1989, 60 Minutes.
The story of Bernabe Buscayno, alias Kommanda Dante, a legendary figure who has devoted his life to the struggle for a free Philippines.
The Philippines is a country with a long history of revolution dating back to Spanish and American colonisation and Japanese occupation. Bitter Rice focuses on the story of Bernabe Buscayno, alias Kommanda Dante, who at 17, became the founder of the New People's Army (NPA), the military wing of the Communist Pary of the Philippines.
One of eight children born to impoverished tenant farmers in Capas, Tarlac, Buscayno started work while still in his teens as a canecutter, earning 18 pesos (less than $5.00) for a six day week. It was then that he first organised an uprising of the workers to force the landowner to increase their wages. This led to him joining the Communist Party and becoming a full-time revolutionary. The NPA challenged the Marcos regime during the Martial Law years. He was captured and sentenced to death, but avoided execution when the new President ordered the release of all political detainees.
In the 1980s, Buscayno returned to farming. Using economic means to fight political ends, Dante formed the People’s Livelihood Foundation (PLF), a co-operative of rice farmers in Capas. Having seized their land, the PLF then took on the multinational fertiliser companies, the middlemen who market the rice and set the prices, and the banks whose interest rates cripple the farmers.
© 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Producer: Cecil Holmes
Director: Graham Chase
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Classification: Exempt from classification
Curriculum Links: English; Asian History; Ethnic Conflict and Nationalism; Globalisation; Industrial Relations; International Studies; Politics; SOSE; Work Studies.
Featured People: Bernabe Buscayno (Kommanda Dante)