bantayog.foundation

bantayog.foundation

BELONE II, Alexander

Belone Alexander Abunita

Alexander, called by family as Totoy and by friends as Alex, was born on June 23, 1952 in Naga City, where also he grew up with his one and only sibling, elder sister Elizabeth.

He is remembered as a child for being unselfish and a dreamer. He would give away his pencils to his playmates and taught them to read and write. He dreamed that he would go out into the world to sell blankets in order to help support his family. The family also called him Captain. He preferred reading to playing, being happiest with a book. Thus he was an honor pupil in grade school, but shy with the girls although he joined organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Archery Association, Glee Club and the Knights of the Sanctuary. He was fascinated with constellations.

In grade school he was a bit intimidated with numbers but studying at the Philippine Science High School, he learned to appreciate their clear‑cut, no-­nonsense directness. His father remembered Totoy musing once: "in math, 1+1=2, but in language, you could say 'yes,' 'no,' or'maybe,' which is a lot harder (to understand) than '21"

He left his family home at age 13 to live in a boarding house for PSHS male students in Manila. There his shy and quiet personality underwent subtle change as he lived in a household full of rambunctious boys with different backgrounds. But soon he had his circle of friends, a barkada, whose friendships would be long‑lasting, and whose influence on him, for better or for worse, was permanent.

It was this set of friends that helped bridge for him the transition to the bigger world, the university. Totoy and many of his PSHS friends who enrolled at UP were soon members of the fraternity Tan Rho Xi, as the social and political storm raged in the nation and the university.

Totoy became a member of Kabataang Makabayan, and was soon drawn to participate in the First Quarter Storm of 1970, and the widespread mobilization to help in the floods of October 1970. He found that University was so much more interesting and educating!

However, danger was just around the corner. On December 4, 1970, Totoy was marching at a rally next to another PSHS student, Francis Sontillano, when a security guard of the Feati University dropped a pillbox on the marchers. Sontillano died almost instantly. A few months later, on February 1, 1971, Totoy was sitting next to Pastor Mesina, at a student barricade at the University of the Philippines at the start of a historical period called the Diliman Commune, when a professor took out a gun and fired. The bullet killed Mesina.

Suddenly all this was too much for Totoy's parents. They got Totoy to move back to Naga, where he continued his college education at the University of Nueva Caceres. However, the liberating breath of activism had gotten into the young boy's blood. He continued to organize for KM at his new school, and was soon writing radical literature for the Nueva Caceres school paper. Following is one such untitled poem he wrote:

Can the choicest words

And the harshest sounds

Provide power to a people

Long oppressed under the yoke

Of feudal and imperialist tyranny?

Shall we not cast aside

The broken pen that knows all terms

And the paper pure prepared for lines?

Shall we not transform

Angry words into moving force

Pointed pens into sharpened bolos

Spurting ink into barking bullets?

Come now literary laureates

Turn your scripts and your books

Into mass bases of the revolution

And your pens and typewriters Into automatic rifles of the revolutionaries

That will write the great epic

Of the Filipino race!

Slowly, Totoy's parents began to understand the roots of their son's activism. "Patriotism is in our blood," remembered Totoy's father. "My father was a soldier and an officer, and he went to the hills to join the struggle against the Japanese during World War Il."

When Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law, Totoy's parents realized that the situation was ripe for a decision, and they made it firmly. They borrowed P700 and Totoy went, with his parents' full blessing, to join his friends in the underground where he would stay until his death eight years later.

Overtime, his new name Ka Tandis started to be spoken of in respectful whispers not only among Totoy's friends but throughout the Bicol region, and also in Southern Tagalog where he also stayed for a while. Ka Tandis became a teacher for the resistance, trudging up and down the slopes of the Bicol region to instruct comrades in various topics (philosophy, politics, economics, the resistance program, strategy and tactics, and so on.)

Instructors like Ka Tandis provided the theoretical framework on which activists based their work, which otherwise would have dissolved into hot‑headed actions that would not have been helpful to their honorable goals and intentions.

As an instructor, Ka Tandis was remembered for his patience in explaining principles and in dealing with companions with problems or those with very little experience, and for always seeking to achieve new learnings himself. He was honest about his own weaknesses and mistakes, calm in handling disputes, respectful of women's capabilities, a model of the same principles he had espoused.

He never married, but he once jokingly told a friend he had a sweetheart "who was not aware of it yet."

On October 11, 1980, at around 7 o'clock in the morning, in Barangay Coguit, Balatan, Camarines Sur, Ka Tandis and another comrade were resting in a house when troops came. Ka Tandis' companion managed to escape the encirclement but Ka Tandis gave up his life for his cause. He was 28.

It is said that his death was felt across the region, like Mayon Volcano erupting. But his parents took his death bravely. "A tree dies but a forest lives forever," says his father. "We raised a son who loved his country more than himself. In times of peace you pay revenues in cash, but in times of crisis, you pay in terms of life. He died just once, unlike a coward who dies many times."

And his mother: "in his wake, people from all over came to share the moment with us. Many loved him, and in our hearts we couldn't help but be convinced that our son died for a right cause."

A few months after Alex's death, martial law was lifted in name, and several years later, actually dismantled through people power mobilization. Alex did not see the fruits of his and his comrades' labors. But his family feels that without his sacrifices and those of people like him, freedom as Filipinos now enjoy, would not have come as soon.

* Parents : Alejandro Belone and Victoria Abonita

* Education :   Elementary ‑ Naga Parochial School, Naga City, 3rd honorable mention, 1965

High School ‑ Philippine Science High School, Quezon City, 1970

College ‑ University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City

University of Nueva Caceres, Naga City

CUPINO-ARMEA, Julieta

Cupino-Armea Juliet

The young Julieta Cupino lived across the river from a working class community in Pasig City. This early exposure to poverty, plus her elder brother Edgar’s activism, made Julieta aware of social realities in her country.

When she was 17, she started organizing the Samahan ng Kababaihan sa Rizal, recruiting mostly women laborers. Her choice of a career in the nursing profession also showed this caring spirit.

Despite the imposition of martial law in 1972, Juliet continued to organize women workers in Solid Mills and the Philippine American Embroidery, then employing some ten thousand workers, and one of the biggest bra-and-underwear factories in the country.

Evading very restrictive martial law decrees, Juliet helped women workers organize against low wages, overwork, and the lack of benefits, including maternity leave and day care support. The big firms enjoyed the regime’s support and were resorting to questionable practices, such as preferring single women and calling new hires as trainees to force them to accept trainee wages, and were imposing repressive rules, such as putting unreasonable limits on water breaks and toilet breaks.

Juliet enlightened the women workers about their rights, taught them negotiating techniques and fund-raising methods, and also get them into contact with nuns and priests who wanted to assist them in their labor struggle.

During the 1978 campaign for Batasan representatives, Juliet helped organize worker electoral committees to support the opposition party, LABAN, under which then incarcerated Senator Benigno Aquino Jr was running as candidate. The Samahan ng Kababaihan ng Rizal supported the LABAN candidates vigorously. Since many women workes were also first-time voters, Juliet also helped organized voters’ education seminars. Juliet joined the massive noise barrage when LABAN and Ninoy were cheated of victory, calling on her Pasig neighbors to join also.

Juliet’s husband Oscar, who had also been involved in trade union organizing, was arrested in 1979. Juliet joined KAPATID, an organization families of political prisoners, and helped in their information campaigns.

When Oscar was released from prison, the couple made the painful decision to move out of Metro Manila and continue their union work in Mindanao. They had to leave their two children behind. In Mindanao, Juliet learned the local language, and taught herself to walk barefoot and learn rural skills like pounding palay.

Juliet’s task was to head an underground district organization of anti-dictatorship forces in Misamis Oriental. By 1982, the military had intensified its counter-insurgency campaign in the province. It built up fanatic groups and recruited their members as paramilitary force. Notable among them was the Tadtad cult.

Juliet was head of a paramedic group when Tadtads attacked in the early dawn of 27 October 1983. When they came, Juliet and an aide exchanged fire to cover the retreat of the rest. All the members of her team escaped, but her companion was killed and Juliet was captured alive. For four hours, she was tortured, raped, beaten with wood all over her body, until she died.

It was the height of military rule in Mindanao and fear of government reprisal was intense. The mayor did not want Juliet buried in the cemetery. But human rights advocates insisted. The Catholic bishop came to lead the rites, holding the burial ceremonies “sa gilid ng sementeryo,” outside the cemetery walls.

* Parents : Isaias Cupino and Elena Ranollo

* Spouse : Oscar Armea

* Children : 2 (Carlos and Ma. Lorena)

ROCES, Joaquin P.

roces

Joaquin P. Roces was known to most “street parliamentarians” as Chino Roces, “Tatang,”a casually dressed, kindly gentleman with white hair and mustache.

He may not have looked it, but he was one of the most influential personalities in the country before martial law was declared by President Marcos, being the owner and publisher of the Philippines’ most widely-circulated and respected publications at the time. These included the Manila Times, Daily Mirror, Taliba, and the Weekly Women’s Magazine. He also owned a radio station and a television station.

Although he was born into wealth and social prominence, Roces disdained the privileges and comforts of power. He had a soft spot for the underprivileged, and used his media organization to organize successful efforts to mobilize citizen assistance for those in need. During the killer floods that devastated Central Luzon in June and August 1972, he had food supplies airdropped to the survivors. When a big earthquake totally destroyed the Ruby Tower building in Manila, Roces was among the first to arrive at the scene to offer help. Earlier, during the 1965 eruption of Taal Volcano, he spearheaded a relief drive for the stricken victims.

When Marcos declared martial law in 1972, Roces was among the first he ordered arrested and detained. He would be jailed two more times after that, but he refused to give up. Despite his advanced age and failing health, he was in the forefront of many protest rallies, facing water cannons, truncheons and tear gas bombs.

During the snap presidential elections in 1986, the widow of assassinated Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. was reluctant to run against the dictator. Roces took it upon himself to convince Cory Aquino to run for president, by pledging to collect one million signatures for her candidacy.

After a civilian-military revolt in 1986 finally deposed Marcos and installed a new democratic government, Roces went back to publishing, but the old Manila Times was gone and he himself was not in good health any more. What’s more, the new government had shortcomings that to him were glaringly obvious.

When President Corazon Aquino conferred on him the medal of the Philippine Legion of Honor in 1988, Chino Roces decided it would be better to be frank with her and offer his sincere appraisal of what needed to be corrected in government. It was an act of good citizenship.

Roces died of cancer in September of that year. He was 75.

PARENTS                             Alejandro Roces and Antonia Pardo

SPOUSE / CHILDREN       Pacita Carvajal / 3

EDUCATION                       Secondary: Ateneo de Manila

Post-secondary: England, U.K.

BROCKA, Catalino O.

Brocka Catalino final

Catalino (or the more popular “Lino”) Brocka, is one of the greatest film and stage directors the country has produced.

Lino was born poor and failed to complete a degree but he built himself up to become an insightful director, creating Filipino films and plays that were acclaimed in local and international circles for both their craft and social content. Despite the success and stature he achieved, Lino kept sight of his humble beginnings. He fought for farmers and agrarian reform and supported street strikers. He denounced censorship and resisted the Marcos dictatorship, suffering arrest for his views.

Lino’s father Regino was an itinerant carpenter/boat-builder/salesman from Sorsogon, and his mother, a barrio lass. Regino was, however, a well-rounded man. He taught Lino not only how to read and handle numbers. He also taught him the art of song, dance and poetry, and exposed him to the local politics in his hometown.

Regino was killed in what looked like a political vendetta. Faced with rearing two young sons alone, his widow Pilar left Sorsogon and went back to her hometown in San Jose, Nueva Ecija. She left Lino in the care of her sister. Lino served as his aunt’s houseboy, suffering the aunt’s insult and abuse for years. When he could no longer take it, Lino rejoined his mother and brother in his grandmother’s house.

The young boy showed an early interest in movies, watching Hollywood classics over and over again in the decrepit movie hall in small-town San Jose. He excelled in academics, was brilliant at debate, oration, and other performing activities. He read poetry in the evenings, standing on the dining table before an admiring family. He was once awarded the province’s best student orator and later organized a community theater group. Lino read voraciously. He graduated with six medals and won a scholarship to the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

Lino enrolled in English Literature but he lost his scholarship at the end of his freshman year. He resorted to doing odd jobs to support himself. He worked as a clerk at a music shop, and did publicity work. Once he worked as an assistant stage director. Lino applied to join the UP Dramatics Club and was rejected at first because of his thick accent and lack of height. Undeterred, Lino simply went to see more Hollywood movies and practiced speaking like an American. When he applied again, the Club took him in as a stagehand.

Lino left the university when he went to do missionary work for the Mormons in Hawaii. There, he staged plays and shows for tourists to raise mission funds. After completing this commitment, Lino enrolled for one semester in the Mormon Church College of Hawaii, working as a laborer to pay his way. Then the foot-loose Lino moved to the US mainland, arriving in San Francisco with barely $50 in his pocket. There, Lino worked as a busboy in a restaurant and as a hospital orderly, until in 1968, he gave way to homesickness and returned to Manila.

In Manila, Lino joined the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), organized just the year before. He ran errands, wrote scripts, and led theater exercises, until eventually he became director of PETA’s drama show for television. He had another break in 1970 when he was asked to direct “Wanted: Perfect Mother,” his first film. The film was an artistic and commercial success, and won the Best Screenplay award at the Metro Manila Festival. That same year, Lino directed “Santiago,” which won for him a Best Director citation from the Citizen’s Council for Mass Media, and “Tubog sa Ginto,” which likewise won an award. He continued to do commercial films and direct on the stage for PETA. He assumed PETA leadership in 1974.

With friends, Lino put up the movie company CINEMANILA, through which he produced and directed the classic “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang.” “Tinimbang” won for him another Best Director award, this time from FAMAS. CINEMANILA completed three more films before it folded up. Broke and deep in debt, Lino nevertheless refused offers from the Marcos government to do martial-law kind of films.

Lino’s went on to direct more social-realist films, including “Maynila Sa Kuko ng Liwanag,” “Jaguar,” “Insiang,” “Bona” and “Angela Markado,” all of fine quality. As he became more confident with his art, he became more daring with his politics. In 1983, he formed the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) which took the stand that artists must be citizens first and must take a stand at issues confronting the country (then under the tight grip of the Marcos dictatorship). Lino took to the streets, denouncing censorship and repression, marking him a critic of the Marcos administration.

Following the Aquino assassination, Lino directed the movie “Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim,” and showed it at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984. The film was hailed as the Best Film of the Year by the British Film Institute for its realistic portrayal of Philippine society at that time. The Marcos government tried to stop the film’s screening inside the country but the Philippine Supreme Court, in a rare act of independence, ruled in Lino’s favor. The Marcos government finally allowed a cut version of the film shown, and restricting it to adult viewership.

In 1985, Lino joined a nationwide strike organized by public transportation drivers, where he was arrested with his friend and fellow director Behn Cervantes. Lino and Behn were jailed 16 days. This short prison experience stiffened Lino’s political resolve. After his release, Lino joined the anti-Marcos Coalition for the Restoration of Democracy (CORD), and was made a member of its national council.

That year, he was chosen as recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Awards, for “making cinema a vital social commentary, awakening public consciousness to disturbing realities of life among the Filipino poor.”

Lino stayed in the thick of the protests that steadily grew stronger and culminated in the end of Marcos’ rule in 1986. He was then appointed a member of the Constitutional Commission tasked to draft the post-dictatorship constitution. Lino is remembered as one of several commission members who walked out in protest of what they saw was a weakening of the constitution’s democratic and patriotic contents. Lino also campaigned forcefully against the continuation of US bases in the Philippines.

His subsequent films were “Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak,” which portrayed the abuse of power by self-serving politicians, and “Ora Pro Nobis,” which condemned the abuses by military and paramilitary groups engaged in anti-insurgency. “Ora Pro Nobis” was screened at Cannes Film Festival, where as expected, it drew rave reviews again and became the subject of debates on censorship and artistic freedom.

Lino died in a vehicular accident in Quezon City on May 21, 1991, leaving behind a Filipino nation bereft of his genius and heroism.

Parents                    Pilar Ortiz and Regino Brocka

Sibling                     Danilo Brocka

Education

Elementary             San Jose Elementary School, Nueva Ecija

High School             Nueva Ecija North High School, Nueva Ecija

College                    A.B. English Literature, University of the Philippines - Diliman

Recognition/Citations

  • Lifetime Achievement Awardee, Film Academy of the Philippines (posthumous), 1992

  • Awardee, Lamberto Avellana Memorial Award, 1990

  • Awardee, Hall of Fame, FAMAS, 1990

  • Awardee, Gawad CCP para sa Sining, 1989

  • Awardee, Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Communication Arts, 1985

  • Recipient of various Cannes, British and Toronto Film Festivals citations for best film director

CORTEZ, Delia

CORTEZ

The Cortez family was better off than most of the folks in the community for the father of Delia Cortez was a farmer and her mother a fish stall owner‑vendor in the Olongapo public market.

Delia was a consistent honor student. She was class officer of various student organizations. She was an officer in the school army training class. Delia dreamied of being a doctor.

Delia’s two brothers became activists and greatly influence the young Delia in outlook and direction in life. In her third year high school, she joined the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) and led her schoolmates and friends in rallies against tuition fee increases, oil price increases and brutalities being instituted by the Marcos regime.

She also led Samal women and youth in rallies against factory pollution in San Juan.

After high school, she refused to move up to college and insisted she would stay and pursue her learning among the masses.

When martial law was imposed, Delia simply went on holding secret meetings and discussion groups with women especially mothers on Saturdays and formed Grupong Pang‑organisa ng Kababaihan (GPK) in Samal. She also took up feminist views, discussing with women the roots of their second-class status in society. She urged them to defend basic rights within the family as well as in society.

In December 1974, soldiers were being poured into Bataan, with Delia and six others as targets of an intensive hunt. Delia and his comrades hid in forests, cared for by villagers. Delia joined an armed propaganda unit, and with her petite stature, pleasant voice, demure manners and good looks became a local attraction. At first people pitied her, then conceded her determination, and later they admired her sincerity and perseverance. On cold nights she used palay sacks for blanket. Her bare feet punctured with thorns. She learned to eat sweet potatoes with "bagoong" (fermented fish). She bore her backpack filled with reading and writing materials willingly. A big garbage bag served as her roof at night.

In 1975, Delia learned acupucture and began to practice acupuncture healing in San Luis, Pampanga. Her dream of being a doctor was closer to fulfillment. She learned the local language and became a counselor especially of women facing family and marital problems. Pampaguenos found her very sympathetic as well as articulate.

Delia returned to Samal in 1976 and continued organizing villagers. She met her death early in 1977. She and her team had been resting when gunfire broke the silence of the surroundings. Delia was was hit at the back with a bullet passing through her chest. She was 19 years old.

Parents : Jose Cortez Sr. and Lucila dela Rosa

Education : Elementary - Samal North Elementary School

High school - Jose Rizal Institute, Orani, Bataan

College – University of the Philippines

QUIMPO, Ishmael Jr.

quimpo

Friends of Ishmael Quimpo Jr. remember him as the talented college dropout who chose to work for the poor and devote his life to the cause of the downtrodden.

Jun Quimpo was exposed early to the student demonstrations that characterized the turbulent days of the early 1970s. His family lived inside Manila's university belt and he himself went to school at San Beda, a stone’s throw away from the seat of the presidency, Malacan͂ang Palace. Only 13 when the First Quarter Storm erupted, he was caught in the spirit of his time. He wanted to participate, and started by getting involved in community organizing. His first experience of an urban poor community was at Constitution Hill in Quezon City (then a squatters’ relocation area, now the site of the Batasang Pambansa).

When martial law was imposed and student councils were banned, students thought of other means to assert their right to self-organization. At the University of the Philippines, they put up a Consultative Committee on Student Affairs, and Quimpo, then a freshman, joined its youth committee. Yet community work seemed to be more attractive to him.

Tatalon was another huge slum community in Quezon City and Quimpo became a member of the Alyansa ng Maralita sa Tatalon. With a small allowance from the Share and Care Apostolate for Poor Settlers, he went about his organizing work, discussing politics with the local residents, prodding them to turn away from the hopelessness and idleness of their daily lives, at least cut down on their beer-drinking sprees, and to take responsibility for their future.

Often it was through song that he expressed his views and dreams. With a guitar, he would sing the hours away, inspiring people and making them feel strong.

After being arrested and detained for 10 days in 1976, Quimpo decided to give up college and join the anti-martial law underground. For the next five years, he lived in the rural areas of Luzon where he organized farmers as a cadre of the New People’s Army.

In December 1981, in the village of Kalisitan in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, Quimpo was killed treacherously – shot from the back several times – by someone he had trusted, a member of his unit. He was unaware that this person was already working with the military. (Hailed as a “hero” by the latter, the killer was said to have committed suicide sometime later.)

Jun Quimpo was then 24 years old. His family put together a collection of his songs titled "Ang Awit ni Jun," in his honor and memory.

PARENTS                             Ishmael Quimpo and Esperanza Ferrer

SPOUSE                                Maria Cristina (Tina) Pargas

EDUCATION                       Elementary: San Beda College, Manila

Secondary: San Beda College, Manila

College: University of the Philippines Diliman

GILLEGO, Bonifacio

gillego, bonifacio

Bonifacio Gillego was an officer and a gentleman. He gave dignity to public service and honor to his uniform.

As a soldier, Bonifacio Gillego, called Boni by most, saw action in the Korean War and served in the Operation Brotherhood in Laos. Before that he was also part of the resistance during the Japanese occupation. He worked in the military intelligence officer of the Philippine armed forces in the 1950s.

As a congressman, Boni championed a radical type of land reform (zero retention) and spoke against human rights abuses by the military. He studied Marxism and made friends with leftist intellectuals.

Boni served as a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention which gave rise to the 1973 martial law constitution that gave dictatorial powers to President Marcos. Boni denounced and opposed this constitution.

Because of his independent views, Boni made an enemy out of the Marcos military but he was also distrusted by the left because of his background in military intelligence. In 1978, Boni escaped to the US, where he joined the Movement for a Free Philippines (MFP), headed by Raul Manglapus. Boni continued to support the martial law opposition forces from exile.

Boni is most remembered for his diligent and scholarly research on the fake World War II medals claimed by Ferdinand Marcos. He painstakingly interviewed former war guerrillas and pursued Marcos’ records in the US army archives.

Gillego’s article on the fake medals was prepared for The Washington Post to be published in time for the Marcos US state visit in 1982. But Marcos got wind of the article and threatened to sue the Post, which decided to withhold publication temporarily.

In Manila the Malaya newspaper decided to print Gillego’s article. For this, it was shut down, and its editor and staff arrested. Nevertheless, the Malaya story whetted the appetite of the foreign press to dig further.

The Marcos files were eventually released from the US army archives into the US National Archives, where another independent researcher, Alfred McCoy, found them. McCoy published his findings in The New York Times.

Boni was instrumental in getting the portrait of Marcos removed from an exhibit of the awardees of the US Medal of Honor in New York. Boni had challenged the officer-in-charge to show proof of the validity of the inclusion of Marcos' portrait.

Boni and the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr. were close friends, and had worked together in the Movement for a Free Philippines. Boni was one of the last persons whose counsel Aquino sought before making his irreversible decision to return home in 1983. The involvement of the Philippine military in the latter’s assassination was a source of disappointment and anger for Boni.

Boni died of natural causes in 2002. He was 81 years old.

EDRALIN-TIGLAO, Raquel

raquel edralin tiglao photo 2016 for the book

Raquel Edralin was born in Manila but spent most of her childhood in Mindanao because her father was assigned there with the Bureau of Lands. Her mother was a nurse and a traditional wife and mother but she was a strong woman who raised eight children.

Raquel, known as Rock to friends, studied for an AB Psychology degree at the University of the Philippines. In the late 1960s, she joined the militant Kabataang Makabayan and became involved in anti-Marcos activities, often a frontliner at rallies and demonstrations. She helped organize the first women workers’ unions in 1970.

When martial law was declared, Raquel found her name in the wanted list and she decided to quit her studies and go underground. Later, she was captured, together with husband Rigoberto Tiglao, and then charged with sedition and rebellion. The couple, together with their daughter Ria, was kept in prison for almost two years at Fort Bonifacio. After their release, they were placed under house arrest. Rock tried to resume her studies in UP but the constant military surveillance bothered her. She quit college a second time.

She went on organizing communities, and providing counseling and keeping in touch with her activists friends. In the early 1980s, she helped  put up a community daycare center for children of political activists, becoming its chief officer for two years. She gave Lamaze childbirth instructions to couples.

Rock took up women’s rights issues when the women’s movement saw a resurgence in the 1980s. She took courses in psychology and women’s studies in Harvard, joining husband Bobi who won a Harvard fellowship in 1987.  She surveyed battered women’s centers in the US and did an internship at the Boston Public Health and Hospitals and exposures at New York hospitals to develop protocols for battered women and rape survivors. She trained in feminist counseling.

When she returned to the Philippines, she helped put up a women’s center, intended for military rape survivors. Rock became the center’s consultant and trainor, and later executive director for ten years. She steered the Women’s Crisis Center into the country’s premier hospital-based and crisis-care facility for women victims-survivors of gender-based violence.

She spent the rest of her life dedicated to pursuing women’s issues and concerns. She died in 2001 after a long battle with cancer.

Parents : Leo Edralin and Teresa Aricheta

Spouse : Rigoberto Tiglao

Children : Andrea Raquel, Alexandro Kalayaan, and Ben Siddharta

Education : College - University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, AB Psychology

VELEZ, Jose Mari U.

velez_2

Jose Mari Velez was not yet 30 when he was elected to represent the 1st district of Rizal in the 1971 Constitutional Convention, where most of the delegates were seasoned politicians and prominent professionals. As a delegate, he proved himself to be an uncompromising defender of constitutional democracy. He opposed the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus by Marcos and the establishment of political dynasties in the country.

His sense of what was good or bad for the nation was probably sharpened by the years he spent as a broadcast journalist. In 1966, he broke into Philippine television when he was chosen to be the sole anchor for the news program “The Big News.” Nightly he delivered information that was credible, committed to the truth, and professionally presented, earning a series of awards for the program. He also hosted a talk show, interviewing personalities about the hot issues of the day.

Velez began his career in mass media as a disk jockey in radio station DZHP, while he was still studying for a political science degree at the University of the Philippines. It was a “graveyard shift,” from 12 midnight to 5 am, but he needed to support himself and his young family. After graduation, he went on to study law, which he finished in 1970.

When martial law was declared in September 1972, Velez was ordered arrested along with several other delegates to the Constitutional Convention. He and journalist Napoleon Rama, also a detained Con-Con delegate, were allowed to vote on the “ersatz Marcos Constitution," as Velez called it. A "yes" vote would have meant release from detention and membership in the martial law legislative assembly. With "every fiber in (his) body," he voted "no."

By early 1973, Velez was released from detention but instead placed under house arrest for another two years. After this, no one wanted to employ him for fear of the Marcos regime. He himself vowed never to return to broadcasting until the dictator was ousted from power.

In the meantime, he reviewed for the bar, which he passed, and pursued a master's degree in economics, after which a friend asked him to work in one of his business firms. After that he became vice-president of Associated Bank.

But Velez continued to be active in the opposition to the regime. He helped found and chaired SELDA, an organization of former political detainees. He refused to accept the Marcos Constitution and assailed the corruption of the dictatorship. He called for a boycott of the 1984 elections and joined the opposition party, Laban, in the 1986 snap presidential elections.

In February 1986, Velez was among the first to go on air, announcing the flight of Marcos and his family from the country. The "country’s number one TV newscaster" was at last free to return to broadcast journalism. His first post-Marcos stint in mass media was on Channel 7 with Tina Monzon Palma. President Corazon Aquino also appointed him director of the Development Bank of the Philippines.

It was Velez and American lawyer Robert Swift who together filed the first class suit against Marcos before a court in Hawaii, USA, He was lead plaintiff in the case of thousands of victims whose human rights were violated under the dictatorial regime.

In 1989, Velez became the first awardee for service by a journalist given by the Ninoy Aquino Fellowships for Professional Development. In presenting this award, the then US Ambassador to the Philippines Nicholas Platt read the following: "It is most appropriate that this honor should go to a man who was imprisoned with Ninoy when freedom of the press was under the harshest attack in the Philippines."

He died of lung cancer at a hospital in New York City in 1991, at the age of 50.

PARENTS                             Fernando Velez and Juana Uhler

SPOUSE                                Marilu Syjuco / 4

EDUCATION                       Elementary: Ateneo de Manila

Secondary: University of Santo Tomas

College: University of the Philippines Diliman; Center for Research and Communication,

Pasig City

TIERRA, Noel C.

tierra_2

When Noel Tierra died at the age of 21, some people shook their heads and wondered why he had to become a rebel when he came from a well-off family: his parents had good jobs and they owned some land in Quezon, planted to rice and coconuts.

In fact, Tierra was a typical teenager who got good grades especially in mathematics and science, loved the Beatles, played the piano and guitar. What was notable about him, however, was his concern for others in need. He liked to give away things – from empty bottles and old newspapers to a piece of land – which he thought could be of better use to other people. “I learned from him,” his mother said. “I realized that he was showing more compassion than me.”

It was in college at the University of the Philippines in Diliman that he encountered the ideas that explained why people were poor and exploited, and what needed to be done. He joined the Nationalist Corps, and later the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan. Soon, he was joining rallies, and exposure trips to different rural communities. They would engage the community members in dialogue, learning and teaching at the same time.

During the summer of 1970, Tierra and two of his friends went on their own to Atimonan, Quezon to try and organize the young people there. They were not too successful. But the group got to hold a protest rally with a handful of participants, and some placards, at the town plaza.

Soon he dropped out of college to go fulltime into community organizing in Quezon City. Now he looked like the activist of cartoons, not caring much about looking smart, always hungry.

“When I heard that Noel had become an activist, I said…we should be thankful that we have young people like that,” his former scoutmaster said. “If all of us thought only of ourselves, how can there be change? We must be thankful for young people who offer their lives for the sake of social change. If they did not wake us up, we would still have our eyes closed. Noel became an activist not because he was poor but because he used his intellect and he studied the situation."

Shortly after martial law was declared, Tierra was arrested in Quezon and detained for some months at Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna. He was arrested again by the military in a “zoning” operation in the town of Tagkawayan in January 1974. This time he was heavily tortured; for the next two weeks, with hands tied behind his back and starving, he was paraded around the barrios and put on display as a captured rebel. Apparently he refused to give any information to his interrogators. Later he was taken back to the constabulary camp in Bagong Silang II, Guinayangan, and shot dead. His body was then left on a basketball court in the town center. His parents, only then informed, came at once to claim his body.

Noel Tierra said goodbye to his parents in a letter written in February 1972. “As long as exploitation of man by man, of one nation by another nation persists on this earth, there will be many sons and daughters who will leave their homes. That’s why I leave now. I, my comrades, and all the oppressed peoples of the world will rise like a mighty storm to end exploitation – forever. In this way there will be no more sons and daughters who will leave their homes. There will be no more mothers to cry. In the new day…the spirit of serving the people will pervade the earth.”

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