Amado Bugay died a guerrilla fighter in Bataan in 1977, exactly 37 years to the day the province fell under Japanese assault, with scores of guerrillas dying to defend their beloved soil.
His umbilical cord was wrapped around Amado when he was born. The midwife believed it meant that dreadful things would happen to the boy someday. Amado’s mother thought it meant that her son would bear a great burden.
Amado’s parents were peasant farmers, who labored like carabaos tilling their ricefields, in order to pay the landlord on time and feed the family until the next planting and harvesting season. The local school was so poor that Amado got admitted to first grade only after his father made him his own chair. Amado was a conscientious pupil, but school authorities were often alarmed at his bold ideas. His parents wondered where the boy got them. Amado quit after high school and became a farmer.
Like most other young men in his community, Amado liked to play basketball with friends, strum the guitar and sing in the town fiesta, and preen before the girls. But he had a depth in him not seen in others. He took time to attend political discussions with a townmate known for his nationalistic views and class sentiments. Amado joined the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) and later on taught and organized other young people in the community. Not even the imposition of martial rule in 1972, and the ensuing arrest of suspected activists and raid of houses stopped Amado from his activism.
Amado was well-groomed, looking like someone the villagers described “tipong artistahin,” while he pursued his work for the resistance to martial law. After basketball he would sit with the young men on their papags, seemingly idling their time away but actually discussing issues and making more plans for the resistance.
But Amado began to see more fully what repression meant when he saw soldiers actually kill someone one early dawn in July 1973. He was preparing for his farm when he heard a truck pass by. Following the wheel tracks he saw political cadre Ed Pili together with a visitor from Pampanga killed by constabulary soldiers.
The experience changed the 19-year-old farmer. Peaceful dissent was futile under martial law, he decided. Not long after, he joined an armed propaganda unit of the New People’s Army. He had good looks, a pleasant voice, an unfailing courteous demeanor, and a charm that had barrio folk flocking to the meetings called by his armed unit. But he made them think serious thoughts, telling them how desperate the situation was and how they had to fight the dictatorship.
Relatives tried to get him to leave the NPA when he married his childhood friend Procy and the couple had a son. Amado said no. “I have greater reason to fight now. If I will not wage war against this oppressive system, my son will also suffer the same fate. Jomar and his generation will always live in fear and want,” he told his mother.
In 1974, his unit was sent on an expansion mission to Morong town, where, again by building sincere relationships with the local folk, his team won the support of Aetas, settlers, kaingeros and peasant farmers.
In April 1977, Amado and two of his comrades were killed during an armed encounter with soldiers. The guerrillas were severely outnumbered and Amado asked his comrades to retreat while he covered them. He kept the soldiers at bay until he fainted from his wounds. When roused, he bore the brunt of the soldiers’ anger until they finished him off with another round of fire.
The local people mourned the death of this “beloved warrior.” People from all over Bataan came to his wake. Some 5,000 attended his funeral held in a barrio of less than 4,000 residents. The funeral procession filled the streets, with red flags waving and banners held high. The funeral march participants was so defiant of the military that truckloads of soldiers stopped the procession before it reached the cemetery and arrested several participants. Others offered to join the rest in jail.
Amado lives in the memory of the people of Bataan today.
* Born 6 February 1954 in San Juan, Samal, Bataan
* Died 9 April 1977 in Morong, Bataan
* Parents : Manuel Bugay and Perfecta Guinto
* Spouse : Eufrocina Lacanare
* Child : 1 (Jomar)
Elementary Samal North Elementary School, Bataan
Secondary St Catherine of Sienna Academy, Bataan