BULATLAT SPECIAL REPORT:
They chose to fight the monsters plaguing the nation and respond to the call for revolutionary change.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Barely five-feet tall and looking frail, Ma. Concepcion “Concha” Araneta-Bocala is considered a giant in Panay islands.
Bocala is said to be the head of the Panay regional committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) with a bounty of P7.8 million for her arrest. She is the spokesperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Panay since 1987.
She joined other recently freed NDFP peace consultants in a gathering and press conference, Aug. 18. Wearing a pearl necklace, hair clips and pink sneakers, Bocala faced members of the media and supporters with calmness in her voice.
“We will do our best to push for meaningful reforms for the people,” Bocala said as she and the other NDFP consultants prepare for the resumption of formal talks with the government in Oslo, Norway on Aug. 22.
For more than five decades, Bocala, who hailed from the landed Araneta clan in Negros Occidental, has embraced the struggle of the poor for meaningful reforms as her own.
Like the other NDFP consultants, Bocala has long chosen to fight the monsters plaguing the nation and responded to the call for revolutionary change.
The Revolution Go coined by Wilma Austria Tiamzon has been practiced by Bocala, the Tiamzons and other NDFP consultants since their youth.
In a press conference following their release, Wilma has called on the youth to opt for Revolution Go instead of Pokemon Go, to go after the monsters doing harm to the people instead of the virtual monsters in the popular digital game.
Fighting martial law and beyond
Bocala was a mass communication student at the University of the Philippines in the late ‘60s. She joined the Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan in 1969 and when martial law was imposed, was among the first to be arrested in Manila. After being freed on bail, Bocala went to Iloilo to do underground organizing among the youth.
Both Wilma and Benito were also student activists before the declaration of martial law. Wilma, then a Statistics student, joined the SDK’s cultural group Gintong Silahis while Benito, a chemical engineering student, wrote for the Philippine Collegian and later became a member of SDK.
Wilma and Benito began organizing among the youth and workers in Metro Manila. Later, they went to Cebu to organize workers. After a while, the couple went to Eastern Visayas and planted the seeds of agrarian revolution in the said region.
Another NDFP consultant, Jaime, Soledad, was also a state scholar taking up geodetic engineering in UP when the Diliman Commune happened. He joined the barricades against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos despite being a cadet officer of the military training corps in the university.
Soledad said the Diliman Commune has compelled him to seek answers to the nation’s problems. He soon dropped out from UP and went to Leyte. In 1973, he went to Cebu to take up Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at the College of San Jose Recoletos (CSJR). He became a staff member of the student publication in CSJR. He soon left the university and decided to become a full-time organizer.
Also a university student during the Marcos administration, Ruben Saluta was taking up AB English at the Aklan College and was editor-in-chief of the Aklan Collegian from 1968 to 1969 and became an active member of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP).
He became the education–propaganda officer of the SDK and an organizer of the Samahan ng Progresibong Propagandista ng Aklan in early 1972.
Even after Marcos was toppled through a popular uprising in February 1986, Bocala, the Tiamzons, Soledad and Saluta did not find any reason to stop fighting the monsters in Philippine society.
What activists call as “imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism and feudalism” pertain to foreign domination in all spheres of national life, systemic corruption and landlessness and other forms of oppression of Filipino farmers.
Now in their ‘60s and even despite suffering from various ailments, these NDFP consultants do not see themselves retiring from the movement.