Disclosure: The reporter has covered the insurgency in Negros island since he became a broadcaster at 19. He was among the few local journalists who was invited by the rebels to cover the defection of former Army general Raymundo T. Jarque to the underground movement in the 90s.
He also became the youngest secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or New Patriotic Alliance in Negros Island from 1997 until the early 2000s.
Bayan is one of the aboveground organizations often linked by the State to the NPA.
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Some cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines remember the place as the closest it can get to the socialist dream.
It was a baseng gerilya, a BAGER or a guerrilla base in the truest sense where badyang or giant taro plants could grow as tall as regular coconut trees.
“We used to chance upon baboy talunon (wild pigs) wallowing in mud the size of a football field,” a Party veteran once told this reporter in the 90s during the CPP’s Rectification Campaign when it sought to recover cadres.
“Emporium” was the code given by the Party to this guerrilla base that straddles upland villages in the mining city of Sipalay, Candoni, Hinobaan, and Cauayan towns, localities that, with Ilog town and Kabankalan City form part of the 6tb District here.
Emporium was also a reference to the Umas complex, a network of training bases, a plenum and education center, and a field hospital staffed by guerrilla medics.
Umas is an upland sub-village or sitio as it is locally called, one of the sub-villages in Sipalay City’s Camindangan village.
It is in this vast area of mountains, fields, creeks, rivers and streams that the Rehiyonal Nga Komiteng Tagpatuman or the regional executive committee of the CPP based itself for some time in the 80s.
More known as the CHICKS area after the Marcos dictatorship, it was one of those alphabet soup acronyms under the administration of then President Corazon “Cory” C. Aquino.
Under the Marcos dictatorship, the Communist Party flourished, putting up mass bases, Communist cells and collectives, and regular fighting forces estimated by some ex Party cadres to number at least 500 rifles at its peak in the 1980s.
The Party also struck deep even among the intellegentsia, the so-called middle forces like Churchpeople, small businessmen, and professionals, riding on an anti-dictatorship wave that made even sugarcane planters support the “hublag” or movement in the Hiligaynon language.
“The regional medical staff was already capable of minor surgeries and amputations,” Jigs (not his real name) told this reporter.
Jigs is a former guerrilla who spent most of his “fulltime” days as a staff of the regional propaganda and education bureau.
He explained the Umas days was almost a textbook example of the CPP formula of the basic requirements to win a revolution.
“All the requisites were built, the Party, the mass base, the army, and united front work,” he recalls.
In a nutshell: the rebels were like fishers swimming among the masses who became the ocean.
But that was then.
To be continued