Musical Tackles KM History, Joma’s Life and Struggle


Sa rurok ng ating kabataan,
Lipos ng pag-irog at sigla
Ikinulong tayo nang malaon
Sa masikip at nakalulunod
Na bartolina ng diktadura
Kung saan pagong ang panahon
Wari’y wala na tayong pag-asang
Makalaya sa pintuang bakal
Pinaghiwalay tayo hirang
At sa labis na pagkaulila
Laging humihiyaw ang puso ko
Na magkasiping muli tayo
Nagsanib ang lungkot at pag-asa
Sa mga tula kong mapanlaban.
At sa kalaunan, tayo’y nagsama
Sa paggapi sa diktadura.

Ngayong hinog na ako sa gulang
Ibayong matibay ang kapasiyahan
Subalit marupok na ang katawan
At nahirati sa iyong pagkalinga
Ikinulong na naman ako
Sa masikip at nakalulunod
na bartolina ng imperyalista
Waring dito na ako wawakasan.
Magkahiwalay na naman tayo
At sa labis na pagkaulila
Laging humihiyaw ang puso ko
Na magkasiping muli tayo
Magkasanib ang lungkot at ligaya
Sa aking mga mapanlabang kanta
Magsama muli tayo sa pagkilos
At sa paglulubos ng ating pamana sa bayan.

This is the entirety of the poem “Bartolina Muli” by Jose Maria Sison. He contributed it last year to a literary folio for peasant leader Randall Echanis, who was then in jail on trumped-up criminal charges. The poem, however, also reflects Sison’s own life and the price that he has so far had to pay as one of the leaders of the national-democratic revolution in the Philippines.

It is one of the featured poems in the upcoming musical play Makata’y Mandirigma, Mandirigma’y Makata.

Co-sponsored by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Defend Philippines, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement), Anakbayan, and International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS)-Philippines, the play is to be staged in celebration of the 45th founding anniversary of Kabataang makabayan (KM or Patriotic Youth), as well as Sison’s 50th year of service to the Filipino people through revolutionary activism.

Sison founded the KM on Nov. 30, 1964. Five years before, he had founded the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP), a study group that sought to educate UP students about Marxism and the basic problems of the Filipino people.

From its foundation up to the early 1970s, the KM played a major part in demonstrations against the Vietnam War, oil price increases, feudal exploitation in the countryside, corruption in government, and the Marcos regime’s turn to authoritarianism. It became part of the umbrella group Movement for a Democratic Philippines (MDP), which was led by the nationalist and civil libertarian Jose W. Diokno. The declaration of martial law led the KM and other progressive organizations to go underground. The KM eventually became one of the member-organizations of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

As for Sison, he went on to re-establish the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in 1968, following a break from the leadership of the Lava brothers in the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) due to ideological differences. Arrested, jailed and tortured by the Marcos dictatorship, Sison was released in 1986 by virtue of then-President Corazon Aquino’s general amnesty proclamation. His passport was cancelled two years later, while he was in Europe on a speaking tour, and he was forced to seek asylum in the Netherlands. He was listed as a “foreign terrorist” in 2002, and was arrested and detained by the Dutch government over trumped-up murder charges in mid-2007. He was since been released, and a recent European Court of First Instance (ECFI) ruling nullified the “terror” tag on him.

In Makata’y Mandirigma, Mandirigma’y Makata, the KM’s history is tackled through the lives of KM members Ador and Orya, who are the play’s central characters. Their story is interspersed with that of Sison’s life and struggle.

Aside from Sison’s “Bartolina Muli”, the play also features a series of dalit written by 2006 National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera. The libretto is written by Palanca awardee Edward Perez.

The play’s director is Rommel “Pipoy” Linatoc, a church worker and stage artist. Ricamela Palis and the group Kalantog provide musical direction. Lights and stage direction is by Katsch Catoy. Choreography is by Jun Bueta and Edwin Quinsayas.

There will be two shows: one at 2 p.m. and the other at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are at P50 and will be available at the UP Theater on the showing date. Part of the proceeds will go to victims of storms Ondoy and Pepeng. (

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