The Daet Massacre

The following article about the Daet Massacre is from a 1982 Bicol situationer pamphlet.

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ALEJANDRO, Leandro "Lean" L.

Leandro Alejandro was a well-known student leader during martial law.

Leandro, or Lean, participated in campus protests against martial law, joining open as well as clandestine groups in the University of the Philippines (UP). Soon he was a leader in these campus organizations, and by the early 1980s, was a key figure in the national anti-dictatorship movement.

In 1979 he joined the staff of the Philippine Collegian, the UP student paper, as features writer. He chaired the Youth for Nationalism and Democracy (YND) from 1980 to 1981 and was junior fellow at the UP Third World Studies Center from 1981 to 1983. During the schoolyear 1983-1984, he was elected chairman of the university student council. The following school year he was chosen student representative to the UP Board of Regents.

In May 1984, he led a UP students’ march to Mendiola bridge in Manila to protest tuition hikes. When the march ended peacefully, Lean was quoted as saying: “Now people won’t be afraid to demonstrate at Mendiola.” The march is regarded as the fi rst on that historic bridge to have ended peacefully since the First Quarter Storm of 1970. Under Lean’s leadership, the student marches drew from a few hundred participants to up to tens of thousands just months later. He helped establish several anti-dictatorship groups such as the Coalition of Organizations for the Realization of Democracy (CORD, 1984); Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA); Nationalist Alliance for Justice, Freedom and Democracy (NAJFD); Kaakbay; Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN); and Partido ng Bayan (PnB). Lean later became convinced that greater and deeper problems than a dictatorship burdened the Philippines. He later adopted a national democratic political program as the viable alternative for effecting the necessary social changes in the country.

More than his extraordinary height, Lean stood out as an activist because he possessed insight, a unifying approach, speaking and writing skills, and courage and boldness. Older and more experienced colleagues in the protest movement had him in high regard, and government negotiators who met Lean across the barricades gave him their grudging respect.

Lean was secretary-general of the multisectoral group BAYAN when he was assassinated in 1987. He had just left a press conference in Intramuros, Manila, and was driving back to the Bayan office in Cubao, Quezon City when his vehicle was ambushed near the Bayan headquarters. Two of his three companions
were wounded. Lean was 27 years old.

BAYAN said Lean’s assassination was part of a list of “bloody anti-people crimes” by the Aquino administration. The government denounced the killing but failed to solve the crime. It remains unsolved.

The protest movement sorely grieved the loss of this young, exceptionally gifted, and heroic figure. Poems and a musical opera were written for him who gave so much for his country when to do so meant extreme sacrifice.

BELTRAN, Crispin "Ka Bel" B.

Crispin Beltran was born a poor man, lived a life of service, and when it was done, he left this world still with but a few coins in his name just as when he started, but making a mark despite himself.

His parents were farmers in a small town in Albay province. Crispin was already in grade school when the Japanese invaded the country. The ensuing war interrupted the bright young boy’s schooling. The 9-year-old boy scout volunteered for the anti-Japanese resistance, eventually earning for him a youngest-courier award from the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE).

He graduated salutatorian in grade school, and also with honors in high school. He also showed leadership qualities, serving as official in his class and in the student council.

After high school, he moved to Manila to try his luck there. He did two years of college, found jobs as a janitor and messenger, but eventually ended up earning a living as a taxi driver.

Political involvement

Several years after he started with the Manila Yellow Taxi Company, Crispin joined the union, seeing a chance for blue-collar workers like him to work for a decent livelihood through united action. By 1955, when he was 22 years old, he helped establish a federation of taxi drivers’ unions, called the Amalgamated Taxi Drivers Association. He was elected president and held the post for eight years.

As a young union leader, he had a chance to attend labor education courses at the University of the Philippines. He steadily gained a greater grasp of issues and the options that surrounded labor. When Philippine unionism saw a boost in the late 1950s, Crispin’s leadership grew even more notable, serving as vice-president of a Philippine Workers Congress in 1956, and in 1957-1958, of the Confederation of Labor of the Philippines which he co-founded.

Crispin was 26 when he met his future wife Rosa, a rural girl who had run away from home and had serendipitously taken his taxi. The meeting would become a life-long relationship and partnership.

The Marcos regime transformed Crispin. Faced with an increasingly autocratic government, Crispin whose concerns had been focused on workers’ welfare, started to see other issues, threats to his country’s democracy and nationhood, echoes of those war cries raised in the days of his youth.

The dictatorship banned many of labor’s few allowed activities, such as assemblies, pickets and strikes, and even unionism itself. Ranks of workers and unionists swelled the anti-Marcos resistance and open opposition. This led to the arrest, abduction and even assassination of scores of labor leaders.

Crispin, now a popular figure called “Ka Bel” by friends and fellow unionists, quietly but firmly helped reshape the local labor movement into a force that would contribute in opposing the dictatorship. He and other labor leaders, notably the charismatic Felixberto Olalia Sr., established the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in 1980. Within two years KMU had 750,000 members, and KMU forces swelled the ranks of protesters in rallies and demonstrations in Metro Manila and other major cities in the country where labor was a significant sector.

Marcos ordered the arrests of labor leaders in 1982, leading to the imprisonment of both Ka Bel and Olalia. Ka Bel escaped in 1984 and went into hiding. He emerged after the Marcos dictatorship fell and the new Aquino government came into power.

Instead of resting on his sterling achievements as a labor leader, Ka Bel went on to break new ground. In 1987, he tried his hand at national politics, running for senator under the short-lived Partido ng Bayan. He lost the elections but won over 1.5 million votes, a testament to this person with the humble beginnings’ growing nationwide popularity. He was elected chair of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) from 1993-1999.

He continued to serve his first love, the labor movement. He served in KMU as national president from 1987 to 2001, taking the place of assassinated KMU president, lawyer Rolando Olalia, son of his erstwhile comrade at arms in the labor movement.

When the party-list system went into effect, Ka Bel took a seat in Congress in 2001 as representative of the poor for the party list Bayan Muna and later for another party-list Anakpawis. In Congress, he authored and co-authored resolutions in behalf of the poor in his country. He worked by the standard that people’s taxes must be used well and honesty. He earned the ire of President Gloria Arroyo who in February 2006 had him arrested for rebellion, and detained for one and a half years until the charges against him were declared by the Supreme Court baseless. While he was in prison, rallies calling for his release were held in many countries such as Germany and the Netherlands to Japan and Australia.

His staunch advocacy for the labor sector and the poor, his love for country, and the simple decency with which he bore himself earned him the respect of a broad section of the population, pedestrians as well as politicians. On his death by a freak accident in 2008, his family would receive thousands of condolences from within the country and abroad, expressing grief at his untimely death and admiration for the person he was. Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim had a marker built in Ka Bel’s honor at the historic Plaza Miranda, also declaring the day of his death, May 20th, as “Ka Beltran’s Day.”

Circumstances of death

On that foul day when it happened, the news had warned of a powerful storm coming. Ka Bel, worried that the roof of his house might not stand the winds, took out the ladder and climbed up the roof to try to do repairs. Unfortunately, the 75-year-old, stout-hearted unionist, slipped and fell, and his broken body could not survive the fall.

Impact of life and death

Expressions of grief and sympathy poured in from here and abroad. The necrological service was the biggest known held at the House of Representatives. His wake drew 50,000 visitors, and the funeral march, some 30,000. Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. called him a “torchbearer,” and former senator, now president, Benigno Aquino III, said he felt Ka Bel’s sincerity.

The impact Ka Bel had on the ordinary Filipino is best illustrated by an account of a young woman who had never met him. In a newspaper column, this young person wrote that she had gone to the Quiapo market on her father’s request to buy flowers for Ka Bel’s wake. Quiapo’s flower vendors, learning who the flowers were for, all pitched in and prepared a beautiful wreath for free, adding still another bouquet of chrysanthemums, because Ka Bel, they said, was their champion.

A country, it is said, is known by the kind of heroes it honors (from speech of Sen. Jovito R. Salonga, delivered during the first Bantayog ng mga Bayani celebration, November 30, 1992). Crispin Beltran served his country as a leader of laborers and a fighter for their rights and welfare. He taught them they should not fight only for themselves or their union, but for their country and their fellow Filipinos. Ka Bel stayed true to his course, not lulled by his accomplishments, not giving in to the temptations of power, bribery or even threats, defying even the demands of age.

For nine years a representative of the working class in the Philippine Congress, Ka Bel had the right to add the word “Honorable” before his name. In his case, however, it was a true description of his character, a rare occurrence in Philippine Congress by most accounts. All Filipinos would be proud to see this truly honorable man included in their roster of modern-day Filipino heroes.

GAVANZO, Ceasar G., Jr.

ceasar gavanzo jr. pic

Ceasar Jr., the eldest son, was 22 years old when his father died in 1969 and made him take up the role of family head. Then a criminology student in Manila, he often went back home to look in on the family and their livelihood. “He was persevering, energetic and he treated our farm workers justly,” his sister Rosario said. Graduating with a diploma in criminology, Ceasar planned to pursue law because he “wanted to be able to help the poor.”

History of political involvement

However he got caught in the political storm that erupted in the country in the late 1960s. The ferment was brought about by the shenanigans of the Marcos government, made worse by rampant inflation, tuition fee hikes, the country’s participation in the Vietnam War and increasing police and military brutality. The Marcos couple’s profligate spending amid worsening poverty riled the people.

Ceasar attended discussion forums and demonstrations organized by student groups like the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and later the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK). When he went home for visits, he would discuss these current issues with friends and townmates and with his brothers and sisters. He said he wanted them to understand the crisis that the country was facing.

The First Quarter Storm of 1970 affected Ceasar in a personal way. A massive rally was held on January 26, during the opening of Congress. This was followed by an even bigger protest rally on January 30. The rally was violently dispersed. It dragged on into the night, spread to other parts of Manila, including Mendiola, the street fronting the Malacañang palace. Four students were killed that night – Ricardo Alcantara from the University of the Philippines, Felicisimo Singh Roldan from the Far Eastern University, 17 year-old Bernardo Tausa from Mapa High School, and Fernando Catabay from MLQU.

Catabay was Ceasar’s schoolmate as well as good friend. Later Ceasar told his sister that the image of Catabay being felled by bullets kept playing over and over in his mind.

In the 1971 local elections, Ceasar came home from his studies in Manila to support the gubernatorial campaign of Juan Frivaldo who was running against a known Marcos ally. Ceasar’s political campaign included exposing Marcos’ growing corruption and degeneracy. He urged the people to elect honest and responsible leaders and to be courageous in letting their will be heard. Frivaldo won in the elections.

Circumstances of death and impact on family and community

In the weeks preceding the declaration of martial law by President Marcos, the family of Ceasar, sensing the coming political storm, asked him to come home permanently. Heeding the request, Ceasar returned to Sorsogon and found work as an administrative officer of by then Governor Frivaldo.

But he pursued his political work in the province. He attended a protest rally where he was picked up, detained illegally, and beaten up by a policeman. He sustained several cracked ribs from the beating. Ceasar managed to escape from his prison cell a few days later with the governor’s help. The governor also had his injuries treated and found him temporary shelter while recuperating from the mauling he received.

Not long after, Marcos declared martial law. Soldiers came every night to Ceasar’s house, looking for him and threatening and often insulting the family. The house was placed under constant surveillance. But Ceasar had not made any contact with the family since his escape.

After he had his strength back, Ceasar left the sanctuary offered by the governor, declaring his intention to seek out fellow activists to build a secret resistance against martial law in Sorsogon. But as it turned out, that was to be Ceasar’s last known location.

Not long after, the family was shocked to receive information that Ceasar had been killed and that his body had been dumped at the Bulusan Municipal Hall. Ceasar’s family quickly acted on the tip. At the municipal hall, they found his mangled remains. The body bore bullet wounds, his legs and ribs broken, and several teeth extracted. Townmates called the killing an act of brutality.

Today Ceasar is considered the first casualty of martial law in Sorsogon. In succeeding years, many more of the province’s youth were killed for their beliefs, including Ceasar’cousin, Tony Ariado and friend Nanette Vytiaco, whose names are now etched on Bantayog’s Wall of Remembrance. Many were also unjustly put in prison and tortured, among them three of Ceasar’s siblings.

To this day, Ceasar Gavanzo Jr.’s struggle for freedom continues to inspire many people. Emilio Ubaldo, the current mayor of Matnog town, says of Ceasar that “… he faced great adversity but took the courage to stand up and defend, not only his own, but the people’s rights…”
“Katulad ni Ginoong Rizal, ibinuhis din niya ang hiram na buhay sa pakiki-aklas na buong akala niya ay tamang paraan upang maisalba ang isang bansang naghihikahos sa kahirapan at pagmamalabis na pagpayaman ng pamilyang Marcos. Walang kasingtulad ang mga ginawa niya at dapat mailathala na isang huwarang bayani.” (Hilario U. Belo, Chairman on Temporalities, Sto. Nino Parish Pastoral council, Matnog, Sorsogon)

“He denied himself of the enjoyment of life, as young and handsome as he was, all taken by his conviction for the sake of our country’s welfare, even to the end of his useful life.” (Erlinda Garrido Hoffer, Matnog National High School)

VILLACILLO, Venerando D.

venerando villacillo pic

When the student ferment of the early 1970s reached Iligan City, Venerando’s older brothers joined the Kabataang Makabayan. He too joined later. Owning a booming voice, he was soon making fiery speeches before crowds. He was tall at 5’11”and he carried himself well, and so was easy to see in a crowd.

Hoping to become a detective, he enrolled at the Philippine College of Criminology in Manila. He also studied the martial arts. He continued to be active with the KM. As the political turmoil intensified he decided to leave school and join the underground. In 1972 he left for Isabela with a batch of other activists from the Visayas and Mindanao. He went through a short military training, and was later given the task of developing new recruits. He was also assigned to help organize barrio people to undertake health and education projects, give political lessons to the local community, and help the locals work out solutions to their local problems. He also gave occasional lessons in the martial arts. He became proficient with Ilokano and used it during his political lessons.

Under the martial law regime, Isabela became heavily militarized. It became the relentless target of daily artillery bombings, ground attacks, and intelligence and psywar operations, all seeking to destroy the fledgling rebel force in the province. The military declared a part of the province’s forested areas as “no man’s land,” and ordered more than 50,000 residents out in order to deprive the guerrillas their means of support. The guerrilla force had to undertake constant evasive action, and became isolated from the local population. When they decided to escape the encirclement, Venerando, then called Ka Ibarra, was one of several leaders who organized the retreat, getting the guerrillas, armed activists and barrio people out of immediate danger. The escape took an entire year’s march, a trek of 370 kilometers, across three provinces and 25 heavily-militarized towns.

Throughout this difficult journey, Venerando kept up the spirits of the evacuees, telling them not to lose hope because they had supporters in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship. He helped comfort and care for the sick and wounded and often shared with others his own limited ration of food.

After this phase, Venerando moved to Mindanao, where his family hailed. He took up political work that included building the people’s strength so they could launch protest actions and responses to agrarian problems among farmers and farmworkers in the banana plantations of Davao and in the coconut industry. One of the strong campaigns that resulted was the campaign against the coconut levy, a tax taken from coconut farmers but mainly benefiting Marcos cronies. Venerando took the names Ka Benny and Ka Miguel.

Again in Mindanao, Venerando witnessed the forcible relocation of tens of thousands of people into hamlets in the military’s effort to deny mass support to the rebel guerrillas. Rather than escape, however, they decided that the proper response this time was to rise in protest. As a result, huge demonstrations were organized to protest the displacement and the worsening militarization. Venerando and his group of activists helped in the mobilization in the Compostela Valley region. Protest actions were also organized against the Catalunan Grande massacre, the bombing of the San Pedro Cathedral, the hamletting in Davao del Norte, the killing of Edgar Jopson, and the arrests and torture of Fr. Dong Tizon, Karl Gaspar and Hilda Narciso.

Venerando also became a part of the protests that erupted in the aftermath of the assassination of the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr., helping build the Justice for Aquino and Justice for All movement in Mindanao, preparing streamers, placards and leaflets with slogans such as “Oust the dictator!“ “Marcos resign” and “Dismantle the U.S.-Marcos dictatorship.” On occasion Venerando’s baritone voice would be heard calling on people not to be afraid of the dictatorship.

Venerando became one of the dictatorship’s most wanted men in Mindanao.

In the mid-1980s, Venerando spent some time again in northern Luzon, leading military resistance as well as expansion efforts in that area.

In 1985, he and his small family were on a trip to Manila when Venerando was abducted. He tried to resist his abductors until one of the men stuck a barrel of a gun to the head of his daughter, at which point he allowed himself to be taken away. His wife, family and friends launched a long campaign that even extended overseas to have him found. The regime denied having him in custody although the family was surreptitiously told that the team that undertook the abduction was led by Col. Rodolfo Aguinaldo of the Philippine Constabulary. Venerando was never found.

MAHINAY, Julieto N.

Julieto Mahinay pic 1

Julieto Mahinay was a catechist of the Catholic diocese of Surigao del Norte. He was respected and well-liked although he was a quiet person and was rarely heard to raise his voice. People turned to him for guidance and leadership, and he often helped settle conflicts in the community.

His family lived in Amontay, a small outlying barrio in the municipality of San Francisco (formerly Anao-aon), west of Surigao City. The family enjoyed the respect of the community because they were known to be kind to neighbors and many were actively involved in their church.

History of political involvement

In the mid-1970s, tension was rising in northern Mindanao due to increasing incidents of landgrabbing, militarization and government abuses. In 1977, the Catholic Church started a program called the Episcopal Commission on Tribal Filipinos or ECTF, under the auspices of the Justice and Peace desk of the National Secretariat for Social Action. The ECTF was tasked to document social issues faced by indigenous peoples in the country and to organize campaigns in their behalf. Julieto became an ECTF staff member.

Surigao in those days was one of the country’s least developed provinces. Ethnic communities wallowed in poverty and suffered from illegal incursions of big mining and agricultural corporations in tribal lands.

At that time, Julieto was working with Mamanwas, a semi-nomadic group physically similar to Aetas of Luzon but occupying the mountains of Agusan and Surigao. Julieto held literacy classes for a group of Mamanwas staying in a farm ran by the diocese. He also taught them farming techniques to help them improve their livelihood.

With his work in ECTF, Julieto learned more about the abuses being suffered by indigenous communities in Mindanao particularly from landgrabbers and from government troops. He took up human rights work, helping communities displaced by military operations or families of victims of illegal arrests or of those summarily executed by soldiers. He started teaching Mamanwas themselves about human rights. “Lito gave talks on the dignity of man…we wanted to help tribal minorities become aware of their dignity and human rights,” said Fr. Arturo Bastes, SVD, then social action director and pastoral coordinator of the diocese.

Good Shepherd sister Diane Cabasagan was also among those who worked with Julieto. In the early 1980s she was executive director of Silingang Dapit sa Mindanao (SILDAP), an interfaith group which wanted to start operations in Surigao. Julieto sought the approval of the bishop and local officials, paving the way for Sildap.

Because the diocese took a conservative stand on tribal people issues, and even stayed silent about crucial issues, Julieto spoke of his increasingly critical views only in small groups, in indoor forums or small local rallies. When the abuses grew worse and the condition of lumads (ethnic communities) deteriorated, Julieto began to speak more openly on these issues. He denounced extrajudicial killings, illegal logging practices, and landgrabbing attempts by cronies of the dictatorship.

Circumstances of disappearance

The day he disappeared, on March 14, 1984, Julieto was on his way to the Claver National High School, where he and a coworker were expected to conduct a spiritual retreat for graduating seniors. The driver said his jeepney was stopped by soldiers at a checkpoint of the 36th infantry battalion. The soldiers searched the occupants and found on Julieto a copy of the Holy Bible and a map of tribal Filipino settlements in Mindanao. They also said he was not carrying proper identification papers (cedula). They let the jeep and its passengers go, except Julieto. Julieto never made it to the students’ retreat; neither did he return home.

The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus for him. His family and coworkers searched for him whenever they received rumors of bodies being dumped in certain places. Julieto was never found. The family believes that the soldiers who seized him had probably killed him.

Impact of disappearance on the community

The community, including Julieto’s co-workers, strongly protested the abduction. They called a 5,000-strong protest rally, exceptionally large for this once-tranquil town. Groups of Mamanwas trekked long distances to attend the first hearing for the habeas corpus petition filed in Julieto’s behalf. Many were reduced to tears, said Fr. Bastes, but others made angry remarks about why such a deed could be perpetrated on such a good man. Some people started calling Julieto the “Ninoy Aquino” of Surigao, after the assassinated senator Benigno Aquino Jr.

The Surigao church and many Surigaonons were affected by the incident. “If Julieto’s disappearance had any redeeming value,” said Fr. Bastes, “it was the transformation of the Surigao clergy’s conservative stand to one which actively upholds human rights and protests rights violations ... Now they are awakened.”

Members of Julieto’s family said they hoped Julieto’s sacrifice would help expose the abuses going on in their province. “There is oppression and abuse of power against innocent people. This is the truth we wish to announce,” Julieto’s sister said.

CHECA, Jorge M.

Jorge Checa was the 7th of nine children of a couple who migrated to Manila from Negros Occidental. His father worked at various jobs while his mother cared for the big family. At the Philippine College of Commerce (now Polytechnic University of the Philippines), Jorge showed a skill for oration, singing and acting. He became active with the college theater group Kamanyang.

History of political involvement

Kamanyang was one of the many student groups that emerged during the growing protest movement against the Marcos regime. It promoted socially-committed theater and staged plays that provoked and criticized. It performed in rallies and travelled to different places, on whichever type of stage, and before a large or small audience in order to show their empathy with the marginalized sectors of our society, the jobless, the poor, the down-trodden.

To depict colonial mentality, Jorge developed the unique character of an English professor who forced his Filipino students to speak English with an American accent. This role made him a well-known protest performer in college campuses in Manila’s university belt, although Jorge also often attracted a rapt audience of laborers or jeepney drivers, coaxing them often to join in the protest activities.

When Marcos declared martial law in 1972, Jorge went into hiding after learning he was in the military’s wanted list. He linked up with other Kamanyang members who similarly went underground and they created youth teams organizing martial-law resistance in northern Metro Manila, now called the CAMANAVA (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela) area.

In Caloocan, Jorge founded a singing group called Salt of the Earth which performed in community meetings. They sang popular tunes as well as songs that spoke of people’s problems and aspirations. The group even made a short appearance at a noontime television variety show.

Jorge married his girlfriend Corazon in July 1973. Their house became the headquarters for community organizers in the area. Months later, the couple and another community organizer Wilfredo Apinado were arrested by the martial law authorities. Corazon and Apinado were released after a day in jail. Jorge, whom the military suspected was a leader, spent three months in detention at Fort Bonifacio.

After his release, Jorge and Corazon decided to move as far away as possible to avoid detection by the regime. They chose Mindanao. Jorge joined up with others, travelling the length of the island while secretly building resistance against the Marcos regime. He and his companions lived with farmers and indigenous communities. He spoke to them about their rights as citizens and how they had to fight for justice and democracy and demand fairness in the government’s treatment of the poor.

Circumstances of death

Corazon would receive occasional letters from Jorge and she knew that in September 1984, Jorge was supposed to be in Zamboanga del Norte. When the letters stopped coming, Corazon suspected the worst. Military officials had floated a report that a political detainee, presumably Jorge himself, had committed suicide while in detention.

Unconvinced about this claim, friends asked human rights lawyers Zorro Aguilar and Jacobo Amatong (both Bantayog martyrs) and other members of the martial-law opposition in Zamboanga to trace Jorge’s whereabouts. Acting on reports that an unmarked grave had been found in Tampilisan town, Zamboanga del Norte, the two lawyers planned to join a fact-finding mission and exhumation. On the eve of their departure, on September 23, 1984, Aguilar and Amatong themselves were assassinated by unidentified gunmen.

Despite this, the exhumation did take place, leading to the recovery of the remains of Jorge and another individual. Jorge’s body bore multiple stab wounds, which disproved the military’s suggestion of suicide.
“Nakilalakosi Jorge sa PCC noongnagingkasapiakongKamanyangtaong 1969. Masayahinn, palabiro, at matalino.Katulongkosiyasapagbibigayngedukasyong pang-masasa akin at saiba pang mgakasapingKamanyang. Walasiyangpagodsamgapagkilos at mgapag-aaralmulasapaaralanhanggangsapagpapakilos.” (Willy Apinado, friend and colleague)

“He was a gentle, fun-loving and kind-hearted man, with a fierce and fearless conviction to do what is right for freedom and justice.” (Jaime A. FlorCruz, friend and colleague)

Research and Documentation

Research and documentation is organic to Bantayog’s work. Thus, the Research and Documentation Committee was the foundation’s first duly-constituted working group, started in July 1986 immediately after the inception of the foundation.The first members were Thelma M. Arceo, Ma. Serena I. Diokno, Paula Carolina Malay and Helen Mendoza, renting a cramped room at the University of Life (ULTRA) in Pasig, and using donated office equipment from Abraham Sarmiento, Sol Yuyitung and KAPATID. Later that year, the committee moved its offices to the Chronicle Building, also in Pasig, after the Benpres Corporation donated bigger facilities for the foundation’s use. Additional researchers were also hired.

The committee has seen its highs and lows but it has continued uninterrupted until today. It is responsible for preparing the biographies and nominations for Bantayog’s first 65 martyrs and heroes engraved on the Wall of Remembrance and unveiled on November 30, 1992. It has prepared the nominations every year since then for the so far 193 martyrs and heroes whose names are inscribed on the Wall.

The Foundation, on the initiative of the Journey with Heroes Project, published in 2008 a limited edition coffee table book of the Bantayog heroes and martyrs. The Research and Documentation  committee assisted in this project.

Through the years, the committee is piloting a research project on a specific period within the Marcos dictatorship. The committee will use oral history as method. The vision is to record the stories of unknown and simple people from far-flung corners of the country who quietly and determinedly stood against the forces of the dictatorship and defended themselves, their families, their schools and their churches, temples and mosques, and their communities, against the onus of martial law.

Much remains to be done, much data need to be gathered and written to tell comprehensive stories of the lives of the thousands who fought against the dictatorship.



The Bantayog Library is housed at the Bantayog Memorial Center (BMC) – Sen. Jovito R. Salonga Building in Diliman, Quezon City. It serves as a repository of materials on the Philippine experience during the Martial Law period.

The library holds over 2,000 titles on Philippine history, politics, economics and other social sciences, rare materials published during the Martial Law period (in print and non-print format), and an extensive collection of posters, illustrations, and other graphic materials.

The library continues to solicit donations of books and reference materials on human rights, justice and democracy.

Our History

The Bantayog Library started out in June 2008. With the help of volunteers of BMC, it opened its doors to the public on February 24, 2009. The library began with donations of materials from several individuals and families, and its collection has grown considerably in its past few years of operation.

Our Mission

We aim to build collections for the study of the Martial Law period, the circumstances that produced the dictatorship, and the people's responses to the repressive regime. The library shall provide the public access to the collections and other sources of information. It is our goal to continue networking with other libraries and institutions for the growth and development of the collections. We shall uphold the highest professional standards of quality service and develop the necessary expertise and innovative spirit among our staff.

The Staff

In order to fulfill the library's vision of becoming a modern, self-sustaining library recognized and accredited locally and internationally as a major repository of materials on the country's experience of authoritarian rule, the Library Committee aims to develop a comprehensive collection, make these available to the public, and ensure the preservation and availability of these for the present and future generations. It is our purpose to act as channel of communication and aid in the establishment of a bridge between the library and the user community.

Our Collections

The Bantayog Library has the following collections:

  • Books

  • Pamphlets

  • Periodicals (journals, magazines and newspapers)

  • Graphic materials (posters, photos, drawings, etc.)

  • Other print and non-print materials (theses, manuscripts, audios and videos, biographies, etc.)

Library hours is from 9AM to 5PM from Monday to Friday except national holidays.

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