Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracty (CONTEND) STATEMENT ON THE DEATH OF KA BEL
MAY 22, 2008


The life of Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran is one of the last great exemplars of a generation who lived through the period of colonialism and neo-colonialism in Philippine society. His life story starkly sums up an historical moment of our nation’s struggle against the violence of foreign domination reinforced by the ruthless collaboration of a few ruling elites. While the oppressors committed themselves to barbarism in order to force history to their side by pulling it backwards, Ka Bel marched forward with the laboring people; and with dignity that was irrefutably his.

Ka Bel knew how to fight and whom to do it for. As a teenager, he must have realized the terrifying whims of colonialism. And so in his youth, he fought against Japanese occupation by serving as courier for the Filipino guerillas. In his ripe age, we bear witness to his unwavering struggle against a brutal regime that is the Arroyo administration and to his resolute resistance against the deadly horrors of neoliberal globalization.

All throughout his life, Ka Bel upheld the dignity of labor. For quite a while, mainstream media have bombarded its audience with that all too familiar rags to riches accounts of those who have “made it.” But with Ka Bel’s death, we are made aware of some of the humbling details of this man’s life as a janitor, a jeepney driver, a taxi driver, a staunch opponent of Martial Law, a political prisoner, a labor leader and a Partylist representative of peasants, workers and the toiling masses.

He is, indeed, a working class hero. But not because he died a poor man. That poor people die everyday in even worse circumstances on account of a system which Ka Bel sought to transform; that this same person saw through the treacherous appearance of legality and thus forged the strongest solidarity with thousands upon thousands of Filipino masses under the banner of national democracy; and that he left us with a legacy that wards off the impostures of tyrants–these are the hallmarks of a heroic life.

And in his death, what he has bequeathed to us, educators, is a memory of a singular presence: the authenticity of his life as a subjective force, one that from now on will play a significant determinant of political action from among our ranks.

Our Ka Bel, knew how to live, he knew how to fight, he knew how to truly represent.

Ipagpatuloy ang Laban ni Ka Bel!
Mabuhay ang Uring Manggagawa!
Isulong ang Pakikibaka para sa Pambansang Demokrasya tungo sa Sosyalismo!

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