Letty, as she was called by many, was a “military brat,” a tag that referred to military officers’ children who grew up in a military environment. But Letty was far from being a brat in the real sense of the word. She grew up in a comfortable home, was a thoughtful eldest sister to eight siblings and a cherished friend to many. As a journalist and editor in chief for many years, she was a friend and mentor who encouraged daring journalism that she herself practiced.  To the young journalists and colleagues at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, she was plain LJM, the boss who cared and dared.

Letty was, first and foremost, a caring mother and wife who maintained a warm, comfortable home despite her late hours in the newsroom. Proof of her mothering skills are her three accomplished and equally caring children who are devoted practitioners in their chosen fields.Letty was a deeply spiritual and religious person and she did not hide where her faith was anchored.

History of political involvement

Letty was on the staff of the Philippine Panorama, the Sunday magazine of the Bulletin Today when Pres. Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972. Not long after, Letty became the magazine’s editor. Slowly and quietly, she transformed the magazine into a medium where crucial political and social issues could be aired even while she maintained the magazine’s light Sunday tone. She had a knack for this mix. Never the “grim and determined” kind of journalist who went about with rage and a long face, Letty was known for her sense of “fun and freedom”—a phrase she loved to use—that gave lightness to the gravity of her work and responsibilities. Her infectious, guttural laugh was an indication of this.

Letty did not however take lightly the happenings on the national scene. She wrote about what she heard, felt and saw during those dark martial law years under the Marcos dictatorship. As Panorama editor she published stories critical of the Marcos dictatorship and about the abuses of the military. She defended her writers.  She herself wrote damning, sarcastic pieces in her magazine column “Sundays.” One day, the dictator just had about enough of them and made moves that led to Letty’s forced resignation. Her case became a cause célèbre in the already embattled media community.

Many journalists had already been thrown into jail, and the so-called alternative press and the sub rosa mosquito press were under threat of being raided. The threats were real as in the case of We Forum.  Journalists who continued to fight openly with the pen were an endangered species.

Although Letty was not one to call attention to herself and her case, she became a sought-after speaker in forums on press freedom. Her case has been written about in several books.

For some time after her forced resignation from Panorama, Letty receded into the background. She wrote occasional columns (“Letters from Letty”) for Mr. & Ms. magazine, a family and entertainment-oriented publication which featured respected opinion writers who wrote biting articles on the national situation.

When former senator and US exile Benigno Aquino Jr. was assassinated upon his arrival at the Manila International Airport on Aug. 21, 1983, a groundswell of protest began. Mr.& Ms. publisher-editor Eugenia D. Apostol pulled in Letty to edit the weekly Mr.& Ms. Special Edition which focused mainly on the anti-Marcos protests and the investigation of the Aquino assassination. Again, Letty used her innate editorial sense (fun, freedom and daring) to come out with a feisty magazine that roared. In every sense, Mr.& Ms.Special Edition was a case of the  “alternative” becoming mainstream. With Letty in charge, it sold like hotcakes.

Letty was not a street protestor. Her domain was the editorial room. But she knew of the excesses of martial rule. Her own first cousin, Leticia “Tish” Pascual, was among the desaparecidos of martial law, killed by Marcos forces and never found. Pascual is on the Bantayog ng mga Bayani’s roster of heroes and martyrs. Just as Letty is now.

In December 1984, when the ailing Marcos announced the holding of the so-called snap elections that he thought would further entrench him in power, Apostol, along with Letty and several others founded the Philippine Daily Inquirer. No doubt the paper, along with other bold and daring alternative media groups, contributed to the rise of People Power and the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship on Feb. 25, 1986.

Letty became the Sunday Inquirer’s first editor, a post she held for about three years. Then she did column writing (“Leavings”) for the Inquirer.  In the mid-1990s, Letty became the Inquirer’s editor in chief. The paper was then the leading national paper but Letty pushed it to higher level. The paper and its writers received awards after awards after awards. Exposes on corruption in government and investigative reports on society’s hidden rot were published despite threats—legal and physical.  But Letty also continued to give readers great reads with feel-good stories that inspired. Letty herself received a string of awards, among them from Time Magazine and the University of Missouri, her alma mater. But awards were not something Letty basked in.Although far from shy, Letty shunned being in the limelight.

For Letty, journalism was not a career, a profession or a job. It was a vocation, a calling. And she thrived in the grace that came with it.

Circumstances of death and impact on the community

Letty died suddenly on Dec. 24, 2015 with her boots on. She was not well for some time but no one, not even her family and colleagues, expected her to go so suddenly. She was then at the helm of a very influential broadsheet with a multi-platform global reach. She was close to officially retiring perhaps, but when, only she was to decide. She died on Christmas Eve, leaving family members and media colleagues in shock and grief, her young media wards inconsolable.

An outpouring of praise and appreciation from many sectors and across social classes came in the wake of Letty’s passing. They mourned but they also came to celebrate her life. Always mentioned in the written and oral accolades heaped on Letty was her courage and daring during the dark years of the Marcos dictatorship, how she used the written word to challenge the dictatorship.

Shortly after Letty’s death, the Philippine Senate passed a resolution citing her for her contribution to the restoration of freedom in the Philippines. In 2016, the Philippine Daily Inquirer chose her 2015 Filipino of the Year, an award that goes back to 1994 and which Letty herself started. On Feb. 22, 2016, the Spirit of EDSA Foundation posthumously honored her as one of the fighters for freedom, justice and democracy. On the 30th anniversary celebration of EDSA People Power on Feb. 25, 2016, Pres. Benigno Aquino III posthumously conferred on her and Eugenia D. Apostol the People Power Award.

Born                            September 13, 1942, Cagayan de Oro City

Died                            December 24, 2015

Occupation                Journalist

Parents                       Col./Ambassador Nicanor Jimenez and  Ma. Clara Vega

Siblings                       Eight (5 sisters and 3 brothers)Birth order: eldest

Spouse                          Carlos Magsanoc MD

Children                      Three (Ma. Jocelyn Kara M. Alikpala, journalist, early breast cancer detection advocate, founding president of ICan Serve;

Nikko Magsanoc MD and Martin Magsanoc MD)


Elementary                 St. Theresa’s College, Manila

High School                 St. Theresa’s College, Manila

College                          St. Theresa’s College, Manila

A.B. Journalism

Post graduate              University of Missouri

Master’s Degree in Journalism


Bantayog Profile Form

Nomination narrative written by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, friend

“The Silencing of Letty Magsanoc,” by Salvador P. Lopez, Mr. &Ms.Magazine , July 28, 1981

“The Letty Magsanoc Story,” by Leonor J. Aureus, Mr. & Ms. Magazine, Aug. 25, 1981

“President Marcos Talks About the Magsanoc Affair,” by Salvador P. Lopez, Mr. & Ms.  Magazine, Oct. 8, 1981

“Women in Media,” by Letty Magsanoc

Philippine Press Under Siege, vols. 1 and 2

Panorama Magazines 1980

Philippine Daily Inquirer December 2015 to February 2016 issues

The Quiet Revolt of the Philippine Press by Marcelo Soriano

“You—we—have a cause worth fighting for,” by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dec. 28, 2015

GOMEZ, Margarita F.


Margarita Favis Gomez – or Maita – was a beautiful woman, a fashion model and a winner of beauty contests. But in the more important sense of the word, she was beautiful because she gave of herself selflessly.

She was born on May 23, 1947 in Pangasinan, the eldest of seven children of a well-to-do family. She was sent to Manila to study at the Assumption High School and later at the St. Scholastica’s College. In college, she took up a premed course at the University of the Philippines.

A regular presence at Manila’s society events, Maita was spotted by high-society couturier Pitoy Moreno at a party and recruited to be his model. She attended a modelling school in Australia, then was selected one of Manila’s “Five Prettiest,” and simultaneously named Miss Philippines, which won her a trip to the Miss World contest in London.

In 1968, she married Carlos Perez-Rubio.  The couple lived in the US for two years and returned to the Philippines in 1970. Maita gave birth to her firstborn and only daughter Melissa.

History of political involvement

She then returned to UP and got caught in the student ferment of the period -- the First Quarter Storm in 1970 and the Diliman Commune of 1971. Maita joined several student groups, and became active in political discussions, delving on the writings of socialist philosophers Marx and Lenin.

When Marcos imposed martial law in 1972, Maita volunteered to perform underground tasks. Separated from first husband Perez-Rubio, she moved to Baguio City, where she was arrested in 1974, detained first at the Baguio City Jail and then at Camp Olivas in Pampanga.  She managed to escape from prison, and decided it was time to join the New People’s Army. She chose for her nom de guerre Ka Dolor.

Her first assignment was at a guerrilla zone in the Quezon-Bicol border area. She was part of a propaganda team sent to undertake expansion missions to Camarines Sur. Ka Dolor and her comrades would build organizations in the community and conduct political education among the people. In 1978, she and her new husband Joey Decena were transferred to Nueva Ecija in Central Luzon where she became known as Ka Lily.  Joey was killed in an encounter in 1979.

At the heart of the women’s movement

Maita returned to Manila in 1980 and focused her energies in helping build the women’s movement. In 1984 she co-founded GABRIELA, which united women from all classes in society and linked them to the movement against the Marcos dictatorship. She also helped form WOMB, or Women for the Ouster of Marcos and Boycott in 1985. WOMB, an organization of known women personalities opposed to the dictatorship, campaigned for the release of political prisoners.

After the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, Maita helped organize the KAIBA (Kababaihan para sa Inang Bayan) for the 1987 elections. KAIBA was the first political party of women in the Philippines. KAIBA is a statement that women can and should lead and represent the voices of women and other members of society in the political sphere as part of the government.

While a leader in the women’s movement, Maita continued to serve in other capacities. She was an official of the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), calling for the release of political prisoners, and co-chair of Makabayan (Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan), a coalition of progressive party-list organizations. She encouraged her children to be active and she kept her home open to the younger activists.

All the while, Maita took university courses and was herself teaching in different universities and accepting speaking engagements at conferences and various events.

Maita left without a warning, after a fatal heart attack, on July 12, 2012.


BORN              May 23, 1947 in Bautista, Pangasinan
DIED                July 12, 2012 in Metro Manila

Parents            Jose Gonzalez Gomez and Cecilia Favis

Siblings            6 (five girls, 2 boys)              Birth order of hero: Eldest

Spouses           Carlos Perez-Rubio (separated in the early 70’s)

Joey Decena (killed in 1979)

Heber Bartolome (separated in 1983)

Oscar Beltran (separated in 1987)

Children          Five (Melissa Perez Rubio-Ugarte, Luis Decena, Antares Bartolome, Cris Bartolome and Michael Beltran)




High School     Assumption High School, Manila

St. Scholastica’s College Manila

June Dally Watkins, modeling school scholar, Australia

College           University of the Philippines, Diliman

Pre-Medicine, then shifted to AB Philosophy

Between 1965 and 1971

AB major in Sociology, Non-Traditional Studies Program

Polytechnic University of the Philippines, 1995

Graduate         MA in Development Economics,

University of the Philippines, Diliman, 2000

Completed Intensive Course on Engendering Macroeconomics

University of Utah, USA, 2005

Teaching         Deputy Director, Women Studies Program, St. Scholastica’s College


Asst. Professorial Lecturer in macro and microeconomics, trade, history of Asian economics and economic thought

Economics Department, De La Salle University, 1998-2002

Asst. Professor in Economics, Development Studies Program

UP Manila, 2003-2006

Written work

Contributor (English and Filipino) to Isyu, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Times, Manila       Chronicle, 1993-1997

Writer, “Ma. Lorena Barros, Gentle Warrior” included in Six Young Filipino Martyrs, Anvil Publishing, 1997

Writer, Depths of Silence, a book on comfort women published by ASCENT, 2000


Aletheia (1971)

Humanist League of the Philippines (1971)

WOMB (Women for the Ouster of Marcos and Boycott), Secretary General, 1984

Gabriela Metro Manila Founding Chairperson, 1984

KAIBA (Kababaihan para sa Inang Bayan), 1987

National Campaign Manager, Haydee Yorac’s senatorial bid, 1998-1999

Abanse! Pinay, founding member and Vice Chairperson (one term), 1998-1999

Philippine Center for Policy Studies (PCPS), Executive Director, 1998-1999

Asian Centre for Women’s Human Rights (ASCENT), consultant

Women Work Well (W3), President, 2002-2005

Multi-Stakeholder Team, Action for Economic Reforms (AER), leader

BABALA (Babae Laban sa Katiwalian) co-convenor during the campaign to oust Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Inaugural Summer Institute on International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Bangkok, Thailand, attendee, 2008-2009

Reality of Aid/Asia Pacific at Ibon International, Policy Officer, 2008-2009

Makabayan (Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan) Coalition, co-chairperson, 2009-2012

11.11.11-Pilipinas (Belgian NGO)

SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto), National Board member



Araullo, Carol P. “Maita Gomez: Beauty Transfigured.” Business World, Jul. 20-21, 2012.

Fiel, Corito. “Maita Gomez – from highborn beauty queen to ‘Queen of the Toiling Masses’.” The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jul. 15, 2012.

Japitana, Norma. “Maita Gomez: Coming to terms.” The Philippine Star, Jul. 2, 2011.

Lanot, Marra PL. “A life full of color & drama.” The Philippine Star, Jul. 15, 2012.

______. “Maita Gomez, beauty queen and freedom fighter, dies.” Interaksyon, Jul. 12, 2012.

GABRIELA. Maita: Remembering Ka Dolor, Edited by Elisa Tita P. Lubi and Judy M. Taguiwalo. Quezon City: GABRIELA, 2013.

FILIO. Ricardo P.


Ricardo Filio was known for fighting the good fight to defend those who are weak and powerless in society.

Ricky, as he was also called, was born on Christmas Day in 1953, the second of five children. His father Jose worked as a government accountant. Later the family moved to Jose’s hometown of Bacoor, Cavite. It was in Cavite where Ricardo, or Ricky, finished grade school. In 1967, the family moved again, this time to Davao City, where Jose worked with the Mindanao Development Authority (MDA).  Ricky enrolled at the Ateneo de Davao High School, graduating in 1970. He then enrolled for an AB course at the Ateneo de Davao College.

History of political involvement

Ricky was a senior in high school when the First Quarter Storm (FQS) of 1970 swept Manila and created ripple effects in Davao. A 1970 editorial in the Ateneo de Davao High School Yearbook Vinta 1970 described the atmosphere at his school. Vinta described Ateneans as being spoiled by a “pleasant atmosphere” of a campus that was “well-furnished with books and equipment, has good recreational facilities and a vast playground.” The editorial continued:

“ … the only guideline to involvement is a person’s conviction for the humanitarian task one is about to do; for it is only when one is convinced of what one is doing that he will actually do something and not just stand around expressing all sorts of sympathy for the poor but whose words of sympathy are only in words, nothing more…”

In high school, Ricky was active in the Debating Club, the Ateneo Catechetical Instructional League (ACIL), and the Sanctuary Society. The last two were religious-oriented groups that helped instill social awareness among its members through exposure trips to nearby communities.

Ricky’s younger brother Edward remembers his Kuya Ricky as a protector. “Matapang siya. He fought our fight. Siya ang tagapagtanggol naming magkakapatid. And he was always in a fight he never started … He was my favorite brother, nice and caring.”

In college, Ricky joined the Ateneo chapter of Kabataang Makabayan (KM), the militant activist organization. He was an active member of KM, and was even instrumental in recruiting girls because of his friendly nature and good looks.  His friend Jean Molina recalls that Ricky got many college girls from the ICC (Immaculate Concepcion College) to join discussion groups at the Methodist Student Center.

Ricky’s father had high hopes for Ricky and disapproved of his activism. But he could not prevent his favorite son from finding his own way.

Later, Ricky also was an effective fundraiser for the KM. Fellow former KM member Anastacio Jardin said he and Ricky would solicit from business establishments around the city to raise funds for protest actions. “We’d walk the lengths of the streets of Davao armed with a solicitation letter. We’d go see the manager if possible. Sometimes we got a donation, sometimes not. When we had nothing to eat at the (KM headquarters), Ricky would bring me to his house and we’d eat there.”

His friends remember Ricky’s strong love for his country.  Jardin said Ricky “got dismayed when the Philippines was not included in this or that or was being belittled.” Molina said Ricky was “always at the frontlines during protest marches, holding high the Philippine flag.”

In 1972 when Marcos declared martial law, one of the houses raided in the city was the Filio residence. Edward, then 12 years old, remembers that the military raiders “searched every inch of our house, but Kuya Ricky was at our neighbor’s, unaware, because he was playing loud music.” Ricky learned about the raid only the following morning.

After the raid, Ricky decided to go to the countryside and join the rural resistance against the dictatorship in the mountains of Davao.

The year 1973 was a bad year. A long drought destroyed the crops, and rural people were reduced to eating finger-sized camote which were hard to find. Coming from the city, Ricky would have found the condition difficult to tolerate, but he never complained.

Ricky joined one of the first squads of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Davao. At that time, the squad’s primary aim was to defend the scores of unarmed activist-organizers who, like Ricky, fled to the countryside and made it their sanctuary from the dictatorship. But they also faced many risks, including military operations and the threat posed by fanatic groups and paramilitary troops. The NPA fighters and underground activist organizers tried their best to avoid military confrontations during those years. But many were captured and killed, among them Taking Lanzona, Nick Solana, Lito Semilla, and Fred Cayon.

Ricky himself died in an unfortunate misencounter with his comrades in Laac, now part of Compostela Valley, on March 11, 1976.

Military operations were going full blast in the area and Ricky’s group had divided into two, one led by Ricky to procure supplies, and the other, to keep guard. Ricky’s group missed a trail, however, and took the wrong way. The other group mistook them for enemy forces, and opened fire on Ricky’s team. Ricky was the encounter’s only fatality.

Edward says the family was unable to accept what had happened and remain bitter today. “I wish he had been caught during the raid in our house. Buhay pa sana siya ngayon,” he says. The last time Edward saw his brother was in early 1976. Ricky had come to the city bringing a wounded comrade for treatment. “We had a little family reunion… a sad reunion.”

Ricky’s neighbor and closest friend Ruben Basa says of Ricky: “Ricky served the people with lasting dedication and fervor until his death.” Fellow survivors of the First Quarter Storm continue to honor Ricky Filio in memorials for heroes who fought against the Martial Law regime.

Ricky’s death became the inspiration for a poem titled “Ricardo Filio, 21” written in 1977:

“The virgin ground is now drenched in blood and more blood

That the mountain children may look up to the sky.”

His life and death was also the inspiration for an extended short story titled “Sky Rose.” The story tells of a guerrilla killed in a mistaken encounter, sending his comrades into a tailspin of guilt and despondence.

Ricky was only 22 when he died.

Born                December 25, 1953 in Tagbilaran, Bohol

Died                March 11, 1976 in Compostela Valley

Parents            Jose C. Filio and Luz Pojol

Siblings            Five boys, one girl


Elementary     Cavite Elementary School in Bacoor, Cavite

High School     Ateneo de Davao High School, 1970

College                        Ateneo de Davao College, 1970-1972




  • Anastacio “Nonoy” Jardin, Jr., colleague, August 1, 2016, Ateneo de Davao University.

  • Jean Laurente Molina, colleague, August 3, 2016, Davao City.

  • Ernesto Semilla, colleague, July 24, 2016. Brokenshire College, Davao City.

Electronic mail communications:

  • Ruben “Benjot” Basa, friend.

  • Edwin C. Filio, brother.

Ricardo Filio’s photographs from

VintaAteneo de Davao High School Yearbook 1970.

Vinta Editorial 1970

“Our Theme: Social Consciousness” by Tiny de la Paz, editor.


“Ricardo Filio, 21” by Felipe Granrojo, published in Pintig 1979.

Short Story

Sky Rose published as a booklet in the Netherlands, 1978; reprinted by Buhilaman Publications, 1990; anthologized in Sky Rose and Other Stories, Macario D. Tiu, Davao Writers Guild, 2003 as well as in other books.



Lourdes lived most of her life in Quezon City with her family. She projected a quiet and unassuming personality but those close to her describe her as bullheaded, even passionate and fiery, in things she believed in. She also showed an occasional sense of humor that made you laugh at odd moments, remembers schoolmate Fides Lim. Her students describe her as friendly and helpful, and a stickler for truth.

History of political involvement

Lourdes, whom most people called Chit, was a student of journalism at the University of the Philippines (UP) during the early years of the martial law regime. In her sophomore year, she joined the staff of the school newspaper, the Philippine Collegian. The martial law regime had ordered Collegian shut down immediately upon the declaration of martial law. Persistent demands by the university’s population succeeded in having it revived by late 1974. The revived school paper immediately took a strong editorial stance against the repressive government. Chit Estella was part of the newspaper’s news section, often covering events that exposed administration coverups, corrupt practices and human rights abuses, coverage that would have scared older and more professional journalists in the dictatorship-controlled mainstream newspapers.

Fides Lim remembers that Chit was a fast writer who quickly put together a coherent report about a news event.  In 1975, they spent many hours together at the Liwayway Press in Sta. Cruz, Manila, putting their heads on their arms trying to doze despite the noise of the typewriters and linotype machines, babysitting the Collegian issue on its way to publication.

Chit became president of the UP Journalism Club in her senior year. By then she was also writing for the underground resistance press, including the Balita ng Malayang Pilipinas (BMP), Taliba ng Bayan, and the Liberation, using the nom de guerre “Ka Sandy.” She and fellow college writer Jack Peña (Bantayog hero, 2005), would steal a few days away from their classes at the university to pursue assignments for these underground publications. These publications became vital channels of information as well as independent opinion to a Filipino public hungry for real and objective news.

Upon graduation from college in 1979, Chit tried to find a job with Marcos crony-controlled publications. However, she kept getting rejected because her human-rights and protest-action stories were frequently unflattering to the government. Chit then wrote articles for anti-dictatorship publications under the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) of the CBCP. She also found a job writing for the Pahayagang Malaya, known as an independent newspaper that was part of the so-called mosquito press. Malaya was published by the fearless Jose Burgos (Bantayog, 2004), with Chuchay Fernandez as editor-in-chief, and included staff writers Ellen Tordesillas and Joel Paredes. Chit also later wrote for other critical publications, such as the Mr. and Ms, and the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Even as she worked with what by-then were open publications, she continued to contribute articles to the underground publications. Her particular assignment was to handle the news section of Liberation, called “Sparks.” She barely escaped being arrested on one occasion in 1982.

The hazards of her work as a journalist during martial-law is described by fellow journalist Ceres P. Doyo, in a 2011 article:

“The year was 1979. Chit and I were together, when (maybe a dozen armed men) in civilian clothes seized us along Kamagong street in Makati. I was driving, and my car was loaded with ‘subversive’ booklets we had just picked up from the press that night. The publication was titled Iron Hand, Velvet Glove, a report on the military abuses under the Marcos dictatorship … We were being taken to Camp Crame, where we could be detained for who knew how long. We refused to go. The ASSO (arrest-seize-and-seizure order) they carried was for (another person). We insisted that we drive back to the press, where we … bluffed our way … until the NASSA executive secretary Fr. Ralph Salazar and Sr. Christine Tan, RGS (Bantayog, 2003), came to our rescue.”

Chit became friends with many journalists critical of the Marcos dictatorship. She was part of a core group of newspaper journalists who sought to help other journalists understand the realities of life under dictatorship. She also became a union leader in the media institutions she worked for.

Another part of Chit’s character showed in her rejection of pay money, believing that accepting gifts and bribes compromised one’s objectivity and independence. Colleagues considered her a compassionate, but principled and straight-as-an-arrow journalist, who chose the hard choices because it was what it meant to be committed to the truth.

After the dictatorship was dismantled, Chit wrote for the Manila Times and later was editor-in-chief of the groundbreaking workers’ paper, Pinoy Times. She helped put up the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and the Vera Files, often writing articles about human rights concerns.  She also taught at her own alma mater, the College of Mass Communication at the UP Diliman, from 2001 until her death in 2011.

Circumstances of death

She died in an accident in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, when her taxi was hit by two speeding buses.

Impact of death

Upon her untimely death, friends and media colleagues offered many warm tributes and testimonials about her life and work.  “Her whole brave life was dedicated to the service of her country through journalism,” said one.

Chit “belonged to that risk-taking, fiercely independent, and assertive brand of young women … whose mightly pens pierced the dictatorship and contributed to its downfall,” wrote columnist Filomeno Sta. Ana III in his column for the Business World.

UP journalism professor Yvonne T. Chua described Chit as an “indefatigable union leader, arguing quietly but firmly for the rights of employees.” Then House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. also sponsored a resolution in the House of Representatives expressing the House’s “profound condolence” at her death, calling her a patriot, journalist and educator. Similarly the Quezon City Sangguniang Panglunsod approved a resolution expressing the city’s condolences to the family and acknowledging her contribution “as one of the country’s premier academicians and journalists.”

A collection of her best writings was published in 2012 by the Center for Empowerment and Governance (CenPEG), titled Chit Estella Reader on Media Ethics, Peoples’ Issues and Governance. The UP College of Mass Communication has created an annual Chit Estella Simbulan Journalism Research Award, as well as, this time with Vera Files, an annual Chit Estella Simbulan Memorial Award for Best Investigative Reporting on Human Rights.

Born                August 19, 1957 in Quezon City

Died                May 13, 2011 in Quezon City

Parents           Atty. Elijio Edarad Estella and Antonia Mapala Panganiban

Spouse             Roland Guanlao Simbulan, no children


Elementary     St. Joseph’s College

High School     St. Joseph’s College

College                        University of the Philippines, AB Journalism, 1979

Graduate          Open University, University of the Philippines, Master of Public Management



Nomination letter by Prof. Roland Simbulan, Development Studies and Public Management, University of the Philippines

“Remembering the essential Chit Estella,” by Fides Lim

Office the Secretary, Quezon City

Bantayog nominees profile

Filomeno Sta. Ana III, Executive Director, Action for Economic Reforms, Business World columnist

Ceres P. Doyo, columnist, Philippine Daily Inquirer

DOROTAN, Manuel G.


Manuel Dorotan came from a large family of professional achievers – five physicians, accountants, a chemical engineer, a nurse, an agriculturist, and an economist-turned-world-renowned chef.  All went to the University of the Philippines on college scholarships. Dorotan graduated with a degree in chemical engineering in 1970.

The family had humble beginnings. His father Vicente was a naturalized Chinese immigrant who adopted the name Dorotan and settled in Irosin in Sorsogon. He had three children from a relationship and then married Beata Gabito, Manuel’s mother. They began a merchandising business which prospered as the family grew and expanded.

Manuel, called Boy or Kid at home, was regarded by his mother as the kindest of all her children (“pinakamabait sa mga anak ko”). He often helped in his mother’s little store and always let his siblings eat first. He also excelled in school and won many awards. He was a quiet person but he had leadership qualities and was often voted officer of organizations he joined in school.

History of political involvement

Nationalist sentiments were boiling in UP Diliman at the time Manuel enrolled there for college. By the latter part of the 1960s, students were taking to the streets to protest issues such as the rising prices of gasoline and basic commodities, Philippine participation in the Vietnam War, and tuition fee hikes. They pressed for reforms in the countryside, for local industrialization and nationalist education, and for respect of people’s rights. After the violence against protesting students in the First Quarter Storm of 1970, more joined protest actions against the Marcos government.

Manny joined the UP chapter of the Pambansang Samahan ng Inhinyeriya at Agham (PSIA), a nationalist organization of students of engineering and the sciences. “Manny heeded the call of the times,” says Victoria Lopez, a classmate and one of the PSIA founders. Manny was an enthusiastic member. He conducted PSIA teach-ins in and out of UP. Later during the nine-day Diliman Commune in 1971, he helped run the then-rebel campus radio station DZUP. Manny also spent time in factory areas and in picket lines,trying to grasp the conditions of Filipino laborers. He was appalled at what he saw.

After graduation, Manny found work at Refrigeration Industries, Inc. (RII) in Quezon City. Although by then a professional engineer, Manny began organizing the company’s blue-collar workers. He called them to meetings and discussed with them their rights as laborers. He urged them to use the union to fight for their rights. He once helped hide a union organizer sought by Marcos agents.

When Marcos launched a dictatorship in 1972, Manny left his job and joined the underground resistance in the city. Factory workers housed him. He spent time teaching them about their rights but they in turn taught him much about the realities of life as urban poor.  He became Ka Brigs, a fulltime union and community organizer.

Marcos soon banned workers’ strikes but worker militancy continued to rise, thanks to the efforts of labor fulltimers like him. La Tondeña workers in Manila struck in 1975 in protest against the regime’s labor policies. Workers started to openly call for the dismantling of Marcos’ martial law. Manny was at the time organizing among the workers of Mead Johnson, Wyeth Suaco and Nestle Philippines, planning for even bigger strikes that would help paralyze the regime’s economy.

As a labor organizer, Manny is remembered as being meticulous and hardworking. Without any guidebooks for doing union work under martial law conditions, Manny and his comrades held extensive discussions with workers, made case studies, and on the basis of these studies, planned with the workers, for example, how best to bargain with management.

He studied the problems of poor people and found simple ways of responding.  “Nakikita niya ang pangangailangan na tulungan ang mahirap, at tugunan ang mga pangangailangang ito” (He saw the need to help the poor and how to respond to this need), remembered Zenda Acebedo Bervano, another activist with whom Manny had worked at that time. She remembers how Manny solicited supplies from friends working in pharmaceutical companies and distributed their donations in communities in Sta. Ana, Manila. These communities soon became part of the network that supported the growing labor movement in the city.

In December1981, Manny married a fellow labor organizer, Ma. Victoria Mendoza (now deceased), who was also a former UP student. Eventually the couple, faced with security threats in the city, left for Bicol. They had a daughter a year later.

Circumstance of death

Bicol, they found, was also in a crisis. The price of copra was falling and people’s livelihoods were in shambles. The regime had imposed a coconut levy causing further disenchantment among the farmers. To quell dissent, the regime sent army and constabulary troops, whose abusive behavior only further alienated the people.

Finding the conditions ripe for organizing, the couple renewed their efforts to create resistance groups against the Marcos dictatorship.

Manny was walking to a community meeting in Basud, Camarines Norte, on September 6, 1983, when soldiers from the army’s 45th IB found and shot him. His body was later found inside a dry well, dumped head first. Caring residents took the body to be buried at the local cemetery, where his family retrieved it days later. One of his physician brothers, doing an autopsy, found that Manny’s body was mutilated, several fingers were missing and a foot was almost hacked off. He did not die easily.

Impact on the family and community

When Manny was finally buried at the Dorotan family crypt in Irosin, Sorsogon, many people came to his wake and funeral, braving the repressive conditions at that time.

Manny’s friends say that with his qualities he could have become a rich man and would have made a comfortable life for his family. Instead he chose to give his life to the struggle to free his country from repression and from age-old problems like government abuse and neglect, and the exploitation of the powerful.

Despite not getting to know Manny at all, his daughter Andrea Karla is nonetheless proud of what her father had done:

“I’m turning 33. In two years I would be my father’s age when he died. I’m filled with hope for the future. At 35, he probably was, too. He was newly married, had a baby daughter. He was a husband, a father, a brother, a friend and a son. He had his hopes and dreams. It was cut short by the Marcos dictatorship.

Every daughter thinks her father is a hero. How lucky I am that it’s other people who say my father is one.”


BORN:             July 4, 1948 in Irosin, Sorsogon

DIED:               September 6, 1983 in Basud, Camarines Norte

PARENTS:       Vicente Dorotan Sr. and Beata Gabito, businesspersons

SIBLINGS:        10, and 3 older half-siblings   Birth sequence of hero: 4th (of ten)

SPOUSE:          Ma. Victoria Mendoza                        CHILD: 1 (Andrea Karla Dorotan)


Elementary     Irosin Central School, 3rd Honor

Highschool      Gallanosa High School, Sorsogon


College                        University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City (entrance scholar)

B.S. in Chemical Engineering, 1970



Gamma Sigma Pi Fraternity, Vice-Lord Guardian

KEM Engineers, vice president, 1969-70

Manila-Irosinian Youth Circle, president

Pambansang Samahan sa Inhinyeria at Agham (PSIA)

UP Chemical Society


Bantayog profile form

Sworn Statement executed by Andrea Karla M. Dorotan, May 28, 2015

Joint Sworn Statement executed by Florencia CassanovaDorotan and Eddie GabitoDorotan, May 28, 2015

Interviews with –

Dr. Eddie G. Dorotan, brother, June 8, 2016, BBF, Quezon City

Wilfredo Laurel, friend and colleague, June 29, 2016, NKTI, Quezon City

Vicky Lopez, friend, June 29, 2016, BBF, Quezon City

Viol de Guzman, Niva Gonzales and Arlene Villanor, co-activists,  July 5, 2016, BBF, Quezon City

RosendaAcebedoBervano (by phone), co-activist, June 28, 2016

Liberato Ramos, UP batchmate, July 19, 2016, BBF, Quezon City

Testimonies/Narratives –

Vicky Lopez, e-mail communication with Bantayog Research, June 7, 2016

Mon Ramirez, e-mail communication with Bantayog Research, June 7, 2016

RosendaAcebedoBervano, e-mail communication with Bantayog Research, July26, 2016

NolascoBuhay, e-mail communication with Bantayog Research, August 10, 13 and 24, 2016

Documents and memorabilia submitted by family-

Certificate of Death

Burial Transfer Report, September 21, 1983

Necropsy report, undated

Alay kay Manuel Dorotan, memorial service booklet, prepared by family and friends, Irosin Central School Class ’63,Gallanosa High School Class ’64, College of the Holy Spirit of Irosin, Manila-Irosinian Youth Circle, Inc. and Concerned Citizens Council of Irosin, September 29, 1983

Various photographs

Out in Bicol by Nelia Sancho, Manila Standard, May 30, 1987

DOJILLO, Edgardo G.


Edgardo Dojillo, known as Big Boy, Boy or simply Ed to friends and family, was a popular campus figure in the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos in Bacolod City in the late ‘60s. He was in the student council as Senator-at-Large, and Vice-Chancellor, then Grand Chancellor, of the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity. He was a fairly good student who sang and played the guitar, and could keep his friends in stitches with his jokes. He practiced martial arts (he was good with the nunchaku popularized in films of Bruce Lee), and was often asked to serve as escort to beauties in fiestas.

Ed was born the third child of a family living in the seaside barangay of Miranda, in Pontevedra, Negros Occidental.  His father started out as a tailor and then went into fishing, gradually acquiring several boats and building a medium-sized fishing enterprise. His mother came from a landed family in Guimaras province, but earned a living selling hibi, or dried small shrimps. Ed learned to drive a tricycle as a young boy in order to bring some income to the family.

He had a soft heart for the weak, the oppressed and the poor. Once he emptied his pockets of coins to give to a calesa driver who he saw was on all fours looking for a dropped coin. He believed that girls should be shown respect, especially those who came from poor families, because reputation “was all they had.”

It was no wonder he felt badly about the maltreatment of sacadas, calling to mind the experience of his maternal grandfather who lost his lands in Guimaras to somebody who used the fact that the old man could not read or write.

History of political involvement

The lively student protest movement and increasing dissatisfaction with the Marcos government, evidenced by the rallies in Metro Manila, were also hearing echoes in other regions in the country.  Students from the provinces who were studying in Manila would go home and talk to their townmates about the political and social issues they had learned about.

Ed was in college at that time, initially as a medical technology student who shifted later to accountancy.   It was a younger brother’s friend, Tito Firmantes, an Ilonggo student activist from the FEATI University in Manila who motivated Ed to participate in the growing protest movement.

Fluent in English, Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, Cebuano and Tagalog, Ed was soon speaking before the students on various political and social issues confronting the country. His status in both the fraternity and the student council enabled him to lead programs and activities that raised student and faculty awareness of and brought about their involvement in issues within and outside the campus. He spearheaded events to foster consciousness of nationalism, of exploitation, of human rights.

One such activity was the holding of summer camps in different locations in Negros Occidental. Organized by Ed’s fraternity and seminarians from the Sacred Heart Seminary, the summer camps’ purpose was to conduct literacy programs for barrio residents. It was in one such camp in 1970 where Ed met Eloisa Tinio, a student volunteer from UP Diliman. A whirlwind courtship ensued and a year later, the two were blessed with a son whom Ed loved to show off to friends.

As Ed became more involved and enlightened, the more he talked. He spoke at public rallies about the exploitative feudal relations that thrust the sacadas into such a pathetic condition, dependent on the whims of uncaring authorities.  Ed became the provincial chairman of Kabataang Makabayan in 1971 and it was said that during his time, the number of people engaged in progressive activities rapidly multiplied within and outside of Negros Occidental. A passionate and convincing speaker, Ed’s revealing tirades against the hacenderos and the depravity of the Marcos government were much appreciated by the people but brought him to the attention of the military. When martial law was declared, Ed joined the many young activists who evacuated to the hinterlands of Negros in search of safety and freedom. There they planned to continue the resistance against a corrupt and repressive rule.

Circumstances of death

A few weeks into the dictatorship, Ed and his friend Tito Firmantes were headed towards Kabankalan when they were ambushed by a team from 332nd PC Company based in Hinigaran town. The two were riding a motorcycle and were just crossing a bridge in pitch black darkness when the headlights of an unmoving train were suddenly turned on, and a hail of bullets burst forth. Tito was wounded, while Ed was pinned under the motorcycle, also bleeding from gunshot wounds and a fractured leg. The two were then hauled up, tied and suspended like animal carcasses on the sides of a cargo truck and brought to the provincial headquarters of the Philippine Constabulary, and then transferred to a weapons carrier where they were allowed to bleed to death.

In the morning, Ed’s brother Napoleon, a student activist then detained at the provincial headquarters, was brought to a funeral parlor to identify his body. Ed’s wife Eloisa was then in Manila with their baby son.

Impact of death on the family and community

In life, Ed enjoyed the high esteem of his townmates. In death, they flocked to his wake and burial to sympathize with his family, unfazed by military surveillance. To this day, he is spoken of with respect and admiration for his courage and desire to serve the people.

Edgardo Dojillo of Pontevedra and Tito Firmantes of Hinigaran are considered in Negros Occidental to be the province’s first martyrs in the anti-dictatorship movement. Their deaths galvanized many to continue the struggle for freedom.


BORN              September 17, 1948 in Pontevedra, Negros Occidental

DIED                November 11, 1972 in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental

PARENTS         SalustianoDojillo, politician and businessman; and Estifana Galve, businesswoman

Siblings            8 (4 brothers and 4 sisters)                 Birth sequence of hero: 3rd

SPOUSE           Eloisa PeñalosaTinio                           CHILD: 1 son (Edgar Edgardo T. Dojillo)


Elementary                 Negros Occidental High School, Bacolod City

Highschool                  Negros Occidental High School, Bacolod City

College                         University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos (UNO-R), Bacolod City

B.S. in Commerce, major in Accounting

Extracurricular          Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity

Grand Chancellor, 1971

Supreme Student Council (Senator-at-Large)



Bantayog Nomination/Profile form accomplished by Eloisa P. Tinio, widow

Notarized affidavit of Eloisa P. Tinio, April 7, 2015

Transcripts of interview with -

Eloisa P. Tinio, April 14, 2016, Quezon City

Vic Estandarte, friend, June 17, 2016, Quezon City

A Memoriam, written by Julie Dojillo through the narration of Napoleon Dojillo, undated

Facebook post of Napoleon Dojillo, brother, undated. Copy sent by Eloisa P. Tinio

Short testimonial of Fluellen Ortigas, friend, sent thru SMS to Bantayog Research, April 7, 2016

Death Certificate of Edgardo Galve Dojillo

CORTEZ, Hernando M.


Hernando a.k.a. Adrian Cortez is remembered as one of the pillars of the labor movement in Mindanao that rocked the Marcos dictatorship but would later cost him his life in the hands of military agents.

Hernando or Boy to his family hailed from Butuan. His parents tilled six hectares of land and sold goods in the market. His older brothers, who graduated from college ahead of him and had found work as engineers, helped their parents send Hernando and his two younger brothers to school. Hernando studied at Butuan Elementary School and Agusan National High School. Influenced by his older siblings, he also took up engineering, majoring in agriculture at the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation (GAUF) in Caloocan.

History of political involvement

It was at the height of the student ferment when Hernando Cortez arrived in Metro Manila in the early ‘70s. Protests against oil price hikes, graft and corruption in the government and Marcos’s moves to extend his presidency were happening on an almost daily basis. Hernando became a member of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and later on chaired the GAUF chapter of the Pambansang Samahan ng Inhinyeriya at Agham (PSIA).

A young and energetic leader, Hernando led his fellow students not only in attending rallies and demonstrations but also in doing community outreach programs. When Central Luzon was flooded in 1971, he helped launch a program called Kilusing Lusong to mobilize relief goods for the victims. He led efforts to undertake education and organizing work beyond the confines of the university, talking with students from different schools nearby. Drawn by the workers’ call for just wages and better working conditions, he joined picketlines in Malabon, Caloocan and Navotas. He was once arrested during a strike by workers of a garment factory in Malabon and spent two days in jail.

Having a sharp, critical mind, Hernando also wrote biting articles for the campus paper, The Farrows (AngTudling) that enlightened the students about current issues prevailing at the time.

Hernando quit his studies in 1975, after the apartment where he and his brothers were staying was raided. He joined the underground resistance movement and changed his name to Adrian.

He went back home to Mindanao to continue organizing among the workers. In 1977, he was one of the lecturers on trade union work for the Institute for Workers’ Education and Leadership Training, a project under the wings of the United Methodist Student Center in  Davao City. The scope of his organizing work included banana plantation workers, stevedores, and workers in commercial establishments in Davao City, Davao del Norte and del Sur, North Cotabato, and South Cotabato.

Hernando also helped in setting up Kilusang Mayo Uno’s island chapter, Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Mindanao (United Workers in Mindanao/ NAMAMIN), which had 200 unions all over Mindanao. He was also one of those who led the formation of the Center of Trade Unions in Mindanao (CENTRUM) in the early ‘80s. These and some labor centers and unions were eventually allowed by the martial law regime to operate legally but only within the bounds of labor concerns. But because they also opposed the dictatorship, they were also treated as enemies of the state.

Hernando helped the NAMAMIN in launching huge rallies during May 1 and other occasions. Tens of thousands of workers would brave the streets to call not only for economic and political reforms, but also to condemn the rampant human rights violations and to call for an end to the dictatorship.

The workers’ protest rallies and pickets were met with violence and threats by the authorities. One such case was the massacre of workers of Franklin Baker Corporation. Hernando and other activists gave legal and logistical help to the workers and urban poor who became victims of state violence and persecution.

Hernando was always there to lift the workers’ spirit in times of hardship.They respected and loved him so much but he became one of the vulnerable targets of the Marcos regime. He had confided to a friend that he had been harassed by banana plantation company guards and that he was under surveillance by the military.He also requested another friend to go with him to his house in Butuan so that someone will know where his family lives in case something   happened to him.

Circumstances of death

Hernando was last seen alive in General Santos City in early August 1983, in a meeting with labor organizers. Later that month, friends came to his parents' house in Butuan City to tell them the sad news that Hernando had been killed.

At the PC Camp in General Santos City where the father had gone to claim the body, he was told his son ("Adrian" Cortez) had been killed on August 13 during a military encounter with members of the South Provincial Philippine Constabulary under the command of a Col. Andres Superable. The incident was reported in the Bulletin Today on August 17.

However the funeral parlor owner told the father that soldiers had brought the body to him on August 4, instructing him to bury the body in Lagao Cemetery without the benefit of a coffin. Also, documentation by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) records evidence of torture. “Deep, sharp cuts on Adrian's body and limbs indicated that he had been partially skinned alive.” (Nathan Quimpo in Subversive Lives, 2012)

Thus, Hernando may have been captured, not in a military encounter, but in a military raid, then killed under torture. The family had Hernando's date of death registered as August 4.

Impact of death on the community

 “He was one of the pioneers in trade union organizing in Mindanao,” Joel Maglunsod, one of Hernando’s co-workers in the labor movement in Mindanao recalls. Hernando Cortez could have been a great engineer with a promising career. But he chose the road less travelled and served as an inspiration not only to the activists of his generation but for the younger ones as well.

Born                June 22, 1954 in Butuan City

Died                August 4, 1983 in General Santos City

 Parents           Anastacio Cortez, farmer, and Irene Mondoy

Siblings           Eight brothers                         Birth order of hero: 7th


Elementary     Butuan Elementary School

High School     Agusan National High School

College                        Gregorio Araneta University Foundation, Caloocan City

B.S. in Engineering, major in Agriculture



Bantayog profile form accomplished by Mel M. Cortez, brother


Anastacio M. Cortez Jr., brother, October 20, 2014, Quezon City

Mirasol A. Reyes, co-worker, September 12, 2014, Davao City

Meynardo P. Palarca, co-worker, October 1, 2014, Quezon City

Joel B. Maglunsod, co-worker, October 7, 2014, City of Manila


USec. Joel B. Maglunsod, August 2, 2016, Department of Labor, Manila

Rey Mendoza, friend, July 2016,  Quezon City

Virgilio Labial, friend, July 2016, Quezon City

Samuel Castillo, friend, August 26, 2016, Quezon City


Subversive Lives, A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years, by Susan F. Quimpo and Nathan Gilbert Quimpo, Anvil Publishing Inc., Mandaluyong City, 2012, p.333.

“A Qualitative Difference,” by LeoncioEvasco, Rev. Ruben Genotiva and Rev. Ben Barloso, in That We May Remember, published by the Promotion of Church People’s Rights, Quezon City, May 1989.

News article from Bulletin Today, August 17, 1983

Posts and comments from the Facebook account of Mel Cortez, August 17-20, 2016

CERVANTES, Benjamin Roberto "Behn" H.


The artist and activist Behn Cervantes was a theater pioneer, teacher and progressive thinker who devoted his life to the movement for social change and to the fight against dictatorship.

History of political involvement

Here’s how Behn described his own political education:

I was approached to direct a production on the Diliman Commune called Barikada.  I was to work closely with a young group of Philippine Science High School alumni ... .  It was a script in progress since it altered as it developed with rehearsals and experimentation. ... Ang Tao ang Mahalaga, Tigreng Papel, and other original songs [were composed for the production and] soon were lustily rendered in rallies and demonstrations by the newly organized Gintong Silahis [the cultural arm of Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan].  For all intents and purposes, I was GS’s Artistic Director and Coach since the main performing group lived together in an HQ called Boni for daily exercises and our multiple performances in rallies and strikes around Greater Manila.  It was the busiest theatre group I had ever worked with.  Certainly, it was the most committed.  (“Gintong Silahis,” SDK: Militant But Groovy, p. 114)

Thus began Behn’s involvement in the political struggles of the ‘70s.  He joined Gintong Silahis in its engagements, notably in the floods that ravaged Central Luzon in 1971 and the “Long March” from Los Baños to Manila in 1972.  He was very soon accepted formally in the movement.

Behn explained his deepening commitment to social change in a letter to then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile:

... I feel it is my duty to involve myself in cultural affairs native in theme and in manner to my audiences.  No doubt, since theater is a mirroring of life, I have researched and often stepped into the social realities of our country.  Rather than centering my work on escapist themes and foreign plays, I have worked with original Filipino plays that depict our very own realities.  I believe that only with such material can we view ourselves more clearly and truthfully.  It is for this reason that I have stopped participating with theatre groups who utilize material alien to the Filipino character and which further the miseducation of our people.  (“Letter to Hon. Juan Ponce Enrile,” 23 Nov 1977)

Behn became a high-profile personality in the protest movement against the Marcos regime.  He was there at strikes and rallies, was a leading figure in alliances featuring different sectors, from students, artists to the religious sectors. He was often on the frontlines of demonstrations.

Behn was detained three times: Camp Crame, 1975; Bicutan, 1977; and Fort Bonifacio, 1985.

After his second incarceration, Behn wrote to his family:

The history of the case is of course my consistent position as an opposition to martial law and my work in the university as a teacher and a director.  During these past few years, I have become known as one of the most vocal dissenters.  My movie, Sakada, and my plays, especially the last one, Pagsambang Bayan, show the exploitative nature of this system, the evils the ruling class commit on the many, the need to change the order of things.  (“Letter to Family,” 19 Jan 1978)

After the 1986 People Power Revolution, Behn committed his life to reminding people of martial law atrocities and emphasizing the need for cultural conversion. He said in a piece in the Jersey Journal:

... I don’t see myself as a theatre man.  I’m a member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and our Preamble says, “We are Filipinos first who happen to be artists.”  The problems of the country are foremost.  (Jersey Journal, 18 Aug 1995)

Circumstance of death and impact

Behn died in 2013 due to complications arising from diabetes. Important figures of the anti-dictatorship struggle and respected artists mourned his passing. Critic Nestor U. Torre had this to say:

So many significant contributions and achievements to recall, review and give due importance to! ... [I]t’s clear that Behn’s arch-eyebrowed naysayers were wrong in diminishing his seminal contributions to making theater an agent for change rather than escapism in our nation’s life and times.  (“Behn Cervantes’ seminal contributions to activist theatre recalled—and affirmed,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 30 Apr 2016)


Born                      August 25, 1938, in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija

Died                      August 13, 2013, in Alabang, Muntinlupa City

Occupation         Artist, retired professor

Parents                Cenon S. Cervantes, Sr. and Rosario Elizabeth Holcombe

Siblings                 Eleven (three brothers, eight sisters)


Elementary         De La Salle Grade School, Taft Ave., Manila

High School         De La Salle, Taft Ave., Manila

College                 AB Speech and Drama, 1963

University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City

Post-Graduate  Master in Fine Arts, 1967

University of Hawaii

Others                  Film and Theatre, Columbia University, New York

Beloit College, Wisconsin

Professional Accomplishments

Acted in over 200 productions, including plays, musicals, operettas, revues, cantatas, and street theatre

Worked with two summer stock companies in Beloit, Wisconsin and Stoney Point, New York

Directed over 120 plays, operas, musicals, cantatas, and street plays in the University of the Philippines, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Meralco Theatre, Insular Life Auditorium, Phil-Am Life Auditorium, and provincial venues (for cultural outreach programs), eventually concentrating on Philippine dramaturgy and original Filipino plays and musicals, e.g.,Barikada, Pagsambang Bayan, Sigaw ng Bayan, Iskolar ng Bayan, and Lorena

Founder/Founding Member of UP Repertory Company and Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA)

Resident Director/Artistic Director of, inter alia, Repertory Philippines, UP Christian Youth Movement, UP Student Catholic Action, Upsilon Sigma Phi, Sigma Delta Phi, Sigma Beta, Beta Sigma, and UP Speech Association

Appeared in over a dozen featured roles in Philippine films and played major roles in two French films

Directed four feature films, including Sakada, several documentaries, some television episodes, and commercials

Acted, hosted, and guested in several major Philippine television shows

Received numerous awards, grants, fellowships, and scholarships, including, inter alia, the Palanca Award in 1997 and Gawad Urian in 1976 and 2012

Columnist/Contributor—BusinessWorld, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Panorama, Manila Times, People, &c.

Wrote numerous articles and essays on Philippine culture, theatre, and the arts

Has lectured in various schools and universities all over the Philippines, sat in different committees, acted as resource person in many fora and formal hearings

Cited as one of the five outstanding Filipino stage directors of the last 50 years, along with Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero, Severino Montano, Rolando Tinio, and Zeneida Amador


Bantayog profile form submitted by Antonio H. Cervantes, brother

SDK: Militant but Groovy, Soliman M. Santos Jr. and Paz Verdades M. Santos, eds., Anvil Publishing Inc., 2008

Behn Cervantes Files, containing various letters, newspaper clippings, photos and other memorabilia

CAMUS, Fortunato


Fortunato Camus, known as Toto, was a student activist and revolutionary who became a leading organizer of the youth movement in the Visayas and a pioneer of the underground resistance to dictatorship.

Personal background

Toto was from the town of Asturias, a coastal area in Cebu. His father was a policeman, and his mother took care of the family that included his two brothers. He graduated from the University of the Visayas.

History of political involvement

In 1969, he helped organize the Consolidation of Reforms for the Youth (CRY), a Cebu-based student organization. When the 1970 First Quarter Storm erupted in Metro Manila, Cebu followed suit with CRY spearheading rallies and demonstrations protesting tuition fee hikes and national issues. Toto organized the CRY chapter at the University of the Visayas, the biggest university in the city which later staged a pcket in front of the institutiobn. They were joined by students from other schools. The mass action was violently dispersed. Toto, known as the leader of the group, was harassed and threatened with expulsion. Undaunted, he went on to join protest actions in the city.

By then, nationalist organizations like the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) were expanding their organizing efforts in Cebu. While remaining members of CRY, many students also became members of KM or SDK. Toto chose to be with SDK. The three organizations worked together to keep the flames of activism vibrant in Cebu as they launched mass actions.

The organizing efforts Toto joined went beyond the confines of the schools, reaching out to peasants, workers and drivers. The students eventually joined the strike launched by workers at the USIPHIL which sought to advance the interests of peasants at Hacienda Osmena.

Toto played a key role in organizing drivers of public utility vehicles which led to the creation of Kahugpungan sa mga Drayber or KADRE. As part of this work, he lived among the drivers and the urban poor.

Toto became known for his constant presence at the SDK and CRY headquarters where he spent much time even during school breaks. He eventually helped in the creation of a broad coalition, the Visayan Reform Movement (VRM) which was inspired by the Movement for a Democratic Philippines (MDP).

By the middle of 1971, Toto was ready for an even deeper political commitment.

In May, he joined other activists in attending a political and military training in Isabela where the New People’s Army was strong and rapidly expanding. Toto eventually stayed on to gain more experience and training in peasant organizing. He was still there when Marcos declared martial law.

Toto then became known as Ka Norman, a cadre of the revolutionary movement in Cagayan Valley, known for his leadership and skills in military tactics, the leader an armed propaganda unit that performed organizing work in the remote areas of Isabela.

The work Toto did covered a broad range of issues affecting local communities. His team helped form local community organizations and cooperatives to address such needs as the marketing of their products. His team worked with the youth, helped come up with self-defense strategies against cattle rustlers and land grabbers and for better health and sanitation.

Toto learned to speak the local language which made him more effective as a leader and organizer. While in Isabela, he met and got married to a fellow activist with whom he had son.

Those were difficult years for the revolutionary movement. The combined forces of the Philippine Constabulary and the Philippine Army were constantly launching operations against the NPA guerillas. These operations led to abuses, deaths and the displacement of thousands.

Toto’s own unit struggled with hunger, sickness and other hardships.

Circumstance of death

Still, Toto’s role in the armed resistance continued to expand. He later helped organize the resistance movement in Quirino Province, Aurora, Quezon and Nueva Ecija. During an encounter in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija in June 1976, Toto was killed together with Manuel Hizon, another Bantayog martyr. He was 26.


Born                July 14, 1949 in Asturias, Cebu

Died                June 17, 1976 in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija

Parents            Pacifico Camus, police chief, and Rosario Camus

Siblings            2 brothers

Spouse             Elizabeth Principe

Child:               Francis Anthony Principe


College                        University of the Visayas (UV), Bachelor of Arts


Graduate         College of Law, University of the Visayas

Studies             2 years



Bantayog Profile Form accomplished by Elizabeth Principe, wife


Randall Echanis, April 11, 2014, Quezon City

Atty. Francis Principe, son, September 1, 2016, Makati City

LINANG and MAINSTREAM. GERA, written by Ruth Firmeza. Manila, Philippines, 1991

Ocampo, Sonora.”The Cagayan Valley: 17 Years of Fighting” Manila Standard, June 13, 1987

2 NPA Political Leaders among 4 killed in Ecija.” Bulletin Today, June 22, 1976

“VILLACILLO, Venerando D.” from,retrieved on July 13, 2016

“Manuel L. Hizon Jr.” Bantayog ng mga Bayani Heroes and Martyrs Folder


AQUINO, Eduardo Q.



Amid the current revisionist trends, the story of Eduardo “Ed” Q. Aquino must be told and retold again to disabuse the present generation of the lies purveyed about Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law.  For here was a spoiled brat from a prominent family in the province who transformed into a hardcore anti-dictatorship warrior at an age when young boys of today would rather think of girls and spend most of their time playing online games.

Personal background

Ed Aquino was the youngest in a brood of seven that blessed the marriage of Marcial Aquino and Victoria Quinto, both of Mapandan, Pangasinan.  The Aquino family was considered then as one of the most conservative and affluent families in the town. Ed was everyone’s beloved “bunso” and they all loved to spoil him with gifts and favors when he was a student in Mapandan’s public elementary and secondary schools. He always wore the best clothes and always had the best accessories. His family wanted him to become a lawyer as this was the profession that the family sorely lacked. Thus, when Ed passed the UP entrance exam, everyone was assured that he would be getting also the best education for lawyers in the entire country.But the year he entered UP Diliman was a tumultuous year. It was the height of the Vietnam War and the anti-war protests in Manila were reaching a certain crescendo. These rallies were likewise directed at the Marcos government whose political machinations to institute Martial Law were becoming clearer on a weekly basis.


History of political involvement

Barely out of his teens, Ed was initially at a loss amid all these events. After all, he was the sheltered and spoiled “fashionista” from the province. Ed longed for the usual warmth and bonds of a family. At the same time, he was gradually being awakened to the harsh realities of the times. These developments would find answers in a new organization he would soon join - a newly-established fraternity that sought to remake the conventional fraternity image and orientation inside the UP campus: the Samahan ng Kabataang Pilipino (better known as Sigma Kappa Pi). This fraternity wanted to relive the revolutionary brotherhood of the Katipunan and sought to forge a deeper commitment among its members through its nationalistic rituals and political philosophy.It used Katipunan pedigrees such as “Supremo” and “Kartilya” to describe its leader and its newsletter.

It wasn’t long before Ed the “bunso” became one of the “kuya” of his fraternity brothers in terms of awareness, daring and commitment. He read voraciously and attended the discussion groups inside the UP campus. To top it all, he wanted to be at the center of any militant action. When the First Quarter Storm of 1970 occurred, Ed along with fraternity brothers were at the forefront of the student siege of Malacanang, acting as the so-called “DUs” (defensive units) that served as buffer between the main bulk of the rallyists and the police.

The violent encounters with the military and police units of the increasingly-violent Marcos government pushed many into deeper and deeper radicalization. But by this time, Ed had already gone far ahead. In the aftermath of the FQS, several of his fraternity brothers talked about going to the most remote parts of the country where State power was weakest. They wanted to organize the poor and the downtrodden to prepare them for the intensifying struggle against the Marcos government.They wanted to put in operation the popular slogan of the era: Serve the People. Ed enthusiastically volunteered. Thus in late May 1970, together with two of his fraternity brods, Ed sailed for Dadiangas (now General Santos City) in Mindanao.

It was purely a fraternity initiative. The fare, clothing and meager allowances they brought were solicited from the rank-and-file of the brotherhood who sold books and other items to finance the daring expedition. In Dadiangas, the three young men immersed themselves with the locals, the students, the intellectuals and professionals, and finally, the banana plantation workers of DOLE-STANFILCO (Standard Fruits Company). They even published a newsletter to raise the level of awareness of these folks in national affairs especially about the creeping martial law and increasing US intervention. And in instances when the money and supplies from the fraternity in Manila did not reach them on time or were inadequate, they worked part-time in hilly coconut farms to sustain themselves. Sometimes they only had bananas for meals. At other times, they would go fishing for mudfish in the swamps to afford themselves a decent meal. Ed’s expensive clothes were totally wasted in the foot-deep mountain mud. He was a spoiled fashionista no more but a humble servant of the people.

In 1971, however, Ed’s distraught family was able to track him down and one of his brothers went to Mindanao to fetch him. Ed was brought back to Manila and was enrolled in San Beda to keep him away from the fraternity. Ed relented but kept constantly in touch with his fraternity brothers and was always curious about the status of the work they started in Mindanao. During this brief interregnum, Ed took seriously his studies in San Beda and looked forward to becoming a lawyer for the people.

But when Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus on August 1971, Ed was completely distressed. Worried about the Dadiangas folks, he went back briefly to Mindanao and turned over the organizing work they started to the national democratic organization there. And when Marcos finally declared martial law the following year, like thousands of activists of that time, Ed was placed at a crossroads. He knew that he was likely to be arrested by the Marcos regime given his previous organizing activities in Mindanao so he chose to fight. In consideration of his parents and family who were distressed by his Mindanao work, Ed together with another fraternity brother chose an arena of struggle closer to home: Tarlac.

Circumstance of death

Tarlac was a hotbed of resistance because it was the bailiwick of Benigno“Ninoy” Aquino and was also the birthplace of the New People’s Army.  Ed and his comrades organized the peasants and prepared them for the struggle against the militarization of the area. Student militants from other universities fondly remember Ed when they trooped to the area: this tall, lanky guy obviously from a well-off sheltered background but who was determining their physical and mental fitness to fight as guerrilla warriors. Ed was in his element. His previous experiences in Mindanao cut him above the rest of the numerous student militants who were just being introduced to rural life.

On April 23, 1973, however, government troopers from Camp Macabulos surrounded a nipa hut in Barangay Pag-asa where Ed and other peasant activists were conducting a meeting. Not interested at all in making an arrest, the soldiers just strafed the hut, immediately killing Ed and two others. The incident was reported in major newspapers and the Marcos government claimed it was a bloody encounter. Ed’s bullet-riddled body would be claimed days later by members of his family, some of whom were even briefly detained and interrogated by the military.

Impact on family and friends

All these years, Eduardo Quinto Aquino’s brief but heroic life was celebrated only within his fraternity’s circles whenever it gathered on important occasions because the path he chose represented the highest fraternity ideals and aspirations. Years back, he was conferred the fraternity’s highest honor, the “Gawad Nasyonalismo” award in fitting recognition of this young man who could have easily aspired for fame, fortune and power but chose instead to consecrate his life to giving hope to the faceless, the nameless and the destitute of this land.


Born    January 16, 1953 in Mapandan, Pangasinan

Died    April 23, 1973 in Sitio Pagasa, Tarlac, Tarlac

Occupation      Student

Parents            Marcial Aquino and Victoria Quinto, both of Mapandan, Pangasinan

Siblings            Seven               Birth sequence of martyr: youngest


Primary           Mapandan Elementary School, Pangasinan

Secondary       Mapandan High School, Pangasinan

College                        University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City

A.B. in Political Science, 1969-1970

San Beda College, Manila, 1971

Extra-curricular          Member, UP Sigma Kappa Pi Fraternity



Bantayog profile form accomplished by Dr. Rodolfo Q. Aquino, brother

Bantayog Profile form (2nd page – history of political involvement) accomplished by Rey S. Mendoza and Lito O. San Antonio and corroborated by Luzvimindo David, fraternity brothers

Narrative by Rey S. Mendoza, fraternity brother

Copies of documents submitted to the Human Rights Victims Claims Board under RA 10368:

Application Form

Birth Certificate of Eduardo Q. Aquino

Death Certificate of Eduardo Q. Aquino

Various photographs


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