Ka Joma: A hero of the Filipino people is cremated in an emotion-filled but revolutionary farewell ceremony
(Utrecht, The Netherlands) – Accolades continued to pour in, as Jose Ma. Sison or Ka Joma, Founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and Chief Political Consultant of the NDFP Peace Panel, was cremated today here in Utrecht. He passed away last December 16 after a lingering illness. He was 83.
The two-hour farewell ceremony held at the auditorium of the Crematorium Daelwijck in this city which began at 1030am (CET) was packed with family members, comrades, representatives of political parties and organizations, progressive alliances and groups, his former staff members, friends and admirers, and was filled with songs and poetry.
Apart from teaching Marxist-Leninist-Mao Zedong theory and practice, and writing, Ka Joma’s passions include poetry and singing.
They came from the US, Canada, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Philippines, Turkey, Iceland, the UK, Spain, France, Switzerland, Sweden 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.
Also present were representatives of the Royal Norwegian Government led by Special Envoy Kristina Lie Revheim, Third Party Facilitator to the GRP-NDFP Peace Process.
In behalf of all the NDFP revolutionary forces led by the CPP, NDFP National Council Member and NDFP Chief International Representative Luis Jalandoni welcomed everyone present in the ceremony. Jalandoni said that since the founding of the CPP, NPA and NDF, the people’s democratic government has been established all over the country, with more than 110 guerrilla fronts waging people’s war which is now pushing to the advanced substage and moving forward to the strategic stalemate.
Describing Ka Joma as an imperishable leader, Jalandoni narrated that in one of his visits to a guerrilla zone, he was impressed by the love and concern of the masses for Ka Joma. While in exile, he said, Ka Joma showed his yearnings for the masses during gatherings of migrant Filipinos which he attended.
In his last message to the Filipino people before he died, Jalandoni stressed, Ka Joma declared “the Filipino people’s democratic revolution is invincible”.
In her tribute to Ka Joma, Lie Revheim of the Royal Norwegian Government described Ka Joma 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 and had the patience to explain to the various Norwegian diplomats who got involved in the peace process the intricacies of Philippine politics.
She said one can have an open and honest discussion with Ka Joma, disagreeing on some issues but always with mutual respect. Aside from Ka Joma’s intellectual capacity, she said, he has a pragmatic side, always finding new possibilities to break the impasse when the talks encounter bumps along the way. She said on behalf of Norwegian diplomats, it was a privilege to have worked with Ka Joma through the years.
“Joma had a life-long impact on the peace process in the Philippines. He searched tirelessly for solutions in order to bring lasting peace to the Filipino people, even build common ground with adversaries. He will be remembered for his personal commitment and dedication to pursuing dialogue, drawing on his extensive knowledge and experience,” Revheim stressed.
She said Ka Joma’s last message to her five days before he passed away was that the NDFP is always open to peace negotiations.
To Julie, Revheim said “I know you meant a lot to him, that I witnessed every time I was here. You were not only his loving wife but his lifelong intellectual and professional partner. You gave him both political and emotional strength. Not many couples can claim to have such a unique relationship”.
In their tribute, the Red Party of Norway representative said they will surely take advantage of Ka Joma’s experience and political lessons.
“Joma Sison is one of the greatest Marxist-Leninist of our times,” the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany representative declared. He said the solidarity with the Filipino people’s struggle runs deep in their membership.
“We are grateful to the people of the Philippines for sharing Joma with us,” stressed Wim from a progressive group in Belgium. Ka Joma, he said, has been a source of inspiration for European progressives and activists. For Joma, he said, 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,” he said.
Ka Joma’s personal confidant and friend shared Ka Joma’s life as a political refugee, receiving constant threats revealing that even the Dutch police have become sympathetic to him. “He will always be with us forever. Thank you for serving the people,” he concluded.
“I won’t say goodbye to Joma – a friend, a teacher, a leader,” proclaimed Coni Ledesma, International Representative of Makibaka, and member of the NDFP Peace Panel. Ka Joma made Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought understandable and livable, Ledesma stated.
“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, we will continue bearing the torch and fight on until victory. Thank you, Joma, for the gift of you,” Ledesma concluded.
A neighbor of Ka Joma spoke about him as a kind, amiable, friendly and jolly person. She said he was her inspiration for studying law.
Mila Esperanza, Europe representative of the Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic Youth, KM), stressed that through Ka Joma’s inspiration and teachings, the revolutionary mass organizations of the youth, migrants, women and christians expanded.
“We challenge the youth and migrants to follow the steps of Ka Joma and other revolutionaries, and go to the countryside to join the armed revolution,” she said.
A young member of a revolutionary family close to Ka Joma affirmed their commitment to continue along the path that Ka Joma had taken. Kuya Joma, she related, emphasized the importance of the role of the youth and cultural work in our revolutionary work….he lives on because we will continue to create revolutionary poetry and songs, cultural works and remain optimistic in the struggle.
We are determined and enthusiastic to take on the challenge of ensuring the victory of the revolution, she stressed.
Ka Joma’s daughter, Joy, delivered the tribute in behalf of the family. She said, Ka Joma was generous with his time whenever she would visit him. The peace talks, she said, gave her and her father more opportunity to see each other. She said she was thankful to her father’s greatest gifts to her – the ability to empathize with the plight others, and being introduced to other comrades who also selflessly serve the people.
“I was with you during the last moments few hours of your life. It pained me to see you suffer. So I asked the attending doctor to ease your pain and give you morphine. I hoped it would help, but I could see you straining with pain and watched the rise and fall of your chest. And I wished so hard that I could breathe for you. But my wish was not to be,” declared comrade-in-arms and Ka Joma’s wife, Julie de Lima, Chairperson of the NDFP Peace panel, addressing Ka Joma.
“And so you took your last breath 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.”
She said the projects she and Ka Joma have, keep her going. Comrades and friends, she relates, give her company, help and comfort everyday.
“It is love that binds us and us to our four children and grandchildren, to our comrades and friends, and the people whom we have served all our lives. I shall always love you. I shall always feel your presence with every air that I breathe, in the sunlight that sheds on me, in the water that I drink on the ground which I tread, and in all the things that I do”
Quoting from the last notes Ka Joma scribbled on his note pad, Julie stated:
“It is unfair that an entire society is called capitalist, and yet so few can call themselves capitalist and look down on the rest of the people. It is outrageous that the capitalists boast of being the creators of the wealth created by labor. It is simply unjust and revolting that the capitalists dominate the exploited and exploit living labor. It is best to fight for a society where everyone can call oneself like others a socialist, and live with honor and equality.”
She said her family is devastated with his passing and wishes to bear the grief in private.
In ending, Julie read a poem, written years ago by Ka Joma, which she dug up, as follows:
I wish to be taken for granted
Like the wind that you breathe
Like the sunlight on your face
Like the ground at your feet
Like the water that you drink.
I wish to be taken for granted
Like birdsong lofted by the breeze
Like wood on fire for your comfort
Like the grass greening the field
Like the silent swan afloat on the pond
I wish to be taken for granted
Like the workers in the factories
Like the tillers in the farms
Like those who dwell in schools
Like those who recreate the world.
I wish to be taken for granted
But I shall smile with satisfaction
If some people sometimes remember
That I did what I could in my time
To add to what is now commonplace.
One new generation after another
Shall create new ideas and new things
To surpass the feats of the past
There are no limits but the sky,
The sun, the earth and the waters.
July 25, 2012
Finally, Julie said as a tribute to Ka Joma, she adopted the resolution of the Second Congress of the CPP declaring him “great communist thinker, leader and teacher and guide of the Filipino proletariat and torch bearer of the international communist movement”.
Various revolutionary songs, especially those sung by Ka Joma and his poems were read, and video interviews on him were shown.
The “Internationale”, sung by Ka Joma himself, was sung by those present to end the ceremony.
A team of revolutionary youth stood as flag bearers carrying the flags of the CPP, NPA, and the NDFP member organizations.
Close comrade-in-arms folded the communist flag and turned it to Julie, before Ka Joma’s casket was closed and brought for cremation.
Ka Joma’s ashes will remain in the crematorium for one month, in keeping with Dutch legal laws.
The NDFP International Information Office will remain open to receive messages and friends.# (NDFP International Information Office)