Inspired by the success of the broad people’s movement that ousted the corrupt presidency of Joseph Estrada in January 2001, many activists became more determined to campaign for the congressional bid of Bayan Muna partylist. Everybody was excited to volunteer and make history by sending three Leftist leaders to Congress. It may appear easy but there was no certainty during that time. The last time the Left fielded candidates in mainstream elections was in 1987, campaign resources were limited, and Rightist elements were maliciously campaigning against BM and its nominees. Despite the odds, BM topped the partylist race.
During the campaign period, we helped the BM national headquarters in reaching out to young voters by conducting various public education activities. My term as UP student council president has already ended and I was preparing to become a full-time activist as a leader of the National Union of Students of the Philippines.
Campaigning for BM provided us with direct knowledge and experience about managing a national election machinery. This was crucial in our decision to establish a youth partylist after the elections. More importantly, it taught us how to turn a progressive vision of politics into an electoral agenda without rejecting militant activism and compromising our basic principles.
As BM-Youth campaigners, we saw the election as an effective platform to broadcast our programs, organize young voters, and expand our presence in schools and communities. We formed new alliances, learned some of the intricacies of electoral tactics, and improved our way of communicating our messages to different types of voters.
This was before the arrival of fast internet and the ubiquitous use of social media. The only virtual type of mass campaigning was through the blasting of free SMS to friends, relatives, and acquaintances.
To be candid, we were not really sure whether we were going to succeed in converting our campaign activities into actual votes.
Years later, I discovered that I still have a copy of my political diary about our election campaign activities in 2001. Reviewing my notes rekindled fond memories of our road trip from Manila to Bicol with the legendary Ka Bel as our driver and tour guide. I am sharing this now so that readers can get a glimpse of the political landscape in 2001 and also our way of campaigning through the tried and tested tactic of directly engaging the most number of voters.
March 6 – Polytechnic University of the Philippines organized an assembly in support of alumnus Ka Satur Ocampo, the number one nominee of BM.
March 8 – Philippine Daily Inquirer published our letter to the editor about the situation of young people under the new government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
March 9 – I joined Crispin ‘Ka Bel’ Beltran, the chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno, in Albay for a province-wide campaign caravan. We met barangay and municipal officials at his hometown in Bacacay. We attended a dinner meeting with Legazpi City officials.
March 10 – We went to Tabaco before meeting several LGU leaders of nearby municipalities. We had a lunch meeting with the mayor and other officials of Tiwi.
March 11 – Motorcade around Legazpi City. I delivered a solidarity message during the BM-Albay convention at St. Aquinas University.
March 15 – Picket in front of the Supreme Court asking for a special registration for first-time voters. BM filed a petition led by Atty. Neri Colmenares. We proceeded to Comelec where we joined workers who were also campaigning on the same issue.
March 17 – Press conference at Kapihan sa Cypress also on the issue of special registration for voters.
March 19 – We attended a meeting by the House of Representatives subcommittee on elections for the special registration of voters. BM-Youth held a picket protest outside the gates of Batasan.
March 20 – Senate picket by BM-Youth on the issue of special registration.
March 21 – Another senate picket on the same issue.
March 22 – After an interview on the issue of special registration at Talk TV, I joined the panel on voters’ education at St. Camillus Seminary in Marikina.
March 24 – We launched the BM-Youth at Plaza Miranda with Ka Bel as main speaker. We marched from Quiapo area to Plaza Sta. Cruz. There was also a press conference at Kapihan sa Cypress on the prison escape of convicted murderer Norberto Manero.
March 25 – BM launching in Meycauayan, Bulacan.
March 31 – Youth summit in Caloocan.
April 2 – BM-Youth convention at YMCA building
April 3 – Talk TV guesting on the state of Philippine education.
April 5 – I represented BM at the ‘Kalbaryo ng Mamamayan’ rally in Mendiola.
April 7 – Our letter to the editor about youth participation in elections was published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
April 8 – ANC MOPC guesting on the role of the youth in elections. I also attended a community assembly organized by BM-Sta Mesa in Guadalcanal.
April 10 – Supreme Court picket on the disqualification of bogus partylist groups. I was also a guest of 100.3 FM The Hive Pinoyexchange program and talked about the partylist system.
April 11 – Cavite sortie: Bayan leaders press conference at 9 a.m. Then we conducted a house-to-house campaign in Dasmariñas from 12 to 3 p.m. Kalbaryo march from St. Angelus, Bacoor to a plaza near the coastal road from 4 to 6 p.m. Misang Bayan was our final program for the day.
April 14 – Delivered a tribute during the wake of a partylist volunteer in Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan
April 15 – BM-Youth organized an ‘Easter Egg Hunt’ protest at Plaza Miranda by featuring the rotten eggheads of ‘trapo’ politicians.
April 16 – Supreme Court picket protest calling for the disqualification of fake partylist groups.
April 18 – Attended the Solidarity Peace Conference at Westin Philippine Plaza. We also talked about Estrada’s arrest at the Isyu 101 TV program.
April 19 – I was emcee during the BM endorsement of senatorial candidates.
April 20 – Speaker at the Baguio chapter convention of BM-Youth.
April 23 – Fluvial parade protest organized by Pamalakaya from Laguna Lake to Pasig River. We started from Binangonan, Rizal and sailed towards Napindan Dam in Pasig. Fisherfolk blamed the dam for the deterioration of the lake which negatively affected their livelihood.
April 24-25 – National convention of the College Editors Guild in Bohol where I facilitated a workshop about the peace talks aside from giving voters’ education.
April 27 – Picket protest and noise barrage in Cubao against the maneuvering of the Estrada camp to reclaim power.
April 28 – Motorcade with senatorial candidate Perfecto Yasay from Lagro to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. We also attended a community assembly in Area B of Sapang Palay.
April 30 – Press conference of Edsa Dos groups in San Beda in response to the political mobilization of the pro-Estrada camp.
May 1 – Labor Day rally at Liwasang Bonifacio, then caravan from Manila to Ortigas, EDSA.
May 3 – I was emcee during the BM press conference against the attempt of the Estrada faction to regain the presidency.
May 4 – I represented BM at the ABS-CBN news online chat program. I also talked about political dynasties in the DZRJ radio program of Ruth Cervantes and Sonia Capio.
May 6 – BM motorcade in Camanava area.
May 10 – I represented BM-Youth at the BM miting de avance.
May 11 – BM press conference denouncing the state-sponsored attacks against our partylist campaigners.
May 12 – Voters’ education in Sta. Quiteria, Caloocan sponsored by the Parish Pastoral Council
May 15 – I talked about the role of young people in the polls at the Eleksyon 2001 live coverage of GMA-7.
Mong Palatino is a Filipino activist and former legislator. He is the chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Metro Manila. Email: [email protected]