An Eritrean in the Philippines:The Importance of Eritrea & Asia solidarity

On Sunday, February 21st the president of Eritrea and senior officials hosted various ambassadors in order to formally accept their diplomatic accreditation. The formal diplomatic process was a standard yearly state affair but it was to my surprise and delight to find Eritrea has accredited ambassador of the Philippines named Leslie J. Baja as I was hoping for this specific diplomatic scenario to take place few months ago when I was in Manila.

Ambassador Leslie J. Baja of the Philippines with President of Eritrea

Ambassador Leslie J. Baja of the Philippines with President of Eritrea

Due to being pre-occupied over the last couple of months with events surrounding #OromoProtest and also Burundi that I, unfortunately, forgot to blog on my trip to the Philippines.In November of 2015, I had the great pleasure of being invited as an observer to the ILPS 5th assembly located in the capital city Manila. At the assembly, I gave a talk and explained to the international audience how US is directly responsible for the occupation of Eritrea via Ethiopian regime and illegal UN sanctions.During my time there I was able to engage & connect with many political activists from Latin America, Mid-East & Asia.


Proud To Have Represented Eritrea & See Eritrea Name

What is the ILPS? “The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) is an anti-imperialist and democratic formation. It promotes, supports and develops the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles of the peoples of the world against imperialism and all reaction.”

Why the Philippines? The Phillippines unique historical placement of being an Asian nation that overcame both Spanish and US colonialism can offer insight on imperial configuration and its effect to this day. In fact, the people of the Philippines are currently in a struggle with bourgeois-landlord owning elites and facing contemporary feudalistic oppression.Additionally, the region of the southeast Asia will continue to grab news headlines as its the center of US aggressive military pivot against China. The US aggressive posturing in the region has strained the Philippine-Chinese relations and its with my hope that China will start to become sensitive to the nationalist concern of the Filipino people.As an Eritrean, I feel as a matter of principle the importance of cultivating people to people warm solidarity within the global south as we all share a common experience in our struggle against US imperialism. Although I will forever cling on to Eritrean nationalism I recognize the global south has to begin to evolve beyond the confine of nationalism and colonial boundaries in order to plant the seed of harmonious internationalism. Above all third world, nationalism has its justifiable advantages in uniting peoples of the global south in defense of their state against external aggression directed by the west.However third world nationalism potency can serve the masses better with inclusive internationalism to solidify a united resistance of the global south.

Throughout my stay in Manila, I was warmly welcomed by the very hospitable Filipino people. Below I will summarize the trip and give my reflection with each picture.


All around the city of Manilla, I noticed the advertisement like this that overly emphasizes light skinned Filippino and does not embrace the diversity of the Filipino people in all skin complexion. White supremacy works better when it is executed by non-whites and sadly this the reality of the global south currently in which dynamics of power, beauty & class is projected by lighter skin complexion.


I attended a protest rally led by local university students. I observed how the students were fiercely attracted to radical politics and persuasion. This particular protest was in the same week as the summit for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation(APEC) which was hosted in Manila and it was a busy week with various rallies against APEC. On that day, it happens to be a hot day but I was energized by the young people passion.


The Lumad are indigenous people in the Philippines who are oppressed by the state. They came to downtown Manilla that day to bring attention to their cause. During the protest, it was a beautiful moment for me to finally view how the original Filipino looked before western colonialism. Especially after observing the billboards around town and on TV presenting perfect beauty as being white.


At the assembly, I had the chance to connect with former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney & also #BlackLivesMatter organizer Devonte Jackson. First time meeting Cynthia Mckinney I was a bit starstruck but she was easy to talk to and we ended up having an insightful conversation.

west papa

Neles Tandamat is a human rights activist from West Papua. I felt a bit of bond with him and his cause. He shared his personal background story and also videos of atrocities that are happening in West Papua. The people of West Papua are suffering under Indonesian rule and are seeking self-determination rule.


I had a great time learning and connecting with people from around the world in the Philippines. The capital city is a beautiful place.