ZUMEL, Antonio L.


Antonio “Tony” Zumel lived a life that was a complete throwback to that lived by Marcelo del Pilar more than a century ago. Both were outstanding journalists who had to leave their homeland and exile themselves in another because they were both hunted by authorities. And while they struggled for and dreamed of the day when freedom, equality and justice would be as perennial as the monsoon rains in these islands, they would never get to see that day arrive. They would die in their places of exile but both would live on forever as esteemed heroes of their native land.

Tony’s family was initially well-off. His father Antonio Sr. was a lawyer and his mother Basilisa, a teacher. Young Tony learned empathy from his father who let peasants hitch a ride on the family car on the way to town. His father taught him never to oppress other people, but also not to let other people oppress him.

The family fortunes suffered drastically after Tony’s father died when Tony was 13. He and his older sister had to find work to support their studies. Some of his younger siblings were sent to live with relatives.

Young Tony found himself in Manila doing odd jobs for an uncle. He supported himself as he attended classes at the Far Eastern University’s high school department. He also worked as a casual laborer at a war surplus equipment dump and as an assistant at a water taxi stand in a Manila pier.

Later,another uncle got him a job as a copyboy or “gofer” at the famous newspaper Philippine Herald. He observed how the newspaper editors, reporters and copyreaders worked,and started to teach himself the tricks of the trade. He bought journalism books and read them voraciously. In two years’ time, Tony was promoted to proofreader. As proofreader, he became good friends with workers in the various production departments and became sympathetic to their difficult plight.

Then still a part-time student at the Lyceum University, Tony decided to quit school and become a full-time newspaperman. He became known as a top-notch Herald reporter. His prose and skill in crafting neat turns of phrases caught the editors’ attention. More than that, however, Tony showed uncompromising integrity and a keen sense of justice, which earned him the respect of everybody.

History of political involvement

Tony joined a newly-formed union of Herald employees,but management succeeded in derailing the union’s activities. Undaunted,Tony put up a new union, more militant and more independent. The new union held a three-month strike, which however failed to win its objectives. Tony left the Herald and took an editorial post at the Bulletin.

Tony was among the journalists who established the National Press Club in 1952. Its first president was Teodoro Valencia. Tony served in the NPC Board for more than a dozen terms until he ran and won as NPC president in 1969. Tony and his circle of journalist friends became habitues at the NPC.

Meanwhile, the country entered a tumultuous period as protests erupted regularly in Manila’s streets against the excesses of the Marcos government. They were also happening in many other places in the country.

Tony was NPC president when he led a campaign to free the staff of the Dumaguete Times who were arrested for allegedly being “subversives” and were being held incommunicado by the military and police. He fought against the deportation to Taiwan of the Yuyitung brothers, Quintin and Rizal, publisher and editor, respectively, of the Chinese Commercial News. He won a second term as NPC president and became even more involved in the politics of the era.

This was the period now called the First Quarter Storm of 1970.  Tony had graduated from being a journalist to becoming an engaged participant. He had read all their books and engaged in a thousand and one conversations with activists and civil libertarians on the problems that beset Philippine society and what should be done to solve these problems.

Many of the protest actions were being held at the Liwasang Bonifacio, a park that was a spitting distance from the NPC. Tony opened the Club’s doors to the activist groups holding rallies. The club’s premises became the preferred venue for press conferences and assemblies of activists, nationalists, civil libertarians and other progressive forces. It even offered refuge to countless activists escaping from military and police dispersal units during political demonstrations.

When President Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971, Tony helped establish the Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties (MCCL), led by such prominent   personalities as Senators Jose Diokno and Lorenzo Tañada. This organization led massive rallies against the creeping dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

On the day Marcos declared martial law, Tony left his former life behind and joined the Left underground. He resumed his journalistic career, but this time as writer and editor of the movement’s clandestine publications such as Liberation and Ang Bayan, among others.

As a writer for the underground movement, Tony had to take long treks over mountains, rivers and streams, and plod for hours under heavy rain. His comrades say he remained jovial and uncomplaining, despite often being the odd-man out, a middle-aged man in the company of youths barely past their 20s. Tony endured and even embraced the hardships and spartan accommodations of that life. But he remained a journalist, always insisting that articles submitted to him treat issues objectively, all reports verified.

He married Mela and they had a daughter they named Malaya (“Free”).

In the aftermath of the People Power uprising that overthrew Marcos in 1986, Tony surfaced, along with fellow journalists-turned-rebels Satur Ocampo and Carolina “Bobbie” Malay, to represent the National Democratic Front in negotiations with the newly-installed Corazon Aquino government.

The talks failed however, and Tony, with his wife and daughter, left for Europe in 1988 to push for the NDF campaigns from there.Tony sought and was given political asylum in the Netherlands. Later he became Senior Adviser to the NDFP Peace Panel and edited the publication Liberation International. In 1990, he was elected NDF chair in absentia, and in 1994, its honorary chair.

Circumstance of death

His health had started to fail around the mid-‘90s. In 2001, three days after his 69th birthday, Tony died of complications arising from his heart and kidney problems.

Born                August 10, 1932, in Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Died                August 13, 2001, in Utrecht, The Netherlands

Parents           Antonio Zumel, Sr., lawyer, and Basilisa De Leon, teacher

Siblings           5 (2 brothers and 3 sisters)     Birth order of hero:   2nd

Spouse            Mela Castillo

Children          3 (Antonio III+, Veronica and Malaya)


Elementary     Holy Ghost Academy of Laoag, Laoag, Ilocos Norte, 1940-1947

High School     Far Eastern University High School Department, Manila, 1947-1950

College            Lyceum University, Manila, 1951 –

Bachelor of Arts (undergraduate)

Organizational Affiliations

National Press Club of the Philippines – President, 1969-1970 and 1970-1971

Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties, founding member, 1971

Professional achievement

Awarded the Marcelo H. del Pilar Award by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, May 28, 1999


Bantayog nomination and profile form accomplished by Mela Castillo Zumel, and endorsed by Hustisya-Karapatan

Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, Antonio Zumel, the revolutionary, in Streetwise, Business World, August September 14, 2012

“All about Antumel,” testimony by Carolina S. Malay, undated, Quezon City

“Antonio Zumel’s Radical Prose,” Bulatlat, August 8-14, 20014, Quezon City

19 'real Heroes' Enshrined at Bantayog

(This is a re-post of Inquirer's 19 real heroes enshrined at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani written by Tarra Quismundo. Photos and text from the Inquirer.)

MANILA — Nineteen patriots, among them the late Inquirer editor-in-chief Letty Jimenez Magsanoc, were memorialized at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani’s Wall of Remembrance late Wednesday afternoon. The 19 were hailed as the nation’s “real heroes” for resisting repression during martial rule.

The rites were among key events held in commemoration of National Heroes’ Day, marked by protest actions in various parts of the country amid a groundswell of indignation against Ferdinand Marcos’ Nov. 18 burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

“The message we want to convey is that we need to spread the truth about history, because if not, this will keep on happening. We saw what happened this month, the one who had committed a sin against our nation was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani,” said former Sen. Wigberto Tañada, who heads the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation.

“We are honoring these people today, the 19 real heroes, because of the important role they played, the help they gave to topple the dictatorship. We hope this shows the youth, the millennials we call today, that we should not disregard their heroism,” he said in an interview before rites began at 4 p.m.

In his opening remarks, he emphasized: “Marcos is no hero. He does not deserve to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.”

President Duterte had allowed Marcos’ burial at the LNMB, a decision affirmed by the Supreme Court.
Former Senator Rene Saguisag, who came to remember the heroism of his late uncle and colleague, former Sen. Jovito Salonga, cited the urgency of remembering in the wake of Marcos’ secrecy-shrouded burial.

“To me, this gives greater importance to remembering the real heroes who are here. What I fear is if someone suggests to list Marcos (on the Wall of Remembrance), the Supreme Court will again say there is no law against it. Don’t we have common sense anymore?,” he said.

Apart from Magsanoc, journalists Antonio L. Zumel and Lourdes Estella-Simbulan were also among those honored. Also among the honorees were former Senate president Salonga, labor leader Simplicio Villados, soldier Danilo Vizmanos, professionals Manuel Dorotan and Ma. Margarita F. Gomez, artist Benjamin H. Cervantes, Julio Labayen, Romulo Peralta and Jose Tangente from the clergy, and youth leaders during the martial law years Marciano Anastacio Jr., Eduardo Q. Aquino, Fortunato Camus, Hernando Cortez, Edgardo Dojillo, Ricardo P. Filio, and Joel O. Jose.

MERCADO, La Verne D.


La Verne Mercado was born and raised in a parsonage in Magalang, Pampanga. His father was a Methodist pastor, and his mother a deaconess. He was ordained minister of the United Methodist Church (UMC) in 1961, served as executive secretary of the UMC’s board of education from 1959 to 1973 and became general secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) until 1987.

He served as director of youth and student work of the UMC’s Philippines Annual Conference from 1950 to 1954, as national president of the National Christian Youth Council of the Philippines from 1952 to 1954, and first national president of the Methodist Youth Fellowship of the Philippines, also from 1952 to 1954.

He served in international and local organizations involved in children’s development, social action, justice and peace, human rights, ecumenism, Christian literature, and Bible distribution. Bishop Mercado coedited the book Human Rights Violations in the Philippines, published by the World Council of Churches in 1986, and wrote a chapter in the book Rice in the Storm: Faith in Struggle in the Philippines, published in 1989.

He was ordained elder in 1962, and served as pastor in local churches, and in various capacities in his church’s national offices. He grew to become an influential person, particularly when he became general secretary of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines, during a period when the country was wracked by militarization and repression under martial law.

As its general secretary from 1973 to 1987, he led the NCCP into becoming the mouthpiece of its member-churches in denouncing the abuses of those in power, as part of his church’s prophetic role in society. At a time when it was most dangerous to do so, NCCP issued public statements on issues such as human dignity, national sovereignty, church-state relations and morality in government, among others, and inspired its staff to boldly implemented programs that served victims of injustices, including political detainees and their families.

Bishop Mercado, along with some NCCP staff and guests, were detained by martial law authorities in June 1974, with NCCP accused of “aiding the enemies of the state.” This triggered such an outrage among churches and ecumenical bodies in and outside the Philippines that President Marcos himself ordered the bishop’s release.

Bishop Mercado combined diplomacy and statesmanship, skills which saw him through the difficult task of keeping NCCP member-churches together during the turbulent years of martial law. His gentle and friendly demeanor and his unquestioned integrity inspired respect and deep admiration among church leaders and colleagues.

Bishop Mercado firm advocacy for human rights and for church involvement in the Filipino people’s struggle won him the friendship of many and the respect of even his critics.

Bishop La Verne Mercado died of natural causes in July 2003.


Born 4 December 1921 in Magalang, Pampanga

Died 23 July 2003 in Metro Manila

Parents : Constancio Mercado Sr. and Juana Diwa

Spouse : Nellie Mercado

Education : Elementary -

High School -

College - Bachelor of Theology, Union Theological Seminary, magna cum laude

Master of Arts in Religion, Garrett Theological Seminar, Northwestern University, Illinois, USA

Doctor of Humanities & Letters, honoris causa, Central Philippine University, Iloilo City

TAN, Mary Christine L., RGS


Sister Christine Tan came from a family of means. She was the fifth of seven children.

Sr. Christine was the first Filipino to head the Philippine province of the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS), a congregation founded in France more than 100 years ago.

She also headed the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines for some time during the martial law years, a time when she became known for her militancy and firm stand against totalitarian rule.

Poverty as practised in the convent was not enough for her, so she chose to live among the poor. In the late 1970s, together with several Good Shepherd nuns, she opted to live and work among the poor of Malate and stayed with them for more than 26 years.

She founded the Alay Kapwa Christian Community and helped set up cooperatives and livelihood projects for the poor in Manila and in the provinces of Cavite, Quezon and Cebu, with whom she was humble but a disciplinarian.

She gave of her time to others. She would say that the sisters’ vow of poverty meant that they must give of their resources as well as of their time to others. “Every minute must be used well and deliberately.”

Her fellow nuns in the RGS said she gave RGS relevance during the difficult years of the 1970s and the 1980s because she had a way of "bringing new wineskins for new wine."

She was appointed member of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution.

Former president Corazon Aquino, who is a close friend, said Sr. Christine possessed integrity, patriotism, selflessness and dedication. “I think Sister Christine is a great woman,” she said.

In 1998, again breaking ground, Sr. Christine accepted a government appointment as member of the board of directors of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office where later on, she again made newspaper headlines when she questioned irregular fund disbursements at the agency.

She died of cancer complications.


BORN     November 30, 1930 in Manila

Died        6 October 2003 in Metro Manila
Parents : Judge Bienvenido Tan, Sr. and Salome Limgenco

Siblings : Consuelo, Bienvenido Jr. (former ambassador to Germany), Teresita Suarez, Caridad Manga, Leticia Sevilla and Angeles Alora.

Response Presented at the Honoring of Martial Law Heroes



(By Carmencita Karagdag, representing the families of Bishop Julio Labayen, Jose Tangente and Romulo Peralta, on November 30, 2016, at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Quezon City)

Isang maalab at mapagpalayang pagbati ngayong makasaysayang araw ng pagbubunyi sa ating mga yumaong bayani na buong giting at walang humpay na nakibaka laban sa mapaniil na diktadurang Marcos.

That we are honoring today our heroes--and let me stress, genuine heroes--against the backdrop of the dramatic upsurge of mass and youth protests against insidious attempts at rehabilitating the dark legacy of Marcos makes this afternoon’s event even more relevant and compelling.

I am  deeply honored, yet humbled, to represent in this response, families and comrades of three extraordinary church people who  made it their sacred vocation to give flesh to the Gospel imperative of serving the poor and liberating the oppressed. Theirs was the heroic mission to be faithful to the sterling example of Jesus Christ who valiantly defied the despotic regimes of his times.

Today we salute our church heroes: the late Bishop Julio Labayen, Jose Aquilino Tangente, and my own husband, Romulo Peralta. Their exemplary role in the anti-dictatorship movement and passionate stories of struggle against the evils of their times underline the fact that progressive church people have been an integral part of the Filipino people’s struggle for freedom and liberation.

Bishop Julio Labayen--a legend of his times who touched many lives--embodied the Christian precept of preferential option for the poor, making it his life vocation to be a builder of the “Church of the Poor”, integrating with, and helping organize, impoverished communities.  It was while administering their family estate, that he first witnessed the deprivations suffered by sugar plantation workers. Coming from a landed clan in Negros province and graduating with a string of honors, including summa cum laude from a Catholic university in Rome, he had no qualms giving up comfort and relinquishing power and pelf to be true to his Christian calling. His book, “Revolution and the Church” and his preachings on “how to be a shepherd in solidarity with his flocks” resonated with the Marxist inspired liberation theology then current in Latin America. Thus, all through his long  ministry, he was hounded both by his fellow church leaders and  by the military who labelled him a communist, making him a target for assassination. While the official church hierarchy had remained silent for the most part of dictatorial regime, he was among the first Catholic bishops, the so-called Magnificent Seven,  to issue an open letter to Marcos strongly condemning the atrocities of Martial Law.

Less known but particularly moving is the account of extraordinary valor and heroism displayed by former seminarian turned Red fighter, Jose Aquilino Tangente. At an early age in the early seventies, he joined the Kilusang Kristiyano ng Kabataang Pilipino, of which--I am proud to say--I happen to be among the early founders. His student and church activism took a more dramatic turn when, after Martial Law was declared--and to his mother’s frustration who long dreamed that his son join the priesthood--he abandoned his studies in a Catholic seminary and decided to join the armed struggle. On his way to the countryside, he was arrested, detained and heavily tortured by the Philippine Constabulary. He managed to escape later and subsequently took up arms as an unrepentant revolutionary. In villages close to his encampment,  Boy, as he was then called,  used his intellectual resources and political skills to conduct teach-ins that empowered indigenous peoples  in their struggle against unwanted encroachments on their ancestral land. It was during these meetings with local villagers that he was spotted and killed by soldiers while heroically helping three of his women comrades to escape.

Finally, I wish to express my profound appreciation to the Bantayog ng mga Bayani for including my late husband Romulo Peralta in this year’s roll of honorees.  Coming from a devout Protestant family and with a kind and gentle mien,  it was not easy to see through the rage that burned in Romy’s heart against an exploitative system that robbed the poor of their humanity.  Perceptive and generous to a fault, it was not long before he would give up his medical studies and commit himself to selfless activism. He did not falter in his commitments even when we were forced to go underground after a raid in our house, that resulted in the incarceration and torture of my four siblings. Upon the intervention of the World Council of Churches and the Christian Conference of Asia, we were allowed later to surface and go on exile in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan where Romy employed his immense resourcefulness in establishing the first solidarity center for the Philippines, earliest solidarity groups in Asia-Pacific and the first Filipino migrant organization overseas, A natural diplomat, his wide realm of international solidarity linkages spanned  a whole gamut of ideological persuasions--from left-wing communist parties and militant labor organizations to church groups, human rights organizations, socialist parliamentarians, and progressive academics. As his wife of many years,  I knew all along that our difficult years in the underground and in exile--separated from our small children--had been particularly trying and painful to my late husband who was at heart a devoted family man and nurturer.

Friends, may these compelling stories of resistance infuse us with renewed vigor to persevere--against all odds--in our just struggle for human rights and genuine liberation. May these shining examples of defiance energize and propel us to new heights in our mass mobilizations against insidious attempts at rehabilitating the dark legacy of Marcos.

Response on Behalf of the Families, Comrades and Friends of Martyrs and Heroes (Media and Professionals) Included in the Wall of Remembrance at the Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani, Nov. 30, 2016:


Response on Behalf of the families, comrades and friends of Martyrs and Heroes (Media and Professionals) included in the Wall of Remembrance at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Nov. 30, 2016:

By Roland Simbulan

It has been a cliche to refer to departed friends and loved ones as having lived a "full life". Yet, one cannot think of any easy way to describe the lives of beloved icons who are also freedom fighters: the three from the media sector namely Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, Chit Estella-Simbulan, and Tony Zumel; the actor-director Behn Cervantes, feminist-teacher Maita Gomez, and a soldier of the people Dan Vizmanos. They have contributed in no small way to this country's history in its struggle against dictatorship and tyranny.

Martial law brought out the worst in the Filipino that inflicted great suffering, cowardice, and fear as we would never forget. But it also brought out the best in us, Filipinos.

When many journalists during martial law became its cheerleaders, others showed phenomenal courage and bedrock devotion to truth. It is the storms, and contrary winds that bring out the strengths of individual character that has made the difference. Even in the "praise release" newspapers and magazines controlled by the martial law regime to the "mosquito press" and revolutionary press of the Underground, they took great risks and became the voices of truth in exposing the Marcos dictatorship where the only thing that made it look good was the absence of a free press. They were among the best mold of journalists to confront martial law repression during those dark years.

They showed us with their writing and their example the kind of integrity journalism is all about: a commitment to human rights, exposing injustices and manipulation, digging, ferreting, carefully researched writing that gets at the hard facts.

The media honorees Letty Magsanoc, Chit Estella and Tony Zumel personified the fierce independence of journalism from the unquestioning acceptance of government spin. During those times when limitations to civil liberties were justified and arguments for their suppression were made, these journalists and editors took a stand. As Chit (Estella-Simbulan) once told me, "It was the only right thing to do." For these media icons, repression of dissent is repression of press freedom. They fervently loved our country, viewing freedom of the press as crucial for keeping it true to its ideals. They taught their colleagues that real objectivity is when reporters dig into documents, find a credible whistle-blower source in the bowels of government where the real good sources are, or learn things on their own and verify them.

In the case of the other professional honorees- Maita Gomez, Behn Cervantes and Dan Vizmanos- one would expect that their idealism and militance during their youth would evaporate as the realities of adult life and raising a family set in. These professionals chose the road less travelled under trying times, and with their courage and brilliance, resisted the Marcos dictatorship. Their torches have inspired others.

They have now passed the torch to us the living, and the young generation of millennials. Rest assured that we will not allow the flame to be extinguished. We will hold it high to our last breath. To the honorees whose spirit I am sure are with us today I have this to say: your names will be etched not only in granite stone, but in our hearts and will always remain a symbol of commitment to achieve a better life for our people and nation.

I would like to speak of our heroes and martyrs as part of a wider family, both at the personal and political level. We, as family, especially those nameless among our people they have touched with their lives and example, stand here together to say to all of you people of this beautiful land. Thank you.

On behalf of the families, comrades and friends of the media and professional honorees, we thank Bantayog ng mga Bayani for this honor they have given to our loved ones who braved the storms and whose lives have made a difference. Their spirit will never die, even more so in contemporary conditions which show ominous signs of resurgent fascism. Their memory hold a steady course in all seasons, and we now know that there are many-millions of kindred souls-who will be the keepers of the flame.
And we, are so grateful for this honor.

Retrieved from Roland Simbulan's Facebook account, Dec. 1, 2016

Response in Behalf of the Families of Marciano Anastacio Jr., Hernando Cortez, Manuel Dorotan and Simplicio Villados


Ako po si Cecille Valdellon.  Sa hapong ito, sina Marciano P. Anastacio Jr., Hernando M. Cortez, Manuel G. Dorotan at Simplicio D. Villados ay pinararangalan ng Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation bilang mga martir sa pagsusulong ng Kilusang paggawa.  Sinupil ng gobyernong Marcos ang mga karapatan ng uring manggagawa sa panahon ng batas militar.  Subalit sa taglay na dedikasyon ng nabanggit na apat na martir , buong tapang nilang pinamunuan ang kilusan sa pagsusulong ng karapatang makapagtayo ng tunay na unyon, ang pagpapataas ng sahod at pagkakaroon ng makatarungang mga benepisyo, at ang pagpapabuti sa kalagayan ng mga manggagawa sa loob ng pabrika.  Tunay ngang malaking ambag ang kanilang mga pagsasakrispisyo sa pagsusulong ng tunay na unyonismo.

Ang kanilang mga sakripisyo ay nagbunga hindi lamang para sa kapakanan ng uring manggagawa.  Bahagi sila ng mamamayang naglakas loob na bigyang liwanag ang kadilimang inihasik ng diktadurang pamahalaan.  Naitala na sa kasaysayan na ang mga malalaking welga at kilos protesta sa La Tondeña at Gelmart nuong maagang bahagi ng Martial Law ang naging mitsa ng malawakang pagtutol hindi lamang ng uring manggagawa kundi ng mga kabataan at iba pang sektor maging ng mga magsasaka sa kanayunan na labanan ang paninikil ng diktadurang pamahalaan.  Ang mga malawakang pagkilos na ito ay nagtuloy tuloy hanggang sa maibagsak na nga ang diktadura sa isang People Power Revolution. 

Lubos ang aking pagpapahalaga sa kanilang mga ambag sa kilusang tunay na unyonismo.  Hindi ko po alam kung paano ilalahad sa harapan ninyo ang tunay na aking nararamdaman sa mga oras na ito.  Marahil, dahil hindi lamang bilang isang anak, kundi dahil sa ako po ay naging  presidente rin ng isang unyon.  Ka Chuck, Ka Adrian, Ka Briggs, Ka Felicing, hayaan nyo po akong ialay ang isang bahagi ng rebolusyonaryong awitin “ Ang magbuhos ng dugo para sa bayan, Ay kagitingang hindi malilimutan.  Ang katawang inialay sa lupang mahal, Mayaman sa aral at kadakilaan.”

Nagpapasalamat po ako at mayroong Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation.  Pinahahalagahan nila ang buhay ng ating mga bayani at martir.  Nailalagay nila sa kasaysayan ang mga sakripisyo ng mga dakilang mamamayan.  At higit sa lahat, patuloy silang lumalaban upang pangalagaan ang ating demokrasya.

Nananawagan po ako sa lahat ng pamilya ng mga martir, sa lahat ng kamag-anak ng mga martir, sa buong sambayanang Pilipino na  huwag nating hayaang mapunta sa wala ang kanilang mga sakripisyo. Bantayan po natin ang ating nakamit na demokrasya.  NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW!  MABUHAY ANG URING MANGGAGAWA!

Maraming salamat po!

Speech delivered during the Annual honoring of Martyrs and Heroes

November 30, 2016

Magalit Ka Bayan

Poem written by Atty. King Rodrigo. Read during the Annual Honoring of Martyrs and Heroes, Bantayog ng mga Bayani, November 30, 2016

Read during the Annual Honoring of Martyrs and Heroes, Bantayog ng mga Bayni, November 30, 2016

PRUDENTE, Nemesio E.


Nemesio Prudente was that rare brand of educator and administrator who was able to combine order with change, establishment and activism, and reform and revolution. He was as tireless as the freshest activist in fighting for democracy in his country, even as he led what would eventually become, under his administration, the country’s largest state university. He has been hailed a nationalist and visionary by his colleagues.

He took his elementary and high school education in the Philippines, and his undergraduate and graduate studies in California, USA. He worked for a short while in the States then returned to the Philippines to teach graduate and undergraduate courses at the Far Eastern University. He was appointed dean of the FEU graduate school in 1961 and served for a year. In 1962, he was appointed president of the Philippine College of Commerce (PCC), a post he held up to 1972, when Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and Prudente went into hiding.

PCC students and friends called him Doc Prudente. He was a highly respected figure in campus. He was a conscientious president. Side by side with his students, employees and teachers, he held pickets and rallies demanding from government the release to the school of the land it was standing on. He hounded Congress for a bigger PCC budget. He built structures for the PCC Main Library, and for the engineering and mass communication colleges. He found space to hold the graduate school and the college of hotel and restaurant management.

But best of all, Doc Prudente believed in and lived a concept of education that was activist as well as critical. Professors as well as students would stop by his office to engage him in debate and discussion. Under his administration, PCC became one the most active schools in the early 1970s, where students were urged instead of prevented from joining student activities. PCC students flocked to the student protests that ended in the First Quarter Storm of 1971.

He engaged activists in discussions ranging from economy to social science to political economy. He discussed reform and revolution with them. He also butted heads with other brilliant debaters like Blas Ople and Benigno Aquino Jr.

Like most civil libertarians in the late 1960s and 1970s, Doc Prudente spoke publicly about what he saw was the increasing repression of the Marcos administration. He was an active supporter of the Movement for a Democratic Philippines and the Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties. He was not cowed by threats of arrest or detention. He was, in fact, among those arrested by Ferdinand Marcos when the latter suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971.

He was eventually released, then arrested again when Marcos instituted martial law in 1972. Doc evaded arrest this time and went immediately into hiding. In the underground, he helped build the resistance network against the dictatorship. He was one of those who helped prepare the establishment of the National Democratic Front. He was eventually found and arrested, detained in a number of military camps and safehouses for six years.

When the dictatorship was abolished in 1986, Doc resumed his legal activities, accepting an appointment as president of the old PCC, now renamed Polytechnic University of the Philippines. He held this post until he retired in 1992. He put on his administrator’s coat and put in much-needed reforms at the state university. But his activist spirit remained alive. He once opened the campus to scores of villagers escaping from militarization, earning him the military’s suspicion that he was hosting communists in his campus.

He continued to publicly condemn human rights violations occurring in what was supposed to be a newly-democratic government. For his efforts, Prudente survived two attempts on his life, the first was in November 1987 when his lawyer was killed, and the second in June 1988, less than a year after the first, when three of his companions were killed. Doc himself was severely wounded in the second attempt. In 1999, or 11 years later, five policemen were convicted for the second ambush.

Doc’s courage, passion and ideals were no secret to PUP students, and many of those who were students during his administration vow that these qualities are “forever embedded” in them because of his sterling example.

Doc’s writings include “The Revolutionists” and the “Quest for Justice,” sharp commentaries that help raise awareness and give insights about the gravity of the problems besetting the Philippines.

Even as he grew older and sicker, Doc Prudente kept his life simple and his needs basic. Knowing he was sick, he had left instructions on how he wanted to go. There was to be no pomp, no ceremony, not even a wake. He wanted to be cremated wrapped in a mat, not confined in a coffin. Honoring his request in spirit if not in form, when he died from complications arising from a prostate operation, his family had him cremated wrapped in a shroud and in a cardboard box the day after he died. No wake was ever held. Doc was 81.

BORN                                    :               December 19, 1927 in Rosario, Cavite

DIED                                      :               March 28, 2008 in Cavite

PARENTS                             :               Mamerto Prudente and Felicidad Encarnacion

SPOUSE/CHILDREN         :               Ruth Y. Garcia / 3

EDUCATION                       :               Elementary: Rosario Elementary School, Cavite

Secondary: University of the Philippines High School; Cavite Provincial

High School

College: US Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York (USA)

Postgraduate: San Francisco State College, San Francisco, California

(USA); University of Southern California (USA)

BURGOS Jr., Jose G.


Since Spanish colonial times, the Philippine press has played a major role in expressing popular grievances against the country’s rulers.  Knowing this, among the first actions taken by President Marcos in imposing martial law was to control the mass media: newspaper offices, radio stations and television channels were all taken over by his regime.

Prominent media personalities were jailed right at the start. Longer detention periods were suffered by many working journalists.  Eventually, some media outlets were allowed to operate, but only news and opinions favorable to the dictatorship were allowed to appear.

Word of mouth filled in the very big blanks in the information system.  Guerrilla groups put out their own underground newspapers.  “Xerox journalism” consisted of photocopied articles from foreign media. Mimeographed sheets were circulated by church workers.

Before martial law, Jose (Joe) Burgos Jr. had already received praise for his investigative reports on political violence in Ilocos Norte, his home province and that of President Marcos.  For this he was named one of the country’s Ten Outstanding Young Men in 1970.

In 1973, with martial law in full swing, Burgos accepted a Jefferson fellowship to study at the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center.  He then worked for a while in two government agencies.

In May 1977, however, he began publishing the modestly-sized We Forum.It was a success, as the public soon discovered that it was reporting news and commentaries that could not be found in the Marcos-controlled press. Burgos also launched three other publications (Midday, Malaya and Masa).

Marcos tolerated these publications for a time, because their existence allowed him to claim that there was press freedom in the country.  But after We Forum published a series of investigative reports about the dictator’s fake war medals, in December 1982 the police raided its offices and arrested Burgos and the newspaper’s columnists and staff.

Undeterred, Burgos put out Ang Pahayagang Malaya instead.  By then, opposition to the dictatorship had become more openly defiant.  Like We Forum before it, the newspaper ably mirrored the mood of the times and gained a broad, supportive readership.  It was well positioned to reflect and amplify the huge protest movement that reached new heights after the assassination of Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.

Joe Burgos was named International Journalist of the Year by Inter Press Service in 1986, and by the International Press Institute as one of the 50 “World Press Freedom Heroes” of the 20th century.

He died of cancer in 2003, at the age of 62.

BORN                                    :               January 4, 1941 in Manila

DIED                                      :               November 16, 2003 in San Juan, Metro Manila

PARENTS                             :               Jose Burgos Sr. and Tomasa Gacusano

SPOUSE/CHILDREN         :               EdithaTronqued / 5

EDUCATION                       :               Elementary:

Secondary: University of Sto. Tomas High School, Manila

College: University of Sto. Tomas, Manila


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