Book on the history of the socialist movement in the Philippines launches

By April Burcer

A book on the history of the socialist movement originally written as a graduate thesis by then Philippine Army Captain Dante Simbulan was launched Saturday, June 16, at the University of the Philippines (UP).

“Excellent work, captivating narrative,” was how Jose Ma. Sison, founding chair of the re-established Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), described the book written by Dr. Dante Simbulan “When The Rains Come, Will Not The Grass Grow Again? (The Socialist Movement in the Philippines: 1920-1960).”

“It is necessary to read this book, if only to know and understand the highly significant history of the Socialist Party of the Philippines (SPP), as the legal alternative to the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), in the 1930s in Central Luzon, as well as the history of the merger party of the SPP and CPP in 1938 that became the leading party of the Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon from 1942 onwards and subsequently the Hukbong Mapagpalayang Bayan from 1948 onwards,” Sison said in his message sent from the The Netherlands.

Simbulan, a Class of 1952 honors graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, was assigned to undergo graduate studies at the UP in the 1960s where he chose to study his former enemies, the Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon (Hukbalahap) and the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (HMB or Huk), which became the book after nearly half a century.

Simbulan was then fresh off his first field assignment as a Philippine Army Lieutenant assigned in Bulacan and Pampanga under the command of then Captain Rafael Ileto who became Army General and Defense Secretary under former President Corazon Aquino.

The book cover.

“The book is about the origins and roots of the socialist movement in our country, where the dispossessed poor and oppressed organize themselves into a Marxist political party for workers and peasants,” Prof. Roland Simbulan, the author’s son, said.

“His conclusion in the study predicted that even after the military success of the AFP’s counter-insurgency campaign, as long as the socio-economic roots of the Huk rebellion are not seriously addressed, the social unrest will go on” the younger Simbulan said.

“True enough, there was a resurgence of armed rebellion, this time led by a new generation that reestablished the Marx- Leninist revolution, more sophisticated, resilient and national and scope,” he added.

“This will be a great help in spreading awareness among Filipino soldiers, especially the young officers, towards their love for the country, as well as true service to the Filipino people,” retired Philippine Marines General Januario Caringal in his message said.

Former UP President Dr. Francisco Nemenzo, making a rare public appearance, said that Simbulan’s thesis should have been published soon after it was written to see what reactions it would elicit.

“They probably expected a military officer then in active service to write a propaganda piece, but, instead, we have a scholarly work that is sympathetic to the enemy,” Nemenzo said.

The author was later assigned to teach at the PMA until his early retirement due to his growing disillusionment with the military under Ferdinand Marcos.

He was later jailed for three years from 1974, prompting him to seek asylum in the United States after his release.

Simbulan also authored two earlier books, “The Modern Principilia: The Historical Evolution of the Philippine Ruling Oligarchy” in 2005 and his memoirs “Whose Side Are We On? Memoirs of a PMAer” in 2016.

He is in the United States and could not travel home for the book launch due to health reasons, however, and was represented by his son, Roland, himself a distinguished academic and book author.

The book, co-published by Pantas Publishing, is available at the Popular Bookstore in Tomas Morato, Quezon City. #