We Knew At The Very Start That UP Ibalon Cannot Be A Political Organization

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by Mighty Baylon


When martial law was declared in 1972 all student organizations in UP was banned. After all, there is even a presidential decree which says that any group of three persons is an “illegal assembly”. And if this three persons talk they will even be guilty of “rumor-mongering” which is punishable by imprisonment! I even remember an incident with Nestor Raneses in the waiting shed going to Yakal Residence Hall from Molave. We intended to eat dinner in Yakal cafeteria and we were waiting for the rains to subside. There was another two students who were waiting for a bus.

Out of the rain a police patrol car came and directed us to “disperse” since they said we constituted an “illegal assembly”. We didn’t even know the two others who were sharing the waiting shed with us and we were only intent on filling our hungry stomachs without getting wet. Good we were not talking when the police car appeared.

So, then, when lighting a cigarette and you no match available, it is not healthy to say “Pasindi po (Can I have a light?) if the smokers are already in a group of two.

Up to 1974, troopers of the Metrocom would sweep at dorms and drag out “subversives”. The parking lots of the residence hall were ambush areas where residents can be simply dragged away in the night. Even students going out of the classrooms can be picked up by waiting burly men.

In 1974, chapters of the national-democratic (ND) mass organizations like the KM are being disbanded and converted into legal organizations since they were ineffective anyway under the ‘white terror’ unleashed by Marcos.

It was only in the school year 1974-75 when student organizations were again recognized by the OSA (Office of Student Affairs). But not all organizations were recognized since some are proscribed–the mass organizations of whatever persuation, the fraternities, and some particular organizations like the UP Muslim Students Association (which was founded by a firebrand named Nur Misuari) and a UP Chinese students society which is suspected of mainland China links.

To form an organization that has obvious political leanings in those days is simply purchasing a one-way ticket to Camp Crame. Student organization are targets of infiltration then by intelligence agents who pretended to be students. Even UP Ibalon experienced two attempts of this (and this partly explains the feelings of some applicants that it was too hard to get to be accepted as member of Ibalon in those days).

Worse than Crame is Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang (which produced more chills on the spine of activists). The name of Abadilla was then spoken with terror–electric wires to the genitals, an overdose of water and splints under the nails readily come to the minds of activists when that name is heard. Being beaten black and blue is considered a minor case of torture in those days (Ginulpi lang ako, pare).

But more than this danger we knew UP Ibalon can not be a political organization because if it is it cannot become the “home of Bicolanos” and we will lose our purpose in being.

When we analyzed UP Paglaom, our conclusion was that it was a social organization. Anyone is automatically a member when he or she fills up its application form and pays its membership dues. Aside from the party, it has no other major activity. And we did not want that kind of organization.

“Why not make UP Ibalon a political organization?”, Tibo David, a political, rhetorically asked.

The conclusion was that only activists and politicals will then be drawn into the organization and it is the surefire recipe for us to become isolated and the danger of other Bicol organizations sprouting will then be max. It should be understood that an outside threat from another organization hangs over our head then [See my article, “The Formation And Legacy Of UP Ibalon: A Testimony”, 11/14/08]. We knew we will then blow all chances that we will be accepted by the Bicolanos in UP as their organization if we ever become a political organization. So we knew that even converting UP Ibalon after foundation is suicidal to the organization.

It is obvious that the politicals of twenty years after 1974 have no understanding whatsoever of the realities that exist when UP Ibalon was founded. There is simply no historical basis where a political organization of Bicolanos can exist in 1974. Now, isn’t the term “political organization of Bicolanos” an oxymoron? One thing I know is we were not morons when we founded UP Ibalon. But I suspect that believing in UP Ibalon “history” that came from outside sources when the founders and seniors members of UP Ibalon are still alive is probably moronic.

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