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PERALTA, Romulo D.

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

 Personal history

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

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

 History of political involvement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 An Imprint on the World

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

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

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

Circumstance of death

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

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

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

 Born:               July 30, 1941 in Manila

Died:               September 2, 2001 in Quezon City

Parents:          Isabelo Peralta and Guillerma Day-oan

Spouse:           Carmencita Karagdag

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

Education

Elementary     Nuevo Iloco Elementary School, Mawab, Davao

High School     Silliman University in Dumaguete City

College              Far Eastern University, Manila

Pre-medicine

3rd year of Medicine, 1970.

Sources

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

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

Testimonies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millennials in Anti-Marcos Vigil at Libingan

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How social media helped


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LABAYEN, Julio Xavier L.

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

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

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

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

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

Professional achievements

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

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

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

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

Awards

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

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

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

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


History of political involvement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Motivating factor for political involvement

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

Persecution as a progressive bishop

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

Organizational affiliations

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

  • Bishop of the Prelature of Infanta; 1961 to 2003

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

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

  • Chairperson, Social Pastoral Institute

  • Chairperson, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines


Literary works

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

  • To be the Church of the Poor

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

  • Incarnational Spirituality


Groups organized or co-founded

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

  • Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, 1967

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

  • Apostles in Contemporary Times, 1984

  • Augustinian Missionaries of the Philippines, 1999

  • Alagadni Maria (seminary), 1990

  • Franciscans of Our Lady of the Poor, 1991

  • Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary


Impact of activism on family and community

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

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

 

Born                July 23, 1926 in Talisay, Negros Occidental

Died                April 26, 2016

Occupation    Ordained priest and bishop, Order of the Discalced Carmelites

Parents           Julio Diaz Labayen and  Mercedes Alunan Lizares

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

 Education

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

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

(graduated in 1944 after the Japanese War)

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

Degrees attained/honors:

  • Associate of Arts, 1947

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

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

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

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


Milestones

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

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

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

  • 1960: first assignment as parish priest, same area

  • 1961: appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Prelature of Infanta

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


 

Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOSE, Joel Cecilio O.

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

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

History of political involvement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Circumstances of death

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

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

-----

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

Born                June 3, 1951 in Davao City

Died                May 19, 1987 in Mawab, Compostela Valley

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

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

Spouse                        Maria Loreto Abella

Children          Two daughters (Cecilia and Maria)

Education

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

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

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

 

Sources

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

Interviews

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

Bobby Roldan, September 8, 2016

Agapito Gaddi, August 2015

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

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

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

Testimony by Alex Birondo, friend, July, 2015

JIMENEZ-MAGSANOC, Leticia

jimenez-magsanoc-leticia-pic

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)

EDUCATION

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

Sources:

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.

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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)

 

 

EDUCATION   

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

Profession

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

 Affiliations

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

 

SOURCES

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.

filio-ricky

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

Education      

Elementary     Cavite Elementary School in Bacoor, Cavite

High School     Ateneo de Davao High School, 1970

College                        Ateneo de Davao College, 1970-1972

 

Sources

Interviews:

  • 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.

Poem

“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.

ESTELLA-SIMBULAN, Lourdes P.

estella-simbulan-lourdes

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

Education

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

Studies

Sources:

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.

dorotan-manuel-pic1

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)

EDUCATION:

Elementary     Irosin Central School, 3rd Honor

Highschool      Gallanosa High School, Sorsogon

Salutatorian

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

B.S. in Chemical Engineering, 1970

 

ORGANIZATIONAL AFFILIATIONS

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

Sources

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-boy-galve-dojillo_0001

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)

EDUCATION

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)

 

Sources:

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

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