LADLAD, Ma. Leticia J. Pascual


Leticia Pascual loved books. As a young girl, she was "laman ng bookstore,"and by sixth grade serious philosophical works were part of her reading fare. Her intellectual interests were nurtured by her parents; her father, a pediatrician, was once director of the Philippine General Hospital and her mother a professor in graduate school.

Pascual excelled as a student at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB), where she was expected to graduate magna cum laude in agricultural chemistry. But her nose was not always buried in books. Tish, as friends called her, joined the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan and co-founded the UP Cultural Society and the League of Editors for a Democratic Society. In her third year she became the first woman editor of the student paper Aggie Green and Gold.

Although Pascual grew up in the city and had a relatively sheltered middle-class upbringing, she rapidly became aware of the social and political realities that the country’s poor had to live with. Her writings began to show this deepening understanding of her country's politics, especially when she actually started making extended visits to Southern Luzon farming communities and learning about their problems.

Her parents were worried for Tish (who was frail), but they realized that it was a decision they could understand and respect, and admired her for it. When Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971, she left her studies and continued to work among the peasant farmers in Laguna and Quezon provinces. In 1973 she married fellow activist Vicente Ladlad and gave birth to their daughter in 1975.

In late November of 1975, she left home to meet with some comrades in the area of Paco Church in Manila; she expected to return later that day. The group all disappeared without a trace. Parents and friends looked for her at the defense and constabulary headquarters but their efforts were fruitless.

Leticia Ladlad

LAGMAN, Hermon C.


As early as in his high school days, Hermon Lagman who was student council president and editor-in-chief of the school paper, showed the qualities of a principled and uncompromising student activist when he protested and editorialized irregularities in the results of the competency examinations for graduating students.

In college, he led and organized rallies and demonstrations, and expressed his nationalist views as a senior editor of the Philippine Collegian and as editor-in-chief of the Law Register, official organ of the law students at the University of the Philippines.

When he passed the bar in 1971, he became a militant advocate of labor rights, offering his services free especially to workers pursuing cases of illegal layoffs and unfair labor practices. He was a volunteer lawyer of the Citizens'Legal Aid Society in the Philippines and a founding member of the Free Legal Assistance Group.

Lagman was among the lawyers arrested after the declaration of martial law in 1972. He was kept in prison for two months without charges. From detention, he wrote to his mother Cecilia:

"At sunrise today, while standing idly in the morning cold, I saw two sparrows perched together…. (They) looked at us human beings here, and I looked at them. They seemed to have more understanding than some men…. At noon today, two clients came…. They cried…. I always dream here of all of you. We have a surfeit of energy for dreams."

He was arrested again in 1976 but released on the same day. At that time, labor groups had grown increasingly militant, staging pickets and strikes and resisting repressive martial law edicts. Lagman was legal counsel to many of these labor unions, notably the Kaisahan ng Malayang Manggagawa sa La Tondeña Inc. which spearheaded the historic first open defiance of the martial law ban on strikes and other mass actions.

On May 11, 1977, Lagman and his associate Victor Reyes left Quezon City to attend a meeting in Pasay City when they disappeared. Someone who refused to identify himself called Lagman's mother to say that he had been abducted. Searches and inquiries by relatives and friends in military camps and known detention facilities have failed to ascertain the fate and whereabouts of the two victims of enforced disappearance.

Hermon C. Lagman showed a deep and abiding commitment to the causes he espoused, and a fearlessness in living such a commitment. Said his mother: “…My son, although outwardly gentle and unassuming, was an angry young man. But his anger was not the mock anger of a showman, but the strong, silent rage of a warrior.”

LANSANG, Lorenzo Bonifacio C.


The youngest child of two university professors, Lorenzo, called Nik, was fondly considered a genius by his family. He started reading at age three and wrote verses too. By the time he was in sixth grade, he was said to have read through all the volumes of Collier's Encyclopedia, aside from becoming totally engrossed in the book, Philippine Society and Revolution, authored by Amado Guerrero, and other sociopolitical writings. Drawing on a prodigious memory, he would discuss all the main battles of the First and Second World Wars. Like his father and one brother, he was proficient in writing essays as well as poems.

When Lansang entered the Philippine Science High School in 1970, his political involvement deepened, especially after joining the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan. With the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in 1971, he went fulltime into youth and community organizing, living in a very poor section of Tondo in Manila, having been "adopted" into the home of a family there. He left school by his second year.

After the declaration of martial law, when he was 16, Lansang went to join the guerrilla underground in Quezon province. There, for close to three years, he lived among the marginalized farmers and fisherfolk along the Pacific coast, helping them to analyze and find solutions to their problems.

One day in February 1976, Lansang was in a car with five others, bringing rice and food supplies to Quezon from Manila. Apparently, they were being trailed by constabulary forces that caught up with them in Barangay Cagsiay I in Mauban town. Lansang and three of his comrades, one of them a pregnant woman named Leah Masajo, were shot dead and buried in a common grave in Lucena City. He was 19 years old.

LAURELLA, Francisco "Frank" C.


Francisco Laurella learned about responsibility for others early in life. Their father having died during the Japanese occupation, he looked after his family, including three younger sisters, even before reaching his teenage years.

Determined to pursue his studies, he went to Manila and earned a teacher’s certificate and (in 1966) a teacher’s degree from the Arellano University. He taught social studies subjects in Paniqui, Tarlac then in Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya. He met and married Belen Mabbayad in Bagabag, and the couple then moved to Diffun in Quirino province, where they settled down and brought up their three children.

At school, Laurella was a fatherly disciplinarian. He coached the boys' basketball and girls' softball teams.

In 1971, he left his teaching job to work on the family farm in Diffun. He also ran for municipal councilor. Despite the lack of backing from the major political parties, Laurella won and served his term. But then martial law was imposed in 1972. Because of it, Laurella made a decision not to seek reelection or engage in any more political activities.

After many years as a private citizen, Laurella knew it was time to stand up and be counted when a 1986 snap presidential election was called. He joined the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (Unido), and openly campaigned for Corazon Aquino. This exposed him and his family to great risk, as Quirino province was then ruled by the warlord Orlando Dulay, a Marcos ally.

As the antidictatorship movement grew stronger nationwide, Laurella found the courage to become even bolder, delivering speeches to urge his provincemates to support a change in the political regime. Speaking over the local radio in Cauayan, Isabela, two days before the election, he lambasted the Marcos regime, saying: "We are buried in debt. We have been sold away by President Marcos. The next generations will not be able to pay off all these loans. The government has to be changed."

On the night of February 6, 1986, Laurella was with Fernando Pastor Sr. and the latter’s son, Fernando Jr. when they were intercepted at a security checkpoint. The three were brought to the governor's residence where they were detained in a van for three days. Then they were killed, and their bodies thrown into a creek in Barangay Balete in Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya. Balete residents found them four days later.

Quirino governor Orlando Dulay was arrested for the kidnapping and murder, and in 1993 the Supreme Court affirmed the life sentence imposed on him by the Quezon City regional trial court.

Frank Laurella and the two other Unido leaders were posthumously awarded by their party and by the provincial government of Quirino in 1990 for their “supreme sacrifice and courage for the cause of truth, justice and democracy."

LAZO, Emmanuel L.


Emmanuel Lazo was the “quiet and well-behaved” son of a peasant couple in Barangay Bintawan, Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya, the youngest of their children. When he entered college and became an activist, his gift for writing, drawing and the stage found expression in the people’s movement against the dictatorship.

The country fell under martial law when he was in grade school, but it was in high school when Manny Lazo started to be bothered by the problems he saw around him and the larger Philippine society. His hometown had by then become highly militarized, and he knew abuses were rampant.

In 1985, as soon as he entered the Central Luzon State University in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, he joined the League of Filipino Students. Lazo also helped organize a cultural group called Akda (Alyansa ng Kabataan sa Dula at Awit) and performed in plays, sang songs and recited poetry during rallies. He was often the lead in Akda's street plays, sometimes taking the role of an activist, a guerrilla in the anti-Japanese resistance, or even national hero Andres Bonifacio. Often he drew political cartoons, posting these on the door of his locker in the college campus. The assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. touched him and he made a sketch of Aquino with the caption: "Who is this man? Who was the assassin?"

In 1985, when people’s protests were erupting everywhere against the dictatorship, a big rally was held in Manila highlighting the urgent demands of the peasantry: Lower the price of farm inputs like fertilizer and pesticides. Stabilize farmgate prices. Lower interest rates on production loans. Implement genuine agrarian reform. Stop militarization of the countryside.

It was to be a five-day march called Lakbayan, originating from various points in Luzon and converging at Manila's Liwasang Bonifacio. It would end on October 21. Ten thousand people joined, among them Lazo and his friends. He had never been to Manila before.

But the marchers never reached Liwasang Bonifacio as planned. Just before noon of that day, along Taft Avenue, police forcibly broke into their ranks. Patrol cars rammed the marchers. This was followed by smoke bomb explosions and pistol shots. The rallyists ran in different directions. Lazo was separated from his group and was last heard shouting to his companions to keep close together: "Mga Nueva Ecija, mga Nueva Ecija, huwag kayong maghihiwalay!" Someone then saw him fall, a bullet having pierced his skull. Another young marcher, Danilo Valcos, was himself killed as he tried to help the victims.

Manny’s brother Elmer – who had voluntarily foregone college in order to support Manny’s desire for further studies – passed by the scene of the tragedy just minutes after the shooting, not knowing that his younger brother had just fallen there, age 17.

Lakbayan 1985

In 1985, a big rally was held in Manila highlighting the urgent demands of the peasantry. It was a five-day march called Lakbayan, originating from various points in Luzon and converging at Manila's Liwasang Bonifacio. It would end on October 21.

But the marchers never reached Liwasang Bonifacio. Just before noon of October 21, 1985, police forcibly broke into their ranks while they were at Taft Avenue. Emannuel Lazo was one of those shot to death by the police on this day.

15 Bantayog Honorees Join Others on the Wall


(First posted at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo)

This year's Bantayog ng mga Bayani honorees comprise a big batch—15 in all. Seven died in Mindanao, four in the Visayas and four in Luzon.

Nine were in their 20s.

Of the 15 honorees, 12 died during the martial law years under the Marcos dictatorship. Three died after freedom was restored in 1986.

The conferment of honors will be held at 4 p.m. today at Bantayog Memorial Center located near the intersection of Edsa and Quezon Avenue.

Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen will be the guest speaker.

For soft-launching today is Bantayog’s #NeverAgain #NeverForget project.

The project, organizers said in a statement, was “a response to recent attempts by certain groups to rewrite Philippine history, to confuse the young generation about the truths of the Marcos dictatorship, to erase its horrors, abuses and deceptions and to have [it] remembered as a ‘golden era’ in the Philippines.”

Bantayog is preparing to launch new activities that will include publishing biographies, dissemination of informative materials, film showings, roving exhibitions and museum tours.

The honorees’ names, age, year and place of death are:

Fr. Roberto Salac, Catholic priest, 36 (1987, Compostela Valley); Horacio Morales Jr., development technocrat, 69 (2012, Quezon City); Ernesto Lacbao, 38 (1980, Ifugao).

The students: Edgardo Cupino, 25 (1983, Nueva Ecija); Antero Santos, 23 (1971, Isabela); Vicente Beloria, 26 (1973, Iloilo); Alberto Espinas, 26 (1973, Antique); Rolando Lorca, 27 (1974, Aklan); Napoleon Lorca, 27 (1973, Iloilo City); Evella Bontia, 23 (1974, Misamis Oriental).

The teachers: Ester Resabal-Kintanar, 32 (1983, between Surigao del Sur and Cebu City); Nicanor Gonzales, 67 (2007, Davao City).

The community and youth organizers: Fernando Esperon, 23 (1985, Davao City); Ma. Socorro Par, 32 (1985, Misamis Oriental); Cecilio Reyes, 36 (1975, Agusan del Sur).

From gov’t to underground

Kintanar, a teacher and activist during martial law, was among those who died in the sinking of the MV Cassandra in 1983.

Nine honorees, Salac among them, died in military operations. He spent time in the underground during the martial law years. The priest was involved in the peace process in Mindanao in 1987 when he was killed during a military attack.

Morales was the most well-known of the 15 because of his dramatic repudiation of the Marcos regime that he served and his joining the underground movement. Hunted during the martial law years, Morales spent several years in detention.

An economist, Morales served in several government positions during the post-Marcos years. He died a natural death in 2012.


Wall of Remembrance

The biographies of these honorees will be posted on the Bantayog website.

All of them were opposed to the regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos and are considered freedom advocates.

The way they lived and died varied but they had a heroic streak that made them worthy to be included on the list of names on the Wall of Remembrance.

The 2015 honorees bring to 268 the names engraved on the Wall, which stands a few meters away from the bronze monument created by renowned sculptor Eduardo Castrillo.

The monument depicts a defiant mother holding a fallen son.

The monument, the commemorative wall and other structures at the Bantayog complex are dedicated to modern-day martyrs who fought to help restore freedom and democracy in the country.

Bantayog hopes to spread lessons from the martial law period and “to have issues related to it included in the national debate during the 2016 electoral campaign,” the event organizers’ statement said.

‘Historical deception’

It hopes to counter the “historical deception and mass forgetting of the sins of the dictatorship” so that “Philippine politics and the writing and learning of Philippine history will be the better for it,” the statement added.

The Bantayog complex now includes a P16-million building, which houses a small auditorium, library, archives and a museum.

Bantayog’s 1.5-hectare property was donated by the administration of then President Corazon Aquino, through Land Bank of the Philippines, the year after the dictatorship was toppled and Aquino was swept to the presidency in 1986.

Every year, names are added to the Wall of the Remembrance.

The first 65 names were engraved on the Wall in 1992.

The Bantayog Foundation is chaired by Alfonso T. Yuchengco. Former Senate President Jovito R. Salonga is chair emeritus. May Rodriguez is the new executive director.

CUPINO, Edgardo Ranollo

Edgardo Ranollo Cupino lifted high his family’s name by giving his life for the sake of freedom and justice. As the eldest in a brood of seven, Edgardo Ranollo Cupino had a big influence on his siblings. He influenced his siblings to have nationalist sentiments including his youngest sister, Juliet Cupino Armea, a Bantayog honoree.  In a wider scale, he had inspired his peers, his school, his community, and country by devoting his life to the service of the poor and oppressed. In July 1973 his last breath was offered in an attempt to cover the escapes of his comrades in a military raid in Mt. Buntis, Bongabon, Nueva Ecija.

Ed, as he was fondly called, was a son of a District Engineer assigned in the provinces of Region 3 – Bulacan, Bataan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Nueva Ecija and Aurora. Thus at an early age, he helped his mother care for his younger brothers and sisters. His father was usually assigned to work in the provinces leaving Ed and his mother to look after the younger children.

Ed was a college engineering student at the Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT) in Manila when he got involved in the student council. He helped the Kaisahan Party, a progressive student party, win an overwhelming victory over their rivals in the campus election.

There, he was recruited into Gabay ng Kabataan, an association of student activists in civil engineering and architecture. With Ed’s new involvement, he was exposed to issues like tuition fee hike, students’ rights among others.

He started joining protest actions and rallies inside and outside the campus. He would usually head the MIT contingent and would always carry a banner. Whenever there was violent rally dispersal, Ed and a few daring souls would respond by throwing rocks against the pursuing armed troopers of the Metropolitan Command. This was done to prevent arrest of more students and rally participants. He was in the forefront of the First Quarter Storm in the 1970s.

Before his activist’ days, Ed was a typical “Amboy” (American boy) wearing “Hush Puppies” and “Levi’s” jeans and jacket. In between classes, he would hang around with his fraternity brothers at the campus main quadrangle. He was the envy of many because of his good looks and fashionable style.

Perhaps in the beginning, joining rallies was merely an exciting “trip” for him. Defying the authorities, singing protest songs, shouting slogans and engaging in skirmishes against anti-riot policemen, was the “in” thing to do then.  As he gained a deeper understanding of the students’ issues and later the national peoples’ concerns, he embraced their cause with his heart and soul.

He joined the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and became very active in its Pasig and Quezon City chapters. He became good friends with KM Quiapo chapter members, a known group of toughies from Manila’s most feared neighborhoods.

Ed was present when Francis Sontillano, a UP freshman was killed near Feati University during a rally. He was one of those who would always safeguard students’ leaders like UP Student Council president Eric Baculinao and Philippine College of Commerce (at present PUP) Student Council president and Students For National Democracy (STAND) chairman Crispin Aranda.

Ed was also present at the historic May Day rally in 1971. When the government troopers started firing indiscriminately at the rallyists, Ed and several others stood their ground. Ed responded with his sling shot. A fellow student tried to pull him but Ed stayed until he had used up his arsenal of stones and pillboxes.

Because of his passion for the students’ cause, he was expelled from MIT. He finished his engineering degree at the Central Colleges of the Philippines.

When the writ of habeas corpus was suspended in August 1971, Ed together with some student leaders left Manila. To evade arrest, they went to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija to do some organizing and consolidation work.  There, Ed met Emma Viseno, who became his girlfriend. Their relationship lasted until his death.

In Cabanatuan, he created and led discussion groups. He discussed not only students’ issues but also the causes and the role of the state in perpetuating poverty and the impending martial rule. He related the widespread and deeply rooted poverty in the province to the “hacienda system” wherein only a few families owned the thousand hectares of rice land in Nueva Ecija.

Most of the time, Ed was left on his own with no guidance and direction. However, he managed to link with Dumagat communities.  He organized the Dumagats (Nueva Ecija’s indigenous people) although he knew very little about rural organizing work.

Members of his group would remember him buying and cooking food for them. The Dumagats would always expect “pasalubong” from him. His own allowances from his parents were shared with his new found family.

Circumstances of death

Ed left Cabanatuan City when Marcos declared martial law in 1972.  With nowhere else to go, he moved to the mountainous town of Pantabangan. There he joined the New People’s Army where he became a political officer of an armed propaganda unit (SYP). The unit’s primary work was to engage the community in discussion about issues surrounding the Marcos dictatorship and the need for an organized movement to resist the dictatorial regime.

Ed was barely in his 9th month in the mountain when he was killed during a military raid in Mount Buntis, Bongabon. His group was preparing lunch inside a hut when they were fired upon by PC soldiers.  Ed told his four companions to escape as he covered them. Unfortunately, only one survived to report the incident.

To his last breath, Ed took care of others before himself. Countless were touched by his commitment and sacrifice. His siblings, fellow students, comrades and especially those in Cabanatuan and Pantabangan where he spent his final days know that “Ka Nards” was a hero forever engraved in their hearts.

Ed’s remains have never been recovered by his family. But Ed’s legacy was passed on to his younger sister, Juliet Cupino-Armea, also a Bantayog honoree and other siblings who continue to fight poverty and injustice in their own noble way.

LACBAO, Ernesto Dog-ah

Ernesto Lacbao was of the Kalanguya, an ethnic people living in the mountains that join the three provinces of Ifugao, Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya. The people lived simply, subsisting on rootcrops, vegetables, and some palay. They grew livestock like pig and chicken for food and for ritual use. Up to the mid-70s, the Kalanguya area was accessible only by foot and people had to hike to go to school, to the market or to visit relatives.

The Lacbao family lived in Tukucan, a barangay in the town of Tinoc in Ifugao. Ernesto grew up in these chilly and foggy fastnesses, with the tallest mountain in Luzon, Mount Pulag, always in his horizon. (The area lies so deep in the Cordillera ranges it is where the Japanese forces made their last stand during the Second World War.) With school a good distance away, Ernesto stopped schooling after the fourth grade and started to help in the family’s farming chores.

At 15, Ernesto (called Isko) married a Kankana-ey girl from Badayan, a Benguet village on the other side of the mountain. Following tradition, the marriage was arranged through a go-between (mungkalon). The bride, Lumina, was even younger at 12 years old. When they were married, the couple had previously seen each other only once at a village feast.

The couple settled in Pakawan, a small and sparsely-populated sitio of Tukucan, where they farmed, and had eight children. Living was a struggle, but the family flourished. They built a small house along an old Spanish trail, and hiking travelers often stopped by to rest and quench their thirst, or even stay the night, partaking of the plain fare offered by the Lacbaos.


Into these surroundings came the New People’s Army in 1972 when it started to do political work among the Kalanguya. A team of four or five guerrillas would come in the evening, share a meal, and discuss with the local folk about national and local politics, urging the villagers to organize for an armed struggle that would eventually bring change in society and make life better for the poor.

Ernesto listened intently to these messages. Government to him was a hardly visible presence, notable only through the school. How could their life in the mountains be made better by taking up arms?

But suddenly, the government started making its presence strongly felt in Tukucan. Soldiers came raiding, looking for the guerrillas. They set up military detachments near the communities. The area was becoming militarized although no battles had yet erupted. Because the Lacbao house stood along the trail, it became a preferred stopover for both army and guerrilla troops. Ernesto was friendly with the NPA but he kept his peace whenever the soldiers were about.

Then in 1974, military authorities ordered all residents in the boundary regions to leave their communities and to camp near the military detachments. This was the “hamletting” policy that would later be implemented in other parts of the country, a move meant to deny the NPA its access to the population.

Around the military camp, people had to build makeshift houses, but with no ready source of food or water. In order to tend to their farms or to go anywhere else, they had to ask for permission from the military, and permission was not always easy to get. As a result, houses and farms became neglected. Those who fell sick received no medical attention. Worse, those who protested the evacuation were seen as rebel supporters or even rebels themselves. Soldiers resorted to roughing up the “noisy” ones. They arrested anyone found outside the camp without permission, beating them up to get information about the NPA movements.

The evacuation policy greatly alienated the military from the local people. People started comparing their predicament to the “bakwit” of the Japanese period. They even adopted the NPA term for the soldiers, Japanese (Hapon).

Isko was one of the outspoken who complained of the growing abuses. He was not a barrio official but the people respected him because he was a local religious leader, a mumbaki, someone who interpreted the signs and interceded with the spirits. His voice carried weight in the community. They also admired his courageous criticism of the evacuation policy. For this outspokenness, Isko was arrested in 1974, together with eight others, tortured and sent to jail at the military camp in the capital town of Lagawe. There he would stay seven months.

The gentle Ernesto later told his wife that one night, soldiers brought in the head of an NPA guerilla they had earlier decapitated. It was placed next to Ernesto’s bed, and the following morning, Ernesto was told to throw it in a nearby river. Ernesto’s ethnic belief regarded that a dead person’s body had to be whole when returned to its creator so the act was to him utterly disrespectful of the dead. But left with no choice, he had to do it, praying to the spirits for appeasement and for the body to be made whole again. He also performed cleansing rites after he was released from prison.

After his release in 1975, Isko found that military operations in the areas around Tukucan had further intensified. Relatives and neighbors told him his life was under threat. Unfazed, Isko began a strong campaign against the worsening militarization of Ifugao. He joined the NPA guerrillas as they trekked the trails and visited the communities around Tinoc and Buguias towns. He became known as Ka Pablo. He spoke about the military abuses and of his personal experience in prison. His counsel and assistance was sought over how to address the trouble with the military and other community problems. By this time, he had become a marked man in the military’s eyes. Military spies were told to watch for him and he had to see his family only secretly.

In 1977, a second order for forced evacuation was imposed over an even wider area of Ifugao and Benguet. The seven sitios of Tukucan were again herded to live near military camps. For Isko’s strong activism, soldiers burned the Lacbao house. His wife took her one-month-old child back to her family in Benguet, leaving the older children among relatives in Ifugao. The soldiers pursued her, however, and hauled mother and child to Camp Holmes in La Trinidad, Benguet, and kept her incarcerated for a month.


Isko evaded a second arrest, but up in the mountains, disease started to slow him down. His body began to bloat and his skin to turn yellow. He was brought to a Manila hospital where he was diagnosed with diseased kidneys. Realizing the futility of finding a cure, Isko asked to be returned to his hometown.

Weakened by illness but unable to return home because of the military’s ongoing operations, he and his family, along with those who continued to resist forced evacuation, moved into the forests of Namal, in what is today Asipulo municipality. The family cleared a part of the forest and planted camote for the family’s food. It also took up a new identity.

Isko’s health continued to deteriorate, but he continued to provide leadership to his neighbors, urging them to always strive for freedom, to never give up. When he knew he was certain to die, he told his family to bury him in the new place but to go back to their old homestead, and to return for his body once when peace prevailed again. The family did as told and returned for him in 1986, after soldiers had left the area.

Today, his widow and all his children and their own families live in Pakawan where they had put down their roots. The local people still speak of Isko with respect and admiration. They talk of his kindness, and they also remember his courage and strong leadership.

MORALES, Horacio R. "Boy" Jr.

Horacio Morales Jr. pic

Horacio “Boy” Morales Jr. was a man with a mission. He took on various roles: the ubiquitous campus figure in the 1960s and wunderkind technocrat of the 1970s. Since the 1980s, he was the enigmatic underground rebel, civil society innovator, and state reformer. Through his many transformations, Boy went all in. He did nothing halfheartedly, and perhaps there was no greater example of this than in 1977, when he turned his back on a promising government career and became one of the lightning rods of the resistance movement against the Marcos dictatorship. Morales’s defection, the highest such from a government official,struck a major blow to the regime that presented itself as a technocratic state; it also jolted mainstream society that had begun to accept life under authoritarian rule as the new normal. Boy was only 34 years old when he took aim at the Leviathan.

In fact, Boy’s life could have gone the other way. Born to a landed, political family on 11 September 1943, he seemed destined to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Luis Lopez Morales, who was Tarlac legislator and governor during the American period. Boy’s leadership qualities became apparent at the University of the Philippines where he took up economics. He joined the UP Vanguard, the organization of ROTC officers, and rose to become ROTC Corps Commander. As Grand Princep, he invigorated the Beta Sigma Fraternity.
“Most of us who joined the fraternity had come from humble beginnings and grown up in poor farming communities….Though many of us entered UP as entrance scholars, our scholastic preparation in our poor hometowns left much to be desired….We admired Boy for his ability to empathize deeply with us when we had problems….In fact, Boy, being a consummate organizer and strategist, prepared us to take leadership positions in our own colleges or regional organizations….Those were the golden years of the fraternity, when we rode the wave of Boy’s grand strategies, captured many campus positions, and developed our leadership skills. In turn, we his fraternity brothers became intensely loyal to him. – Victor O. Ramos, former Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary (1995-98)

Neither did he neglect his studies. After college, he earned a master’s degree in economics at the University of Oklahoma in 1968 and became a professional lecturer at the UP School of Economics from 1968 to 1977 while helping start up government programs and institutions (e.g., the Fund for Assistance to Private Education, Federation of Electric Cooperatives of the Philippines, and Responsible Parenthood Council). He also helped found the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) and was its executive vice president from 1973 to 1977 – the year the Philippine Jaycees named him the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) awardee for public administration.
“Mr. Morales played a key role in social science research in those critical years. He secured funding for the Social Indicators Project’s pilot survey in Batangas province, the first Philippine experiment in estimating self-rated poverty and other quality of life indicators regularly used today.” – Dr. Mahar K. Mangahas, CEO and President of the Social Weather Station, and former Director of the DAP Social Indicators Project, 1974-75.

History of political involvement

Though driven, Boy was nevertheless not oblivious to the defining issues of his generation. The 1960s saw the growing polarization of Philippine society leading to the imposition of martial law in 1972. Boy entered government in the hopes of reforming it and improving its service delivery, but soon realized the limits of working for a regime intent on preserving the system. Instead, exposure to the actual conditions of the people in need led him to conclude that the poor and marginalized required empowerment and participation in the development process. He pioneered a countryside development program that integrated land reform, the establishment of cooperatives and small and medium enterprises, and rural credit. To Boy, real development would come only with an empowered citizenry working toward structural transformation. That path put him on a collision course with the Marcos regime.

In 1975, he joined the National Democratic Front (NDF) while still in government. His DAP office set up people’s organizations and cooperatives in the rural areas. With a new sense of urgency, he rejected an offer to serve as Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program in Indonesia in 1976, deciding instead to remain in the Philippines. On 26 December 1977, the day he was to receive the TOYM award, he issued a statement announcing that he was joining the underground to fight “the ruling system that had brought so much suffering and misery to the broad masses of the people.”
“For the people who, at one time or another, had worked closely with him, the surprise was not so much in the decision but in the timing. Some members of his staff at DAP admitted to feeling demoralized when he left, disappointed because Morales did not even warn them. But then they realized on hindsight that through his years as a government technocrat he was always consistent, with the kind of projects he would pursue (always involving consciousness-raising, always for the direct benefit of the people), with the drive with which he would pursue them….Relates a colleague, ‘He would push us to work for the projects’ success….We thought it was a commitment to the institution (DAP) which went through very difficult times, funding-wise. It turned out later on that it was a commitment to the cause of the people.”– Gemma Nemenzo, “The Other Technocrat,” April 1984

Boy was well aware of the risk he was taking. His defection timed a year after the capture of communist leaders Jose Ma. Sison and Dante Buscayno seemed to signal to the public that the struggle against an unjust order was far from over. For the next five years, Boy parlayed his prestige, organizing skills, and credibility into strengthening the resistance to the martial law regime. His presence in the NDF allowed the organization to move outside the shadow of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). He spoke the same language as those in the legal opposition and knew that the defeat of authoritarian rule required forging a popular front of all those fighting Marcos across the different arenas of struggle. It did not take long for Boy to reach out to opposition luminaries, most notably, former Senators Lorenzo Tañada and Jose Diokno. During this period, the NDF sought to promote anti-dictatorship unity by indirectly supporting such political projects as the People’s MIND (Movement for Independence, Nationalism, and Democracy), launched in 1982.

Marcos’s security forces, however, were never far behind. On April 1982, Boy was captured and heavily tortured by members of the Military Intelligence Group 15. Incarceration restricted his mobility, but did not eliminate the fight in him. In detention, he had countless discussions with other political detainees (in particular, Edicio dela Torre and Isagani Serrano) about Philippine society and a broad left program. Such conversations spawned the idea of popular democracy, based on a platform of political pluralism and people’s empowerment. He also remained in the public eye. On January 10, 1984, when various pro-democracy groups and individuals from different political blocs and regions convened KOMPIL (Kongreso ng Mamamayan Pilipino), Boy was elected as one of the 15 alternative leaders. He was the youngest in the group and the only representative of the Left.

Boy’s release after the 1986 EDSA uprising gave him the opportunity to pursue his principles and ideas on development and democracy. He was involved in government reorganization and the peace process. From 1991 to 1993, he served as a member of the Peace Secretariat and Adviser to the Emissary. But the post-EDSA period saw Boy pursuing development work mainly as a citizen activist. Boy joined and became president of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and the Cooperative Foundation of the Philippines Inc. (CFPI), both of which were then chaired by former Senator Manuel P. Manahan. By 1998, PRRM was operating in 20 provinces and had helped in the formation of issue-based alliances such as the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and the Congress for a People’s Agrarian Reform (CPAR).
“When released by President Cory in 1986, Boy wasted no time to help in the democratic transition….He created…civil society organizations and citizens’ movements, like the Institute for Popular Democracy and Movement for Popular Democracy. He was part of the founding of several others. These served as his reference base for helping the new government and spurring citizen action for rebuilding a ruined nation and establishing a new democracy.” – Isagani R. Serrano, President, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement

Boy played a leading role as well in building global citizenship alliances and movements including the US-based CIVICUS (World Alliance for Citizenship Participation), Fundacion El Taller, headquartered in Tunisia, and People's Alliance for Social Development, based in Chile.

The year 1998 proved another turning point in Boy’s life as he was asked by President Joseph Estrada to head the Department of Agrarian Reform. As DAR Secretary, Boy sought to integrate land transfer and rural development toward responding more holistically to the needs of rural farming communities. He worked to raise the profile of agrarian reform by putting it at the center of national development imperatives. From 1998 to 2001, he also served as the Coconut Trust Fund Committee executive director, Presidential Task Force in the 20:20 initiative chair, National Anti-Poverty Commission government lead convener, and Population Commission vice-chair. From 2001 until his death, Boy remained active in issues that had defined his life.

Circumstance of death
 “When a nation loses one of its giants, it is time for not only mourning but for celebrating a life well-lived. Boy Morales was one of those giants who had a vision of development for his country — a vision of a modernized agriculture and growing industry, anchored in improved social justice. He was a risk taker and understood progress could not be made without building broad alliances around a development agenda. Having established his commitment to the cause of social change through sacrifices made during the long struggle against dictatorship, Boy tried to embark on a new route after the restoration of democracy, elaborating a pragmatic programme for progress. — Dr. James Putzel, Professor of Development Studies, Dept. of International Development, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Boy Morales passed away due to health problems on 29 February 2012. In and out of government and as a revolutionary and reformer, Boy never lost sight of the mission that had propelled him forward – that is, to put government in the service of those who needed it most: the poor and the marginalized.

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