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Nagkakaisa Para sa Isang Kaisa, Para sa Isang Kasama
(Uniting for a Companion, for a Comrade)

English Narrative of Hong Kong Defend’s "Kaisa, Kasama; Companion, Comrade:
Celebrating Prof. Jose Maria Sison’s 45 Years of Struggle and Commitment,
Defending His Democratic Rights"

The sound of water flowing reverberated across the hall. Lights dimmed as the audience fixed their eyes on the stage. Suddenly, a voice of an overseas Filipino worker boomed with the line:

"The guerilla is like a poet…"

Kaisa, Kasama, Companion, Comrade is the Hong Kong Defend’s cultural program to celebrate Prof. SIson’s 45 years in the national democratic struggle in the Philippines and to continue the campaign to defend his democratic rights.

Migrant workers, NGO members, union organizers and social workers from Nepal, Indonesia, the United States, Britain and Hong Kong joined the flock of Filipino domestic workers in the Li Hall of the St. John’s Cathedral last July 4 not only to witness the whole event but get to know the campaign, the person in the campaign  Prof. Jose Maria Sison. Around 200 people gathered that afternoon.

The program aimed to popularize the campaign for Prof. Sison’s defense with music, poetry and speeches that describe the situation of his terrorist-listing, their life as political refugees and their continuous defense for their democratic, political and basic rights.

"Keen to the rustle of leaves, the break of twigs…"

The program showcased solidarity friends reading poems written by Prof. Sison, several of which were accompanied by mood music, powerpoint and video presentations and even a dance interpretation.

Lee Khai Loon of the Asian Students Association read "In the Dark Depths" while Eman Villanueva and Rowena dela Cruz, both from the United Filipinos of Hong Kong, read in English and Tagalog his poem "The Guerilla is Like a Poet." Members of the Association of Concerned Filipinos interpreted in movement "The Bladed Poem" rendered by Eni Lestari Adi, Indonesian domestic worker and leader of the Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers.

Words and Wisdom in Neon Lights, a poem written by Corazon Canete, a migrant worker herself, described how migrant workers, Filipino and non-Filipino, get to know an advocate, a staunch defender or any activist like Prof. Sison through integrating with the Filipino migrant community and movement there. It was read by Peggy Lee, a Canadian-Chinese social worker in Hong Kong and long-time volunteer and friend of the Filipino migrant community.

Songs rendered by Prof. Sison in his recent music CD were likewise played with members of the Philippine Independent Church (PIC) Hong Kong singing and accompanying him. The video support was beautifully done by Jun Canete.

"The ripples of the river, the smell of fire…"

Speeches followed in between as friends and supporters of the Defend JMS campaign provided their insights and experiences on the life and times, incarceration, struggles and contribution of Prof. Sison to the Philippine and the international people’s movements.

Mabel Au of Hong Kong, Tian Chua of Malaysia, Rita Baua of Bayan Philippines (National Patriotic Alliance) and Eliseo Tellez, Jr. of the Mission for Filipino Migrant Workers (HK) Society had messages prepared and read in the whole program. Such testimonials on the person and character of Prof. Sison were coupled with other video-ed interviews with Connie Bragas-Regalado of Migrante International and Supreme Bishop Tomas Millamena of the PIC.

Their testimonies and messages laid down the foundation for Prof. Sison’s political awakening, his commitment to the struggle of the Filipino people and stronghold to his revolutionary ideals and beliefs.

American Bruce Van Voorhis of the Asian Human Rights Commission succinctly linked the terrorist-tagging of Prof. Sison to the "negative things" the United States government has done to the Filipino people and the rest, ironically coinciding it with their celebration of their independence, which was on July 4 itself.

"He moves with the green-brown multitude…"

Prof. Sison himself offered his gratitude, message and challenge to the audience. Via phone patch, he described their situation as asylum seekers in The Netherlands, his own situation being stripped of a house, his own monthly allowance and other rights after the terrorist-tagging, and how these attempts have made them pursue a legal case and the campaign.

His wife, Juliet, de Lima, herself a refugee and active member of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, gave us a picture of how they as revolutionaries and activists in exile see the attacks made on Prof; Sison’s person by several governments such as the US, European Union and even the Dutch and Filipino states.

"The cramp apartment space we live in, "she said in a phone patch, "is for us a mansion whose windows open up to the whole world." The harsh conditions caused by the terrorist-listing did not bog down their spirits but rather renewed their analysis of the situation and commitment and fervor to continue fighting for national democracy and liberation in the Philippines.

"An Endless Movement of Strength"

The cultural program, a first in Hong Kong, gave our kababayans and our solidarity friends with the real picture of Prof. Sison as a person fighting for his and his people’s rights and lives.

It has in many ways dispelled the red-baiting and scare that came along with the support of his defend campaign. The overseas Filipinos around, majority of whom are domestic workers, grasped fully the meaning of the campaign and the need for support and solidarity.

The people’s epic indeed lies in the people’s inclusion and involvement in the struggle. The popularization and agitation that the Kaisa, Kasama program made on its audience place the campaign at a higher level, with more of them joining in, several enlightened, and others challenged to carry on.


*** link to the photo gallery



* The views and opinions contained herein do not necessarily reflect the view of The Dean and the Council of St. John's Cathedral


><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><
The Secretariat
United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-HK)
2/F., New Hall, St. John's Cathedral,
Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong SAR
Tel : (852) 2810-4379    Fax : (852) 2526-2894
E-mail: secretariat@unifil.org.hk
Website: http://www.unifil.org.hk
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