Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Friday, May 13, 2005

Essay: "My Ride with Che Guevara"

image stolen from GoogleI had just seen "The Motorcycle Diaries" a few days ago and was prompted to review my thoughts on, or against Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Romantic as the movie was, further banking on the already romantic life of Che, I still was a cynic on how this man carried his ideologies to fruition. I have to say I liked the movie, very much, I may add, but my thoughts on this transcend more than just movie aesthetics.

My Pro-Che days
I, in my college days, thought that Che Guevara was the coolest cat in the field of politics. Just like anyone else, I got to know about this dude through those eponymous t-shirt prints and Rage Against the Machine videos. My mother would later confess that during her college days, he was revered of as some sort of a sex symbol because of his rebellious nature and "righteous" ideology, not to mention the fact that he was a "guapo" latino. My interest in this person peaked to the point that I would go to the library an find out more about this larger-than-life character.
As a student-journalist, I was sympathetic to the plight of the oppressed majority, automatically putting me on Che's side. His methods on Guerilla Warfare were totally against what was being taught in the military ROTC.

In order to render your opponent weaker, you need to be hidden. Dont group together. Spread out. Avoid being seen.

It is better for you to wound your opponent than kill him. It slows down the entire opponent's unit. Making the rest of them easier to kill.

Guerillas use their opponent's weapons against them. The more weapons they steal, the more they know the opponent gets weaker.

And so on and so forth....

As a 19 year old in a catholic college, you get to be sensitive to the burgeoning difference between rich and poor and ultimately feel the responsibility to make a difference.
It seemed, for a while, I was having positive feelings towards communism.

My Anti-Che days
After college I went on a 2 year mission for my church. I kept a journal. My own "Motorcycle Diary". I was exposed to the realities of Filipino indigenous poverty (as well as urban poverty). You would think that I would be so angered and driven to join the ranks of the mountainfolk to revolt against our corrupt government at this point.

This was not the case.

I experienced, through the guidance of my church and prayers to God that the answer to poverty was not revolution to change government, but to change one's self from within and start influencing people to do the same. Never in the two years that I was in Cebu did I feel angry towards anything. I felt love and compassion. The revolution I experienced was more spiritual. And the changes, although slow at minimal at first, were effective.
After my mission, I became a strong anti-communist. Although it's end goal is noble and applaudable (i.e., a utopian society), I believe that communism will ultimately destroy humanity and everything we believe to be good and true if it propagates more than it has.
As an ally of Fidel Castro, Che was labeled a communist, so I was against him as well. I learned to dislike guerilla warfare principles and totally shun his influence from my Christian head.
The disenfranchised youth, not knowing who he is or what he represented, keep cashing in on him as a romatic figure by buying items bearing his image. Bags, t-shirts, pins, buttons, caps, everything with the Che with the hat. My friend once asked a punk-puser kid who he thought the image on his shirt was. The kid said "The drummer of Rage Against the Machine".

I never bought a Che Guevara t-shirt, no matter how nice it looked.

What I think of Che Today
Picking up wher I left off during my college days, I started researching on Che again. I find that many of the things I previously knew about him take on a different light after I view them on recently acquired my post-journey perspective. There is a theory that he wasn't even a Communist to begin with, or at least, not in the most traditional sense of the word.
I guess I am making may peace with Che. My ignorance of his ideologies may be some of the reasons why I kind of 'fell away' from him.
I still think Che was a misguided person gifted with extraordinary charisma. Since he was a physician, he was geared to analyze things scientifically. In "The Motorcycle Diaries", he was just around the same age as I was when I went on my own personal journey. These years were very formative for me, and it definitely was for him as well. I had spiritual guidance throughout my stint, he didn't. He had tons of charisma. I didn't. He influenced entire nations. I influenced a handful of people. I don't mean to sound condescending parelleling my name with his. My point, if well taken, proves that both the influential and mediocre go through, essentially, the same experiences, with vastly different results. What really matters, if the use that influence for good or bad.

Peace, 'Che. Peace.

Hasta la Victoria siempre!

Che and I riding home

At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.”
Che Guevara

with items taken from


Anonymous cristi said...

And here I was hoping you'd affirm Gael somewhere in there. But that's OK, Paul. You can make up for it next time. ;-)

8:35 AM

Anonymous aleq said...

I watched the film a few weeks ago and from there I saw how human and how compassionate young Che was. We share the same views, I too would not want to have have a communist country. I just love the musical score of the moving.

3:54 PM

Blogger drei said...

minsan lang ako online but i always try to check this site! ;)

i have a dvd but haven't seen it, so...

12:21 AM


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