Monday, February 15

To Suffer Thy Comrades

I've been acquainted with Marx and Engel long before they became required reading in class. I must admit, the struggle and idealism were fertile grounds to romanticize. It was the classic manicheistic divide. Good versus evil. Denied justice. And the opportunity to overturn the status quo. I was still a rebel but this time with a clear cause.


"Workers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains!"



When I was forced to play soldier during ROTC, we had a bivouac in Tarlac. They showed us Simbas, amphibians, and other APC's. I even fired an M16. My shoulder padded its recoil and the bullets it spat were burning as hell.

Some time before lunch, I asked one of the soldiers manning an APC, "Boss, nakapatay na kayo?"

He replied with an uneasy smile.


What causes man to inflict pain on others? What pushes him to kill?

Hobbes believed that man's life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Left to his own devices, every man will fend for himself. In a country such as ours, a mere glimpse outside one's windows would reveal the face behind the observation. Poverty, squalor, and a pervading sense of helplessness. Every soul struggling to keep himself afloat. Every man fighting for his own survival.

Yet every so often, man is able to transcend this basic existence. An idea so compelling pushes him to find alternatives. He bands with another. He finds strength in numbers. And there, in that collective, he finds a cause.

His basic existence is then justified.
He still suffers but this time for a cause.

But what if that cause betrays you? How would you feel if the very people you trusted and cared for, the people you offered your life to, turn against you? Your home, your family, your comrades... now your enemy?

When solidarity lends itself to paranoia, collective fear sows a tragic end.

Oplan Cadena de Amor (1984)
Oplan Takipsilim (1985)
Oplan Missing Link (1987)
Oplan Olympia (1987)
Oplan Tidebar (1988)
Kampanyang Ahos (1980s)


In Bobby Garcia's book, To Suffer Thy Comrades (How the Revolution Decimated Its Own), he chronicled how he was tortured by fellow rebels during the CPP/NPA's anti-infiltration campaign in the 1980s: Kampanyang Ahos. At the height of communist insurgency and perhaps because of the confusion surrounding their failure to exploit the political vacuum in the events leading to People Power, a collective paranoia infected the movement. Whereas before, it prided itself with a righteous struggle for a worthy cause, the CPP/NPA committed missteps. Short cuts were made. Commitment to the Geneva Conventions was foregone. And comrades were tortured and killed.

All in the name of purging its ranks of suspected deep penetration agents (DPA's).

The Philippines was not immune to the ghosts of Auschwitz and Cambodia... after all.


"I said earlier that I had to satisfy a lot of people as I worked on this book. All victims of the carnage, I realized, were the foremost consideration though I would not go so far as to claim to speak on the others' behalf. I just had to take an initial step, albeit a painful one. For in the final analysis, I realized all I really had to satisfy was myself. My own peace. My own coming to terms and my own closure.

"It had never been easy. But nevertheless."

- Bobby Garcia, Preface (2001)


My closet communist died even before coming of age. The truth it offered was inadequate. Through time, the fluidity of principles exposed itself. The conservative turns bohemian. And the activist sells out.


Para sa isang hinahangaan.


  1. honestly, this really really hits home...

    thanks for triggering that lost spark again...

  2. sometimes i forget you worked with soldiers. this is a different side of you i'm seeing darc. =)

  3. not only a review of my soc sci 2 class but an eye-opener as well.
    there really are stories, darkest ones to be told which will shake things and hit us to the bone..

  4. The revolution always eats its children, does it not.

  5. The writings of Marx and Engel are worthwhile ideologies to be read and studied. However, like most political/socio-economic models, the translation is lost somewhere between the paper and the execution in real-life.

    With the fall of the Eastern Europe and the gradual shifting of Maoist China into an extremely modified form of capitalism, the question remains: can the ideas of Marx and Engel still offer solutions to the shortcomings of modern society?

  6. EW: as a framework yes it is.. but in its purest sense, i think marx an engel as well as gramsci are fully aware that their dialectics are still relative and contextual..

  7. now i'm smitten.

    i lost my train of thoughts hahaha. babalik ako mag-cocomment back ako.

    @ewik: sige kaw na.

    @ew: sige kayo na.

  8. @wanderingcommuter: you're welcome. utang ko kasi 'to kay dabo :)

    @engel: nah, that was years ago... and this is my nerdy side. hehe

    @paci: honestly, i never knew these things until i worked for the military. always two sides to a coin it seems...

  9. @rudeboy: ah, the classic imagery, revolution devouring its children. change is a messy business...

    @eternalwanderer: honestly, i thought i was kantian... but then neo-realism is a much more convenient framework: cooperation and self-interest.

    interesting exchange with wc. minus hegemony, i'm not well-versed with gramsci though. hehe

    @dabo: wala na ako utang mr. social philosopher :)

  10. i just realized this post is so butch... and my blog is a messy hodge-podge. hehe

  11. When you can no longer work with people who won't even lift a finger against small injustices, when the burden becomes too heavy for you alone to carry... Hahay... Maghanap na lang ng mamahalin at magmamahal sayo...

    @Ternie: Capitalism does have its inherent flaws hence, I believe, the need for social democrats affecting the laws. Credit crunch, anyone? Would you like a welfare state to go with that too?


  12. @travailer: yep it's a balancing act and any semblance of socialism must always be welcome. as for social democrats, it's very ateneo. hehe.

    but yeah, given eternalwanderer's conflict between idea and praxis, hybrids often prove most effective...

  13. i wonder why there was a selling out.

  14. @travailer: did you shut down your space? :(

    @chichirya: hindi sir, i was never tibak to begin with naman talaga. it's more of abandoning the romanticized illusions of communism...

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  16. "My closet communist died even before coming of age."

    -- Pero kung maghihistoricize, hindi naman talaga "namamatay" ang mga ideyang rebolusyonaryo. Bahagi lang siguro ito ng sarili nating series of "class struggles." :D

  17. @travailer: lol @ "mag-akbayan." incidentally, rissa hontiveros is an atenista, i think...

    @victor: i agree, there is an inherent desire to change and be better. pero naka-move on na ako sa class struggle. at the end of the day it's not about being obrero or burgis, it's being human. and that knows no labels ;)

  18. good post, darc. I've always felt that passion is what defines living. fire = passion, fire = life, passion = life. Transitive. Who wants a cold, lethargic existence? Some settle, however.

    Naalala ko kwento nung ex ko saken last week na nirerecruit daw sya ng npa taxi driver nung nagcommute sya minsan. hehe =P

  19. @darc: sige kaw na. hahaha. langya ka social philosopher ka dyan, eh may anthro at soc sci at pol sci major na mga nagcocomment sa yo.

    --- --

    at anyrate, i think ideology doesn't simply make a reason, reasonable. one has to think and rely on his own faculty too.

  20. Hindi na ako magcocomment sa post - I've too much on my head that I cant seem to read through entries with words "Marx and Engel" on it.

    On the other hand - ang tangos naman ng ilong mo sa bago mong profile pic. haha

    Konti na lang at ipapakita na niya mukha nya... Uuuuy...

  21. @johnnycursive: wow, i got a good from you! hehe. remind me not to talk military the next time I board a taxi. baka mapatay ako ng wala sa oras...

    @dabo: hear hear! ;)

    @iurico: photoshop. lol. pero ikaw nakita na kita... naka-shades nga lang. uuuuy... *evil grin*

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  23. hmmm Alam ko na kung saan. Isa lang naman ang site na may pic ako na naka-shades. or wait - dalawa yata. hehe. Kelangan ko na yata tanggalin ang mga pics ko dun. hahaha.

    Pero bakit mo naman nasabi ako yun? hmmm. alam ko na. someone must've told you my real name.

    So parang "personal message" lang to. haha

  24. lol. nope, i still don't know what you're real name is. some guy just sent me a link and said it's you... and you are cutesy. hehe

  25. WTF! Now THAT is scary - not the cutesy part(LOL)

    You have to email me the name of the guy who sent you the link. or you can email me the link itself kung ako nga yun. haha

  26. cno may book ng To Suffer Thy Comrades: How the Revolution Decimated its Own?