Dozens of young and senior activists gathered in Utrecht, the Netherlands on 15 February to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Philippines’ First Quarter Storm of 1970 – a series of massive and nationwide protest actions against the looming Marcos fascist dictatorship, producing an entire generation of revolutionary cadres who have victoriously built the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and organizations of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The anniversary celebration was an occasion to launch the second edition of the book The First Quarter Storm of 1970, a collection of articles written during that momentous period by Prof. Jose Maria Sison, Founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The event was also an occasion for a reunion of several of the activists who led and participated in the protest actions themselves in 1970.
Speaking at the gathering, Prof. Sison recalled how the First Quarter Storm of 1970 (FQS 1970) provided experience and strength to Filipino activists who were able to assist in the nationwide expansion of the revolutionary forces.
He stressed that today, “the CPP as the revolutionary party of the proletariat leads tens of thousands of members, thousands of Red fighters in the NPA, hundreds of thousands of people in revolutionary organizations and millions of peoples (within) the provisional revolutionary government.”
Speaking about the relevance of the FQS 1970 to the global anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggle, Prof. Sison drew a connection between the Filipino people’s struggle in the 1970s to the struggle of people around the world against 21st century fascism and imperialism.
“It was inevitable that the FQS had connections with the global struggle against fascism and imperialism in 1970. US imperialism was the common enemy of the Filipino people and the people of the world,” he said.
Prof. Sison pointed out, “At that time, the revolutionary storm was in Southeast Asia and the eye of that storm was in Vietnam. The Filipino youth and the youth of the world were inspired by the heroic revolutionary struggle of the Vietnamese people and were moved to engage militantly in mass protest actions against the US war of aggression.”
He explained that in the last 50 years, the world proletarian revolution have experienced serious setbacks, including “the Dengist counter-revolutionary coup” in 1976 and the rapid restoration of capitalism in China, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and US imperialism becoming the sole superpower.
“But despite such dismal developments,” he said, “the Filipino people have persevered in the new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war… they have stood out as the torch bearer of the anti-imperialist struggle and the world proletarian-socialist revolution.”
He said that today, “the forces of the national democratic movement are far larger, more widespread and stronger than in 1970 and are far more capable of fighting and winning against the Duterte tyranny and the entire ruling system.”
Also speaking at the event, Dr. Bert de Belder of the Workers Party of Belgium explained that the articles in the book The First Quarter Storm of 1970 “makes clear to what extent a correct analysis of events and developments is absolutely indispensible if you want to speak to the mind of the activists, instill them with a clarity of vision and mobilize them with concrete calls to action… the ideas, the creativity, the activism, the principles and the commitment continue to have their full relevance for the new generations, the world over.”
Ms. Charito Ramirez, one of the leaders of the FQS 1970, graced the occasion and shared her experience. She likened the protest actions as drops of rain. “The rallies on 26 January in front of Philippine Congress and on 30 January in front of the Presidential Palace were the first drops of rain,” she said. “By the end of the first quarter in March, the rain had become a storm.”
Connecting the protests of 50 years ago to the current situation, Dr. de Belder said, “Ours is the task – and it is an urgent task – to seize the moment and give those slogans, feelings and actions a clear class content and orientation, as happened during the First Quarter Storm, so as to enlighten and mobilize the new generations to take the initiative and change the world.”
A young Filipina activist, Ilena Saturay, shared her thoughts to the gathering: The youth of today are once again living in dangerous times. Those who speak up against the rotten Philippine society become victims of the Duterte regimes killings, illegal arrests, harassments and much more.
“It is our time to arouse, organize and mobilize,” Saturay said. “We should go back to the streets with bigger numbers. We owe it to the youth before us, and we owe it to the youth of tomorrow. It is our time to dare to struggle, dare to win.”
FQS 1970 activists who were able to attend the gathering recalled their experience of those historic months. They joined the cultural presentations, singing protest songs and chanting protest slogans against the US-Marcos dictatorship, the calls for social revolution still relevant to this time.