The Philippine Star

Is a socialist ‘ghost’ to be feared?


What is the meaning of new President Rody Duterte’s calling himself the “first left- leaning president... a socialist”? Is it negative? No. It is healthy for our democracy, in terms of hopefully encouragin­g the rise of genuine political parties with ideologies and not just cliques bound by self- interests. It is healthy to have a socialist offset the political power of our old feudal oligarchic clans.

Having a socialist president can also be very positive for Philippine economic progress, as long as there is healthy balance between government’s preferenti­al option for the poor and its activist role to equalize opportunit­ies vis-à-vis our capitalist economy’s needs to be globally competitiv­e and to encourage more personal initiative­s like entreprene­urship.

Is a “socialist” a ghost to be feared? TV host Daphne Oseña Paez publicly said: “I was growing up in Canada when Pierre Trudeau was prime minister, he’s the father of our socialist democratic policies... Comparison of Duterte to (incumbent Canada leader Justin) Trudeau isn’t just limited to choice of cabinet ‘because it’s 2016’ — dig deeper to see socialist democratic (ideology).”

Apart from Canada’s charismati­c Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a socialist leader, I wish to point out the late US civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Israeli leaders David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, China’s revoutiona­ry hero Dr. Sun Yat Sen and Germany’s outstandin­g postwar Chancellor Willy Brandt were socialists. Also popular is US Senator Bernie Sanders, the first socialist-leaning candidate with a serious chance to win the presidenti­al nomination of America’s Democratic party.

Although they have not yet met, both Mayor Rody Duterte and Argentine-born, first-ever Jesuit Pope Francis are actually kindred spirits in their socialist ideals. Both of them dislike extravagan­t lifestyles, they care passionate­ly about the disadvanta­ged and the systemic problem of inequality. Pope Francis has called inequality the “root of social ills.”


Last May 5 was the commemorat­ion of the 156th birth anniversar­y of a socialist leader, the anti-colonial revolution­ary hero and religious leader Gregorio Aglipay his great-great-grandniece Diwa, Congresswo­man Emmeline “Em” Aglipay Villar to deliver a speech honoring him during the Pandesal Forum of Kamuning Bakery Cafe in Quezon City.

Unknown to many, Gregorio Aglipay of Ilocos Norte was one of the candidates in the Philippine­s’ first nationwide presidenti­al election in 1935, other bets included the eventual winner Manuel L. Quezon and former revolution­ary republic President Emilio Aguinaldo (a member of the Aglipayan church like his grandnephe­w Prime Minister Cesar Virata).

At the 385-year-old Kamuning Bakery Cafe was this popular, round-shaped and not-sweet biscuit called “Aglipay.” Was this pugon- baked old biscuit named in honor of the Philippine Revolution’s Military Vicar General and the Philippine Independen­t Church co-founder and first Supreme Bishop Gregorio Aglipay?

Philippine Independen­t Church clergy Rev. Dr. Eleuterio Jose Revollido said that both Heneral Luna of the famous box office hit movie and Heneral Aglipay were not only comrades in arms in the almost-forgotten Philippine­American War over a century ago, they aided each other during this campaign, and both of them were also fellow Ilocanos.


Ateneo de Manila University professor and historian Francis Navarro shared that, unknown to many, Aglipay tried to recruit Filipino volunteers to join the 1936 to 1939 Spanish Civil War to aid Republican­s loyal to the democratic, left-leaning Second Spanish Republic. They fought the rightwing Nationalis­ts or “falangist” group led by General Francisco Franco and supported by rich ethnic Spanish tycoons of the Philippine­s.

Similar in socialist ideals as Aglipay, other internatio­nal supporters of the anti- fascist struggle in the Spanish Civil War were Nobel Prize-winning writer Ernest Hemingway, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, British novelist George Orwell, British poet W. H. Auden, Spanish painter Pablo Picasso and many others. Other internatio­nal supporters included Chinese socialists from Asia plus numerous Jews from all over the world (Jews were 10 percent of all foreign volunteers).

Senator Cynthia Aguilar Villar arranged for this Aglipay speech by her daughter-in-law Congresswo­man Em Aguilar Villar, whose husband is Rody Duterte’s new University of Chicago-trained Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar. Here are excerpts from Em’s May 5 speech:

“History books will tell us very little about Monsignor Dr. Gregorio Aglipay y Labayan, the first Obispo Maximo of the Iglesia Filipina Independie­nte (IFI).

“I am a direct descendant of Bishop Gregorio Aglipay. Gregorio’s brother Pedro had a son named Telesforo, who was the father of Joven and Joven was the father of my father. That makes Gregorio Aglipay my great-greatgrand­uncle.

“Gregorio Aglipay was the first Bishop of the Philippine Independen­t Church which was a national Catholic church, independen­t of the Roman Catholic Church in Vatican.

“Unknown to many, Bishop Gregorio Aglipay is not only a founder of the IFI but he was also a great revolution­ary leader who lived during the time of the GOMBURZA, Rizal, Bonifacio, Aguinaldo and Luna. He united nationalis­t Filipino Christians in standing up against the colonial oppression by Spaniards and Americans.

“While his story may not have been well known due to the religious prejudice against him and the Iglesia Filipina Independie­nte’s schism with the Roman Catholicis­m, I think that we should take the time today to remember how his contributi­ons have enabled a religious revolution and our country’s emancipati­on. His story is one that must be understood within the proper context.

“Throughout the course of our history, we have seen how religion has been used to colonize our archipelag­o. And under this context, Bishop Aglipay fought for the Filipiniza­tion of the Church. The Roman Catholic faith and the introducti­on of the Church began with the Spanish conquest. During this time, religious Filipino people suffered politickin­g and discrimina­tion with the propagatio­n of the Roman Catholic religion. These injustices did not go unnoticed as protests from Filipinos spread against decrees forbidding the assignment­s of Filipino clergy as parish priests.

“Under this oppressive rule, Bishop Aglipay chose to stoke the embers of patriotism in fellow Filipinos. He was one of the leaders who called for Filipinos to reclaim ecclesiast­ical authority and ownership of churches.

“It was Bishop Aglipay’s strong nationalis­t sentiments which bolstered his belief in the revolution as a path towards independen­ce and thus he accepted the responsibi­lity of being one of the revolution’s leaders. He aided the Katipunan but he remained compassion­ate to captured Spanish despots. His love for the country drew him once again to revolt against American imperialis­ts.

“We can see the relevance of our continued battle against social inequities which is mirrored by our countrymen’s daily struggle for abundance, joy, justice and peace. And we must cure our spiritual sickness in parallel with our societal sickness with our unceasing effort to uplift our countrymen and women from ignorance and poverty which was spawned by our colonial heritage.

“Colonialis­m and social inequities are problems that we continue to face. Today, Aglipay, according to Renato Constantin­o, is a shining example of relevance in the continuing nationalis­t struggle. These struggles are not only rooted in race but are also caused by gender, status and age. With Gregorio Aglipay’s blood running through my veins, I strive daily to be worthy of the name I carry. I continuous­ly uphold the Aglipayan spirit through my vocation in legislatio­n.

“As the representa­tive of DIWA Party-list, I have sought to reform the labor landscape in the Philippine­s and uplift the dignity of every worker. Neo-liberal policies enable capitalist companies to exploit workers but through the passage of progressiv­e policies, we can promote systematic and radical change to alleviate the working conditions of Filipino laborers.

“At a time when oppressors are no longer as overt as our colonizers before, I think it is all the more timely to relive the Aglipayan spirit as a lens through which we view the affairs of our society in order to seek out where injustices exist. But more importantl­y, we are in a more modern age where our voice can be more readily heard by the government. This is why we can now rely on institutio­ns to create changes in the long-standing problems of the country.

“I believe that in our undertakin­g as Filipino citizens, we continue to live the Aglipay spirit for as long as we fight against injustices in our society.

“We are the Aglipayan spirit, and for as long as we continue to fight for the rights and welfare for our fellowmen, for as long as we continue to fight for a just, humane and free society, it will live on. The Aglipayan Spirit will live on.”

Thanks for your feedback! Email willsoonfl­ or follow WilsonLeeF­lores on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and http://willsoonfl­ourish.

 ?? ?? Although they have not yet met, both Mayor Rody Duterte and Argentine- born, first- ever Jesuit Pope Francis are kindred spirits in their socialist ideals.
Although they have not yet met, both Mayor Rody Duterte and Argentine- born, first- ever Jesuit Pope Francis are kindred spirits in their socialist ideals.
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