The Role of Youth and Students in the Struggle: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the First Quarter Storm

This statement was prepared by Anakbayan-Canada.

Anakbayan-Canada stands in solidarity with progressive Filipino youth and student organizations around the world in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm (FQS). We remember their fierceness and bravery when they fought against the oppressive and tyrannical rule of the Marcos dictatorship. As Filipinx youth and students in the diaspora, we honor their struggles by continuing to fight for genuine national democracy in the Philippines. We take to heart the lessons of the FQS and carry on their revolutionary spirit as we fight another fascist government under the Duterte regime.

What does it mean to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm? What was the First Quarter Storm and how can we learn from it?

The First Quarter Storm was a period of escalated social action and unrest comprised of mass political protests in the Philippines, primarily led by students in response to tuition hikes during the first quarter of 1970. We remember the students, faculty, and members of the public that united the broad masses of the people to resist authoritarian rule and fight for justice. They not only fought for themselves, but also for the poor, the working classes, farmers, fisherfolk, and other sectors facing the violence and economic injustice of the Marcos era. We remember them to learn from them, to see them as an example, to remind ourselves that the fight for the liberation of our people is ongoing.

“Understanding what the student protests stood for deeply resonates with me, as a college student myself,” says Sulong UBC member Hannah Balba. “As of now, campuses are increasingly being surveilled and policed by the Duterte administration, and as a member of the diaspora, I hold immense privilege in staying free from these acts of censorship. Students and teachers are being apprehended for espousing ‘radical’ ideals and law enforcement is continuing their illegal occupation on college campuses. Being a member of Sulong UBC holds me accountable to my privilege and reminds me of the luxuries that my counterparts in the Philippines are not afforded. It is not enough for us to be comfortable and content with the privilege we hold, but to use it to support our people back home and their struggle for national liberation.

What is the role of youth and students in the movement for national democracy?

Youth and students have always played an important and decisive role in advancing patriotic and progressive mass movements in the Philippines, and indeed the world. Anakbayan traces its legacy to the Kabataang Makabayan (KM), one of the leading organizations of the FQS, which was itself inspired by the Katipunan and the old democratic revolution. As KM founder Jose Maria Sison said, “the youth are characterized by having vigor both in thought and action, the readiness to accept new and revolutionary ideas and ways, daring in the fight against the unjust system, bravery in taking part in the revolution, and the desire to create a bright future.”

Anakbayan-Canada, and its members and counterparts in the Philippines and abroad, honours its revolutionary legacy by striving to serve the people and help usher in a just and lasting peace in the Philippines. To that end, we call on the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, in a neutral venue abroad, and to free all political prisoners, especially those detained NDFP peace consultants who participate in the negotiations. The peace talks will pave the way for comprehensive agreements on social, economic, political and constitutional reforms which will benefit the Filipino people. The merciless attacks on human rights defenders, land rights activists, Indigenous peoples, unionists, and student activists of Duterte regime must end.

We recognize that as Filipinx youth and students hungry for change, we cannot do this work alone. We must organize ourselves, both here and in our motherland, in order to be effective forces for social change. History has shown that only by acting collectively, by joining forces with other like-minded youth and students, and by working in solidarity with other sectors, that genuine social transformation is possible. The legacy of the FQS lives on! Filipinx youth, rise up! Join Anakbayan and be part of the hope of the nation!



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