“Pamitinan and Tapusi: Using the Carpio legend to reconstruct lower-class consciousness in the late Spanish Philippines,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies (June 2018)
Reynaldo Ileto, in his classic Pasyon and Revolution, sought the categories of perception of the Filipino ‘masses’ that guided their participation in the Philippine Revolution. Among the sources he examined was the Carpio legend, which he unfortunately subsumed to the separate, elite Carpio awit (Tagalog poem). Through a detailed examination of the legend’s historical and geographical context, with its invocation of two locations, Pamitinan and Tapusi, I arrive at a different understanding of lower-class consciousness than Ileto. Rather than a counter-rational expression of peasant millenarianism, the legend of Bernardo Carpio was a ‘hidden transcript’ celebrating the history of social banditry in the region.
“Reynaldo Ileto’s Pasyon and Revolution revisited, a critique,” Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia (March 2018)
Reynaldo Ileto’s 1979 work Pasyon and Revolution: Popular Movements in the Philippines, 1840–1910, attempted to reconstruct the categories of perception of “the masses” by using the religious performance of the suffering and death of Christ, the pasyon, as source material. Critical re-examination of his work reveals that the attempt was deeply flawed. It engaged with the pasyon as a literary text, ignored the significance of its performance and treated it in an ahistorical manner. An attentiveness to performance demonstrates that the pasyon was a cross-class and linguistically specific phenomenon. This insight dramatically attenuates the argumentative force of Ileto’s claim to provide an historical understanding of the consciousness of the masses and their participation in revolution.
“Crisis of Revolutionary Leadership: Martial Law and the Communist Parties of the Philippines, 1959-1974,” Doctoral Dissertation, South and Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley, July 2017
In 1967 the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) split in two. Within two years a second party – the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – had been founded. In this work I argue that it was the political program of Stalinism, embodied in both parties through three basic principles – socialism in one country, the two-stage theory of revolution, and the bloc of four classes – that determined the fate of political struggles in the Philippines in the late 1960s and early 1970s and facilitated Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law in September 1972.
I argue that the split in the Communist Party of the Philippines was the direct expression of the Sino-Soviet split in global Stalinism. The impact of this geopolitical split arrived late in the Philippines because it was initially refracted through Jakarta. It was in the wake of the massacre of the Indonesian Communist Party in 1965-66 that the PKP sought out new contacts with International Communism and in so doing were compelled to take sides in the raging dispute between Moscow and Beijing. On the basis of their common program of Stalinism, both parties in the wake of their split sought to form alliances with sections of the ruling class. The pro-Moscow party allied with Marcos, who was pursuing ties with Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. They facilitated and supported his declaration of Martial Law, murdering the members of the party who opposed this position. The pro-Beijing party responded by channeling the massive social unrest of this period behind the leadership of Marcos’ political rivals. When Marcos declared martial law and arrested his rivals, the movement which had been subordinated to them died. The CPP channeled all residual mass opposition into the armed struggle in the countryside.
I based my analysis on the copious documentary record produced by the CPP, PKP and their front organizations at the time, which I correlated carefully with contemporary newspaper accounts. Using this material, I have been able to trace the day-to-day vicissitudes in the political line of the party and the rhetoric used to justify it. On this basis I document that the one unaltered thread woven throughout the entire immense tangle of shifting political tactics and alliances was the program of Stalinism.