bantayog.foundation

bantayog.foundation

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.

HISTORY OF POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT

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.

CIRCUMSTANCES OF DEATH

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.

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.

15 Bantayog Honorees Join Others on the Wall

bantayog2015_1

(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.

bantayog2015_2

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.

The Annual Honoring of Martyrs and Heroes 2015

The following are this year's honorees. From Luzon: Edgardo Cupino, Ernesto Lacabao, Horacio Morales Jr., Antero and Santos. From the Visayas: Vicente Beloria, Alberto Espinas, Napoleon Lorca, and Rolando Lorca. And from Mindanao: Evella Bontia, Fernando Esperon, Nicanor Gonzales Jr., Ma. Socorro Par, Ester Resabal-Kintanar, Cecilio Reyes, and Roberto Salac.

This year's guest of honor will be Hon. Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Philippines. The 2015 Annual Honoring of Martyrs and Heroes will happen on November 30, 2015 4PM at the Bantayog Center.

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Honoring 2015

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.

LAZO, Emmanuel L.

lazo

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.

LAURELLA, Francisco "Frank" C.

laurella

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."

LANSANG, Lorenzo Bonifacio C.

lansang

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.

LAGMAN, Hermon C.

lagman

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.”

LADLAD, Ma. Leticia J. Pascual

ladlad

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

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