Wilson Baldonaza: Philippine Progressive Labor’s Great Educator, Leader

Ka Wilson became a labor leader in Matex and in the KMU chapter in the area. He also became chairman of the multisectoral Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance) in Valenzuela. Years after he lost his job in Matex and after he devoted himself more deeply into progressive unionism, he joined EILER as one of its labor instructors.

Here, Ka Wilson not only led in facilitating workers’ seminars, he also participated in writing workers’ courses and trainings. Later, with his local experience in organizing and leading workers’ organizations as well as a multisectoral organization, EILER tapped Ka Wilson as a project analyst. As part of his tasks, Ka Wilson participated in evaluating projects and, in the process, help other labor education institutions to improve their education contents and services and also to get needed funding.

Confronting “Yellow Unionism”

When the need to strengthen the progressive labor organizations came about as a result of the scandalous factionalism and deterioration of previously “genuine” union leaders into what the progressives call as “new yellow unionism,” Ka Wilson moved from EILER to the Alliance of Genuine Labor Organizations (Anglo), a federation under KMU.

Even if he regretted not finishing college, Ka Wilson did not quibble about squaring off with law-educated “corrupt yellow leaders” of Anglo early in 2000s. He steadfastly defended Anglo from efforts of these “yellow leaders” to divide it, leading the group in rectifying the “yellow” tendencies bred by these corrupt leaders. This meant renewing the federation’s grasp and practice of “genuine, progressive and anti-imperialist” trade unionism. They publicly eschewed the yellow leaders’ tendency to “collaborate” with the employers and the government and “sell out” the workers’ struggle.

From Anglo, Ka Wilson was elected as national secretary-general of KMU in its congress in 2004.

“Every day, he would read, read and read and write his notes in preparation for a meeting, a speech in a rally or a forum,” his wife Lily said. “I once told him he should build a mini-library of his books and magazines in our house.”

Indeed, Ka Wilson represented a breed of KMU leaders with truly well-researched speeches. Because of his conscientious studying and his experience of having been active not only in the trade-union struggle but also in those of nearby workers and other sectors in his area, Ka Wilson managed to avoid the tendency to be myopically concerned only with local trade-union struggles, said former heads of EILER and education department of KMU.

Work Over Sickness

As much as possible, he tried his best to prioritize his work over his sickness. Two or three May 1s ago, he told colleagues that he had to see his doctor, that he was feeling dizzy and nauseous, but he had to finish his May 1 speech first. The next day, he was confined at the hospital for hypertension. It would be repeated in many occasions. Last May 20, while the progressive labor movement was remembering the late Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran on the occasion of his first death anniversary, Ka Wilson said that he, too, was about to die soon.

Too bad he didn’t live longer than many had hoped. But as all survivors of someone like Ka Wilson are saying in tribute to him, “We will always remember him and take inspiration from his examples. We will strive to persist in continuing his life’s struggle.”

Ka Wilson first joined the progressive labor movement when the peso-dollar exchange rate was suddenly devalued at P11 to the US dollar. He died when it was hovering at P48. His example, his life, would surely enrich the survivors of the Philippines’s progressive labor movement at whatever exchange rate that prevails. (Bulatlat.com)

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3 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. a great leader that every one must salute!

  2. a very inspired piece.

  3. nakakaiyak. talagang namimiss ko si k.wilson araw-araw.

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