POSTKONSEPTUWAL NA TULA, KONSEPTUWALISTANG DISKURSO


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SINALANG SALAWIKAIN NG SALARIN NA NAGKASALA
Sa Labintatlong Maniobra sa Larangan ng Pakikipagsapalaran

[Pagsubok sa Paglikha ng Post-Konseptuwal na Diskurso]

[Sinangla, binalasa't nilustay bago umagpang ang salarin ng wika sa paglinlang at pagdispalko sa kasaysayan, ayon sa tagubilin ni Felix Razon:"Ilang hagkis o pukol ng dais ay hindi makawawalis sa istratehiya ng pagbabakasakali....”]

ni E. SAN JUAN, Jr.
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PAUNAWA TUNGKOL SA KONSEPTUWAL NA SINING/PANITIKANG                 POST-KONSEPTUWAL

Simula pa noong kilusang avantgarde ng suryalismo, Dada, konstruktibismo, Fluxus, Oulipop ng nakalipas na siglo–mababanggit sina  Duchamp, Beckett, Gertrude Stein, Joyce, Brecht, John Cage, atbp.–ang pagyari ng anti-ekspresibong akda ay di na bagong balita. Nawasak na ang lumang kategorya ng genre at dekorum sa estilo, pati na rin ang kaibahan ng mga midya o instrumento sa pagpapahayag (pinta, musika, salita). Di mapanlikhang sulat (“uncreative writing”) ang bunga. Sa sining, ang “Spiral Jetty” ni Robert Smithson.  Ang pinakamahalaga ay ang konsepto o ideya na ugat ng “Spiral Jetty.”

Supling ang kontemporaneong sining ngayon sa pag-angkin (appropriation), malayang pagnakaw, patikim at pagtransporma ng anuman–ang konteksto/sitwasyon ang siyang dumidikta. Ito’y nakadiin sa proseso, at nakasalig sa konsepto o kaisipang umuugit o gumagabay sa pagbuo–hindi sa produkto.  Layon nito ay hindi lang pagbuwag sa pribadong pag-aari (“expropriate the expropriators,” wika nga) kundi paghahain din sa lahat ng malawak at maluwag na larangan sa interpretasyon/kabatiran (ang komunismo ng all-round “free development,” ayon sa Gotha Programme).  Kung sira na ang bakurang humihiwalay sa sining at buhay, sa pulitika at ekonomya, bakit bulag pa rin tayo sa katotohanang nagbago’t nagbago na ang mundo?

Wika ni Kenneth Goldsmith, isang dalubhasang konseptuwalistang guro: “The idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work…The idea becomes a machine that makes the text” (“Paragraphs on Conceptual Writing,” sangguniin din ang Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing, inedit ni Goldsmith at Craig Dworkin).  Dagdag pa niya: Hindi kailangang basahin ang teksto. Kailangan lamang ay maintindihan ang konsepto, ang namamayaning proyektong inaadhika, sa likod nito. Ang konsepto ang batayan ng porma, hugis, anyo (sang-ayon din si Galvano Della Volpe, Critique of Taste).  Sagot ito sa digital revolution ng kompyuter, sa pagsambulat ng impormasyon sa Internet na walang pasubaling naglilinkod sa barbarismo ng tubo/kapital at karahasan ng pagsasamantala. Tanong ko: pagkatapos ng kabatiran, ano ang dapat gawin?

Paano makalalaya sa kapangyarihan ng salapi, kapital, komodipikasyon?  Upang lumaban sa industriyang pangkulturang kasangkapan ng kapitalismong global, pag-umit o pag-angkin (sa katunayan, ng kinumpiskang halaga/surplus value na likha ng mga manggagawa) at detournement (ayon kay Guy Debord) ang gawing istratehiya sa pagtutol. Mabisa ang taktika ng alegorya, ang metodo ng debalwasyon (tingnan “Notes on Conceptualisms” nina Robert Fitterman at Vanessa Place sa Web).

Sino ang may kontrol sa mga kagamitan sa produksiyon at reproduksiyon ng lipunan?  Paliwanag din ni Walter Benjamin na dapat hawakan at pangasiwaan ang paraan ng produksiyon upang matutulan ang laganap at malalim na komodipikasyon, reipikasyon, anomie/alyenasyon sa buong planeta. Samut-saring posibilidad ang nakabukas dahil sa teknolohiya. Laluna ang materyalidad ng wika at iba’t ibang signos/senyal. Nasa gitna tayo ng rebolusyon sa sining. Pwede kayang maitransporma ang nakahandang-bagay (ready-made) na salawikain (hanggang hindi pa ito napraybatays ng McDonald, Body Shop, S-M at Robinson Mall) upang makapukaw ng katumbalikang damdamin at isip?

Ang diskursong narito, na siguro’y pinakaunang halimbawa ng konseptuwalistang pagsubok sa Filipino, ay ensayo sa post-konseptuwalismong modo ng pag-angkin at pagbaligtad. Ayon kay Peter Osborne (Anywhere or Not at All), ang post-konseptuwalismong pananaw ang siyang mabisang paraan upang sagupain ang neoliberalismong salot na nagtuturing sa lahat na pwedeng mabili at pagtubuan–katawan, kaluluwa, panaginip, kinabukasan. Ang idea ng “horizon” o abot-tanaw na hanggahan ang maaaring bumalangkas ng praktikang experimental na negasyon/pagtakwil sa status quo na dudurog sa nakagawiang hilig, gawi, asal sa “free market” ng paniniwala’t damdamin.

Kung ukol, di bubukol? Problema na walang tiyak na resulta ang anumang eksperimento o ipotesis, probabilidad lamang. Sa pagreprodyus sa tradisyonal na bukambibig na payo o kaalaman sa kwadro ng mapagbirong laro, makatutulong kaya ito sa paghikayat na kolektibong tuklasin at isakatuparan ang konsepto ng pagbabago, konsepto ng pagbabalikwas at pagsulong tungo sa pambansang demokrasya’t kasarinlan?  Sinong pupusta sa sugal ng pagbabakasakali’t pakikipagsapalaran? Nasa sa inyo, mambabasa, ang kapasiyahan.–ESJ 7/25/2013

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LARO 1

Ang kapalaran di mo man hanapin, dudulog
at lalapit kung talagang atin

Nasa kaluluwa ang awa, nasa katawan ang gawa

Taong di makuhang sumangguni, may dunong ma’y namamali

Ang lubid ay nalalagot kung saang dako marupok

Sa kapipili-kapipili, katagpu-tagpo ay bungi

Anumang iyong gawin, makapito mong isipin

Isa man at sampak, daig ang makaapat

Anumang tibay ng piling abaka ay walang silbi kapag nag-iisa

Mabigat ay gumagaan kung ating pinagtutulung-tulongan

Ang mabuting gawa kahit walang bathala, kinalulugdan ng     madla

LARO 2

Ang manamit ng hiram, sa daan hinuhubaran

Daang patungo sa langit, masagabal at maliklik

Malapit ma’t di lalakarin, kailan ma’y di mararating

Kung di ka lumingon sa pinanggalingan, di ka makararating sa     paruroonan

Huli man at magaling, kahit hubo’t hubad maihahabol din

Pagkahabahaba man ng prusisyon, sementeryo din ang tuloy

Ang sa panghihiram mawili, nakalilimot sa sarili

Walang unang sisi na di sa huli nangyari

Kung ano ang tugtog, mangahas huwag isayaw

Buntot mo, hila mo

LARO  3

Ang di magsapalaran, hindi matatawid ang karagatan

Kung ang tubig ay tahimik, lipdin mo ma’y di malirip

Kaya maligo ka sa linaw, sa labo magbanlaw

Pag ang tubig ay di matining, may pasubaling balon ay     malalim

Walang mahirap gisingin gaya ng nagtutulog-tulugan

Ang hipong tulog, tinatangay ng agos

Putik din lamang at putik, tapatan na nang malapit

Matutuyo man ang sapa, hindi ang balita

Kapag ang ilog ay maingay, asahan mong may sumasablay

Buhay alamang, paglukso’y patay

LARO 4

Kapag ukol, pwedeng hindi bumukol

Hindi pa ipinaglilihi, di biro’y  ipinapanganak na

Wala pang itlog ang inahin, di na mabilang ang sisiw

Kung sino ang unang pumutak, di biro’y siyang nangitlog

Sala sa lamig, sala sa init, sumasalang buwisit

Kung sino ang minamahal, siyang pinahihirapan

Kung may hirap, may ginhawa ba

Ang panalo ay sakali, ang pagkatalo’y palagi

Iba na ang hawak sa palad kaysa lumilipad

Biru-biro kung sanglan, totoo kung tamaan

LARO 5

Kapag may isinuksok, may madudukot

Kung bukas ang kaban, nagkakasala sinuman

Nakikita ang butas ng karayom, hindi ang butas ng palakol

Kung sino pa ang mangangaso ay siyang walang palaso

Huwag kang maglaro ng sundang kung ayaw mong     masugatan

Kung minsan kaliwang kamay tinataga rin ang kanan

Walang sumisira sa bakal kundi ang sarili niyang kalawang

Nawawala ang ari  ngunit ang uri ay hindi

Di lahat ng kumikinang ay tunay na gintong lantay

Gayunpaman ang taong nagigipit, sa patalim kakapit

LARO 6

Ang pangako ay utang, huwag kalilimutan

Ang lumalakad nang matulin, kung matinik ay malalim

Ibon sa hawla’y  ikinulong nang mahigpit, kapag nakawala’y     hindi na babalik

Humahabol ang nahuli sa unang nagsisisi

Ang matalinong mamaraan, magugulangan din pagtawid sa        sangandaan

Kahit matapang sa singilan, duwag naman sa utangan

Sa pakitang loob at tapat na damay ay walang salaping sukat     matimbang

Kung gaano kataas ang lipad, gayon din ang lagapak

Walang pagod magtipon, walang hinayang magtapon

Kung saan narapa, doon magbangon

LARO  7

Ubus-ubos biyaya, maya-maya ay nakatunganga

Nangilag sa baga, sa ningas nasugba

Naghangad ng katugma, isang salop ang nawala

Batong-buhay ka man na sakdal tigas, unti-unting patak     tuluyang maaagnas

Mga biyayang apoy at habagat, bato man ay pinalalambot

Walang matimtimang birhen sa matiyagang manalangin

Tikatik man kung panay ang ulan, malalim mang ilog ay     aapaw

Ang nagtatanim ng hangin, may bagyong aanihin

Hangga’t makitid ang kumot, magtiis mamaluktot

Magkupkop ka rito ng kaawa-awa, langit ang iyong     gantimpala

LARO  8

Ang binigyan ng buhay, bibigyan din ng ikabubuhay

Kung nasaan ang asukal, naroon ang langgam

Walang palayok na di may kasukat na tuntong

Iyang ampalayang kahit anong pait, sa nagkakagusto’y     walang kasintamis

Pagkalaki-laki man ng palayok, may kasukat na saklob

Walang tutong sa burokratang nagugutom

Walang tumaban ng palayok na hindi naulingan

Bago  mo batiin ang dungis ng ibang tao, ang dungis mo     muna ang tugunan mo

Ang iyong kakainin, sa iyong pawis manggagaling

Bulaga!   Ako ang nagbayo, nagsaing, nagluto ngunit iba ang     kumain

LARO 9

Ang pagsasabi ng tapat ay pagsasamang maluwat

Gayunpaman, sa lahat ng gubat, nakaluklok ang ahas

Ang asong matatahulin ay hindi makakagatin

Ang malubay na sagot ay nakapapawi ng poot

Labis sa kahol at salita, kulang sa sagpang at gawa

Ang butong tinangay ng aso, walang salang nalawayan mo

Nasa tuldik ang awa, nasa punto ang gawa

Itinutulak ng bibig, kinakabig ng dibdib

Ang isda’y sa kanyang bibig nahuhuli, ang tao nama’y sa     salita’t sabi

Sa langit lumura, sa mukha tumama

LARO  10

Ang maghanap sa wala, ulol ang kamukha

Kahoy na babad sa tubig sa apoy huwag ilapit

Pag nadarang mag-iinit, sapilitang magdirikit

Matuyo man ang sapa, hindi ang balita

Ang taong naglalaro sa apoy ay napapaso

Di man makita ang ningas, apoy ang magpapahayag

Hinahanap-hanap ang nawala, nang makita ay isinumpa

Kung hirap ay masasal na, bisperas na ng ginhawa

Ang taong mainggitin, lumigaya man ay sawi rin

Totoo kayang madaling maging tao’t mahirap magpakatao

LARO  11

Kung ano ang taguri, ay siyang pagkalungi

Damit na hiram, kung hindi masikip ay maluwang

Ang sakit ng kalingkingan, damdam ng buong katawan

Sa marunong umunawa, di sukat ang mahiwagang talinghaga

Talastasang pagbasa, sabaw na malasa

Ang gawa sa pagkabata, dala hanggang sa pagkamatanda

Ang maikli ay dugtungan, ang mabaha ay putulan

Sa panahon ng kagipitan, makikilala ang di kaibigan

Tuso man ang matsing, napaglalalangan din

Walang nasayang na buhay sa rebolusyonaryong muling     pagkabuhay

LARO  12

Kaning biglang isusubo, iluluwa kung mapaso

Kung magbibigay ma’t mahirap sa loob, ang pinakakain ay di     mabubusog

Pag ang pagkakita ay bigla, bigla rin ang pagkawala

Walang masamang kanya, walang mabuti sa iba

Bagamat  isinusubo mo, nalalaglag pa ang mumo

Kahit apaw na ang salop, nawawala ang kalos

Kaya hindi lahat ng maagap maagang nakalulutas

Hampas sa kalabaw, sa kabayo ang latay

Ang anumang kasulatan, dapat lagdaan kung kinakailangan

Aanhin pa ang pulot-gata kung patay na ang kabayo

LARO  13

Kung hiwaga ang itinanim, libong himala ang aanihin

Madaling pumitas ng bunga kung dadaan ka sa sanga

Ang kawayan kung tumubo, langit na matayog ang itinuturo

Kung may isinuksok, may titingalain

Kung masunod na ang anyo, sa lupa rin ang yuko

Ang bungang hinog sa sanga, matamis ang lasa

Ang bungang hinog sa pilit kung kainin ay mapait

Magsisi ka man at huli, wala nang mangyayari

May tainga ang lupa, may pakpak ang balita, ngunit bingi’t     makupad ang makata

Nasa taong matapat ang huling halakhak

Posted in AESTHETICS, CRITICAL THEORY, DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS | Tagged ,

FREE ALL FILIPINA POLITICAL PRISONERS!


U.S. GLOBAL CAPITALISM’S HUMANITARIAN BLESSING : TORTURE OF WOMEN POLITICAL PRISONERS IN THE PHILIPPINES

by E. SAN JUAN, Jr.
Philippines Cultural Studies Center, USA

Listed early this year Lumadby the UK ECONOMIST  as an upcoming Asian Tiger with 6-7% GDP growth, the Philippines (with half of its hundred million citizens subsisting on less than $2 a day) is more renowned as a haven of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf than for its minerals or its bountiful supply of advertized Filipina brides and maids for the world market.  A recent chic staging of Imelda Marcos’ fabled extravagance in New York City may cover up the nightmare of the Marcos dictatorship (1972-1986) for the elite or the gore of the 2009 Ampatuan massacre.
But the everyday reality of human misery and plotted killings cannot be eluded.

Dan Brown featured Manila as the “gate of hell” in his novel Inferno. Are we in for a super-Halloween treat? What often pops up between the cracks of commodified trivia are the detritus and stigmata of U.S. intervention in the ongoing civil war. Prominent are the thousands of unresolved extra-judicial killings, torture and abuse of political prisoners, warrantless detentions, enforced disappearances or kidnappings of dissenters by government security forces mainly funded by Washington. We are confronted with a “culture of impunity” that recalls the bloody rule of Somoza in Nicaragua, Pinochet in Chile, and the ruthless generals of Brazil and Argentina in the years when Ronald Reagan and Bush patronized the Cold War services of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.

A classic colony of the United States from 1898 to 1946, the Philippines remains a semi-feudal neocolony ruled by holdover oligarchs led today by President Benigno Aquino III.  Resisting the U.S. behemoth in 1899-1913 Filipino-American War, 1.4  million Filipinos perished in the name of U.S. “Manifest Destiny.” Since then the Philippines has functioned as a strategic springboard for projecting U.S. power throughout the Asian-Pacific region. This has become more crucial with the recent Asian “pivot” of U.S. military resources amid territorial disputes among China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.

State terrorism thrives in the Philippines. Tutored and subsidized by Washington-Pentagon, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are the two state agencies tasked with pursuing a U.S.-designed Counterinsurgency Plan (now named “Oplan Bayanihan”) against the Communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas and other revolutionary groups led by the National Democratic Front. They are aided by government-established “force multipliers” such as Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVO), police auxiliary units, and the notorious Citizens’ Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), whose members double as agents of local warlords.  Scrapping peace-talks with the insurgents while astutely temporizing with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerillas (with U.S. and Malaysian mediators), Aquino’s coercive surveillance and enforcement apparatus obeys the privatization-deregulation policy/ideology of finance capital, resulting in severe unemployment, rampant corruption, widespread poverty and brutal repression.

U.S. imperial hegemony manifests itself in the unlimited use of Philippine territory by U.S warships and military through the Visiting Forces Agreement and other treaties. This has allowed hundreds of U.S. Special Forces, CIA and clandestine agencies to operate in helping the AFP-PNP counterinsurgency plan–such as bombing and strafing communities of peasants and indigenous communities that are protesting mining by foreign corporations. From 2001 to 2010, the U.S. provided over $507 million military assistance (report by Jerry Esplanada, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 31 Oct 2011).  Part of this grant was spent in civic action projects reminiscent of the U.S.-CIA schemes during the anti-Huk pacification campaign under Ramon Magsaysay’s presidency.

An observer of recent elections in the Philippines, Australian law professor Gill Boehringer addresses the “culture of impunity” and provides a background for the dehumanization of the regime’s critics:  “The Philippines is following the typical neo-liberal program whereby inequality worsens, hunger and poverty continue at high rates, citizens are driven overseas so their family may have better income while unemployment, under-employment and child labor remain significant problems… In a country with a a semi-feudal political-economic system generating a huge gap between rich and the masa [masses], the former will fight in every way possible to maintain the structure of social, political and economic relations–including relations of coercion, violence and state-corporate terror–which have made the Philippines a paradise for the wealthy and purgatory for the rest” (Karapatan Interview, 30 June 2013).

To keep the country underdeveloped, secure for investments by predatory multinational coporations, and safe from strikes and political dissent, the U.S. supports a tiny group of political dynasties and their retinue whose victory in periodic “democratic” elections, such as the one last May, guarantees the perpetuation of a society polarized into an impoverished majority and a privileged minority. Violence and a corrupt, inefficient court system underwrite the maintenance of a business-as-usual status quo for profit-making and legitimization of torture, kidnappings, assassinations, and other State crimes against citizens.

Since the 1986 fall of the Marcos dictatorship and its destruction of constitutional process and civil liberties, the volume and scope of human rights violations have jumped to staggering proportions. In 2011, for instance, Amnesty International stated: “More than 200 cases of enforced disappearances recorded in the last decade remained unresolved, as did at least 305 cases of extrajudicial execution (with some estimates ranging as high as 1,200). Almost no perpetrators of these crimes have been brought to justice” (Bulatlat, 20 May 2011).

The U.S. State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights in the Philippines for 2011 also confirmed the persistence of “arbitrary, unjlawful, and extrajudicial killings by national, provincial, and local government agents,” including “prisoner/detainee torture and abuse by security forces, violence and harassment against leftist and human rights activists by local security forces, disappearances, warrantless arrests, lengthy pretrial detentions, overcrowded and inadequate prison conditions,” and so on (U.S. State Dept., Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, 2011). The Human Rights Watch also affirmed that “hundreds of leftist politicians and political activists, journalists, and outspoken clergy have been killed or abducted since 2011″ (World Report 2011).

The highly credible NGO human rights monitor Karapatan documented the human-rights record of Aquino from July 2010 to April 30, 2013: 142 victims of extrajudicial killings, 164 cases of frustrated killing, 16 victims of enforced disappearances (Press Statement, 29 June 2013).  High profile cases of the killing of Father Pops Tenorio, Dutch volunteer Willem Geertman, botanist Leonardo Co, and environmentalists Gerry Ortega remain unresolved. Military officials like ex-General Jovito Palparan, Major Baliaga, and others linked by the courts to the kidnapping of Jonas Burgos, Sherley Cadapan and Karen Empeno remain at large.  Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez noted that the victims of State terror are “those who challenge inequality and oppression,” those who were displaced by logging and transnational mining companies, and those branded as sympathizers of the NPA by the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan which, to date, has yielded  137 extra-judicial murders and thousands of detained suspects (Press Statements, 16 January 2013;  29 June 2013).

Women stand out as the prime victims of the Aquino regime and patriarchal authority in general. They are discriminated and inferiorized by virtue of gender, caste, class and ethnicity (on women as caste, see Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Outlaw Woman, 2002).  In 2011, half of the 78 political detainees arrested by the Aquino regime were women. Since 2001, 153 women were targetted by extrajudicial assassins sponsored by the AFP-PNP. The Center for Women’s Research observed that women political prisoners suffer twice the violence experienced by men; they “are more vulnerable to intimidation, sexual harassment and abuse, as well as torture.” Former political prisoner Angie Ipong and the women members of the Morong 43 [health-care workers arrested by Arroyo's military in 2009] can attest to this” (Bulatlat 15 December 2011). The sixty-year old Ipong was arrested in March 2005 without warrant, blindfolded, and physically abused without relief for several days. After six years of obscene subjugation in different military stockades, Ipong was released by a regional trial court which dismissed the charges of double murder, double frustrated murder, and arson charges against her (see her personal testimony, A Red Rose for Andrea, 2012). Ipong’s case epitomizes the systematic degradation of women of all ages in Aquino’s tropical paradise of U.S. military ports, minerals, and versatile domestics.

As of December 31, 2012, there are 33 women political prisoners (of the total of 430) in the Philippines. Twelve are elderly, 45 are sick, and one is a minor. A significant number belong to ethnic or indigenous communities. They languish in jail branded as “enemies of the state,” charged with rebellion and all kinds of fabricated criminal charges. They suffer all kinds of torture, in particular sexual abuse and rape, perpetrated by their military and police captors. Many of them are human rights defenders or activists involved in advocacy for national sovereignty and genuine economic development for the poor and marginalized. Because they work for the deprived sectors of peasants, workers, urban poor, youth, and indigenous communities, they are accused of being supporters of the communists (the NPA is labelled a “terrorist” organization like the Abu Sayyaf, following U.S. State Dept. doctrine) to justify their illegal arrest and continuing detention in horrible quarters.

This article reveals only a tip of the monstrous iceberg of cruel and inhumane punishment inflicted on women by the neocolonial order. Because of space limitations, I can only select the following cases and urge everyone committed to justice and human dignity to demand their immediate release and indemnification for unspeakable afflictions suffered over the years.

1. Vanessa de los Reyes, 27 years old, critically wounded in an encounter with the military in Davao Oriental in May 2011; subjected to heavy interrogation, now under hospital arrest due to a spinal surgery resulting in body paralysis.

2. Maricon Montajes, 21 years old, a film student at the University of the Philippines; a photographer documenting peasant life; arrested in Batangas in June 2010; wounded by military gunfire; interrogated and abused.
3.  Charity Dino, 31 years old, a teacher and volunteer organizer of a peasant organization in Batangas. Detained for two weeks by the military, she was beaten up and subjected to electric shocks. She writes: “Worse, they undressed me and laughed at my nakedness and humiliation The torture was a nightmare… I was deprived of due process and condemned despite the lack of evidence. Working with the farmers is now a criminal act.  In jail, political prisoners are considered criminals. We are in detention cells with inmates charged with common crimes. This is part of the government’s modus operandi to hide political prisoners so they may claim that there are no political prisoners in the country today” (New Brunswick Media Coop, Canada; <http://nbmediacoop.org/2013/05/16/cupe-members-send-letters/&gt;)
4. Jovelyn Tawaay, 26 years old, accused of being a NPA guerilla; member of the Manobo tribe from Surigao Sur; charged with rebellion; forced to admit her guilt and convicted to suffer in jail for 12-14 years.
5.  Lucy Canda, 46 years old, also from Surigao Sur and convicted for being an NPA member, sentenced to 12-14 years in jail.
6.  Catherine Cacdac, 31 years old, Compostela Valley, Mindanao; abducted and kept for three months in military stockades; tortured for being an NPA member.
7.  Virgie Ursalino Baao, 25 years old, a farmer from Tayabas, Quezon; abducted by the military, detained and severely tortured; accused of being an NPA member.
8.  Gemma Carag, 39 years old, peasant organizer and educator from the University of the Philippines, Los Banos, Laguna; tortured for several days by the AFP and PNP in Sariaya, Quezon; accused of being an NPA member.
9.  Rhea Pareja, age unknown, volunteer teacher for the Adult Literacy Program of her sorority Kappa Epsilon in Mulanay, Quezon; tortured severely by paramilitary forces connected to the AFP and PNP; charged as an NPA member.
10.  Miguela Ocampo Peniero, 46 years old, farmer and community health worker; accused of being an NPA commander.
11.  Evelyn Legaspo Cabela, 53 years old, member of an organization of urban poor, Kadamay; arrested in Bae, Laguna, by the PNP, subjected to abusive interrogation and physical abuse; accused of illegal possession of firearms.
12.  Pastora Latagan Darang, 34 years old, member of Kadamay. Arrested and tortured by AFP-PNP and accused of murder, illegal possession of explosives.
13.  Jenny Canlas Cabangon, 27 years old, from San Pedro, Laguna; abusively interrogated by the AFP; accused of murder and illegal possession of firearms and explosives. After 4 years in jail, the court dismissed one murder charge, leaving two more murder charges for which she remains at Camp Bagong Diwa.
14. Marissa Espidido Caluscusin, 27 years old, from Antipolo City; arrested by the AFP-PNP for being a suspected NPA member, together with researchers for the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front.
15.  Moreta Alegre, 65 years old, farmer, the oldest woman political prisoner, from Sagay, Negros Oriental; sentenced (with her husband and son) to life imprisonment for alleged murder of one of the bodyguards of a local landlord; protested landgrabbing.
For the situation of other women political prisoners, please consult the websites of KARAPATAN and SELDA. Everyday, warrantless arrests and torture of activists are occurring as living conditions deteriorate. With the extra-judicial killing last March 4 of Cristina Morales Jose, a leader of Barug Katawhan (People Rise Up!), an organization of the survivors of the typhoon Pablo in Davao Oriental, it is probable that instead of crowding the filthy prisons and detention centers, the Aquino regime is resorting to outright extermination of protest leaders. If that is the case, it is urgent to appeal to international bodies.
The Cold War phenomenon of the “National Security State” seems to have morphed into the regime’s not so subtle fascist maneuver. Practically kept a secret from the public is Joint Order No. 14-2012 of the Department of National Defense and Department of the Interior and Local Government which lists the names of wanted communist leaders, allocating  four hundred sixty-six million eighty-thousand pesos (P466,088,000) as reward money for their capture. A bonanza for bureaucrats and officials of the AFP-PNP!   Under this order, Estelita Tacalan, a 60-year old  peasant organizer and rural health worker in Misamis Oriental was kidnapped by AFP-PNP agents on April 27. On May 7, the PNP announced that they have detained Tacalan for being listed in the Joint Order, and charged her with murder and arson (Karapatan Press Statement, 10  May 2013). Countless arrests and detentions have been made pursuant to this Order.
Women have proven to be the most vulnerable victim of such authoritarian measures, based on the history of torture and sexual abuse of political prisoners from the Marcos dictatorship to the Arroyo and Aquino regimes. In effect, the system has criminalized the radical anti-imperialist activism of women. As Catherine MacKinnon observed, these practices of sexual and reproductive abuse “occur not only in wartime but also on a daily basis in one form or another in every country in the world….widely permitted as the liberties of their perpetrators, understood as excesses of passion or spoils of victory, legally rationalized or officially winked at or formally condoned” (“Crimes of War, Crimes of Peace,” On Human Rights: The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 1993, New York, p. 87). In the Philippines, they are not legally rationalized or formally condoned by a regime that professes to abide by the UN Charter of Human Rights and all the other international covenants prohibiting the violations of human rights. But just the same, they are violated every day under the humanitarian flag of global free-market democracy, liberty and justice for all.–###
——______________________________________________________________________
E. SAN JUAN, Jr. is emeritus professor of Ethnic Studies, English and Comparative Literature; former fellow of WEB Du Bois Institute, Harvard University, and the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas; and previously a Fulbright professor of American Studies, Leuven University, Belgium. His recent books include  In the Wake of Terror (Lexington Books), Critique and Social Transformation (Mellen Books), and US Imperialism and Revolution in the Philippines (Palgrave). Thanks to Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, for valuable assistance in furnishing document, etc.

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AFTERWORD to forthcoming book BETWEEN EMPIRE AND INSURGENCY by E. SAN JUAN, Jr. (University of the Philippines Press)


DemoAFTERWORD to BETWEEN EMPIRE AND INSURGENCY: The Philippines in the New Millennium

by E. SAN JUAN, Jr.

The time has come for the disinherited classes to enter into the full concert of social life.
                –Isabelo de los Reyes

The re-election of Barack Obama to a second term as president of the United States signals a need to rethink the overpowering influence of that metropolis on the Philippines as formally an independent nation-state but in reality still a neocolonial domain of the declining Empire. The Obama presidency recently reasserted U.S. geopolitical power in Asia and the Pacific by reinforcing its troop and navy deployment in the Philippines in view of increasing tensions over territorial disputes in the China Sea and adjacent areas by multiple parties (China, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines).
Meanwhile, despite its weakened economic stature, the predominance of U.S.  media fashions and pedagogical norms enables the eclectic, neopragmatist style of Cultural Studies (CS) to deflect critical attention from urgent social problems: rampant pauperization of the majority of over a hundred million Filipinos, the endemic violation of human rights, ethnic/racial degradation of indigenous communities, the inferiorization of women, unprecedented ecological disasters, and the reduction of the whole nation-people to a globally subservient role: as supplier of cheap migrant labor (mainly women domestics) to the global capitalist market, including regional power-centers such as Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea. One may ask: can CS of Western provenance be reconfigured to serve a democratic and egalitarian constituency beyond that served by its traditional practitioners in Europe and North America? In brief, can CS establish a more democratic. egalitarian community of practitioners in both Global North and South?

For A Re-cognitive Mapping

A historical overview of its genealogy may be useful here. The academic discipline of CS originating from UK and refined in North America focuses on the complex relations of “power” and “knowledge” (knowledge-production) at a specific historical conjuncture (Seventies and Eighties). Its axioms include the rejection of Enlightenment modernity/progress, metanarratives (paradigms; world-views), and universals premised on the rational subject. Symptomatic of the alienation of Western intellectuals from technocratic market-society during the Cold War, CS reflects the crisis of finance/monopoly capitalism in its imperialist stage. It seeks to transcend reified systems  by way of privileging the differend or differance (Lyotard; Derrida), diffuse power (Foucault; Deleuze), life-world and quotidian life (Habermas; de Certeau) inspired by Nietzsche, Heidegger, Freud, and Saussure.
To be sure, that epitomizing portrait elides nuances, shades, and subtle differences immanent in CS’s complex history and theoretical lineage which has been fully surveyed in Chris Barker’s Cultural Studies Theory and Practice (2003), among others. But the main thrust coincides with his central narrative. Barker traces CS’s trajectory from the Gramscianism of Stuart Hall and early progenitors, Raymond Williams and E.P. Thompson, to the post-structuralist moment signalled by Laclau and Mouffe’s articulation theory and Tony Bennett’s deployment of Foucault’s notion of “governmentality.”  Taking account of critiques of discourse-oriented CS, Barker notes the multiperspectival approaches proposed by Jim McGuigan (1996) and Douglas Kellner (2006) as well as the attendant cultural policy debates. Overall, cultural politics centered on the struggle over and within meaning, difference, articulation, representation, and so on, away from a dialectical organon of political economy (Rochberg-Halton 1986) or a totalizing realist critique of global-capitalist culture (for example, Ebert 2009).
Qualifications can be inserted here. In his recent introduction to A Companion to Cultural Studies, Toby Miller has assured us that today an “organic disciplinarity” among the humanities, arts, sciences, and communication/media studies is thriving due to CS practitioners who blend political economy and CS. CS combines the humanities’ criteria of quality and meaning with the social sciences’ focus on socio-political norms. Miller’s prognosis of  the future of CS’ “nimble, hybrid approach,” addressing the vital question of who benefits, who complains, and for whose good is culture, functions as a countervailing riposte to my reservations (2006, xxii-xxiii).
On the other hand, Chris Rojek cautions against reliance on statistics and innovative technologies. Privileging personal experience, on-location practice, embodiment, emplacement and context, he revalidates the study of ideology, coding, theming and representation. Rojek believes CS has gone successfully beyond the issues of national/popular (Gramsci), textual/representational (Williams; Althusser), Global/Post-Essentialism (Hall; Lyotard), and Governmentality/Policy (Foucault, Bennett) and returned to “culturally enmeshed” personal experience (2007, 5). His foregrounding the themes of culture as hegemonic authority (elite narratives of legitimation) and as agency of resistance and opposition by the oppressed dovetails with my own emphasis here on the inequality of power among cultural regions/blocs, the power imbalance encapsulated in the overdetermined dynamics of uneven-and-combined development pervading the Global South as contrasted with the Global North. Both Miller and Rojek forecast a renaissance of CS, one I would eagerly concur with provided that the preoccupation with the “field of cultural production” and consumption or the “market of symbolic goods” (to use Pierre Bourdieu’s terms) does not expunge the power of the economy and the political apparatuses/institutions that traverse both interacting field and market (Bourdieu 1993).

Triangulating the Terrain

Orthodox CS identifies modernity with capitalism, hence its postmodernist temper. The principle of indeterminacy, undecidability or contingency seems to reign supreme. Despite acknowledging the historicity of the discipline, postmodernist academics (Geertz, Grossberg, Clifford) give primacy to “the flow of social discourse” and the “essentially contestable” genealogy of culture. Engaged with the singularity of events centering on love, sentiments, conscience, and the existential or ethical moment in order to “bring us in touch with strangers,” with Others, postmodern CS seeks to interrogate the foundational aims of linguistics (Jakobson), psychoanalysis (Freud), philosophy (Kant, Hegel) and  political economy (Marx) by substituting  the ambivalence, contingency, and hybridity of “lived experience” for labor/social praxis as the focus of investigation. Focused on what escapes language and discursive ratiocination, CS  has fallen into the dualism it ritualistically condemns, complete with the mystique of a neoliberal individualism enabled by presumably value-free, normative “free market” absolutism–either Stuart Cunningham’s (1993) social democratic citizenship or Richard Rorty’s neopragmatic conformism (2007).

Anti-foundationalism and anti-metanarrativity distinguish orthodox CS operating on a neopositivist, nominalist (as contradistinguished from a critical realist) platform. Rejecting classical scientific reason, CS refuses any grounding in political action for system-change deemed as a perversion of knowledge for the ends of power. Valuing negative critique as an antidote to ideology, CS leads up to a fetishism of the Void, the deconstructive “Sublime” as a substitute for a thoroughgoing critique of the authority of received values and institutions. Decentered authority eludes materialist critique. By various ruses of irony, uncanny cynicism and “sly mimicry,” It ends up apologizing for the status quo. Anti-authoritarianism is trivialized in careerist anecdotes,  and CS becomes reduced to conferences and publicity about fantasies of truly radical, subversive social movements. Such observations have been made already by others (Denning 1992; Jameson 1993), lately by Paul Smith (2006) and Simon During (2010), but I recast them with a more anti-ethnocentric provocative edge in the wake of the 2008 collapse of finance-capital and the abortive “Occupy Wall Street” insurrection.
Are we trapped in some mirror-stage of CS’ postmodern self-reflexiveness? Submerged and eventually displaced, the critical dimension of CS drawn  from Western Marxism (Gramsci, Althusser, Barthes, Frankfurt Critical Theory) seems to have disappeared in the neoconservative tide that began with Reagan/Thatcher in the Eighties. This neoconservatism unfortunately continues to this day under the slogan of the “global war on terrorism.” Meanwhile, attention to racism, gender, sexism and other non-class contradictions, particularly in the colonized and peripheral formations, sharpened with the Civil Rights struggles in the US, the youth revolt, and the worldwide opposition to the Vietnam war and the current if precarious hegemony of the Global North. Sub-Commandante Marcos and Osama bin laden are gone, but the furies of the Syrian civil war and the Islamic explosions in Libya, Egypt, and Mali portend sharper political and socioeconomic catastrophes.
Toward a Conjunctural Transition

Establishment or mainstream CS today (notwithstanding the qualifications cited earlier) focuses preponderantly on consumption, audience response, Deleuzian desire, affects, irony, together with a refusal to interrogate systematically neoliberal ideology, the culture industry, and the unequal division of social labor throughout the planet. For all its sharp critical insights, Simon During’s (2010) expurgated version of CS  retreats to a nostalgic individualism whose innocence about the bloody origins of democracy in chattel slavery and booty colonialism vitiates its denunciation of capitalism’s excesses.  However, heterodox versions of CS invoke Simone de Beauvoir, Fanon, CLR James, W.E.B.Du Bois, Rosa Luxemburg, Paulo Freire and other “third world” activists in an effort to renew its original vocation of contributing to fundamental structural transformation. Its retooled notion of “specific intellectuals” addressing a “conjunctural constituency”  may call attention to the need to address state violence and hegemonic apparatuses of public control and repression already foreshadowed by Foucault’s disciples engaged in feminist and anti-racist campaigns.
The Philippines as a neocolonial social formation remains singular in having gone through at least three epochs of subjugation by Western powers. The Spaniards ruled the country from 1561 to 1899, disciplining the natives to the normative operations of theocratic Catholicism; from 1899 to 1946, the United States “Americanized” the christianized natives and Muslims, installing a cacique or oligarchic democracy based on a hegemonic bloc of feudal warlords, compradors, and bureaucrat capitalists (Agoncillo & Alfonso 1967; Constantino  1975).  While the Japanese troops conquered the Philippines in 1942, their instrumentalist Pan-Asian “Co-Prosperity Sphere” failed to de-Westernize the majority except for some elite collaborators whose opportunism dates back to the days of William McKinley’s “Benevolent Assimilation.”  With the return of U.S. control in 1945 and its refunctioning as the master-tutor behind the scenes, especially after suppressing the Communist-led Huk uprisings in the late forties and early fifties, the United States continues to exercise paramount influence in the state ideological apparatuses, esp. education, mass media, security agencies, etc. Cultural policies and research in the Philippines virtually replicate or imitate those in the US, even including the influence of the Indian subaltern historians on local scholars (in particular, Reynaldo Ileto) filtered through their English-speaking (Australian; Singaporean) disciples.
The publication of Chen Kuan-hsing’s Asia As Method: Toward Deimperialization (2010) has been hailed as a breakthrough toward reorienting CS toward a recovery of its original roots in left-wing radicalism. He calls for decolonization, de-imperialization and “de-Cold War” of knowledge production. His colleague Prasenjit Duara praises Chen’s project of re-inventing Asia as “desiring imagination,” no longer a mere cartographic identity but a “transcendent signifier, partly taking the place of disappointed ideals from the Enlightenment such as communism, nationalism and democracy, which in turn took over the role of religious transcendence, at least for intellectuals. In a transcendent position, Asia allows us to imagine a different future, one which can draw selectively from global historical resources in order to shape a more just society” (2011). I hope the hubris of this Asian-izing “method” will overcome the barbaric legacies of “Orientalism” and imperialism that Edward Said (1994) tried to expose and extirpate throughout his life.
To be sure, who would refuse an interdependent and integrated Asia as a product of “critical syncretism”? So far this target subject-position is not located on any physical map, as yet, since its ideal-typical status elevates it into a Messianic end-goal. It seems to be a prophetic metaphor or trope for the good, true and beautiful. Syncretism can go any which way, depending on who has command of the whole research program and resources for implementation.  Moreover, isn’t this reconfiguration of a heterogeneous network of cultures, peoples, histories a throwback to the stigmatized totalization syndrome (alias metanarratives, essentialism, logocentrism, etc.) that mainstream CS scholars have rejected from the start? Let there be no mistake; personally I appreciate Chen’s criticism of all the evils condensed in colonialism and imperialist Cold War realpolitik, including the triumphalism of the ”Asian Tigers.” However, other countries cannot be so easily conflated tout court with Taiwan or Singapore. As many commentators (among others, William McCord 1996) have discerned, the economic leap of Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea to “tigerhood” was enabled by the draconian tactics of the Cold War and the despotic bureaucrats-technocrats of each society which ironically established the breeding-ground for their cosmopolitan dissidents. Shouldn’t the critical method of these intellectuals now address the excesses of their respective sub-imperialist bourgeoisie as well as their patrons in Washington DC and the Pentagon?

Filipino Exceptionalism?

Like Bangladesh or Indonesia, the Philippines was left behind when those “Tigers” took off in the late sixties; Philippine per capita GNP is scarcely a tenth of Taiwan in the last decade (Chant & McIlwaine 1995, 46) and far far behind affluent Hong Kong and Singapore. Two revolutionary movements of long standing, the 40-year old New People’s Army insurgency, and the more massive Moro guerilla groups (after years of fierce resistance, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has forced the government to negotiate), have effectively challenged the neocolonial State with its U.S. backers (San Juan 2008b).  Overall, the Philippines functions as a parodic image of Taiwan. Precisely because Chen’s putative model is Taiwan (by extension, Singapore) for reconstituting a new collective subjectivity, this paradigm-shift should give us pause and open up more dialectical, self-reflexive dialogues. Otherwise, it will just be self-serving rhetoric designed to coax token recognition of their uncanny symbolic capital from their sponsors in the Global North.  Here I can imagine Chen charging me guilty of Nietzschean ressentiment and even petty-bourgeois bad faith.
My personal memories of visiting Taiwan on more than half a dozen occasions (as lecturer at the Academia Sinica and other universities) have always confirmed Taiwan’s position as a wealthy industrializing country on par with its neighbors South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore, with their variegated sub-imperialist policies. In Taiwan’s airport, one cannot miss the long lines of bedraggled Filipino and Thai workers hired by Taiwanese companies as cheap migrant labor. My visit to a prison outside Taipei showed the barbaric condition in which Filipino, Indonesian and African workers with visa problems were treated. Flor Contemplacion, the domestic worker unjustly hanged in Singapore in 1995, continues to be a rallying point (together with numerous victims of Japanese and Hong Kong employers) for Filipino nationalism.
While Chen’s valorization of local knowledge and mass mobilizations within what Habermas calls “public sphere” is salutary, his apriorist rejection of all nationalisms (classified into nativism and civilizationism) without historical specificity and ethical nuancing contradicts precisely his wish that “societies in Asia can become each other’s points of reference” (2010, 212). This is a noble ideal of regional harmony and ecumenical cooperation, but it flies in the face of the injustice of “uneven-and-combined development”  fully theorized by Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, David Harvey, etc. and substantively documented in all non-Establishment critical discourse on globalization (for a recent example, see Medley and Carroll 2011; also Hoogvelt 1997; Jameson and Miyoshi 1999). The not so hidden trade wars, disputes over immigration, and territorial conflicts attest to the fact that Asia as “desiring imagination” remains a transcendental aspiration.
In Chen’s utopianesque Asia, the Philippines looms behind as a weird specter, an enigmatic sport. While geographically located in Asia, the Philippines has not exactly fitted the subalternist, homogenizing paradigm of Asia that Global North theorists such as Gayatri Spivak, Aihwa Ong and Rey Chow have privileged in their mandarin discourses about transnationalization and cosmopolitanism. The uncomfortable reason is that the Philippines remains a neocolony of the imperial powers, chiefly the United States and subimperial allies (Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore) and thus evokes the ghosts of nineteenth and early 20th century aborted or coopted revolutions.

A Return to Foundations?

One of the early inspiring slogans of CS is Raymond Willliam’s statement, “culture and education are ordinary” (1989, 18), culture grasped as lived experience and institutions cognized as “structures of feeling.” CS pioneers intended to “view the whole complex of social change from the point of culture, ‘to make intelligible the real movement of culture as it registered in social life, in group and class relations, in politics and institutions, in values and ideas” (Macey 2000, 77). The focus on the theme of change and transformation entails cognitive historicizing maneuvers.  Like any global trend, CS can be adapted to Philippine situations (in short, “Filipinized”) by the creative application of its original critique of ideology, the demystification of structural norms or “common sense” habits in official and mass/popular cultures as contingent, complicit with particularistic interests and power blocs.
Various forms of CS, as mediated by “subalternists” and other “third world” conduits, have influenced Filipino cultural critics and historians concerned with the marginalized Others (peasants, women, gays and lesbians, religious and ethnic communities, etc.). But except for the Latin American “theology of liberation” as a form of CS, they have all wrongly assumed that the Philippines is no longer a neocolonial, dependent formation, replete with diverse contradictions centering on the oligarchic-comprador domination of the majority of the people (workers, peasants, middle strata, Moros and other indigenous groups). The question of a singular Filipino modernity—genuine national sovereignty, autonomous individuals free from Spanish or American tutelage, a public sphere inhabiting the zone between state and civil society—persists as a problematic site of contestation. This is so despite attempts to muddle and transmogrify it by insidious postmodernist mystifications legitimized by the illusory promise of emancipation by avid consumption and participation in the Internet’s pleasure-filled Celebrity bazaar. In a way, CS’ openness to populist eclecticism has almost displaced the omnipresent profit-centered culture industry, valorizing subcultures and kitsch that undergirds the consumerist ethos and allows the hegemonic power bloc to dictate the “laws” of the “free market” (the stakes are spelled out in Storey 1993).
Clearly what is needed is a selective appropriation of CS methods and repertoire of interdisciplinary tools in consonance with the project of decolonization and national liberation in the Philippines. To be sure, this is not a new order or discovery. One of my students, Virgilio Enriquez (1977) initiated such a process in psychology by situating the essentially behavioristic discipline of U.S. provenance in the crisis of the Sixties which culminated in the brutal Marcos dictatorship supported by the United States. Inspired by “third world” resistance in IndoChina, Latin America and Africa in the Sixties and early Seventies, Enriquez was catalyzed by the nationalist resurgence of the Fifties spearheaded by Senators Claro Recto and Lorenzo Tanada, by historians Teodoro Agoncillo and Renato Constantino, and Marxist intellectuals such as Jose Lansang, Amado V. Hernandez, and Jose Maria Sison. After surveying the limits of cross-cutural experiments in psychology during the Cold War, Enriquez
urged that “psychology has to be rewritten so as to reflect the different bodies of psychological knowledge, formal or informal, found in the different cultures of the world” (1977, 15). At the same time, he underscored the need to use the local languages and cultures in constructing a flexible indigenizing theory, method and praxis suited to the historical needs of the community. The aim of this emergent Filipino CS is not alien to the standards of Eurocentric humanities and social sciences: generalizability of findings and testable, fallibilistic hypotheses applicable to the urgent problems of the working masses (San Juan 2006; 2008).
Enriquez’ theoretical strategy (by hypothesis and induction) was not entirely unprecedented in the Filipino setting. The exemplars of what I consider the inventors of Filipino cultural studies—Jose Rizal (in “The Indolence of Filipinos” and “The Philippines a Century Hence”), Isabelo de los Reyes (folklore and ethnic studies), countless vernacular novelists, poets, and playwrights; and memoir-writers (Mabini, veterans of 1896 and the Huk uprising)—applied criticial principles derived from Europe to the specific political and socioeconomic situations in the colony/neocolony. In the process, the power/knowledge complex acquired concrete elaboration in terms of how “everyday life”—culture as ordinary habits or patterns (Raymond Williams)–cannot escape its over-determination by the historical institutions and practices imposed by the colonial powers and mediated by regional/local ruling blocs. Time and space offer intelligible meanings by way of the contradictions between the colonial/neocolonial hegemonic institutions and the acceptance/resistance of the colonized natives. Such meanings can be found in the narratives of individuals/collectives in which the notion of subjectivity defined by various levels of contradictions (Filipino versus American, patriarchal power versus women, “civilized” versus indigenous, etc.) can be discerned embedded in the totality of social relations at specific historical moments. I am thinking of a “knowable community” with institutions and habitual practices and dispositions, constellations of power relations, not just a “structure of feeling” constituted by heterogeneous experiences.

From Method to Praxis

The Filipino national hero Jose Rizal is distinguished for engaging in a polemical CS that harnessed historically situated ethnography for political ends. He was not infected with the value-free claim of Weberian inquiry. His essay “On the Indolence of Filipinos” recounted the testimonies of Spanish explorers and witnesses to demonstrate the incommensurable gap between the past and the present, arguing that colonial subjugation stood in between. Anatomizing the cause of the lethargic body politic is only a propaedeutic for invoking a cure: “The lack of national sentiment brings with it another evil, which is the absence of opposition to any of the measures that are harmful to the people and the non-existence of any intiative for their own good. The man in the Philippines is a mere individual, and not a member of a nation. He is deprived of, and denied the right of association, and thus he is weak and motionless” (1979, 83; for elaboration on Rizal’s historical dialectics, see San Juan 2011). The historian Ambeth Ocampo (1998) ascribes an intuitive prophetic rigor to Rizal’s method of suturing of past and present strands of Philippine history in order to mobiize the victims and reconstitute them as thinking subjects. Critique combines with analysis to produce a partisan CS, a generator of a liberatory agency, a “conscienticized” (to use Paulo Freire’s term) transformative subject.
Another specimen of early Filipino CS (mediated through folklore) may be found in Isabelo de los Reyes’ inventory of local habits and practices in Ilocos during the latter part of Spanish rule. As Benedict Anderson sums it up, Reyes’ ethnology had three aims: 1) provoke a local cultural renaissance among the colonized natives; 2) subvert the dominance of the reactionary Church; and 3) engage in political self-criticism.  Anderson describes this latter task:

Isabelo wrote that he was trying to show, through his systematic display of el saber popular, those reforms in the ideas and everyday practices of the pueblo that must be undertaken in a self-critical spirit. He spoke of his work as being about “something much more serious than mocking my paisanos, who actually will learn to correct themselves once they see themselves described.” In this light, folklore would be a mirror held up before a people, so that, in the future they could move steadily along the road toward human emancipation.  It is clear, then, that Isabelo was writing for one and a half audiences: Spanish, whose language he was using, and his own pueblo, whose language he was not using, and of whom only a tiny minority could read his work” (2005, 20).

Reyes was not just an adventurous eclectic scholar. He was imprisoned for his sympathy with the masses who demanded independence, expulsion of the friars, and basic civil rights. He participated vigorously in European progressive and anarchist propaganda when he was released from the Barcelona prison. What needs to be recalled here, aside from the intertextuality of Reyes’ discourse, is his involvement in the popular revolution against Spain, his alliance with Father Gregorio Aglipay to form a grass-rooted popular-national church, and his efforts as journalist and public intellectual to organize the first militant unions with a socialist program during the early American occupation. His practice of folkloric-directed CS was an outgrowth and response to the position of the organic intellectual active in the daily mobilization of the masses, in sustained pedagogical and agitational activities, addressing and interacting with both the local public and an international multilingual audience (for another appraisal of Reyes’ career, see Mojares 2006).

The Centrality of Language

Both Reyes and Jose Rizal wrote in Spanish in order to appeal to the  Filipino ilustrado (educated) class and the Spanish-speaking world. That was a deliberate communication strategy. Learning Spanish was a divisive tactic of dividing the ruled; the American colonial administrators pursued the same policy, with the English language (as medium of business and government) separating the nationalist generation of Rizal and Reyes from a new generation whose mentalities would promote individualist competition and a consumerist ethos. Speaking English would function as symbolic capital both for assimilation to the colonial order and separation from the proletarian and plebeian masses.
In Philippine CS, English versus the vernacular languages, more precisely the evolving Filipino lingua franca, becomes symptomatic of the whole field of culture as fraught lived experience (San Juan 2007b). Indigenizing psychological inquiry, as Enriquez found out, required giving primacy to the vernacular, the speech-acts of public and private language-games.  The question of language assumes primacy because intellectual discourse and exchanges cannot sidetrack the problem of conversing with and influencing the larger public. Democratizing the means of communication is an integral part of the process of overthrowing the oligarchic elite and the reproduction of class and gender inequality. Such a public needs to be developed by the pedagogical program of an evolving CS curriculum responsive to disenfranchised speakers and inferiorized learners/practitioners. The prevalence of English as an elite marker/imprimatur of privileged status will prevent a dialogic public sphere from emerging. Linked to this is the position of a plebeian, vernacular culture which has always radicalized CS by eliminating the divide between the elite/canonical culture and the marginalized culture of impoverished peasants and workers–the majority of citizens. Control of the means of communication and agencies of dissemination needs to be addressed as well as the participation of a wider public in academic dialogues and other intellectual exchanges.
The lesson is clear.  CS, if it aspires to actualize its critical transformative potential for specific socioeconomic formations, needs to address consistently the salient economic-political contradictions of each society within a differentially, asymmetrically ordered planet. In the Philippines if not in other peripheral formations of the Global South, the neoliberal market ideology that pervades everyday life militates against the growth of a critical sensibility and the development of the faculties of the species. The inordinately toxic effect of consumerism and the spectacle has consigned what Jacques Ranciere (2006) calls “the distribution of the sensible” to a police order determining those included and excluded.  In this damaged milieu, CS needs to focus its analytic instruments on the commodification of the life-world and everyday life by the culture industries and international agencies of the oligopolistic capitalist order. In the Philippines, the unprecedented diaspora of domestics and overseas contract workers around the world constitutes the prime specimen for empirical inquiry and structural critique (see, for example, Anderson 2000; Aguilar 2000; San Juan 2007b). This involves not only the symbolic violence of language use but also the material violence of hunger, disease, State-sanctioned torture and extra-judicial killings in a “culture of impunity.”

Problematizing Knowledge-Production

We are challenged by both the obscurantist legacies of the past and the humanitarian emergencies of the present. In a critique mainly focused on the aborted promise of academic CS, it is neither wise nor propitious to describe in detail what the adaptation–or indigenization, if you like–of a Eurocentric paradigm would look like attuned to the needs and demands of neocolonized subjects in the Global South. Parts of that description may be examined in my previous works (San Juan 1996;  2000; 2009). It would certainly require a longer, sustained mapping of the sociopolitical terrain of six decades after the Philippines’ formal independence in 1946. A political economy of group consensus and habits of belief such as, for example, the inventory of contradictions drawn up by social scientist Kenneth Bauzon (1991), would be useful to calculate the scale and degree of continued Filipino mimicry of technocratic social-engineering models to perpetuate inequity, clientelist subservience to foreign corporations, and starkly unsustainable exploitation by transnational capital and its autocratic agencies.
My task here is circumscribed: to indicate in broad strokes the limitations and inadequacies of CS’ pedagogical framework for subjugated, dependent constituencies of the Empire.  It is foolhardy to undertake this task until we have cleared up crucial theoretical hurdles. The first is the problem of naming the would-be candidates for nation-forming agency. Obviously the identification of “Filipino” and “Filipino nation” proceeds experimentally, pursuing an unsettled and intractable course. The narrative script constituting the nation remains sedimented in fragments of scenarios from memory, customary rituals, idiomatic speech-acts, recursive practices. At best we can only handle the “interpretants” (construed in Charles Sanders Peirce’s semiotic perspective) of those signifiers provisionally, until the coordinates are specified. This is so because not only the existence of heterogeneous components of that hypothetically signified subject-position labeled “Filipino” remains to be verified and agreed upon, but also because the whole ethos (moral, aesthetic, evaluative) of Filipino culture, not to speak of its cognitive and existential aspects, remains inchoate, susceptible of diverse inflections, suspended in the undecided battlefields of an ongoing national-democratic, anti-imperialist revolution. Mutating modes of inclusion and exclusion of group actors prevail. We can only stipulate our parameters of discourse in the light of what has been accomplished so far in liberating ourselves, commodified and reified subjects, from imperialist political, sociocultural, economic strangleholds.

Beyond Populist Identity Talk

For now, suffice it to remark on the need to adhere to the axiom of historical specificity (Korsch 1971) and a measure of radical hope in defining such parameters. Above all, the question of ideology and the political economy of knowledge-production cannot be ignored. We cannot escape both the rules of our own communities and that of the totalizing diplomatic-technological state apparatuses of empire that modify, coopt  and sublimate those rules. The uncharted laws (call them trends or tendencies) of motion of interlocked asymmetrical nation-states cannot be dismissed as simply reactive or aprioristic.
In this light, as already mentioned, Enriquez’s project of inventing sikolohiyang Pilipino during the nationalist resurgence of the 1960s and early 1970s was both spontaneous and expected. It may be symptomatically read as a culmination of all previous decolonizing initiatives (from Rizal and the Propagandistas to Recto, Constantino, and Sison) to articulate a program and world-view for the masses struggling for social justice, popular democracy, and genuine independence.  It was institutionally predictable but also serendipituous and prefigured by the militant intellectuals mentioned earlier.
An analogous clarification can be offered for the roles that Filipino historians adopted before, during, and after the Marcos dictatorship. While inspired by Indian subalternist historians (laboring under the aegis of post-structuralist theory) to de-center what was perceived as bourgeois-oriented chronicles (such as those by Teodoro Agoncillo and Renato Constantino), the postmodernist scholar Rafael Ileto (1998) succeeded to some extent in re-valorizing the role of popular culture (the pasyon, etc.) and other marginal practices in the construction of a “non-linear” narrative of Filipino events before and after the 1896 revolution. It is doubtful whether Agoncillo or Constantino really pursued a linear, one-directional bias.
Nevertheless, this revisionist method of invoking the input of the plebeian masses is not an original “native” discovery. Even before the late-twentieth century diaspora, the Filipino intelligentsia (such as Rizal, Reyes, and others) has been open-minded,  highly susceptible to global influences. Subalternist historiography is the product of a long record of countering the positivist, Comte-Rankean version of historicism, from the British social-history tradition (Samuel 1981) to the French Annales school and its evolutionist/functionalist offshoot in the Alfred McCoy-Ben Kerkvliet interventions in re-writing Philippine history in a more sophisticated way than Stanley Karnow’s apologetic product, In Our Image (1989).
Meanwhile, the Marcos Establishment chronicler Zeus Salazar tried to retool Enriquez’s sikolohiya by purging it of its liberatory impulse and anchoring a populist version of the past in an evolving Filipino idiom via his pantayong pananaw scheme. It may be premature to judge the reformist efficacy of this effort in rehabilitating the fields of local historiography and moribund anthropology. Salazar’s disciples seem resigned to the Cold War-era patronage system of the post-Marcos order, ensconced in the commerce of fabricating idiosyncratic terminology for neoconservative, even reactionary, purports and goals.

We Versus They?

The problem of thematizing local knowledge offers both theoretical and political conundrums.  Ramon Guillermo (2003) has provided us a useful inventory of Salazar’s heroic effort, together with proposals for improving its method and scope. But both Salazar and Guillermo have so far sidestepped the fundamental issue (which transcends the old emic/etic binary) of how the notion of rationality–communicative action, in another framework–central to the intellectual metier of a global community of scientific inquirers to understand and appraise cultures can be surpassed or transcended. This issue has been elaborated in the volume Rationality (Wilson 1970)—just to cite one compilation–in which a survey of the conflicting arguments prompted Alasdair MacIntyre’s observation that “the understanding of a people in terms of their own concepts and beliefs does in fact tend to preclude understanding them in any other terms” (1970, 130). One-sidedness cannot be corrected by simply inverting the poles of the binary grid, or establishing a pseudo-reconciliatory equilibrium.
MacIntyre does not fully endorse the functionalist view that institutions must be grasped not in terms of what they mean for the agents, but in terms of what necessary needs and purposes they serve; however, he does not fully agree with Peter Winch’s untenable belief that communities can only be properly understood and judged in terms of their own internally generated norms and beliefs–a proposition that pantayong pananaw advocates seem to favor, despite earnest denials (see Sta. Maria 2000).  But obviously responsibility cannot be shirked in the face of brutal consequences in actual everyday life.
The problem is one of rigidly counterposing interpretation (subjectivist) and explanation (objectivist) without any dialectical mediation. Even assuming that isolated communities in a capitalist-gobalized world is possible, long after Max Weber took time off from “value-free” pursuits to distinguish explanation from interpretation, proponents of the primacy of hermeneutic understanding still need the benefit of analytic explanation if they want to avoid circularity and self-serving solipsism. After all, why bother understanding Others? Oppositional American thinkers such as Marcus Raskin, Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, Bill Fletcher Jr., Peter McLaren, as well as Critical Race Theory activists, have begun to engage with the antinomies of knowledge-production faced earlier by the British in the context of the challenges of the postmodern era (Raskin 1987), an engagement coopted by the post-9/11 debates on terrorism, Islamophobia, and other alibis of Empire.
My own position strives to be a historical-materialist stance that privileges multidetermined specificity and counterhegemonic imperatives on the question of adapting ideas originating from other sources (San Juan 2007). This is not the same as the multiperspectivist metatheoretical approach suggested by Douglas Kellner (2006) far removed from the arenas of life-and-death struggles.  In my view, language is only one of the criteria for hypothesizing the nation as “imagined community,” more precisely the nation conceived as a solidarity actualized or performed in communal practices and communicative acts. However, the quest becomes more problematic when the language at issue, “Filipino” based on Tagalog, is still a matter disputed by other participants of the polity such as disgruntled Cebuanos, assorted Moro groups, and by the U.S.-fixated English-speaking intelligentsia and bureaucracy.
More seriously, it is not possible to conceive of the notions of “pantayo”  and “pangkami”  without the whole dynamic network of differences first outlined by Saussure but complicated by the wide-ranging semiotic modalities explored by C.S. Peirce, Lev Vygotsky, Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, and Roman Jakobson, far beyond the findings of Whorf, Sapir, Humboldt, Frobenius, etc. The linguistic symbol, as Jakobson reminds us, is not only a vehicle of the sedimented past (icons) or the present (indices) but also of the future. He quotes Peirce’s speculation premised on the triadic theory of the sign: “The being of a symbol consists in the real fact that something surely will be experienced if certain conditions be satisfied….The value of a symbol is that it serves to make thought and conduct rational and enables us to predict the future” (1987,427). Categories (concepts) are generals subsisting in the domain of potency, realizable intentions in the horizon of possibiity. A CS research program based on Peirce’s semiotics with its drive toward a coherent and concrete reasonableness appears as a more promising alternative to the current deconstructivist (Deleuze, Lyotart) and neopragmatic (Rorty) alternatives, or the  moralizing biographical excursion suggested by patrician sage, Fred Inglis (1993), at the tail-end of the Cold War and the advent of the Middle East conflagration.
Language is, to be sure, only one signifier of national identity, not an absolute qualifier, whose correlation with other practices and collective actions needs delicate orchestration (Yinger 1976, 200-02). Earlier (San Juan 2008), I registered my discomfort with the logocentric tendency in Enriquez’s otherwise conscientious indigenization attempt. In the total program of liberating the majority of Filipinos (workers, peasants, women) from market exploitation and alien oppression, an emancipatory platform should prioritize the act of foregrounding democratic national rights and collective welfare. Hence we need an internationalist worldview such as that provided by a dialectical, historical materialist theory (Marxism articulated, of course, to our specific conditions) with its universalistic, critical position grounded on a “concrete universal,” with all the richness of the particular social-formation in the Philippines, in creating a sense of Filipino nationhood (Lowy 2000).
We can begin to hypothesize with more intelligibility the linguistic parameters of this indigenization project if viewed as part of a global ecumenical conversation on intercultural understanding.  Filipinizing CS thus requires not merely linguistic readjustment but, more importantly, reconceiving the sense of rationality, justice, equality and democratic participation that cannot be circumscribed within the bounds of a single Filipino language-in-the-making. This reconceptualization involves reconstructing habits of conduct geared toward “concrete reasonableness” (Peirce 1998) within a humanist-socialist framework, utilizing versatile modes of translation/transcoding to induce broad participatory dialogue with the majority of citizens.
My firm conviction is that no indigenization project in the Philippines will fully succeed unless it includes a program of systematic decolonization, particularly an uncompromising indictment of U.S. colonialism/neocolonialism in its totality, together with its complicit transnational allies. Neither postcolonial hybridity, managerial technocratic pragmatism, nor transnational pluralism and multiculturalism will do.  We need a measure of dialectical cunning and a bricoleur’s resourcefulness in taking advantage of what our forebears–Rizal, Mabini, Recto, Agoncillo, Constantino, Hernandez, and others–have already won for us. After all, the enemy can also speak in Filipino and even dance the tinikling and sing “Dahil sa Iyo” in more seductive, self-ingratiating ways. We need to combine specifics and universals in both strategic and tactical modalities that precisely cannot be learned at this time from institutionally entrenched CS and its postcolonial. transnationalist variations.

Alternative Resistance

A tentative summing-up is in order. Conceived as a reaction to capitalist high culture in the late twentieth century, CS initially challenged Cold War norms and the more flagrantly racist and sexist aspects of Western hegemony.  It promised a democratic, even radical, renaissance of thought and sensibility inside and outside the academy. Its early practitioners drew heavily from the secularizing Enlightenment  tradition and its radical critics. But when it became institutionalized in the Eighties and Nineties, CS distanced itself rapidly from mass political struggles in the metropoles and the “third world.” It reverted to ethical individualism, aestheticism, Nietzschean performative displays, and the fetishism of differences/hybridity, becoming in the process a defensive ideology for predatory finance capitalism and technocratic globalization. The reasons for the change are complex but comprehensible, as demonstrated by many commentators in numerous anthologies, among others Grossberg, Nelson and Treichler (1992), Storey (1996),During (1998), Miller (2006), and others.
At the outset of the millennium, Terry Eagleton registered his complaint against the postmodernist inflection of CS toward identity politics and other narrow culturalist concerns. He blames mainstream CS for its anti-universalism: “Cultural studies today, writes Francis Mulhern, ‘leaves no room for politics beyond cultural practice, or for political solidarities beyond the particularisms of cultural difference.’ It fails to see not only that not all political issues are cultural, but that not all cultural differences are political. And in thus subordinating issues of state, class, political organization” and the rest to banalizing pseudo-ethnographies, “it ends up rehearsing the prejudices of the very traditional Kulturkritik it rejects, which had little enough time itself for such mundane political matters” (2000, 43). This objection has been repeated often. If CS tried out, for example, Bourdieu’s (1984) attempt to dialectically fuse the hermeneutic (subjectivist) and structural (objectivist) approaches, perhaps the inflation of culture to encompass everything would have been prevented.  Or if the analysis of consumption of cultural products/practices took into account W.F. Haug’s (1986) theory of commodity aesthetics, the sphere of political economy would have been factored in the evaluation of pleasure, subjectivity, performative reception, etc. Situated in this wider context, our endeavor to indigenize EuroAmerican CS is not a campaign for multiculturalist identity politics but an attempt to renew its universalist impulse of demystification and humanist reclamation of creative agency, common-sensical rationality, and informed caring.
Should one hundred million Filipinos care about the plight of CS? If we want CS to be meaningful to the majority, not just the educated sector, it needs to address the urgent realities of Philippine society and contribute to the democratic and egalitarian ideals of its revolutionary history.   In the Philippines and other subordinated formations, CS can be regenerated by renewing its anticolonial, popular and democratic inspiration and re-engaging in a radical, transformative critique of oligopolistic corporate power, the legitimizing ideology of global finance capital and its commodified/commodifying culture.  It can endeavor to challenge US imperialism and its accomplices in its current modality of warring against “terrorism”or extremism (codewords for anti-imperialists) by returning to, first, the primacy of social labor; second, the complex historical articulations of the mode of production and social relations; and, third, the importance of the materialist critique of norms, assumptions and premises underlying existing inequalities, injustices, and oppressions.

Agendas and Prospects

We still have to reckon with the contradictions between the Global North and the Global South in view of the looming debt crisis in Europe, the antagonism toward Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela, and the continuing war on whoever the US State Department and NATO label as  “extremists.”  The shocking official policy of torture by many governments, and execution of citizens without trial, by unmanned drones and other clandestine ways, still remains terra incognita for future CS scholars (on questions of international law, see Orford 2010).
In the Asian geopolitical theater, we have to take into account an emergent nationalism in the People’s Republic of China in the wake of border conflicts with its neighbors, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines. In assessing the continuing hegemonic influence of the Western tradition, notwithstanding its dissenting faction in Frankfurt Critical Theory or Latin American liberation theology, Filipino thinkers and public intellectuals have to address the persistent domination of the whole society and culture by the inherited U.S. model of competitive individualism and market logic overlaid over a residual but sturdy feudal/authoritarian pattern of social interaction. This complex milieu cannot be ignored as simply socioeconomic or factored in as implicitly given parameters of discourse and exchange.
To Filipinize CS is to reconfigure the modality and thrust of CS (complicit in its origins with patriarchy and white supremacy) in order to address the persistent, urgent problems of the exploitation of Filipino labor worldwide, the lack of genuine sovereignty and national independence, and the profound class, gender and ethnic inequalities that have plagued the country for so long. What is needed is the invention of new forms of praxis of knowledge-production and pedagogy that can generate meaningful change based on justice, accountability, dignity and ecological sustainability.  Stephen Gill urges public intellectuals not to be constrained by “the horizons of necessity” that seek to limit thought to imperial and neoliberal common sense. Paraphrasing Gill’s recommendation, CS scholars “should operate according to ‘horizons of desire,’ collectively imagining to be desirable, necessary and possible what had previously been thought to be politically impossible” (2012, 520). Extrapolating this insight to the whole field of cultural production and its forms of habitus (as Bourdieu [1993] understood the discipline), intellectuals engaged in CS need to situate their practice and vocation in the actual conflicted society that underwrites their labor and provides it with some measure of intelligibility and significance. Otherwise, they will continue to serve the interests of global capital and undermine their own claims to integrity and independence, not to speak of “academic freedom,” humanistic ideals, and even the truth-claims or “warranted assertibility” of their pronouncements.

Epilogue

To enact a rediscovery of the quotidian and unyoke the repressed, allow me to reproduce here fin-de-siecle thoughts written in 1998 (see chapter 7 of my book After Postcolonialism). The compulsion to repeat may trigger a delayed recollection, an epiphany of my generation’s dream to complete the “unfinished” tasks of the Katipunan uprising, the Sakdal and Huk insurrections, as well as that of the First Quarter Storm of 1970.
The prospect of radical social change beckons for further exploration, replete with detours, beguiling traps, and blind alleys. Let us examine one of these traps, a Western view of these seductive islands now ready for commodification twice over, a view more blatantly patronizing than Hamilton-Paterson’s 1996 novel (Ghosts of Manila, uncanny avatar of Dan Brown’s Inferno and its stereotypical contagion) but no less instructive on the need for our thorough education in the dynamics of racial politics around the world which takes a deliberate cognitive mapping of class, gender, race, and nationalitarian themes.  Here is a passage by a British author, Simon Winchester, published in the tourist magazine Conde Nast Traveler.  Winchester visited the world-class Amanpulo resort on Pamalican Island in Palawan and muses on the fascinating intertextuality of signs (Baudrillard’s simulacra and hyper-real simulations):

The ending of island isolation has in general meant that the world’s wealthiest travellers are now being set down willy-nilly among the world’s poorest and most innocent people–a reality that seems likely to have a far more profound and lasting effect on the poor and innocent than on the wealthy and worldly…. I now receive regular letters from one of the girls who cleaned my room at Amanpulo.  She says she wants, more than anything in the world, to find an American man, to marry him, and to come live in New York City.  I write back to her: Mary-Jane, I say, you live in paradise but you just don’t know it.  Don’t even dream of coming here. Stay in a place where there has never been a crime committed, where everyone shares everything, where everyone looks after everyone else, where the weather is perfect, the air is clean, the sea is crystal clear….

If this is true, I would like to relocate our regular summer vacations to Amanpulo, Palawan, a few hundred miles from Manila, Brown’s gate to hell (which signifies New York? or Los Angeles?).  However, the point here is that this is a white Western optic, a mercantile mind-set claiming the superior anthropological and prophylactic knowledge about our surroundings, telling us (via Mary-Jane) what we have been missing all these years. Is this all we deserve, a deceptive mock-utopian image straight from the glossy tourist brochure? Or a premonition of the Abu Sayyaf soon to land on the islands and capture the Burnhams and their ill-fated companions?
Revolutionaries are not enemies of utopia, as Ernst Bloch has so passionately argued. On the contrary, the drive for, and even libidinal fixation on, the utopian is one of the strongest motivating forces for the radical transformation of society.  As Ernest Mandel put it, the categorical imperative for socialists is  “to strive to overthrow all social conditions in which human beings are exploited, oppressed, humiliated, and alienated” (1995, 447). But cultural politics in the Philippines behooves us also to comprehend the dynamics of class power-relations, including those between races and nations as conditioned by the history of colonialism and imperialism.  With such knowledge of history and the relevant tools of cultural praxis, we begin to be suspicious of business wisdom and yearn for a dissident innovative partisan of what’s untried with its utopian resonance.
Let me then conclude by calling your attention to the prophetic passage of Rizal’s memorable discourse, “The Philippines a Century Hence,” a text that ought to replace the hackneyed and rancid scriptures of Derrida, Foucault, Zizek and other poststructuralist gurus in our research itinerary. Listen to Rizal’s invocation of what we all yearn for, the target of our visionary reconnaissance:

With the new humans that will spring from their soil and with the recollection of their past, they will perhaps strive to enter freely upon the wide road of progress, and all will labor together to strengthen their fatherland, both internally and externally, with the same enthusiasm with which a youth falls again to tilling the land of his ancestors so long wasted and abandoned through the neglect of those who have withheld it from him…. Perhaps the country will revive the maritime and mercantile life for which the islanders are fitted by their nature, ability and instincts, and once more free, like the bird that leaves its cage, like the flower that unfolds to the air, will recover the pristine virtues that are gradually dying out and will again become addicted to peace–cheerful, happy, joyous, hospitable and daring” (1979, 127-28).

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NOTES ON U.S.GENOCIDE IN THE PHILIPPINES


ImageNOTES ON U.S. GENOCIDE IN THE PHILIPPINES AND THE URGENT NEED TO PREVENT ITS REPETITION

 

by E. San Juan, Jr.

 

 

 

Lest people forget, the U.S. ruling class today, since the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the Gulf War, has been deeply mired in an unconscionable, self-destructive war against people of color in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Colombia, Nepal, Mexico, Sudan, Somalia, and, of course, the Philippines. With over 446,000 troops abroad in over 725 bases worldwide, the U.S. is now transferring thousands of troops from its Okinawa base to Luzon. Over 40 US Special Forces have been involved in the raging battles in Mindanao and Sulu against Muslim insurgents; in Cotabato, the US has been constructing a naval/air base larger than Clark and Subic combined. Under the pretext of the “Balikatan” exercises since 9/11, the Arroyo regime has allowed US troops to participate in counter-insurgency maneuvers, some under “humanitarian” cover in the flood-stricken provinces of Aurora and Quezon. It is only a matter of time when full-blown US intervention against forces of the New People’s Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is bound to result in the killing of thousands of Filipinos—a horrific if preventable repetition of US genocide against the revolutionary forces of the first Philippine Republic.

 

Revisiting the Carnage

 

     Except during the sixties when the Filipino-American War of 1899-1902 was referred to as “the first Vietnam,” the death of 1.4 million Filipinos has been usually accounted for as either collateral damage or victims of insurrection against the imperial authority of the United States. The first Filipino scholar to make a thorough documentation of the carnage is the late Luzviminda Francisco in her contribution to The Philippines: The End of An Illusion (London, 1973).

     This fact is not even mentioned in the tiny paragraph or so in most U.S. history textbooks. Stanley Karnow’s In Our Image (1989), the acclaimed history of this intervention, quotes the figure of 200,000 Filipinos killed in outright fighting. Among historians, only Howard Zinn and Gabriel Kolko have dwelt on the “genocidal” character of the catastrophe. Kolko, in his magisterial Main Currents in Modern American History (1976), reflects on the context of the mass murder: “Violence reached a crescendo against the Indian after the Civil War and found a yet bloodier manifestation during the protracted conquest of the Philippines from 1898 until well into the next decade, when anywhere from 200,000 to 600,000 Filipinos were killed in an orgy of racist slaughter that evoked much congratulation and approval….” Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States (1980) cites 300,000 Filipinos killed in Batangas alone, while William Pomeroy’s American Neo-Colonialism (1970) cites 600,000 Filipinos dead in Luzon alone by 1902. The actual figure of 1.4 million covers the period from 1899 to 1905 when resistance by the Filipino revolutionary forces mutated from outright combat in battle to guerilla skirmishes; it doesn’t include the thousands of Moros (Filipino Muslims) killed in the first two decades of U.S. colonial domination.

 

     The first Philippine Republic led by General Emilio Aguinaldo, which had already waged a successful war against the Spanish colonizers, mounted a determined nationwide opposition against U.S. invading forces. It continued for two more decades after Aguinaldo’s capture in 1901. Several provinces resisted to the point where the U.S. had to employ  scorched-earth tactics, and hamletting or “reconcentration” to quarantine the populace from the guerillas, resulting in widespread torture, disease, and mass starvation. In The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective (2003), Prof. Gavan McCormack argues that the outright counterguerilla operations launched by the U.S. against the Filipinos, an integral part of its violent pacification program, constitutes genocide. He refers to Jean Paul Sartre’s contention that as in Vietnam, “the only anti-guerilla strategy which will be effective is the destruction of the people, in other words, the civilians, women and children.” That is what happened in the Philippines in the first half of the bloody twentieth century.

 

Civilizing Holocaust

    

     As defined by the UN 1948 “ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” genocide means acts “committed with intention to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” It is clear that the U.S. colonial conquest of the Philippines deliberately sought to destroy the national sovereignty of the Filipinos. The intent of the U.S. perpetrators included the dissolution of the ethnic identity of the Filipinos manifest in the rhetoric, policies, and disciplinary regimes enunciated and executed by legislators, politicians, military personnel, and other apparatuses. The original proponents of the UN document on genocide conceived of genocide as including acts or policies aimed at “preventing the preservation or development” of “racial, national, linguistic, religious, or political groups.” That would include “all forms of propaganda tending by their systematic and hateful character to provoke genocide, or tending to make it appear as a necessary, legitimate, or excusable act.” What the UN had in mind, namely, genocide as cultural or social death of targeted groups, was purged from the final document due to the political interests of the nation-states that then dominated the world body.

 

     What was deleted in the original draft of the UN document are practices considered genocidal in their collective effect. Some of them were carried out in the Philippines by the United States from 1899 up to 1946 when the country was finally granted formal independence.  As with the American Indians, U.S. colonization involved, among others, the “destruction of the specific character of a persecuted group by forced transfer of children, forced exile, prohibition of the use of the national language, destruction of books, documents, monuments, and objects of historical, artistic or religious value.” The goal of all colonialism is the cultural and social death of the conquered natives, in effect, genocide.

 

     In a recent article, “Genocide and America” (New York Review of Books, March 14, 2002), Samantha Power observes that US officials “had genuine difficulty distinguishing the deliberate massacre of civilians from the casualties incurred in conventional conflict.” It is precisely the blurring of this distinction in colonial wars through racializing discourses and practices that proves how genocide cannot be fully grasped without analyzing the way the victimizer (the colonizing state power) categorizes the victims (target populations) in totalizing and naturalizing modes unique perhaps to the civilizational drives of  modernity. Within the modern period, in particular, the messianic impulse to genocide springs from the imperative of capital accumulation—the imperative to reduce humans to commodified labor-power, to saleable goods/services. U.S. “primitive accumulation” began with the early colonies in New England and Virginia, and culminated in the 19th century with the conquest and annexation of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, Hawaii, and the Philippines.With the historical background of the U.S. campaigns against the American Indians in particular, and the treatment of African slaves and Chicanos in general, there is a need for future scholars and researchers to concretize this idea of genocide (as byproduct of imperial expansion) by exemplary illustrations from the U.S. colonial adventure in the Philippines.

 

 

Diagnosing Historical Amnesia

 

     When U.S. occupation troops in Iraq continued to suffer casualties every day after the war officially ended, academics and journalists began in haste to supply capsule histories comparing their situation with those of troops in the Philippines during the Filipino-American War (1899-1902). A New York Times essay summed up the lesson in its title, “In 1901 Philippines, Peace Cost More Lives Than Were Lost in War” (2 July 2003, B1)), while an article in the Los Angeles Times contrasted the  simplicity of McKinley’s “easy” goal of annexation (though at the cost of 4,234 U.S. soldiers killed and 3,000 wounded) with George W. Bush’s ambition to “create a new working democracy as soon as possible” (20 July 2003, M2).  Reviewing the past is instructive, of course, but we should always place it in the context of present circumstances in the Philippines and in the international arena. What is the real connection between the Philippines and the current U.S. war against terrorism?

 

         With the death of Martin Burnham, the hostage held by Muslim kidnappers called the “Abu Sayyaf” in Mindanao,  the southern island of the Philippines, one would expect more than 1,200 American troops (including FBI and CIA personnel) training Filipinos for that rescue mission to be heading for home in late 2002. Instead of being recalled, reinforcements have been brought in and more joint military exercises announced in the future.  Since September 11, 2001, U.S. media and Filipino government organs have dilated on the Abu Sayyaf’s tenuous links with Osama bin Laden. A criminal gang that uses Islamic slogans to hide its kidnapping-for-ransom activities, the Abu Sayyaf  is a splinter group born out of the U.S. war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and used by the government to sow discord among the insurgent partisans of the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Protected by local politicians and military officials, the Abu Sayyaf’s persistence betokens the complicated history of the centuries-long struggle of more than ten million Muslims in the Philippines for dignity, justice, and self-determination.

 

              What is behind the return of the former colonizer to what was once called its “insular territory” administered then by the Bureau of Indian Affairs? With Secretary Colin Powell’s decision to stigmatize as “terrorist” the major insurgent groups that have been fighting for forty years for popular democracy and independence—the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, part of a coalition called the National Democratic Front, the introduction of thousands of U.S. troops, weapons, logistics, and supporting personnel has become legitimate. More is involved than simply converting the archipelago to instant military bases and facilities for the U.S. military—a bargain exchange for the strategic outposts Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base that were scrapped by a resurgent Filipino nationalism a decade ago. With the military officials practically managing the executive branch of government, the Philippine nation-state will prove to be more an appendage of the Pentagon than a humdrum neocolony administered by oligarchic compradors (a “cacique democracy,” in the words of Benedict Anderson), which it has been since nominal independence in 1946.  On the whole, Powell’s stigmatizing act is part of the New American Century Project to reaffirm a new pax Americana after the Cold War

 

Killing Fields in Islas Pilipinas

 

Immediately after the proclaimed defeat of the Taliban and the rout of Osama bin Laden’s forces in Afghanistan, the Philippines became the second front in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. Raymond Bonner, author of Waltzing with Dictators (1987), argues that the reason for this second front is “the desire for a quick victory over terrorism,… the wish to reassert American power in Southeast Asia….If Washington’s objective is to wipe out the international terrorist organizations that pose a threat to world stability, the Islamic terrorist groups operating in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir would seem to be a higher priority than Abu Sayyaf” (New York Times, 10 June 2002). Or those in Indonesia, a far richer and promising region in terms of oil and other abundant natural resources. As in the past, during the Huk rebellion in the Philippines in the Cold War years, the U.S. acted as “the world’s policemen,” aiding the local military in “civic action” projects to win “hearts and minds,” a rehearsal for Vietnam. The Stratfor Research Group believes that Washington is using the Abu Sayyaf as a cover for establishing a “forward logistics and operation base” in southeast Asia in order to be able to conduct swift pre-emptive strikes against enemies in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, and elsewhere.

 

Overall, however, the intervention of U.S. Special Forces in solving a local problem inflamed Filipino sensibilities, its collective memory still recovering from the nightmare of the U.S.-supported brutal Marcos dictatorship. What disturbed everyone was the Cold-War practice of “Joint Combined Exchange Training” exercises. In South America and Africa, such U.S. foreign policy initiatives merged with counter-insurgency operations that chanelled  military logistics and equipment to favored regimes notorious for flagrant human rights violations. In Indonesia during the Suharto regime, for example, U.S. Special Operations  Forces trained government troops accused by Amnesty International of kidnapping and torture of activists, especially in East Timor and elsewhere. In El Salvador, Colombia and Guatemala, the U.S. role in organizing death squads began with Special Operations Forces advisers who set up “intelligence networks” ostensibly against the narcotics trade but also against leftist insurgents and nationalists. During the Huk uprising in the Philippines, Col. Edward Lansdale, who later masterminded the Phoenix atrocities in Vietnam, rehearsed similar counter-insurgency techniques combined with other anticommunist tricks of the trade. Now U.S. soldiers in active combat side by side with Filipinos will pursue the “terrorists” defined by the U.S. State Department—guerillas of the New People’s Army, Moro resistance fighters, and other progressive sectors of Filipino society.

 

Return of the Anglo-Saxon Conquistadors

 

 Are we seeing American troops in the boondocks (bundok, in the original Tagalog, means “mountain”) again?  Are we experiencing a traumatic attack of déjà vu?   A moment of reflection returns us to what Bernard Fall called “the first Vietnam,” the Filipino-American War of 1899-1902, in which at least 1.4 million Filipinos. The campaign to conquer the Philippines was designed in accordance with President McKinley’s policy of “Benevolent Assimilation” of the uncivilized and unchristian natives, a “civilizing mission” that Mark Twain considered worthy of the Puritan settlers and the pioneers in the proverbial “virgin land.” In Twain’s classic prose: “Thirty thousand killed a million. It seems a pity that the historian let that get out; it is really a most embarrassing circumstance.”  This was a realization of the barbarism that Henry Adams feared before Admiral George Dewey entered Manila Bay on 1 May 1898: “I turn green in bed at midnight if I think of the horror of a year’s warfare in the Philippines where…we must slaughter a million or two of foolish Malays in order to give them the comforts of flannel petticoats and electric trailways.”

 

In “Benevolent Assimilation”: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903 (1982),  Stuart Creighton Miller recounts the U.S. military’s “scorched earth” tactics in Samar and Batangas, atrocities from “search and destroy” missions reminiscent of Song My and My Lai in Vietnam. This episode in the glorious history of Empire  is usually accorded a marginal footnote, or a token  paragraph in school textbooks.  Miller only mentions in passing the U.S. attempt to subjugate the unhispanized Moros, the Muslim Filipinos in Mindanao and Sulu islands. On March 9, 1906, four years after President Theodore Roosevelt declared the war over, Major General Leonard Wood, commanding five hundred and forty soldiers, killed a beleaguered group of  six hundred Muslim men, women and children in the battle of Mount Dajo. A less publicized but horrific battle occurred on June 13, 1913, when the Muslim sultanate of Sulu mobilized about 5,000 followers (men, women and children) against the American troops led by Capt. John Pershing. The battle of Mount Bagsak, 25 kilometers east of Jolo City, ended with the death of  340 Americans and of 2,000 (some say 3000) Moro defenders. Pershing was true to form—earlier he had left a path of destruction in Lanao, Samal Island, and other towns where local residents fought his incursions. Anyone who resisted U.S. aggression was either a “brigand” or seditious bandit. The carnage continued up to the “anti-brigandage” campaigns of the first three decades which suppressed numerous peasant revolts and workers’ strikes against the colonial state and its local agencies.

 

With the help of the U.S. sugar-beet lobby, the Philippine Commonwealth of 1935 was established,  constituted with a compromise mix of laws and regulations then being tried in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Hawaii. Eventually the islands became a model of a pacified neocolony. Except perhaps for Miller’s aforementioned book and assorted studies, nothing much about the revealing effects of that process of subjugation of Filipinos have registered in the American Studies archive. This is usually explained by the theory that the U.S. did not follow the old path of European colonialism, and its war against Spain was pursued to liberate the natives from Spanish tyranny. If so, that war now rescued from the dustbin of history signaled the advent of a globalizing U.S. interventionism whose latest manifestation, in a different historical register, is Bush’s “National Security Strategy” of “exercising self-defense [of the Homeland] by acting preemptively,” assuming that might is right.

 

Revival of People’s War

 

          The revolutionary upsurge in the Philippines against the Marcos dictatorship (1972-1986) stirred up dogmatic Cold War complacency. With the inauguration of a new stage in Cultural Studies in the nineties, the historical reality of U.S. imperialism  (the genocide of Native Americans is replayed in the subjugation of the inhabitants of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Cuba) is finally being excavated and re-appraised. But this is, of course, a phenomenon brought about by a confluence of multifarious events, among them: the demise of the Soviet Union as a challenger to U.S. hegemony;  the sublation of the Sixties in both Fukuyama’s “end of history” and the interminable “culture wars,” the Palestininan intifadas; the Zapatista revolt against NAFTA; the heralding of current anti-terrorism by the Gulf War; and the fabled “clash of civilizations.”  Despite these changes, the old frames of intelligibility have not been modified or reconfigured to understand how nationalist revolutions in the colonized territories cannot be confused with the nationalist patriotism of the dominant or hegemonic metropoles, or how the mode of U.S. imperial rule in the twentieth century differs in form and content from those of the British or French in the nineteenth century. The received consensus of a progressive modernizing influence from the advanced industrial powers remains deeply entrenched. Even postcolonial and postmodern thinkers commit the mistake of censuring the decolonizing projects of the subalternized peoples because these projects (in the superior gaze of these thinkers) have been damaged, or are bound to become perverted into despotic postcolonial regimes, like those in Ghana, Algeria, Vietnam, the Philippines, and elsewhere. The only alternative, it seems, is to give assent to the process of globalization under the aegis of the World Bank/IMF/WTO, and hope for a kind of “benevolent assimilation.”

 

     What remains to be carefully considered, above all, is the historical specificity or singularity of each of these projects of national liberation, their class composition, historical roots, programs, ideological tendencies, and political agendas within the context of colonial/imperial domination. It is not possible to pronounce summary judgments on the character and fate of nationalist movements in the peripheral formations without focusing on the complex manifold relations between colonizer and colonized, the dialectical interaction between their forces as well as others caught in the conflict. Otherwise, the result would be a disingenuous ethical utopianism such as that found in U.S. postnationalist and postcolonialist discourse which, in the final analysis, functions as an apology for the ascendancy of the  transnational corporate powers embedded in the nation-states of the North, and for the hegemonic rule of the only remaining superpower claiming to act in the name of freedom and democracy.

 

There Is No Alternative to the National Democratic Revolution

 

    The case of the national-democratic struggle in the Philippines may be taken as an example of one historic singularity. Because of the historical specificity of the Philippines’ emergence as a dependent nation-state controlled by the United States in the twentieth century, nationalism as a mass movement has always been defined by events of anti-imperialist rebellion. U.S. conquest entailed long and sustained violent suppression of the Filipino revolutionary forces for decades. The central founding “event” (as the philosopher Alain Badiou would define the term) is the 1896 revolution against Spain and its sequel, the Filipino-American war of 1899-1902, and the Moro resistance up to 1914 against U.S. colonization. Another political sequence of events is the Sakdal uprising in the thirties during the Commonwealth period followed by the Huk uprising in the forties and fifties—a sequence that is renewed in the First Quarter Storm of 1970 against the neocolonial state. While the feudal oligarchy and the comprador class under U.S. patronage utilized elements of the nationalist tradition formed in 1896-1898 as their ideological weapon for establishing moral-intellectual leadership, their attempts have never been successful. Propped by the Pentagon-supported military, the Arroyo administration today, for example, uses the U.S. slogan of democracy against terrorism and the fantasies of the neoliberal free market to legitimize its continued exploitation of workers, peasants, women and ethnic minorities. Following a long and tested tradition of grassroots mobilization, Filipino nationalism has always remained centered on the peasantry’s demand for land closely tied to the popular-democratic demand for equality and genuine sovereignty.

 

          For over a century now, U.S.-backed developmentalism and modernization have utterly failed in the Philippines. The resistance against globalized capital and its neoliberal extortions is spearheaded today by a national-democratic mass movement of various ideological persuasions. There is also a durable Marxist-led insurgency that seeks to articulate the “unfinished revolution” of 1896 in its demand for national independence against U.S. control and social justice for the majority of citizens (80 million) ten percent of whom are now migrant workers abroad. Meanwhile, the Muslim community  in the southern part of the Philippines initiated its armed struggle for self-determination during the Marcos dictatorship (1972-1986) and continues today as a broadly based movement for autonomy, despite the Islamic ideology of its teacher-militants.

Recalling the genocidal U.S. campaigns cited above, BangsaMoro nationalism cannot forget its Muslim singularity which is universalized in the principles of equality, justice, and the right to self-determination. In the wake of past defeats of peasant revolts, the Filipino culture of nationalism constantly renews its anti-imperialist vocation by mobilizing new forces (women and church people in the sixties, and the indigenous or ethnic minorities in the seventies and eighties). It is organically embedded in emancipatory social and political movements whose origin evokes in part the Enlightenment narrative of sovereignty as mediated by third-world nationalist movements (Gandhi, Ho Chi Minh, Mao) but whose sites of actualization are the local events of mass insurgency against continued U.S.  hegemony. The Philippines as an “imagined” and actually experienced ensemble of communities, or multiplicities in motion, remains in the process of being constructed primarily through modes of political and social resistance against corporate transnationalism (or globalization, in the trendy parlance) and its technologically mediated ideologies, fashioning thereby the appropriate cultural forms of dissent, resistance, and subversion worthy of its people’s history and its collective vision.

 

 

 

E. SAN JUAN, Jr.  was recently Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, and visiting professor of literature and cultural studies at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, Republic of China.

His recent books are RACISM AND CULTURAL STUDIES (Duke U Press), WORKING THROUGH THE CONTRADICTIONS (Bucknell U Press), HIMAGSIK (De La Salle U Press), TINIK SA KALULUWA (Anvil) and SAPAGKAT INIIBIG KITA (University of the Philippines Press). He works with Philippine Forum, New York, and the Philippines Cultural Studies Center, Connecticut, USA.

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Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

SAGRADONG LUPA NG IMPERYALISMO, PASISMONG RASISTA SA ESTADOS UNIDOS


shahn1LUPA, DUGO, PETISISMO NG KATAWAN AT MISTIPIKASYON NG DAHAS

ni E. SAN JUAN, Jr.

Katakataka o kamangha-mangha? Sa teknokratikong planeta natin, hindi lamang produktong itinitinda sa Mall o ipinagbibili ang naghahari kundi pribadong lugar/lupa/espasyo, depende sa lakas/dahas ng awtoridad ng Estado, militar, may-ari o managerial power elite ng Kapital Pampinansiyal (finance capital). Ito ang egemonya sa yugtong ito ng kasaysayan buhat nang maglaho ang alternatibong Sosyalista. Saan ba may mabisang oposisyon sa Kapitalismong Global–Cuba? Venezuela? Sub-Comandante Marcos?  Kaya ang kinalalagyan ng katawan mo ay wala sa iyong pagpapasiya o kontrol, nasa Estado o pribadong yaman/kapital, kung saan pansamantalang nakahimpil ang katawan. Tungkol sa kaluluwa (?), samut-saring kuwento na iyon. Sa ganang awtor, ang alternatibo ni Spinoza, deus sive natura (o ang bersiyno nito sa TAO TE CHING) ay wala pa ring negasyon.

Bagama’t naiburol na raw ang bangkay ni Tamerlan Tsarnaev sa isang lihim na lugar–hindi isiniwalat ng pulis kung saan, maski sa cyberspace–pihadong inilagay na ito sa dumpster or inihulog sa Boston Bay…. At kung may abo man, o labi, TOP SECRET na ito ng gobyernong Federal.Binura na ito sa listahan, bagamat ibinubuhay ito lagi sa mass midya hanggang pinagtutubuan ito sa panahon ng Giyera laban sa Terorismo (mga kalaban ng globalisadong Kapitalismno). Sa ganito muling bumabalik ang dualismo ni Descartes (res cogitans/res extensa) at ang sulliranin ni Kant (penomena/noumena) na sinagot ni Hegel at iniwasto ni Feuerbach/Marx. Pero nasaan na ang ahensiya o interbensiyon ng proletaryadong pandaigdig na magpapasimula sa tunay na kasaysayan pagkatapos ng prehistory ng mga makauring lipunan?

Pangkaraniwan na  ito sa panahon ng mass killings ng US drones.At walang habas na pagsira ng kapaligirang namamalas. Kahit may reklamo ang UN, balewala ito sa Washington at Pentagon at Wall Street. Tubo at walang humapay na akumulasyon ang importante sa lahat. Salapi ay siyang sinasamba at ispiritung isinusuob sa ibabaw ng mga buto’t bungong naglipana.

 

Multo o tunay na katawan ba ang pinag-uusapan?  Bakit kung ang mga bilanggo sa Guantanamo ay parang mga bangkay na rin, kailangan na lamang kalimutan sila. Mabuti  pa  si Dracula na pwedeng gumala sa gabi at humanap ng kanyang biktima.  Hindi ito  serye ng telenobelang TWILIGHT kundi araw-araw na buhay sa lipunan ng imperyalismong nabubulok. Ito nga ang ginagawa ng mga korporasyong sumisipsip sa dugo ng mga Pinoy/Pinay, ilang angaw na OFWS sa buong planeta, at sa atin laluna mga katutubo, na biktima ng mga minahang pinayagan ng rehimen mula pa kay Marcos hanggang kay P’Noy.

 

Kaya ang vampirismo ngayon ay hindi tulad ng panahon ng Pasyon, mga manggagaway atbp., kundi araw-araw na “business as usual” sa neoliberalismong orden. Sumisira sa lupain sa Mindanao, Bontoc, sa lahat ng sulok ng neokolonyang “bansa,” na pinipigil lamang ng mga bayani ng NPA na laging tinataguriang “terorista” ng oligarkong siyang mismong alipores at kakutsaba ng mga gahamang korporasyong globa.
,
Narito ang report sa pahayagan:

“Protestors have lined up outside the funeral home where his body is being stored, warning that they are even willing to dig up the body if it is buried on U.S. soil. The city of Cambridge issued a pre-emptive statement, saying it would not allow Tsarnaev to be buried there.”

Biruin ninyo o hindi, at sa isang Kristyanong sosyedad pa raw ito nangyayari, di umano. Ano kaya ang sabi sa BAGONG TIPAN/NEW TESTAMENT tungkol dito?Ito kaya ang dapat reaksiyon sa panahong 2013, matinding globalisasyon kung saan wala na raw bansa o frontier, kundi lahat ay mamamayan ng planeta? Sino ang nakatira o tumatahan sa planetang ito ng walang passport o ID? Marahil ang mga TNT? Undocumented aliens? O mersenaryong inupahan ng CIA sa Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Pilipinas, at ibang madugong sagupaan sa paghahati ng mundo at dibisyoong sosyal ng lakas-paggawang internasyonal?

Penomenong kaya ito ng kontra-rebolusyonaryo o reaksiyonistang modernismo (ayon sa diskurso ni Peter Osborne sa POLITICS OF TIME? Si Hitler atkapwa pasismong Hapon at Italyano ay masugid sa paglapat ng pinakabagong teknolohiya sa ngalan ng sagradong lupa, dugo, lahing superyor sa lahat. Pati mga relihiyon o laluna ang naglilingkod sa ganitong adhika (halimbawa, Zionismo), sa paglaho ng alternatibong sosyalismo/komunismo, ayon kina Fukuyama at mga ideologue. May kabalintunaang kawangki ito sa uring Kristyanong umiiral ngayon sa digmaan ng mga doktrina at dogma, pundamentalistang Islam laban sa pundamentalistang Kristyanidad.  Ang mga di-Kristyano ay parang hayop o bagay na walang dapat magmalasakit?

 

Ang Boston Marathon Bombing ay humihingi–para sa mga Kristyano rito–ng higanti, kaya ayaw ibigay kahit katiting na espasyo ng lupang nasa ilalim ng Stars&Stripes, na ngayon ay pag-aari ng may dugong Puti/EuropoAmerikano, at hindi ninuman, laluna mga imigranteng may ibang itsura, marka sa katawan, kulay ng balat, wika, at iba pang biyolohika o kultural na katangian.

Ito ang stigmata at sagisag ng ating panahon: demokrasya’t kalayaan sa pagbili, akumulasyon ng salapi, prestihiyo, balik sa pananaw ni Hobbes at primitibong kapitalismong nailarawan ni Marx sa GRUNDRISSE, at sa pulitika ni Carl Schmitt, ang teyorista ng pasismo, pati na si Heidegger at eksistensiyalismo ng pagpapasiya sa ngalan ng banal na lupa, dugo, lakas/dahas ng hukbo/militar at Estadong teknokratiko. Kung sino ang may nukleyar na armas, at drones, siya ang magwawagi at maghahari hanggang magunaw at tuluyang pumanaw ang buhay sa planeta. Unti-unti na ngang natutunaw ang Artic at nasasaid na rin ang oksihena ng planetang ito. Itinakda na ang wakas–kung walang alternatibo, hamon, salungat sa patuloy na degradasyon ng kalikasan.

 

Ito nga ang sitwasyon kung wala nang alternatibong nalalabi sa mga intelektuwal sa Europa o Norte Amerika kundi kanilang pansariling kapakanan. Ang mga intelihensiya ay apolohista ng naghaharing lakas at awtoridad, ng finance capital at Estado/militar nito Ito na rin kaya ang ating hinaharap, laluna pag-uulit na naman ng sirko ng eleksiyon sa Mayong ito?

justice-not-war May balita ngang pumutok ang Mayon at napatay ang ilang Alemang turista doon, na di napansin ng maraming abala sa sirkong darating… Himagsik ng kalikasan? Natura naturans…?
Pahiwatig kaya ito ng ating lupang mahal? lupang hinirang? lupang ipinagkanulo?  Kaninong lupa ito? Lupang magiliw, duyan ka ng sino?? Perlas ng Silangan pa ba rin? Ano ang palagay ninyo?

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TERESA MAGBANUA, GURONG OFW SA HAPON–Isang Tula ni E. San Juan, Jr.


PAGBUBULAY-BULAY  NI TERESA MAGBANUA, ISANG GURONG OFW, NAKAHIMPIL  PANSAMANTALA  SA BANSANG HAPON

ni E. San Juan, Jr.Vinta

Ay naku, ilan taon na akong nagtuturo ng wikang Filipino dito sa Hapon
    ngunit di ko pa kabisado ang pagyuko sa mga kempetai
           o ispelengin ang hiwaga ng kanji  hiragana o katakana–
Nais kong matuto sila ng paggamit ng “kamusta” “paalam”
     “maganda”     “pag-ibig”  “luwalhati”   “panaginip” 
        kaya tinuruan ko rin ng tinikling   itik-itik   singkil

Subalit nahumaling sa pagsayaw–   indayog ng daliri    wagayway ng panyo
           ngiti rito’t tawa doon, nasaan ang tunggalian ng uri?                                   nahan ang dahas ng pasismo’t imperyalismo?
Masarap magkuwento ng Boracay kaysa Payatas, Balagtas kaysa Jonas Burgos,
    anong sarap ng chika-chika sa halina ng pandiwa’t pang-uri
        kaysa dahas ng Estado.

Mula sa makiring Osaka, di ko pa nasisilip ang yelo sa tuktok ng Mt. Fuji….
Samantala, may ilang estudyanteng nais mag-turista’t mausisa lahat….

Nagkaroon na ng People Power 1, People Power 2, at may bantang sumiklab muli       sakaling pauwiin na lahat ng OFW sa Saudi   Hong Kong   Europa….
Ilang kababayan ang nag-asawa na ng Hapon at Saudi para sigurado….

Ngunit teka–mausok at nakababagot, di na matiis ang trapik sa EDSA,
    nagbabanta  pa rin si Palparan,  tumitindi ang pagpatay at pagdukot,
        gumagala pa rin ang mga teroristang Abu Sayyaf
kaya payo ko sa kanila, dito na lang kayo sa mariwasang kabibi–bakit pa ipapain ang     katawan upang mapahamak sa “Perlas ng Silangan”?

Dito na lang kayo sa masaganang lupa ng cherry blossoms    yen arigato      
    alindog ng geishang nagsasayaw sa lilim ng mga templo ng Buda
             sa Hiroshima at Nagasaki
        malayo sa tsunami  sa Spratley at     pirata sa dagat Sulu ng Mindanao–
Dito na lang kayo mag-aral ng wika nina Bonifacio   Sakay  Ka Roger
     upang magamit ang salitang “kalayaan”    “puri”  “dangal”  “katarungan”
        putris, pati na “Makibaka huwag matakot!”  “galit” “higanti”
        “Lintik!”   Walang hiya ka!” “Oras mo na”– ‘nak ng tupa!

Oo nga, kumadre, bakit kailangang pigilin ang dila’t isip bago pa man dumating
    ang pulis at sundalong dudukot at papatay?  Bakit?

Sayonara! Oo, halina kayo sa bayan ng mayumi’t mapanggayumang babaylan–

Baka sakaling matuklasan natin ang niyebe ng Mt Fuji sa tugatog ng   bulkang Mayong
    sumasabog.–###

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JOSE CORAZON DE JESUS–Mapagpalayang Pagpapahalaga ni E. San Juan, Jr.


jcdejesus1PAGSUBOK SA ISANG  MAPAGPALAYANG  PAGKILALA’T   PAGTAYA  SA SINING  NI   JOSE CORAZON DE JESUS

by E. SAN JUAN, Jr.

Kung kasadlakan man ng pula’t pag-ayop, / tubo ko’y dakila sa puhunang pagod….”

–Francisco Baltazar, “Kay Selya”

Only through the objectively unfolded richness of man’s essential being is the richness of subjective human sensibility either cultivated or brought into being…. The forming of the five senses is a labor of the entire history of the world down to the present.

–Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844

Dalawang bagay ang bumigo sa akin nang napakalaki: Ang paglipad ko sa Hongkong at ang paglagpak ko sa pulitika.

–Jose Corazon de Jesus, “Talambuhay ng kanyang sarili”

Dahil sa masidhing pagkagumon ng marami sa komersyalisadong aliwan–telenobela, pelikulang tatak-Hollywood, malling, kulto nina Bieber at iba pang dayuhang selebriti sa awitan at isports—pambihira na ang bumabasa o may interes sa panulat ni  Jose Corazon de Jesus (Huseng Batute), binansagang di-mapapantayang “Hari ng Balagtasan.” Isa bang bagong aktor ito, “performance artist” o “clone” ni Manny Pacquiao  sa midya? Pwede ring mapagkamalang “gimmick” ng Cultural Center o National Commission of Culture and the Arts, huwag ikagulat o ikamangha.

Anyaya Sa Panghihimasok

Maliban na lamang sa ilang guro’t iskolar sa wikang Filipino, o mga beteranong apisyonado ng “balagtasan,” na kadalasa’y dibersiyong panturista, wala nang masyadong interes pa kay Batute (kinagiliwang palayaw sa kanya). Bihira nang mabanggit siya sa mga pagpupulong pangkalinangan. Bakit tayo ngayon nag-aaksaya ng panahon? Sa ganang akin bilang tagasubaybay sa kulturang usapin, higit na mapapakinabangan pa ng mga “iskolar ng bayan” (alang-alang sa sakripisyo ni Kristel Tejada), ang pagbabalik-tanaw sa mga tula nina Lope K. Santos, Pedro Gatmaitan at Benigno Ramos, halimbawa, na bagama’t kasapi sa Aklatang Bayan (1901-1916) ay kapanahon ni Batute; o sa panitik ng ibang kasapi sa Ilaw at Panitik (1916-1935) na kinabilangan ni Batute, tulad nina Cirio Panganiban, Deogracias Rosario, Amado V. Hernandez, atbp. Hanggang ngayon, wala pang matinong pagsusuri sa epikong Bayang Malaya ni Hernandez, sa kabila ng hitik na papuri.)  Bakit mag-aambag ng pagod at panahon upang ungkatin muli ang naisulat ni Batute?

Agad ko nang ipanukala sa umpisa na tandisang makabuluhan ang naisakatuparan ni Batute sa paglinang ng wikang pambansa, ang sandigang wika nina Baltazar, Rizal, Bonifacio, Del Pilar, Sakay, Algabre at mga bayani ng rebolusyong nagpapatuloy. Di maikakaila ang representatibong lagda/signatura ni Batute bilang mapanghalinang makata. Sapantaha kong may nakatagong enerhiyang madudukot sa kanyang mga tula na mapapakinabangan sa kasalukuyang proyektong mapagpalaya. Pagliripin natin ito. Apat na libro ang kaharap ko ngayon, kasangguni sa maikling komentaryong ito hinggil sa estetika at lipunan. Bukod sa mga kalipunan nina Lumbera at Nograles-Lumbera, Isagani Cruz at Soledad Reyes, Ben S. Medina, Jr. at Parnasong Tagalog ni AGAbadilla (inedit ni Efren Abueg), ang pangunahing antolohiya ng mga tulang kinonsulta ay:  Mga Tulang Ginto (1958), pinagmatnugutan ni Teo Gener; Halimuyak (1979), pinamagnutugan ni Antonio B. Valeriano;  Jose Corazon de Jesus: Mga Piling Tula (1984), pinamatnugutan ni Virgilio Almario; at Bayan Ko (1995), pinamatnugutan ni Monico Atiena.

Utang ng lahat kina Almario at Atienza ang matiyaga’t masugid na pagsusuri’t pagpapahalaga sa kabuluhan ng panitik ni Batute, sa kanilang iba’t ibang lapit, hilig, diin at layunin. Mahigit 5000 tula, sa taya ni Batute mismo, ang naisulat niya; ngunit sapat na sigurong pagbatayan ang mga tulang nailikom sa nabanggit na antolohiya upang bumuo ng hatol at makatarungang pagtimbang sa naisakaturapan ni Batute, hindi lang ang naisulat kundi inadhika. Kung mayroon pang obra maestra niyang matutuklasan, tikyak na makapagpapalusog sa ilang dalumat at ipotesis dito, pagsubok sa pagbanghay ng batong-urian na magtatasa sa hiyas na ipinamana sa atin ng makata. Salamat kay Batute, nabigyan tayo ng okasyon sa balikatang pagpapaunlad ng mapagpalayang kultura sa pagpapalitang-kuro, argumentasyon, at mapanuring pagsasaliksik tungo sa kaliwanaga’t kabutihang pangkomunidad.

Kung Bakit Di Kailangan ng Paumanhin

Sa di sinasadyang pagkakataon, ang munting gawa ay nagsusupling ng bungang mabigat at mapanganiba. Tila ang maikling puna ko tungkol sa isang tula ni Batute noong dekada 1960 (kalakip sa Ang Sining ng Tula, 1975) ang naging sangkalan ni Atienza upang batikusin ang walang hunos-diling husga ko hinggil sa sinaunang kumbensiyon sa panulaan. Pakiwari ni Atienza na ang kumbensiyon, sa halip na masakal ang diwa ng makata, ay nagdulot na paraan upang maibulalas ni Batute “ang mga pampulitikang pananaw at paninindigan, pagkamakabayan, pagmamahal sa kalayaan at iba pang uri ng pakikisangkot sa mga usaping panlipunan” (1995, 12). Susog ni Atienza na ang kanyang pananalisik sa esensya “ay tumunton sa paraang tekstuwal.” Ngunit kung maingat na sisipatin, ang pangkalahatang pamantayan ni Atienza ay tematiko. Ibig sabihin, ibinukod niya ang mga tulang may hayag na paksang pampulitika at nakikisangkot, at sa talaksang ito hinugot ang hinuha na si Batute ay hindi lamang nag-ukol ng panahon sa pag-ibig, pamilya, kalikasan at iba pang tradisyonal na paksa kundi sumaklaw ang kanyang diwa sa mga usaping panlipunan at pampulitika.

Sanhi rin ng nasabing artikulo, pinula ako ni Almario sa pagkainis at pagkainip sa “sentimentalismo” ni Batute. Napag-initan ko raw si Batute dahil lumabag sa regla ng New Criticism: “Ano namang kakulangan ang ipinaghinagpis niya kay Batute?” (1992, 300; ikumpara ang dating ideolohiya niya, Almario 1971). Tumutukoy iyon sa nabusisi kong labis na pagsandal ni Batute sa “maramdaming panaghoy.” Hindi tumpak ang intindi ni Almario sapagkat sa pormalistikong pananaw, ang sentimentalismo ay kontekstuwal–di pagkakatugunan ng mga salik sa isang akda–na, sa kaunting lipat ng anggulo, ay nagiging ironya, paradoha, laro ng bathos/pathos. Sa anu’t anuman, iba rin ang denotasyon ng salitang “sentimental” sa “sentimentalismo”; kapwa nalurok sa nobela ni Flaubert na mapang-uyam sa burgesyang asal-kodigo. Ngunit hindi relatibo ang lahat, kaniya-kaniyang buhat ng interpretasyon sanhi sa nominalistikong pagturing sa salita. Bakit pa kailangang magpadalubhasa sa siyentipikong imbestigasyon kung ang katotohanan ay nasa iyong balintataw o sa sekretong sisidlan ng iyong barkada?

Maibalik kay Atienza: wala namang pagtatalo sa malawak na kakayahan ni Batute. Wala namang nagsabing si Batute ay nagtakdang maging makata ng pag-ibig o damdamin lamang, o nakulong sa makitid na espasyong ito. Kung di nga nasambit sa artikulo ko, di naman naipahiwatig na namalagi’t naulol si Batute sa hardin ng pusong sawi. Walang namang pumintas na sumuko siya sa tukso ng luha, lumbay, mapanglaw na agunyas sa libingan, atbp.  Kahit si Almario na siyang masusing naghalungkat sa mga tulang pandamdamin ay hindi nagsabing limitado si Batute sa kategoryang “romantiko” (bagama’t makitid ang pagkatarok ni Almario sa romantisismo). Marahil, ibig lamang ilipat ni Atienza ang pokus at pakialam sa mga tulang tahasang pampulika o tuwirang pakikilahok sa  tunggalian ng mga uri o tumutuligsa sa mga kabuktutan at kabulukan ng kolonyalistang institusyon at gawi, laluna ang panunupil ng imperyalistang Amerikano sa mga karapatan ng mga sinakop.

Bukod sa tagapagtaguyod ng “sentimentalismong” may katutubong tatak, ipinagtanggol din ni Almario na si Batute ay mabisang tagapagsalita ng madlang karanasan. Pasiya ni Almario na “ang sulak ng pambihirang imahinasyong namamahala dito ay kahanga-hanga at isang karanasang bihirang madama maging sa mga maharlika (obra maestra) nina Ildefonso Santos, Cirio Panganiban, Aniceto Silvestre, Inigo Ed. Regalado at iba pang kapanahon…” at sa ganitong “pag-alinsunod sa tuntuning pangkasaysayan,” mayayari din ang “isang realista at praktikal na hakbang din pasulong” (1970, 322). Sang-ayon ako
sa lagom na ito, lamang ang “tuntuning pangkasaysayan” ay di maipagkakasya sa kuwadro ng talambuhay o mga datos na walang integral na ugnayan sa mga makatuturang pangyayari sa kasayaysan ng bansa, laluna ang pakikibaka sa kasarinlan at demokrasyang pambansa noong dalawang dekada ng pananakop ng Estados Unidos hanggang sa pagkamatay ni Batute noong 1932.

Sa kuro-kuro ko, walang mapapala sa dualistikong iskema na humihiwalay sa estetika at etika/politika. Walang sining na tiwalag sa pulitikang pamantayan, at walang pulitikang salat sa sining ng paghihikayat, pag-amuki o pag-akit. Mali ang nominalistikong Cartesian. Dala ito ng sinaunang paghahati sa katawan/kaluluwa, kalikasan/kalangitan, damdaming karnal/kaisipang ispiritwal. Umikot, gumulong na ang mga pangyayari. Nakaigpaw na tayo rito sa paglunsad ng dialektika’t historikal na sintesis mula pa kina Herakleitos at Hegel hanggang kina Marx at Lenin at iba’t ibang sosyalismong eksperimento, liban na lamang kung disipulo kayo nina Fukuyama at doktrinang neoliberal ng IMF/World Bank/Pentagon sa kanilang di-birong patalastas na tapos na ang kasaysayan, at di-umano’y nasa paraiso na tayo ng megamall, “global shopping”`sa cyberspace at komunikasyong virtuwal, malaya ang lahat na bumili at ipagbili ang sarili. Bakit pa magsisikap o mangagarap?

Ang Problema ng Komodipikasyon

Ang istoriko materyalistikong pananaw ay maraming antas o palapag.
Sa antas ng pagsisiyasat dito, nakatuon tayo sa problema ng paglalangkap ng teorya at praktika, laluna ang pagtalos sa kung sinong grupo ang ahensiyang gagabay o  mangagasiwa sa takbo ng kasaysayan. Ano ang mga puwersang kasangkot, at saan tayo makagagawa ng interbensiyon?

Ang pinakamalalim at pundamental na suliraning dulot ng pagpihit ng kasaysayan ay ito: ang krisis ng suheto/sabjek o sarili, saligan ng katwiran, katarungan at kaayusan, sa pagkabuwag ng normatibong Kristyanidad. Napalitang kagyat ang humaliling pangitain ng Katipunan at 1896 rebolusyon–ang mga prinsipyo ng burgesyang rebolusyong Pranses–ng Amerikanong ideolohiya: abstraktong karapatan (limitado sa kolonya), karapatan sa pagbibili ng lakas-paggawa at produkto nito, halimbawa, mga tula, pagganap sa entablado o pelikula, atbp. Higit diyan, panghihina ng tradisyonal na ugnayan (sa pamilya, nayon, samahan) sa bisa ng indibidwalismong nakakapit sa kompetisyon sa palengke. Nag-iba ang katotohanan dahil nag-iba ang realidad o saligan ng katotohanan.

Mailalagom ang lahat ng ito sa malaganap na saplot/salot ng komodipikasyon na umiiral noon kaagapay ng piyudal na kaugalian. Tinuturol dito ang paghahari ng bilihin o palitan ng naipagbibili (commodity-exchange), pagkatapos gawing kalakal ang lahat para pagtubuan sa kolonyalistang orden, na siyang umuugit sa reipikasyong sumasaklaw sa lahat ng bagay. Kung ang sarili (budhi, rason) ay ilusyon lamang na pinagagalaw ng batas ng palitan-ng-komoditi at kapangyarihan ng palengke/pamilihan, paano na ang ideolohiya ng autonomya ng sining, ng artista o makatang may maling paniwala na ang guniguni/birtud-ng-kamalayan ay lumilikha ng orihinal na akda? Nabalewala na ang rasyonalidad ng umanistikong turo ng Kaliwanagan (Enlightenment) at Pagbabagong Buhay (Renaissance) sa Europa.

Umiiral na ang utos ng imperyalisang kapital at salapi sa likod ng “Benevolent Assimilation” ni McKinley, at programang “Filipinization” ni Taft. Sa paghahari ng komodipikasyon sa lipunan, walang tunay na pagbabago–repetisyon o pag-uulit-ulit ng pormang nabibili, na tumatabing sa gamit-halaga (use-value). Walang orihinal na likha, pulos duplikasyong walang patid, imitasyon o paggagad ng simulakra.

Gayun nga ang kinalabasan ng maraming tula ni Batute, na pagsasalisi ng talata, parirala, hulagway, na may magkamukhang tabas. Naging pabrika ng palasak na berso ang mga upisina ng Taliba (dalawang makina ang umaandar doon: “Buhay Maynila” at “Mga Lagot na Bagting ng Kudyapi), Liwayway, Ang Mithi, Bagong Lipang Kalabaw, at Sampagita. Naging negosyante ang makata, salamat sa modernong teknolohiya ng imprenta at distribusyon ng peryodiko’t lingguhan, poyeto’t libro. Naging pansumandaling libangan ang pagbabasa ng tula, o pakikinig sa balagtasan, kumpara sa walang patid na kainan, inuman, seks, sugal at iba pang aliwan. Mapanganib ang lagay ng manunulat na medyo nakaangat sa mga karaniwang trabahador sa imprenta. Minsan, sinuportahan si Batute ng pabliser sa isang sakdal ng Amerikanong guro; sa pangalawang kaso, tinanggal na siya nang hindi siya tumigil sa pagsulsol sa mga estudyante sa Manila North High School sa pagtutol sa panlalait ng mga Amerikano. Napag-alaman ba ito ni Batute at mga kapanahon? Ano ang kalutasan, kung mayroon, ang kanilang naisagawa?

Sa paglapat ng hinuhang ipinahiwatig sa itaas, tatlong lunan ang sasalisikin na may diyalektikal na interaksyon: una, ang kapisanang kinabilangan ni Batute; pangalawa, ang obhetibong katayuan ni Batute sa nagtatagisang saray sa lipunan; at pangatlo, ang dinamikong transaksyon ng literatura at ang pananagutan ng organikong intelektuwal sa panahon ng pagpataw ng matinding Amerikanisasyon ng bayan. Kasali na rito ang punsiyon ng balagtasan at ethos ng pamamahayag, sampu ng impak nito sa estilo ni Batute.

Ang masela’t sentral na palaisipan ay hinggil sa ugnayan ng teorya at praktika, ng dama at kilos, malay at aksyon. Tanggaping radikal at makabayan ang saloobin ni Batute. Tanong natin ay kung paano naisakatawan iyon sa kanyang sulatin. Kung hindi, ano ang kakulangan o kabutihang masasaksihan sa kanyang pagtatangka? Anong aral ang mahuhugot sa krisis ng grupo ni Batute na maiuugnay sa pangangailangan ng kasalukuyang tunggalian? Batid ng lahat na pangmatagalang asikaso ito, kaya pasapyaw na sagot lamang ang maihahain dito, at sa susunod na ang mabusising elaborasyon ng mga tesis na naibungad dito.

Kagipitan ng Pantayong Pananaw

Talakayin muna natin ang katangian ng grupo ni Batute, pati na ang posisyon ng uring intelektuwal (kaagapay ng uring panlipunan) at pagkatapos ang nakapaligid na sitwasyon ng bansa bilang kolonya. Sisikaping iguhit ang burador na ito tungo sa pagsusuri sa mga puwersang humubog sa diwa’t budhi ng makata; walang tangka ritong magdulot ng detalyadong analisis o explication du text ng mga tula.  Sa huling yugto ng prosesong ito masusulyapan natin ang kumplikadong problema ng likhang-sining sa kamay ni Batute. Nakasentro ito sa medyasyon ng sining  at ekonomya sa paraan ng ideolohiya, kung paano nadudulutan ng kongkreto’t madaramang hugis anyo’t ayos ang abstraktong ideya, paniniwala, haka-haka o prinsipyo sa ulirat. Paano nagkakaroon ng bisa ang tula sa madlang nakikinig o nagbabasa? Ano ang tagapamagitang banghay  ng imahen at talinghaga sa imahinasyon ng artista at lipunan?  Paano nagkakaroon ang sining ng kahulugan, katuturan at kabuluhan sa lipunan sa isang tiyak na yugto ng kasaysayang pandaigdigan?

Tunghayan muna natin ang pangkat ng “Ilaw at Panitik.” Ang kinagawiang pagbabalangkas ng karera ni Batute ay makikita sa ulat pangkasaysayan nina Julian Cruz Balmaseda at Teodoro Agoncilo, dalawa sa mga kilalalang istoryador ng panitikan. Kay Balmaseda, si Batute ay nakaluklok sa ikatlong panahon ng panulaan, kasama nina Lope K Santos, Patricio Mariano at iba pa, sumunod sa henerasyon nina Balagtas, Rizal, Regalado, Valeriano Hernandez at iba pa (1974, 90).  Tulad nina Santos, Regalado at Gatmaitan, si Batute ay “makata ng puso.” Walang tiyak na kaibahan ang paksain at pamamaraan ni Batute, o nakaligtaang tugaygayan ito dahil ang inatupag hanapin ni Balmaseda (na gumagaya sa huwaran nina Rizal, Epifanio de los Santos at Lope K. Santos) ay mga permanenteng kataingan ng tulang Tagalog. Samakatwid, ang pinakabuod na sangkap at salik ng tula ang nais niyang maitala sa isang sistematikong arte poetica, alinsunod sa mga klasikong iskema nina Aristotle, Horace, Dante, Sidney, at iba pang sinusuob na paham.

Lumalabas sa pag-aaral ni Balmaseda na bukod sa ilang kaabalahan–sa papel na ginanap ng simbahan, ng sensura, ng iba’t ibang lugar sa paggamit ng tula (sa tanghalan, kapistahan at mga pagdiriwang) ay ito: ang tulang Tagalog ay ispiritung bumabagtas sa samotsaring pagkakataon ng walang gaanong metamorposis o transpormasyon. Ang diwa ni Balagtas ay hango sa mga naunang manlilikha at ipinamamana sa mga susunod na lipi. Parang aksidente lamang ang pagkabanggit ni Balmaseda sa importanteng institusyon ng balagtasan na “isa sa mga buko ng panahong lumikha ng kanyang matatamis na sandali sa panahong kasalukuyan, bagaman ang maalimpuyong silakbo ng nasabing ‘balagtasan’ ay tila mamamatay nang walang kapahepahesus, gaya ng paghihingalo ng ating kahina-hinayang na dulaan” (1974,90).  Di kaila na ang nakakubling intensiyon ni Balmaseda, na tila nahiyang ibunyag ay pagbubukod-bukod sa mga makata sa tradisyonal ng mga panahon ng ginto, pilak at tanso–isang arketipikal na pagtatasa sa yugto ng kasaysayan sa kabihasnang napulot sa Europa na sinala’t sinalok mula sa sangkaterbang sermon, pasyon, at mga ulirang modelo ng mga prayle.

Sa panlasa naman ni Agoncillo, si Batute ay walang atubiling kasama nina Gener, Panganiban, Hernandez, Rosario, at iba pa sa kapisanang Ilaw at Panitik. Kumpara sa Aklatang Bayan, ang sagisag ng pangkat ay may hiwatig ng katungkulan ng makatang maghatid ng kamulatan sa madla. Kumpara sa sumunod na grupo, ang sumunod na Panitikan nina Alejandro Abadilla at Clodualdo del Mundo, ang pangkat ni Batute ay katangi-tangi sapagkat ang panulaan ay “nabihisan ng maririkit na hiyas na nagpaningning sa katutubong kayaman ng wika.” Gaanong higit na karikit kaysa nasulat nina Santos, Regalado, Gatmaitan at Ramos? Hindi dinalirot ito o tiniyak sa kumparatibong paglalarawan.

Dagdag pa ni Agoncillo na ang mga tula nila ay kakikitaan ng ganitong pangkalahatang karakteristiko: “ang pagkakaroon ng malawak na guniguni,… ang paggamit ng iba’t ibang sukat sa mga taludtod ng isang tula,.. ang pamamalasak ng mga tulang nauukol sa pag-ibig,…ang pagiging labis na sentimental ng mga tula, ang pagiging uso ng mga tulang lantarang nangangaral na lalong inilalantad sa pagkakabit ng mga salitang “Diwa,” “Aral,” at “Buod” sa dakong katapusan ng tula; at karamihan ay nasisiyahan na sa mga pangungusap na de cajon (1970, 238-239). Sa malas, ang dalawang huling katangian lamang ang maikakabit sa estilo ng grupong ito sapagkat ang iba’y matutuklasan din sa mga tula ng naunang pangkat.  Halimbawa, sina Gatmaitan at Ramos ay kinilalang mapangahas sa pagpasok ng iba’t ibang uri ng sukat at tugma, na itinuro na ni Balmaseda at maiging pinatunayan ni Lumbera (1987, 81-86) at ni Delfin Tolentino Jr. (1998).

Tulad ni Balmaseda, binanggit ni Agoncillo ang balagtasan ngunit hindi siniyasat kung ano ang impluwensiya nito sa anyo, hugis, retorika, hulagway at iba pang bisang pedagohikal ng tula. Kung ang pangkat ng “Ilaw at Panitik” ang siyang nagpasinaya’t nagpayaman sa balagtasan, ano ang kontribusyon nito sa istruktura at tekstura ng tula? Lalaktawin ko ang sagot sa tanong na ito, na dapat imbestigahin. Ang institusyon ng “balagtasan,” sa taya ko, ang siyang naging pagkakataon at paraan upang maipagpatuloy ng mga makabayang intelektuwal na maipaabot ang simulain ng Katipunan, na bumuhay sa pakikibaka mula sa himagsikan ng 1896 hanggang sa pagsupil sa Republika ni Sakay noong 1907, at sa mutasyon nito sa mesayanikong insureksiyon noong dekada 1920-1940.

Bagamat di nakatambad ang simulaing mapagpalaya sa kumbensiyonal na ritwal at pormulistikong ayos ng balagtasan, mababanaagan doon sa likod ng tema ng timpalak ang udyok ng nasyonalismo, laluna sa paggamit ng bernakular at wani ng komunidad. Wala sa partikular na tayutay, tugma o salita ang subersibong hibo kundi kasanib sa pagtangkilik at pagtataguyod ng asal at gawing popular, na nakaugat pa sa ritwal ng duplo, korido, alamat at parodya ng mga Propagandista. Haluan ang bukal ng balagtasan: mula sa nakaugaliang aliwan sa mga nayon hanggang sa pasyon, sa korido ni Balagtas at palabirong diskurso ng mga Propagandista, na ikinawing sa pamproblematikong taktika at didaktikong estratehiya ng Banaag at Sikat, Pinaglahuan, atbp. Layon ng sining ay mobilisasyon ng kolektibong kaluluwa ng bayang nilulupig noon.

Parametro ng Pagbabalikwas

Gunitain na ipinagbawal ang hayag na pagtataguyod ng rebolusyonaryong damdamin at adhikain sa pagpapairal ng Sedition Law ng 1901, Ley de Bandolerismo ng 1902, at Reconcentration Act noong 1903. Nasugpo ang mga dula nina Juan Abad, Aurelio Tolentino, Tomas Remigio at Juan Matapang Cruz.  Mapanganib ang dalawang dekada (1900-1920) na kinasaksihan ng patuloy na gerilyang paglusob nina Heneral Luciano San Miguel, Faustino Guillermo, Sakay, at Ricarte.  Sa Bikol, sumiklab ang pagbabalikwas nina Simeon Ola at Lazaro Toledo. Patuloy rin ang rebelyon ng mga relihiyosong pangkat tulad ng kilusan ni Ruperto Rios sa Tayabas, ni Felipe Salvador sa Bulacan at Pampanga, at ni Papa Isio (Dionisio Magbuelas) sa Negros. Di dapat kaligtaan ang Pulajanes sa Leyte noong 1902-1907), ang “Dios-dios” sa Samar, at ang mga Kolorum at Tangulan na sumukdol sa pag-aalsa sa Tayug, Pangasinan, noong 1931, isang taon bago pumanaw si Batute (Constantino 1975).

Naging isang katalyst ang balagtasan sa henerasyon ni Batute (kasama sina Florentino Collantes, Amado V. Hernandez, Emilio Mar Antonio, atbp..  Gumana iyon di lamang sa pagsustento sa komunikasyon ng makata sa sambayanan kundi pagsala’t pagdalisay sa mapanlikha’t mapagmalasakit na damdamin at kaisipan na nakabalot sa kolektibong gawaing pamproduksiyon. Ang mga nakatutuwa’t mapagpaligayang aktibidad ay mahigpit na katulong sa reproduksiyon ng lakas-paggawa, ng pamilya at relasyong panlipunan. Tumutumbok na tayo sa kritikal na katayuan ng intelektuwal tulad ni Batute sa panahong lumaki siya’t nagkamuwang, taglay ang kamalayang may hinahangad higit sa personal na kapakanan.

Sumiklab ang himagsikan ng taong isinilang si Batute noong 22 Nobyembre 1896. Sa mga paaralang kanyang pinasukan–Liceo de Manila (Bachiller en Artes, 1916) at Academia de Leyes (Bachiller en Leyes, 1920), maitatakdang nasa uring mariwasa kaya matiwasay ang pamilya niya. Ang pagkahirang sa kanyang amang mediko bilang Direktor ng Kawanihan ng Sanidad ay isang palatandaan na nakaaangat ang katayuan nila, bukod sa malapit sa Amerikanong administraor.  Nakuhang ipasok siya sa tanyag na institusyong naghahanda ng mga kabataan para sa tungkulin sa gobyerno. Ngunit hindi na kumuha ng eksamen upang magpraktis–kumpisal ni Batute na nahilig siya sa pagsulat at naging empleyado ng Taliba noong 1918, at pagkatapos sa Pagkakaisa at Sampagita. Bukod sa pag-aaral ng abogasya, kumuha rin siya ng pag-awit kay Enrico Renieri, Italyanong direktor ng Opera Italyana, at nag-aral ng dibuho sa Bellas Artes ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (De Jesus, 1979, xvii). Testigo iyon sa saklaw ng kanyang potensiyalidad at pangarap.

Di pa nakahuhulagpos ang panitikan sa talukbong ng sining ng awitang pangkomunidad at pananalumpati. Ang pagkahilig ni Batute sa pagganap ng papel sa balagtasan, kaakibat ng kanyang paniniwala na may kakayahan din siya sa pag-awit at pagganap ng papel sa pelikula at politika (makalawang tumakbo siya sa halalan sa San Miguel, Bulacan), kaugnay ng pagsasanay niya sa publikong arena. Wari ni Batute na lagi siyang nagtatalumpati, nagdedebate (debateng patula ang duplo), kinakalkula ang bisa ng kanyang tinig sa tugon ng nakikinig (tingnan ang testigo ng kaibigang Teo Gener (Gener 1958, 84). Nais kong idiin dito na resiprokal ang ugnayan ng bibig at tainga: ang midya minsan ay siya na ring mensahe (naipanukala ni Marshall McLuhan [nilagom at sinuri ni Finkelstein 1968]).

Ang paglilitis sa hukuman ay isang tipo ng agon (katagang Griyego, kahulugan: paligsahan, na hango sa klasikong drama kung saan ang koro ay nahahati sa dalawa upang suhayan ang dalawang nagtatalong aktor. Bukod sa ritwal sa hukuman, masasaksihan ito sa sinaunang dulang bayan na may diwang mapandigma (Medina 1972, 23-25), itinatampok ang kunwaring away, alitan o larong paligsahan; at laluna sa duplo, ang padron ng balagtasan. Bukod sa biro, tudyo, bugtong, at dasal sa paggunita sa namatay, naipasok rin sa duplo ang samotsaring salik tulad ng kasabihan, salawikain, palaisipan, at paglilitis: “Kung ang layon sa karagatan ay pagsubok sa talino at tatag ng kalooban ng isang manliligaw, dito’y nililitis kung ang binintangan ay tunay na walang pagkakasala” (Abueg 1973, 21). Tiyak na nakawiwili ang duplong-naging-balagtasan sa estudyanteng inihanda ang diwa’t katawan sa abogasya; sa halip na hukuman, tangahalan sa pagdiriwang ang pook ng kanyang pagpapatunay sa kanyang dunong at kasanayan sa pangangatwiran, sa paghimok at paghikayat sa madla upang mag-isip at kumilos sa isang tiyak na direksiyon.

Interpelasyon ng Kaakuhan Sa Bibig at Mata

Sa balagtasan natamo ni Batute ang pagnanais sa publikong pagpapakita ng kanyang galin bilang makata/mananalumpati. Pumalit ang okasyon ng balagtasan sa mga dulang sinensor. Batay sa makabagong teorya ng estetika ng pagtanggap (reception aesthetics), sinikap ni Galileo Zafra na kilatisin ang balagtasan bilang matalisik at maiging anyo ng panitikang-bayan na mabisang nakapaghatid ng nasyonalistikong programa. Sa pagdalumat ni Zafra sa pangkulturang kahulugan ng balagtasan batay sa analisis ng inilathalang teksto nina Julian Balmaseda, Benigno Ramos at Inigo Ed. Regalado (pansinin na kabilang sila sa Aklatang Bayang nagkamulat sa panahon ng Digmaang Filipino-Amerikano), lumitaw na “ang isip at budhi ay umiral sa konteksto ng pagtuligsa sa pananakop at pagtuklas sa paglaya” (2006, 279). Sa gayon, isipan at budhi ang kasangkot, bukod sa “aktibo ang bayan sa pagpapairal ng katwiran” sa kompetisyong naidaos sa magasing Sampagita noong 1926.

Kakatwa na sa timpalak na inilunsad ng Sampagita, ginamit ang nailathalang balagtasan, hindi pinakinggan. Samakatwid, nanaig ang nakalimbag na salita, lumayo na sa daidig ng mito at alamat. Ang karanasan ng pagbasa ay tiwalag sa karanasan ng pagpasok ng salita sa kaluluwa. Idiniin ni Walter Ong ang “interiorizing economy of sound as perceived by human beings” kumpara sa binasang titik: “The centering action of sound..affects man’s sense of the cosmos. For oral cultures, the cosmos is an ongoing event with man as its center. Man is the umbilicus mundi, the navel of the world” (1982, 73). Sa pagwawagi ng kulturang limbag, namayani rin ang rehimen ng pamilihan, pagpapalitan ng halaga anuman iyon (pagkain, damit, katawan ng puta, hikaw, bahay, titulo, atbp). Naglaho ang mito ng banal na kaluluwa/budhi, sumalisi ang masahol na alyenasyong nagpaurong sa makata mula sa lubusang pakikisanib sa proletaryadong masa upang bumalik sa kinaugaliang mundo ng walang pag-asang pag-ibig, idealismong may bahid ng relihiyon, panaginip at pangarap na buhay lamang kung may panunudyo, pagbibiro, pang-uuyam. Totoong bumalik sa pusod ng madla ang makata, ngunit ang pagkakabuklod na ito ay bahagi ng malaking Ispektakulo (Debord 1977), karnabal ng mata, tainga, ilong, dila, na puso ng patubuan ng monopolyo kapital. Kabalintunaan at ironikal ang kinahinatnan. Hindi rin nakatakas sa lambat ng imperyalistang proyektong isudlong ang lohika ng malayang pagpapalitan/bilihan (paglalako ng bawat mapapakinabangang lakas ng mamamayan; exchangeable labor power) sa piyudal na kaayusan at super-istrukturang oskurantistiko.

Mahalaga’t mapagpahiwatig ang pag-aaral ni Zafra sa mga diskurso ng pagtatalong iyon, na patunay na hindi lamang pag-ibig ang paksa ng mga mambabalagtas. Ngunit hindi sapat ang isa lamang halimbawa sa pagpapatibay ng ipotesis niya; kailangan ang malawig at maingat na usisang empirikal-sosyolohikal. Sa palagay ko, bagamat primaryang eksibit ang teksto, kailangan ang pragmatikong demonstrasyon ng interaksyon ng makata at awdiyens sa pamamagitan ng potograpo o maraming salaysay ng nangyari sa bawat okasyon na siguradong makapagdagdag ng ibang katibayan sa naitampok na ebidensiyang tekstuwal.

Ang nakaligtaan ng mga iskolar ng balagtasan, buhat pa sa mga obserbasyon nina Balmaseda, Gener, Collantes, atbp., ay ang malaking epekto ng pagpasok ng limbag na panitikan, ang babasahin, ang gayuma ng nilathalang tula, nobela, dagli, kuwento at kathang anekdota/balita sa pahayagan. Bagamat hindi nakasugpo sa aliwang kuha sa entablado ng orador at tanghalan ng zarzuela, bodabil at pelikula, ang paglaho ng tula pasalita/pambigkas at paghalili ng binabasang katha ay tagumpay ng komodipikasyon. Isipin na lamang kung ilang milyong graduweyt sa edukasyong pangmasa ng kolonya ang bubuo ng bagong awdiyens ng mga sumusulat sa diyaryo, lingguhan at iba pang lathalain. Tagumpay ito ng kultura ng indibidwalismong hiwalay sa madla, indibdwalismong unti-unting naaawat sa pagsuso sa “bibig” ng orador ng partido, ng sermon sa simbahan, ng inimbitang taga-aliw, taliba o tribuno sa pagpupulong o pagdiriwang pambayan.

Ang paglipat sa kulturang Gutenberg mula sa kulturang pasalita’t pakinig ay hudyat ng pagwawagi ng sistema ng replikasyon ng porma, pag-uulit-ulit ng anyo tiwalag sa kalamnan, na siyang dinamikong makinarya ng karanasan ng kumplikadong pakikipagsapalaran sa materyalistikong kabuhayan.

Sa ganitong pagbabago, maitanong natin: paano nailigtas ni Batute ang kalamnan ng minanang karanasan, ang dinamikong potensiyal na nakulong sa inulit-ulit na parirala/taludtod, tulad ng makikita sa pag-uulit ng motifs ng kamatayan, pagsusumamo ng damay sa palasintahang padron? Umiral ang estilong ito mula sa unang tulang “Pangungulila” hanggang popular na piyesang “Pag-ibig,” “Hindi Man Lamang Nakita,” “Kahit Saan,” “Pamana,”  “Ang Huli Kong Alaala,” “Poor Butterfly,” at marahil 80% ng 4,800  tulang lumbas sa Taliba at sa iba pang lathalain. Lumawig ito sapagkat ito ang kinagiliwan at kinawilihan, laging hinihiling at inaasahan ng masa.

Ang pagsasalisi ng parirala, imahen tulad ng “puting panyo,” luha, bituin, mga penomena sa kalikasan na salamin ng damdamin, at pagbalasa sa mga ito, ay nasubok na mabisang metodolohiya ng kulturang pasalita/pakinig. Ang kulturang ito ay nakagayak at gumaganyak patungo sa romantikong ideyal ng sining bilang musika ng Logos. Narito ang metapisika ng romantisisimo ni Batute at mga kapanalig.  Sa kabila nito, maimumungkahi na sintomas din ito na nasaid na ang bukal ng orihinalidad, at nagkasya na lamang ihele ang madla sa malamyos na salimbay ng tinig hiwalay sa isip o budhi, sa katwiran at bisyong etikal-politikal. Sa malas, oo nga, ngunit sa muling sipat, makikitang resiprokal o diyalektikal ang ugnayan ng magkasalungat na panig (pagbasa, pakikinig) sa kasaysayan, at dapat isaalang-alang ito upang di masadlak sa kaliwa’t kanang oportunismo.

Pinagbuhatan  ng Organikong Intelektuwal

Ang minanang papel na ginagampanan ng intelektuwal sa Pilipinas ay nakaugat sa paghahari ng Simbahang Katoliko noong panahon ng kolonyalismong Espanol.  Ang mga paring bumuo ng mga diksiyonaryo at pasyon (mula kay Gaspar Aquino de Belen) hanggang sa mga ladino (Fernando Bagongbanta, Tomas Pinpin) at Francisco Baltazar ay pawang kontrolado ng sensura (gobyerno, mga frayle). Sina Baltazar at Jose de la Cruz ay tila nakaiwas dahil sa patronaheng indibidwal o komersiyal. Sila’y tinaguriang tradisyonal na intelektuwal, alinsunod sa klasipikasyon ni Antonio Gramsci (1971). Salungat o lihis sa kanila, ang organikong intelektuwal ng taumbayan tulad nina Del Pilar, Jacinto at Bonifacio ay nakaugat sa mga pesante, magbubukid, o manggagawa, sanhi sa piyudal at teokratikang kaayusan ng ekonomiyang pampolitika.

Malapit o halos kaagapay ang ilang ilustrado tulad nina Rizal, Juan Luna at Antonio Luna, Apolinario Mabini, Isabelo de los Reyes, na malapit din sa inaapi’t pinagsasamantalahang masa. Taliba at kinatawan sila ng nakararaming dinuhagi’t inalipusta ng kapanyarihan ng Simbahan at burokrasyang Espanyol. Nang dumating at magtagumpay ang imperyalistang Amerikano, napailalim sila ng administrasyong Amerikano (bilang mga mababang kawani, guro, sundalo) at sa lumagong institusyon ng peryodismo, paaralan, atbp. Upang maakit ang dating partisano ng rebolusyon, pinayagan ang limitadong paglalathala ng peryodiko, lingguhan at iba pang babasahin upang masilo ang simpatiya ng mga edukadong hanay sa programa ng Amerikanisasyong idinaan sa maraming paraan, una na ang libreng edukasyon ng kabataan; pangalawa, ang sapilitang paggamit ng wikang Ingles; at pangatlo, ang pagbukas ng pwesto sa kawanihan ng pulis, sandatahang hukbo at mababang puwesto sa mga iba’t ibang kawanihan. Ang pinakamapanuksong istratehiya ay inuulit na pangakong dudulutan tayo ng ganap na kasarinlan sa hinaharap–ang biglang himalang pagbaba ng Anghel ng Huling Paghuhukom!

Kung nagpatuloy si Batute sa abogasya, marahil ang mga kliyente niya ay mga mayayamang mestizo at mariwasang angkan. Sa kalaunan, ang kanyang pag-iisip, damdamin, hilig at pangarap ay mabibilanggo sa sirkulo ng petiburgesya o piyudal na paniwala, panindigan at ugali. Lubhang malalayo siya sa karaniwang mamamayan–mga nagbabatak ng butong trabahador sa palengke, mga manggagawa sa pabrika at daungan, magsasaka sa mga plantasyon ng tubo, tabako, abaka, at iba pang hilaw na materyales na pinagbubuhatan ng di-matingkalang tubo. Sa pagpasiya niyang mamalaging kolumnista sa peryodiko, naging malapit siya sa ordinaryong tao–sa masang walang kapangyarihan, laging binubusabos, biktima ng pamahiin at katusuhan ng mapag-imbot na dayuhan kasabwat ang malupit na panginoong maylupa.

Salig at hawa sa gawaing pamamahayag, ang mga tudling patula ni Batute ay lumalahok sa mga maapoy na usapin, pangunahin na ang isyu ng independensiya. Marubdob din ang pagdemanda niya ng katarungan para sa trabahador sa pabrika at sakahan, ang masahol na kawalan ng lupa o pagkakakitaan, pag-aabuso ng mga uring may pribilehiyo, at kasalatang pangkabuhayan ng nakararami. Sa ganitong pagbuno sa suliranin ng balana, pati na sa kanilang natatanging paraan ng paglalarawan o idyoma ng pagsisiwalat ng kalooban, natuto si Batute na mabilisang humubog ng tulang madaling maiintindihan ng madla at makaaantig sa damdamin, bagamat kinulapulan iyon ng magulo’t malumot na haka-haka, hinagap, rahuyo at de-kahong palamuti. Tulad ng mga kilusang milenarya–ang Kolorum, Tanggulan, kulto nina Pedro Kabola, Apo Ipe, Papa Isio, atbp–ang sentido komun na masisinag sa mga panitikang pambayan ay kargado pa rin ng pananampalatayang pyudal at oskurantistiko, sampu ng pantastikong utopya, mirakulong Dangal ng Lahi, at mitolohiya ng maluwalhating katubusan. Maaring mangibabaw ito upang suportahan ang isang populistang liderato o pasistang partido. At maari ding maibaling sa isang progresibo bagamat repormistang direksiyon. Ang mabigat na layunin ay kung paano maipapanday ang malabo, sabog o haluhalong tendensiyang ito upang maging mabuting kagamitan o sandata sa rebolusyonaryong transpormasyon ng lipunan at buhay ng karaniwang tao.

Iyon ang matinik na hamon sa mga organikong intelektuwal ng gumigising na masa tulad ni Batute. Paano pag-iibayuhin ang masiglang mobilisasyon ng masa sa bisa ng pamamahayag, partikular sa bisa ng panulang tudling sa pang-araw-araw? Natural, hindi ito sumiksik sa ganitong anyo sa utak ni Batute. Subalit maitatanong kung ano ang layon ng kanyang pagsusulat? Iyon ba upang kumita ng salapi, umakit na maraming taga-hanga, o maging tuntungan upang makamit ang mas mataas na ambisyon?  Sa anu’t anuman, ang organikong intelektwal na kasangkot sa peryodismo, tulad nina Lope K Santos, Faustino Aguilar, Amado V. Hernandez at iba pa, ay natulak sa paggamit ng kanilang dunong, kahusayan sa pagsulat, at katalasan ng pagsusuri sa pagtarok ng mga nangyayari sa kabuhayan. Sinikap nilang makatulong sa kolektibong mithiing noo’y bumubulas sa pagbuo ng mga unyon, sa organisasyon ng aklasan, at iba pang hakbanging makamumulat sa nakararami upang makisangkot sa makatuturang pagbabago ng kanilang lipunan at kabuhayan. Ang kalayaan at kasarinlan, na kanilang ipinapakita sa kanilang salita sa pahayagan at balitaktakan, ay siyang adhikaing naisasakatuparan sa kanilang pakikilahok sa publikong pagsasanay ng kanilang karapatan at mapagmalay na pagkatao.

Masaklap na Kadluan ng Aliw

Pansamantalang ilagom natin ang naitalakay sa itaas.  Una, ang pangkat ni Batute ay sumupling sa isang takdang yugto ng kasaysayan kung saan ang paraan ng tradisyonal na pagpapahayag ay napalitan ng makabagong gawi sa ilalim ng mapanlinlang na pamamahala ng kapitalismong kapangyarihan. Nakibagay sila. Kaunting nakaungos mula sa dominasyon ng Simbahan at piyudal na ugali, natuto at nasanay sila sa idyoma at pangitain ng Katipunan at ng mga Propagandista (laging ipinagbubunyi ni Batute sina Rizal, Plaridel, Luna atbp). Ipinagbunyi nila ang kabayanihan nina Sakay at alagad ng maraming pagbabalikwas noong dekada 1910 hanggang Komonwelt ng 1935. Gayunpaman, sinunggaban nila ang sumulpot na mga pagkakataong magamit ang katutubong wika upang manatiling kapiling ng sambayanang kadluan ng kanilang talino, guniguni, budhi at damdamin.

Ang uring pinagmulan ni Batute ay nagtamasa ng unang pagluluwag sa pagpasok sa burokrasya at sa pamamahayag. Iniwan ni Batute ang abogasya upang ibuhos ang lakas sa pamamahayag, kaalinsabay ng pakikisangkot sa institusyon ng balagtasan noong magsimula iyon noong 1924. Sa ganitong ebolusyon ng kanyang okupasyon, siya ay naging organikong intelektuwal ng masa (mahal din siya ng mga migranteng Filipino sa Hawaii). Naisatinig niya ang mga kontradiksiyong gumigiyagis sa kamalayan ng masa, at nabigyan niya ng kongkretong katawan at mukha ang masalimuot na katayuan nito.  Pansumandaling nalutas ang hidwaan ang pangungulila at pakikipagkapwa-tao. Ang katanungang bumugso sa bukana ng paglilingkod ni Batute ay maipapahiwatig sa ganitong tanong: anong uri ng mediyasyon o metodo ng pagbubuklod ng loob at labas ang masasaksihan sa kanyang mga katha? Saan kinuha ang materyales sa pagbuo ng natatanging hugis, kulay, himig o estilo ng panulaan ni Batute?  Iyon ba ang nakatulong sa pagmumulat sa madla o nakapagdulot lamang ng pansamantalang aliw? Ano ang masasabing pangmatagalang impak ng “romantikong” kaakuhang bukambibig ni Batute?

Sa isang masinop na pagsipat sa itineraryo ng panulaang Tagalog, nirepaso ni Efren Abueg ang dahilan ng mapinsalang romantisismong kumitil sa pagsulong ng pagbabagong inilunsad ng 1896 rebolusyon. Nang binusalan ng Batas ng Sedisyon ang mga patriyotang mandudulang natukoy na natin, dumagsa ang literaturang Kanluranin, laluna ang mga akda nina Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley at Keats (isama na sina Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irving na pinabasa sa haiskul at kolehiyo). Lumaganap sa paaralan, tahanan, aklatan, at bumungad din sa publikong lunan (public sphere), puwang ng pagpapalitang-kuro tiwalag sa gobyerno’t negosyo, tulad nga ng balagtasan, pribadong asosasyong pampropesyonal, pagpupulong sa mga nayon sa panahon ng pista, lamayan, koronasyon, at iba pang pagdiriwang.

Narito ang pagtatasa ni Abueg sa nakapipinsalang epekto ng Amerikanisasyon: “Sa unang labing-anim na taon ng pananakop ng mga Amerikano, ang mga makatang tulad nina Patricio Mariano, Lope K. Santos, Francisco Laxamana at Pedro at Carlos Gatmaitan ay hindi na nakapagpatuloy sa pagpapaalab sa diwa ng kilusang nasyonalismo…Bagama’t sa ilang pagkakataon ay ipinaghimutok nila ang pagkakahadlang sa pagsasarili ng Pilipinas….ang karamihan sa kanilang pinaksa ay ukol sa buhay at pag-ibig, na buong lambing at indayog na inawit nila sa kanilang mga taludturan. Humantong ito sa pagkalikha ng ilusyon sa isip ng taumbayan na patungo sa pangakong ‘kalayaan ang Pilipinas’ ” (1973, 30-31). Pagkuta ito sa sobrang pagkahumaling ng manunulat sa melodramatikong manerismong nanaig noon sa kadahilanang naturol: krisis ng pagkatao sa pagitan ng dalawang tipo ng kolonisasyon. Tulad ng mga kasapi sa partido Nacionalista at Democrata, nakagayuma sa kanila ang mga pangako ng kolonyalismo (mula kay Taft hanggang kay Wilson) na gagantimpalaan ng kasarinlan ang nasakop, at tuloy nabulid sa “eskapismo.”

Marahas ba o karapat-dapat ang paghuhukom ni Abueg? Naidugtong pa niya na namayani ang mga “makata ng puso,” na siya ring “makata ng buhay,” hanggang 1935 nang magrebelde ang mga kabataang hinimok ni Alejandro Abadilla. Bagamat bumatikos at sumuri sina Batute, Hernandez (na tiyak na batid ang mapangahas na paglihis nina Benigno Ramos at Pedro Gatmaitan, ang huli sa mga tulang “Sa Tiyan ng Panahon” at “Pinaglahuan”) sa mga pangyayaring nagaganap sa kanilang kapaligiran, hindi nila naiwasang makatulong sa pagkondisyon sa “kaisipang-Pilipino na tanggapin ang ‘kapalaran’ ng buhay, na mapagtitiisan naman sapagkat may aliwang tulad ng mga tulang punong-puno ng romansa, gayundin ng namalasak na balagtasan magmula ng 1923″ (1973, 31). Pati “balagtasan” ay naging kolaboreytor sa pagtatalikod sa dakilang simulain ng rebolusyon.  Subalit hindi rin nakaigpaw si Abueg sa pagturing ni Agoncillo na nadungisan at napahamak ang sining dahil sa labis na sentimentalismo at didaktisismo.

Halimbawang Nabuwang?

Kahit sa matimping pagkilatis ni Abueg, kondenado rin si Batute, maliban sa tulang “Isang Punongkahoy” na, ayon kay Pedro Ricarte, ay malalim na pagsusuri sa “kung ano ang buhay, ukol sa kung ano ang eksistensiya.”  Subalit  dapat igiit na buhay at eksistensiya ay hindi singkahulugan, sa anumang pamantayan.  Karapat-dapat nang pag-ukulan ngayon ng maiging pag-uusisa ang singularidad ng panulaan ni Batute na tila nag-tulak kay Virgilio Almario na humabi ng isang “ontolohikong pagbasa” sa kanyang mapaghawang libro, Ang Makata sa Panahon ng Makina. Dito na rin masasagot ang tanong kung anong  kosmolohiya o pananaw-sa-daigdig (ideolohiya, sa payak na etiketa) ang nag-ugnay sa kamalayan ng makata at ng lipunan? Paano nayari ang sintesis ng karanasan at haraya, damdamin at ideya, ang mapanlikhang guniguni ng makata at makasalanang kalikasan–mga magkasalungat na elementong hulog ng Hudeo-Kristyanong kabihasnan. Sa isang salita, anong uri ng romantisismo–kung totoo nga–ang matatagpuan sa sining ni Batute?

Bukod sa “Ang Pagbabalik,” “Ang Manok Kong Bulik,” “Barong Tagalog,” “Ang Bato,”  “Kahit Saan,” “Bituin at Panganorin” at “Pamana,”  ang tulang “Isang Punong Kahoy” ang pinakapopular na tula ni Batute na lumabas noong Abril 15, 1932, ilang linggo bago siya pumanaw.  (Almario 2006, 267). Sa unang malas, isang malumbay na dalit o elehiya sa sarili ang namumutawi sa bibig ng nangungusap, ang punong-kahoy, ang persona ng makata. Pinaksa ang maikling buhay at pagkamatay ng punong-kahoy. Ngunit sa muling pagtitig, may pailalim na tinig na magkahalong ngitngit at galit. Masasalat din na magulo’t walang lohika ang pagkakabit-kabit ng hulagway. Halimbawa, sa unang saknong, “nakadipa” ang persona, tapos nakaluhod, tapos yumayapos sa paa ng Diyos. Isa pa: “Kahoy na nabuwal sa pagkakahiga”?  Sa ika-anim na saknong masisipat ang dahilan ng tadhanang inilalarawan: “natuyo, namatay sa sariling aliw/Naging kurus ako ng pagsuyong laing.” Kaipala’y pagsuyong lanta o kupas ang ibinurol sa tula.  Ito kaya ay alusyon sa paglabag ni Batute sa lipunan nang iwan niya ang asawa’t anak at tumakas sa Hong Kong, noong Marso 1926, kapiling ng kaulayaw na si “Bituin” ? Dito, ang “buwan” ay “tila nagdarasal,/ako’y binabati ng ngiting malamlam.”

Lumalabas na ang tunay na paksa ay hindi ang paglipas ng panahon, ang pagtanda’t panghihina ng isang halaman. Ang talagang tema ay ang pagbabaligtad ng kapalaran, ang tila di makatwiran o makatarungang nangyari. Bakit nagkaganito, tanong ng punong-kahoy. May rason ba sa tadhanang ipinataw ng lipunan?  Kinasangkapan ng kabihasnan (korona, kurus) ang kalikasan (sanga, dahon)–palasak na romantikong daing at pagtutol. Madaling putulin ang pagninilay na ito sa hatol ni Almario, na ang tula ay tungkol sa “malagim na pangitain ng pagiging inutil at kawalang-katuturan ng buhay,” ngunit di ito makababawi sa “kawalan ng tumpak na pananaw o punto de vista ng makata? (1972, 35, 40).

Isang intermisyong pangkasaysayan muna.  Sa kasaysayan ng romantisismo sa Europa (1790-1830), ang pangunahing pagsisikap ng makata ay pagsasanib ng saloobing bisyon/wani at karanasan sa daigdig sa pamamagitan ng isang mapanlikhang lakas (imahinasyon, hibong ispiritwal). Ang rekonsilyasyon ng loob at labas, ng diwa at kalikasan, ay makakamit sa operasyong sintetika o mapagbuo ng guniguni. Nagbubunga ito ng isang sensibilidad kaakibat ng buhay na nag-uugnay sa tao at kalikasan sa harap ng isang diyos o puwersang transendental. Litaw na malaki ang impluwensiya ng Kristyanidad, ngunit sa daloy ng sekularisasyon sa panahon ng Rebolusyong Industrial, ang romantikong moda ay rebelyon laban sa awtoridad, dogmatismo, at pagsupil sa katawan at seksuwal/sensuwal na kakanyahan ng indibidwal. Damdamin, intuisyon, panaginip–ito’y nasugpo ng rasong institusyonal, kayat naging manhid o patay ang kalikasan. Upang buhayin ang daigdig, kailangang matuklasan muli ng bawat tao ang bukal na mapanlikhang pandama na siyang magkasasal  sa mga bagay sa kalikasan at mapanlikhang guniguning humihinga sa kaluluwa ng bawat nilikha (Frye 1968). Ang simbolo ang siyang integral at matakatuturang pagtatalik ng mga kontradiksiyon o hidwaan sa buhay.  Hangarin nito ang isang mapagbuklod o mapagtalik na bisyong naikatawan sa simbolo o sagisag na magtutubos sa “the weary weight of all this unintelligible world” (Wordsworth).

Dikskriminasyon ng Simbolo at Alegorya

Sa lantay na romantikong ulirat, ang Logos, Salita, o mapanlikhang imahinasyon ang kalutasan sa lahat ng problema sa buhay. Ito ba ang pinaksa ni Batute sa “Isang Punong Kahoy”? Sa lahat ng mga tulang gumagamit ng imaheng hango sa kalikasan–hangin, baging, bato, rosas, damo, ulan, ulap, uwak–o sa buhay sa lungsod, liban na ang mga tulang pasalaysay at realistiko, nangingibabaw ang tendensiyang isudlong ang mga bagay sa isang konsepto o ideya. Resulta nito ay estilong alegorikal, isang metodong magkaagapay ang abstraktong kaisipan at nadaramang larawan o tauhan.

Mga tanyag na halimbawa ng tipong alegorikal ang The Faerie Queen ni Spenser, Pilgrim’s Progress ni Bunyan, 1984 ni Orwell, at ang tulang pasalaysay ni Batute, “Sa Dakong Silangan.” Nakasalig ito sa matandang ermenyutikong diskurso sa pagpapakahulugan sa Bibliya, isang antas sa pagkaunawa sa Logos ng Lumikha. Sa pilosopiya ni Coleridge at mga kapanalig sa Alemanya, sa halip na piliin ang alegorikong ugali, isinaisantabi ito bilang mababa’t walang saysay na paglilikom lamang ng mga produkto ng Fancy, hindi ng Imahinasyon. Simbolo o integral na sagisag, ang tanging makapag-uugnay sa Kalikasang panlabas at Imahinasyong panloob, na kagawig ng banal na Logos.

Sa pagsusulit ni Walter Benjamin (1977), ang romantikong Simbolo ay isang pagtalikod sa kabuhayan, sa kalikasan, upang sambahin at suubin ang egotistikong sarili (Jameson 1971; Eagleton 1990). Namayani rito ang indibidwalistikong kaligtasan, nakakubli sa mapagkunwaring kawang-gawa. Sa kanyang pag-aaral sa Trauerspiel o trahedyang baroque sa Alemanya sa panahon may pagkakahawig sa katayuan ng Pilipinas bilang kolonya’t piyudal na bayan, ang alegorikong wani at sensibilidad ang siyang mabisang makapaglalarawan sa tunay na nagaganap sa modernidad. Kaya ang mortipikasyon, paghinto sa daloy ng kalakaran, ang tahasang itinatampok sa tanawin ng guho, pagkasira ng gusalli, pagkadurog at pagkawatak-watak ng niyaring istruktura o produkto, mga giba’t lansag na gamit at kasangkapan. Sa halip na organikong totalidad ng simbolo, sinalungguhitan ng barokong alegorya ang natigil o nahintong kilos, pinatid o nilagot na proseso. Sa ganitong paraan, lahat ng bagay ay maaring baging senyal o signos sa pagtatambad ng puwang  sa gitna ng gulong ng kasaysayan kung saan ang mapanuring isip ay makasisingit upang pasabugin ang status quo, ang normal na kaayusan at paulit-ulit na takbo ng mga pangyayaring ginagabayan ng imperyalistang kapital (Roberts 1983; Adorno 1967). Nakakintal dito ang rebolusyonaryong ganyak ng alegorikong istratehiya sa panulaan ni Batute.

Sa perspektibang ito, ang minanang mga ideya, saloobin, damdamin at nais mula sa piyudal-Kristyanong orden ay pinagdurug-durog sa samot-saring bahagi upang piliin ang ilang paksang-diwa at imahen na magagamit sa istruktura ng bagong alegorikong padron. Halimbawa, ang krus, organo at orasyon ay itinahi sa isang habing magusot upang magsaad ng artipisyal na kaisahan ng paysaheng naiguhit. Sa ganitong analisis, ang artipisyal na pagsudlong ng pagsuyong isinumpa at halamang tumanda ay demonstrasyon ng alegorikong proseso ng pananalinghaga.

Ang magulong impresyong napansin ay epekto ng biglang pag-iba ng punong-kahoy; hindi tumanda ang punong-kahoy sa paglipas ng panahon kundi pilit na pinaluoy at pinatay–tulad ng pagputol sa himagsikan sa paglusob ng imperyalistang Amerikano at pag-agaw sa tagumpay ng Republika laban sa kolonyolistang Espanyol. Sa di-umano’y mapayapang “Filipinization” pagkasupil sa kampon ni Sakay, nailunsad ang Philippine Assembly noong 1907, ang Harrison-Wilson palisi noong 1912 at Jones Law noong 1916 (na nakaagnas sa memorya ng marahas na paglupig sa bayan) at sunud-sunod na Misyong Pang-independensiya mula 1920 hanggang 1932.  Nang mamatay si Batute, handa nang ipasa ang Hare Hawes Cutting Act na magtatakda ng ganap na kasarinlan, isa pang hakbang upang mabura ang kilabot ng pagkitil sa 1.4 milyong Pilipinong tumutol sa parusang iginiit ng Estados Unidos sa Pilipinas (Agoncillo 1967; Pomeroy 1992) .

Ang nasagkaang daloy ng kasaysayan at pagsungaw ng biyak o agwat (mula 1896 hanggang 1931 kung saan inaresto ang 400 kasapi sa Unang Kongreso ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas) sa Maynila, sa taya ko, ang pinakamasidhing motibasyon ng mga tula ni Batute, sa pangkahalatang turing. Walang pasubali iyon sa mga tulang parangal sa mga bayani (Rizal, Plaridel, Luna, Balagtas) at sa kanyang ina. Ang maternal o matriyarkal na paksang-diwa ay hiram sa mitolohiya ng Simbahan at naging palasak na ikonograpiya sa korido, pasyon, pinta, iskultura at arkitektura sa tatlong dantaon ng kolonyalismong Espanyol. Hinalaw ni Batute iyon, pati na ang ideolohiyang makinarya ng “courtly love” o maginoong palasintahan (sa wastong kataga, marangal na pakikiapid o tangkang pangangalunya) ng mga kortesano sa Europa (na may ugat sa kabihasnang Arabo). Dinamikong makinarya ito sa lahat ng mga tula sa babaing pinipintuho, sa tambalang epiko-alamat ng “Gloria,” at sa “Ang Pagbabalik.”

Agunyas sa Gubat ng Lungsod

Isang parentetikal na palaisipan ang nais kong ibulaga rito. Hindi bulag na alagad ng tradisyon o ng kulto ng romantikong palasintahan sa Batute na sanay sa negosyo ng balagtasan, peryodismo at politika (naging kasapi siya sa partido Nacionalista). Itinala na nagtanan sila ni Asuncion Lakdan noong 1918, bisperas ng Oktubreng rebolusyon sa Rusya, at bago siya natapos ng abogasya noong 1920. Dalawang taon na ang operasyon ng Philippine Assembly na itinakda ng 1916 Jones Law. Nalathala ang unang tula niya, “Pangungulila,” sa Ang Mithi noong 1912 o 1913, nang siya’y estudyante pa sa Liceo de Manila. Pinagkapuri niya ang sagisag na “Makata ng Pag-ibig” sa isang halalan ng Ang Mithi noong 1916 (De Jesus,  1979, xviii). Dapat salungguhitan na ang pagpapasinaya ng balagtasan ay nangyari sa bulwagan ng Instituto de Mujeres noong Abril 6, 1924 (Agoncillo 1970, 239), lugar ng masikhay na pagbabandila ng dangal at birtud ng malayang kababaihang tumatalunton sa nahawang landas ng mga kababaing sa Malolos na pinukaw ni Rizal noong Pebrero 22, 1889.

Mababanggit pa ang pagkapanalo niya sa balagtasan sa Olympic Stadium noong Oktubre 18, 1925 laban kay Florentino Collantes, naging “Hari ng Balagtasan” si Batute. Ngunit hindi pa nasiyahan. Sumunod ang eskandalong malaki  nang magkasabwat niya si “Bituin,” isang kasintahang guro, na magtungong Hong Kong, noong Marso 1926 at pagkatapos ng dalawang buwan ng liwaliw at balisa, bumalik sa pamilya at humingi ng tawad sa asawa (Almario 1984, 23-25; Nemenzo 1993). Napagpaliban ang pagkariwara ng punong-kahoy.

Kaalinsabay ang masiglang pag-unlad ng organisasyong mapagpalaya. Samantala, noong 1924, lumago ang Kalipunang Pambansa sa mga Magbubukid sa Pilipinas na sumanib sa Partido Obrero de Filipinas,  habang kumukulo ang aklasan ng mga pesanteng pinalayas sa kanilang sinasakang lupain sa Rizal, Laguna at Bataan. Nagawa rin ang Thompson Report noong 1926 na idineklara na hindi pa panahon upang mabigyan ng kasarinlan ang Pilipinas (Agoncillo & Alfonso 1967, 376). Dapat ding itala rito na ang pinakaunang unyon naitayo sa Pilipinas noong Hunyo 1901 ay ang Union de Impresores sa loob ng pabrika ng Manila Times, pag-aari ng Amerikano; nakasama ang mga impresores sa Union Obrera Democratica noong 1902 (pinamunuan ni Isabelo de los Reyes) nang lumawak ito (Guevarra 1992). Walang alinlangang malaki’t malalim ang impluwensiya ng mga kasapi ng unyon sa Taliba sa mga peryodista doon, kabilang na si Batute.

Sa gitna ng bumubukong krisis sa magkabila-kabila, di nabahala ang makata. Ang determinasyon ng kortesano ay di masasagkaan. Administrasyon ni Leonard Wood pa noon kung saan nagbitaw ng posisyon ang lahat ng miyiembro ng Gabinete  bilang protesta sa kalabisang abuso ni Wood. Kinasaksihan din noon ang mobilisasyon ng libu-libong pesante sa Nueva Ecija sa pamununo ni Pedro Kabola. Di pa natapos ang tatlong taon, bumagsak ang Wall Street at gumuho ang inakalang katatagan at higit na kagalingan ng monopolyo kapital. Nahihinog na ang binhi ng Tayug at Sakdalistang kilusan pagkatapos bumalik ang magkasintahan sa Maynila hanggang pagkamatay ni Batute noong Mayo 26, 1932.

Walang Destinasyong Balikbayan

Mapagmumuni na ang “Ang Pagbabalik,” na kahawig ng unibersal na topoi sa literaturang pandaigdigan, ay antiklimatikong ensayo para sa eskandalo ng 1926.  Marahuyong sinuri ni Almario ang porma nito sa isang mahabang kabanata ng Pag-unawa sa Ating Pagtula.  Makulit na pagbusisi sa prosodya, sa pagsasalansan ng parirala, taludtod at tugma ang naisakatuparan ni Almario; tiyak na makatutulong ito sa pagbalangkas ng iba’t ibang interpretasyon ayon sa nagbabagong lagay ng kritiko at mambabasa sa hinaharap. Sapantaha kong pinili ni Almario ang makahulugang Griyegong mitong basehan ng “Antaeus Syndrome”  upang lumihis sa Kristiyanong kuwadro ng ikonograpiya, ngunit ang pagkakaibang ito’y hindi naitalakay sa akda.

Maaalala na minsa’y pinuwing si Marx dahil kaipala’y lumabag siya sa kanyang batas ng pagsulong: ang alindog ng sining ng mga Griyego at kahigtan nito sa burgesyang sining ay di angkop sa primitibong puwersa ng produksiyon noon. Ngunit ang kabalintunaang ito’y matagal nang naipaliwanag ni Max Raphael (1933) at iba pang iskolar. Nagkaroon ng di-pagkakatugma dahil ang mga paniniwalang namamagitan sa istruktura ng sining, ang mitolohiya sa epiko ni Homer, ay may relatibong autonomiya sa basehang pang-ekonomiya; at hindi mekanikal ang relasyon ng ideolohiya at saligang materyal. Gayundin ang masasabi tungkol sa agwat ng mga himutok at kabalintunaan sa tula ni Batute at ang materyal na kondisyon ng kanyang buhay sa isang tiyak na yugto ng kasaysayan. Samaktwid, diyalektikal din ang relasyon ng praktikang pang-ideolohiya at saligang pang-ekonomya, at hindi maisasaklob ang interaksyon ng mga ito lahat sa isang absolutong batas o pormula.

Ang eskandalo ng 1926 ay muhong palatandaan ng liku-liko, tigib ng parikala at kontradiksiyon, ang ugnayan ng sining at realidad. Totoo ngang di makaalpas ang ibon sa hawla ng ugali at tradisyon, bagamat mapusok ang mapanghimagsik na dibdib at utak.  Walang sintesis o rekonsilyasyon o sinkretikong kasunduang matatagpuan. Magagagap lamang ang kasalimuotang ito sa paglapat ng oryentasyong materyalismong diyalektikal at sa pagtanggap na hindi ganap ang estetikong pagtimbang ng walang etikal-politikal na pagpapasiya ang kritiko upang madulutan ng panibagong buhay, ng resureksiyon, ang ibinaong lakas ng akda. Ano nga ba ang responsibilidad ng kritiko sa makata, sa bayan at sa sangkatauhan sa mapanganib na krisis ng buong planeta?

Sa harap ng kontekstong historikal-biograpikal, iginiit ni Almario na ang tula ay hindi tulad ng “Ang Kuwago” na may palasak na Gotikong atmospera: “Muli, ibig kong ipanukala,  na higit na interesado si J.C. de Jesus sa kaganapan ng programang pang-estetika ng kaniyang tula kaysa maglirip sa sosyo-sikolohikong  dimension ng siklong pag-alis/pagbabalik.  Higit siyang preokupado sa pagsasadula sa alindog ng alingawngaw, sa salimuot na pormalista ng “ulit-ulit na pagbabalik” kaysa pag-igpaw lamang sa arketipo ng mga sawing mangingibig/bayani nina Balagtas at Rizal” (2006, 279). May pasaring at parunggit ito sa mga lumilihis sa kaniyang linyang panglinggwistika.

Nakatayo at Nakahiga

Sundan natin ang panuto ni Roman Jakobson (1987) na ginamit ni Almario. Kung tutuusin, ang padron ni Batute sa paglikha ng tula ay sumusunod sa paglinang sa paradigmatic axis ng wika, ang papapalit-palit ng salitang may kaparehong epekto na pormula sa metapora. Maigi ang demonstrasyon ni Almario sa pagsasalisi ng katagang magkapareho ang tungkulin. Sa kabilang dako, ang paghahabi ng pangungusap ay bunga ng paglinang sa syntagmatic axis
umuugit sa realistikong tulang pasalaysay, halimbawa, “Ang Manok kong Bulik.” Sa gayon, ang pag-uulit-ulit ay teknikong paraan ng pagpapatibay ng masagana’t mapamaraang kakayahan ng makata sa paglikha ng tayutay at talinghaga. Ngunit di ba ito, sa pormalistikong anggulo, ang natukoy na replikasyon ng porma ng bilihin, ng komoditi-petisismo? Ang pormularyo sa pagyari ng metapora ay nasunod nga. Balintunang kinalabasan kung nais umiwas ng makata sa komersiyanteng pagbibili ng kanyang dunong sa peryodikong pinagsisilbihan, ang institusyon ng salapi at sinasambang pag-aari. Sa kabilang dako, resulta ito na sa guho ng piyudal ng kosmos ng simbahan at kolonyalismo, mga labi ng mitolohiyang Romano-Griyego at asal-maginoo, na hindi matakasan dahil sa ito rin ang hilig at gawi ng madlang tumatangkilik ng kanyang panulaan.

Ang “Antaeus Syndrome” ay isang simbolo ng integrasyon sa historyang linyar at ng hirarkyang sistema ng urian ng mga pangkat sa lipunan. Ngunit humihiyaw ang hubad na katotohanang na hindi nga makababalik ang asawang umalis sa tahanan, na ang paglalakbay ay nauwi sa kabiguan, kaya kailangang tanungin kung bakit? Dahil ba sa batas ng kalikasan, o sa tadhana ng Maykapal?
Kung Diyos ang patnubay, may parikalang banta sa “Ang Bato”: “Sa kamay ng Diyos, bato’y binabakbak, /Ang kisap ng mundo nama’y nagagasgas.”  O dahil sa karupukan ng budhi o kamangmangan? Anumang mahahagilap na sagot, di maitatawa na ang penomenolohiya ng pagputol, pagkalagot, paghinto o pagpaliban ng kaganapan, ang umaakit sa ating kuro-kuro. Pagputol, pagpatid, paghinto–ito ang tematikong motibasyon sa tula, katugma ng pangkasaysayang pagsira sa Republika at pagtigil sa pagsulong rebolusyonaryong sambayanan. Sa semiotika ni C.S. Peirce, ito ang pinakahuli’t lohikal na Interpretant na bunga ng pag-uugnay ng triyadikong elemento ng senyal, obheto/pangyayari, at nagsusudlong  na diwa ng Interpretant (Peirce 1991).

Sintomas ng kasagutan ang pagtatanghal ng lumbay sa wakas ng “Ang Pagbabalik.” May ani, bunga at pag-asang dala ang naglakbay, ngunit sino ang lalasap ng ligaya doon? Napalis ang tatanggap, hungkag ang lugar ng taong hahandugan. Anong hantungan-kamatayan o malawig na tagulaylay sa balagtasan?  Maimumungkahi rito: kailangang magbanyuhay ang protagonista, kailangang isagawa ang unang hakbang sa resureksiyon, sa muling pagsilang. Sambit ng naglakbay: “Oo, hindi magluluwat.” May himatong ng alternatibong ruta ng pagbabalik sa dalawang lugar na tinutukoy dito: “Ako’y nag-araro, naglinang, nagtanim,/Nang magdi-Disyembre, tanim sa kaingin / ay ginapas ko na’t sa irog dadalhin.”  Bakit sa kaingin? Walang tatanggap ng bunga ng pagod; nabitin ang tangka.   Ito ang nakatatawag-pansin. Sa pagdating sa Ngayon o Kasaluyan, di na kailangan ang gunita, sapagkat sumulpot ang pagkakataon ng pagpapasiya’t pagkilos. Naputol ang siklo ng mitolohiya, ang paggulong ng watak-watak na datos at danas; sumalisi ang saglit na dapat sunggaban. Natambad ang patlang, puwang, agwat para makapasok ang interbensiyon ng makata at mga kapanalig.  Ang etikal at politikal na interbensiyon ang kailangan upang mapalitan ang dominasyon ng walang-pagbabagong sistema ng pakikipamuhay.

Patalastas ng “Ang Buhay ng Tao”:  “subalit kung di ka babago ng kilos,/sa hinukayan mo’y doon mahuhulog.” Pagpanaw ng kagandahan, haharap tayo sa katotohanan: “Sa Tabor ay walang tuhod na di gasgas, / sa Glorya, anghel ma’y may sira ring pakpak” (“Marupok”).   Naidiin na natin na ang alegorikong pamamaraan ay prinsipyong istruktural ng sining ni Batute. Bawat artipak ay walang kaganapan o kabuuan, nangangailangan ng kritikong magkukumpleto dito. Walang tiyak na pagpapantay ng konsepto at imahen.

Kahit sa naratibo ng “Ang Manok kong Bulik,” ang alegorya ay hindi nakalagak sa “Diwa” na ikinabit sa huli, kundi sa pagkamangha at pagkagulat sa aksyon ng manok: “biro baga itong wala namang sugat / ay siyang tumakbo nang wala sa oras!” Wala sa loob ang gabay ng tadhana kundi sa labas, sa materyal na sitwasyon ng buhay. “Mamatay ng gutom o kaya’y magnakaw.”  Maiisip na ang balagtasan ay wangis sabungan, nilangkapan ng huego de-prenda, koronasyon at lamayan. Nakalakip dito ang mensaheng magpapasabog sa status quo: ang panganib sa krisis ng komunidad ay nagbababala na dumating na ang pagkakataong makaalpas, makahulagpos, tungo sa kaligtasan at panibagong-buhay.

Maipagninilay kung gayon na ang makatuturang pananagutan ng kritiko ang pagtatasa sa buod ng tula upang mahukay ang materyalidad ng wika doon, laging gumagalaw at kumikilos. Mahihinuha na inip na ang makata, siya na ang gaganap noon. Kaya sa “Pakikidigma” at “Pakpak,” laluna sa “Malikmata,” tuwirang naging guro at patnubay ang makata, nagpapayo na huwag madaya ng mahika ng bagay-bagay at penomena sa sigalot ng buhay. Tumalikod na siya sa patalistikong implikasyon ng siklo, katumbalikan o pagkamatimbang ng kalikasan, at Stoikong asta na masasalamin sa “Ang Bato” (na sinapupunan ng taguring “Batute”):  “Batong tuntungan mo sa pagkadakila, / Batong tuntungan ka sa pamamayapa, / Talagang ganito:  Sa lapad ng lupa . Ay hali-halili lamang ang kawawa” (1979, 112).  Kailangan ang talino, danas, at pagpapasiya sa tulong ng diyalektikang kabatiran at praktika.

Pagliripin ang tawag ni Batute: “Ikaw’y makidigma sa laot ng buhay/At walang bayaning nasindak sa laban;/Kung saan ka lalong mayrong kahinaan,/ Doon mo dukutin ang iyong tagumpay” (“Pakikidigma”) at: “Hali-halili lang ang anyo ng bagay/At hali-halili ang tingkad ng kulay/Kay rami ng ating inapi’t utusang/Sa paghihiganti–bukas sila naman” (“Malikmata”; Lumbera and Lumbera 1982, 215-217).

Multo o Maskara ng Proletaryadong Memorya

Sa wakas, hindi iyon ang pagpipiliang sitwasyong inalok ng sirkuntansiya sa buhay ni Batute. Tubo sa mariwasang pamilya, produkto ng sopistikadong edukasyon, at kupkop ng malingap at dalubhasang mga kapanalig sa “Ilaw at Panitik” at maraming pangasiwaan ng peryodiko’t babasahin, pati na ang studio ng “Oriental Blood” kung saan gumanap siya ng papel (kasama si Atang de la Rama at Carmen Rosales) at nagkasakit, ang dilema ni Batute ay problema ng lahat ng organikong intelektuwal sa dating kolonya at ngayo’y neokolonya. Sa pagitan ng mga pesanteng rebelde sa Kolorum at mga sektang relihyoso, at burokratang kumprador at may-lupa, hininirang ni Batute na pumagitna sa larang ng nagdaralitang masa. Kapalaran iyon ng organikong intelektuwal ng bayan sa panahon ng kasukdula’t permanenteng krisis (San Juan 2004).

Bihasa sa pagbigkas, ang luwalhati’t kaganapan ng kanyang talino ay natagpuan sa pakikisalamuha sa masa at paggamit ng kanyang tinig. Nasa pagitan pa si Batute ng sitwasyon nina Balagtas at nina Plaridel at Jaena; nakaungos sa proletaryo’t pesanteng uri ngunit sabik na makitang may nakikinig at sumusuyo sa kanya (gumanap ang makata ng papel ng paralumang pinipintuho, ng mutyang ipinasasamo), si Batute ay alternatibong babae/lalaki, aktibo at pasibo.  Tunay na si Batute ay produkto ng transisyonal na yugto sa ating kasaysayan–ang “Filipinization” na balat-kayo ng puspusang Amerikanisasyon na tinutugon ng di-masawant insureksiyon ng taumbayan.

Sa guho ng Simbahan at kolonyalistang kabihasnan, napulot ni Batute ang mitolohiya ng pagpuri sa dinadakilang Musa/Ina at ritwal ng kamatayan at muling pagkabuhay. Inilangkap ang buto’t kalansay ng piyudal na ideolohiya sa Amerikanong doktrina ng indibidwalismo at “malayang pamilihan,” ang manlalakbay at mangingibig, batbat ng kasalanan ngunit may tapang at dunong sa paglikha ng bagong proyekto, bagong kaayusan.

Samakatwid, hindi lang makata ng puso si Batute kundi makata ng anti-imperyalismo (naimuwestra na ito ni Atienza) at pakikibaka. Mas handa na siya kaysa kay Amado Hernandez na sumali sa kilusang mapagpalaya ng mga unyon at ng PKP–sulyapan ang mga tulang “Manggagawa,” “Imperyalismo,” “Black and White,” “Ang Martilyo,” atbp. At kung nagkaganoon, tuwirang makasasalok siya ng materyales mula sa kaban ng radikal na kaalaman at siyentipikong praktikang naisakatuparan sa Rebolusyong Bolshevik sa Rusya nang siya’y pumapasok sa Liceo de Manila (circa 1916) at bago nagtamo ng Bachiller de Leyes noong 1920 (taon din ito ng paglilimbag ng unang koleksiyon ng mga tula, Mga Dahong Ginto).

Sa maraming sangandaan ng ating kasaysayan, hindi lubos na naisanib si Batute sa daluyong ng proletaryadong masa. May pinag-aralan siya, tanyag sa pagsulat at pagbigkas–pambihirang talino at galing. Nakiramay siya, saksi ang sinkretikong alegorya ng kanyang panulaan: tumatangis habang itinataas ang kamao, lumuluha habang nagpupuyos ang galit sa dibdib.  Gayunpaman, sa kabila ng mga limitasyon at kakulangan, naghunos ang alegorikong metodong minana, sintomas ng kawalan ng armonya o integrasyon ng mapanlikhang haraya at sitwasyong panlipunan, at napanday ang estilong “romantiko” at satiriko ni Batute, lakip ang etikal-politikal na pakikisangkot sa lipunan. Ang panitik ni Batute ay isang ulirang halimbawa ng matagumpay na pag-ugnay ng teorya at praktika sa kanyang panahon. Ito ay di-matutumbasang hiyas ng lahi na karapat-dapat arugain, suriin, pagyamanin at tularan ng lahat ng taong hangad makapag-ambag sa pakikibaka tungo sa liberasyon ng sangkatauhan at ng kalikasan mula sa dahas ng imperyalistikong barbarismo.

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E. SAN JUAN, Jr.
<philcsc@gmail.com>

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