Let’s take it easy: everybody loves sex, gore, profanity and a little bit of drugs. Or maybe not. Or at least me. Hehehe.
Norman Wilwayco’s career in creating controversy in definitely on the rise. The Tunay na Lalake blog has created a lot of enemies, and Wilwayco’s book Mondo Manila has been regarded by oldies as ‘literature with a bad taste’. Whatever. Despite all the shit that Wilwayco has in his brain, there is no better thing to say than ‘tangina this!’
I have come across Wilwayco’s Gerilya through a tibak friend of mine who says that there is a book about NPAs (New People’s Army) who smokes marijuana, nadis-or(ient, kills innocent people in the countryside, among others. And he doesn’t seem to be amused by it.
After reading the e-book, let me give some points that I deem to be commendable. Gerilya gives a humanized picture of the armed struggle in the countryside, narrating to us the hardships and imperfections of the armed movement. The main characters Ka Alma and Ka Poli are not perfect revolutionaries; in fact Wilwayco presents them as annoying. Many young activists I know are offended with how Wilwayco represents the NPA. However, I think there is nothing wrong with the representation. Wilwayco’s focus on the ‘unspeakable’ such as the act of defecating, spitting, taking drugs and others is in fact a focus on the Real. The NPAs that the tibaks know are not true, for they are ideal pictures of machines, not humans. NPAs are humans, like every one of us. Thus, Wilwayco’s effort is to humanize the ideal, make it closer to the ground and able to catch our sympathy.
Another point: the dizzying changes of perspective and quantum leaps in time and space in the novel resists the tendency of readers to treat the novel as a continuous, smooth narrative wherein there is a flowering idea that will eventually explode towards the end of the novel. Wilwayco countered this tendency in order to guide us away from misleading representations, like: there is a petty-bourgeois who will eventually be changed (panibagong hubog)and then will die as a true, full-fledged revolutionary with all of his heart. The element of doubts and other distractions seems to be silenced in this kind of narrative, and hence it is inhuman. This kind of skepticism can be seen in Ka Poli’s statement regarding Ka Edgar, a friend who was martyred in an encounter with the AFP:
Bigla kong naisip kung ano kaya ang iniisip niya sa mga huling sandali, habang nakikita niyang iniinom ng lupa ang mapula’t rebolusyonaryo niyang dugo.
Namatay kaya siyang rebolusyonaryo sa isip?
Summarily, Wilwayco’s work is a feat in progressive literature. It utilized a new perspective and attack in treating the revolutionary movement as a purely human subject, and not merely a dehumanized hero in the armed struggle.