On Oct. 6, Anakbayan San Diego celebrated the relaunch of their local chapter at the Centro Cultural de la Raza. Anakbayan is a progressive youth organization fighting for justice and democracy in the Philippines. Anakbayan was established in San Diego in 2007. In the past three months, the organization has grown substantially as part of its relaunch.

The relaunch celebration included traditional food as well as a hula performance by Jennifer Rios from San Diego Kia’i. There were also musical contributions from Nate Reynolds of the Democratic Socialists of America, and Tiger MC (Moayad Al Hussni), a Syrian refugee, rapper and member of the Palestinian Youth Movement. The Centro Cultural de la Raza featured an accompanying photographic exhibit on social movements for justice in Mexico. Speakers from Socialist Unity Party, Unión del Barrio, Migrante, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation shared statements of solidarity with Anakbayan.

Anakbayan is currently under scrutiny from the government in the Philippines. They are facing brutal propaganda campaigns because of their efforts to oust Duterte. Duterte’s reactionary policies primarily targeting the poor, indigenous people, and religious/national minorities have claimed thousands of lives, and his administration relies heavily on militarism, economic support and occupation from the United States. Now, the Philippine Senate is threatening to overturn a prohibition of military presence on university and college campuses. The government is also preparing to deploy the Armed Forces of the Philippines onto those campuses.

The U.S.-backed Duterte regime is escalating towards an all-out war against the Filipino people, including its youth. The Philippine National Police are spreading negative and untrue statements about Anakbayan. These include claims of kidnapping and brainwashing because of the youth movement’s rage against displacement, exploitation and violence, and their militant opposition to Duterte’s policies.

Anakbayan launched a campaign called #AnakbayanAko (“I am Anakbayan”) in response to government repression. The campaign aims to dispel rumors about the organization and raise awareness about the ongoing struggle in the Philippines. In addition, they share statements of solidarity with kasamas (“comrades”) overseas, and encourage others to join the movement.

“I joined Anakbayan to learn about my cultural identity and my people’s struggle,” said San Diego organizer Carmela Prudencio. “Growing up in Southern California, I felt a sense of otherness that was never assuaged and that amplified into a rebellion that I never let go. Discovering the history of Philippine revolution connected my discontent with the status quo to something that was buried deep inside of me.”

Despite the efforts of the Duterte government to discredit their organization, Anakbayan members feel optimistic about the future. Their determination continues the struggle for national democracy in the Philippines.