bantayog.foundation

bantayog.foundation

DEL ROSARIO, Carlos B.

del rosario

Carlos Del Rosario was a brilliant student and won leadership, oratory and declamation awards. He was chosen city councilor of Manila during Boys' and Girls' Week. He wrote for his high school paper and was chosen as delegate to the secondary school press conferences.

At the Lyceum where he obtained his degree in political science, he was vice-president of the student council. After graduation he taught at the Philippine College of Commerce (now Polytechnic University of the Philippines).

Fellow teachers describe Del Rosario, called Caloy or Charlie, as amiable and easy to get along with, diligent and trustworthy. He was an organization man as well as an effective articulator.

Already he was a student activist in the mid-1960s, having imbibed the ideas of nationalists such as Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tañada, Jose Laurel, Teodoro Agoncillo and Renato Constantino. He denounced neocolonialism and, particularly, the highly unequal relationship between the Philippines and the United States. There was a need, he said, for another propaganda movement such as that launched by Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. Del Pilar and Graciano Lopez Jaena which started the Philippine Revolution in 1896. He also believed that the Katipunan revolution led by Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto and others was unfinished and had to be completed.

His staunch nationalism and advocacy of national sovereignty and independence led him to be among the early organizers of the Kabataang Makabayan in 1964. Del Rosario was the militant youth group’s first vice-president; he was also national treasurer and secretary-general.

During the crucial First Quarter Storm of 1970, he was instrumental in organizing the massive demonstrations, conferences and congresses that helped revive and spread the nationalist movement in the Philippines. That same year, he was a key member of the Movement for a Democratic Philippines (MDP) that mobilized a broad front of activist organizations.

Del Rosario disappeared at the height of student agitation and protest actions. He was last seen on the night of March 19, 1971, putting up posters for a forthcoming MDP national congress inside the PCC campus in Lepanto, Manila. He was expected later that evening at an MDP meeting in Quezon City, but he did not show up.

His parents, suspecting that the military may have had something to do with his disappearance, searched for him in the various military camps. They asked for Malacañang's help. They combed through newspapers, and listened attentively to radio and television newscasts, hoping to get some clues about what happened to their missing son.

But they never found him.

Carlos Del Rosario was 27 years old when he disappeared.

DE JESUS, Jeremias S.

de jesus

A local leader of the political opposition to the Marcos regime, Jeremias De Jesus was killed fighting for genuine and honest elections to replace the oppressive dictatorship.

De Jesus was a trusted supporter of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. who had been murdered in 1983 as he returned from exile in the United States. When martial law was imposed in 1972, he had been working for Jose Yap, Aquino’s close ally who represented the province of Tarlac in the House of Representatives.

Thus, throughout martial law and especially with the persecution of Aquino by the Marcos regime, De Jesus remained loyal to the cause; by the 1980s he was known in his hometown of Capas as the "grand old man" of the political opposition. When Marcos called for a “snap” presidential election in 1985 in an attempt to provide legitimacy to his extended rule, De Jesus worked tirelessly in support of Corazon Aquino’s campaign to oust Marcos through the ballot. He was named municipal chair of the PDP-Laban party in Capas.

Marcos desperately wanted to win in Tarlac to show he could beat Corazon Aquino in her home grounds. Also, “the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan or KBL [Marcos’ party] is bent on winning by a wide margin [here] so massive electoral frauds will be justified elsewhere,” according to some.

The atmosphere in the province became very tense. Armed supporters of the mayor would take pictures of inspectors in election registration centers, and harassing those who stayed loyal to the Aquinos. Members of the Civilian Home Defense Force went around telling people to vote for Marcos and threatening to kill opposition leaders. De Jesus was repeatedly warned.

On January 14, 1986 – the snap election was scheduled to be held on February 7 – De Jesus joined a group that went to the United States embassy in Manila to complain about the electoral terrorism in Tarlac.

The following day, back in Tarlac, De Jesus was on the road after having distributed food to PDP-Laban poll watchers in Barangay O’Donnell. The car that he was riding was stopped along the way by an unidentified person, who sprayed bullets from an M-16 automatic rifle and then escaped. De Jesus and the car’s driver, Alberto Briones, both died.

Thousands came to his burial, including provincial and municipal officials who joined the funeral march to express their protest. By that time the international media were focusing on the Filipino people’s struggle to oust the Marcos dictatorship, so that the brazen murder was widely reported abroad.

When the snap election was held just a few weeks after, Corazon Aquino beat Ferdinand Marcos in her home province, thanks in large part to people like Jeremias de Jesus who sacrificed their lives to help end the dictatorship.

DAPOG, Eliseo G.

Dapog

Eliseo Dapog was the eldest son of a farming couple in Quezon province. His parents just had enough to feed nine children, but not to send them to school after the elementary grades. His father was ailing and Eliseo began early to take responsibility for the family, and their six-hectare farm where they grew rice and corn.

Even as a teenager, Dapog already involved himself in community affairs, joining a campaign against cattle rustling when he was only 15 years old. He also started a family early, getting married at age 16. Eliseo taught his four children the values he himself lived by, foremost of which was to defend the rights of the powerless against a powerful few.

Chosen to serve as barangay captain in 1978 and reelected in 1981, Dapog was disturbed by the human rights violations occurring in his community and in the nearby barrios. Villagers were being detained and tortured, even worse, summarily executed by the military, on mere suspicion of being opposed to the dictatorial regime and siding with the rebel guerrillas. He spoke openly against these abuses.

He helped organize a rally on February 1, 1981 to protest the highly intensified militarization of his province. Soldiers opened fire on the marchers, killing two farmers and wounding scores of others. The incident came to be called the Guinayangan massacre.

Still, Dapog continued to defend the people’s rights. Twice in 1984, he hosted a factfinding mission of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, organized to document the continuing abuses. In preparation for their arrival, the barangay captain went around, encouraging people to overcome their fear and to tell the truth.

Dapog was one of the signatories to a resolution asking the Batasang Pambansa, the martial law parliament, to investigate the widespread abuses and violations of human rights in Quezon. Many other barangay leaders in the province remained silent, fearing for their lives.

Only death stopped Dapog. In the early afternoon of July 6, 1985, he boarded a passenger bus on the way to Los Baños, Laguna, to speak at a protest rally. In Gumaca, just after Guinayangan, three armed men, wearing face masks, stopped the vehicle and forced Dapog to go with them. Moments later, gunshots were heard. Dapog was later found dead with wounds in his forehead, neck and chest.

The body was brought to the municipal hall of Guinayangan, and a memorial mass said in his honor. Thousands from all over Quezon came to pay their respects during the four-day wake that followed. People crammed the municipal hall and overflowed into the streets, mourning for this leader who spoke for them, gave them his life, and died for them.

MV Cassandra and the Good Shepherd Sisters



(The photo above is from the November 26, 1983 issue of Times Journal. The following text is an excerpt from an RGS article. Accompanying the four sisters at MV Cassandra was another Bantayog Martyr: Innoncencio "Boy" Ipong.)

Shepherding has taken many forms in the history of the Good Shepherd Sisters. In the Philippines, on November 21, 1983, it was shepherding in a shipwreck. Sisters Mary Consuelo Chuidian, Concepcion Conti, Virginia Gonzaga, and Catherine Loreto were on board the M/V Doña Cassandra when it sank in shark-infested waters off the coast of Northeastern Mindanao, Philippines. Survivors told of the four Sisters praying, distributing life vests, helping children put theirs on, instructing other passengers to hasten towards the life rafts and to be ready to abandon ship, not calculating how little time they had to save themselves – until time did run out.

Sister Mary Consuelo Chuidian, 46, born in Manila, a religious of 20 years, Superior of the Davao Community, had volunteered to document the first case of hamletting, Vietnam-style, in Laac, Davao del Norte. She chaired the Women’s Alliance for True Change, was coordinator of the Rural Missionaries for Southern Mindanao, and was active in the associations of women religious in Davao and Mindanao. Her leadership inspired her community to be open to victims of every kind, especially those of Martial Law.

Sister Mary Concepcion Conti, 46, born in Bauan, Batangas, a religious of 18 years, member of the Davao Community, had organized and headed the Community-Based Health Program in the Diocese of Tagum. She sought to train rural health workers, thus empowering them to attend to the basic health needs of the poor. She was an exceptional teacher and learner who brought her skills to her Mindanao mission.

Sister Mary Virginia Gonzaga, 42, born in Bacolod City, a religious of 9 years, Superior of the Sapad Community in Lanao del Norte. She had organized the Young Christian Workers in her home city and later, as a religious, worked among slum dwellers and migrant workers before she went to the Sapad mission among Christians and Muslims.

Sister Mary Catherine Loreto, 39, born in Pasig, Rizal, a religious of 8 years, member of the Davao Community, at the time of her death was coordinator of Task Force Detainees in her area. Hers was the most difficult challenge of standing up for those harassed by the military and their families, with the risk of herself falling under suspicion.

The four Sisters were honored by Bantayog ng Mga Bayani Foundation at its annual celebration of martyrs and heroes. In inscribing their names on the Wall of Remembrance, 7 December 1999, the citation read:
For contributing to the protest movement against the Marcos dictatorship and human rights abuses, as street parliamentarians and religious superiors heading and implementing education, health, rehabilitation and justice programs, both through legal and extra-legal means;

For leaving the safety and comfort of home and convent to work as rural missionaries among poor farmers, indigenous peoples and Muslims in remote areas of Mindanao, thus becoming active witnesses to the Church’s mission to serve the poor, deprived and oppressed at the height of state repression of the Church;

For putting their individual talents at the service of country and people.

CONTI, Mary Concepcion Lourdes

conti

Lourdes Conti was born in Batangas and studied there at the St. Bridget's School, run by the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS). In 1973 she joined the Good Shepherd sisters herself, taking the name Sister Mary Concepcion by which she was to become well known and respected as a teacher, missionary and development worker.

“Sister Cons” was one of three nuns sent to Agusan in Mindanao in 1978 to start an RGS community in Agusan. The sisters settled in a town along the river, living with a local family because they did not have their own convent. The place was remote, food was scarce, and transportation difficult. To move around, the women hitched rides on logging trucks, tractors, bulldozers.

They put up a school for the children of the Banwaon Manobo who lived in the area. Logging companies had operated there for years, making the people work for low wages and leaving their natural environment in ruins.

It was Conti’s first assignment out of Luzon. She did not speak Bisaya, the common language in Mindanao, but she adjusted easily to the hard life there because “I have made a vow of poverty and I want to live a simple life.”

In 1980, when Conti was transferred to the RGS community in Davao, she organized and headed the Community-Based Health Program (CBHP) in the diocese of Tagum.

CBHP pioneered a holistic approach to health in the rural areas by helping community members to understand the sociopolitical and economic factors which contributed to their poor health and poverty. It sought to empower the local people by developing health workers from among themselves. Thus, apart from attending to health concerns needing attention, the CBHP program also raised social awareness through training and education seminars.

Because of this, CBHP staffers were regarded with suspicion by the military. Anyone caught with acupuncture needles (used in a common mode of treatment offered under the program) was likely to be detained or interrogated. The risks did not discourage Sister Cons: she continued visiting the barrios and holding seminars for barrio people.

Community health workers found her a great source of comfort. They noted her smile and her willingness to do menial tasks. Her previous teaching experience was a big help and they were able to expand the health program to most parishes in the diocese.

Sr. Mary Concepcion Conti died in 1983 with three other RGS sisters on their way to a meeting in Cebu when their ship, the MV Cassandra, sank. Survivors said the nuns were among those who helped in the evacuation of the passengers, especially the children, disregarding the need to save their own lives.

CONCEPCION, Roberto R.

concepcion

Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion is remembered as one of those who refused to legitimize one-man rule by Ferdinand Marcos. His was the heavy burden of seeking to preserve the Supreme Court’s independence from the dictator’s attempts to control it.

He was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court when martial law was declared by Marcos in September 1972, and when, shortly afterward, a Constitution tailor-made for his illegal rule was promulgated and “ratified” by a “show of hands” in so-called people’s assemblies.

Though it was Marcos himself who had appointed him (in 1966) to head the highest court of the land, Concepcion denounced the imposition of martial law, and asked his fellow justices to declare the proclamation of the 1973 Constitution as null and void. However, the majority of the justices chose not to side with him: the final decision held that although there were “flaws” in its ratification, there was “no judicial obstacle to the [Marcos] Constitution being considered in force and in effect.”

The court’s resolution on the issue became final on March 30, 1973. One week after, on April 8, 1973, Concepcion resigned – one month and 10 days ahead of the date when he would have been compulsorily retired. He was delivering a message to a regime that was not listening.

After leaving the Court, Concepcion continued to express his commitment to the rule of law by supporting human rights causes through legal assistance to the poor. He also continued to teach.

With the downfall of the dictatorship in 1986, he was appointed to serve as a member of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution. He made significant contributions toward reforms in the judiciary, and most notably, he is credited with providing safeguards against a recurrence of Marcos-style dictatorship.

Throughout his 40-year service in the judiciary, Roberto Concepcion was consistent in his defense and advocacy of civil liberties, the rights of the accused, nationalist policies and legislation. He showed exemplary conduct in upholding ethical standards in his personal and public life.

Born in Quiapo, Manila, Concepcion learned the value of hard work and discipline from his parents (his father owned a small business). He graduated summa cum laude from University of Sto. Tomas law school in 1924 and topped the bar examinations in 1924. He first entered government service in 1929 as an assistant attorney in the Bureau of Justice, rising through the ranks until he was appointed to the Supreme Court as associate justice in 1954.

He died in 1987 at age 83, still involved in the task of helping craft a new charter for the nation.

CLIMACO, Cesar C.

climaco

At Cesar Climaco’s funeral, some 200,000 people joined a five-hour procession that walked him to his grave on a hilltop in Zamboanga City. It seemed the people could not do enough to show how much they loved their mayor: they showered his coffin with petals and confetti, they prayed and wept, they put up placards and streamers along the way.

Certainly he knew his life was in danger – he was shot by an assassin firing from behind – but Climaco wasn’t afraid to go on doing what he had always done: fighting injustice and corruption, trying to make peace in the community, defending the poor and weak from the powerful.

The Marcos dictatorship was the most powerful of all his adversaries, and he wasn’t afraid of it either. He openly denounced the imposition of martial law in 1972, because it robbed Filipinos of their basic rights and liberties. He vowed never to cut his hair until it was lifted. When Marcos announced that he was lifting martial law, Climaco called it a sham and still refused to cut his hair.

When Benigno Aquino Jr. was killed in August 21, 1983, he had a shrine erected in his honor and inscribed it with bold accusations against the military as perpetrators of the crime. He sent several telegrams to Marcos urging him to set up an independent tribunal to try the case, and urging him to order the legal panel to cooperate with the Tanodbayan.

Climaco devoted a total of 30 years to public service. Aside from some years spent in national positions – as customs commissioner and presidential assistant on community development in the 1960s – he was most well known as the fighting mayor of Zamboanga City. Before being elected (as an oppositionist) in 1980, he had already served, and made his reputation, in that position from 1953 to 1963.

An unconventional man, Climaco obviously loved his job. He liked to go around by himself on his motorcycle, dressed like any ordinary person. Muslims and Christians in the Zamboanga community got along with each other, thanks to his leadership. He was always telling jokes and playing pranks, but he was serious about curbing abuses of authority. He publicly blamed the military and police for the many crimes in his city that were being committed and going unpunished.

Cesar Climaco was killed at a time when the struggle against the dictatorship was reaching its height. President Marcos was very sick, but few were allowed to know it. Protest actions were raging every day against all aspects of the dictatorship. Two weeks after Climaco’s death, cause-oriented organizations struck back by launching a ten-day welgang bayan throughout Mindanao.

Despite the widespread indignation, however, the murder remains unsolved.

CLARETE, Ronillo Noel M.

clarete final

Ronilo Noel Clarete was a senior commerce student in Batangas City when he was killed.

Clarete, who was Noel to friends and family, was active in various organizations in and out of school. He was vice-president, then president, of the organization of banking and finance students in his school. He joined the Omega Epsilon Xi fraternity and was a member of the Batangas City Student Forum.

School authorities took notice of him when Clarete and two other student leaders, Ysmael Umali and Aurelio Magpantay, created the Makisama Party, which led the students in protesting against tuition fee increases. Their party also accused the school administration of restricting campus press freedom and of refusing to recognize an elected student council.

Clarete was suspended for his participation in these school protests.

In the aftermath of the assassination in 1983 of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., he started joining rallies denouncing the abuses of the Marcos regime. He became an active member of the Batangas chapter of the Justice for Aquino Justice for All (JAJA) movement.

He went missing with three other young men who had joined a Lakbayan (Lakad para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan) in Manila in the first week of March 1984. Clarete had told his wife and mother that he needed to go to Manila to secure a government clearance. He never returned home. His mutilated body and that of the others were found weeks later in Silang, Cavite, in a shallow grave.

The four “Lakbayanis” were given a solemn funeral together in Batangas City on April 13, 1984.

CHUIDIAN, Mary Consuelo Remedios

chuidian

Remedios Chuidian, later known as Sister Mary Consuelo or Sister Elo, was born into a life of privilege. She had her fill of parties and pampering, and she was able to study for a master’s degree abroad. Many were surprised when in 1961 she chose the life of a nun, joining the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS).

She surprised many again by volunteering to be assigned to Mindanao. Martial law had been imposed; the Roman Catholic church was actively promoting its social teachings. With these new developments, Chuidian’s lifestyle, priorities, and even the target of her apostolate, were also changing.

As she embraced a life of poverty and sacrifice among the oppressed and marginalized people in Mindanao’s rural areas, the woman with a conservative upbringing turned into an “ibong pumipiglas” – a bird struggling to be free, celebrated in the song “Bayan Ko.” She began attending protest rallies. She started giving awareness seminars. She opened her school facilities to be used for meetings and forums by tribal groups, labor groups, and others who could not afford to rent expensive venues.

Her first assignment as a missionary sister was in Maragusan, Davao del Norte, where upland farmers grew coffee and cacao, and life was very hard. People depended on rain for water. They had no electricity. Landslides hit frequently.

Among the Mansaka, an indigenous community, the nuns started a program to train lay apostolates, "kaabag," who went out to the villages to hold prayer services and give communion in the absence of a priest. The sisters also trained catechists and organized a social action center. Sister Elo learned to wear bakya or wooden clogs, and to bathe in the creek, like everybody else.

She learned to take these difficulties in stride, in the same way that she remained unfazed by the mistrust shown towards them by government troopers and New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas both operating in the same area. "You don't have to shout," she once told an angry soldier, in a cool tone that distinguished her as a lady from a refined background.

Her next post was in Laac, Davao del Norte, where the people had been forced to relocate from their original communities and regroup in so-called hamlets, so as to remove them from the influence of anti-government guerrilla units. (This was a counterinsurgency tactic used in the Vietnam war.)

The people could not return to their farms, so there was little food and much discontent. The hamlets, under the strict control of the military, had no running water, no toilets, and no bathrooms. Epidemics broke out, and children were getting sick and dying. One Christmas Eve, Sister Elo and another nun had to bring a sick person down a bad road from the hamlet to a hospital in town. The nuns ate the same food as the other people, mostly camote, corn and bagoong. Sister Elo lost a lot of weight. Her letters to her family, however, spoke not of her own difficulties but of military atrocities, corpses, torture, weeping widows, starving children, droughts and floods.

In 1982, Chuidian moved to Davao City when she was appointed superior of the RGS community there. She was also elected chair of the Women's Alliance for True Change and coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines for South Mindanao. She became a leading figure in the Sisters' Association in Mindanao and the Association of Religious Women of Davao.

These new responsibilities allowed her to help more people suffering from martial law, victims of ambushes needing medical attention, families forced to live in hamlets, activists on the government's wanted list seeking refuge, rape survivors, and even wounded guerrillas.

Sister Mary Consuelo Chuidian, nicknamed “Rubia” as a child because of her naturally light-colored hair, transformed into the much-loved, ever helpful Sister Elo who lived to serve the poor. She was much admired for her sincere spirit of self-sacrifice. She was one of those who died in 1983 when their ship, the MV Cassandra, sank on their way to a meeting in Cebu. Survivors said the nuns were among those who took care of the children and helped organize the distribution of life vests, not taking any for themselves.

CATALLA, Cristina F.

catalla

As the child of a government auditor whose work assignments took him and his family to various areas of the country, Melania Cristina Catalla was born and spent her early childhood in Manila but lived and studied in Mindanao for several years, before finishing high school in Quezon City.

Her father was then assigned to the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna. Cristina, or Tina to friends, enrolled at the College of Agriculture, majoring in economics. She was soon active in many extracurricular activities. Besides the UP Student Catholic Action and the Delta Phi Omicron sorority, she joined the Cultural Society where she became active in the education committee. In her senior year, she was named associate editor of the campus paper Aggie Green and Gold where she wrote thought-provoking columns.

Although she was a quiet young woman, in 1969 Catalla already began actively participating in university-wide protest activities. Friends saw her everywhere: sitting in discussion groups, marching in rallies, going to protest concerts, attending lecture-forums. The following year, she joined the militant Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan.

For many student activists, the 1971 suspension of the writ of habeas corpus by President Marcos was a turning point. Catalla became filled with a sense of urgency and mission. She stopped going to school, deciding instead to work fulltime as student and youth organizer. At first she worked in areas around the campus then later moved to the nearby towns of Laguna.

She showed outstanding leadership qualities as she helped organize marches, mobilizing the public to protest Marcos' growing abuses and imminent move towards creating a dictatorship. These efforts culminated with the organization of the Southern Tagalog Movement for Civil Liberties in 1972. Catalla was put in charge of coordination for Batangas sectoral organizing, as well as the training of instructors for popular education courses.

She was with five other youth activists in Makati, Manila, when all six disappeared on July 31, 1977. Family and friends made repeated efforts to find them – Catalla, Manuel Sison, Rizalina Ilagan, Jessica Sales, Ramon Jasul and Gerardo Faustino – but they could not find the youths. In 1978, military authorities wrote to the families of the three missing women, saying they had been killed in an encounter between soldiers and New People’s Army guerrillas in Mauban, Quezon. However, no bodies have been produced, except for Sison’s which was found in a common grave at the public cemetery in Lucena City.

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