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Who is Jose Maria Sison? New Book Reveals the Man Behind the Label
September 16, 2004
For immediate Release:

Vancouver, B.C., - Community organizers, young activists and curious individuals will have the opportunity to have their questions answered regarding Jose Maria Sison, the man behind the “terrorist” label at an upcoming book launch this Saturday September 18, 6:30pm at the Russian Hall, 600 Campbell Avenue.

Released by Open Hand Publishing, Jose Maria Sison: At Home in the World, Portrait of a Revolutionary, Conversations with Ninotchka Rosca, is a compelling account on the life of exiled Filipino revolutionary, Jose Maria Sison whose political accomplishments are revered by many, distorted by the minority and unknown to the majority.

“This book is the chance for the public to get to know who Jose Maria Sison is, and his contribution as a leader in the Philippine struggle for national liberation,” said Carlo Sayo of the Vancouver-based Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance (FCYA). In 2002, the FCYA launched a “Justice for Joma” Campaign after Sison was listed as a terrorist by the US and Dutch governments.

“FCYA and many other Filipino youth see Jose Maria Sison as an inspiration for young activists, and not as a terrorist threat. He was instrumental in awakening the consciousness of an entire generation of Filipino youth as a student leader in the 1960’s,” concluded Sayo.

In 1964 Sison organized Kabataang Makabayan (KM), a comprehensive youth organization while attending the University of the Philippines. He re-organized the Communtist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and became its founding chairman in 1968 and was elemental in the formation of the New People’s Army (NPA) in 1969. All three organizations were forced underground in 1972 when Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law in the Philippines.

In 1977, Sison was caught by the Philippine Army and spent five of his nine years of imprisonment in solitary confinement. He was released in 1986 due to international pressure shortly after the ouster of Marcos. While on an international speaking tour, Sison was subsequently forced into exile in the Netherlands after then-president Cory Aquino cancelled his passport in 1987.

On August 12, 2003, almost one year after the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, Sison was arbitrarily added as a “Specially Designated Terrorist” to the US Treasury Department’s list along with the Communist Party of the Philippines (of which he is the founding chairman) and the New People’s Army. As a result, he lost all housing, health and allowance benefits all of which are granted to political refugees.

Co-authored by internationally-acclaimed journalist and award-winning Filipino novelist Ninotchka Rosca, At Home in the World introduces Jose Maria Sison within the context of Philippine history and the struggle for national liberation through the humble voice of an internationally recognized leader and who is listed among the most important Marxists since the Communist Manifesto according to the Bibliographical Dictionary of Marxism (London, 1986). He is the Chief Political Consultant for the Peace Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) which is undergoing peace talks with the Philippine government. He has taught English at University of the Philippines and has written several books including two volumes of poetry.

In an introduction of At Home in the World appropritately titled The Sison Way, co-author Rosca wrote,

“By giving up a life of comfort, by electing to go underground, by involving himself not only in leading but also immersing himself in revolutionary armed struggle,” Prof. Sison hammered home the ideal of praxis: as you say life should be lived, so should your own life be lived… Armchair of cappuccino political theorists have not been held in any kind of respect in the Philippines ever since.”

The book launch will feature a short reading by Rosca followed by a question and answer period. The author will be available for book signings and photo opportunities. -30-

For more information or to arrange an interview with Ms. Rosca, please contact Charlene or Beth at 604-215-1103.

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