Diplomats, comrades, friends and family pay tribute
Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison was laid to rest in Utrecht, The Netherlands on Tuesday, December 27.
A two-hour farewell ceremony was held prior to Sison’s cremation the NDFP said was attended by family, comrades, representatives of political parties and groups, progressive allies, former staff members, friends and admirers.
“They came from the US, Canada, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Philippines, Turkey, Iceland, the UK, Spain, France, Switzerland and Norway. Representatives of NDFP revolutionary mass organizations in Europe were also present, among them the CPP, Kabataang Makabayan, Makibaka, and Christians for National Liberation,” the NDFP information office said in a statement.
Representatives of the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) were also present, led by Special Envoy Kristina Lie Revheim, Third Party Facilitator to the peace process between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.
The NDFP said the farewell ceremony was filled with poetry and songs, the fallen leader being well-known for his award-winning poetry and passion for singing.
NDFP National Council Member and NDFP Chief International Representative Luis Jalandoni led in the tributes to Sison, describing his comrade as “an imperishable leader” who was loved by the masses in the guerilla zones he had visited.
In her tribute, NDFP Peace Panel member and underground women’s liberation group MAKIBAKA international representative Coni Ledesma said Sison was “a friend, a teacher, a leader.”
“I and so many others will be guided by his wisdom, thoughts and vision…..we will go on with the struggle knowing he will still be there leading us. Joma (Sison’s moniker), we will continue bearing the torch and fight on until victory. Thank you, Joma, for the gift of you,” Ledesma said.
In her tribute, Revheim said that on behalf of Norwegian diplomats, it was a privilege to have worked with Sison on the peace process through the years.
The Special Envoy described Sison as having a “rich personality and having a great impact on Philippine politics, history and society, where navigating controversies is part of the political landscape”.
She said Ka Joma was respectful and kind who patiently explained the intricacies of Philippine politics to the various Norwegian diplomats involved in the peace process.
Revheim said one can have an open and honest discussion with Sison, disagreeing on some issues but always with mutual respect. She added that aside from Sison’s intellectual capacity, he had a pragmatic side to always find new possibilities to break the impasse in the negotiations.
The RNG representative revealed that five days before he died, Sison messaged her, saying, “Please tell Kristina we are always open to peace negotiations.”
Representative of political parties and progressive groups from Belgium, Germany and Norway also paid tribute to Sison at the ceremony, saying Sison has been an inspiration to European progressives and activists.
“For Joma, it wasn’t only about theory and practice but also attitude and camaraderie. His revolutionary optimism and perseverance will echo for a long time not only in the Philippines but also in Europe,” a speaker from Belgium said.
Filipino underground revolutionary groups and friends of Sison also spoke, including a former Utrecht neighbor who described him as a kind, amiable, friendly and jolly person. The neighbor said he was her inspiration for studying law.
Joma’s work to continue
Sison’s daughter Joy, responding to the tributes in behalf of the family, said her father’s greatest gifts to her were teaching her the ability to empathize with the plight others and being introduced to his comrades who selflessly serve the people.
Julie de Lima, NDFP Peace Panel chairperson and Sison’s wife and comrade-in-arms narrated the pain she suffers in her husband’s passing.
“[Y]ou took your last breathe and now you are relieved of pain. The pain is with me now and forever will be. It squeezes my heart every time I breathe, and I will always, until I join you,” de Lima said in an emotional farewell.
De Lima, Sison’s editor in many of his books, said their unfinished projects keep her going.
She revealed that Sison left her many notes that she may be finish as additional books to her husband’s nearly 30 volumes of collected writings so far.
In an earlier tribute, de Lima said that there are unfinished articles however that only Sison could have completed. She expressed hope that someone may be able to take them up and finish them in the future.
The NDFP said Sison’s ashes will remain in the crematorium for one month, in keeping with Dutch legal laws. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)