Language and Literature
This paper explores how the history and ideas of the Philippine socialist revolution are introduced and communicated in Western Europe through the autobiography of its leader. Jose Maria Sison, founder of the reestablished Communist Party of the Philippines, remains in political exile in Utrecht, the Netherlands since 1987. The book The Philippine Revolution, The Leader’s View (New York: Crane Russak, 1989), narrates Sison’s life story through interviews with Rainer Werning, a German intellectual. Sison also details the history of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and the prospects of the revolution. Through the interview method, the book acts as a medium of exchange between two “bodies”: namely of Jose Maria Sison explaining the Philippine communist revolution to Europe as represented by Rainer Werning, a German who belonged to the Third World international solidarity group. The book aims to reach both an international and local readership since it was published in English by Taylor & Francis Group in New York and was also translated in Filipino. Using the ideas of Alessandro Portelli, I also examine how Sison projects himself as a communist leader—a noteworthy individual that must be subsumed by the collective—and the contradictions in doing so. Sison chose the interview method, which necessitates a dialogue between himself and the interviewer, who acts as an interested interrogator and sympathetic listener. He shunned writing a traditional memoir, which strongly emphasises one’s self.