From a defender of the status quo to a change advocate
Former PMA professor and Marcos political prisoner launches book of memoirs
Nov. 14, 2016
Dante C. Simbulan, PhD, is a former professor of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), an officer of the first Scout Rangers assigned to fight the Huks (communist freedom fighters) in the 1950s, and underwent a metamorphosis, from being a “defender of the status quo” into a political prisoner of the Marcos dictatorship and, for more than 30 years, an advocate of change.
His book of memoirs, Whose Side Are We On? Memoirs of a PMAer, was launched on Oct. 20, 2016, at the Executive House, University of the Philippines, Diliman campus, Quezon City. The book launch was organized by the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), a policy think tank, together with co-publisher Center for the Study of Social Change (CSSC), and in cooperation with the UP Office of the President.
Whose Side Are We On? was introduced to the general public at this time of critical peace talks by the Duterte government with the Leftist National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as well as with Moro rebel groups such as the MILF. Their armed struggles for self-determination and for a just and lasting peace have locked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on the battle front for decades – of which the author was a young officer in the early beginnings and who, in this book, will tell why peace will remain elusive without institutional changes addressing the roots of social unrest and armed conflicts.
A special message was given by UP President Alfredo E. Pascual followed by brief messages from Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, former CenPEG chair; Henson Laurel of Diliman Book Club; Brig. Gen.(ret.) Fermin R. de Leon, former president of the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP); Brig. Gen. (ret.) Victor Corpus, Dr. Simbulan’s former student at PMA; Bonifacio Ilagan, Kodao and Selda, who also read a special message from Utrecht-based Prof. Jose Maria Sison (mentioned in the book about the latter’s PMA lectures).
Bobby Tuazon, CenPEG’s publication editor who also helped edit the book, gave a brief introduction on Whose Side Are We On? CenPEG Executive Director Evita L. Jimenez acted as the overall MC. Jimenez is also the lead coordinator of Asia for Development and Peace Today (ADePT). UP Vice President Maragtas SV Amante gave the closing remarks.
The Tag-Ani Performing Arts gave the cultural performance. Dr. Simbulan’s son, Prof. Roland G. Simbulan, read a poem. Two of the book’s reviewers were Dr. Carol P. Araullo, president of Bayan, and Criselda Yabes, journalist and book author who was out of the country.
Dr. Simbulan’s book had a second launch at the Holy Angel University, Angeles City, Pampanga, on October 25. Sponsored by the Center for Kapampangan Studies (CKS), the launch had Dr. Jaime Veneracion, former Chair, History Department, University of the Philippines, as book reviewer.
A re-launch in the US is also being planned.
About the author
A political scientist, retired professor and a former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officer, the author was an outspoken critic of the abuses of the Marcos military dictatorship
and the corrupt ruling system. Arrested by former Philippine Military Academy (PMA) comrades-in-arms serving the dictator and detained for more than three years without charges, he was given temporary release only after human rights organizations from churches and universities pressured the Marcos regime for his release. He was adopted as a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International.
Dr. Dante C. Simbulan is the author of The Modern Principalia: The Historical Evolution of the Philippine Ruling Oligarchy, a book based on his doctoral dissertation, The Socio-Economic Elite in Philippine Politics and Government. (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. UP Press, 2007, 2nd edition.)
Graduating from the Philippine Military Academy with a B.S. degree, he went to the University of the Philippines for his M. A. He has a Ph.D. from the Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University. He taught at the PMA, University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and Maryknoll College (now Miriam College). He was Dean, Liberal Arts College, Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP, then Philippine College of Commerce), when military rule was declared by Ferdinand Marcos in 1972.
Hounded by the minions of the dictator, he became a political exile in the U.S., served as the first Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based Church Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, which campaigned for the termination of U.S. support to the Marcos dictatorship and the removal of U.S. military bases in the Philippines. He later taught at Montgomery College in Maryland and lectured in several universities in the United States and Canada. He helped raise the social awareness of the people of North America on the issues of peace, social justice, and human rights. Perhaps because of this contribution, the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church (USA), designated him as a “reverse missionary” of the UMC. The author has set up a think tank in support of the struggle of the marginalized poor in the Philippines and throughout the world.
The book is now available for purchase at the NCR’s leading bookstores. Copies of the book can also be ordered at CenPEG TelFax +632 9299526 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. CenPEG News
Author Dante Simbulan autographs books as Duterte cabinet secretary, Liza Maza of NAPC (right), Alan Jazmines, and other guests wait for their turn. CenPEG photo
CenPEG executive director Evi Jimenez, MC, opens the launch