Saturday, April 30, 2011


The Free Ericson Acosta Campaign presents "Acosta Universe: Beatles Night for A Cause" with performances from The Jerks and friends, on May 26, 2011, Thursday
at My Brother's Moustache, Sct. Tuazon cor. Sct. Madrinan, in Quezon City.

Ticket prices at Php 1,000 for sponsor tickets and Php 150 for general admission.

Proceeds will go to Ericson Acosta's legal defense fund.

Be there!

Friday, April 29, 2011

"Pasensya" by Mga Anak ni Aling Juana

Para sa mga manggagawa ngayong Mayo Uno!

Ang "Pasensya" ay isinulat nina Mary Jane Alejo at Ericson Acosta, at tinugtog dito ng bandang Mga Anak ni Aling Juana.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Paano Tinutukoy ang Taong -Labas? / How to Identify the ‘Outsider’

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Paano Tinutukoy ang Taong-Labas?

ni Richard Gappi

Paano tumukoy ng taong labas?

Una, kung may dala siyang

notebook o laptop habang nasa bundok.

Pangalawa, hindi siya marunong

magsalita sa dila ng mga taga-roon.

Pangatlo, lansihin ang madla

at sabihing mag-isa siyang nahuli

at may hawak na granada

(gayong kasama niya ang isang

opisyal ng barangay at mananaliksik siya

tungkol sa paglabag sa mga karapatang pantao).

Pang-apat, ang panigurado:

kantahin ang katutubong awit

na “Magtanim ay ‘Di Biro”

habang tulad ng bilis

ng kamay ng isang mahikero,

pataksil na isuksok

sa bulsa ang granada na ebidensya

sa jacket ng paparatangan ng


Tutubo na ang prutas

sa punong makamandag

Kumpleto na ang sangkap

sa pagtukoy sa taong labas.

How to Identify the ‘Outsider’

by Richard Gappi

translation by Marne L. Kilates

How does one identify the ‘Outsider’?

First, if he carries

a notebook or a laptop while in the mountains.

Second, he’s not conversant

with the local language.

Third, make fools of the public

and say he was captured alone,

with a grenade in his hand

(though he was with

a barangay official and he was researching

human rights violations).

Fourth, and the surest:

sing the native song

“Planting Rice is Never Fun”

and, with a magician’s

sleight of hand,

slip the grenade

into his jacket pocket – the evidence –

and accuse him of


The poisonous tree

shall bear fruit.

The definition of the Outsider

is complete.

from theelectricmoonsoonmagazine

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kin, Writers and Artists Launch Campaign for Release of Detained Poet Ericson Acosta

“His works as a writer, poet, thespian, singer and songwriter have remained relevant especially to the succeeding generations of UP activists in and out of the university. His bias for the poor and oppressed dates back to his campus days.”


Mrs. Liwayway Acosta is graceful in keeping her pain hidden; but sometimes it becomes too much and tears fall and she struggles to regain her composure.

For over two months now, Mrs. Liwayway and her husband Isaias Acosta and have been worried because their only son, their only child writer and poet Ericson, 37, had been detained and falsely and maliciously charged with illegal possession of firearms in Catbalogan, Samar. Both mother and father are now at the lead of a campaign pressing for their poet-son’s immediate release.

“At least we know that he’s alright and that he’s not being hurt. That was our greatest worry in the beginning. Our son is made of stronger stuff and we know that he’s holding up in prison. This is not the kind of thing that will break Eric,” said Mrs. Acosta.

Mr. Acosta in the meantime is the unashamedly proud father. He even has a list of his only child’s achievements since grade school, and at the drop of a hat can enumerate the various literary, theatrical and scientific awards Ericson has received since he was in shorts and attending grade school in St. Mary’s College,and eventually when he went to the University of Sto. Tomas for his secondary education.

“He has never been anything but a good son, an intelligent student, and a loving parent to his own son Emmanuel,” said Mr. Acosta.

Artists Rally Behind Campaign for Poet’s Release

Two weeks ago, the family and Ericson’s friends and former colleagues officially launched the Free Ericson Acosta campaign in Quezon City. It was a reunion of sorts for Ericson’s friends from his university days, and an event that saw some of the most respected names in the Philippines’ literary circles placing their support behind an artist who chose a path of human rights activism.

At the time when Ericson was arrested [2] earlier last February 13, he was a freelance journalist documenting the human rights situation in Western Samar. He was arrested in the company of various community leaders from farmers’ organization who staunchly defended him and affirmed his work as a writer.

During the campaign launch press conference, Ericson’s former editor-in-chief in the Philippine Collegian Michael John Ac-ac said that the former had true artist sensibilities [3] and that he, Ericson, honed it through the years by voracious reading, prolific writing and by constantly discovering developments in the cultural scene.

Ac-ac remembered how Ericson was able to put together the Philippine Collegian’s 1994 literary folio F1 decades after it was last published. He said that Ericson also liked to write about previously-undiscovered musicians and helped make them popular. Among his “discoveries” were the now defunct but legendary groups Yano and the Eraserheads.

“Ericson always had a lively mind, but he has an even bigger heart It was not surprising that he eventually chose to become a full-time journalist writing about human rights,” said Ac-ac.

In a testimony sent by Palanca-award winning director and actor Rody Vera, he said that Ericson has been acting as early as 1984 and in a Shakepearean play no less. Vera said that he worked with the young Acosta in a production of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), rendering of the “dreaded Scottish play” Macbeth.

“I’m not sure if Ericson was then aware that he was part of a production that was against the Marcos dictatorship. Ericson was part of a play that exposed Marcos’ selfish greed for power. Now, it’s most saddening to think that that the same machinery of torture, violence and repression that continues to operate against cultural workers like Ericson and the rest of the Filipino people, even if there is no dictator at the helm of government. Now they are wielding violence in the name of democracy. What is even more infuriating is how the violations being committed against Ericson can very well be perpetrated against any and all of us. The restriction of Ericson’s freedom is an attack against our own respective, individual freedoms,” he said.

Members of the UP academe comprised of artists and writers also released a statement calling for Ericson’s immediate and unconditional release from his current “illegal detention.” Panelists and participants in the 50th UP National Writer’s Workshop sent the statement straight from Baguio where the workshop was then being conducted.

“His works as a writer, poet, thespian, singer and songwriter have remained relevant especially to the succeeding generations of UP activists in and out of the university. His bias for the poor and oppressed dates back to his campus days,” they said. The statement was signed by the likes of National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera and writers and poets Jose Dalisay, Jr., Jun Cruz Reyes, Gemino Abad, Gelacio Guillermo, J. Neil Garcia, Charlson Ong, Rolando Tolentino, Romulo Baquiran Jr. and Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo.

Other supporters of the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign also include veteran actors Fernando “Nanding” Josef, Pen Medina, and Bonifacio Ilagan; poet Richard Gappi of the Neo-Angono Artists’ Collective and former political detainee Axel Pinpin of the Tagaytay 5; visual artists Egai Talusan Fernandez, Boy Dominguez, Mideo Cruz, and Julie Lluch; filmmakers Sigfried Barros Sanchez, Kiri Dalena, Carlitos Siguion-Reyna and Bibeth Orteza; poet and musician Jess Santiago, rock musicians Chickoy Pura of The Jerks and Eric Cabrera of Datu’s Tribe, and journalists Elizabeth Lolarga, Kenneth Guda, Norman Bordadora, Kristine Alave and Iris Pagsanjan.

Former Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Vice President and Artistic Director Josef pointed out that the government under the Benigno Aquino III administration is challenged to be different from its predecessors. He said that it must free those whose only crime is serving the least serve, and that it must “Jail without delay those who have greedily taken away food on the table of the poor.”

“I know Ericson Acosta personally as a cultural worker. I am humbled by his sacrifices and his commitment to the poor. My accomplishments as an artist and cultural worker are nothing compared to his,” Josef said.

Secretary-general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Renato Reyes shared what happened during his recent visit to Ericson at the Calabayog provincial jail. According to him, Ericson was in “high spirits” and that the poet was grateful for all the support he was getting.

During the short visit, Reyes and Ericson recorded a few songs on a digital camera and the recordings have since been uploaded on Facebook and in the Free Ericson Acosta blog,

Reyes said that there were plans to visit Ericson on or before his birthday this May 27 and that friends and supporters were very welcome to join. He also reminded supporters to contribute to the legal fund for Ericson.

The Father-In-Law Speaks

Ericson’s father-in-law art critic Pablo Tariman has come out with a series of articles pressing for Ericson’s release, and in some of them he shared how he managed to explain to his grandson eight-year old Emmanuel the circumstances of his father’s detention. The boy had begun to ask questions about who was in jail and why did he keep on hearing lawyers and court hearings in his grandfather’s phone conversations.

“I told him gently his father is closely guarded by soldiers and he couldn’t move around. I tried to avoid the words ‘arrest’ and ‘jail’. At age 8 and entering grade 3 only this coming school year, there are many things I couldn’t explain well to my grandson,” he said.

Mr. Tariman has also told Emmanuel that he can visit his father in that Samar jail before his father’s birthday.

"In my mind, this cultural worker (who happens to be my son-in-law) doesn’t deserve the hot summer nights in a Calbayog provincial jail,” he said.

The respected art critic has put together a fundraising concert for his son in law. Violinist Gina Medina and pianist Mary Anne Espina will perform on Saturday, May 28, 2011, 6 p.m. at the Balay Kalinaw in UP Diliman, Quezon City. Tickets are being sold at P1000 (US$23.35 with buffet dinner) and P500 (US$11.62 concert only).

The Government’s Iron-Fist Policy on Perceived Enemies

In its support statement, the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign has said that the poet’s rights continue to be violated each day he remains incarcerated.

“The fabricated charges are intended to keep him under government’s control and scrutiny. His frail appearance in the photo released to media by the AFP heightens concerns for his health given the conditions in jail. The road to genuine and lasting peace cannot be paved with government’s continued iron-fist policy of arresting its perceived enemies on mere suspicion. It behooves the Aquino government to forge favorable conditions in the conduct of its peace efforts by releasing political prisoners,” it said.

After its ascent to power, the Aquino government has begun peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), but it has not taken action on calls for the release of political prisoners.

According to human rights groups Karapatan and Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), there are 344 political prisoners [4] in the country. Most of them have been slapped with common crimes, a violation of the Hernandez political doctrine.

Ericson himself has written a personal message addressed to his supporters. He admitted that he has, understandably, some difficulty writing whenever the enormity of his current circumstance strike him anew, but on the whole he remains optimistic.

“I have already received and read most of what have been written about me since my arrest. These have given me a clear picture of how promptly friends and comrades have actively taken my cause, and how in a short period of time the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign has reached quite an extensive base of support. I am of course sincerely touched by all this. I have long been wanting to communicate with them through letters or general statements, not only to thank them but also to personally shed light on my experience with state fascism,” he said.

Ericson said that he has succeeded in writing a piece on the human rights situation in Samar as well as a full account of his arrest and continuing detention. He said that he is now even more encouraged to continue writing despite the sorry conditions he currently faces in prison.

“My active engagement through my writings naturally serves to effectively amplify the campaign, as well as the general call to free all political prisoners. While I am in fact the principal subject of the Free Ericson Acosta campaign, it’s time that I enlisted myself as its principal mass leader and propagandist as well,” he said.

Letter to My Grandchildren

by Pablo A. Tariman in Philippines Free Press

Dear Emman and Keya,

As I write this, I am listening to Bach’s “Partita No. 1.” Its playful and unpredictable, if pungently, poignant mood allows me to reflect and express my thoughts as a 62-year-old grandfather.

Emman, I am also in a quandary how to break the sad news to you. Your father, Ericson Acosta, a former Collegian editor like your mother, was picked by the military last February 13 in San Jorge, Samar and is now detained at the Calbayog Provincial Jail in the same province. In time perhaps, I can explain everything.

Read more>>


The author's grandson, Emmanuel T. Acosta with actor Pen Medina who is one of the signatories of the Free Ericson Campaign recently launched by the cultural sector led by National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera.

by Pablo A. Tariman in Munting Nayon News Magazine

There are many things my grandson, Emmanuel Tariman Acosta, didn’t know about his father, Ericson Acosta.

My grandson didn’t know that his father acted in several theater productions at the University of the Philippines (UP), including the UP Repertory Company’s “Sa Sariling Bayan” directed by Soxy Topacio; Dulaang UP’s “Green Bird,” directed by the late Ogie Juliano; and “Monumento,” which his father wrote and directed. By coincidence, Ericson also played the lead role of Andres Bonifacio in this multi-media production by the UP Alay Sining.

Read more>>

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hagulgol ng Gubat

ni Richard Gappi

In brutal retaliation for the Balangiga attack, villages were set on fire, crops were destroyed, and thousands are believed to have died.

Ngayon ay labingsiyam at isa.
At dito sa aking tahanan, langit man
ay naliligalig, ayaw tumahan.
Nasasaid ang aking lakas
upang bigyan pa ito ng ibang pangalan.
Maliban sa impiyerno, impiyernong katahimakan
ang nakaratay sa lupa.
Sa maraming taon,
nakaukit sa kanyang mga puno at bundok
ang kanyang pangalan.
Ito ang Samar!
Sa maraming taon,
ibinubulong ng hangin at dalampasigan
ang kanyang pangalan.
Ito ang Samar!
Ito ang Samar!
Ngayon ay labingsiyam at isa.
At dito sa aking tahanan,
ang nakahimlay na kapayapaan
ay nakaukit sa lapida ng mga namatay.


Tag-araw at totoong walang nakadapong halumigmig.
Ngunit nangangaligkig ako,
sukol ako ng aking mga tadyang at gulugod;
Pilit kong nilalabanan ang ‘di mabatid
na sumpang lamig mula sa Kanluran.
Tila ako isang batang sumisinghap,
nalulunod sa bangungot, nagpupumiglas na makakawala
sa malawak na kamay ng dagat,
o sa sikmura ng sinaunang kuweba,
o sa pagkakalingkis ng bolang apoy.
Tila ako isang langong pulpito na natutuliro,
mag-isang naglalakbay sa puso
ng gabi habang nasa kamposanto.

Ngunit hindi ito sementeryo -
wala ritong krus na nakatundos sa mga hungkag na hukay.
Walang punong santol na magsisilbing lilim
at pahingahan ng mga nagluluksa -
mga naulilang umaasa sa ulan,
pang-ampat sa nakatalukbong na init ng araw.
Sapagkat dito, isang dambuhalang lapida ang buong Isla.
Isang malawak na kamposanto itong arkipelago sa Asya.
Sapagkat dito, hindi tubig ang pumapatak na ulan
kundi mga bala mula sa bunganga ng Springfield.

Sapagkat dito, lamon ng Bolang Araw ang Sandaigdigan.


Kaya ngayon, nagpasya akong maging isang panakot-uwak.
Kahit batid kong ni hindi mapapadako rito ang ulilang mayamaya
Kahit batid kong wala ritong madadagit na palay.

Lupa lamang ang narito na pinagyayaman.
Hindi ng init ng mga bulkan
kundi ng malalamig na bangkay.

Lupa lamang ang naritong patunay sa halubigat na nasa aking talampakan.
Lupa lamang ang narito na patuloy kong tutungtungan -

Hanggang maulinigan ko ang pinakamatining
na ungol, iyak, at sigaw ng humahagulgol na gubat --
kung saan naroon ang aking mga kasama at mahal sa buhay.
Na ang mga nalasog na buto ay tumatabing sa ‘di ko na masipat na panginorin;
Na ang mga natadtad na katawan ay simpatag ng gubat;
Na ang mga nabubulok na katawan ay tumatabon sa dating mga palayan -
isang tanawin ito, Oo, isang tanawin na higit pa sa kumunoy
na kailan man naisip ay kong hindi sasagi sa alamat ng aking nawalang kabataan.

Lupa lamang ang naritong patunay sa halubigat na nasa aking talampakan.
Lupa lamang ang narito na patuloy kong tutungtungan -

Hanggang dumating ang pagkakataon
na umawit ang sanggol sa aking sinapupunan,
at sabihin sa akin na ito,
ito na ang panahon upang humakbang ang panakot-uwak,
tunguhin ang dalampasigan ng Dagat Pasipiko
upang doon, maging isang ulilang mayamaya -
habang sinusukat ng pakpak ang lawak ng dagat
at humapon sa buhanginan ng dalampasigan.

At iluwal

Siya, siya na hindi ko kilala ang ama.

Siya na hindi ko mapagsino ang mukha ng kanyang ama.
Ngunit bakit, bakit kailangan ko pang alamin…

Siya, na isa lamang ang ari ng kanyang ama
sa lima o limampung ari ng puti na hindi tuli.
Ngunit walang pakundangang
sinalit-salit ang aking Malayong katauhan.
Sa bawat sibat, sa bawat diin, sa bawat pagwakwak -
Bawat igkas, bawat siklot, ang bawat pagsabog ng apoy
ay tila mga dambuhalang kamay,
nilalamutak ang aking sinapupunan, sinasakmal ang kalamnan.

Huwag nang banggitin pa
ang lunggati ng aking kaluluwa;
Kung totoo ngang
itong kaluluwa ang tanging ikinaiiba
ng babae at ng butas,
o ng lalaki at ng tagdang yari sa Amerika.


Oo aking anak.
Sasabihan ko kung sino man ang iyong ama.
Oo aking anak.

Sapagkat ikaw ang aking kaluluwa.
Ikaw ang aking pangalan at awit -

Ikaw ang aking kapayapaan!

Sapagkat kapwa kamatayan at paghihiganti ang kapayapaan.
At sa atin, dito sa Samar! Dito sa buong kapuluan!
Higanti ang makatarungang Himagsikan.

Ito ang aking natutuhan. Ito ang ituturo ko sa iyo.
At ito ang ating ibabanyuhay sa buong Samar.

Ito ay tula na isinulat ni Richard Gappi para sa dulang "Samar" ng UP Alay Sining. Nagsimula ang konsepto ng dula mula sa isang tula sa Ingles na isinulat ni Ericson Acosta at isinalin sa Filipino ni Richard Gappi.

On Ericson

by Amy Padilla

on Friday, February 18, 2011 at 12:43pm

Ericson and I spent a few years together as writers and later as editors for the Philippine Collegian in the '90s. My memories of him would always be filled with laughter. Most of us called him Acosta, Bading or Dingbat.

Ericson as Kultura staff and editor always stood out for his rambunctious ways. He spent nights writing, drinking, singing and making a lot of noise in the dead of the night from the fourth floor of the Vinzons Hall (where the Collegian office is) and onto the sunken garden.

We would spend presswork nights (that'd be a Saturday) eating cholesterol-laden burgers in front of the Narra hall courtesy of the late Manong Bogart, buy cheap ala carte food in front of the College of Educ and eat by wrapping plastic in our hands, and of course engage in drinking sprees that almost always ended up with him (and some others) drinking too much and we'd only hope he'd throw up at the proper place. On occasions when we had some money, we'd board a tricycle to Tandang Sora to eat goto or mami at midnight.

He'd initially delude probees (probationary writers) into thinking what a hellhole Collegian was and how they had slim chances of making it as regular writers. That or he'd find a way to borrow or ask money from them (or from us) for his regular fare of Tanduay or Gin bulag. (This is where I "'honed" my drinking skills and tolerance for alcohol.)

Ericson savored pretending to berate a news staffer, Alex Valino, who was feisty and refused to be cowed by his crazy ways. Similar to a sitcom, he'd "castigate" her or engage her in inane debates and end up mimicking Alex that we'd all end up laughing.

He and another editor (okay, the EIC), along with other equally crazy male editors and staff, spearheaded a lampoon issue of the Kule with a spoof of the Oblation, posing butt naked in the sunken garden.

He serenaded a friend of ours in the wee hours of the morning, waking up a good number of dormers in campus, and running away from campus policemen in the process.

He was once rushed to the UP infirmary for stomach pains. Later on, hospital staff went on looking for him because he simply checked out on his own. He left because he said he just wanted to. I couldn't recall now if he did so in his hospital garb.

On a personal note, he would interrogate me for keeping a relationship with a PMAyer then - whom he'd derisively refer to as Baguio Oil -- and would go on to "market" another editor who happens to be his sparring partner in booze, music, writing and what have you. I scoffed at him for being so weird, chaotic and carefree. He brokered talks between his friend and me and then would leave the two of us. But that's after he managed to goad us into buying burgers and softdrinks for him in the first place. I ended up marrying that editor. And Ericson our wedding singer. His mother made my gown.

When I graduated from UP, I would only hear from him occasionally but I knew he stayed on in the student movement and especially engaged in cultural work where he best excelled. His many talents, his quirks and bizzare ways included, were now channeled to a purposed objective of being part of the national democratic movement. I am happy to have seen this metamorphosis and how much influence and inspiration he has left to the younger generations of Collegian writers, cultural artists, student activists and more.

For a time I really did wonder what direction he'd be taking given his notorious ingenuity. His mother would tell me, during our visits to their house then, to talk some sense into Eric when he started becoming active politically. That's when I moved to a research NGO and appeared to have an earning job and she'd compare what her son was doing in UP. I would tell her in a nice way that what Eric is doing is sense despite the ever-present financial limitations faced by activists.

Later on when Ericson chose to directly serve the people by living with them in the rural areas, he would occasionally contact me via SMS whenever he was in Manila just to check on me and his friend, and our children. I remember he never failed to ask how our children were doing. He did the same for our other friends and comrades.

Last night when upon reaching home my youngest daughter asked us why we came home late, I had to tell her that her father and I came from a meeting about our friend Ericson, his arrest and how we can campaign for his release. I realized it was the first time I had mentioned him to my child. And I didn't know where to start because she had never set eyes on her Tito Ericson in all of her 10 years. Because that's how long (and more) her Tito has gone to pursue a more dedicated level of commitment in serving the people.

I tried locating pictures of him at home, and I couldn't find a more decent one that didn't have him in his crazy poses, including one inside a cabinet shelf contorting himself.

As a full-time activist myself for 17 years now, I throw my hats off to Ericson. I know he would remain steadfast because he has found his home, his solace in the arms of the people he has chosen to serve. Now the government is labeling him as a terrorist, a criminal perhaps, but to us and the people he has been giving a good part of his life all these years in service, he is a poet, artist, writer, comrade and a dearest friend --- -all 101% of his funny and inane ways notwithstanding.

from arkibongbayan

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ericson Acosta : From Monument to Masses*

Ericson's father Isaias, with artists Boy Dominguez and Ed Manalo, Bayan staff Oyoboy Pascual, and the writer (right) during the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign public launch last April 15.

Renato Reyes, Jr. in Like a Rolling Stone

“'Yung mga laman ng kantang yun…siguro yun ang dahilan kung bakit ako nandito.”

Such were the words of political prisoner and cultural worker Ericson Acosta as we concluded the “Prison Sessions”recording at the Calbayog sub-provincial jail last April 6. Acosta, who was arrested without warrant last February 13, faces false charges of illegal possession of explosives and remains incarcerated at the Calbayog jail.

Ericson wasn’t exaggerating when he said that the songs we recorded that day, songs that spanned the entire 17 years that I have known him, were somehow to blame for his current situation.

I met Ericson in 1994, during a period of transition in the Philippine Collegian. Our meeting was not really of a political sort. We just happened to be at the 4th floor of Vinzons Hall, where the Center for Nationalist Studies library and the Collegian office were located and where the rehearsals for Alay Sining’s PD1081 were being held.

It was during those times that we happened to have a similar interest in music, along with the Kule editor-in-chief Mike Ac-ac who played the blues harp. Our “set list” consisted of Binky Lampano, The Doors, U2, The Jerks, Eraserheads, Yano and so on. The stage was the 4th floor lobby of Vinzons, or the Grandstand in Sunken Garden. We eventually brought our “performances” to protest actions against the commercialization of UP, with megaphones as our sound system.

Ericson got to know the activists of ND movement, both in and out of Kule. He would eventually join and lead Alay Sining. He went on to write and perform songs that he composed. Ericson wrote epic loves songs that inspired revolutionary romanticism among listeners.

His songs found an outlet through the multi-media production called Monumento, about the life of Andres Bonifacio and the unfinished revolution. He wrote and directed the production and was also the lead actor. One of his early compositions, “Awit ng Kasaysayan” was the opening song.

Ericson’s songs however, are not just meant to inspire or consolidate the ranks of the activist youth. The songs are often a reflection of his own personal contradictions as artist and activist. The songs exhort the artist to follow the road less traveled and to immerse themselves in the revolutionary struggle of the people.

The second stanza of the song “Dahil” tells us why.

“Dahil itong pagtula
hitik man sa tugma,
lagyan pa ng himig,
di pa rin marining,
ang awit ng pag-ibig.

Kaya nga buhay mismo ang alay
Di lang luha, sigaw, tula at awit
Kaya nga alay mismo ang buhay
Ngayo’y di na kaila sa akin kung bakit”

The song “Haranang Bayan” may have referred to Ericson being a “late bloomer” as far as activism was concerned. Learning to playing music, even belatedly, became a metaphor for joining the struggle. It is never too late to be part of this grand “composition”.

“Sadyang di pa huli ang lahat
Bukas tatanganan ang gitara
Mag-aaral tumugtog ng tapat
Darating din ang araw ng harana

Sadyang di pa tapos ang laban
Kailangang hawakan ang sandata
Pagkat awit ay di sasapat
Upang lubos na tupdin ang panata”

Again the familiar theme reminds the audience of the artist’s ultimate goal. The same is true in Ericson’s poem, “And so your poetry must”, a scathing criticism of poets and artists who deny social realities.

And so in recollecting
your epiphanies
you elude the void
which is my hunger
the famine of millions
the empty bowl of history.

The love song “Magsasama, Magkasama” has a more upbeat tune and theme, with the artist and revolutionary having accepted his/her role.

“Suyuin ang musa ng kasaysayan
Suungin ang dusa na kasabayan
Maglalayag, tula’t mga talata
Maghahayag, pulang mga panata”

And so from this pledge (panata) to serve the people, Ericson went outside the university and experienced firsthand the struggles of the oppressed masses. Fulfilling his pledge meant going to picket lines, far-flung barrios and depressed communities. Developing his craft meant making art serve the people struggle. At the time of his arrest, Ericson was investigating the human rights situation in Ban-yang, San Jorge,Samar.

Prior to this, he had written articles on human rights violations against farmers in Samar. His only “crime” at the time of his arrest was that he was a Tagalog-speaking person with a laptop in a remote village. His affidavit tells of the strange circumstances of his illegal arrest and how, because he seemed a bit out of place in that barrio setting, he was accused of being an NPA. One can’t help but recall how, similarly during Martial Law, those with long hair were arrested on suspicion they were activists. It seems that in some places in the country, people are still living in that era.

“Dati sa Vinzons lang tayo kumakanta,” I told him at the start of the recording.

From Vinzons Hall to the Calbayog jail multi-purpose hall, from the first mounting of Monumento, to the raw recordings inside prison, Ericson has come a long way. His current situation may not be something he had contemplated in any of his songs, but rather an unexpected consequence of the choices he had made as an artist and activist.

And they were the right choices, notwithstanding the sacrifices he currently has to endure. If anything, his experience further highlights the continuing gross human rights violations under the current regime. From a documenter of human rights violations , to a human rights victim himself, Ericson’s unjust detention serves as a challenge for all artists to get actively involved in the cause of civil liberties, genuine freedom and democracy.

We are happy that fellow artists, writers and activists have thrown their full support behind his fight for freedom. Ericson is waging his own struggle behind bars. Every song, poem and statement from his detention facility is an assertion of his rights, and an indictment of the rotten system.

“Salamat sa inyong suporta,” Ericson’s voice almost cracks. “Magkikita din tayo.”

Ericson will celebrate his birthday on May 27, likely still behind bars as he awaits the prosecutor’s decision on whether or not the case against him will be filed in court. A campaign has been launched for his immediate release. We plan to have a benefit gig for Ericson to coincide with his birthday.

We stand firmly with Ericson during this difficult period of struggle.

“Hangga’t digma’y may saysay.
Hangga’t dugo’y may kulay.
Hanggang tagumpay.”

*From Monument to Masses was a progressive post-rock band based in the Bay Area during the last decade. The name of the band was meant to challenge the notion that great men, for whom monuments are built, are the real makers of history. For FMTM, it is the struggle of the masses which shape society and determine the course of history.