Day 1: Orientation with BAYAN
After getting settled in at the KMU office I decided to go to the BAYAN office (a quick tricycle ride from the KMU office) to talk to the international officer (Taritz) about what I will be doing for the next couple of days until the rest of the folks from League of Filipino Students-San Francisco State University arrive on Tuesday morning. While talking Taritz suggested I’d stay for the BAYAN orientation since some of my fellow youth organizers from San Francisco (who helped me get a ride from the airport that morning) were going to be there for the workshop.
The workshop, done by Taritz and Yoko (from BAYAN-New York), and concluded with a discussion done by Nato, the secretary-general of BAYAN. It essentially covered the basics of what the organization is and what it’s about.
Essentially, BAYAN (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) is a multi-sectoral umbrella organization with much of its strength coming from its peasant and worker orgs: such as AMIHAN, Kilusang Mayo Uno, and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. However, it’s also home to a wide array of organizations such as youth and students, health care professionals, teachers, lawyers, urban poor, indigenous, etc.
“It’s a very unique organization,” explained Taritz, “it’s one of the largest, or the largest, organization of its kind in the Philippines and is really unique amongst the world.”
The name of BAYAN, translated to English is New Patriotic Alliance.
It’s Patriotic because the organization wants the Philippines to be a country that is not dependent or held subservient to foreign domination from the United States, the IMF, or the World Bank. It also wants genuine democracy that is organized at a grass-roots level and actually benefits the majority of the people (most of whom are peasants). The “New” and “Alliance” come in because until BAYAN was formed in 1985 there was never a sustained organization that had alliance work between the vast majority of peasants and the working class within the cities. It also relies on other groups than just peasants and workers; such as students, professionals, etc.
Then the workshop went into the various campaigns that the organization was taking on. These included:
- Stop the extrajudicial killings of organizers, trade union members, journalists, and others working to make the Philippines a better country.
- Social justice issues such as justice for the victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre.
- And to get rid of the Visiting Forces Agreement that allows the United States to illegally base U.S. troops in any region of the country.
More on these campaigns (however) in latter posts.