• On Comrade Mao's "Talks At The Yenan Forum"

  • Jose Maria Sison
  • October 4, 2020
  • "Cultural work facilitates in the most persuasive and pleasing way the people's understanding of the moral justness, the principles, policies and line of the revolutionary movement. It hastens the arousal, organization and mobilization of the masses and inspires them to act as a revolutionary force against their oppressors and exploiters."

1. "Talks at the Yenan Forum" is a speech of Mao Zedong on the relationship between work in the literary and artistic fields and revolutionary work in general. Since the May 4th Movement, a cultural army has taken shape in China. To have a better background, can you talk about the May 4th movement? What can the Philippines learn from it?

JMS: The May 4th Movement was an anti-imperialist cultural and political movement which emerged from the student mass protests that began with 4000 students in Beijing on May 4, 1919. The student masses rose up against the traitorous policy of the Chinese reactionary government that complied with the Versailles Treaty of the imperialist powers and allowed Japan to rule territories in Shandong that Germany had surrendered.

The militant student protest movement spread nationwide from Beijing and gained the support of the broad masses of the people. It inspired the New Cultural Movement, which laid stress on anti-imperialism and the adoption of science and democracy as new rallying points against the Confucian tradition. It stimulated among the young Chinese intellectual, cultural and political leaders the study of revolutionary movements abroad, especially the Great October Socialist Revolution, and led to the founding of the Communist Party of China in 1921.

Mao Zedong was himself was influenced by the May 4th Movement and praised it in 1939 in the following words:

The May 4th Movement twenty years ago marked a new stage in China's bourgeois-democratic revolution against imperialism and feudalism. The cultural reform movement which grew out of the May 4th Movement was only one of the manifestations of this revolution. With the growth and development of new social forces in that period, a powerful camp made its appearance in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, a camp consisting of the working class, the student masses and the new national bourgeoisie. Around the time of the May 4th Movement, hundreds of thousands of students courageously took their place in the van. In these respects the May Fourth Movement went a step beyond the Revolution of 1911.

In his "Talks at Yenan Forum" on May 2, 1942, Mao further said:

In our struggle for the liberation of the Chinese people there are various fronts, among which there are the fronts of the pen and of the gun, the cultural and the military fronts. To defeat the enemy we must rely primarily on the army with guns. But this army alone is not enough; we must also have a cultural army, which is absolutely indispensable for uniting our own ranks and defeating the enemy. Since the May 4th Movement such a cultural army has taken shape in China, and it has helped the Chinese revolution, gradually reduced the domain of China's feudal culture and of the comprador culture which serves imperialist aggression, and weakened their influence.
The purpose of our meeting today is precisely to ensure that literature and art fit well into the whole revolutionary machine as a component part, that they operate as powerful weapons for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy, and that they help the people fight the enemy with one heart and one mind. What are the problems that must be solved to achieve this objective? I think they are the problems of the class stand of the writers and artists, their attitude, their audience, their work and their study.

The May 4th Movement was one of the major influences on the student activists in the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP), which I co-founded in 1959. We were inspired by it to do our best in igniting a student mass movement against imperialism and feudalism in order to resume the unfinished Philippine Revolution of 1896 and raise it to the level of the new democratic revolution led by the proletariat in the era of modern imperialism and the world world proletarian revolution.

We understood and appreciated the May 4th Movement as the signal for the advance of China from the old democratic revolution of 1911 to the new democratic revolution. At that time, we were avidly reading and studying Comrade Mao's works. As chairman of the SCAUP in the period of 1959-1961, I wrote a long article in the Philippine Collegian on the May 4th Movement to praise it as a historic event worthy of emulation by the Filipino youth and nation.

We considered the anti-CAFA demonstration of 5000 students on March 15, 1961 a historic anti-imperialist event like the May 4th Movement. We also proclaimed our positive response to Claro Mayo Recto's call for the Second Propaganda Movement against US imperialism and local reactionaries. The anti-imperialist and democratic protest mass actions for the national and democratic rights of the Filipino people against imperialism and feudalism developed nationwide throughout the 1960s to the First Quarter Storm of 1970.

The key leaders of SCAUP also became leaders of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM), which was a comprehensive youth organization of students and young workers,peasants, teachers and other professionals. The KM was strongly linked to the trade union, peasant movement and student organizations and was in the forefront of the legal struggles of the national democratic movement until Marcos proclaimed martial law in 1972. The KM was forced underground and facilitated the participation of thousands of its members to join the armed revolution.

2. In cultural work, there are some problems that need to be addressed. Mao talked about the class stand. Cultural workers should always have the stand of proletariat and of the masses. But how do we ensure this? What are the criteria that you have to fulfil in order to say, as an artist, you have the class stand of the proletariat and the masses?

JMS: The semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system in the Philippines is exploitative and oppressive. It is dominated by foreign monopoly capitalism and run by the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords through corrupt politicians that we call bureaucrat capitalists. The most exploited classes are the workers and peasants and to some extent the middle social strata.

To be socially significant and relevant, the artists and creative writers must know not only the general statements that I have made but they must do as much social investigation as they can and interact with the people. Thus, they can find out for themselves that to be factually honest, truthful and socially just they must side with the exploited and oppressed masses of workers and peasants against the exploiters and oppressors and they must choose the class stand of the working class as the most productive and progressive class that stands for current social progress and for the future in a socialist society.

According to Comrade Mao in his Talks at the Yenan Forum, "Our stand is that of the proletariat and of the masses. For members of the Communist Party, this means keeping to the stand of the Party, keeping to Party spirit and Party policy." The organs of the party, the cadres and earliermembers of the party can facilitate understanding of the basic principles, policies and line that can guide the understanding of and needed action on concrete practical issues.

Even as they need to work and associate with their peers in the cultural field, the artists and creative writers can take the initiative to study the best that has been written about the role of the working class as well as about their own role as cultural workers from Marxist-Leninist classics to the current proletarian revolutionary thinkers and leaders. They do not have to read an entire library within a short period of time to learn enough of the revolutionary theory and practice of the proletariat. The point is to apply the already understood concepts on the understanding of social reality and in giving life to the people's struggle in artistic and literary works as organisms.

Comrade Mao teaches us:

It is right for writers and artists to study literary and artistic creation, but the science of Marxism-Leninism must be studied by all revolutionaries, writers and artists not excepted. Writers and artists should study society, that is to say, should study the various classes in society, their mutual relations and respective conditions, their physiognomy and their psychology. Only when we grasp all this clearly can we have a literature and art that is rich in content and correct in orientation.

3. There is also the matter of audience. How do we ensure that our art and literature reach the audience that we want to reach, which is the masses? How do we not limit ourselves to the petty-bourgeois intellectuals?

JMS: The matter of audience is indeed important. The revolutionary artists, creative writers and other cultural workers must go to and address the biggest possible audience, which consists of the workers and peasants. They can also help develop their own artistic, literary and cultural organizations and activities. Thus, a great movement of revolutionary art and culture as well as a great body ofartistic and cultural workers and works would arise and develop beyond the control of the exploiting classes.

In the exploitative social system that we have in the Philippines, the artists, creative writers and other cultural workers must create and develop their own organizations and link up with the movements of the workers, peasants, indigenous people, youth, women and others in order to learn from the masses, their economic, social and cultural conditions and activities and try to create works that reflect their conditions, needs and aspirations, catch their interest and inspire them to fight for a brighter and better future.

It is wrong to limit the relations of the revolutionary artists, creative writers and other cultural workers to the petty-bourgeois intellectuals. It is worse to adopt the petty bourgeois pose of being without class or above classes and evading the reality of classes and class struggle and the question of what is just and what is unjust and what is truthful and what is dishonest in the exploitative society. It is worst when artists, creative writers and cultural workers outrightly cater to the class interests and sensibilities of the exploiting classes, simply because they wish to earn the good graces of the exploiters, reach a big audience and earn more money.

Comrade Mao points out that there is a big audience for revolutionary art and literature. According to him:

The cadres of all types, fighters in the army, workers in the factories and peasants in the villages all want to read books and newspapers once they become literate, and those who are illiterate want to see plays and operas, look at drawings and paintings, sing songs and hear music; they are the audience for our works of literature and art. Take the cadres alone. Do not think they are few; they far outnumber the readers of any book published in the Kuomintang areas.

4. The question of "for whom" is fundamental in creating art. Is it for the oppressor or for the oppressed? Are all artistic works political? Is it not possible to have an art that is neutral?

JMS: To be revolutionary, the artists and creative writers must be resolutely for the oppressed masses against the oppressors. This is of fundamental importance. In the final analysis, any work of art has a class character and is political. It serves either the oppressor or oppressed. Even works that are created from a petty bourgeois standpoint that opposes, obscures or evades the just cause of the oppressed amount to works serving the oppressor and falling into line with the class interests of the oppressor.

Mao points out that Marxists have long solved the problem of "for whom" in literature and art. He states:

This problem was solved long ago by Marxists, especially by Lenin. As far back as 1905 Lenin pointed out emphatically that our literature and art should serve... the millions and tens of millions of working people. For comrades engaged in literary and artistic work in the anti-Japanese base areas it might seem that this problem is already solved and needs no further discussion.
Who, then, are the masses of the people? The broadest sections of the people, constituting more than 90% of our total population, are the workers, peasants, soldiers and urban petty bourgeoisie. Therefore, our literature and art are first for the workers, the class that leads the revolution. Secondly, they are for the peasants, the most numerous and most steadfast of our allies in the revolution. Thirdly, they are for the armed workers and peasants, namely, the Eighth Route and New Fourth Armies and the other armed units of the people, which are the main forces of the revolutionary war. Fourthly, they are for the laboring masses of the urban petty bourgeoisie and for the petty-bourgeois intellectuals, both of whom are also our allies in the revolution and capable of long-term cooperation with us. These four kinds of people constitute the overwhelming majority of the Chinese nation, the broadest masses of the people.
Our literature and art should be for the four kinds of people we have enumerated. To serve them, we must take the class stand of the proletariat and not that of the petty bourgeoisie. Today, writers who cling to an individualist, petty-bourgeois stand cannot truly serve the masses of revolutionary workers, peasants and soldiers. Their interest is mainly focused on the small number of petty-bourgeois intellectuals. This is the crucial reason why some of our comrades cannot correctly solve the problem of "for whom?" In saying this, I am not referring to theory. In theory, or in words, no one in our ranks regards the masses of workers, peasants and soldiers as less important than the petty-bourgeois intellectuals. I am referring to practice, to action. In practice, in action, do they regard petty-bourgeois intellectuals as more important than workers, peasants and soldiers? I think they do.

Therefore, Comrade Mao, gives the following admonition:

We encourage revolutionary writers and artists to be active in forming intimate contacts with the workers, peasants and soldiers, giving them complete freedom to go among the masses and to create a genuinely revolutionary literature and art. Therefore, here among us, the problem is nearing solution. But nearing solution is not the same as a complete and thorough solution. We must study Marxism and study society, as we have been saying, precisely in order to achieve a complete and thorough solution. By Marxism we mean living Marxism which plays an effective role in the life and struggle of the masses, not Marxism in words. With Marxism in words transformed into Marxism in real life, there will be no more sectarianism. Not only will the problem of sectarianism be solved, but many other problems as well.

5. Mao talked about the balance between popularization and raising of standards. What does that mean? Can you give an example on this for us to better understand it?

JMS: Comrade Mao states that since in the first place our literature and art are basically for the workers, peasants and soldiers, "popularization" means to popularize among the workers, peasants and soldiers, and "raising standards" means to advance from their present level. He raises a series of questions and answers them:

What should we popularize among them? We must popularize only what is needed and can be readily accepted by the workers, peasants and soldiers themselves. Consequently, prior to the task of educating the workers, peasants and soldiers, there is the task of learning from them.
This is even more true of raising standards. There must be a basis from which to raise. Take a bucket of water, for instance; where is it to be raised from if not from the ground? It means raising the level of literature and art in the direction in which the workers, peasants and soldiers are themselves advancing, in the direction in which the proletariat is advancing. Here again the task of learning from the workers, peasants and soldiers comes in. Only by starting from the workers, peasants and soldiers can we have a correct understanding of popularization and of the raising of standards and find the proper relationship between the two.

Comrade Mao considers the relationship between popularization by pointing out first that popular works are simpler and plainer, and therefore more readily accepted by the broad masses of the people today. Works of a higher quality, being more polished, are more difficult to produce and in general do not circulate so easily and quickly among the masses in the course of the people's war. He points out that the workers, peasants and soldiers are now engaged in a bitter and bloody struggle with the enemy but are illiterate and uneducated as a result of long years of rule by the feudal and bourgeois classes, and therefore they are eagerly demanding enlightenment, education and works of literature and art which meet their urgent needs and whichare easy to absorb, in order to heighten their enthusiasm in struggle and confidence in victory, strengthen their unity and fight the enemy with one heart and one mind. He points out that the prime need is not "more flowers on the brocade" but "fuel in snowy weather" and that therefore, popularization is the more pressing task.

To round up, Comrade Mao concludes that through the creative labor of revolutionary writers and artists, the raw materials found in the life of the people are shaped into the ideological form of literature and art serving the masses of the people. Included here are the more advanced literature and art as developed on the basis of elementary literature and art and as required by those sections of the masses whose level has been raised, or, more immediately, by the cadres among the masses. Also included here are elementary literature and art which, conversely, are guided by more advanced literature and art and are needed primarily by the overwhelming majority of the masses at present. Whether more advanced or elementary, all our literature and art are for the masses of the people, and in the first place for the workers, peasants and soldiers; they are created for the workers, peasants and soldiers and are for their use.

6. In revolutionary art, there is the political criterion and there is the artistic criterion; what is the relationship between the two?

JMS: Comrade Mao declares that in the world today, all culture, all literature and art belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines and that there is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes or art that is detached from or independent of politics. He points out that proletarian literature and art are part of the whole proletarian revolutionary cause; they are, as Lenin said, "cogs and wheels" in the whole revolutionary machine. He stresses that Party work in literature and art occupies a definite and assigned position in Partyrevolutionary work as a whole and is subordinated to the revolutionary tasks set by the Party in a given revolutionary period.

He rejects any contrary arrangement that leads to dualism or pluralism, and that in essence amounts to "politics — Marxist, art — bourgeois," as preached by the muddleheaded Trotsky, Comrade Mao states:

We do not favor overstressing the importance of literature and art, but neither do we favor underestimating their importance. Literature and art are subordinate to politics, but in their turn exert a great influence on politics. Revolutionary literature and art are part of the whole revolutionary cause, they are cogs and wheels in it, and though in comparison with certain other and more important parts they may be less significant and less urgent and may occupy a secondary position, nevertheless, they are indispensable cogs and wheels in the whole machine, an indispensable part of the entire revolutionary cause.

He emphasizes:

If we had no literature and art even in the broadest and most ordinary sense, we could not carry on the revolutionary movement and win victory. Failure to recognize this is wrong. Furthermore, when we say that literature and art are subordinate to politics, we mean class politics, the politics of the masses, not the politics of a few so-called statesmen. Politics, whether revolutionary or counter-revolutionary, is the struggle of class against class, not the activity of a few individuals. The revolutionary struggle on the ideological and artistic fronts must be subordinate to the political struggle because only through politics can the needs of the class and the masses find expression in concentrated form. Revolutionary statesmen, the political specialists who know the science or art of revolutionary politics, are simply the leaders of millions upon millions of statesmen — the masses. Their task is to collect the opinions of these mass statesmen, sift and refinethem, and return them to the masses, who then take them and put them into practice. They are therefore not the kind of aristocratic 'statesmen' who work behind closed doors and fancy they have a monopoly of wisdom."

Comrade Mao gives guidance to united front in the world of literature and art in the following words:

Since literature and art are subordinate to politics and since the fundamental problem in China's politics today is resistance to Japan, our Party writers and artists must in the first place unite on this issue of resistance to Japan with all non-Party writers and artists (ranging from Party sympathizers and petty-bourgeois writers and artists to all those writers and artists of the bourgeois and landlord classes who are in favor of resistance to Japan). Secondly, we should unite with them on the issue of democracy. On this issue there is a section of anti-Japanese writers and artists who do not agree with us, so the range of unity will unavoidably be somewhat more limited. Thirdly, we should unite with them on issues peculiar to the literary and artistic world, questions of method and style in literature and art; here again, as we are for socialist realism and some people do not agree, the range of unity will be narrower still.

He gives further advice to the Party writers and artists in united front work with non-Party colleagues:

While on one issue there is unity, on another there is struggle, there is criticism. The issues are at once separate and interrelated, so that even on the very ones which give rise to unity, such as resistance to Japan, there are at the same time struggle and criticism. In a united front, 'all unity and no struggle' and 'all struggle and no unity' are both wrong policies — as with the Right capitulationism and tailism, or the 'Left' exclusivism and sectarianism, practiced by some comrades in the past. This is as true in literature and art as in politics.

Comrade Mao weighs the relationship between the political and artistic criterion in the following words:

Politics cannot be equated with art, nor can a general world outlook be equated with a method of artistic creation and criticism. We deny not only that there is an abstract and absolutely unchangeable political criterion, but also that there is an abstract and absolutely unchangeable artistic criterion; each class in every class society has its own political and artistic criteria. But all classes in all class societies invariably put the political criterion first and the artistic criterion second.
The bourgeoisie always shuts out proletarian literature and art, however great their artistic merit. The proletariat must similarly distinguish among the literary and art works of past ages and determine its attitude towards them only after examining their attitude to the people and whether or not they had any progressive significance historically. Some works which politically are downright reactionary may have a certain artistic quality. The more reactionary their content and the higher their artistic quality, the more poisonous they are to the people, and the more necessary it is to reject them.
A common characteristic of the literature and art of all exploiting classes in their period of decline is the contradiction between their reactionary political content and their artistic form. What we demand is the unity of politics and art, the unity of content and form, the unity of revolutionary political content and the highest possible perfection of artistic form. Works of art which lack artistic quality have no force, however progressive they are politically. Therefore, we oppose both the tendency to produce works of art with a wrong political viewpoint and the tendency towards the "poster and slogan style" which is correct in political viewpoint but lacking in artistic power. On questions of literature and art we must carry on a struggle on two fronts.

7. In art school, works of the bourgeoisie are the ones being studied. Is it important to study the art of the bourgeoisie? Should the curriculum of art academies be changed after victory?

JMS: It is of course in the nature of bourgeois art and literary academies to admire, study and celebrate the classical works of ancient slave and feudal societies and of course the great works of bourgeois artists and creative writers. The most reactionary administrations and faculty members of such academies completely shut out proletarian revolutionary works of literature and art, although at certain times some faculty members on their own initiative allow these works to be studied and appreciated by the students.

After the victory of the people's democratic revolution, the art and literary academies will certainly change the curriculum and favor proletarian revolutionary art and literature against bourgeois reactionary art and literature. But there can be subjects for examining and criticizing reactionary works. These can be studied by specialists, although they are not subjects for general propagation or obligatory study by all students.

The critical study of bourgeois works of literature and art is important and useful, especially for specialists. We must know their positive and negative features and contrast them with revolutionary democratic and proletarian works. Remember that science and technology, the proletariat and machine large production have passed through capitalist society. Anyway, especially in the digital age, there is no way of shutting out completely works from the past and from the class enemy.

We must know the history of art and literature in the Philippines and other countries. Otherwise the artists, creative writers and the public will become ignorant of the contents of museums and the significance of artistic works and structures that continue to stand in public places. We must know the continuity and discontinuities in the cultural heritage of our nation and the world. Otherwise, we would not know how to measure and evaluate the revolutionary advances that we have made. But always the main point is to learn from the past and others in order to serve the needs of the people and the present.

Comrade Mao states:

We must take over all the fine things in our literary and artistic heritage, critically assimilate whatever is beneficial, and use them as examples when we create works out of the literary and artistic raw materials in the life of the people of our own time and place. It makes a difference whether or not we have such examples, the difference between crudeness and refinement, between roughness and polish, between a low and a high level, and between slower and faster work. Therefore, we must on no account reject the legacies of the ancients and the foreigners or refuse to learn from them, even though they are the works of the feudal or bourgeois classes.

His caveat and positive guidance are as follows:

But taking over legacies and using them as examples must never replace our own creative work; nothing can do that. Uncritical transplantation or copying from the ancients and the foreigners is the most sterile and harmful dogmatism in literature and art. China's revolutionary writers and artists, writers and artists of promise, must go among the masses; they must for a long period of time unreservedly and whole-heartedly go among the masses of workers, peasants and soldiers, go into the heat of the struggle, go to the only source, the broadest and richest source, in order to observe, experience, study and analyze all the different kinds of people, all the classes, all the masses, all the vivid patterns of life and struggle, all the raw materials of literature and art. Only then can they proceed to creative work. Otherwise, you will have nothing to work with and you will be nothing but a phony writer or artist, the kind that Lu Hsun in his will so earnestly cautioned his son never to become.

8. Art and literature, or cultural work in general, is part of organizational tasks. Would a revolutionary organization be effective without it? How important is it in organizing?

JMS: Art and literature, or cultural work in general is a necessary and decisive part of the revolutionary machinery and tasks. Without it, a revolutionary organization or the entire movement would be ineffective. Cultural work facilitates in the most persuasive and pleasing way the people's understanding of the moral justness, the principles, policies and line of the revolutionary movement. It hastens the arousal, organization and mobilization of the masses and inspires them to act as a revolutionary force against their oppressors and exploiters.

It would be a dull and ineffective revolutionary movement that has no culture. Cultural work raises the fighting spirit of the people and sharpens all weapons of the revolution. Without, cultural work, the revolutionary movement would be sluggish and would even fail. Even before being able to seize political power with the use of the people's army, the proletariat must be able to create and develop the cultural part of the superstructure of the socialist future during the people's democratic revolution. Otherwise, the cultural dominance of the exploiting classes would persist and hamper or even reverse the advance of the socialism.

9. Should artists be organized? Some artists express that their art is being restricted by organization. How do we deal with such sentiments? How do we balance organizational tasks and the freedom of art?

JMS: As I have already pointed out earlier, in accordance with the teachings of Lenin and Mao, it is absolutely necessary for the artists, creative writers and other cultural workers to be organized. Otherwise, as isolated individuals, they are ineffective elements against oppression and exploitation and they remain more subject and more vulnerable to attack or manipulation by the forces, agentsand mechanisms of imperialism and the local exploiting classes.

Petty bourgeois subjectivists and opportunists preach that the artists, creative writers and other cultural workers must be against being organized in order to be free. But in fact, they thus become captive to the ruling system and the exploiting classes. In the just revolutionary struggle of the Filipino people, every creative writer, artist or cultural worker interested in the common struggle against oppression and exploitation needs to be organized and encouraged to contribute to the unity and strengthening of the revolutionary movement.

When they are organized, they learn from each other collectively, draw strength from each other and from their unity and collective capabilities and they can fight more effectively against the unjust ruling system and the forces of class oppression and exploitation. And yet they can still create and develop their works individually and in necessary work collectives and draw inspiration from their multi-talented colleagues in their organization and from the entire revolutionary movement.

It is necessary to build the organizations of Party writers, artists and cultural workers under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the leadership of the revolutionary party of the proletariat. And it is also necessary to build united front organizations which the Party elements and non-Party elements can join. The waging and advancement of the people's democratic revolution in the Philippines requires the broad united front of the patriotic and progressive creative writers, artists and other cultural workers.

10. Maybe you can share some personal experiences how art and culture influenced your political activism, if it did?

JMS: I am very much influenced by revolutionary art and culture in the development of my political activism. While I was in the university, as an undergraduate and graduatestudent, I practically gobbled up all creative writing that was available in the UP Main Library and had something to do with the Philippine revolution, with the Left movement in the US during the 1930s and the classic literary works from the Russian, Chinese and other revolutions.

I had the advantage of being a student in English and journalism and then a graduate student in comparative literature. But I was also intensely interested in literature with revolutionary content.

I also found it enlightening, invigorating and fulfilling to be with cultural and political activists in SCAUP with writers in the Philippine Collegian and the UP Writers Club. In my time, these became centers of discussions, mass communications and militancy along the line of national democratic movement.

I also acted in plays together with Behn Cervantes, Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal who became great film makers. It is in theatre that you learn to work with others, rehearse and coordinate with many others and blend with various artistic talents, in order to come out with a creditable total product in a series of stage presentations.

I have written poems, essays and other works with revolutionary content to this day. I wrote short stories and two novels and put them away because of my own judgment that they were not good enough politically and artistically. I taught English literature and encouraged my students to study revolutionary literature even when this was not part of the syllabus. I also taught as a social science subject Rizal's novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. I dealt with these as expose of the oppressiveness and exploitativeness of Spanish colonialism, with continuing relevance to the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system in the Philippines today.