This article is a contribution by Party members from the Ilocos-Cordillera region to Ang Bayan’s (AB) series featuring outstanding experiences on Party branch building in various fields of revolutionary work. AB’s editors encourage all Party committees to contribute to this series by submitting their featured stories.
Ginamat is a barrio in the Cordilleras which has a long and glorious history of struggle under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines. There are only a hundred households in the barrio, but as small as it is, it has the distinction of being at the forefront of the struggle against the construction of the Chico Dam in the 1970s under the US-Marcos dictatorship.
Members of the New People’s Army first came to the barrio in 1976. They immediately conducted studies and raised the residents’ struggle against the Chico Dam to an anti-imperialist struggle. Even then, the project covered the municipalities of Tabuk, Lubuagan, Tanudan and Tinglayan in Kalinga up to the towns of Sadanga, Sabangan and Bontoc in Mountain Province, and would have submerged communities affecting 100,000 people.
The Red fighters first talked to the tribe’s pangats (traditional leaders) and peace-pact holders to unify the NPA and people against the Chico Dam. Recruitment among the tribes and the broadening of the influence on the revolutionary movement in the area was rapid. Arming new recruits was not a problem since most of the residents already had firearms. Within a few years, the NPA gained recruits the size of a platoon.
The local Party branch in Ginamat was first established in the 1980s. It then consisted of mass activists, traditional leaders, middle forces and the youth. They spearheaded the barrio’s propaganda and education work. They also held trainings for the militia unit. Mass movements such as the bodong conferences and vigorous mass education which the residents call “iskuling” (schooling) created favorable conditions for broadening and strengthening the revolutionary movement and armed struggle against the dam project.
Because of the people’s army and the people’s strong unity, as well as their persistent and active mass campaign and armed struggle, the Marcos dictatorship withdrew the Chico Dam 1-4 project in 1982.
As with branches in other regions and the nation, the Party in Ginamat underwent trials and tribulations. In the midst of it all, the Party branch in the area continued to tread the right path.
The Party in Ginamat experienced a resurgence from 2009. During this time, full-fledged peasant, women and youth organizations became fully operational again. From then onwards, consolidation work in the barrio through education was constant. The local Party branch prioritized on having its members finish the Basic Party Course. Eventually, the Party subsection was establish in Ginamat’s barrio cluster. Its local cadres became part of this formation.
As the Party and mass organizations rallied, the local mass movement also recovered. Plans to launch agrarian revolution took shape, focusing on ways to raise rice production among others. The people’s local antifascist struggles advanced. The Party branch and mass organizations brave the fascist attacks of the enemy, which includes intimidation and harassment of mass activists. Every time AFP troopers enter the barrio, residents quickly mobilize to ensure that soldiers are immediately evicted.
When military troops enter the barrio, the branch immediately calls for a meeting to decide on which steps to take. They have successfully rebuffed the enemy’s repeated attempts to recruit CAFGU elements and establish a detachment in the barrio. They persistently submit petitions and send delegations to dismantle detachments in nearby barrios.
With the local Party branch leading the mass struggles and the residents’ participation in the armed struggle, the Party and the people’s political power was further fortified. Currently, there are around 40 members of the local Party branch who continue to persevere to send more full-time fighters to the Red army.