Back at the hq – had cake – lit up the cake – sang for Marvin – assessed to date.
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.
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.
Almost done with the finishing touches of packing everything I need for the next 4 weeks. I’ve made sure my student status at San Francisco State University is settled for (Hopefully, the beginning of the last) Semester(s) I have. My sister will be registering my classes for the Fall Semester and I must say it’s been such a protracted struggle to just get myself in the position I am with my education. I haven’t had Financial Aid since the Fall Semester of 2010. So applying back in March last minute has paid off.
So first off… I wrote a journal entry a couple weeks ago and saved a draft. I decided that at moment how I felt about going will change in a couple more weeks and days. Here I am my flight is in about 8 hours or less. What’s rushing through me is that it’s been about 7 months since we all started meeting back in December to plan for a trip that is about 4 weeks. The process of going on exposure began in those early meetings. I’m currently writing down the numbers of my kasamas who are already in the Phils. What’s been amazing during this process of going on my first exposure trip is how I’ve been able to include my family in this process. When I was a member of Anakbayan East Bay as a 17-18 year old, I was lying to them about my politics and what I was doing. Right now, I can’t explain how it feels to include to have my parents in this process. They’ve helped me pack, allowed me to house meetings at our house. Gonna out myself on how much my mom means to me… I’ve seen her cry multiple times and I can’t stand it, but I know she lets those tears flow because she has to stay strong for our family.
As a student, I’ve done the various study of our movement, the history of our people, help teach it to others. One thing I have learned and will always admit. Our people’s movement and the National Democratic Movement will NEVER just be an Academic topic. This movement is living and breathing with people in it so amazing and I am looking forward to immersing myself with the masses. We can analyze the Three Basic Problems by taking a class, reading a book, participating in a workshop, BUT we will never have to live those conditions in the belly of the beast. I’ve tried in previous years to go on exposure, but life just didn’t let me and this summer, this year just feels just right. I’m so humbled that we are going to be be the 15th Exposure Trip Group to go if we’ve sent delegations since LFS has been founded here in the United States back in 1996. Thank you to all the Older/Experienced Kasamas who’ve imparted their advice, wisdom to me about going on this trip. I know one thing for certain.
This trip will change my life.
We are welcomed by some newspapers and online articles about the planned drone strikes by the US especially in the Mindanao regions of the Phils. This reminds me of a small presentation in my comparative politics class, on how they have only increased under Obama. Levels of agitation awake me prior to a small mobi we will experience in about two hours. I feel the heat rising.
Why do we fight over luxuries? Over the course of how many eons people and property have been the sole reason for violence. I don’t have the skillset to weave my own sando but damn! I need a couple for the Philippines, so I’m going to buy some.
I’m most excited to try the freshest veggies. I remember trying chop suey at my sister-in-law’s small home in Cavite. It included green beans, carrots, celery, and more. It isn’t much different from traditional pansit however I did find this picture of my gramma’s cookin. Hella greens.
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!