19 'real Heroes' Enshrined at Bantayog

(This is a re-post of Inquirer's 19 real heroes enshrined at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani written by Tarra Quismundo. Photos and text from the Inquirer.)

MANILA — Nineteen patriots, among them the late Inquirer editor-in-chief Letty Jimenez Magsanoc, were memorialized at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani’s Wall of Remembrance late Wednesday afternoon. The 19 were hailed as the nation’s “real heroes” for resisting repression during martial rule.

The rites were among key events held in commemoration of National Heroes’ Day, marked by protest actions in various parts of the country amid a groundswell of indignation against Ferdinand Marcos’ Nov. 18 burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

“The message we want to convey is that we need to spread the truth about history, because if not, this will keep on happening. We saw what happened this month, the one who had committed a sin against our nation was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani,” said former Sen. Wigberto Tañada, who heads the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation.

“We are honoring these people today, the 19 real heroes, because of the important role they played, the help they gave to topple the dictatorship. We hope this shows the youth, the millennials we call today, that we should not disregard their heroism,” he said in an interview before rites began at 4 p.m.

In his opening remarks, he emphasized: “Marcos is no hero. He does not deserve to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.”

President Duterte had allowed Marcos’ burial at the LNMB, a decision affirmed by the Supreme Court.
Former Senator Rene Saguisag, who came to remember the heroism of his late uncle and colleague, former Sen. Jovito Salonga, cited the urgency of remembering in the wake of Marcos’ secrecy-shrouded burial.

“To me, this gives greater importance to remembering the real heroes who are here. What I fear is if someone suggests to list Marcos (on the Wall of Remembrance), the Supreme Court will again say there is no law against it. Don’t we have common sense anymore?,” he said.

Apart from Magsanoc, journalists Antonio L. Zumel and Lourdes Estella-Simbulan were also among those honored. Also among the honorees were former Senate president Salonga, labor leader Simplicio Villados, soldier Danilo Vizmanos, professionals Manuel Dorotan and Ma. Margarita F. Gomez, artist Benjamin H. Cervantes, Julio Labayen, Romulo Peralta and Jose Tangente from the clergy, and youth leaders during the martial law years Marciano Anastacio Jr., Eduardo Q. Aquino, Fortunato Camus, Hernando Cortez, Edgardo Dojillo, Ricardo P. Filio, and Joel O. Jose.

ZUMEL, Antonio L.


Antonio “Tony” Zumel lived a life that was a complete throwback to that lived by Marcelo del Pilar more than a century ago. Both were outstanding journalists who had to leave their homeland and exile themselves in another because they were both hunted by authorities. And while they struggled for and dreamed of the day when freedom, equality and justice would be as perennial as the monsoon rains in these islands, they would never get to see that day arrive. They would die in their places of exile but both would live on forever as esteemed heroes of their native land.

Tony’s family was initially well-off. His father Antonio Sr. was a lawyer and his mother Basilisa, a teacher. Young Tony learned empathy from his father who let peasants hitch a ride on the family car on the way to town. His father taught him never to oppress other people, but also not to let other people oppress him.

The family fortunes suffered drastically after Tony’s father died when Tony was 13. He and his older sister had to find work to support their studies. Some of his younger siblings were sent to live with relatives.

Young Tony found himself in Manila doing odd jobs for an uncle. He supported himself as he attended classes at the Far Eastern University’s high school department. He also worked as a casual laborer at a war surplus equipment dump and as an assistant at a water taxi stand in a Manila pier.

Later,another uncle got him a job as a copyboy or “gofer” at the famous newspaper Philippine Herald. He observed how the newspaper editors, reporters and copyreaders worked,and started to teach himself the tricks of the trade. He bought journalism books and read them voraciously. In two years’ time, Tony was promoted to proofreader. As proofreader, he became good friends with workers in the various production departments and became sympathetic to their difficult plight.

Then still a part-time student at the Lyceum University, Tony decided to quit school and become a full-time newspaperman. He became known as a top-notch Herald reporter. His prose and skill in crafting neat turns of phrases caught the editors’ attention. More than that, however, Tony showed uncompromising integrity and a keen sense of justice, which earned him the respect of everybody.

History of political involvement

Tony joined a newly-formed union of Herald employees,but management succeeded in derailing the union’s activities. Undaunted,Tony put up a new union, more militant and more independent. The new union held a three-month strike, which however failed to win its objectives. Tony left the Herald and took an editorial post at the Bulletin.

Tony was among the journalists who established the National Press Club in 1952. Its first president was Teodoro Valencia. Tony served in the NPC Board for more than a dozen terms until he ran and won as NPC president in 1969. Tony and his circle of journalist friends became habitues at the NPC.

Meanwhile, the country entered a tumultuous period as protests erupted regularly in Manila’s streets against the excesses of the Marcos government. They were also happening in many other places in the country.

Tony was NPC president when he led a campaign to free the staff of the Dumaguete Times who were arrested for allegedly being “subversives” and were being held incommunicado by the military and police. He fought against the deportation to Taiwan of the Yuyitung brothers, Quintin and Rizal, publisher and editor, respectively, of the Chinese Commercial News. He won a second term as NPC president and became even more involved in the politics of the era.

This was the period now called the First Quarter Storm of 1970.  Tony had graduated from being a journalist to becoming an engaged participant. He had read all their books and engaged in a thousand and one conversations with activists and civil libertarians on the problems that beset Philippine society and what should be done to solve these problems.

Many of the protest actions were being held at the Liwasang Bonifacio, a park that was a spitting distance from the NPC. Tony opened the Club’s doors to the activist groups holding rallies. The club’s premises became the preferred venue for press conferences and assemblies of activists, nationalists, civil libertarians and other progressive forces. It even offered refuge to countless activists escaping from military and police dispersal units during political demonstrations.

When President Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971, Tony helped establish the Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties (MCCL), led by such prominent   personalities as Senators Jose Diokno and Lorenzo Tañada. This organization led massive rallies against the creeping dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

On the day Marcos declared martial law, Tony left his former life behind and joined the Left underground. He resumed his journalistic career, but this time as writer and editor of the movement’s clandestine publications such as Liberation and Ang Bayan, among others.

As a writer for the underground movement, Tony had to take long treks over mountains, rivers and streams, and plod for hours under heavy rain. His comrades say he remained jovial and uncomplaining, despite often being the odd-man out, a middle-aged man in the company of youths barely past their 20s. Tony endured and even embraced the hardships and spartan accommodations of that life. But he remained a journalist, always insisting that articles submitted to him treat issues objectively, all reports verified.

He married Mela and they had a daughter they named Malaya (“Free”).

In the aftermath of the People Power uprising that overthrew Marcos in 1986, Tony surfaced, along with fellow journalists-turned-rebels Satur Ocampo and Carolina “Bobbie” Malay, to represent the National Democratic Front in negotiations with the newly-installed Corazon Aquino government.

The talks failed however, and Tony, with his wife and daughter, left for Europe in 1988 to push for the NDF campaigns from there.Tony sought and was given political asylum in the Netherlands. Later he became Senior Adviser to the NDFP Peace Panel and edited the publication Liberation International. In 1990, he was elected NDF chair in absentia, and in 1994, its honorary chair.

Circumstance of death

His health had started to fail around the mid-‘90s. In 2001, three days after his 69th birthday, Tony died of complications arising from his heart and kidney problems.

Born                August 10, 1932, in Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Died                August 13, 2001, in Utrecht, The Netherlands

Parents           Antonio Zumel, Sr., lawyer, and Basilisa De Leon, teacher

Siblings           5 (2 brothers and 3 sisters)     Birth order of hero:   2nd

Spouse            Mela Castillo

Children          3 (Antonio III+, Veronica and Malaya)


Elementary     Holy Ghost Academy of Laoag, Laoag, Ilocos Norte, 1940-1947

High School     Far Eastern University High School Department, Manila, 1947-1950

College            Lyceum University, Manila, 1951 –

Bachelor of Arts (undergraduate)

Organizational Affiliations

National Press Club of the Philippines – President, 1969-1970 and 1970-1971

Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties, founding member, 1971

Professional achievement

Awarded the Marcelo H. del Pilar Award by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, May 28, 1999


Bantayog nomination and profile form accomplished by Mela Castillo Zumel, and endorsed by Hustisya-Karapatan

Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, Antonio Zumel, the revolutionary, in Streetwise, Business World, August September 14, 2012

“All about Antumel,” testimony by Carolina S. Malay, undated, Quezon City

“Antonio Zumel’s Radical Prose,” Bulatlat, August 8-14, 20014, Quezon City



Danilo Poblete Vizmanos was so committed to the future and welfare of the Philippines, he was willing to explore bold ideas, even if it threatened his own military career.

In 1971, the military establishment was rocked by a controversial thesis presented at the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP). The thesis dealt with the emergence of China as a world power and recommended the following policies for the Philippines – official recognition of China, abrogation of the military agreement between the Philippines and the US, non-alignment in foreign relations, and the formulation of a new defense concept.

The thesis was picked up by the national dailies and became a cause célèbre, coming as it did from a ranking officer of the military. The thesis and its recommendations were met with hostility by the military establishment. The author was harassed and persecuted, given tongue lashings by the head of the college, the Navy chief and by the AFP Chief of Staff himself.

The thesis was written by then Navy Captain Danilo P. Vizmanos.

Vizmanos was then being groomed for promotion and a higher responsibility in the Philippine Navy. The course at the NDCP was a prerequisite to star rank, to commodore, in his case. The thesis ended his military career, in his words, his “premature retirement from the service.” Colleagues with more senior positions offered to help him get back on track but Vizmanos declined. He had begun to think that thoughts of promotion or career advancement were mere “trifles,” and that it was time to find more meaning in his work in the military.

Personal history

Dan, as he was known among friends, was born and reared in Naic, Cavite. Relatives on his father’s side were active participants in the Philippine revolution against Spain. His grandfather regaled him with stories of battles and of his friendships with revolutionary personalities. On his mother’s side, an uncle who graduated from the US Military Academy nurtured in him a yearning for a military career and an admiration for things American.

His high school education was interrupted during the Japanese occupation. He was young but he worked for the guerillas’ intelligence network. After the war, he was one of 50 Filipinos admitted to the US Merchant Marine Academy.

He came back in 1951 and got a commission to serve in the Philippine Naval Patrol (now the Philippine Navy). Dan found himself part of a support unit in the government’s anti-dissident campaigns in the Quezon-Bicol area. Insurgency led by the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan was then growing.

In the course of this campaign, he became bothered by how military personnel would flaunt their authority over the civilian population. He foresaw what would be serious problems in military discipline and military-civilian relations. He also became critical of military surplus coming from the US, as provided in the RP-US Military Assistance Agreement. He saw how the navy was using donated military equipment and arms, including navy vessels that needed frequent repairs and often led to mishaps, equipment so old they should already have been sent to the scrapyard.

Later at a stint at the Office of the Inspector General, he became exposed to irregularities and anomalies inside the military organization – deep corruption, professional intrigue, rivalry, and power play between PMA and non-PMA graduates, and even among PMA batches. He found the situation discouraging and was not at all surprised when things became worse during martial law, when the military lorded over the country. When he became aide-de-camp to the Navy Flag Officer in Command, he saw how decision-makers on military and national security issues closely followed the wishes of the American government. He learned to admire Sen. Claro M. Recto for the latter’s courageous stance on nationalist issues and especially on “RP-US neocolonial relations.”

Dan Vizmanos was a soldier who had become a serious critic of Philippine-American relations. This became very evident in his controversial thesis.

History of political activism

In the aftermath of the controversy created by his thesis at the NDCP, and with the US war in Vietnam at its height, Dan started receiving invitations to speak before groups engaged in an anti-Vietnam war campaign. Because he was a soldier, he was also sometimes asked to speak on the rumors that President Marcos was planning to implement martial law.

When Marcos did declare martial law in September 1972, Dan filed for early retirement, knowing his convictions as a soldier were incompatible with the dictatorship. It took five months for his application to be approved. Dan began writing a diary, where he noted down his observations on the worsening political situation, on his meetings with journalists and members of the political opposition and the revolutionary underground. He read up on history and revolutionary warfare, particularly in Asia.

On May 25, 1974, his house was raided by a team from the notorious 5th Constabulary Unit. He was taken in, blindfolded, and brought to a safehouse, where he was interrogated, given truth serum, and kept in solitary confinement for three months. He was kept in prison for more than two years, being moved to various detention centers – from Camp Crame, to the Youth Rehabilitation Center and Ipil Detention Center in Fort Bonifacio, and finally at the Bicutan Rehabilitation Center. No charges were ever filed against him. On his release in August 1976 no less than the martial law defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile offered him a job at the defense ministry. Dan declined the offer.

Later, Dan would write that this two-year political detention was “a period of enlightenment” for him. It gave him a new meaning in life. He met and came to know many individuals who had resisted the dictatorship. He saw a contrast in how political prisoners and security forces thought and behaved. While political detainees were organized and cooperative in doing daily work assignments, he noted how security personnel would often quarrel even over trivial matters.

After his release, Dan kept in touch with the martial-law opposition and became much more active in joining protest rallies and demonstrations, as well as writing critical and thought-provoking articles for the alternative media. He had become one of the opposition’s leaders by the time Marcos and his family fled during the 1986 People Power revolt.

After the dictator was ousted, Dan pursued his progressive politics, serving as chair of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Para sa Amnestiya (SELDA) which spearheaded the filing of the class suit against Marcos in behalf of 10,000 victims, and becoming one of the leaders of the Partido ng Bayan and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. He also continued to write political articles.

Circumstance of death

Throughout his senior years, Dan continued to engage actively in issues of freedom and democracy. He died on June 23, 2008, from complications due to prostate cancer.

BORN                          November 24, 1928 in Naic, Cavite

DIED                            June 23, 1998 in Metro Manila

Occupation:                 Captain of the Philippine Navy (retired)

PARENTS:                    Paterno Trias Vizmanos, journalist, and Nieves David Poblete, teacher

SPOUSE:                      Alicia Vizmanos                  Children: Six


Elementary                 Naic Elementary School, Naic, Cavite

High School                 Cavite High School

Western Cavite Institute

Jose Abad Santos High School, Pasay

College                         FEATI  Institute of Technology

US Merchant Marine Academy, New York, USA (1947-1950)

Graduate Studies        National Defense College of the Philippines



Danilo P. Vizmanos, Through the Eye of the Storm, KEN Incorporated, Quezon City, 2000

Danilo P. Vizmanos, Martial Law Diary and other papers, KEN Incorporated, Quezon City, 2003

Final salute to Capt. Danilo Vizmanos, by Ronalyn V. Olea, Bulatlat, Vol. 8, No. 9, June29-July 5, 2008

“Danilo Vizmanos: From Right to Left,” by Emily Vital, Bulatlat,  Vol. VIII, No. 14, May 11-17, 2008

Cruz, Tonyo, “Retired Navy Capt. Danilo Vizmanos is dead,” found in, Wordpress, June 24, 2008. Accessed June 28, 2016

VILLADOS, Simplicio D.


Simplicio Diez Villados, who was known as Ka Felicing, was a working class hero who defied the Marcos dictatorship when it was at the height of its power.

Ka Felicing was born and grew up in Meycauayan, Bulacan. His parents were simple folk who made a living from making and selling bakya, the wooden footwear common to many Filipinos up to the 1960s. He studied in the local elementary school where he excelled and, with his gift of words, was often the school’s representative in local balagtasan contests

He was in sixth grade when the Japanese forces invaded and occupied the country. Still in his teens, he joined the guerilla resistance and was given various tasks in the anti-Japanese resistance movement.

After the war ended, Ka Felicing married fellow Bulakeña Fe Flaviano. They had seven children.  Like his parents, Felicing and his new wife made a living from making and selling bakya. He also worked as a truck driver, bus conductor and jeepney driver. Felicing had another talent: he directed sarswelas during local fiestas in Meycauayan and neighboring towns of Bulacan. He was invited to direct performances as far away as Bataan.

History of political involvement

In 1964, Felicing found work as company driver at the Elizalde Rope Factory (ELIROPE), then a leading producer of ropes made of abaca, known internationally as Manila hemp. Later he was promoted to machine operator.

He became active in the union, a local affiliate of the Philippine Association of Labor Unions (PAFLU). He was local president in 1972, when martial law was imposed. At this time, PAFLU assigned a new organizer named Edgar Jopson (Bantayog martyr), to assist the union in negotiating a collective bargaining agreement or CBA with management.

Assisted by the PAFLU organizers, Ka Felicing led the negotiations, defying harassment and blandishments of monetary gain from management. He refused to sell out. Under his stewardship, his union gained many concessions and later became one of the founding locals of the National Union of Garment, Textile and Allied Workers of the Philippines or GATCORD, an alliance of industry related unions, also under the wings of PAFLU. Ka Felicing was elected its vice-president.

GATCORD went on to play an important role in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship. In 1976, the ELIROPE union went on strike at a time when strikes were prohibited by the martial law regime. The striking workers were attacked by strike breakers and scabs. Ka Felicing sustained head injuries and had to undergo surgery.

He became close friends with Edgar Jopson, then a major figure in the underground resistance. Edjop had a profound impact on Ka Felicing. Jopson often spent the night with Ka Felicing and his wife at their house in Meycauayan. The Villados couple hosted Jopson and his wife Joy for about a year. They held long discussions about unionism and workers’ rights, as well as the political and economic situation in the country.

Ka Felicing and his family provided active support to the anti-martial-law movement, often at great risk to himself and his family. He opened his home to underground activists, even though many of them were being hunted down by the military. The family even looked after the children of activists.

The Elizalde Rope Factory closed down in the late 1970s, unable to meet the competition from cheaper synthetic ropes. When he lost his job in the factory, Ka Felicing decided to become a full-time labor organizer. It entailed sacrifices for his family. Two of his children had to quit school. However, he believed he made the right decision for his country.

He was founding member of the Kilusang Mayo Uno-National Capital Region where he became its Vice Chairman.  The early 80’s saw heightened and open defiance to the dictatorship.  Ka Felicing led the workers in the many protest actions launched against the Marcos dictatorship, bravely speaking out in rallies, welgang-bayan, boycott and other campaigns that eventually led to the repressive Marcos government’s downfall in 1986.

Circumstance of death and impact to the community

After the dictatorship was dismantled, Ka Felicing went on with his work in trade unions. He became the KMU’s national treasurer until 1993. He died from prostate cancer in 1995. He was 70 years old.

Ka Felicing’s deep understanding of the common workers’ plight made him an effective labor leader, kind-hearted but very principled in advancing their interests. Not a few have expressed admiration for the evident purity of his heart.  Among others, former Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales, who described herself as a “fan,” had this to say:

“Hindi malalampasan ang naging papel ni Ka Felicing noong panahon na iyon – isang panahon na namamayani ang takot at kaba dahil sa kamay na bakal ng diktadura. Ang tapang at tinig niya habang kumikilos sa pabrika upang iangat ang kalagayan ng kanyang sector sa kabila ng takot na namamayani sa marami ay tanyag at matatag sa mahabang panahon. Para sa akin, dalisay si Ka Felicing. Walang yabang nguni’t matapang, mapagkumbaba at, higit sa lahat, matapat sa kanyang kapwa at bayan.”

A few months before he died , the KMU gave to Ka Felicing its “Gawad ng Pagkilala at Pasasalamat” for devoting 37 years of dedicated service for the advancement of the cause and interests of the working class.

Born                January 21, 1925 in Longos, Meycauayan, Bulacan

Died                May 24, 1995 in Meycauayan, Bulacan

Parents           Romualdo Villados and Dorotea Diez

Siblings           3 brothers and 1 sister            Birth sequence of hero: 2nd

Spouse                        Fe Flaviano                              Children: Seven


Elementary     Longos Elementary School, Meycauyan, Bulacan

Grade 6 (stopped during the Japanese Occupation)



Bantayog profile form and narrative submitted by family members

Bantayog nomination form and letter submitted by Elmer C. Labog, co-organizer in KMU, July 28, 2016


Isang maikling alaala kay Ka Felicing, by Etta P. Rosales, friend, July 28, 2016

Isang dalisay na lider-manggagawa, by Caridad M. Pascual, friend, undated

Sinser at Dedikadong Pambansang Treasurer ng KMU, by Nick Elman, former National Spokesperson, former Secretary for Popular Struggle, Kilusang Mayo Uno, undated

Interview with Cecille V. Valdellon, daughter, August 5, 2016, Quezon City

Interview with Joy Asuncion, friend, August 5, 2016, Quezon City

“U.G., An Underground Tale, the Journey of Edgar Jopson and the First Quarter Storm
Generation, ” by Benjamin Pimentel, Chapters 19 – 21, Anvil Publishing House, Pasig City, 2006 (2nd printing)

TANGENTE, Jose Aquilino T.


Jose Aquilino T. Tangente, or Super Boy as he was familiarly known to family and close friends, grew up in a religious environment. His mother, a teacher, convinced Boy to become a priest.  He spent his secondary and tertiary studies at St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary in Iloilo City and became an active member of the Student Catholic Action.  As in Manila and in most cities in the country, the student ferment and general dissatisfaction with the authoritarian government of Mr. Marcos was raging in Iloilo.  In 1970, in college then at the seminary, Boy joined the Kilusang Kristiyano ng Kabataang Pilipino (KKKP) whose slogan of “Love your neighbour, Serve the people!” resonated with his principles.  Bright and talented, he also served as personal secretary to Iloilo Archbishop Jose Ma. Cuenco (+) but still found time to join street demonstrations organized by militant student organizations, bringing along fellow seminary students.

As a member of KKKP, Boy together with his fellow seminarians visited the poor families living in nearby communities. From talking with them and seeing their deplorable conditions, he helped in the development of local social action centers to promote their welfare and interests. As he became more exposed to the gross inequalities in Philippine society, he also became more vocal in expressing his outrage. He spoke at rallies and demonstrations condemning the profligacy of the Marcos government.  In one mobilization in 1971, he led a group of protesting seminarians up the stage where they took off their cassocks, signifying their readiness to fight the looming Marcos dictatorship beyond the pulpits.

Boy also became a member of the Federation of Free Farmers, and spent time with the sacadas and peasants in the rural areas. He saw how the exploitation of farm workers was perpetuated by landowners.  Their suffering further ignited Boy’s desire to help them achieve social reforms.

After finishing college, the Archdiocese of Jaro sent Boy for further studies at the Loyola School of Theology in Quezon City.  He was in the second year of his Theology course, two years prior to ordination, when martial law was declared on September 21, 1972.  Boy returned to Iloilo to continue his social action work in the city.

Sensing a government crackdown, Boy, a known activist, considered moving to the countryside to continue the resistance against the dictatorship.  However, on the way to his destination, he was arrested in Dumangas town by elements of the Philippine Constabulary. He was immediately transported to a detention center in Lahug, Cebu where he was heavily tortured.  He was later transferred to the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center at Camp Martin Delgado in Iloilo City on orders of then-Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile.

He was among the detainees who self-released themselves sometime later. Determined now to dedicate his life to serve the people, Boy took refuge in the hills of Calinog and Tapaz and organized the peasants in nearby villages. The extreme physical demands of living in the countryside did not prevent Boy, now known as Ka Baran, from bringing the message of freedom and justice to the people. Meticulous and industrious in his ways, comrades remember him as a “brilliant leader”, a deep and critical thinker who can merge theory and practice in making and carrying out of plans and projects to help the locals.

An adept communicator, Boy engaged the villagers in empowering discussions that helped them understand the political and social problems of the country. He taught them literacy and numeracy, as well as their rights as citizens. This curbed some of the abusive practices heaped on the indigenous people, the Tumandok, living in the area. Army men used to make them pay two sacks of rice for tilling public lands. By arming them with knowledge, Boy was able to help them stop further encroachments into their ancestral lands. Boy also took the risky task of ensuring that communication lines among the different resistance groups flowed smoothly.

In the hills of Panay Island, he met Elma Villaron or Ka Randa, with whom he had a relationship. Locally known as Dalama, Elma was the daughter of a Tumandok tribal leader. They were blessed with two children, Easter Grace and Hasmin Roja. Elma died in 1987, a few months before Boy’s own death.

 Circumstances of death

 In the democratic space opened by the ceasefire talks between the democratic government of Pres. Corazon Aquino and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, Boy was meeting and consulting with some people in a peasant village in Nauring, Sitio Mad-adyos, Pandan, Antique, when his group was spotted by soldiers belonging to the 47th IB Philippine Army. The soldiers opened fire, and Boy, the team leader, provided cover to his three women companions, enabling them to escape.  Boy died immediately after he was hit by an M203 grenade launcher fired by the military.  His body was buried in Nauring.  Later the family took his remains and had it buried in their hometown of Tigbauan, Iloilo.

Impact of death on the family and community

Admiring his unselfish dedication towards the cause of the poor, Jose Aquilino Tronco Tangente’s death made him a martyr and a hero in the eyes of his fellow seminarians, comrades, friends, families and townmates.  Thousands attended his funeral.  His name was carved as among Panay martyrs during a 2007 dedication in the monument of heroes resisting Marcos dictatorship in Plaza Libertad, Iloilo City.


BORN                          October 9, 1949 in Tigbauan, Iloilo

DIED                            August 28, 1987 in Pandan, Antique

Parents                       Urbano T. Tangente Sr., and Paz Tronco, both public school teachers

Siblings                       Seven               Birth order of hero:  6th

Spouse                        Elma Villaron

Children                      2 (Easter Grace, Hasmin Roja)


Elementary                 Tigbauan Elementary Scahool, Tigbauan, Iloilo

High School                 St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary, Jaro, Iloilo City

College                        St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary


Nomination write-up submitted by Eduardo Carilimdiliman, friend, August 18, 2016

Narrative submitted by Orvillo T. Tangente, brother, received through email, September 2, 2016

Narrative submitted by Pitong Meliza, friend, received through email, August 19, 2016

“Jose Aquilino Tronco Tangente’s Martyrdom,” testimony of Vicente Estandarte, Sr., received through e-mail September 2, 2016

“Some gleams on the life of Joe Tangente,” by Nilo G. Prieto, friend, received through email,  September 2, 2016


Eduardo Carilimdiliman, friend, September 18, 2016, Bantayog Center, Quezon City

Concha Araneta, friend, August 2016, Quezon City

SALONGA, Jovito R.


Senate President Jovito R. Salonga was born just over two decades after the Philippines declared its independence, when stories about the revolution against Spain and the struggles against American colonizers remained fresh and alive. In his youth, Jovito, called Jovy (and fondly in his later years, Ka Jovy), was inspired by speeches that talked of sovereignty and independence for his country. These ideals pushed him to study law despite the family’s poor means.

He was a senior in law school at the University of the Philippines (UP) when World War II erupted in 1942. His studies interrupted, he supported the anti-Japanese resistance and was captured in April 1942, tortured, and incarcerated at Fort Santiago in Manila. He was later moved to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa to serve a sentence of 15 years in hard labor. Japanese authorities released him in 1943, granting him pardon on the occasion of Japan’s founding day (Kigen Setsu).

Ka Jovy took the bar in 1944 and with a grade of 95.3%, topped it together with another Filipino legal luminary, Jose W. Diokno. Ka Jovy then returned to UP to complete his LL.B in 1946. He took his masters’ degree at Harvard University and his doctorate degree at Yale University. (His thesis on international law was awarded the Ambrose Gherini Prize.) Yale offered him a teaching post but he turned it down intending to return to his country to help in its post-war rebuilding.

While in the States, he married Lydia Busuego with whom he would have four children.

Back in the Philippines, Ka Jovy started a law practice and also taught law at the Lyceum of the Philippines and the Far Eastern University. He was appointed dean of the College of Law of Far Eastern University in 1956. He wrote law books, particularly on corporate law and international law. He gained a name as one of the country’s most brilliant lawyers as well as a reputation as a strong advocate of Philippine sovereignty (as against US puppetry).

Later in life Ka Jovy would write:

“Independence, like freedom, is never granted. It is always asserted and affirmed. Its defense is an everyday endeavor—sometimes in the field of battle, oftentimes in the contest of conflicting wills and ideas. It is a daily struggle that may never end—for as long as we live.” (Ka Jovy R. Salonga, The Senate that Said No.)

Ka Jovy entered politics in 1960, running for Congress to represent the second district of Rizal under the Liberal Party (LP). His opponents were from the Sumulong and the Rodriguez clans, the province’s two political dynasties. But Ka Jovy showed himself a champion orator. He won a big victory in the November 1961 elections.

In Congress, he was appointed chair of the Committee on Good Government, where he investigated cases of government corruption. He was also appointed head of a government delegation to negotiate the Philippine petition against Malaysia's expropriation of North Borneo.

After his term as congressman, Ka Jovy ran as senator in 1965, still under the LP banner, and ending up as topnotcher among all senatorial candidates. In this same election, Ferdinand Marcos, running under the Nacionalista Party, won on his first term as president.

Ka Jovy’s first run-in with Marcos happened when he served as chief lawyer for fellow LP senator Benigno Aquino Jr., whom President Marcos had sued for running as senator below the legal age limit. But with Ka Jovy as legal counsel, Aquino won his case before the Commission on Elections, the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the Supreme Court.

Ka Jovy also exposed several irregularities in the Marcos administration, earning him the media tag the "nation's fiscalizer." Among these exposés was an anomalous contract (called the Benguet-Bahamas deal) that involved Marcos cronies.

Ka Jovy ran again for senator in 1971. In August, at the LP’s proclamation rally at Manila’s famous Plaza Miranda, two grenades exploded near the stage, and injured many LP members. Ka Jovy was so critically wounded he was expected to die. Fortunately he survived, but it left him with a damaged eye, impaired hearing, and tiny pieces of shrapnel all over his body. The upside of this was that Ka Jovy again won and topped the senatorial elections. Ka Jovy became known for his crusade for good government, unrelenting criticism of the Marcos administration, and opposition to Philippine involvement in the Vietnam War.

When Marcos launched his dictatorship in 1972 and closed down Congress, Ka Jovy lost his job in the Senate but resolutely refused to cooperate with the Marcos regime. He and his law partners, Sedfrey Ordoñez and Pedro L. Yap, turned their energies towards providing free legal assistance to the host of political prisoners that had swelled the Marcos jails. Aquino Jr., his fellow senator, had then become the country’s most well-known political prisoner, and once again in need of his help.

Corazon Aquino recalled those days:

“Again we turned to Jovy for his legal expertise and for his invaluable support. Of course, we were well aware of Jovy’s tremendous sacrifice in defending Ninoy and other human rights victims.” (Salonga memoirs)

With Cosmopolitan Church pastor Cirilo Rigos, Ka Jovy started a ministry that worked for the release of political prisoners and for giving their families financial aid. The ministry won the release of almost 90 prisoners in five years. (Bueza 2016)

Ka Jovy himself was arrested in October 1980 and detained at Fort Bonifacio on suspicion he was part of a conspiracy to kill Marcos. Ka Jovy’s arrest was met with outrage locally and abroad, so Marcos released him but slapped him a charge of subversion.

The Salonga family left the country and took residence in Hawaii, and later in California where a Marcos opposition was growing fast. Salonga’s family met that of Benigno Aquino Jr., by then also released. The Aquino family was then also living in exile in Boston, Massachussetts.

Senator Aquino Jr.’s assassination in 1983 at Manila’s airport tarmac shook Ka Jovy. He  and his family decided to return after a four-year exile to join what had become a vigorous national opposition to the Marcos regime. Ka Jovy became a well-known and much-respected opposition leader. But instead of pursuing a planned candidacy for vice-president in the snap presidential elections of February 1986, he gave his full support to the candidates in Corazon Aquino’s presidential bid. (source: Ramon Magsaysay citation)

When the Marcos dictatorship was dismantled in 1986, the administration of Corazon Aquino appointed Ka Jovy as chair of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), and tasked it to recover the wealth stolen by the Marcoses and their cronies. Under Ka Jovy’s leadership, the PCGG gave relentless pursuit of these ill-gotten wealth.

Ka Jovy again ran as a senator for the third time during the 1987 elections, under the coalition party Laban. Again, he was the electorate’s chosen number one. His legislative acts reflect his life-long dedication to honest service in government, namely, the State Scholarship Law, the Disclosure of Interest Act, the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and the Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder.

He was elected Senate President during this third term, a term remembered most for its decision in September 1991 to reject a new R.P.-U.S. Bases Treaty. The decision effectively ended nearly a century of American military bases’ presence in the Philippines. The Senate’s stance put it smack against President Aquino’s own public support for a treaty renewal. Ka Jovy’s memorable words as he banged the gavel that signaled the treaty’s end were: "(T)he treaty is defeated."

This Senate decision had a heavy political cost on Ka Jovy. He was “ousted” as Senate President not long after. And the business community, which favored the retention of the US bases, withdrew its support for his presidential bid. In 1992, Ka Jovy ran for president, and lost.

After this, Ka Jovy left national politics. He shifted his attention to civil society, launching three organizations, namely the Kilosbayan (people participation in governance), Bantay Katarungan (monitoring the justice system), and the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation (a memorial to honor the nation's martyrs and heroes during the Marcos dictatorship). He resumed teaching and became a frequent speaker in forums, still keeping a critical but inspiring view of Philippine society.

He was a prolific writer. Among the most recent books he wrote were: The Senate that said no: a four-year record of the first post-EDSA Senate (1995), Presidential plunder: The quest for the Marcos ill-gotten wealth (2000), A journey of struggle and hope: The memoir of Jovito R. Salonga (2001), The intangibles that make a nation great (2003), and Presidential plunder 2: Erap, the crime of plunder and other offenses (2008).

He continued to receive awards. In 1988, he was given an honorary degree by the Arizona State University, the Ramon Magsaysay Award for government service in 2007 (for "the exemplary integrity and substance of his long public career in service to democracy and good government in the Philippines," and in 1990, by UP a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa, ("for his brilliant career as an eminent political figure... for his unwavering, courageous stand against injustice, oppression, and dictatorship ... and for his sterling personal qualities of decency, humility, industry and moderation").

As he grew more frail with age, Ka Jovy nevertheless stayed alert about national events and continued to give sharp and well-thought-out commentaries about them. He also continued to provide inspiration to the Filipino youth. In another speech in 1964, he discussed how to discern education in a person:

“Is he the man who has read a lot? Partly yes, because his reading is serious and discriminate and uplifting. Is he the man who remembers many facts and events? Partly yes, because the training of memory is a wholesome discipline that requires effort and application and because one cannot make a sound judgement without respect for remembered facts. Is the educated man, then, one who because of his skill is able to provide for himself and his family? Partly yes, since education should teach us how to make a living. But there is one thing we should always remember and it is this — that far more important than the making of a living, is a living of life — a good life, a meaningful life, an abundant life.

The educated man lives this kind of a life, because he has opened the windows of his mind to great thoughts and ennobling ideas; because he is not imprisoned by the printed page, but chooses to make a relentless, rigorous analysis and evaluation of everything he reads; because he is less interested in the accumulation of degrees than in the stimulation of his mind and the cultivation of a generous spirit; because his interest is less in knowing who is right but more importantly, in discerning what is right and defending it with all the resources at his command; because he can express himself clearly and logically, with precision and grace; because he is not awed by authority, but is humble enough to recognize that his best judgment is imperfect and may well be tainted by error or pride; because he has a deep reverence for the inherent worth and dignity of every human being, as a creature of God; because he has a healthy sense of values, a breadth of outlook and the depth of compassion which a purposeful education generates; because whenever he talks about good government he is prepared and willing to sacrifice himself for it; and because he lives a life of relevance to the world in which we live, a sharing in the problems of his time and doing whatever he can with intelligence and fairness and understanding.”

On his death, the Philippine Supreme Court released a message that said in part: “He was an intellectual mentor and role model to many generations of lawyers through his courage and integrity. The Court recognizes his contribution to the shaping of modern jurisprudence in basic human rights and fundamental civil liberties especially during martial law and after the restoration of democracy.”

Fellow human rights lawyer and senator, Joker P. Arroyo, said of Ka Jovy: "Some people make history, others write it. But there is a rare handful who, in writing -- and in speaking -- make history. These are the ones who illuminate the issues, and in so doing move men to answer them with noble actions... In our country there was Claro M. Recto. But if you consider the wealth of historical events surrounding a particular personality who shaped and even generated these events by his words, Ka Jovy Salonga stands virtually alone."

Despite his growing infirmity, Ka Jovy refused to grow old. In another 2007 speech, he cited this quotation:

"Youth is not entirely a time of life; it is a state of mind. It is not wholly a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips or supple knees. It is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the springs of life.

Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair — these are the long, long wires that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair. In the central place of your heart, there is a recording chamber; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young. When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the snow of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then — and then only — are you grown old."

Ka Jovy is today considered one of the country’s statesmen. He would never grow old. #

Born on        June 22, 1920 in Pasig, Rizal

Died on        March 10, 2016, in Quezon City

Parents         Bernardina Reyes and Esteban Salonga

Spouse         Lydia Busuego

Siblings        Five brothers

Children       Patricia, Victoria Regina, Ricardo, Esteban Fernando, and Eduardo

Education     College of Law, University of the Philippines


Salonga, Jovito R. (2000). Presidential Plunder: The Quest for the Marcos Ill-gotten Wealth.

Salonga, Jovito R. (2001). A Journey of Struggle and Hope: The Memoir of Jovito R. Salonga.

Salonga, Jovito R. (2003). The Intangibles that Make a Nation Great: Selected Speeches, Lectures, and Writings.

Salonga, Jovito R. (2005). The Task of Building a Better Nation

Salonga, Jovito R. (2007). Not By Power or Wealth Alone

Ka Jovy R. Salonga, 95: “Where, what does this quintessential statesman and patriot leave us?” by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 12, 2016

“The life, love and struggles of Jovito Salonga,” by Michael Bueza, Rappler, March 10, 2016 Salonga Jovy-salonga--martial-law-veteran-senate-president-who-presided-at-anti-bases-vote-dies

Citation in the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Foundation Award

Jovito Salonga's long life began only twenty-two years after the onset of American rule in the Philippines. His youth was a time of national hope and longing for independence. These things shaped him, alongside his family's deep Christian convictions and the hardships of their daily life. When he was twelve, a speech by the independence-champion Manuel Roxas in his hometown stirred him to dream of a life in law and in public life.

Seizing on this ambition, he rose through public schools to the College of Law at the University of the Philippines. When war overtook his studies, Salonga quickly ran afoul of the new Japanese authorities. He was tortured and jailed and released after nearly a year. Amid dearth and uncertainty, he crammed for the bar examinations and, in 1944, earned the highest score.

At war's end, Salonga embraced Philippine independence but denounced "parity rights" and other compromising ties to the United States. He topped off his legal education with graduate degrees from Harvard and Yale universities and then plunged headlong into the life of his new nation.

Salonga established himself as a sought-after lawyer and an influential legal scholar and educator. In 1961, the Liberal Party tapped him for a successful run for Congress in his home province of Rizal. Four years later, he outpolled all other candidates for the Senate-a feat he repeated twice. He built his reputation as a crusader for clean government and public education. As a staunch nationalist, he opposed Philippine complicity in the Vietnam War and other acts of "puppetry." And he so persistently exposed the troubling anomalies of President Ferdinand Marcos that the Philippines Free Press named him the "Nation's Fiscalizer."

The bomb that crippled him at a political rally in 1971, Salonga says, led him to a second, "borrowed life." He opposed martial law from the start, defending opponents of the Marcos dictatorship and working tirelessly for the succor and release of political prisoners and for the democratic opposition. In 1980, he himself was jailed without charges and then released. Four years in exile followed.

Yet he never lost hope. In 1985, Salonga returned home to revitalize his political party and confront the dictatorship. Putting aside personal ambition, he withdrew his candidacy for vice president in the snap elections of February 1986 and threw himself heart-and-soul into Corazon Aquino's presidential campaign and the People Power Revolution.

Afterwards, Salonga initiated the new government's legal efforts to reclaim wealth stolen by the Marcoses. In 1987, voters returned him to the Senate. There, he authored new laws protecting the state from plunder, military coups, and corrupt officials and, in 1991 as Senate president, triumphantly led his colleagues in ejecting American military bases from the Philippines.

Salonga returned to private life the following year, having made a hotly contested but disappointing bid for the presidency. But through his NGOs, Bantay Katarungan (Sentinel of Justice) and Kilosbayan (People's Action), he has sustained his principled interventions in the affairs of the nation up till now.

Salonga relishes the point-and-counterpoint of democratic politics. But to Salonga politics is not a game. There is a right and a wrong. Democracy is right. Social justice is right. The rule of law, honest and competent government, compassion for the poor, pride in country-all are right.

To be sure, these are the familiar mantras of Philippine politics. But to Salonga they are a creed. His rare moral authority stems from a simple fact: he practices what he preaches.

Today, at eighty-seven, Salonga urges young people to seek happiness in service. More important in life than wealth is meaning. We will find it, he says, if we live "by what we know to be true and good."

In electing Jovito Salonga to receive the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the board of trustees recognizes the exemplary integrity and substance of his long public career in service to democracy and good government in the Philippines.

Related Articles

Hindi Tayo Maaring Makalimot, by Jovito R. Salonga, November 1998

PERALTA, Romulo D.


Romulo Day-oan Peralta played a critical role in an important arena in the fight against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos: the international front. Romy, as he was fondly called, devoted his life to letting the world know about the abuses of the regime, and rallying support for the fight to restore democracy in the Philippines.

 Personal history

Romy was the only child of first-generation Protestant lay missionaries who became pillars of a fledgling United Church of Christ community in Nuevo Iloco, Mawab, Davao. There, Romy spent part of his childhood amongst farmers and peasants, and was exposed to their struggles from an early age.

When he was a young adult, he moved to Manila to study medicine at the Far Eastern University. He also became active in the Christian Youth Fellowship and Student Christian Movement. Having witnessed the hardships of the poor first-hand, he was caught up in the spirit of student activism in the late 60s and early 70s. He decided to dedicate his life to fight injustice.

 History of political involvement

He became a committed student activist during the First Quarter Storm of 1970, the history youth rebellion against the Marcos administration. He later joined the national democratic movement. He gave up his studies the same year and married Carmencita Karagdag, a fellow activist. While working with a government think-tank for the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, he led a group of nationalist professionals and government workers in the movement against oppression.

He and his wife immediately became targets of the Marcos regime after the declaration of Martial Law in 1972. Two years later, their home in Quezon City was raided. One of his wife’s sisters was tortured so brutally that she suffered a mental breakdown. Romy and Carmencita were forced to leave their two small children with relatives to go into hiding. They spent a year living as fugitives.

In 1975, with the help of the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, who met with Marcos and negotiated the release of numerous political prisoners, Romy and Carmencita were allowed to go into exile in Singapore. Romy then immersed himself in international solidarity work, developing contacts with human rights activists from different countries in Asia, including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. With these links, he hoped to organize an international platform for the campaign to end martial law.

But Singapore was then ruled by the strongman Lee Kuan Yew, a known Marcos ally. She and Romy were forced to leave for Hong Kong. The couple then established the Resource Center for Philippine Concerns (RCPC).  As executive director, Romy made contacts and established several solidarity groups within the international community, including Friends of the Filipino People in Hong Kong and Philippine Action Support Group in Australia. He initiated solidarity links with progressive groups in New Zealand, Japan, North America, and Europe.

Romy was also the founder and first editor of the Solidaridad Newsletter, the first internationally-circulated publication on the Philippine human rights movement. He was also the first executive secretary for development and human rights at the Hong Kong-based Asia Alliance of YMCA, guiding its traditionally conservative platform to a more progressive agenda. His work for human rights could still be felt today—the Mission to Filipino Migrant Workers, which he helped conceptualize, still serves the Filipino migrant community in Hong Kong.

However, in 1981, under pressure from the Marcos regime, Hong Kong authorities deported Romy and his wife. The Peraltas sought refuge in Japan under the sponsorship of the Catholic Archdiocese of Tokyo and the National Christian Council in Japan.

Their work continued in Japan. They would set up the Japanese Coalition of Philippine Concerns, which had members from different religious sects and walks of life. At its peak, the organization could mobilize around 1,000 for anti-Marcos rallies.

That same year, with the help of RCPC, Romy initiated the International Conference on Human Rights in the Philippines in Stony Point, New York, in which the role of the US in the increasingly isolated Marcos dictatorship was discussed.

In the mid-80s, as the Philippine sugar industry was collapsing, resulting in mass starvation and impoverishment, Romy initiated, with the help of his Japanese connections, the Japanese Committee for Negros Campaign (JCNC). The campaign raised $1 million for relief programs and support for peasant organizations in Negros. He also aided Filipino women who were victimized by the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia, by setting up the Woman’s Migrant Program in Japan.

Similarly, his work with the Japanese Socialist Party was instrumental in the establishment of the Kunkandia or Japanese Parliament Association for Philippine Concerns around 1985-1986. The Kunkandia was active in exposing fraud in the 1986 elections, as well as the numerous human rights abuses that occurred during the Marcos regime.

 An Imprint on the World

Peralta’s struggles as an activist did not end after Marcos was overthrown. In 1986, shortly after Corazon Aquino became president, his family’s home in Quezon was raided and searched, and his family was interrogated and threatened with arrest. This incident was witnessed by Romy’s young children and it prompted him to return to Japan.

Romy continued his life work in Japan. He settled in Kyoto. With the help of the Takarabune Labor Union and other Japanese left-wing parties, he established the Asian Center for Cultural Exchange (ACCE). He served as its executive director after his permanent return to the Philippines in 1990. ACCE later became ACCESS, a joint Philippine-Japan grassroots organizing project. Romy also later set up the Solidarity Foundation and served as the organization’s president.

Romy also got involved in international peace and disarmament issues. He was co-coordinator of the Peace, Disarmament, and Symbiosis in Asia Pacific (PDSAP), a high-profile network for progressive parliamentarians, academics, NGOs, and people’s organizations all over Asia. In 1994, he helped organize the PDSAP conference at Sulo Hotel in Quezon City, attended by prominent international organizations and figures such as the former Korean president Kim Dae Jung and Senator Yatabe of Japan. In 1996, Romy gave the keynote address in the third PDSAP conference in Beijing.

Circumstance of death

Romy also served as Person in Mission on Globalization of the General Board Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church (GBM-UMC).  In 2001, he organized the ground-breaking National Consultation on Globalization, which was sponsored by the NCCP and GBGM-UMC.

He was in poor health during the conference. He died from pneumonia several months later in September 2001.

Romy’s life continues to inspire people.  A co-worker, Christine Virtucci says: “Romy, as a Christian, saw the connection between the good news of the Gospels and one’s engagement in social activism. He was a model to others and he influenced me to continue my commitment to social justice in the Philippines…”

 Born:               July 30, 1941 in Manila

Died:               September 2, 2001 in Quezon City

Parents:          Isabelo Peralta and Guillerma Day-oan

Spouse:           Carmencita Karagdag

Children:         Four (Daphne, Athena, Proserpine and Sulayman)


Elementary     Nuevo Iloco Elementary School, Mawab, Davao

High School     Silliman University in Dumaguete City

College              Far Eastern University, Manila


3rd year of Medicine, 1970.


Bantayog Profile Sheet and nomination write-up submitted by Carmencita Karagdag, wife, August 17, 2016.

Interview with Carmencita Karagdag, widow, and Bernie Aquino, friend, Bantayog, Quezon City, August 19, 2016.


Romy, life and work, by Carmencita Karagdag, September 12, 2016

Memories of Romy Peralta in Honk Kong, by Christine Virtucci, September 10, 2016

On Romulo Peralta, by Josue Loyola, former secretary of the Asia-wide Campaign Against US-Japan       Military Alliance, and currently professor of Philosophy and Biblical Studies, undated

Romy Peralta as I knew him, by Carlos Ocampo, former Secretary for Human Rights and International Affairs, Christian Conference of Asia, September 7, 2016

Account of Romy Peralta’s Involvement in the anti-Marcos Dictatorship Struggle in Hong Kong, by Cynthia Abdon, General Manager, Mission to Filipino Migrant Workers Limited, and Jun Tellez, Program Coordinator for Labor and Employment Assistance, Mission to Filipino Migrant Workers, HK, undated

Romy Peralta: Aktibista at Bayani ng Pandaigdigang Kapatiran laban sa Imperyalismo Piyudalismo at Diktadurang Marcos by Paul Galang, undated.

Millennials in Anti-Marcos Vigil at Libingan

(This is a re-post of Rappler's Millennials lead anti-Marcos vigil at Libingan ng mga Bayani by Paterno Esmaquel II. Photos and text from Rappler. Videos available at the original posting here.)

Millennials who met through social media stage a vigil on the eve of the November 30 protests against the hero's burial for late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

MANILA, Philippines – Holding books, smartphones, and laptops while seated on picnic mats, millennials gathered outside the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery) on Tuesday evening, November 29, to protest against the hero's burial for dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

While they had chants here and there, most of their time was spent listening to older men and women recounting the horrors of martial law at past 8 pm on Tuesday.

At the start of their event, at around 7 pm, it even looked like a group meeting for a class project, with around a dozen of them sharing their feelings and thoughts about the hero's burial for Marcos.

Their vigil on Tuesday stood out not because of the number of participants or the loudness of their chants.

After all, it was smaller than the usual rallies – only around 50 people were there as of 9 pm. And their classroom-like set-up was so peaceful, the 70 policemen assigned to watch them had been left with almost nothing to do.

Their vigil on Tuesday stood out because members of the group, called Block Marcos, said many of them met only on Facebook.

It was one of the signs of the times – a protest led by students and young professionals prompted by posts on social media.

Kat Leuch, a 31-year-old law student, is the spokesman of Block Marcos. Leuch said they're not all classmates, schoolmates, or officemates.

"Nagkakila-kilala kami through social media at sa mga events practically na na-organize, na ipinanawagan sa social media," Leuch told Rappler.

(We got to know each other through social media and events that were practically organized and announced through social media.)

How social media helped

Michael Santos, 34, who works at a business process outsourcing company, said Tuesday was his first time to meet other members of Block Marcos.

Santos, however, said he already saw his fellow members in other rallies and protests before.

"Sinundan ko sila doon sa Block Marcos page, then doon na lang ako naghihintay ng mga updates, then kung saan 'yung mga protest, pumupunta na lang ako doon," Santos said.

(I followed them on the Block Marcos page, then it's there that I wait for updates, then wherever the protests are, I just go there.)

Milky Babilonia, a 22-year-old worker for a non-governmental organization, said he is "happy" to have met his fellow Block Marcos members "online and in other movements."

Babilonia said he met Leuch, for instance, at a noise barrage.

He said, "We just recognized, 'O, 'di ba ikaw 'yung nag-comment doon sa post ko?" (We just recognized each other, 'Oh, weren't you the one who commented on my post?)

Babilonia said: "So I think if you're asking me how social media helped, I think it's through the easy exchange of information, and we validate that given our own judgment with legitimate news and real news online that we see, not the fake ones."

Aside from listening to mini-lectures on martial law, participants at the vigil also lit candles and tied black ribbons around the fence of the Libingan ng mga Bayani – a sign of the millennials' burgeoning protest movement.

The millennials here plan to stay until Wednesday morning, November 30, when protesters stage a third round of huge anti-Marcos rallies across the Philippines.

LABAYEN, Julio Xavier L.


When Bishop Labayen died, hundreds came to his wake in Manila, Infanta and Baler: bishops, priests, nuns, lay church workers, civic society members, progressive politicians, lawyers, seminarians, students in their teens, activists in their sixties and seventies, farmers, fisher folk, Agtas, foreigners, Filipinos in exile. The mourners who came or sent messagesof condolence and tributes reflect the broad range of people whose lives the bishop had touched in his 50 years as bishop-pastor and bishop-activist.

Bishop Labayen was born to a landed clan in Talisay, Negros Occidental. While administering the family estatefor a brief time, he witnessed the hardships of workers in sugar plantations. “My family background helped me to understand the social teachings of the Church,”he said.  “It was thenthat I felt a preferential love for the poor growing within me with great meaning…”

This option grew stronger early in his priesthood. “We owe Bishop Shanley and his companions the spirit of evangelical poverty and how it meant to be a bishopof the poor and a good shepherd truly in solidarity with his flock,” he said.

Bishop Labayen’s lifelong mission was to be a builder of the “Church of the Poor” --a church that has a “special concern and love for the poor masses, for the victims of injustice, and for those whose dignity and rights are trampled upon.” This model, developed by thebishop and implemented in the prelature of Infanta, guided priests, nuns, seminarians and church workers on what roles to take during the difficult years of martial rule.

While the bishop was a most sought-out preacher, he was also a good learner. A Dutch volunteer who worked in his prelature in the late 1980s recalled, “The Bishop would call the farmers and rural workers periodically – every three or six months – to listen to them. These were good meetings! He listened, he asked, he reflected and then put his analysis and guidance… Without ever overruling the people, keeping the connection with all, illiterate and literate alike, he reached all and they reached him.  He was a great coach, a great teacher (content- and method-wise), highly intelligent, empathic. As a result of those meetings, he soothed everybody’s worries and fears –of which there were plenty those days, by showing trust and strength andhelping us all to keep head and heart together.”

Professional achievements

Bishop Labayen excelled in his studies for priesthood, but was best known for providing guidance and direction to various church groups, non-government organizations and people’s organizations formed during martial law. At that time, the Catholic hierarchy took different positions on martial rule and the Marcos government. There were those who confined themselves to church and spiritual matters, those who opted for cooperation and those who argued for critical collaboration. An equally active number decided to speak out against ills and abuses being committed and it was this group that Bishop Labayen was identified with. Progressive and activist priests, nuns and church workers thus gravitated towards him.

The bishop was asked to head progressive church groups that worked for human rights and supported/organized people’s organizations, especially farmers and indigenous peoples (see list of religious groups organized below).

He was also known internationally. Solidarity groups and foreign funding agencies in Asia and Europe often invited him to speak on the Philippine situation under martial law and the church’s role in political issues and social transformation.

One of BishopLabayen’s most significant contributions during martial law was the founding of social action, a network of programs and services in all dioceses nationwide (see History of Political Involvement).  The bishop was appointed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to head the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (NASSA), which coordinated and assisted the social action centers.


  • Gawad Kagitingan Award (Valour Award) during the 106th anniversary of Philippine Independence at the Monument of Heroes in Quezon City, 2014

  • Father Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism for Climate Change Mitigation, 2009, for the Adopt a Mountain in Infanta, Quezon program

  • Human Rights Defenders Award, 2015, given by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines

  • Bishop Labayen Self-Integrity Scholarship for 10 four-year scholarships, given by the Metro Infanta Foundation, June 2002

History of political involvement

Bishop Labayen was one of the “magnificent seven,” a group composed of Bishops Antonio Fortich, Felix Perez, Orlando Quevedo, Jesus Varela, Francisco Claver and Federico Escaler. In 1973, the seven bishops wrote an open letter to then-President Ferdinand Marcos against the atrocities committed under martial law.It was one of the earliest, if not the first, instance when members of the Catholic hierarchy spoke strongly against martial rule.

Bishop Labayen did not take a high political profile as outspoken critic of the Marcos dictatorship. He preferred to work quietly, helping to form and guide Church groups and grassroots organizations that worked against torture, illegal arrests and detention, and other social issues such as land-grabbing committed by some of Marcos’ cronies and the eviction of communities to give way to government projects.

Under his leadership, NASSA was instrumental in helping curb human rights abuses during martial law, through the following programs and activities:

  • Formation of the Church-Military Liaison Commission, which dialogued regularly with top military and defense officials to take up cases of torture, unlawful arrests and detention;

  • Formation of justice and peace action groups in social action centers all over the country and training of para-legal groups to act on human rights violations and other social issues;

  • Provision of legal services/lawyers for cases which could not be handled by paralegals;

  • Evaluation and processing of fund applications of grassroots and non-government organizations, in forming justice and peace groups all over the country, and

  • Publication of economic, political and social issues affecting farmers, workers, and other poor sectors of Philippine society such as militarization, summary executions, illegal detention, illegal logging.

Bishop Labayenwas construed, even within the bishops’ circle, as part of the Left; rumors spread that he was a “communist.” Despite such accusations, he continued to express his loyalty to “Mother Church” and collegiality with fellow bishops.

The bishop continued to be a strong voice against abuses of human rights even after martial law was lifted and President Marcos was ousted during the EDSA People Power revolution in 1986.He supported the implementation of genuine agrarian reform and protection of the environment.

Motivating factor for political involvement

Bishop Labayen explained his political involvement in one of his many interviews: “I was transformed in the church from being attached and finding my security only in structures into seeing the church as a people of God. I extended this to the poor, taught them to stand by their own rights and dignity, to organize themselves and to resist the military. It is the will of God to promote justice, for according to the teachings of the church, without justice there can never be peace. Justice leads to peace.”

Persecution as a progressive bishop

Aside from the black propaganda against him, Bishop Labayen was also in the military blacklist during martial law. Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros wrote: “(Bp. Labayen) was targeted for assassination which he learned from the most reliable source – the assassin. As directed by the military, the assassin monitored the bishop’s move for two months to find a way to stage an accident. He attended the bishop’s forums, holy masses and sermons. The assassin had a change of heart when he saw how the bishop was warmly received by the farmers and fisher folk and provided comfort and solace to those who had nothing in life. Instead of carrying out his assignment, he told the bishop about it and warned him to be careful. He disappeared after that.”

Organizational affiliations

The following were among Bp. Labayen’s many organizational affiliations:

  • Bishop of the Prelature of Infanta; 1961 to 2003

  • First National Director, National Secretariat of Social Action, Justice and Peace, of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines; 1966 to 1981

  • First Executive Chairman, Office of Human Development of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences; 1972 to

  • Chairperson, Social Pastoral Institute

  • Chairperson, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines

Literary works

  • Revolution and the Church of the Poor, published in 1995

  • To be the Church of the Poor

  • Crisis and Impasse: the Dark Night in St. John of the Cross

  • Incarnational Spirituality

Groups organized or co-founded

Because of his reputation as a spiritual and political leader of the Church, Bishop Labayen was requested to found or co-found, religious congregations and groups, which included the following:

  • Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, 1967

  • Karmelo (a poor inculturated community of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns in the Prelature of Infanta), 1981

  • Apostles in Contemporary Times, 1984

  • Augustinian Missionaries of the Philippines, 1999

  • Alagadni Maria (seminary), 1990

  • Franciscans of Our Lady of the Poor, 1991

  • Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Impact of activism on family and community

Marivic Abello, Bishop Labayen’s niece, recalled how the bishop would always remind her to “keep the fire burning,” a reminder of the commitment to serve others. Abello, who once worked in the Prelature of Infanta’s health program, called “Tioy Nonoy as the glue that kept the family together.

For people like Tioy Nonoy, who have touched lives, they live on even long after they have passed from this world.  We the living stand to be inspired by what they have accomplished and be strong to stand by what is right, what is good and what is according to God's plan for us.”


Born                July 23, 1926 in Talisay, Negros Occidental

Died                April 26, 2016

Occupation    Ordained priest and bishop, Order of the Discalced Carmelites

Parents           Julio Diaz Labayen and  Mercedes Alunan Lizares

Siblings           Eight    (Brothers: Eduardo+, Rodolfo+, Patricio Enrique, Wilfredo, Norberto Alejandro+, Octavio Antonio, Antonio Juan+ and Sister: Ma. Luz Jesusa Cristeta+)


 Elementary     Bacolod East (now Mabini) Elementary School, Bacolod City, 1931- 1938

High School     Negros Occidental High School. Bacolod city, 1938-1941

(graduated in 1944 after the Japanese War)

College                        Colegio de San Agustin(2-year Preparatory Course in Medicine)

Degrees attained/honors:

  • Associate of Arts, 1947

  • Novitiate Order of Discalced Carmelites, Brooklyn, Massachusetts, 1948

  • Degree in Philosophy, magna cum laude, Holy Hill, Wisconsin, USA, 1952

  • Masteral Degree in Theology, cum laude, Collegio de Sta. Teresa, Rome, 1957,

  • Masteral Degree in Canon Law, summa cum laude, Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome (Angelicum), 1959


  • 4 June 1955: ordained priest, Collegio Sta. Teresa, Rome, Italy

  • Oct 1957: returned to the Philippines after theological studies in Rome

  • Nov 1957: first assignment as assistant parish priest of St. Joseph’s parish in Polilio, Quezon

  • 1960: first assignment as parish priest, same area

  • 1961: appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Prelature of Infanta

  • 8 Sept. 1966: ordained bishop at Mt. Carmel shrine and installed as bishop-prelate of the Prelature of Infanta



Bantayog profile sheet and narrative submitted by Lita Gonzales, co-worker, NASSA

Interviews with Ma. Victoria Abello, niece, and Ging Guinabo, co-worker, August 2, 2016

“Sharing on Tioy Nonoy,”by Ma. Victoria Abello, August 2, 2016

E-mail communication between Lita Gonzales and other former NASSA staff and allied religious and lay church workers, April 24 – May 17, 2016

“It is the Lord,” The life-journey of Bishop Julio Xavier Labayen, OCD, by Sr. Maria Dulce Emmanuel F. Inlayo, OCD, with Teresa R. Tunay, OCDSD, editor. Claretian Publications, Quezon
City, 2013

“What kind of Philippine Church will the Pope find? Interview with a progressive bishop,” by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 12, 1995

``Spirituality of/for revolution,''Human Face column by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 13, 1995

JOSE, Joel Cecilio O.


Joel Cecilio Ozarraga Jose was among the best and the brightest of his generation. He gave up a promising career in favour of a dangerous but noble life of fighting the Marcos tyranny and for a free country.

Raised in a middle class family in Matina, Davao City, Joel is the youngest of five children of a government engineer father and a pharmacist mother. He attended Ateneo de Davao from elementary to high school, graduating in 1967. He was an altar boy, and would wake up early in the morning to do sacristan duties in a local church in Davao City. He loved music, often playing musical instruments together with his sister Teresita. “He played the violin while I played the piano,” she recalls.

History of political involvement

Joel had a critical mind even as a child, and he found answers to his many questions when he was an engineering student at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. He became active in the anti-Marcos dictatorship as one of the members of the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK).The discussion groups launched by the SDK about school issues, national issues, political economy and other topics helped broaden Joel Jose’s social awareness.

The First Quarter Storm (FQS) of 1970 swept the streets of Metro Manila with a series of mass actions participated by tens of thousands of people coming from different sectors to protest against the oil price hikes, increase of prices of basic commodities, graft and corruption in the government and the excessive spending of public money to reelect Marcos as president. Joel Jose was with the FQS crowd and helped in mobilizing thousands of workers and students.

Joel immersed himself with the workers in the picketlines to learn about their condition and bring their issues to a broader audience for public support.  With other activists, he met with workers and residents of urban poor communities in Caloocan, Navotas and Bulacan,to organize and educate them of their rights.

Heeding the call to broaden and intensify the people’s struggles not only against Marcos but against other social problems besetting the country, Joel left the university and went back to Davao in 1971. He chaired the SDK for Mindanao and led the establishment of SDK chapters in different schools and communities in and outside Davao City. SDK also forged an alliance with the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and other progressive organizations in the Davao region to launch people’s marches and other mass actions in protest against the anti-poor and pro-foreign policies of the Marcos regime. One such mass protest that Joel and his comrades joined was over the killing of Edgar Ang Sinco, a student activist from the University of Mindanao (UM) who was killed in a picketline at the gate of the UM campus itself.

Joel’s name was blacklisted by the Marcos forces and he had to go underground upon the declaration of Martial Law. He was eventually arrested with other comrades in May 1973 while organizing the farmers in Maragusan, Compostela Valley. Kept incommunicado for two weeks, Joel was tortured by his captors. When finally shown to the media, his swollen face was hardly recognizable due to severe blows. Released in July 1974, Joel left for Western Mindanao to continue the struggle against the dictatorship.

It was in the Zamboanga Peninsula in Western Mindanao that the brilliance of Joel, then known as “Sendong,” was dreaded by the military but deeply loved by the masses. “He was not a public speaker but he was very good at social investigation and education,” said Ma. Loreto Abella, his wife, with whom he bore two children. Joel pioneered in making surveys, putting into graphic presentation the face of exploitation of the ruling class making it easily understandable to the masses in remote areas of the country, Abella added.

The Subanen tribe resided in the most interior and forested part of the peninsula, while the settler-farmers, who traced their ancestry from Luzon and the Visayas islands, occupied the lower parts. The people grew vegetables, coconut, rubber, corn and rice. In these areas, the name “Sendong” resounded as the man who led the people in the campaign to reduce the land rent paid to the landlords and against the coco levy imposed by Marcos and his cronies. In all these gains, Joel and his comrades showed the people the power of collective action through what was later popularly known as “hunglos.”*

By his physical appearance – he was six feet tall and fair-skinned – Sendong was obviously not one of those with whom he loved and lived. But it was not a handicap for him. “He can easily integrate with them. He easily learned their language and communicated like one of them”, Abella said. Just like anybody else in the camp, he fetched water, gathered firewood and never complained of heavy load and long walks. “He was a simple man, cool-tempered, soft-spoken and considerate to his comrades”, said Nacianceno Mejos Pacalioga, one of Sendong’s comrades. Pacalioga is now a municipal official in a Zamboanga del Sur town.

His being a son of a pharmacist mother was a plus factor in his organizing work. He had a ready prescription for the locals’ illnesses, utilizing the medicines donated by his family and those from other sources around the region. He combined the synthetic medicine and those found in the area, earning him the reputation of a “people’s doctor.”

Despite its distance from Manila, Zamboanga Peninsula did not escape the brutalities of Marcos’ martial law. Hamletting, a military tactic of forcibly grouping the households into public village centers, was imposed in the remote barangays of Zamboanga del Norte and other provinces in the peninsula. The farmers and all their family members had to be in the hamlets by 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Anybody who was seen in the farms beyond this time was shot by government forces. Aside from hamletting, other forms of military brutalities were also unleashed in the peninsula. Communities were bombed and strafed, and farmers’ houses were burned by the military. Reports of rape of women and children were also documented.

Amidst all these, Sendong took charge in providing his comrades and the people the morale and practical guidance on how to face or evade persecutions. He also took special care of the vulnerable Subanen who marched with them, especially the old, the weak and the children. “He was there to buoy our spirit and give us the strength to never give up,” said a comrade, Girlyn Pacalioga.

Circumstances of death

Joel was often heard saying “I cannot imagine myself living away from the masses.” Indeed, he did not leave Western Mindanao since his arrival in 1974 until 1987 when he represented the region in a meeting with the peace talk negotiators. On May 19, 1987, Sendong was in a consultation meeting when their group was attacked by the military in San Isidro, Mawab, Compostela Valley. He was killed along with another NDF consultant, Fr. Roberto Salac (Bantayog honouree, 2015). His family and friends were able to retrieve his decomposing body three days later.

For helping them regain their dignity and rights, the name Ka Sendong remains etched in the hearts and minds of many people in Western Mindanao.


(*Hunglos is a Cebuano term for people’s collective action that aims to accumulate strength of the weak to attain a common objective. In Zamboanga Peninsula it means gathering the farmers and indigenous peoples (15-20 members) to undertake the land preparation, farm maintenance and harvesting of crops. Today, hunglos is still seen as a viable method especially for the cash-strapped farmers and is practiced in Misamis Occidental and its nearby towns.)

Born                June 3, 1951 in Davao City

Died                May 19, 1987 in Mawab, Compostela Valley

Parents           Perfecto O. Jose (deceased), engineer, and Lourdes S. Ozarraga (deceased), pharmacist

Siblings           Four (1 brother, 3 sisters)                   Birth order of martyr:  youngest

Spouse                        Maria Loreto Abella

Children          Two daughters (Cecilia and Maria)


Elementary     Ateneo de Davao, Matina, Davao City, 1958-1963

High School     Ateneo de Davao, Matina, Davao City, 1963-1967

College                        University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, 1967-1969



Bantayog profile forms submitted by Ma. Loreto Abella-Lopez and Teresita J. Bonguyan


Ma. Loreto Abella-Lopez (widow), Fe Salino and Anita Morales, July 20, 2015

Bobby Roldan, September 8, 2016

Agapito Gaddi, August 2015

Hon. Nacianceno and Girlyn Pacalioga, August 2016, Makati City

Affidavit by Ma. Loreto Abella-Lopez, widow, August 7, 2014, Davao City

Testimony by Juan Perez III,M.D.,  friend, August 29, 2015

Testimony by Alex Birondo, friend, July, 2015

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