Ideals and Iron Bars

I was a kid, some of my teachers, pag nalalaman nilang political prisoner yung
dad ko, pinagsasalita ako in front of the class
.” Dimpy Jazmines, 43, son

I was a kid, some of my teachers, pag nalalaman nilang political prisoner yung
dad ko, pinagsasalita ako in front of the class
.” Dimpy Jazmines, 43, son
of political prisoner Alan Jazmines, recalled. “
Nung una hindi ko alam kung bakit. Pero later on nalaman ko na, iba
pala yung life na nililive ko as a kid.



Dimpy is one of the martial law babies who
were separated early from their parents due to what were then considered as
“dangerous political beliefs.” His father, Alan, is now 69 years old, and
serves as a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines
(NDFP) for the peace process. Alan started his activism early in his youth at
the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU). He was arrested
in 1974 when his son Dimpy
was 2 years old. He was freed in 1976, and again incarcerated in 1982 to 1986.

Alan Jazmines has a master’s degree in Business Management
and was professor of Economics and Business Management at the Asian Institute
of Management. He was working closely with the NDFP-GPH Reciprocal Working
Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms before he was arrested again on February
14, 2011. He is currently detained at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

but not overseas

Growing up, Dimpy’s mom and lola stood as his parents. “I would like to say na I lived a normal
childhood. Nagkataon lang wala yung dad ko. I know naman he’s alive
,” said
Dimpy, comparing their set-up to an OFW family where a parent is geographically
away but finds the time to communicate, occasionally.

He understood early on that meeting his dad would always be
clandestine. Folded yellow papers passed through a string of messengers were more
common and practical ways of communication. As difficult the situation was, his
dad wouldn’t miss a birthday greeting with letters which would begin with “
Maalab na pagbati!” which had often estranged
him. “
In one of his letters, he shared na
nagkasakit sya sa paa sa paglalakad, or kumain sila ng matsing dahil sa sobrang
” He knew that his stories were things he couldn’t brag to his

During his previous
incarcerations, binibigyan nya ako ng books ni Marx or yung paintings nya na
about manggagawa which did not communicate to me
,” confessed Dimpy. “I read the books as historical documents,
more of a leisure reading than something life-changing
,” he recalled.

Dimpy had different considerations in life. Working as a
brand manager for a well-known communications company, he did not follow his
father’s footsteps. He saw the consequences his dad had to face because of his
beliefs. Even when he was in UP, the so-called bedrock of student activism,
where he was a Broadcast Communication major, he did not join progressive
groups or any mass organization. “Not
because I was avoiding them, but because I feel that to do so, you should have
a calling. And I never had that calling
,” Dimpy said.

A son’s first hero

My lola, my dad’s
mother-in-law, had high respects for my dad. She said, he is fighting for his
beliefs. Coming from his mother-in-law, I thought that was big
,” shared
Dimpy. Even though he did not follow his dad’s path, he gave his father the
utmost respect a son should give to a father. “Nandun naman yung kamustahang normal to a father and son. How’s his
health, mga ganun,
” he said as he retold how their conversation would
normally begin. “My dad kasi is an
,so we usually talk about
anong nangyayari sa labas. When we talk, I make sure I use the opportunity para
magpa-comment sa mga nangyayari, like, sino ba ang magandang iboto?
” He
described their conversations as your usual Sunday conversations with your dad
except that it’s behind cold bars”.

It was during his jail visits that Dimpy came to realize that
his dad is a born leader and has a big heart for the oppressed. His dad would
introduce him to his fellow inmates and tell their stories. It is also through
these brief acquaintances that he got to know more about his father. Even in
jail, he would help other political prisoners and ordinary inmates by writing
statements for them, especially those who were arbitrarily arrested, to aid
them in their case. This gained the respect of other prisoners, the reason why
acts of reprisal by prison authorities against his father and other political
prisoners are often thwarted.

In social gatherings, a random person would always approach
him and speak well about the work and passion of his father. “Kahit yung mga tao na not from the Left,
they would say na, kilala ko ang dad mo and I have high respects for him
recalled Dimpy. “That’s how I knew that
my dad did something big which made a difference to the lives of many others.

Asked if he had any frustrations on his dad, he said “Hindi pa siguro nung bata ako. Pero nung
teenager ako, sabi ko lang, bakit yung classmates ko binibigyan ng car ng mga
dad nila
? Haha!” while sharing a generous laugh as his face turned red. “Pero I realized mababaw naman naman yon,”
he added. Dimpy has a 14 year old son, and he shared that it is only when he
became a parent himself when he realized what he might have missed growing up.

Shifting on a serious tone, he revealed how he was able to
come to terms on the absence of his father, “inisip ko, m
eron syang piniling goal
that’s bigger than himself which resonated well to me. I just thought ito yung
mga decisions na ginawa nina Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio o ni Ninoy Aquino.
” He knows that with as noble a cause that is fighting for the
rights of the oppressed many, someone has to make a sacrifice.

At home and at peace

Even if, hindi ako
involved, I know naman na his detention was unjust. That he should not be
treated as a criminal because he is different. He is a political prisoner. He
is someone who stood for his political beliefs

In 2010, Senator Franklin Drilon reminded the military that
“mere membership to the Communist Party of the Philippines is not a crime”[1]
after arresting forty-three health workers, known as the Morong 43, on mere suspicion
that they are members of the Communist Party. Consultants of the National
Democratic Front of the Philippines in the peace talks, like Alan Jazmines, are
also covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG),
a document signed by the NDFP and the GPH in 1995 which grants safety passes to
consultants and members of the peace panel
to facilitate the peace
negotiations and create a favorable atmosphere conducive to free discussion.

The JASIG was unilaterally suspended by the Arroyo and Aquino
This eventually led to an impasse, and talks did not progress to a
comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms – the next substantive agenda
in the peace talks.

With President Rodrigo Duterte’s positive pronouncements
on the peace talks and release of political prisoners, their families expect
the immediate release of their loved ones who were unjustly incarcerated. “The past presidents swept them [political
prisoners] under the rug. Ngayon nakita ko na may courage yung incoming president
na i-acknowledge sila, kung hindi man yung cause nila, sila as human beings, and
for me that’s enough,”
says a hopeful Dimpy.

A year short to being a septuagenarian,
Alan Jazmines has been suffering from
hypertension, kidney stones, scoliosis and high cholesterol.
Diet in prison along with his limited mobility has worsened his situation.

 “The families are excited to see their
relatives free, of course
,” blurted Dimpy, the glimmer in his eyes now more
obvious. “At sa bigger picture, I am also
excited na finally may dialogue, na yung root cause ng problems at kung bakit
may mga taong may ganitong views, ay finally mapag-uusapan and there will be
something to build on. I am excited for peace
,” he said with a wide smile. His
face now seemed relieved.

I know that my dad’s mind and soul are free, I also want physical freedom for
him. When he is freed, ang una kong gagawin, is dadalhin ko sya sa family
reunions. I think that’s what any prisoner would want to do.”


[1] ABS-CBN News, AFP reminded: Membership in CPP no longer illegal, 17
February 2010

[2] KARAPATAN, Frequently Asked Questions on the JASIG, 26 March 2014