The following article was first published in the January-February
1996 issue of Liberation International. We are publishing it once
again to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm.
By Antonio Zumel
Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom
Posted by Bulatlat.com
We observe this year the 100th anniversary of the 1986 Philippine
Revolution against Spanish colonization, and the 26th anniversary of
the First Quarter Storm of 1970. The two are interrelated, and are
historic events to the Filipino people since both had to do – and
still have to do – with our people’s continuing struggle for
national independence and democracy.
We honor the 1986 Revolution as the collective, united effort of our
patriotic and democratic forebears in the Katipunan to rise up in arms
to finally liberate our country from more than 300 years of Spanish
colonial rule. With heads high, we do honor this historic event –
even if it was frustrated especially by the errors of the ilustrado
leadership and by the deception, the aggression and the ferocity of US
imperialismwhich grabbed colonial control over our country and people.
While we pay tribute to the bravery and dedication of the worker
Andres Bonifacio, founder of the Katipunan, and of his
comrades-in-arms, we, as today’s revolutionaries, study their
experience and learn from the positive and negative lessons, even as
we also learn from the more recent experiences of revolutionaries in
other part of the world.
The Katipunan Revolution of 1896 whose centenary we celebrate this
year and the national democratic revolutionary struggle we are waging
today have the same general objective: to achieve, safeguard and
advance the national and democratic interests of the Filipino people.
Having pointed that out, we must also underscore the fact that the
1896 Revolution had a bourgeois-democratic theoretical grounding. Our
revolution of today is under the superior working class revolutionary
theory which, in 1896, was still undergoing refinement especially in
Russia. Even so, our revolutionary struggles today are a continuation
of the unfinished revolution of 1896, with a clear socialist goal.
The First Quarter Storm of 1970, which belongs closer to my
generation, is more directly connected with today’s new-democratic
revolution being waged by the allied mass organizations in the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) which continue to
fight for the national and social emancipation of the Filipino people.
Looking back through the last 26 years to the FQS of 1970, one
harkens to a time of cerebral and physical ferment, a time of
trepidation and courage, a time of study and education, a time for the
heightening of political consciousness, a time to make crucial
decisions affecting one’s life, going full-time into revolutionary
I was a journalist at that time, having been trained to be an
“objective” observer of the day-to-day life of our society. I
should have appraised the events of the FQS with some degree of
“objectivity” and “impartiality”, as my elders in newspapering
would like to say. But like many of the students, workers and peasants
at that time, and like some journalists and other professionals as
well, I, too, went through a process of political awakening. In my
ensuing political conduct, I was not to be “impartial”. I was to
be partial to the cause of the broad masses of our people.
For me, it is difficult to think back, exclusively to the political
events in the first three months of 1970 – the FQS. Like others, I
also tend to look back to political events, of say, the previous year,
1969, which after all, helped prepare for, and culminate in, the FQS
(actually, according to Comrade Jose Maria Sison, I took a whole
decade to prepare for the FQS); I also tend to look beyond the FQS –
to the political events of the rest of 1970, 1971 and up to 1972
(declaration of fascist martial law) which came as further development
of the FQS.
The scene is January 1970. The political circus that was the
presidential election of November 1969 had just been held, and the
reelectionist Marcos soundly beat his opponent, Sergio Osmena, Jr., a
puppet of US imperialism as Marcos himself was. Did Marcos enjoy great
popularity among the people? The answer is no.
In fact, with the coming of 1970, Marcos and his US imperialist
masters decreed a devaluation of the peso (from P3.90=US$1, to P6=$1)to increase the value of imperialist investments and property in the Philippines, and aggravate the livelihood of the people whose income was not being increased. The drastic devaluation thus farther
aggravated the economic and political crisis of the ruling system in