Monday, November 30, 2009


By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
International League of Peoples' Struggle

The International Coordinating Committee and all member-organizations of the International League of Peoples' Struggle condemn with all their moral conviction and strength the monstrous massacre of at least 57 people, including many women and children, 29 journalists and two human rights lawyers, in Ampatuan, Maguindanao last 23 November 2009.

The abominable crime against humanity was perpetrated by the private army of the Ampatuan ruling clan in collaboration with units of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army (PA). The private army consists of armed units designated as Civilian Armed Force Geographical Units (CAFGU) and Civilian Volunteers Organization (CVO), subsidized by public funds and operating as auxiliary paramilitary units of the PNP and PA.

The Ampatuans are governors of both Maguindanao and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM and include a cabinet undersecretary, congressmen and several town mayors . They have maintained their dominant warlord status because they are aligned with the Arroyo regime and have delivered to it large numbers of fraudulent votes in the 2004 and 2007 reactionary elections. Thus, they are allowed to oppress and exploit the people and crush with armed force any opposition.

But it is not enough to see only the relationship of the Arroyo ruling clique and the Ampatuan ruling clan in Maguindanao or even the rotten and violent character of the entire oppressive ruling system in the Philippines. The official designation and government financing of the Ampatuan private army as CVO and CAFGU paramilitary auxiliaries of the PNP and PA are in line with the national internal security plan called Oplan Bantay Laya. This has been designed and directed by the US under its global war of terror policy.

The structure of reactionary violence and human rights violations in the Philippines has several levels, including those of the US, the puppet Manila-based government and the local tyrants like the Ampatuans. The US has been the most culpable for whipping up state terrorism and vigilantism by local tyrants and by army and police commanders unter the pretext of combating communists and Muslims who are unjustly labeled as terrorists.

The US is the imperialist master that has dictated upon the Arroyo regime to adopt and implement Oplan Bantay Laya and use the regular armed forces, the police and the paramilitary forces of the Ampatuan type to suppress the national and democratic rights of the people. Along the way, the puppets use their armed power to intimidate and kill their intrasystemic political rivals.

The US has provided the doctrine of warfare against the people and supplied the military equipment and training and other wherewithals of the reign of terror. It has embedded advisors, trainors and operatives within the reactionary armed forces and has deployed its own units in Mindanao and elsewhere to ensure puppet obedience to its imperialist dictates.

Together with the Manila-based puppet government, local tyrants like the Ampatuans and all their military, police and paramilitary minions, the US is culpable and condemnable for pushing state terrorism and the gross and systematic human rights violations and emboldening the human rights violators to commit their crimes with impunity under the pretext of combating terrorism. ###


In a land that is familiar to violence by foreign aggressors and local tyrants, the recent massacre of at least 57 people in Ampatuan municipality, Maguindanao Province, Philippines still managed to shock and outrage the Filipino people as well as the rest of the world.

A convoy of journalists, lawyers and women relatives of Esmael Mangudadatu, a local politician contesting the governorship of Maguindanao Province, were en route to file registration papers for the May 2010 elections on the morning of November 23, 2009 when they were abducted and executed by over 100 gunmen. Twenty-four of the victims were women, some of whose bodies were later found mutilated. At least 28 journalists were also killed in the attack which the Reporters without Borders described as the worst loss of life in the history of journalism.

The perpetrators were allegedly led by Andal Ampatuan Jr., the Mayor of a nearby town and son of the incumbent Governor of Maguindanao, who was being groomed to take over his father's position. He was assisted by senior police officials, local police and paramilitary forces who function as a private army of the Ampatuan clan. A backhoe registered to the provincial government was even on hand to bury the victims in pre-dug common graves.

Clearly the Ampatuans consider themselves untouchable because of their loyal ties to the incumbent President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who has deliberately created a climate of impunity for human rights violators and mass murderers in the Philippines. Since her ascent to power in 2001, over 800 extra-judicial killings have been committed in the country, including 51 incidents of massacres victimizing a total of 255 persons. Not one has been punished for these vilest of crimes.

In the case of the Ampatuan massacre, it took four days before the principal suspect was taken into custody and only after intense public outcry for justice. The Arroyo government's initial response was to declare a state of emergency in the province which would be enforced, of course, by the local state apparatus controlled by the Ampatuans.

The Ampatuan clan is a prime example of feudal-fascist warlords who are coddled and nurtured by the national ruling clique in order to secure their hold over local populations and resources. The Ampatuans are among the most loyal vassals of the Arroyo ruling clique and responsible for orchestrating the electoral fraud in the region through which Arroyo has kept herself in power.

It was Arroyo who gave the Ampatuan clan the authority to recruit and arm civilians to assist in fighting "insurgents" in the region. As a result, the Ampatuans now have a 500-strong army, which includes 200 special armed civilian auxiliary forces, as well as entire regular military and police units assigned to ensure the security of the clan members.

These local warlords and their "armies", particularly in Mindanao, are not only interwoven with the national security apparatus of the ruling classes, they are also backed by the US imperialist state which has a special interest in Mindanao. The US military considers Mindanao strategic for its force projection in this part of the world. It maintains military facilities in the island in direct violation of the Philippine Constitution. It has conducted at least seven military exercises in Mindanao since 2001, poured millions of military aid and has trained local security forces to enhance "inter-operability" with US troops.

The USAID has funded tens of millions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects throughout the region to support US military operations and US investors in the regiTo accomplish their objective of securing strategic resources, facilities and suppressing revolutionary and democratic challenges to US interests in the region, the US necessarily works with the local state apparatus and allies with feudal-fascist rulers such as the Ampatuans.

Given the intimate ties of the Ampatuans and other fascist criminals with the US-Arroyo regime, there is no reason to expect that any fact-finding body or investigation initiated by the corrupt, oppressive and brutal government will be credible or will bring justice to the victims of massacres and other human rights violations in the Philippines.

The ILPS calls on all freedom-loving peoples of the world to denounce the Ampatuan Massacre and all other extra-judicial killings in the Philippines, to demand an independent probe of these killings; and condemn the Arroyo government for coddling mass murderers and human rights violators.

Stop the killings!
End impunity!
Justice now!

Press Statement
27 November 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009


By Lualhati Madlangawa-Guerrero

Watching horror movies becomes a part of a movie viewer's routine, and in every trailer, most tend to keep their money just to buy their ticket and watch especially during its premiere. But not all horror movies are considered as horror, especially in comparing these movies "Then" and "Now."

Since horror films tend to invoke fear from viewers and involve themes of death, supernatural, mental illness and even of blood soaking knives. And some movie makers and writers of that genre tend to create some other plots carrying the same goal into it. However, not all of them end up their works to be called as "Horror," "Gory" and "Suspense" perhaps.

Most of the horror films are based on works created by Lovecraft, Shelley and even Edgar Allan Poe. And even directed by prominent directors like Hitchcock-featuring scary scenes, personalities and dialogues without any effects coming from the computer. Somehow that kind of talent given was more of a long day-effort just to finish; but nowadays it becomes too digital and sometimes lacks something supernatural and instead, more of gory and in a genocidal manner sicne chainsaws and knives soaked in blood became a tool just to invoke fear just like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or anything being posted on! Perhaps both past and present horror scenes really tend to invoke fear, but the latter made it too realistic and tend to break off from the past wherein horror was supernaturally centric.

Despite more people watching horror scenes and even enjoying it, they didn't distinguish much between horror and suspense films since they look both similar. It's just like comparing "Frankenstein" and "saw", "Dracula" or "Maneater" or even "Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and "Patayin sa sindak si Barbara;" they may look similar since they invoke the same-but different in content and in the idea-concept. And considering the fact that they tend to make more of a "Shelley" or a "Lovecraft" kind, perhaps they might end up a la "Caparas" or something similar to them! Well... horror films are really of a low budget kind despite the popularity and being discussed.



They died because of a simple reason: Their profession.

And working for it for the sake of having a good salary and a simple fame made them trying to put themselves in the forefront, acting as cannon fodder and end whether to be called as successful or as a cold corpse; this kind of job also shows how these people made their talent a passion, but around them called it as a hindrance to their action, being prone to bribery, to gifts, to threats, or even to the grave-just like those in Maguindanao where some of the martyrs and passion bearers of our history are media practitioners, particularly journalists working in famous media entities from radio to the print; and how deeply sad that the entire media in the Philippines and in the world is in a state of sorrow.

Being a media practitioner is more of a martyr than of a hero, a victim than of a victor, a liability than of an asset, and as a cannon fodder in order to get a greatest scope in any means-making their talent and action a contributing factor in sacrificing themselves and becoming an inspiration in disseminating truthful information to the people and in agitating them.
True, since these media practitioners tried much in searing the truth from scratching the surface to deeply digging the facts in it and end up as well written articles full of stingy truths pointing at someone else. And the Maguindanao problem was a desperate action wherein killing media practitioners and other people is an attempt to curb away "truth" and even a "false flag" operation made by the fascist warlords then blaming someone else and say something too contrary into it!

In fact,
I really notice that kind of genocide as a "false flag" operation. As Ampatuan, in an effort to save face after the incident tried to tell amongst the people saying that he's innocent and blaming the MILF commander Umbra Kato; how come Umbra Kato joined in the scene in Ampatuan-Mangudadatu feud? Just because he's an enemy combatant and be easily blamed for that incident? Perhaps the right tend to say the same idea concept what the perpetrator did, of lying then blaming an "enemy" just to save themselves for their own sake! And killing media practitioners was a means to cover up the "truth" being made.

And according to Jose Maria Sison in his writeup last November 27, it stated that:
"The Ampatuan clan is a prime example of feudal-fascist warlords who are coddled and nurtured by the national ruling clique in order to secure their hold over local populations and resources. The Ampatuans are among the most loyal vassals of the Arroyo ruling clique and responsible for orchestrating the electoral fraud in the region through which Arroyo has kept herself in power."

Somehow as what he have said the landlords tried much in controlling their fiefs using every means to make people under theirs! And based on what being said, being a loyal vassal of a fascist government ensure its loyalty simply by destroying its rival in the political arena, of messing the electoral process, of making a mafia-like action just like massacre, and of treating the entire local government of someone as a personal territory, as Joema said:

"It was Arroyo who gave the Ampatuan clan the authority to recruit and arm civilians to assist in fighting "insurgents" in the region. As a result, the Ampatuans now have a 500-strong army, which includes 200 special armed civilian auxiliary forces, as well as entire regular military and police units assigned to ensure the security of the clan members."

In short,
These paramilitary forces, along with mercenaries are trying to control much with governments blessing and using "anti-insurgency" as its forefront, and somehow killing a rival politician, its supporters and others to them is more of an anti-insurgency!

But not in Maguindanao this kind of media genocide continues. Being second in the most dangerous places for media practitioners, particularly journalists, the Philippines seemed losing its stance on democracy and on human rights when it comes on its own. And being a semi-feudal, semi-colonial society shows that the landlord and the comprador tries to keep its grip in the entire country whether by hook or by crook, carrot and stick and other sorts just to control the people and become ignorant when it comes to politics or economy. If not-only to be end up as cold corpses buried in deep pits while the perpetrators starting to blame other groups to save their faces!

This kind of incident shows that how fascism really controls the country in a guise of democracy. How come the military and the police lately respond to this kind of incident or at worse, not guarding the entire entourage due to that kind of threat that hath led to many deaths? Was the government became apathetic in incidents like these? Well... as what we may expect, this kind of society the Filipino lived throughout the years remains the same despite its modernity. And killing the opposition, especially like those from the media silences the fundamental freedoms vested in the constitution-as well as democracy itself in the entire nation. So what kind of government the Philippines has? It is simply a dictatorship of the higher gentry! A polyarchy as some may say!

To make the long writeup short,
We must not mourn for these martyrs. They are just doing their job. And despite this so-called day of mourning, why not rise up and shout for justice for the victims? Perhaps the rest of the people may shout not just justice, but rather death to the perpetrators of this kind of incident! For a blood debt must also be paid!

"May the martyrs and passion bearers of history may serve as an inspiration to many. What the nation needs is enlightenment not apathy."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009



Last last time, I was stopped in a ghetto-like community in Manila, and that place somehow shows the life wherein stereotypically depicted in every movie or in a television scene. That place also shows that most people seemed doing what seemed more like of a tradition as some may hath expect-for this community we may think of is simple: of calling them as squatters.

Coming from different provinces in search of work and for a better life, these people tried much in ways in order to make their stay in Manila as good unlike those in the provinces coming from. Just like the family whose roots traced from the sugarlandia (Negros), they seemingly doing anything fine despite the tragedies most of them faced, especially financial problems and even crime due to the community's appearance as suitable for a den of thieves or something for delinquents.

And as I wander every scene in that community in Oroquieta st. in Manila, I even think of meeting young people and due to my attempt, it end up I enjoying chatting with them, and most of them despite their appearances spoke different as I may expect-friendly, nice and helpful, these young people I have met there somehow giving me a good idea wherein I made this kind of writeup; otherwise it could be a series of photos and even a drawing too! Since some, as they look at my drawings wanted me to draw one of them-especially of a girl whose appearance reminds of those girls in their friendster sites, trying to copy chicanas and of female gangsters of some sort; but still they act nicely and thus enjoying company with them despite different genres (since I am a metal lover while they are mostly listening to gangsta rappers).

In that community at least they had a basketball court in order for the youth enjoy playing basketball same as other sports despite being called as "squatters". People in the outside world usually called them generally as "lumpen", others called them as "scum of the earth" or anything that degrade their integrity, but how come you called these people like that while you haven't met one of them or went to their place and see how enjoying? Some seamen and other skilled professionals came from these places wherein the government tried much in evicting then scattering them away; only to end up returning to the same place and live together again. Well... that is a ghetto-and ghetto people are usually close to each other!

People like I went to that kind of community not just to serve, but of course to learn regarding life in general. And being a man whose background came from upper class roots show how these people, despite poverty and difficulty around Manila chose to stay and despite trying to be evicted preferred to stay together; since these people are indeed people, of choosing that area which is near to school, to church, to work, to hospital and other sorts, why not accept them as part of the community and help in their plight?


And just like the Black Panthers who organize black "ghettos" years ago in America, these places we called as squatters are in need to be given focus and improvement as part of the greater community, and not all "gangsters" living in that area, same as in other areas, are not those of mere "gangsters" but of course as law abiding citizens that due to vices having their cause lost, and needs to be recovered. The Crips and Bloods somehow shared some ideas despite having a battle with each other, and Crips or rather say in its real meaning "Community Revolution In Progress" tried much to uplift the black ghetto community simply by reviving community policing just like those of the Black Panthers, same as the idea wherein change in a community is needed not just for the black minority but of course the white, the Asian and of the native; so why not here in the Philippines through the simple task of "going to the people?" Somehow the progressive block and progressive-leaning individuals like I joined with them in improving lives and bringing closer to each other-even they move to another place and building another one-that may consider permanent to stay.

Well, as what Mao said "The masses are the creators of history," and these masses also includes the urban poor who live in these places-who are mistaken generally for a lumpen but difficult to distinguish who are lumpen ad who are not; but still-they created history also out of their skilled hands.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"DUKOT"-A film review

"DUKOT"-A film review
by Paul Smirnoff

Years after Brocka's Orapronobis comes a movie about the plight of the disappeared persons in the Philippines. This social realist movie shows how progressive minded individuals are abducted while some are summarily executed then making a false flag operation blaming the entire tragedy to those whom they opposed with. And as I expect, it all reminds of the movie wherein revenge will be the last resort of the struggle itself, resorting to the use of gun as what Brocka's Oropronobis and Lamangan's Dukot hath made.

And in addition to that, the growing clamor for justice, just like Love, Courage and Hope, becomes a part of Filipino society, in every scene somehow shows those kind of idea-virtue wherein a call for change becomes illegal in the eyes of the system! Making legal entities illegal-simply by calling activist as rebels, and rebels as terrorists-subjecting to imprisonment, torture, death while never to be told again! And in case of love, it shows how the scene of Maricel (Salvacruz (played by Iza Calzado) and Junix Etrata (played by Allen Dizon) remained together until the day they've been abducted, tortured, maltreated by the fascists until their deaths-that gives an emotional element that made that film totally powerful in the hearts and minds of a viewer, different from the Korean and Mexican telenovelas adapated to the Filipino audience and becoming heavily changed and too stereotypical in its appearance.

In fact,
This social realist love story is totally different from what mainstream media usually shown in both movie and in television. And using a politically motivated messages as its thrust, Dukot was even given a rated X courtesy of the conservative board of sensors due to what is being given, and I notice that how come Orapronobis, Bayan ko kapit sa patalim, or Lualhati Bautista's Dekada '70 and other social realist movies back then are being accepted (although in a limited basis)Or Lualhati Bautista's Dekada '70 despite of its message given? Secondly, does the government tried to hid the truth and minimizing transparency regarding human rights and instead blaming it on the enemy combatants but in fact a false flag operation made courtesy of the intelligence?
According to Bulatlat:
"Both Ilagan and Lamangan recognize the possibility of the film not being shown in the country. The reasons are obvious, Ilagan said. The country’s censors had given X ratings — thus effectively banning them from public exhibition — on films that tackle not only sex or violence but such issues as extreme poverty and social injustice."
Somehow these conservatives running the board of censors and the regulatory board are too dogmatic in interpreting ideas in this facade of democracy, how come truth needs to be restrained in social realist type of movies? Remember the long debated Rizal law? The late statesman Claro M. Recto fought for having Unedited versions of Noli and El Fili be read by every student, and somehow it shows similarities to the realities happened at that time; and if Noli and El Fili was adapted despite not being edited, why not Lamangan's Dukot and other social realist movies? Will every Filipino be contented with "for arts sake" type of media again and again-of becoming apathetic to reality?

through Dukot, it shows what a disappeared person is whether he or she will be alive or dead, but never to be seen again-for "big brother" monitors their movements and worse? Of playing them till they end up exhausted or being killed away. Are we waiting for Cannes or Oscar to have this "Orapronobis with a modern twist" be given place just to be watched away? Or waiting for a pirated copy be given to you then the OMB (Optical Media Board) will start to raid anything until they got copies of that movie not being seen in cinemas and instead in the prestigious UP Film Institute? God sees these truths around us, but he waits.

The official soundtrack of the movie

Thursday, November 12, 2009


by Katleah Iskre Ulrike

It was a usual day for Filipinos to have a visitor, most especially an outsider. However, that outsider somehow seemed too special to every Filipino since it represents the almighty one whose power, wealth and fame dominates the world, "the land of the free and the home of the brave",-and that is the United States of America.

But despite of that special visit lies the perennial problems in ang Bayang Pilipino. Being a semi-feudal, semi-colonial society, the interests of the American imperialists somehow is as if like those of the cold war-setting up unofficial outposts inside the camps of the AFP, training officials like the army, to encouraging foreign investment and after Ondoy and of Pepeng-of continuous charity which in fact a debt or out of an obligation being said so by the UN and a bogus charity coming from USAID and other private institutions in the United States!

Somehow, the US control over the Philippines stunts the ideals of "independence" and "self reliance" in the course of politics, economy and culture-making it rather a neo-colonial both in essence and existence due to its practises. Worst as every president, whether he or she is a Republican or a Democrat, white or black does not think of its own surrounding while at the same time interfering with others just like the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, wherein American military tries to become superior although they are beaten by the resistance forces around those countries-what's next? Bragging towards the Russians and the Chinese to start another cold war? Of using North Korea, Iran and other anti-imperialist countries as a cause to start another conflict?
"Humanitarian help to starving ones in American way"

In fact,
In this writeup I have made is out of a news I had read-that the U.S. Secretary of state and former first lady Hillary Rodham-Clinton visited the Philippines in a pretext of disaster management, the peace process in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao, climate change and nuclear non-proliferation; but behind these causes lies the treaties regarding the two countries, especially those of the U.S. military around the country, wherein they continue oppressing the people and doing bogus charity for the sake of "peace and order", "security for southeast Asia", to distributing surpluses to the weak armed forces!
Secondly, that visit involves 5.2 million pesos coming from Uncle Sam for calamity support after the tragedy. That money somehow seemed pleasing to the ears of every Filipino-but it also stunts the self reliance of the same people whom they sought the almighty dollar! Remember-all of these things Uncle Sam offered to Manong Juan has an exchange and not for a free as some may expect, and it may include the presence of the Yankee soldiers as well as tax reductions in U.S. owned and controlled companies!

But then,
Despite of these so called "objectives" regarding the visit, more and more Filipinos are starting to question regarding the interference of Yankees sa buhay ni Manong Juan, for they, despite of their chocolates, green cards and anything American lies the past wherein rapes, murders and other atrocities were set upon against Juan's people! How come every people must be contented despite knowing the atrocity? Are all Filipinos blind while seeing an American with dollars, chocolates and green cards in their hands? Of watching their shows and of acting like one of them-especially on the word "I AM TAKEN" as a means to show that person is in love?

Poster showing the words "Our children should not be the last generation on EARTH.
And U.S.A somehow will be guilty if it happens.

Even in America, most of the people questioning policies are starting to become against the government, starting to uprise and even thinking of a strategy against the government policy-and most of them are even starting to stockpile arms due to the attempts of the government to restrict carrying of guns! According to John Paul Cupp of the North American Committee Against Zionism and Imperialism, he said:

"the loss of national self-determination and the binding of all nations to the yoke of world imperialism and Zionism is the greatest human rights violation."

As what he have said, he opposed U.S. Imperialism as a means to continue the rotten legacy of Finance Capital as well as the Semi-Feudal, Semi-Colonial conditions in the third world, particularly Ang Bayang Pilipino and others! And the visit of Hillary Rodham-Clinton shows how these Yankees tried much in showing something new while keeping the old decrees regarding the Filipino question! Somehow all Filipinos must know the fact that the American system tries hard in enslaving us culturally, economically, and politically thanks to our leaders whose connections with the Yankees made them winners!

Poster showing the words "Capitalists from Worldwide, Unite!"
as oppose to "Workers of the World, Unite!"
And in the middle shows Uncle Sam sitting with a French Businessman and U.K's John Bull.

Through this writeup, Filipinos must awake fully and think about themselves as Filipinos in order to become really independent and not of becoming a neo-colony of the U.S! We may have lands to till and factories to work, but we will become prosperous as long as the system disintegrates and the Yankees are not interfering our independence once and for all. Thanks for the 5.2 million, but we don't need another further policy to curb our genuine self determination!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

'Rap is elitist'-Chuck D

As leader and co-founder of Public Enemy, Chuck D is probably the most outspoken of politically militant rappers. The problem is, he tells Laura Barton, that rap no longer speaks for the people.

Chuck D

'When you have increased Americanisation, suddenly all the other countries around begin to lose their own identity.' Chuck D. Photo: David Sillitoe

Forty minutes before Public Enemy take to the stage, Chuck D sits Buddha-like in the corner of the dressing room. The door bobs open and shut, open and shut. Members of the entourage pop their heads round briefly, TV crews nudge the door hopefully, the PR darts in and reminds us that we have 15 minutes. Outside in the corridor, their Uzi-wielding dance troupe, Security of the First World, are rehearsing their dance steps. Minutes earlier, in the same spot, Flavor Flav, the band's enfant terrible, had been spitting grapes on to the floor in an elaborate photo-shoot performance. Now the dancers' boots pound a heavy one-two against the grape mush.

Public Enemy have been quite simply the most revolutionary act in rap history. Behind Chuck D, the line-up has, intermittently, included Professor Griff, Flavor Flav and DJ Terminator X. In 1987, they propelled themselves to notoriety with the single Public Enemy No 1 and the following year produced the seminal album It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back. The music was bullish, chaotic, their voice strongly, militantly pro-black and controversially aligned with the teachings of Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam. Chuck D rapped about the problems blighting the black community, and memorably described hip-hop as "the black CNN". In Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos, for example, he questioned whether black soldiers ought to fight in the US army. More recently, he has attacked the American president in Son of a Bush: "I ain't callin' for no assassination/ I'm just sayin' who voted for this asshole of the nation."

Chuck D has long been cited as rap's most articulate spokesperson, appearing regularly as a guest speaker on the Fox network and touring some 50 US colleges a year to speak on the subjects of "rap, race, reality and technology". "Those," he explains, "are issues and topics that swirl around the collegiate mind." Chuck's own musical career was born on college radio at Adelphi University on Long Island, New York.

This week sees the release of We Are Gathered Here, the debut album from one of Chuck's many side-projects - the Fine Arts Militia. The press release describes them winningly as a "rock/funk/jazz/hip-hop quintet mixed with lyrical views on rap, race, technology and a post 9-11 world." We Are Gathered Here is effectively a series of college lectures set to music. Fine Arts Militia debuted on January 31, at Not in Our Name, a conscientious objectors' concert in Berkeley, California, clad in black suits, white shirts, and skinny liquorice-strip ties.

Today, Chuck is in more predictable attire: black jogging bottoms and black T-shirt, a little knitted black hat pulled snugly over his head. He is trying to explain Public Enemy's continuing role in hip-hop. "We are pretty much the ambassadors of the art form," he says, slowly. "We're the ones who had to secure the people inside at the party when somebody had to be at the door." He has one of those bear-like voices, a low, humming, almost-growl. "Once upon a time," he continues, "there was no door to watch. Now that whole wall's been gutted out, so you pretty much have to secure whatever is left in rap music and hip-hop. Anybody can come in now. But you can still navigate people to understand that it's an art form that inherited a lot of the legacies of black music."

He speaks like this a lot - in long, sticky sentences that are difficult to unravel, all the while levelling an unflickering gaze upon you. "In the past, people maybe rapped and they did the music for the masses of the people," he says, in the sort of world-weary tone only a distinguished rap ambassador could muster. "Rap was anti-elitist, and anti-establishment, it wasn't turning its nose up at the masses. Now it's a bit troubling to see that where rap was rap for the people, now it's become the elite, speaking against their people. Rap is rap for the companies, rap for the corporations. We," and here I think he means Public Enemy, "are trying to put some of the balance and diversity back, to restore some of that."

He talks a lot about "the masses". "The masses of the people are forgotten," he argues, "because the masses of the people are ruled by the few. Whether that be the UK, America, Iraq ... all of them. All of the governments of the world could do a better job of answering to the masses, as opposed to treating us like ..." and here he starts to laugh, " ... the masses."

Chuck's latest way of communicating with "the masses" is via the internet, which he describes as the most exciting thing in hip-hop today. Public Enemy's 1999 album, There's a Poison Going On, was one of the first to be released on MP3 format, with the subsequent tour webcast live on the internet. "To have to submit art to some intermediary, to me was not purposeful to the growth of the art," he explains. "I was having to deliver it to this intermediary in order for it to get to the public. So for me, the internet was a saving grace. Whether it's for the delivery of video, audio, ideas, and loosely building something around those things."

Indeed, Public Enemy's latest album, Revolverlution, includes four tracks reworked by fans on "internet first" record company The album's artwork and sleevenotes were also created by fans that Chuck D encountered on the site's message boards.

His next project is a syndicated internet radio programme, a combination of music and talk, in part a backlash against corporate-owned radio in the US, which has "kind of reduced the streets, or street cred, to be something that is automatically indigenous to black culture. Where once upon a time we were telling kids to keep off the streets, now the street is invited into people's homes because of media such as television and radio." He stops and stares at me. "Do you think that companies concoct a culture inside their boardrooms and create the cultures on the streets?" he asks. It is not a rhetorical question. I nod my head. Seemingly, this was the right answer, because he continues.

"So a lot of these situations are almost like sewage companies at the top of the river, who also have a bottled water company at the bottom of the river. It's like you can't pour sewage into the river and expect to have uncontaminated water! So when it comes down to, say, the hip-hop summit, many of these cats were the same companies that created the situation."

The hip-hop summit in 2001 was a conference called to address the increasing problems of hip-hop-related violence in America. We discuss Britain's similarly increasing level of gang-related crime, and its alleged relation to hip-hop. "When you have increased Americanisation, suddenly all the other countries around begin to lose their own identity," he says. "And that [American] influence can come from the media. And entertainment rides media quite well. How it comes through that strainer, that interpretation can be very influential to the people that don't have a sense of themselves."

As roving ambassadors, Chuck D evidently feels it is Public Enemy's responsibility to restore that sense of self. Later that night, as their set pounds to a close, he salutes an audience that is a predominantly white, druggy crowd. "Think for yourselves London," he bellows. "Think. For. Your. Selves."

Thursday, November 5, 2009



Clad in dark from top to bottom, listening to ambient Gothic music as well as metal of some sort, fascinating with death, and engaging with darkness. These are the basic description of a Gothic person.

Joining and learning from the masses, listening to the music of struggle, becoming "red" and fascinating with struggle. These are the basic description of an Activist.

These two at first may consider absolutely different, different in a way that the former engaged in the supernatural while the latter engaged in dialectical materialism. Somehow these two are same, since they are resisting the flow wherein the former is against the mainstream scene in a cultural basis while the latter is against the mainstream scene in a socio-political emphasis. And I, upon thinking regarding this, simply calling them as compatible in creating a socio-political-cultural resistance against the system which is enslaving.

Just like Jose Maria Sison's poem "The guerrilla is like a poet" and the "Bladed poem", somehow it shows how the Gothic scene, like a guerrilla fighter, is trying to resist the flow culturally through music, fashion and other culturally motivated action. However, most Goths are generally apolitical in nature, and few from its ranks are politically motivated by history, realism and perhaps dialectical materialism through the learnings of "Onkels" Karl Marx, Frederich Engels, Vladimir Ilych Lenin and Mao. And unlike the hippie and punk movements, the Goth subculture has no pronounced political messages or cries for social activism since the subculture is marked by its emphasis on individualism, tolerance for diversity, a strong emphasis on creativity, tendency toward intellectualism, and a mild tendency towards cynicism, but then, even these ideas are not universal to all goths.

And perhaps few may also understand what I have written this socio-political and cultural kind of thing that came from this humble mindset. The subculture I belong is an escapist type due to its nature, but then how come they resist the flow culturally without knowing the system clearly? The subculture may consider politics perhaps as a personal matter, and as I expect, very few are "left" and even adapting some of its ideas despite differences between the subculture and of the struggle. Well... are all of their music usually speaks of death? Of gloom? Ya, but still-NOT ALL.
And why?
How come Jose Maria Sison's poems show a bit of gloom? Of mourning despite its left tones like "Requiem for Lubumba" and "Rose for a waking woman"? Or the songs being played with its Gothic-ness like "The Guerrilla is like a poet" and "The bladed poem"? Joema is not a Goth, but his works somehow show influences of classicism just like some Goth poets do!
And secondly,
Goths used to listen to industrial music, and somehow industrial music reminds of marches just like the RKKA (Red Army), the Nationale Volksarmee of the DDR and other armies in the red bloc, and perhaps they are quite inspired after listening into it, creating remixes for their jamming in every bar courtesy of a Disc Jockey-but few are quite understood much about the Workers and Peasants Army whose sound really came from except for uniforms and guns perhaps.

But then,
despite differences, somehow the subculture and the struggle shows its compatibility-the Goth shows creativity same as the activist, especially in music and poetry, and somehow the tone of gloom may share with the tone of rage; and the color of night may share with the color of blood. Goths may think most of black as color of death, but not noticing that black, in a political sense is the color of the ranks of hungry people and symbol of defiance against the state same as the red flag that symbolises not just mere blood, but of the blood of the struggling masses calling for a massive insurrection!

I simply remember some of my friends who are both Goth and at the same time an activist. One of them joined in a peasant organization and often see in the streets of Mendiola in manila. As what I expect, that person who listens to death and black metal also join in the chants of the poor, who wore black and enjoying the company of darkness also joins into the company of the oppressed peoples, whose blood sweat and tears are in the soil that still under the hands of the landlords and of the comprador bourgeoisie! Well... How sweet to see a a Goth romanticizing the peasant struggle similar to a guildsman whose heart was in the workers, or a Student like Marx whose heart was with the masses!

Becoming a Goth and at the same time an Activist carries enough compatibility and contradiction, but somehow compatibility will always strengthen its bound to the core; and through it may also give meaning to another kind of horror, of having people expecting darkness from the slums, the field, and of the factory to counter the darkness of the high rise buildings and of the high class subdivisions, and through it the ghosts of the revolutionary martyrs, of slaves, of oppressed may haunt every living oppressor-to a point of a certain death! As what Joema's poem said:
"An endless movement of strength,
Behold the protracted theme:
The people's epic, the People's war!"