Fiesta Filipina: Reforms, Revolutions and Active Nonviolence in a Developing Society

By Victor V. Sumsky. Moscow, Vostochnaya Literatura Publishers, 2003 (published in Russian)

By Ignat Kalinin (reviewer)

The profound and elaborate two-volume study by Professor Victor Sumsky of Institute of World Economy and International Relations of Russian Academy of Sciences is concerned with the prerequisites and events of the Philippines revolution of 1986. To give his reader a better understanding of the phenomenon of "dancing" (the fiesta revolution in Manila) the author describes the background completely, including even the smallest details.

He provides information on the geographical, ethnological, and linguistic features of the modern Philippines; a step-by-step evaluation of that nation's history and how it changed people's mentality; the Philippines' political and cultural background; a deep analysis of its path between reform and revolution; the personal story of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos - one of the main actors of the drama; and a minute description of Manila and its inhabitants - the future stage and extras for the successful nonviolent revolution. These background reviews form six parts of the book and, besides elucidating the revolution itself, are very interesting readings in their own right. This kind of scientific approach gives the work a dimension beyond the one declared in the book's title. For a reader not particularly interested in revolution and active nonviolence the study can be a very valuable source of information on Philippines, its people, its culture, and -- with all the maps included -- its geography and natural environment.

The author mentions more than once that, unlike the case in Russia, a lot of Western scholars and journalists paid close attention to the events of February 1986 in Manila. Of what interest, then, can this book be for an English-speaking, although obviously trained in Russian, reader? First, for everyone who is interested in active nonviolence this study contains an all-encompassing account and analysis of the theory (mostly in interpretation of the Goss-Mayr couple who brought the ideas to the Philippines), strategy, and tactics used during the 1986 revolution. Second, the author gives a much deeper emphasis to the roles that both the US and the Catholic Church played on the threshold of the revolutionary events. Third, leaving the topic of the study aside, this book can be regarded simply as a very fine example of Russian scholarly traditions and the academic apparatus, methodology used in contemporary social and history studies in Russia.

Given the easy, non-academic language that the author has chosen, this book can be recommended to anyone interested in either Philippines or active nonviolence and able to read in Russian.

Reviewed by Ignat Kalinin, a historian living in Moscow.

Peace Magazine Oct-Dec 2009

Peace Magazine Oct-Dec 2009, page 28. Some rights reserved.

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