While in Liwasang Bonifacio, various youth groups sat and formed a circle while the program was ongoing; their study circles or group discussions. 

An alternative, open space

Study circles are avenues to discuss and deliberate on pertinent issues that are relevant at a specific time. One activist said it is also where various individuals collectively reaffirm their democratic space for free speech and promote a higher discourse of learning on a specific issue.

“Ang mga study circles ang nagpapalalim at nagpapatalas ng suri natin sa partikular na isyu para di tayo nakukulong na mababaw na linya sa isang kampanya,” said Chesca Estepa of Kabataan Partylist – Krus na Ligas.

[Study circles deepen and sharpen our analysis of specific issues, preventing us from being confined to shallow perspectives within a single campaign]

Estepa stated that study circles harmoniously bind individuals as collectives fondly called each other as kasama (comrades). 

“Isang porma rin ng consoldation ang study circles laluna kapag may kasamang basic sectors dahil doon nappraktis kasi ang mass oriented na kultura at edukasyon na ipinaglalaban natin,” Estepa said.

[Study circles are also a form of consolidation, especially when inclusive of basic sectors. It is there that we practice the mass-oriented culture and education that we advocate for]

Had there been sectors from the marginalized or someone relevant to a particular issue participating the discussion would further generate meaningful and impactful discussions to the group. As Escope would say study circles are alternative and open spaces to run discussions that are not only limited to students or professionals who have had formal education confined in four-walled classrooms.

A tribute to the great professor, leader

One notable are the youth from Quezon City of which they also had a streamer stating “Kabataan ng QC, Ipagpatuloy ang Diwang Makabayan ni Jose Maria Sison. Igiit ang Demokratikong Karapatan ng Mamamayan!”

[Youth of Quezon City, Uphold the Nationalistic Spirit of Jose Maria Sison. Uphold the Democratic Rights of the People!]

Jose Maria Sison, a revolutionary leader and professor, succumbed to death after a period of hospital confinement in Utrecht, Netherlands on December 16 last year. He was 83 years old at the time of his death.

Sison had been exiled in the Netherlands since 1988 along with his wife Julie De Lima who is the current NDFP negotiating panel chair.

According to the youth groups, Ka Joma as they would fondly call the late professor has been their inspiration in waging the struggle for national liberation.

Ka Joma penned notable works including Struggle for National Democracy (Makibaka Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya), Philippine Society and Revolution (Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino) among others. He is also known for his written poems, critiques, and discussions regarding Marxist-Leninist-Maoist education. Ka Joma also led the revolutionary youth group Kabataang Makabayan and played a key role in the rebuilding of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in 1968.

Much of these drew inspiration to the youth as well as the rest of the progressive groups who are adamant fighters against US imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism, and feudalism. According to them, Ka Joma’s legacy will continue to live and grow among a new generation of critical thinkers.

As a tribute to the Ka Joma, the Paaralang Jose Maria Sison (PJMS) was established by BAYAN NCR to popularize his works and discussions to many Filipinos to understand the importance and historical foundations of the Philippine revolution.

Who is Joma to the youth?

“As someone na galing sa isang neoliberal educational institution, ang way ng pag-aaral ng history talaga ay parang from the point of view ng mga men of prowess, yong iilang tao lang yong point of views ng iilang institutions na reactionary, pero yong Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino (LRP) ang nagbibigay ng lente na kayang magbago ng mga bagay at yong pagbabago na iyon ay mismong galing sa masa,” said Estepa when asked about her favorite work of Ka Joma.

[As someone who came from a neoliberal educational institution, the way history is taught often revolves around the perspective of men of prowess, with only a few individuals and reactionary institutions shaping the narrative. However, LRP provides a lens that something can really change and that change itself originates from the masses.”

Estepa added it is through LRP that proves the masses are subjective forces that can change the forces and relations of production in a society peddled by the ruling class. 

According to her, works of Ka Joma like LRP and other nationalist or revolutionary literature and arts must be popularized.

“Si Joma sa kabataan ay isa sa mga nagpapaalala na wala sa edad, nandoon sa pagpapakita na hindi dahil kabataan ka ay wala ka nang alam. Ipinakita niya at nung mga nakasama niya noon sa Kabataang Makabayan, pwedeng magsimula sa pag-aaral pa lamang nila sa pagpunta sa basic sectors ang isang malawak na movement para totoong kalayaan at pagtamasa ng demokratikong kalayaan ng mga tao,” Estepa said.

[To us youth, Ka Joma is one of those who serves as a reminder that age doesn’t determine knowledge, it’s about demonstrating that being young doesn’t equate to ignorance. He, along with members of Kabataang Makabayan, showed that even in their early years of learning, one can embark on a broad movement by reaching out to the basic sectors for genuine freedom and the enjoyment of democratic rights for the people]

She noted Ka Joma emphasized the importance of conducting social investigation and class analysis through basic masses integrations even at a time when he was only starting to rebuild the CPP in the application of (MLM) theory. 

“Maraming klasikal at modernong rebisyunismo nito pero sina Joma maraming isinulat para ibalik sa tamang linya sa kung saan makikinabang ang masa. Ginawa niya ito sa isang masusing pag-aaral ng kasaysayan at pagsama sa mismong social practice ng pagrerebolusyon. Di lang naman siya nakaupo lang at nagsusulat. Siya ang embodiment ng academe na dapat lumalabas sa kanilang pag-aaral sa loob ng classroom at pumupunta sa hanay ng mga magsasaka at manggagawa at inaalay ang buhay sa pagrerebolusyon,” she added.

[There are many classical and modern revisions, but Ka Joma has written extensively to bring them back to the correct path where the masses can benefit. He did this through a meticulous study of history and by actively participating in the social practice of revolution. He isn’t just sitting and writing; he embodies the academe that should extend beyond the confines of the classroom, reaching out to the ranks of farmers and workers, dedicating his life to the cause of revolution.”

Ka Joma also penned the Reaffirm Our Basic Principles and Rectify Error deemed as one of the salient CPP documents on the waging of proletarian revolutionaries to always measure the collective’s strengths and weaknesses according to principles. 

Such principles include the repudiation of modem revisionism and adherence to the theory of Marxism-Leninism, class analysis of Philippine society as semi-colonial and semi-feudal, general line of a new democratic revolution, leading role of the working class through the Party, theory of people’s war and the strategic line of encircling the cities from the countryside, concept of a united front along the revolutionary class line, democratic centralism, socialist perspective and proletarian internationalism.


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