bantayog.foundation

bantayog.foundation

BAES, Aloysius U.

Baes Aloysius Ureta
Aloysius “Ochie” Baes was a brilliant Filipino scientist who was active in the movement for democracy and freedom in the Philippines, an environmental expert who has been influential in offering a people-oriented framework in environmental advocacy.

Ochie took his BS chemistry degree at UP Los Baños, graduating cum laude in 1969 (friends say he would have graduated magna cum laude had he not displeased certain school officials). After graduation, he taught chemistry at UP Los Baños and later in Diliman. His teaching stint was interrupted for some time by a period of incarceration under the Marcos dictatorship. In 1982 he left for the United States to pursue studies at the University of Minnesota, completing his doctorate degree with distinction. He taught for a year in a university in Japan, then returned and resumed teaching at UPLB in 1989. Later he turned his sights on environmental concerns.

As a youth, Ochie was courageous and indefatigable. In his fourth year in high school, he led a protest against an oppressive teacher. He is one of the founders of the UP Los Baños chapter of the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) in 1967. He helped organize SDK chapters around the UPLB campus. As chair of the University Student Council in UPLB, Ochie organized student debates and discussion groups. The Council during his term held summer camps where students stayed in rural villages and lived with rural folk. Many UPLB students gained their political consciousness under this program. UPLB was a major presence during protests against oil price increases in 1970, partly through Ochie’s efforts. Ochie led a long protest march from UPLB to Manila in 1971, when then President Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus.

When martial law was declared in 1972, Ochie left the university and went to work organizing farmers in Laguna, He was arrested by martial law authorities in 1973 and released the following year. He returned to teaching but continued to support efforts to organize and teach activists to fight the dictatorship. Even in the United States, he was closely involved with the Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace-USA. After his return from abroad, Ochie helped organize the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC-Phil.) and was its managing director from 1989 to 2003. He also helped found AGHAM, an organization of nationalist and pro-people scientists.

Ochie was tireless in elucidating a pro-people framework for scientists involved in environmental advocacy. Many groups and networks acknowledge Ochie’s role in helping them spell out their vision, mission and goals in environmental work.
Through his research, Ochie helped expose the adverse environmental and health effects of a coal-fired power plant in Calaca, Batangas. Ochie was one of the brains behind a national campaign against toxic wastes left behind by the US military in the Subic and Clark bases.

Ochie did field studies and community education in mining areas in the province of Marinduque. The field studies encouraged residents and local officials to pursue a campaign for environmental justice, rehabilitation and mining moratorium in the island. He was a member of a fact-finding commission that scrutinized the controversial Lafayette mining, a flagship project of the Arroyo administration.

When the Ormoc flooding tragedy happened in 2004, Ochie predicted future landslides and called on government to immediately identify critical areas and prepare residents. The subsequent tragedies in Quezon, Aurora, and Leyte prove Ochie’s dire predictions.
Ochie’s many talents includes music. He came from a family of musicians. His father was a tenor and a band leader, his mother sang and played the organ, and a brother was a renowned faculty member of the College of Music in UP Diliman. Ochie himself played the piano, flute, guitar, clarinet and other instruments. During his incarceration, Ochie composed a slew of songs that soon became very popular and would later become classic fare among activist and progressive circles. The songs include “Huwad na Kalayaan,” “Mutya,” “Kay Taas ng Pader,” turning prison virtually into a music factory.

Ochie had a heart condition. His health steadily deteriorated, until he died of kidney complications in 2006. With his passing, the country lost a dedicated and brilliant son who gave all that he had to give, his time, energy and talent for his country and people.

Born July 28, 1948, in Los Baños, Laguna
Died December 21, 2006, in Quezon City
Parents Aurora U. and Gerardo E. Baes
Siblings 2nd child of 5 children (3 brothers, 2 sisters)

Education
Elementary Makiling Elementary School
High School UP Rural High School
College BS Agricultural Chemistry (cum laude), UP Los Baños, 1969
Masteral University of Minnesota, USA
Doctorate University of Minnesota, USA

BAUTISTA, Manuel

Bautista Manuel

Manuel Bautista had a relaxed childhood growing up in suburban Quezon City. He played soccer and chess with friends, hiking, swimming, and sometimes listening to music. His father was a mechanic and his mother ran a neighborhood store.

At school, he won honors consistently, and in college, was quite a popular figure. He was elected councilor to the college student body and representative to the university student council. He also became active with the college campus paper, the Aggie Green and Gold.

As college councilor, he helped in the establishment of a textbook exchange and rental center at the Los Baños campus of the University of the Philippines. The institution continues to serve UPLB students to this day.

As student council representative, he was one of several campus leaders who in 1969 exposed a controversial project being jointly undertaken by the UP College of Forestry with a foreign chemical company involving the testing of a defoliant that was used by American soldiers in Vietnam. The expose was published in the Philippine Collegian in 1969.

Manny became a tireless militant, doing research and writing for various causes. He joined the UPCA Cultural Society and the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK), both critical of the Marcos government. He was on his senior year when President Ferdinand Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971. In protest, Manny left the university and joined the underground movement operating in the Southern Tagalog provinces of Laguna and Quezon.

Since he spoke and wrote in both Filipino and English, his first task was understandably the running of an underground newspaper in Southern Tagalog. Manny was its writer and editor, and often its typesetter and proofreader as well.

Running an underground publishing network was risky, especially after Marcos imposed martial law in 1972. Manny and his team had to camouflage their editorial office, particularly the noise of typewriters and mimeographing machines, had to develop safe sources of paper and other materials, and ensure a safe but adequate distribution network.

Each copy that fell into soldiers' hands made them more avid to find the source and to break the network. Manny was arrested in November 1973 and hauled to Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna. In December of that year, nine political prisoners prisoners escaped from the camp. Manny was one of them. Manny rejoined the underground, assuming editorship of another underground newspaper in the Quezon-Bicol area. Like missionaries, Manny and his team lived with the impoverished communities, enduring hunger and cold, and working days and nights, in the riskiest conditions, in order to produce their newspaper. It was fulfilling work, but dangerous.

In September 1976, Manny was with a group of guerrillas when it was chanced upon by government troopers in Tagkawayan, Quezon. Manny was killed in the encounter. Surviving comrades took his body and buried him in an unmarked grave. He had just turned 30.

* Born 25 July 1946 in Manila
* Died September 1976 in Tagkawayan, Quezon
* Parents: Uldarico and Susan Bautista
* Education : Elementary - Pura V. Kalaw Elementary School, Quezon City
High School - University of the Philippines High School, Diliman, Quezon City
College – UP Los Baños, Laguna, 4th year BS Economics

LANDRITO, Vergel

Landrito Vergel Edquilane

Vergel Landrito, "Butch" to his friends, had a normal and ordinary childhood growing in a quiet middle class family. His childhood was unremarkable. His mother remembers him as a friendly child with an almost adult concern for weaker playmates.

Butch was in his late teens when he started to show interest in organizations. The first he helped organize he named Black Cats, a neighborhood barkada and basketball team. He became its leader.

At that time in the late 1960s, an intellectual ferment was brewing at the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines. Butch's family lived in Area 2, a government housing project for members of the faculty.

Butch came into contact with a militant group of students called the Samahang Demokratiko ng mga Kabataan (SDK), and soon Butch made most of his Black Cats friends the core of the SDK chapter in Area 2. Butch and his friends held study sessions. Butch attended teach ins at the front steps of the UP Arts and Sciences building. He joined mass actions. He read the manifestos of various groups. He recruited for the SDK

In 1969, an unexpected twist of events changed Butch's life. Butch’s Beta Sigma fraternity became involved in a rumble with another fraternity, the Upsilon Sigma Phi. The rumble resulted in the death of one Upsilonian member and the suspension from UP of Butch, among other Beta Sigmans. Butch never returned to the university.

He became more politically involved. He joined programs that organized exposure and immersion trips to urban poor areas. He started spending time in a community in Tandang Sora, Quezon City, and in another community in Old Balara, also in Quezon City. Soon he was organizing SDK chapters in these places. In 1970, he left the family home to move to an urban poor community in Tandang Sora. He was by then working fulltime as an SDK community organizer. Butch spoke plainly and had a sense of humor. He never spoke above people. He had ways of telling the truth as he believed in them.

The following year he joined an armed propaganda unit of the New People's Army operating in the Tarlac-Zambales boundary, which was surrounded by Aeta communities. For months, Butch moved about the area, but with increasing difficulty. Sometimes he did organizing work inside the Crow Valley, still under American jurisdiction.

In April 1972, Butch's group figured in a military encounter in Botolan, Zambales, where everyone in his team was killed.

In Zambales today, Butch is remembered as that even tempered person, who taught Aetas and other locals protest songs. He died a young 22 year old, never really reaching full adulthood, but in Zambales some residents regard him as a worthy warrior.

Born 27 July 1950 in Quezon City
Died 25 April 1972 in Botolan, Zambales
Parents : Maximo Landrito Jr and Paz Edquilane
Education : Elementary - UP Elementary School
High School - UP High School
College - University of the Philippines, Civil engineering (up to 3rd year only)

PASTOR, Fernando T. Sr.

pastor

Northern Luzon under the Marcos dictatorship was regarded as “Marcos country,” where local officials and institutions were held in the grip of individuals who exercised authority through terrorism, control of resources and of course the impunity they enjoyed.

The province of Quirino was part of this region, and it was ruled by Orlando Dulay, once the constabulary commander of the province, then its governor and later, assemblyman or representative in the Batasang Pambansa. Dulay was the provincial coordinator of the Marcos political party, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), and his residence was the KBL headquarters.

Dulay treated the province as his personal kingdom. He had his own private army composed of militiamen and discharged soldiers. He used them to take over land and other properties, to intimidate his enemies and to sow fear and terror among the people. No wonder, there was “peace and order” in the area.

Fernando T. Pastor was one of those community leaders who were forced to keep silent about the abuses that were going on. When President Marcos declared martial law in 1972, he had been serving for four years as barangay captain of Rizal, in Diffun municipality. He was a popular leader who managed to produce good results: a barangay hall was built and roads were repaired. Everyone was encouraged to participate in barangay activities. He always sympathized with the common folk, probably because he was born to a poor family in Tayug, Pangasinan, and it was as a working student that he was able to earn his degree in sacred literature at the Philippine Bible College in Baguio City.

Being a preacher of the US-based Church of Christ, Pastor devoted himself to conducting services, teaching religious classes in high school, and reading the Bible and a wide range of materials. He loved to preach and to debate about religious precepts.

In 1982, Pastor started a fish farm in Cabarroguis, Quirino where the family came to live. He was a good provider, his wife Cristeta said, going out to fish all night long when needed, in order to put food on the table for his children. He pioneered the organization of the Fishpond Operators Association of Quirino, and was later elected its president.

But when snap presidential polls were called in 1985, Pastor decided it was no longer time to keep quiet. He actively campaigned for Corazon Aquino. He became municipal coordinator of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO) and its provincial vice-chair. He went around campaigning, urging people to vote for Aquino because "Marcos is old and has been in power for so long… let’s try a young and fresh administration."

That was not what Dulay liked to hear. Pastor began receiving threats to his life. Someone he knew, who worked for the governor, told him: "Better stop campaigning for Cory. The boss is not pleased." Apparently, the last straw was when Pastor ignored Dulay's summons to come and talk with him.

On February 6, 1986, eve of the snap presidential elections, Pastor, his oldest son Fernando Pastor Jr. and colleague Francisco Laurella were walking on their way home to Cabarroguis when they were abducted by Dulay himself and two of his men. The three UNIDO campaigners were taken to Dulay’s residence and kept inside a van for three days. As Pastor and Laurella pleaded to be spared for the sake of their children, Dulay was said to have shrugged and commented: "This is your last night."

The ravaged bodies of the younger Pastor and Francisco Laurella were found near a ravine three days later, and that of the elder Pastor five days after. They had been tortured and mutilated.

The Pastor family hurriedly left the province in fear and despair, their livelihood in shambles. Dulay was eventually charged with the deaths of the three men and, in 1990, sentenced to life imprisonment by the Quezon City regional trial court. He was also ordered to indemnify their families.

PARENTS Maximo Pastor and Maria Tamayo
SPOUSE / CHILDREN Cristeta Ceazar / 6

EDUCATION
College: Luna Colleges, Tayug, Pangasinan; Philippine Bible College, Baguio City

PEDRO, Purificacion A.

Pedro, purificacion

“To be of service to one’s brother is to live meaningfully,” she said. Purificacion Pedro, a social worker, did live a meaningful life of service, but it was cut short, as she lay wounded in a hospital, by a brutal engagement with one of the Marcos dictatorship’s most notorious torturers.

She was a social work graduate of the University of the Philippines, and had distinguished herself by obtaining 10th place in the 1969 national board examination for social workers. Her first job was at the National Rehabilitation Training Center, a government facility providing services for the physical handicapped.

In 1970, Pedro, called Puri by her friends, began to work at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Cubao, Quezon City. She helped run a parish day nursery, a sewing group for urban poor women and handled the educational program of two cooperatives. She worked with the urban poor and the out-of-school youth by holding summer camps and leadership seminars. During the floods in 1972, she volunteered her services, bringing medicine and relief goods to many affected areas around Quezon City. She also worked at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Mandaluyong, Rizal, with emphasis on Christian community-building and leaders’ formation.

She left her parish job in 1975 and worked as a volunteer for the organizations supporting the anti-Chico Dam movement in Northern Luzon. She knew that it would be more dangerous than the work she had been doing in Quezon City. In a letter to her parents, she said: “I am aware of the difficulties and risks, but I have learned a lot by now…. I am glad that I am finding fulfilment in the career that I have chosen; surely not because of the monetary benefits professionals are after, but rather because this allows me to be among the people, both poor and the middle class…who aspire and are working for true human development.”

In 1976, she was due to join the staff of the Catholic church’s Luzon Secretariat for Social Action (LUSSA).
Before starting on her new job, however, Pedro went on a trip to Bataan where she visited friends in a New People’s Army (NPA) guerrilla camp. It was a bad time to go visiting, because a military operation was in progress at the area. She was caught in an armed encounter, with a bullet wound in her shoulder.

Pedro’s family found her at the Bataan Provincial Hospital, recovering from her wound and under military guard. Relatives took turns watching her, as she feared for her life. On the sixth day of her confinement, however, a team of interrogators came from Manila and forced their way into the hospital room. They were led by Col. Rolando Abadilla, a constabulary officer who had already been implicated in numerous accounts of torture and abuse of political detainees. Abadilla and his men ordered Puri's sister to leave the room then locked themselves in with their captive for about an hour. After they had left, their victim was found dead inside the bathroom, strangled by a piece of wire; in her hand was a medal of the Virgin Mary.

PARENTS Genaro Pedro and Maria Abarro

EDUCATION
Elementary: Shamrock Elementary School, Laoag City
Secondary: Holy Spirit Academy, Laoag City
College: University of the Philippines Diliman

PESQUESA, Florencio S.

pesquesa

The case of Florencio Pesquesa, a workers’ union leader who disappeared in 1979, illustrates how under martial law, powerful forces colluded with each other in suppressing people’s rights and covering up abuses against the defenseless people.

Pesquesa was born in Canlubang, Laguna, where thousands of workers toiled on huge tracts of land to produce the sugar that was the Philippines’ no. 1 export commodity for most of the 20th century. His father worked there as a train machinist and the young Florencio was also employed for a time as warehouse checker. But employment at the plantation, from which its owners gained untold wealth, barely assured the survival of the farmworkers. The
Pesquesa family remained poor.

Seeking more stable pay, in the 1960s the younger Pesquesa enlisted with the Philippine Constabulary and by 1969 had been promoted to master sergeant, stationed in Sta. Cruz, Laguna. After learning that he was due for deployment in Mindanao – at the time heavy fighting was already going on in the rebellious Moro regions, and besides his wife was ill – he resigned from the service. To support his growing family, he began tilling a piece of land owned by his father-in-law. Not long after, however, the farm had to be sold. The Pesquesa family was forced to move to Inchican, Silang, Cavite, where relatives took them in.

Most of the people there worked for Hacienda Inchican, owned by Jose Campos, a crony of President Marcos who also owned a giant pharmaceutical and drugstore chain among other businesses. Seeking to defend their rights against increasingly oppressive management policies, the workers affiliated with the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers (NFSW) in December 1974. Florencio Pesquesa, “Ka Pisyong,” was designated organizer of the local NFSW chapter. “He was a good man who devoted his time to the workers’ welfare. He was sincerely committed to his fellow workers,” attested his friend, vice president of the Inchican labor union.

When Pesquesa and more than 80 other workers were booted out for their union activities, they fought back by filing a case with the National Labor Relations Commission for union-busting and unfair labor practices of the hacienda management. They persevered despite delaying tactics by management, harassment of the workers and their families, employment of scabs on the plantation, further lowering of the daily wage, and more dismissals. After more than a year, the case was resolved in favor of the workers. Still, management refused to comply with full implementation of the decision. More reprisals against the workers followed. Two union members were killed under suspicious circumstances.
Pesquesa continued to serve the union, although he knew that it was dangerous to do so considering the company’s influence and resources. In January 1978, at the Inchican community fiesta, the hacienda’s chief “cane guard” openly vowed to kill him for his union activities, claiming that management had paid for this to happen. Ka Pisyong did take precautions while attending to his duties, but one year later the threat was apparently carried out.

On January 3, 1979, Pesquesa and a nephew were accosted by two armed men accompanied by two local barangay captains who knew Ka Pisyong. The armed men told Pesquesa they were agents of the Civilian Investigation Service of the Philippine Constabulary, and that they were taking him to Bicutan in Taguig, Metro Manila, for interrogation. They sent away his nephew, who was then able to inform Ka Pisyong’s wife of the abduction. She immediately went to look for him, starting with the two barangay captains, but they denied any knowledge or participation in the crime. Higher-level authorities similarly refused to cooperate.

After the dictatorship was ousted in 1986, some properties belonging to Marcos or his cronies came under the control of the new government. Thus, the workers of Hacienda Inchican petitioned for its transfer to the tillers, and lots were eventually awarded. They also asked for an investigation into the disappearance of Ka Pisyong, but the missing union leader was never seen again.

PARENTS Teodoro Pesquesa and Salome Salvador
SPOUSE / CHILDREN Florencia Patapat / 6

EDUCATION
Elementary: Balagbag Elementary School, Canlubang, Laguna
Secondary: Tanauan High School, Batangas

RAGRAGIO, Clemente P.

ragragio

For 30 years, Clemente Ragragio had been a good and faithful public servant. He was the municipal sanitation inspector of Ligao and later, the small town of Oas, one of the poorest in Albay province.

Roads were bad. Doctor’s visits or hospital care was out of the question for most local residents. Malnutrition was common, especially among children.

Ragragio didn’t just sit in his office and wait to be called. He organized the health services in the barangays of Oas, paying attention to the construction of toilets, assuring the supply of safe water to the community and putting up a system of distribution. He visited even the remote villages, making sure he brought along some medicines for distribution.

Thus, people trusted and respected him. In 1983, he was named Best Sanitary Inspector for the whole province, and he was being considered for a promotion as head of the provincial office.

But maybe because he knew first-hand about the situation at the grassroots, Ragragio was not happy. He believed that the government’s wrong priorities and disregard for the people's rights were the reason why Oas and its people were poor and deprived of services. Although the Bicol region was heavily militarized, he openly criticized the government’s neglect of his province.

He was kindhearted and easy to get along with, but also independent-minded and principled. After the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983, he joined the Bicol chapter of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and became an active member of its municipal steering committee.

It was a time when people’s organizations – farmers, tricycle drivers, human-rights advocates – had found the courage to publicly resist the dictatorship. Voicing out their grievances and demands, they sent delegations to various protest actions in the big cities of Bicol such as Legazpi, Sorsogon and Naga. There was also much talk of guerrilla successes in the countryside. Pro-Marcos local officials gave full cooperation to the military in trying to suppress the opposition.

Somehow, Ragragio found himself a target of speculation by some authorities: they said that because he could freely move about in the barrios, he must be a secret supporter of the rebels. In 1985 the sleepy town of Oas was hit by a series of political killings.

On the day that Ragragio was shot dead, he had attended a protest rally in the town of Daraga marking the second anniversary of Ninoy Aquino’s death. There had been a “hukumang bayan” (people’s tribunal) that found the regime guilty of crimes against the people.

That evening he was relaxing at home, taking in the breeze in his front yard, when a gunman walked up and fired three bullets with a handgun, before escaping. No investigation was made by either the civilian, police or military authorities.

Despite the shock and fear that followed, many people flocked to pay Ragragio their last respects. Above his coffin hung a banner which read: “Happy are those who pay the price to make their dreams come true.”
Just six months after he was silenced, the dictatorship was finally ousted.

PARENTS Gil Ragragio and Alejandra Patricio
SPOUSE / CHILDREN Arsenia Rayco / 8

EDUCATION
Elementary: Oas South Central School, Oas, Albay
Secondary: Ateneo de Naga
College: Ateneo de Naga; Bicol College, Albay

RESUS, Arnulfo A.

resus

Influenced by his parents, Arnulfo Resus was a regular churchgoer, attended Sunday school and mastered the Bible even as a child. Later he himself served as Sunday school teacher and was active in the Christian Youth Fellowship program.

He was the second of four children of a typically middle-class family. His father was a former member of the Philippine Air Force. Arnulfo, called Noli, had a well-ordered childhood. He got excellent grades in school, and was also good at drawing, painting and declamation.

He entered the University of the Philippines in Diliman as a full scholar in geodetic engineering in 1969. There he joined the Kabataang Makabayan and the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines. During the floods that hit Metro Manila and Central Luzon in the early 1970s, he was among the volunteer workers who brought medicines and relief goods to flood victims in Tatalon, Quezon City which was a stone's throw away from their house.

Resus stayed active with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, giving talks and organizing youths. He became well known among his church members as a sharp critic of the Marcos government's increasingly repressive rule. Eventually he transferred to the Philippine Christian University where he started to attract the attention of military intelligence. When martial law was declared in 1972, he went underground and continued to organize for the anti-dictatorship movement. He also became a member of the banned Christians for National Liberation.

In 1974 he was arrested in Quiapo, and badly tortured by those who arrested him. For a while he was held incommunicado inside a dungeon where, as he recounted to his father, he could neither stand, nor sit, nor lie down in the space that was purposely built for such confinement. With the incessant pleadings by his father with friends in the military, Resus was released after eight months; no charges were filed against him.

In late 1975, shortly after his release, Resus married Aida Carlos, a fellow church member who was also an activist. Soon after, the couple left for Northern Luzon as community organizers for the underground. Then In February 1977, his family received the news that he had been killed by government forces in Isabela province. The fate of his wife remained unknown.

The body of Arnulfo Resus was never recovered. On December 27, 1985, he was given posthumous honors by the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines.

PARENTS Ruben Resus and Corazon Altamirano
SPOUSE Aida Carlos

EDUCATION
Elementary: Eulogio Rodriguez Elementery School, Mandaluyong
Secondary: Manila Science High School
College: University of the Philippines Diliman; Philippine Christian University;
Philippine College of Commerce

REYES, Jose B.L.

reyes

By the time martial law was declared in September 1972, Justice J. B. L. Reyes had stepped down from the judiciary, having reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 on August 19 the previous month. But his admirers said, only half-jokingly, that President Marcos really waited one month more to sign the decree because he didn’t want Reyes in the Supreme Court when he imposed his despotic rule.

Such was the moral and legal authority of Jose Benedicto Luis Reyes, better known as JBL Reyes, conferred upon him by a long and distinguished career that began after he passed the bar in 1922, up to the 18 years (1954 to 1972) that he served in the highest court of the land.

He made an invaluable contribution to legal thought in the Philippines, particularly through his work in the Supreme Court, where he wrote many landmark decisions that continued to guide jurisprudence for many years.
Moreover, there was never any stain on Reyes' personal integrity. As a jurist, his decisions were accepted by all without any doubt about his motive or subjective considerations.

Under the dictatorship, it was clear to everyone where Justice Reyes stood – on the side of human rights and the people’s aspirations for democracy. (In 1937, he was one of the founding members of the Civil Liberties Union of the Philippines and was imprisoned in Fort Santiago for activities in the anti-Japanese resistance during World War II.)

He gave wise counsel to the leaders of the anti-dictatorship opposition, and lent his name to the legal battles they were fighting. He engaged in “constructive criticism of the Supreme Court” which at the time was not much help against Marcos’ so-called constitutional authoritarianism. He served as the first elected president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), leading the country’s lawyers at a time when the rule of law had been twisted upside-down by the dictatorial regime.

After the ouster of Marcos, Reyes accepted an appointment from President Corazon Aquino to serve as acting chairman of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights, replacing Jose W. Diokno who had resigned in protest against the massacre of peasants at Mendiola in January 1987. Reyes headed the PCHR from February to May 1987.
He died on December 12, 1994 at the age of 92.

PARENTS Ricardo A. Reyes and Maria C. Luna
SPOUSE / CHILDREN Rosario L. Reyes / 3

EDUCATION
Elementary / Secondary: Ateneo de Manila
College: Ateneo de Manila; University of the Philippines
Postgraduate: University of Santo Tomas

ROBLES, Reynaldo L.

robles

Reynaldo Robles had a good singing voice. As a teenaged boy of 18 he participated in the talent search Student Canteen, and was declared champion of that week. That same year, he joined Sing-out Philippines, a well-known musical group as a guitarist and singer. He played in “combos,” as youth bands were called at the time (Bob Dylan was his favorite artist), and he enjoyed partying with his sisters and friends.

But Rey also had a serious side. In high school, he helped in drug education campaigns; beautification drives in his community in Kamuning, Quezon City saw him cleaning up and sprucing up the neighborhood together with the other young people.

In college, Robles was not an activist – he was somewhat turned off by their strong language – but he could sympathize with them on the issues they raised. He wanted explanations for the gross inequalities in Philippine society. He wanted government to be responsible to the citizens.

After earning his license as a chemical engineer in 1970, he was about to take a job at a multinational corporation. But he decided instead to volunteer for a program under the archdiocese of Manila, called Action Leaven, which involved organizing poor communities, establishing cooperatives, conducting discussions among the residents to talk about their problems. In the crowded district of Tondo he soon learned that poverty and crime were not one and the same, and that the poor were far from being lazy and stupid. His first organizational attempt resulted in the Progresibong Kilusang Binhi, a livelihood movement for poor families.

Then he joined the Kilusang Kristiyano ng Kabataang Pilipino (KKKP), where he came to learn about liberation theology, which showed him that religious faith could be a powerful motivation in activism for social change. Here he met priests and nuns, pastors and church intellectuals, organizing protests and joining politically-oriented rallies against the growing authoritarianism of the then Marcos administration. Once he went with a group of priests to Negros where he experienced working in the sugarcane fields alongside the sacada migrant workers, nearly collapsing from the heat of the sun and his hands bleeding from the toil.

Robles became a leader in the KKKP, and a founding member of the Christians for National Liberation when it was organized on the eve of martial law. Despite the restrictions, they continued to meet and organize; Robles was tasked to build a network of students and church members in the Quezon City-Marikina area. In 1973, he was arrested and imprisoned for six months. After his release, he worked in a youth program of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

But he felt that his calling was to take up the hard life and sacrifice of a community organizer in the rural areas. Thus he left for Oriental Mindoro and bought a small farm there, establishing himself in the remote town of Gloria. Although Robles had no roots in the area, his natural warmth soon won the hearts and trust of the peasants among whom he chose to live. That, of course, was enough to make the military suspicious of him.

One morning in September 1977, Rey Robles was boiling some bananas for breakfast when government troops made a surprise attack. He was killed instantly by a bullet to the head. His neighbors gave him a proper burial in town. After the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, the Robles family were finally able to exhume his remains for reburial in Manila.

PARENTS Toribio Robles Sr. and Sixta Laminaria

EDUCATION
Elementary: Kamuning Elementary School, Quezon City
Secondary: Quezon City High School
College: Mapua Institute of Technology
Postgraduate: Ateneo Graduate School

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