This article was published on GMA News Online.

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands — It was a lot like a normal Filipino birthday party. There was cake, enough food to share, the ever-popular birthday noodles, and singing of the Happy Birthday song.

But what made Joma Sison’s 75th birthday celebration are details that can only be experienced by a revolutionary of 55 years.

Cultural presentations bore political accents, poems read and songs sung were from his writings during incarceration. The topping on the cake? His wife’s gift which was nowhere near a golden watch, a day out with his favorite buds or a lazy day that signals his retirement.

“We would like to present him with a new project… to revitalize and expand the work of the Center for Social Studies,” announced Julieta de Lima-Sison, Sison’s wife of more than 50 years.Joma Sison’s 75th birthday party ends in book signing. Photo by Chared Verschuur-Ballo

The Center for Social Studies was formed in 1991 for research and training of activists. Under the direction of Prof. Jose Maria Sison, it organizes conferences and seminars for representatives of Filipino organizations to exchange ideas and experiences with the representatives of partner organizations in other countries.

Mrs. Sison suggested that the Center for Social Studies be energized by the establishment of People’s Resource for International Solidarity in Mass Organizing or PRISM. PRISM will avail of Sison’s “still youthful intellect as a teacher, resource person and consultant”.

This meant that Sison will have more work on his hands aside from writing prose and poetry. He took it as a sign that retirement is out of the question.

“While I expected to sit back and enjoy the celebration, Julie proved one point: that there is no retirement for revolutionaries. She was interjecting a new assignment on me. I hope to satisfy her in this new proposal of hers,” said Sison in his birthday speech.

Aside from his wife, two of his four children were also with Sison to celebrate his birthday. Son Jasm even prepared to perform one his father’s favorite songs Besa Me Mucho.

Greetings came from all over the world, from comrades, friends and family through videos, SMS and written messages. Sison himself admitted to GMA News that his short-term wish is to be able to sleep well the following evenings as he has been bombarded with Skype greetings the past few days.

As a usual party would end in dancing the night away, Sison’s party ended with book signing. Building Strength through Struggle, his third book in a series of five books titled Continuing the Philippine Revolution, was launched that evening.

“The book extends, reinforces and further develops the principles, policies and major lines of actions for carrying out the people’s democratic revolution as put forward by the earlier two books in this series. It is indispensable to understanding why and how, under the leadership of the CPP, the Filipino people and the revolutionary forces successfully fought and defeated the US-instigated fascist dictatorship of Marcos,” explained Sison of the book.

Activist Thomas van Beersum was present to review the book. He praised Sison’s work and ended his speech in Filipino, “Ang bayani ay naglilingkod sa bayan hanggang sa kaniyang huling hininga! Mabuhay!”

It was a lot like a normal birthday party for a 75-year-old enjoying a tribute for his 55th year in service. Except that the celebrator is not looking forward to retire like a normal 75-year-old would.#