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A look back on Kalayaan International, voice of progressive Filipinos in the United States

Courtesy: League of Filipino Students, SF State Chapter

September marks the 25th anniversary of the San Francisco State University chapter of the League of Filipino Students and the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines. In observance of LFS-SFSU’s revolutionary tradition and response to the new Marcos-Duterte regime, we reflect on an October 1972 issue of Kalayaan International published one month after Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law.

Kalayaan International, which ran from 1971 to 1973, was a San Francisco-based Pilipino national democratic newspaper of Kalayaan Collective. Kalayaan Collective later formed Katipunan ng mga Demokratikong Pilipino (KDP), also known as the Union of Democratic Filipinos, and launched the newspaper Ang Katipunan.

Writers of Kalayaan International covered international issues under an anti-racist and anti-imperialist lens, emphasizing in several articles that the struggle in Vietnam, for example, is “integrally linked with oppression and exploitation of working people in the U.S. and of Third World people around the world.” They also featured commentary on local issues, including the murder of Richard Oakes on September 20, 1972.

Oakes was a Native American organizer who led the Occupation of Alcatraz and the fight against settler colonialism, which, through a brutal genocide beginning in 1492, continues to seize and occupy land from Indigenous peoples across the United States. An alumnus of San Francisco State University, Oakes advocated for Indigenous sovereignty and against this settler-slaver nation. We remember and honor his work as we organize to defend the ancestral territories of the Lumad — Indigenous people in the southern Mindanao region of the Philippines — against corporate plunder and militarization.

Kalayaan International provided comprehensive political and educational materials on the Philippine situation. From the role of U.S. imperialism in Philippine society dating back to the Spanish-American War to the “special privileges” allotted to corporate capitalists, readers learned how repression and destabilization in the Philippines protect U.S. military and economic interests.

The publication also highlighted the concerns and work of national chapter organizations in the United States, frequently printing updates around Filipino American-led symposiums, actions, and mutual aid efforts in support of the revolutionary armed struggle in the Philippines.

As one editorial explains, Filipinos in the United States have the responsibility as well as “the RELATIVE assurance of civil liberties that enable us to voice our protest openly and demonstrate legally.”

We in LFS-SFSU stand on the shoulders of the KDP, whose grassroots activism and socialist perspectives guide us through this movement, particularly in a period of rising suppression, counter-insurgency tactics, and disinformation. It is our duty to organize and mobilize against fascist “leaders” who loot the Philippines and starve the Filipino people for the sake of a foreign master. Join us in the fight to achieve genuine democracy in the Philippines!

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