Kabataang Makabayan is a social activism organization founded on November 30, 1964 by Filipino revolutionary Jose Maria Sison. Kabataan Makabayan (KM) translates to “Pro People Youth,” and is centered in the power of society’s youth to change the status quo of injustice in their political system.
KM is made up of students, young workers, peasants and professionals.
In the late 1950s, study circles under the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP) on the Philippine-Revolution and Marxism-Leninism would later form the student membership of KM.
In the early 1950s, KM was born out of reactions to the fall of the Old People’s army and the Armed Revolutionary movement of the people. Sison declared in his speech that LM “arose from the concrete conditions of sharpening oppression and exploitation of the Filipino youth and people from the early 1960s onwards.”
My father described his most vivid memory of Kabataang Makabayan protestors during martial law chanting, “Ibagsak! Ibaksak ang mga tuta!” They are notorious to conservatives and the Philippine government for mobilizing youth in mass protest actions, including during the Anti-Martial Law movement against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
KM protested and continues to organize against unjust Philippine treaties with the US in the economic and military fields, against US wars of aggression, “against the killing of Filipinos in US military bases, against the puppetry of the reactionary regime, against the big compradors and landlords, against oppressive and exploitative school authorities” (Sison)
I have seen the influence of KM in my hometown- known as “Pro People Youth” and “KmB” here, their chapter in Los Angeles and is constantly educating Filipino-American youth, encouraging consciousness and community activism. They have organized for Justice for Filipino American Veterans, collaborated with other Fil-Am organizations to send supplies and money to Typhoon Ondoy victims in the Philippines, and have rallied alongside Palestinian-Americans against the Israeli occupation of Gaza.
The first time I saw a KmB flag was at a Gabriela Network protest in Los Angeles for the “GabNet 3,” three GabNet women prevented from boarding their flight back home to the US after allegedly being blacklisted by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. (GabNet is active in speaking against human rights violations under GMA’s administration.) I interviewed KmB member John-Eric Concordia, who told me that standing against this kind of injustice was not only important but necessary.
KmB’s call to youth:
“ *Join spaces created to express, share ideas, and advocate
for social change!
*Continue the legacy of Filipino youth to fight for freedom
*Raise your social consciousness to critically analyze society!
*Actively develop your skills to serve your community locally and
KmB believes in the power of the youth to effect social change. They use a beautiful quote from Mao Tse Tung to call to youth: “The world is yours, as well as ours. But in the final analysis, it is yours.”
Among KmB’s members in LA are UCI alumni and former Kababayan president Ernie Tamayo, rapper Bambu, and community organizer John-Eric Concordia. KmB celebrates its 10th anniversary this weekend, November 28th, 2009 with a “Carnival ng Masa.”