bantayog.foundation

bantayog.foundation

CORTES, Ellecer E.

cortes-ellezer-eugenio

Ellecer Cortes lived a brief 22 years but he left behind a legacy of commitment to his principles. Ellecer was the eldest of seven children of a fairly ordinary middle-class couple in Quezon City.

In college, Ellecer, called Boyong by friends, started out as a student activist at the University of the Philippines. He joined the Movement for Nationalism, the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and the Student Cultural Association of UP (SCAUP), where he met his future wife Mariquit Rivera.

He was one of the founding members of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM), and was active in its cultural bureau. He was also one of the founders of the Samahang Demokratikong Kabataan (SDK), another militant youth organization.

Even as a student he became interested in the cultural and educational enlightenment of rural people in Central Luzon. This brought him starting 1967 to faraway places such as San Miguel in Bulacan, Bongabong and Talayan Nueva Ecija, Laguna and Iloilo.

He wrote skits and staged plays highlighting rural issues. Some of his skits spoke of the evils of martial law long before martial law became a possibility. He held these plays in town plazas, public markets, churches and even under the shade of trees. He became a fulltime rural organizer.

Local folk in Central Luzon were soon treating him as a local hero. They felt that he articulated in his writings and organizational work their dreams and goals. Student activists in Manila campuses also made him out as a hero, for his pioneering involvement as a student activist working among rural people, preaching about nationalism and democracy.

Boyong’s work was not without danger. On one occasion, he and his group was stopped by the armed men of a local politician. The unarmed activists identified themselves as traders but the goons refused to believe them and ordered them to kneel on the riverbed. Luckily, the goons found a business card and a P1,000 bill inside the pocket of one of Boyong’s companions, which made their claim credible and allowed them to escape.

In another incident in Nueva Ecija, Boyong and his friends again barely escaped a military operation sent to hunt down then New People’s Army leader Bernabe Buscayno, otherwise known as Kumander Dante. Farmers hid Boyong and his friends in the sugarcane fields.

With his growing popularity/notoriety, Boyong was refused treatment in several hospitals when he contracted malaria. He was finally brought to Manila where he was taken to San Lazaro Hospital.

Boyong’s last place of operation was in Zambales province. Soldiers found the hut that he and his activist companions were sleeping in, and believing them to be insurgents, shot them down. Boyong sustained a minor stomach wound, but without medical treatment, he bled to death. Another student, Jose Ramirez, from Feati University in Manila and a farmer, Ernesto Miranda, also died in the incident.

Grief poured at the UP Diliman campus and other Manila schools, as soon as the news of his death spread. When President Marcos declared martial law in 1972, he cited the Zambales incident as proof that students and farmers were conspiring against the government. Together with the bombing of Plaza Miranda in August 1971, Marcos used the Cabangan incident to justify his dictatorship.

Boyong left behind his wife Mariquit and only child Jenny Lin, barely 11 months old he died. Mariquit herself was imprisoned twice during martial law.

 

Born          15 April 1949 in Manila

Killed        1 October 1971 in Cabangan, Zambales

Parents :  Rosendo Cortes and Rosalina Eugenio

Spouse :  Mariquit Cortes

Child    :  1 (Jenny Lin)

Education :

Elementary - Ponciano Bernardo Elementary School, Cubao, 1961

High School - Ramon Magsaysay High School, Cubao, 1965

College – BA in history, University of the Philippines Diliman, 1969

CONSTANTINO, Renato R.

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The writings of Renato Constantino were a major influence in the intellectual formation of countless young Filipinos who staked their lives and future in opposing the Marcos dictatorship.

At a time when the dominant, elitist view of Philippine-American relations was one of benevolence and mutual benefit, Constantino pointed out that on the contrary, our subservience to the interests of the United States had resulted in stunted growth.

Colonial miseducation was responsible for the lack of critical thinking, he said, and urged a re-examination and redefinition of the Filipino identity that would affirm our independence, uniqueness and democratic values.

Furthermore, he said, the country’s underdevelopment can be traced to our colonial history: “This condition was not abolished with independence; it was merely transformed. We see the economic structure as the basis for the iniquitous political system in which economic privilege becomes the pillar of political power – a power that enhances colonial control and further entrenches the hold of the local elite over the people.”

During the 1950s, Constantino had already been branded a “security risk” by state intelligence agencies. His continuing prolific output of scholarly books and articles, however, found fertile ground in the youth and student movement here in the 1960s, amid worldwide questioning of American domination. These ideas were taken up in activist study courses and discussion groups – where the rebellious students said they were learning more than when they were dutifully taking notes inside the classroom.

In 1972, Constantino published The Marcos Watch, a collection of critical newspaper columns. When martial law was declared, he was placed under house arrest for seven months, and not allowed to travel abroad for several years.  Still, he continued to research and write, in collaboration with his wife Letizia.  In 1976 the couple established the Foundation for Nationalist Studies, Inc. (now the Constantino Foundation) to initiate, sponsor or finance programs and projects for the advancement of Philippine nationalism.

Among Renato Constantino’s well-known books are A Past Revisited  and The Continuing Past (a two-volume history of the Philippines), The Making of a Filipino (a biography of Claro M. Recto), Neocolonial Identity and Counter-Consciousness, and The Nationalist Alternative. His most widely read essay, The Miseducation of the Filipino, had to wait five years before it saw print.

 

He died in 1999 at the age of 80.

BORN                                    :               March 10, 1919 in Manila

DIED                                      :               September 15, 1999 in Quezon City

PARENTS                             :               Amador Constantino and Francisca Reyes

SPOUSE/CHILDREN         :               Letizia Roxas / 2

EDUCATION                       :               Elementary: Bonifacio Elementary School, Manila

Secondary: Arellano High School, Manila

College: University of the Philippines

CARINO, Jennifer K.

carino-jennifer-kintanar

Jennifer Carin͂o was a bright young woman who, during her short life, did more than her share in strengthening the unity of the Cordillera ethnic communities notably through cultural work.  In the process, she helped build the people’s resistance to the Marcos dictatorship and its oppressive policies.

Carin͂o belonged to a large, well-known Ibaloi clan; her grandfather was the first Igorot mayor of Baguio City. (On the other hand, her mother was also part of a large, well-known clan originating in Cebu.) She was the first of eight children, all of whom later became activists.

It was in high school that the young Carin͂o first publicly stood up for Igorot pride, reacting strongly to a statement by then foreign secretary Carlos P. Romulo that “Igorots are not Filipinos.”   In an article published in the student organ, she criticized the discrimination against the Cordillera highland tribes and recalling their proud history of resistance to foreign domination.

But she was not simply one angry, politicized teenager.  She enjoyed singing, parties, playing the guitar, reading widely, going out with her friends.  Singing songs of protest, she became involved in Baguio student activism. Mass actions always meant popular cultural expressions, and soon Carin͂o had dropped out of school to work on this aspect full-time for the movement.

Shortly before martial law was declared, she married fellow activist Gilbert Pimentel from the Mountain Province.  Together, at a conference in Bontoc, they had helped organize what would later be known as Kilusang Kabataan ng Kordilyera.

Giving birth in November 1972 and caring for her baby girl, Carin͂o experienced the hardships endured by many other parents unable to provide a safe and stable environment for their families. Moreover, her husband was in prison and she could not visit him for fear of being arrested herself. In 1974 she finally decided to leave the child with her family, and work with the resistance organization in the Cordillera mountains.

The area between Ifugao and Benguet provinces was one of the most depressed areas in the region.  There was a lot to do, as members of the Kalanguya tribe who lived there had very few material resources and visiting their settlements meant very long, arduous treks along mountain trails.

Carin͂o wrote songs for the Kalanguya, conducted literacy lessons, applied acupuncture therapy to the sick.  She learned their language, and enjoyed eating such upland delicacies as wild ferns and the beetle grub found among fallen pine logs.

Sadly, Jennifer Carin͂o died on July 13, 1976, when she was hit by a bullet misfired from a comrade’s gun.

BORN                                    :               March 4, 1950 in Baguio City

DIED                                      :               July 13, 1976 in Hungduan, Ifugao

PARENTS                             :               Jose Cortez Carin͂o and Josefina Kintanar

SPOUSE/CHILD                  :               Gilbert Pimentel / 1

EDUCATION                       :               Elementary: Baguio Central School

Secondary: St. Theresa’s College, Baguio City

College: University of the Philippines College Baguio

BUGAY, Amado G.

bugay-amado-guinto

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)

* Education

Elementary    Samal North Elementary School, Bataan

Secondary      St Catherine of Sienna Academy, Bataan

ARCE, Merardo T.

arce-merardo-pic

It was easy to predict that a bright future lay ahead for Merardo Arce: he got very good grades in school, he was much admired, a studious yet friendly and popular “golden boy.”  Although his family was not rich, they were not poor either. He didn’t have to worry about money.

At the University of the Philippines in Diliman, the teenager from Tarlac enrolled in architecture.  There too he shone academically, maintaining a consistent scholarship throughout his stay –even though, in 1971, he had become a student activist and member of a university fraternity.

Artistically inclined, Mer Arce became deeply involved in Panday Sining, the cultural arm of Kabataang Makabayan and served as its chairman.  Through songs, poetry, plays and artworks, the members of the group gave expression to the grievances of the Filipino masa, as well as their aspirations.  They took their productions to various campuses and the streets, where rallies and demonstrations were intensifying.

When martial law was declared in 1972 by President Marcos (his fraternity brother), Arce knew he had to make a choice.  It would not be difficult for him to pursue a “successful” career by capitalizing on his talent and his connections.  By that time, however, he had already committed his heart and mind; he felt he had “a part to play in the liberation of the Filipino people.”

Thus in 1976 Arce and his wife went to Mindanao where they worked mostly among poor farmers and settlers as well as lumad or indigenous communities.  He showed superior leadership skills in the way he quickly grasped situations and decided what course of action to take.  He was judicious in weighing issues and voicing out his opinions.  He genuinely cared for the people’s welfare.

Mer Arce was in Mabolo, Cebu City when he was killed together with Jose Diaz, who had been a philosophy teacher in Manila.  Metrodiscom troopers set up a checkpoint to intercept them on the road, but the two knew that they were sure to be captured alive.  So they decided not to stop, instead choosing to buy time for their other comrades by driving on and fighting it out.

The Arce family heard about his death only through local tabloid media reports three days afterward. It was tragic news for his daughter who had come home that afternoon eager to show off an award she had received from school.

Although at first they did not approve of Mer Arce’s political involvement, the family, especially his parents came to accept and appreciate his life’s work. Support and encouragement came from his many friends, fraternity brothers and sympathizers. On his gravesite is this epitaph written by his daughter: “Katawan mo man ay nabuwal, giting mo pa ri’y itatanghal, ng mga iniwan, na mga Anak ng Bayan!”

BORN                                    :               May 30, 1953 in Tarlac City

DIED                                      :               February 5, 1985 in Mabolo, Cebu City

PARENTS                             :               Jose Agana Arce and Estrella C. Tuason

SPOUSE/CHILD                  :               Lecifina Dumayag / 1

EDUCATION                       :               Elementary: College of the Holy Spirit, Tarlac

Secondary: Don Bosco Technical Institute, Makati City

College: University of the Philippines Diliman

TAGAMOLILA, Crispin S.

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At the age of 22, Crispin Tagamolila joined the Philippine Army in 1967 where he was initially assigned to do administrative work and allowed to take up law studies.

It took only a few years for him to fully realize that the organization of which he had become a part was not where he should be.  For someone who wanted to help those in need – “gusto kong tumulong sa mahihirap at inaapi,” he often said – being a lieutenant in the Armed Forces of the Philippines was an eye-opening experience.[1]

He observed how army officers treated enlisted men like servants, and the prevalence of “palakasan” or political patronage.

Training to be a military lawyer, at the same time handling classes in nationalism at the Philippine Constabulary Law School, Tagamolila began reading voraciously. He spent most of his allowance on books about history and political science.  He was also taking up a masteral course at the Ateneo de Manila University.

It was during this time of intensive study and observation of the situation around him that Tagamolila’s radical politico-social outlook took shape. He began contributing  small amounts to finance the activities of the student activists pouring into the streets.  He stayed away from anti-riot duties. He actively campaigned for ex-Major Bonifacio Gillego, whose liberal views set him against the military establishment, to win a seat in the Constitutional Convention of 1970.  Later that year, Tagamolila’s best friend, Lt. Victor Corpus, made a sensational defection to the New People’s Army.

Just three months later, Tagamolila also defected. In a statement, he said: “I have realized that the AFP is the primary instrument of suppression of the righteous dissent of the suffering masses.” He went on to “testify and witness” to the extent that the United States controls the Philippine military, the corruption of the armed forces by President Marcos to ensure their loyalty to him, and the elimination of activists by military intelligence units and liquidation squads.

Crispin Tagamolila was killed in a gunbattle with government troops in Isabela in 1972. Two years later, his younger brother Antonio (similarly honored by Bantayog ng mga Bayani) , died in an encounter in the mountains of Panay. ®

BORN                                    :               January 7, 1945 in Tubungan, Iloilo

DIED                                      :               April 16, 1972 in Echague, Isabela

PARENTS                             :               Manuel Tagamolila and Casiana Sandoval

SPOUSE                                :                Elda Bala

EDUCATION

Elementary                           : La Paz Elementary School, Iloilo

Secondary                              : Iloilo High School

College                                   : University of the Philippines  Diliman, Ateneo de Manila

University, Philippine Constabulary Law School

 

 

[1] See “The Defectors: Part 2 / Lt. Crispin Tagamolila joins Corpus,” by  Millet G. Martinez, The Sunday Times Magazine, April 25, 1971, pp. 10-11.

BURGOS Jr., Jose G.

burgos-jose-jr

Since Spanish colonial times, the Philippine press has played a major role in expressing popular grievances against the country’s rulers.  Knowing this, among the first actions taken by President Marcos in imposing martial law was to control the mass media: newspaper offices, radio stations and television channels were all taken over by his regime.

Prominent media personalities were jailed right at the start. Longer detention periods were suffered by many working journalists.  Eventually, some media outlets were allowed to operate, but only news and opinions favorable to the dictatorship were allowed to appear.

Word of mouth filled in the very big blanks in the information system.  Guerrilla groups put out their own underground newspapers.  “Xerox journalism” consisted of photocopied articles from foreign media. Mimeographed sheets were circulated by church workers.

Before martial law, Jose (Joe) Burgos Jr. had already received praise for his investigative reports on political violence in Ilocos Norte, his home province and that of President Marcos.  For this he was named one of the country’s Ten Outstanding Young Men in 1970.

In 1973, with martial law in full swing, Burgos accepted a Jefferson fellowship to study at the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center.  He then worked for a while in two government agencies.

In May 1977, however, he began publishing the modestly-sized We Forum.It was a success, as the public soon discovered that it was reporting news and commentaries that could not be found in the Marcos-controlled press. Burgos also launched three other publications (Midday, Malaya and Masa).

Marcos tolerated these publications for a time, because their existence allowed him to claim that there was press freedom in the country.  But after We Forum published a series of investigative reports about the dictator’s fake war medals, in December 1982 the police raided its offices and arrested Burgos and the newspaper’s columnists and staff.

Undeterred, Burgos put out Ang Pahayagang Malaya instead.  By then, opposition to the dictatorship had become more openly defiant.  Like We Forum before it, the newspaper ably mirrored the mood of the times and gained a broad, supportive readership.  It was well positioned to reflect and amplify the huge protest movement that reached new heights after the assassination of Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.

Joe Burgos was named International Journalist of the Year by Inter Press Service in 1986, and by the International Press Institute as one of the 50 “World Press Freedom Heroes” of the 20th century.

He died of cancer in 2003, at the age of 62.

BORN                                    :               January 4, 1941 in Manila

DIED                                      :               November 16, 2003 in San Juan, Metro Manila

PARENTS                             :               Jose Burgos Sr. and Tomasa Gacusano

SPOUSE/CHILDREN         :               EdithaTronqued / 5

EDUCATION                       :               Elementary:

Secondary: University of Sto. Tomas High School, Manila

College: University of Sto. Tomas, Manila

 

PRUDENTE, Nemesio E.

prudente-nemesio-pic-new

Nemesio Prudente was that rare brand of educator and administrator who was able to combine order with change, establishment and activism, and reform and revolution. He was as tireless as the freshest activist in fighting for democracy in his country, even as he led what would eventually become, under his administration, the country’s largest state university. He has been hailed a nationalist and visionary by his colleagues.

He took his elementary and high school education in the Philippines, and his undergraduate and graduate studies in California, USA. He worked for a short while in the States then returned to the Philippines to teach graduate and undergraduate courses at the Far Eastern University. He was appointed dean of the FEU graduate school in 1961 and served for a year. In 1962, he was appointed president of the Philippine College of Commerce (PCC), a post he held up to 1972, when Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and Prudente went into hiding.

PCC students and friends called him Doc Prudente. He was a highly respected figure in campus. He was a conscientious president. Side by side with his students, employees and teachers, he held pickets and rallies demanding from government the release to the school of the land it was standing on. He hounded Congress for a bigger PCC budget. He built structures for the PCC Main Library, and for the engineering and mass communication colleges. He found space to hold the graduate school and the college of hotel and restaurant management.

But best of all, Doc Prudente believed in and lived a concept of education that was activist as well as critical. Professors as well as students would stop by his office to engage him in debate and discussion. Under his administration, PCC became one the most active schools in the early 1970s, where students were urged instead of prevented from joining student activities. PCC students flocked to the student protests that ended in the First Quarter Storm of 1971.

He engaged activists in discussions ranging from economy to social science to political economy. He discussed reform and revolution with them. He also butted heads with other brilliant debaters like Blas Ople and Benigno Aquino Jr.

Like most civil libertarians in the late 1960s and 1970s, Doc Prudente spoke publicly about what he saw was the increasing repression of the Marcos administration. He was an active supporter of the Movement for a Democratic Philippines and the Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties. He was not cowed by threats of arrest or detention. He was, in fact, among those arrested by Ferdinand Marcos when the latter suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971.

He was eventually released, then arrested again when Marcos instituted martial law in 1972. Doc evaded arrest this time and went immediately into hiding. In the underground, he helped build the resistance network against the dictatorship. He was one of those who helped prepare the establishment of the National Democratic Front. He was eventually found and arrested, detained in a number of military camps and safehouses for six years.

When the dictatorship was abolished in 1986, Doc resumed his legal activities, accepting an appointment as president of the old PCC, now renamed Polytechnic University of the Philippines. He held this post until he retired in 1992. He put on his administrator’s coat and put in much-needed reforms at the state university. But his activist spirit remained alive. He once opened the campus to scores of villagers escaping from militarization, earning him the military’s suspicion that he was hosting communists in his campus.

He continued to publicly condemn human rights violations occurring in what was supposed to be a newly-democratic government. For his efforts, Prudente survived two attempts on his life, the first was in November 1987 when his lawyer was killed, and the second in June 1988, less than a year after the first, when three of his companions were killed. Doc himself was severely wounded in the second attempt. In 1999, or 11 years later, five policemen were convicted for the second ambush.

Doc’s courage, passion and ideals were no secret to PUP students, and many of those who were students during his administration vow that these qualities are “forever embedded” in them because of his sterling example.

Doc’s writings include “The Revolutionists” and the “Quest for Justice,” sharp commentaries that help raise awareness and give insights about the gravity of the problems besetting the Philippines.

Even as he grew older and sicker, Doc Prudente kept his life simple and his needs basic. Knowing he was sick, he had left instructions on how he wanted to go. There was to be no pomp, no ceremony, not even a wake. He wanted to be cremated wrapped in a mat, not confined in a coffin. Honoring his request in spirit if not in form, when he died from complications arising from a prostate operation, his family had him cremated wrapped in a shroud and in a cardboard box the day after he died. No wake was ever held. Doc was 81.

BORN                                    :               December 19, 1927 in Rosario, Cavite

DIED                                      :               March 28, 2008 in Cavite

PARENTS                             :               Mamerto Prudente and Felicidad Encarnacion

SPOUSE/CHILDREN         :               Ruth Y. Garcia / 3

EDUCATION                       :               Elementary: Rosario Elementary School, Cavite

Secondary: University of the Philippines High School; Cavite Provincial

High School

College: US Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York (USA)

Postgraduate: San Francisco State College, San Francisco, California

(USA); University of Southern California (USA)

Magalit Ka Bayan

Poem written by Atty. King Rodrigo. Read during the Annual Honoring of Martyrs and Heroes, Bantayog ng mga Bayani, November 30, 2016

Read during the Annual Honoring of Martyrs and Heroes, Bantayog ng mga Bayni, November 30, 2016

Response in Behalf of the Families of Marciano Anastacio Jr., Hernando Cortez, Manuel Dorotan and Simplicio Villados

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Ako po si Cecille Valdellon.  Sa hapong ito, sina Marciano P. Anastacio Jr., Hernando M. Cortez, Manuel G. Dorotan at Simplicio D. Villados ay pinararangalan ng Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation bilang mga martir sa pagsusulong ng Kilusang paggawa.  Sinupil ng gobyernong Marcos ang mga karapatan ng uring manggagawa sa panahon ng batas militar.  Subalit sa taglay na dedikasyon ng nabanggit na apat na martir , buong tapang nilang pinamunuan ang kilusan sa pagsusulong ng karapatang makapagtayo ng tunay na unyon, ang pagpapataas ng sahod at pagkakaroon ng makatarungang mga benepisyo, at ang pagpapabuti sa kalagayan ng mga manggagawa sa loob ng pabrika.  Tunay ngang malaking ambag ang kanilang mga pagsasakrispisyo sa pagsusulong ng tunay na unyonismo.

Ang kanilang mga sakripisyo ay nagbunga hindi lamang para sa kapakanan ng uring manggagawa.  Bahagi sila ng mamamayang naglakas loob na bigyang liwanag ang kadilimang inihasik ng diktadurang pamahalaan.  Naitala na sa kasaysayan na ang mga malalaking welga at kilos protesta sa La Tondeña at Gelmart nuong maagang bahagi ng Martial Law ang naging mitsa ng malawakang pagtutol hindi lamang ng uring manggagawa kundi ng mga kabataan at iba pang sektor maging ng mga magsasaka sa kanayunan na labanan ang paninikil ng diktadurang pamahalaan.  Ang mga malawakang pagkilos na ito ay nagtuloy tuloy hanggang sa maibagsak na nga ang diktadura sa isang People Power Revolution. 

Lubos ang aking pagpapahalaga sa kanilang mga ambag sa kilusang tunay na unyonismo.  Hindi ko po alam kung paano ilalahad sa harapan ninyo ang tunay na aking nararamdaman sa mga oras na ito.  Marahil, dahil hindi lamang bilang isang anak, kundi dahil sa ako po ay naging  presidente rin ng isang unyon.  Ka Chuck, Ka Adrian, Ka Briggs, Ka Felicing, hayaan nyo po akong ialay ang isang bahagi ng rebolusyonaryong awitin “ Ang magbuhos ng dugo para sa bayan, Ay kagitingang hindi malilimutan.  Ang katawang inialay sa lupang mahal, Mayaman sa aral at kadakilaan.”

Nagpapasalamat po ako at mayroong Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation.  Pinahahalagahan nila ang buhay ng ating mga bayani at martir.  Nailalagay nila sa kasaysayan ang mga sakripisyo ng mga dakilang mamamayan.  At higit sa lahat, patuloy silang lumalaban upang pangalagaan ang ating demokrasya.

Nananawagan po ako sa lahat ng pamilya ng mga martir, sa lahat ng kamag-anak ng mga martir, sa buong sambayanang Pilipino na  huwag nating hayaang mapunta sa wala ang kanilang mga sakripisyo. Bantayan po natin ang ating nakamit na demokrasya.  NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW!  MABUHAY ANG URING MANGGAGAWA!

Maraming salamat po!

Speech delivered during the Annual honoring of Martyrs and Heroes

November 30, 2016

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