Response on Behalf of the Families, Comrades and Friends of Martyrs and Heroes (Media and Professionals) Included in the Wall of Remembrance at the Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani, Nov. 30, 2016:


Response on Behalf of the families, comrades and friends of Martyrs and Heroes (Media and Professionals) included in the Wall of Remembrance at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Nov. 30, 2016:

By Roland Simbulan

It has been a cliche to refer to departed friends and loved ones as having lived a "full life". Yet, one cannot think of any easy way to describe the lives of beloved icons who are also freedom fighters: the three from the media sector namely Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, Chit Estella-Simbulan, and Tony Zumel; the actor-director Behn Cervantes, feminist-teacher Maita Gomez, and a soldier of the people Dan Vizmanos. They have contributed in no small way to this country's history in its struggle against dictatorship and tyranny.

Martial law brought out the worst in the Filipino that inflicted great suffering, cowardice, and fear as we would never forget. But it also brought out the best in us, Filipinos.

When many journalists during martial law became its cheerleaders, others showed phenomenal courage and bedrock devotion to truth. It is the storms, and contrary winds that bring out the strengths of individual character that has made the difference. Even in the "praise release" newspapers and magazines controlled by the martial law regime to the "mosquito press" and revolutionary press of the Underground, they took great risks and became the voices of truth in exposing the Marcos dictatorship where the only thing that made it look good was the absence of a free press. They were among the best mold of journalists to confront martial law repression during those dark years.

They showed us with their writing and their example the kind of integrity journalism is all about: a commitment to human rights, exposing injustices and manipulation, digging, ferreting, carefully researched writing that gets at the hard facts.

The media honorees Letty Magsanoc, Chit Estella and Tony Zumel personified the fierce independence of journalism from the unquestioning acceptance of government spin. During those times when limitations to civil liberties were justified and arguments for their suppression were made, these journalists and editors took a stand. As Chit (Estella-Simbulan) once told me, "It was the only right thing to do." For these media icons, repression of dissent is repression of press freedom. They fervently loved our country, viewing freedom of the press as crucial for keeping it true to its ideals. They taught their colleagues that real objectivity is when reporters dig into documents, find a credible whistle-blower source in the bowels of government where the real good sources are, or learn things on their own and verify them.

In the case of the other professional honorees- Maita Gomez, Behn Cervantes and Dan Vizmanos- one would expect that their idealism and militance during their youth would evaporate as the realities of adult life and raising a family set in. These professionals chose the road less travelled under trying times, and with their courage and brilliance, resisted the Marcos dictatorship. Their torches have inspired others.

They have now passed the torch to us the living, and the young generation of millennials. Rest assured that we will not allow the flame to be extinguished. We will hold it high to our last breath. To the honorees whose spirit I am sure are with us today I have this to say: your names will be etched not only in granite stone, but in our hearts and will always remain a symbol of commitment to achieve a better life for our people and nation.

I would like to speak of our heroes and martyrs as part of a wider family, both at the personal and political level. We, as family, especially those nameless among our people they have touched with their lives and example, stand here together to say to all of you people of this beautiful land. Thank you.

On behalf of the families, comrades and friends of the media and professional honorees, we thank Bantayog ng mga Bayani for this honor they have given to our loved ones who braved the storms and whose lives have made a difference. Their spirit will never die, even more so in contemporary conditions which show ominous signs of resurgent fascism. Their memory hold a steady course in all seasons, and we now know that there are many-millions of kindred souls-who will be the keepers of the flame.
And we, are so grateful for this honor.

Retrieved from Roland Simbulan's Facebook account, Dec. 1, 2016

Response Presented at the Honoring of Martial Law Heroes



(By Carmencita Karagdag, representing the families of Bishop Julio Labayen, Jose Tangente and Romulo Peralta, on November 30, 2016, at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Quezon City)

Isang maalab at mapagpalayang pagbati ngayong makasaysayang araw ng pagbubunyi sa ating mga yumaong bayani na buong giting at walang humpay na nakibaka laban sa mapaniil na diktadurang Marcos.

That we are honoring today our heroes--and let me stress, genuine heroes--against the backdrop of the dramatic upsurge of mass and youth protests against insidious attempts at rehabilitating the dark legacy of Marcos makes this afternoon’s event even more relevant and compelling.

I am  deeply honored, yet humbled, to represent in this response, families and comrades of three extraordinary church people who  made it their sacred vocation to give flesh to the Gospel imperative of serving the poor and liberating the oppressed. Theirs was the heroic mission to be faithful to the sterling example of Jesus Christ who valiantly defied the despotic regimes of his times.

Today we salute our church heroes: the late Bishop Julio Labayen, Jose Aquilino Tangente, and my own husband, Romulo Peralta. Their exemplary role in the anti-dictatorship movement and passionate stories of struggle against the evils of their times underline the fact that progressive church people have been an integral part of the Filipino people’s struggle for freedom and liberation.

Bishop Julio Labayen--a legend of his times who touched many lives--embodied the Christian precept of preferential option for the poor, making it his life vocation to be a builder of the “Church of the Poor”, integrating with, and helping organize, impoverished communities.  It was while administering their family estate, that he first witnessed the deprivations suffered by sugar plantation workers. Coming from a landed clan in Negros province and graduating with a string of honors, including summa cum laude from a Catholic university in Rome, he had no qualms giving up comfort and relinquishing power and pelf to be true to his Christian calling. His book, “Revolution and the Church” and his preachings on “how to be a shepherd in solidarity with his flocks” resonated with the Marxist inspired liberation theology then current in Latin America. Thus, all through his long  ministry, he was hounded both by his fellow church leaders and  by the military who labelled him a communist, making him a target for assassination. While the official church hierarchy had remained silent for the most part of dictatorial regime, he was among the first Catholic bishops, the so-called Magnificent Seven,  to issue an open letter to Marcos strongly condemning the atrocities of Martial Law.

Less known but particularly moving is the account of extraordinary valor and heroism displayed by former seminarian turned Red fighter, Jose Aquilino Tangente. At an early age in the early seventies, he joined the Kilusang Kristiyano ng Kabataang Pilipino, of which--I am proud to say--I happen to be among the early founders. His student and church activism took a more dramatic turn when, after Martial Law was declared--and to his mother’s frustration who long dreamed that his son join the priesthood--he abandoned his studies in a Catholic seminary and decided to join the armed struggle. On his way to the countryside, he was arrested, detained and heavily tortured by the Philippine Constabulary. He managed to escape later and subsequently took up arms as an unrepentant revolutionary. In villages close to his encampment,  Boy, as he was then called,  used his intellectual resources and political skills to conduct teach-ins that empowered indigenous peoples  in their struggle against unwanted encroachments on their ancestral land. It was during these meetings with local villagers that he was spotted and killed by soldiers while heroically helping three of his women comrades to escape.

Finally, I wish to express my profound appreciation to the Bantayog ng mga Bayani for including my late husband Romulo Peralta in this year’s roll of honorees.  Coming from a devout Protestant family and with a kind and gentle mien,  it was not easy to see through the rage that burned in Romy’s heart against an exploitative system that robbed the poor of their humanity.  Perceptive and generous to a fault, it was not long before he would give up his medical studies and commit himself to selfless activism. He did not falter in his commitments even when we were forced to go underground after a raid in our house, that resulted in the incarceration and torture of my four siblings. Upon the intervention of the World Council of Churches and the Christian Conference of Asia, we were allowed later to surface and go on exile in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan where Romy employed his immense resourcefulness in establishing the first solidarity center for the Philippines, earliest solidarity groups in Asia-Pacific and the first Filipino migrant organization overseas, A natural diplomat, his wide realm of international solidarity linkages spanned  a whole gamut of ideological persuasions--from left-wing communist parties and militant labor organizations to church groups, human rights organizations, socialist parliamentarians, and progressive academics. As his wife of many years,  I knew all along that our difficult years in the underground and in exile--separated from our small children--had been particularly trying and painful to my late husband who was at heart a devoted family man and nurturer.

Friends, may these compelling stories of resistance infuse us with renewed vigor to persevere--against all odds--in our just struggle for human rights and genuine liberation. May these shining examples of defiance energize and propel us to new heights in our mass mobilizations against insidious attempts at rehabilitating the dark legacy of Marcos.

TAN, Mary Christine L., RGS


Sister Christine Tan came from a family of means. She was the fifth of seven children.

Sr. Christine was the first Filipino to head the Philippine province of the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS), a congregation founded in France more than 100 years ago.

She also headed the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines for some time during the martial law years, a time when she became known for her militancy and firm stand against totalitarian rule.

Poverty as practised in the convent was not enough for her, so she chose to live among the poor. In the late 1970s, together with several Good Shepherd nuns, she opted to live and work among the poor of Malate and stayed with them for more than 26 years.

She founded the Alay Kapwa Christian Community and helped set up cooperatives and livelihood projects for the poor in Manila and in the provinces of Cavite, Quezon and Cebu, with whom she was humble but a disciplinarian.

She gave of her time to others. She would say that the sisters’ vow of poverty meant that they must give of their resources as well as of their time to others. “Every minute must be used well and deliberately.”

Her fellow nuns in the RGS said she gave RGS relevance during the difficult years of the 1970s and the 1980s because she had a way of "bringing new wineskins for new wine."

She was appointed member of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution.

Former president Corazon Aquino, who is a close friend, said Sr. Christine possessed integrity, patriotism, selflessness and dedication. “I think Sister Christine is a great woman,” she said.

In 1998, again breaking ground, Sr. Christine accepted a government appointment as member of the board of directors of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office where later on, she again made newspaper headlines when she questioned irregular fund disbursements at the agency.

She died of cancer complications.


BORN     November 30, 1930 in Manila

Died        6 October 2003 in Metro Manila
Parents : Judge Bienvenido Tan, Sr. and Salome Limgenco

Siblings : Consuelo, Bienvenido Jr. (former ambassador to Germany), Teresita Suarez, Caridad Manga, Leticia Sevilla and Angeles Alora.

MERCADO, La Verne D.


La Verne Mercado was born and raised in a parsonage in Magalang, Pampanga. His father was a Methodist pastor, and his mother a deaconess. He was ordained minister of the United Methodist Church (UMC) in 1961, served as executive secretary of the UMC’s board of education from 1959 to 1973 and became general secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) until 1987.

He served as director of youth and student work of the UMC’s Philippines Annual Conference from 1950 to 1954, as national president of the National Christian Youth Council of the Philippines from 1952 to 1954, and first national president of the Methodist Youth Fellowship of the Philippines, also from 1952 to 1954.

He served in international and local organizations involved in children’s development, social action, justice and peace, human rights, ecumenism, Christian literature, and Bible distribution. Bishop Mercado coedited the book Human Rights Violations in the Philippines, published by the World Council of Churches in 1986, and wrote a chapter in the book Rice in the Storm: Faith in Struggle in the Philippines, published in 1989.

He was ordained elder in 1962, and served as pastor in local churches, and in various capacities in his church’s national offices. He grew to become an influential person, particularly when he became general secretary of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines, during a period when the country was wracked by militarization and repression under martial law.

As its general secretary from 1973 to 1987, he led the NCCP into becoming the mouthpiece of its member-churches in denouncing the abuses of those in power, as part of his church’s prophetic role in society. At a time when it was most dangerous to do so, NCCP issued public statements on issues such as human dignity, national sovereignty, church-state relations and morality in government, among others, and inspired its staff to boldly implemented programs that served victims of injustices, including political detainees and their families.

Bishop Mercado, along with some NCCP staff and guests, were detained by martial law authorities in June 1974, with NCCP accused of “aiding the enemies of the state.” This triggered such an outrage among churches and ecumenical bodies in and outside the Philippines that President Marcos himself ordered the bishop’s release.

Bishop Mercado combined diplomacy and statesmanship, skills which saw him through the difficult task of keeping NCCP member-churches together during the turbulent years of martial law. His gentle and friendly demeanor and his unquestioned integrity inspired respect and deep admiration among church leaders and colleagues.

Bishop Mercado firm advocacy for human rights and for church involvement in the Filipino people’s struggle won him the friendship of many and the respect of even his critics.

Bishop La Verne Mercado died of natural causes in July 2003.


Born 4 December 1921 in Magalang, Pampanga

Died 23 July 2003 in Metro Manila

Parents : Constancio Mercado Sr. and Juana Diwa

Spouse : Nellie Mercado

Education : Elementary -

High School -

College - Bachelor of Theology, Union Theological Seminary, magna cum laude

Master of Arts in Religion, Garrett Theological Seminar, Northwestern University, Illinois, USA

Doctor of Humanities & Letters, honoris causa, Central Philippine University, Iloilo City

19 'real Heroes' Enshrined at Bantayog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ZUMEL, Antonio L.


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

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

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

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

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

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

History of political involvement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Circumstance of death

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

Born                August 10, 1932, in Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Died                August 13, 2001, in Utrecht, The Netherlands

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

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

Spouse            Mela Castillo

Children          3 (Antonio III+, Veronica and Malaya)


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

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

College            Lyceum University, Manila, 1951 –

Bachelor of Arts (undergraduate)

Organizational Affiliations

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

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

Professional achievement

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


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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Personal history

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

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

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

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

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

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

History of political activism

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

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

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

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

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

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

Circumstance of death

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

BORN                          November 24, 1928 in Naic, Cavite

DIED                            June 23, 1998 in Metro Manila

Occupation:                 Captain of the Philippine Navy (retired)

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

SPOUSE:                      Alicia Vizmanos                  Children: Six


Elementary                 Naic Elementary School, Naic, Cavite

High School                 Cavite High School

Western Cavite Institute

Jose Abad Santos High School, Pasay

College                         FEATI  Institute of Technology

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

Graduate Studies        National Defense College of the Philippines



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

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

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

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

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

VILLADOS, Simplicio D.


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

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

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

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

History of political involvement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Circumstance of death and impact to the community

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

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

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

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

Born                January 21, 1925 in Longos, Meycauayan, Bulacan

Died                May 24, 1995 in Meycauayan, Bulacan

Parents           Romualdo Villados and Dorotea Diez

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

Spouse                        Fe Flaviano                              Children: Seven


Elementary     Longos Elementary School, Meycauyan, Bulacan

Grade 6 (stopped during the Japanese Occupation)



Bantayog profile form and narrative submitted by family members

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

TANGENTE, Jose Aquilino T.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Circumstances of death

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

Impact of death on the family and community

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


BORN                          October 9, 1949 in Tigbauan, Iloilo

DIED                            August 28, 1987 in Pandan, Antique

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

Siblings                       Seven               Birth order of hero:  6th

Spouse                        Elma Villaron

Children                      2 (Easter Grace, Hasmin Roja)


Elementary                 Tigbauan Elementary Scahool, Tigbauan, Iloilo

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

College                        St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary


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

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

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

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

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


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

Concha Araneta, friend, August 2016, Quezon City

SALONGA, Jovito R.


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

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

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

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

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

Later in life Ka Jovy would write:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corazon Aquino recalled those days:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Born on        June 22, 1920 in Pasig, Rizal

Died on        March 10, 2016, in Quezon City

Parents         Bernardina Reyes and Esteban Salonga

Spouse         Lydia Busuego

Siblings        Five brothers

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

Education     College of Law, University of the Philippines


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Citation in the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Foundation Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Articles

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

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