met these two little kids, brother and sister. Her name was Angelique and I got to high five them and we continued on.
These komrades are the reason why we join the movement. After all of the assessments as an undergrad nothing beats ‘getting to know’ social movements, being able to actually participate in the masses, and looking up to the passion that the komrades have instilled into a pro-people’s national democracy. We are reminding ourselves to eliminate the bad liberal elements as individuals.
The little details may be overlooked when it comes to the daily activities: brave ones riding at the end of jeepney rails, cutting across taxi lines, and the epic clouds in the sky. The komrades see this everyday, and for the past week we have been seeing it as well.
The biggest challenge for many of us is often the family struggles, but I want them to know that our motive/reason is driven for them, to know why we had to move in the first place.
The positive attitudes are contagious and stories cut deep. I am beginning to discover even more reasons as to why we are here. As my first real exposure to the Philippines–minus all of the demolitions which cost countless lives–I don’t regret any of the struggles that have surpassed leading up to this day. After all of the meetings, one of which is a retreat in SF that mocked a scenario in the PI, we adapt to the food portions and sleeping conditions to now. I remember by reflection the agitation and excitement that has led to this day. After moving back to Orange County, I almost feel detached from organizing strategies that I have learned from the komrades, but of course technology allows us to remain to build. I don’t feel settled as we feed off each other’s energy all throughout the EDs, quick responses, and beyond.
The youth motivate me to keep studying because once you think you’ve taken an education discussion, their new perspective allows us to learn differently which advances our own movement. When we learn it in Tagalog, the phonetics are mysterious enough for us to dissect, and when we do we obtain a higher learning. I feel challenged in my own homeland where our language has been a constant barrier. But once we break it, I feel closer to our own history and practice.
If we didn’t show up today the barangays would have had the hardest time accessing adequate healthcare from our own government. This is why the Kabataan Party List organizes in the most impoverished areas. Our knowledgeable staff allows the medical team to be utilized for our people. We are glad to embark on the medical mission; the help from the legal face of KPL is committed to genuine reform for our people.
We are lucky to find that the actual community is divided into different phases. We organize at phase II of Payatas and the children are excited to play ball with us, so we divide ourselves into teams and play ball. Bernardo starts shooting Jays and we decide to get the whole team involved, which is when Amelia starts going Chares Barkley on them! Haha
After we win our game, we stop by an HQ, fall asleep in the van and eat lunch. Waking up at 6:00am is catching up right about now. Ingat, kasamas.
Last but not least… Please donate for our cause by clicking on the link to the left!
I am feeling a little heat exhaustion so I take a nap. I am not sure actually, my meals are consistent, but I think it might be the activities from the night before:
We prepare for the propaganda, a rule I have already disobeyed in terms of parental concern haha, but as long as I am safe we are committing to a deed for the public good. We are not anti government but instead we are pro government for the people.
The head quarters is filled with different groups from the youth sector. Artists are on the floor organizing in the kitchen, but upstairs I walk into an educational discussion on K-12 by a few of the kasamas. With only a piece of chalk, he draws key terms on the floor in front of Marvin(s) and I. At the same time, we exchange dialogue about the occupy movement. The driven goal between each organizers is prominent throughout the week, the subject matter is relevant, and we also have a plan of action. The ED officers, whether official or not, provide a great synopsis for tomorrow’s walk out.
We congregate to the epicenter of USP and the bridge right out front, building energy for something we do not even know at times, but what’s important is that we stick close.
Trish tells me that the jeep we are using is from the 1970′s and that it has survived countless mobilizations. Miguel and Dora beast it on the mic; she carries this energy over to the, where we witness the strongest elements of the NDM: singing, speeches by chairwomen, and KPL member–Vencer–plus more. The program itself is half improvised however it feels unplanned. We are told it is one of the biggest showings for a komrade.
In cases you missed out on our event last September called K.U.S.S. (Kilusan Underground Sound Sessions) We celebrated the 33rd Aniversary of The League Of Filipino Students over a night of the different elements of Hip Hop. We would like to continue our thanks to Mink Bar & Lounge for sharing their venue, all the performers including Nomi of Power Struggle for being our headliner that night and everyone who contributed and came out. Special thanks to Bernardo Josue for making (Filming & Editing) the video.
Ever since LFS-SFSU has existed, one of our main goals has been to not only talk about and study the movement in the Philippines, but to experience it for ourselves. As a chapter of LFS in the Philippines and a member organization of BAYAN-USA, we have a direct link to our kasamas in our homeland. With that link, comes the opportunity to visit, study, and integrate with the various mass organizations in the Philippines fighting for National Democracy.
Each summer we plan “Baliksambayanan”, our annual exposure trip to the Philippines. The number of exposurists can vary year-to-year. Sometimes we have over 10, others times there are less than 5. Also, you don’t have to be Filipino to attend the exposure trip. We welcome anyone who wants to learn about our movement and how our kasamas organize in the Philippines. However, there is a process. We always say: “The exposure trip begins as soon as you commit yourself to the trip.” That means much preparation months before you leave.
This year, we are proud to have sponsored Jack Stephens, LFS member and former Educational Development Officer (2007-2008). Though he is our lone exposurist this year, we are very excited for him and know that he will receive the same rich and life-changing experience others have had before him. Though Jack is not Filipino, he has done much work for LFS throughout his years as a member and an officer. It’s all about international solidarity yall!
Jack will be in the Philippines for 3 weeks, integrating with various sectors of society such as the workers through Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and peasants through Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). Jack will be writing about his experiences in the Philippines through his blog, The Mustard Seed. Check it out! Especially if you’re interested in participating in Baliksambayanan one day, or with any of our other BAYAN-USA organizations or with other programs that connect you back home, such as the Philippine Studies Program. He’s already put up a couple entries up.
We look forward to the stories and lessons learned. Good luck Jack! See you in 3 weeks!
Please support LFS’ BalikSamBayanan Summer Exposure Trip to the Philippines! Funds raised will go to funding the trip and the various communities and organizations we visit! If you cannot attend the show but would still like to donate funds, please email LFS-SFSU @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Not convinced yet? Let this year’s hosts change your mind!