bantayog.foundation

bantayog.foundation

BORLONGAN, Edwin De Guzman

Borlongan, Edwin id pic

Edwin Borlongan hailed from Malolos, his father a fisherman and his mother a seamstress. Edwin was hardworking and willingly bore his responsibilities even as a child.  He did house chores. He helped earn a living by selling children’s slippers and iced treats before and after school. Rather than ask for money, it was he who would give his mother some money for his siblings’ use.

Edwin moved to Manila where he took an automotive repair course. He sustained himself by working as driver/mechanic for a relative in Tondo. This was in 1977, when the country was five years under martial rule. There were no big rallies being called, but Edwin saw and participated in the Metro Manila-wide noise barrage that erupted on the eve of the 1978 Interim Batasang Pambansa elections. The noise barrage drew out thousands from their homes to bang pots and pans on the streets in protest against martial law. After that, he became more interested in national issues as well as issues affecting students like him. Edwin offered to help in a campaign to restore student councils and to demand broader student rights and welfare.

In Bulacan, Edwin served in the parish as a catechist, an active member of the Pamparokyang Samahan ng mga Katekista (PASKA). He became involved in his parish’s anti-drug campaign, successfully drawing away several youths who were known drug users away from their habit. In 1981, Edwin got wind of the plan to establish a new farmers’ organization in Central Luzon and the search for volunteer organizers. He put in his name before his priest-friends.

The Bulacan Martyrs

While most ordinary Filipinos were cowed by the repressive machinations of the Marcos dictatorship, a good number actually exhorted the population to defy the regime and struggle to reclaim their freedoms and see democracy restored in the country. Most of these courageous few came from the youth sector.

The youth had the advantage of exuberance, idealism, and a deep sense of love for country. They, particularly the students in schools, also had access to information and resources useful for understanding the situation the country was in. It was natural that the youth would be the least cowed by the dictatorship.

Testing the martial law waters, first they organized to demand reforms in the campuses, raising issues such as tuition fee increases and demanding the restoration of student councils and student publications. Then they spread out into the communities and the rural areas, where they engaged the rest of the working population in discussions and debates, seeking to sweep away apathy and fear, and bolster the people’s courage to fight for justice and freedom. In doing this, these young people often had to abandon lives of comfort and ease, risking discovery, arrest, jail, even death, for some higher purpose. Many survived these risky ventures but some did not. They fell on the wayside, never returning to their old lives or their waiting families, their bloods merging with the soil where they fell.

Among these young people who heeded this powerful call to give all for one’s country despite the risks, never to return and never even to see victory, are the five youths from Bulacan province being nominated for Bantayog’s roster of heroes and martyrs: Danilo Aguirre, Edwin Borlongan, Teresita LLorente, Renato Manimbo, and Constantino Medina.

Circumstances of Death          

The group had been meeting to draft a program of action and to evaluate their initial work. Just this early stage had taken months to do. Then, one day in June of 1982, they were meeting inside a farmer’s house in Pulilan town when a huge group of soldiers came and took them away. The following day, all five were found dead.

A factsheet from the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (July 9, 1982) later gave an account of the incident:

They were six organizers, including a female, meeting at a farmer’s house to assess their work when suddenly they heard orders “not to move” for the house was surrounded. Then emerged some 30 heavily-armed soldiers from the 175th Philippine Constabulary (PC) Company led by a captain and a major. One of the six organizers inside the house managed to climb out of a window undetected and hide himself on the rooftop. The rest of the unarmed organizers submitted themselves without resistance.

Early the following morning, townspeople of San Rafael, some 20 kilometers away, were shocked to see five bullet-riddled bodies displayed at a corner of their municipal hall. Casualties from an encounter, the PC soldiers said. The municipal hall employees shelled out personal money to buy caskets, and for the female who was clad in pajamas, a pair of jeans. They had the bodies buried at the local cemetery in the afternoon of that same day.

The sixth member, still unaware of his friends’ fate, quickly told the victims’ families what had happened. Relatives immediately went to inquire at the camp of the 175th PC Company as well as in other possible military centers, but they were told no such detainees were being held in their camp. They learned of the deaths the following day.

The families of Rey Manimbo and Edwin Borlongan recovered their bodies on the third day. Those of the three others were recovered ten days after the incident, but only with the intercession with the military of the Bishop of Malolos. The bodies of all five showed heavy bruises and many bullet wounds.

Impact

Nine priests offered to concelebrate a funeral mass for the last three bodies to be recovered. The mass was said at the Barasoain Church in Malolos, after which the bodies were buried at the Meycauayan Cemetery. A campaign was started in Bulacan among various church and human rights groups to press for justice for the five youths. When Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. was himself assassinated a year later, many Bulakeños joined the protests, remembering the five unarmed youths whose lives were so harshly snuffed out the year before. Many poems, songs and stories would be written in memory of the five organizers. The AMGL itself began to take root in Bulacan. The perpetrators were not known to have been investigated nor punished.

AGUIRRE, Danilo

Coming from a family of market vendors in Meycauayan, Danilo Aguirre had an easy childhood. He was an active member of a parish-based group and he liked to study Church teachings. When Marcos launched a dictatorship in 1972, Danilo, then in his late teens, joined church groups undertaking activities that made people aware of their rights, even joining protest rallies over some of the excesses of the dictatorship. He was a volunteer-watcher during the 1981 Batasang Pambansa elections.

At this time, the militant farmers’ alliance, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL), although still young, had launched a series of actions to demand the implementation of a genuine agrarian reform program. AMGL had not reached Bulacan and was on the lookout for volunteer organizers from the province. In a way organizing was a dangerous activity. Martial law was in full effect and the military was the virtual power in Bulacan. Also, landowners in Bulacan felt threatened by AMGL and kept harassing farmers with their private armies. Danilo heard the search for volunteers from the church grapevine and regardless of his own safety, offered himself.

The Bulacan Martyrs

While most ordinary Filipinos were cowed by the repressive machinations of the Marcos dictatorship, a good number actually exhorted the population to defy the regime and struggle to reclaim their freedoms and see democracy restored in the country. Most of these courageous few came from the youth sector.

The youth had the advantage of exuberance, idealism, and a deep sense of love for country. They, particularly the students in schools, also had access to information and resources useful for understanding the situation the country was in. It was natural that the youth would be the least cowed by the dictatorship.

Testing the martial law waters, first they organized to demand reforms in the campuses, raising issues such as tuition fee increases and demanding the restoration of student councils and student publications. Then they spread out into the communities and the rural areas, where they engaged the rest of the working population in discussions and debates, seeking to sweep away apathy and fear, and bolster the people’s courage to fight for justice and freedom. In doing this, these young people often had to abandon lives of comfort and ease, risking discovery, arrest, jail, even death, for some higher purpose. Many survived these risky ventures but some did not. They fell on the wayside, never returning to their old lives or their waiting families, their bloods merging with the soil where they fell.

Among these young people who heeded this powerful call to give all for one’s country despite the risks, never to return and never even to see victory, are the five youths from Bulacan province being nominated for Bantayog’s roster of heroes and martyrs: Danilo Aguirre, Edwin Borlongan, Teresita LLorente, Renato Manimbo, and Constantino Medina.

Circumstances of Death          

The group had been meeting to draft a program of action and to evaluate their initial work. Just this early stage had taken months to do. Then, one day in June of 1982, they were meeting inside a farmer’s house in Pulilan town when a huge group of soldiers came and took them away. The following day, all five were found dead.

A factsheet from the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (July 9, 1982) later gave an account of the incident:

They were six organizers, including a female, meeting at a farmer’s house to assess their work when suddenly they heard orders “not to move” for the house was surrounded. Then emerged some 30 heavily-armed soldiers from the 175th Philippine Constabulary (PC) Company led by a captain and a major. One of the six organizers inside the house managed to climb out of a window undetected and hide himself on the rooftop. The rest of the unarmed organizers submitted themselves without resistance.

Early the following morning, townspeople of San Rafael, some 20 kilometers away, were shocked to see five bullet-riddled bodies displayed at a corner of their municipal hall. Casualties from an encounter, the PC soldiers said. The municipal hall employees shelled out personal money to buy caskets, and for the female who was clad in pajamas, a pair of jeans. They had the bodies buried at the local cemetery in the afternoon of that same day.

The sixth member, still unaware of his friends’ fate, quickly told the victims’ families what had happened. Relatives immediately went to inquire at the camp of the 175th PC Company as well as in other possible military centers, but they were told no such detainees were being held in their camp. They learned of the deaths the following day.

The families of Rey Manimbo and Edwin Borlongan recovered their bodies on the third day. Those of the three others were recovered ten days after the incident, but only with the intercession with the military of the Bishop of Malolos. The bodies of all five showed heavy bruises and many bullet wounds.

Impact

Nine priests offered to concelebrate a funeral mass for the last three bodies to be recovered. The mass was said at the Barasoain Church in Malolos, after which the bodies were buried at the Meycauayan Cemetery. A campaign was started in Bulacan among various church and human rights groups to press for justice for the five youths. When Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. was himself assassinated a year later, many Bulakeños joined the protests, remembering the five unarmed youths whose lives were so harshly snuffed out the year before. Many poems, songs and stories would be written in memory of the five organizers. The AMGL itself began to take root in Bulacan. The perpetrators were not known to have been investigated nor punished.

Joker Arroyo, Who Challenged Martial Law in the Philippines, Dies at 88

(Posted at The New York Times)

Joker Arroyo, a politician and lawyer who counseled, bedeviled and helped topple Philippine presidents for more than three decades, died this week in the United States. He was 88.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, a friend of Mr. Arroyo’s, confirmed the death on Wednesday. No other details were provided.

Mr. Arroyo, who reportedly got his first name from his father’s love of card games, came to prominence in the 1980s, when he helped file a series of legal challenges against the martial law decrees of the former dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.

“He did courageous work during the dark days of martial law,” said Teofisto Guingona Jr., a former Philippine vice president and fellow human-rights lawyer who had attended college with Mr. Arroyo.

“We were targeted from the very beginning, and both of us were put in confinement for our work,” he added.
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President Benigno S. Aquino III of Philippines, left, announced his endorsement of his interior secretary, Mar Roxas, right, on Friday at the historic Club Filipino in metro Manila.

When Corazon C. Aquino led a bloodless revolution in 1986 that ousted Mr. Marcos, she appointed Mr. Arroyo her executive secretary. She came to consider him one of her most trusted advisers.

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But a year into her administration she reluctantly fired Mr. Arroyo, who was disliked by the Philippine military for what some officers perceived as his pro-Communist views.

After leaving the Aquino cabinet, he served in the Philippine House of Representatives for more than a decade. He was the lead congressional prosecutor in the December 2000 impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada on multiple corruption allegations.

Mr. Estrada escaped impeachment and a Senate trial but was forced from office after street protesters called for his ouster.

Mr. Arroyo was elected to the Senate in 2001 and retired in 2013.

In recent years he made it clear that his affection for the president he served did not extend to her son, Benigno S. Aquino III, the country’s current president.

Mr. Arroyo had accused Mr. Aquino of consolidating power and behaving like a dictator when, in 2011, he led a successful effort to impeach Renato Corona, the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Mr. Corona was accused of bias in his rulings and hiding assets. Mr. Arroyo was one of only a handful of senators who voted against impeachment.

The Aquino administration called the impeachment a significant victory in its anticorruption efforts.

Mr. Arroyo loved to “tussle with the powerful,” Senator Ralph G. Recto said.

“He was a solitary gunfighter,” he added, “drawing strength from the righteousness of his crusade, never taking comfort in the number of people who share his belief.”

Mr. Arroyo was born on Jan. 5, 1927, in the town of Naga, about 235 miles south of Manila, where he attended public schools. He won a scholarship to the University of the Philippines, where he studied law.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the late dicator, said he was saddened by the news of Mr. Arroyo’s death.

“Considering where we came from,” he said in a Twitter message, “we often found ourselves in agreement over political questions. I daresay that we eventually became friends.”

How the Media Can Help End the Debate Over Martial Law

(Written by Luis V. Teodoro for the Business World)

FORTY-TWO years have passed since Ferdinand Marcos placed the entire country under martial law on Sept. 23, 1972 (he signed Presidential Proclamation 1081 on Sept. 21, implementing it only two days later). But some Filipinos still argue that things were better during the dictatorship, while others recall the way the regime ruined countless lives and inflicted on Philippine society its dark legacies of human rights violations, abuse of power, corruption and bad governance.

This year, both that practically endless debate and the Marcos family’s decades-long campaign to have the late dictator buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) marked the 42nd anniversary of Proclamation 1081. Support for the latter is often linked to the belief that the Marcos regime ushered in a period of peace and prosperity -- or that, at the very least, Marcos was an authentic hero deserving the honor.

Both indicate a national failure to put closure to that sorry, 14-year episode. The debate continues over both Marcos’s place in history and the cost of authoritarian rule because there has been no serious attempt during the 28 years since the regime was overthrown to gather and evaluate the vast amount of information in government archives and the memories of its victims that could finally provide the people an authoritative account of what really happened.

And yet the country can only “move on,” past the vice-versus-virtue debate that inevitably ensues every September, if such a closure has taken place -- and everyone has understood the martial law period enough to realize that it must never happen again.

The administrations that succeeded that of Marcos did not create any means to finally establish what actually happened through a truth commission in the manner of those created in other countries that emerged from dictatorship and repression such as Chile and Argentina.

Those administrations’ indifference and even hostility to that need has been blamed for most Filipinos’ inability to comprehend the dictatorship’s human cost and the extent to which it set back the country’s democratization and social, cultural and political development.

The blame can also be laid at the doors of those who lived through the period, but failed to convey its meaning to their own sons and daughters.

Even more fundamentally, the end of martial law did not end the rule of some of the very individuals who helped put it in place, and who could not allow the exposure of their role in it. But as the institution charged with providing the citizenry the information it needs to make sense of events whether past or present, the media also have a share of the responsibility.

Much of the media -- the radio and TV stations as well as broadsheets -- do commemorate the declaration of martial rule by airing and presenting special reports, feature stories, interviews and other pieces every September.

A report by GMA News TV this year, for example, looked into how media organizations were shut down, and some publishers, editors, columnists, broadcasters and reporters arrested upon the proclamation of martial law.

A news feature on the martial law period over radio noted, among other anomalies, that the major supporters of martial rule included now Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and former President Fidel V. Ramos.

In print, among the commemorative pieces were entire series on the experiences of martial law victims as well as accounts of the state of the country in 1972, and what it felt like for the generation that grew into adulthood during that period.

Many of these reports carried the same message: the imperative for Filipinos to never again allow the imposition of authoritarian rule. But some articles that can only be described as trivial and mindless also made it to the pages of the broadsheets, together with interviews with college students who, by claiming that the Marcos regime did the country some if not a lot of good, displayed their appalling ignorance of the period.

The same trivialization and ignorance have been evident for years not only among the young but even among older Filipinos. In such social media sites as Facebook and Twitter, the same moral agnosticism and intellectual vacuity approach epidemic proportions every September.

Ignored, forgotten or never quite learned, much less understood, is how the martial law period not only savaged the Bill of Rights, but also established a pattern of abuse and repression from which the country still has to recover, and decimated the ranks of an entire generation of the country’s best and brightest sons and daughters.

Missing among all these stories are analytical pieces on the causes and forces behind the declaration, the 14 years of repression that followed, and their consequences.

The default implies acceptance of the conventional explanation for the country’s descent into dictatorship -- that it was merely due to the ambition and corruption of one man, his wife, and his cronies -- and that without a Ferdinand Marcos the dictatorship would not have happened. Ignored are the authoritarian roots of the political system, whose democratic façade concealed the reality that a handful of families have for decades been using their monopoly over political power to defend and enhance their interests and those of their foreign patrons.

Maintaining the illusion of democratic rule served their purposes so long as it was not challenged. But in the late 1960s, social unrest reached one of its critical points, developing into a wide-ranging, multi-sectoral demand for social change and the democratization of political power.

The result was a political crisis among the elite to which their “solution” was open authoritarian rule, with Marcos acting in their behalf.

Looking at the martial law period as the logical consequence of the country’s elite-driven political structure is indispensable to understanding why authoritarian rule happened -- and, what’s even more crucial, why it can still happen. The media should continue to convey to their readers, viewers and listeners the necessity of never again allowing authoritarian rule. But of even more important is the need for everyone to monitor the political system that has remained essentially the same despite the 42 years that have passed since Proclamation 1081, and for the education of present and future generations on the need to democratize it.

The only way to end the fruitless debate over martial law is to understand it. In the absence of an official and true account of the martial law period, among the institutions vital to mass realization of that imperative is the media. Unfortunately, despite their obvious efforts at relevance every September, the media have yet to provide that vital service.

Luis V. Teodoro is the deputy director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

Martial Law Was Just OK?

(Written by Anne Marxze Umil for Bulatlat.com)

When I searched for netizens’ thoughts about the commemoration of martial law last Monday, Sept. 21, I stumbled upon a number of tweets saying good things about it.

“Martial law years were better than today because people were more disciplined, there were less crimes, the economy was better,” and so on. People made comments as if they lived through those days. The commenters’ profiles, however, showed that they are young, somwhere in their early 20s or 30s and certainly did not experience one of the most horrific eras of Philippine history.

I wasn’t yet born during Martial Law either. In my history class (Sibika) in elementary, the Marcos era was highlighted with the construction of facilities such as the Philippine Heart Center, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and LRT. I recalled our teacher saying many infrastructures were built during those years. But he also said many were also killed during that time, especially those who opposed the Marcos government.

If there are so many “millennials” who are grateful for what Marcos “did for the country” – in spite of the human rights violations — does this mean that so much is not being discussed in history class these days?

I asked my eldest daughter who is in Grade 7 if they talked about Martial Law during her elementary years and she said yes. She said the teacher said it was more peaceful during those days, cleaner but the President was strict and no one dared oppose him. So I asked her if she thinks Martial Law was good? She said if the president was strict and no one dared oppose him, then it was not good.

“There was no freedom,” she said. So I asked if the teacher mentioned the people killed and imprisoned during those years, and she said there was none.

The League of Filipino Students in UP Diliman came up with an infographic that would probably awaken those who admire the dictatorship:

It showed the widening gap between the riches of the rich and the poorest of the poor. Wages were low, poverty incidence was high. The country’s foreign debt was the largest in Asia, and has been a legacy that generations of Filipinos continue to pay.

The LFS said that the “myth of economic growth during the Marcos era” was primarily driven by foreign investment.

“Marcos also heavily relied on foreign debt in order to implement much of his projects. The ‘growth’ under these kinds of neoliberal policies is far from inclusive and has only made our nation heavily indebted. Big businesses and the elite were the ones who benefited from Marcos’ economic policies while worsening the conditions of the Filipino people,” they added.

otf-zeng-lfs-infographics

About the peace and order that some millenials cite, the Amnesty International said there were 70,000 arrested individuals, 34,000 victims of torture, 3,240 salvaged or summarily executed and 1,000 disappeared.

If you have seen “Sigwa,” a movie about the First Quarter Storm during the 1970s, then you would know why the youths of the 60s and 70s felt the need to revolt. Poverty was massive; there were also no jobs for the urban poor. There was political repression and those who dissented against the government were thrown in jail, if not killed. Somebody had to stand for the people’s welfare. Who wouldn’t revolt if you do not have freedom to oppose or express your opposition?

I have read one post from a netizen whose parents were both illegally detained during martial law. She did not detail her parents’ ordeal, but as a child to her parents, she is deeply hurt by what happened. She stressed that her parents’ illegal detention is a FACT (she wrote it in all caps). She said every time she sees posts or status glorifying martial law, she feel like being victimized. She said by glorifying martial law, it’s as if her pain and struggle is not real. That what happened to her parents and many Filipinos were not real. She said we live in a democratic country and everyone is free to express their opinion but she also urged those who glorify Martial Law to respect her and others’ pain as well.

Those who were tortured during the Martial Law years and have survived today still suffer some physical impairment and even trauma.

What would they say to those who say, “Forgive and move on”?

Lack of awareness of what really happened during Martial Law is alarming. What’s more alarming is that there will be no more Philippine history subject in 2016, when the senior high school of the K to 12 program will be implemented in full swing.

There is so much that we have to learn about Martial Law. Many of these stories may be discussed inside the classroom but there is more outside the four corners of your classrooms. We don’t know anything about living with curfews and with armed Philippine Constabulary roaming around the city. Many may not have a family member, or know of anyone who was a victim of human rights abuses during Martial Law, but the younger generation should hear the stories of the people who lived and experienced human rights abuses during those years.

I got to know more about the horrors of martial law when I covered the human rights beat. Many of those I interviewed for my articles about Martial Law said government was so ruthless. Protesters get beaten up, snatched, teargassed, imprisoned and tortured. Once you were identified that you were against the government, you were targeted. But the brave and daring youth did not falter and continued with their struggle.

Let’s put ourselves in their shoes and just imagine. Should I just shut up and live as if there is nothing wrong in the country, when poverty is rampant and the President, his cronies and relatives continue to amass wealth from corrupt practices?

I don’t think so.

Noel Bazaar 2015



(First posted at WhenInManila) When you start to hear jingles, see trees of various sizes and colors, see beautiful bright lights around the metro – you know it is the BER months once again. And with this, comes your annual tradition of holiday shopping with family and friends. No need to worry since we got you covered as the Noel Bazaar is back on its 15th year!

Noel Bazaar, known as the one-stop shop for the holiday season, will stick to its word and give you the absolute best Christmas shopping experience you deserve. It will feature a wide range of concessionaire– from fashion and beauty items, home decors, food, novelties, Christmas trimmings and other unique affordable gift items for the upcoming holiday season and beyond. You won’t be surprised to complete your entire checklist with Noel Bazaar!

They are also going to prepare an exciting line-up for their loyal shoppers as Noel Bazaar will feature special events, demos, games, raffles and variety shows featuring your favorite Kapuso celebrities.

Now it’s time to mark your calendars for the Noel Bazaar 2015 series; Join us again as “Noel Bazaar Swings South” on October 16 to 18 at the Filinvest Tent Alabang. Our next stop will be on November 26 to 30 at The World Trade Center, Pasay City. And lastly, catch us for the first time ever on December 18-20 at the SMX Convention Center.

This event will be for the benefit of the GMA Kapuso Foundation, Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation and Associate Missionaries of Assumption, along with the Noel P. Gozon Medical Clinic and the Sts. Peter and John Parish.

The Noel Bazaar is supported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, INQUIRER.net, GMA Network, GMA News TV, Summit Media (Entrepreneur, Preview, Yes! Magazine), The Foreign Post, DZBB 594 Super Radyo, Barangay LS 97.1 FM, PEP.ph, WheninManila.com, Manila Shopper, GrabCar, ClickTheCity.com, Philippines Fair, Bazaar Whisperer



Contact Information:

Landline: 687.654
Email: aprillerobles@gmail.com
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Tulog Na Bunso

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Tulog na Bunso is a song written in 1979 by Gerry Verzola. Here's a recent rendition created by composer-musician Karl Ramirez.
Ito po ay aking rendisyon ng awiting "Tulog na Bunso", isa sa mga papular na awitin sa koleksyong Mga Awitin ng Rebolusyong Pilipino. Kailan lang ay naikwento sa akin na ang awitin pala ay orihinal na isinulat noong 1979, nirecord sa cassette tape at unang dinala at lumaganap sa Cordillera. Ang rendisyong ito ay contribution din sa exhibit ng SELDA tungkol sa Martial Law resistance. Music and lyrics composed by Gerry Verzola (1979). -Karl Ramirez

Alay Kay Macli-ing Dulag

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Composed in 1980 by Prof. Nonilon Queano, days after attending a tribute for lakay Macli-ing held in Kalinga.
During the Marcos martial law years, Lakay Macliing Dulag, pangat or chieftain of Bugnay, a village in the Kalingas, was attacked and killed by government soldiers as he slept with his wife and children in their house or ili, one night. The Pangat led the struggle of the kalinga people against the building of the Chico river dam which would have sunk and destroyed many of the villages in the area. Lakay Macliing's successor, Pedro Dungoc continued but also died in the struggle. The indigenous won and the Chico river dam project never got underway. -Prof. Nonilon Queano

ANG PAGBABALIK NG MUSIKERO, named after his 1977 award-winning play, is a story of Prof. Nonilon V. Queano's life and continuous journey of discovery and struggle told through the imagery of his lyrics, melodies and musical arrangements that you are about to hear.

Written by Nonilon Queaño, a professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman and award-winning playwright, with musical arrangements and music production by Karl Ramirez. Featuring special performances by soprano Rica Nepomuceno ang classical guitarist Nobel Queaño.

The complete collection is still a work in progress.

Honoring Macli-ing Dulag, Defender of the Cordillera



ABOVE: SAMUN, (seated, with child on lap), wife of Macli-ing Dulag, and her children put up streamers in their house in the village of Bugnay in Tinglayan to call for justice over the murder of the Kalinga elder. MA. CERES DOYO

(Written by Analyn Salvador-Amores for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.)

MACLI-ING Dulag, a pangat (village elder) from the community of Bugnay in Tinglayan, Kalinga, was murdered by government soldiers 35 years ago for leading the struggle against the World Bank-funded Chico Dam project under the regime of strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Macli-ing died on April 24, 1980 when soldiers, led by Lt. Leodegario Adalem, fired at his house and those of Pedro Dungoc, his neighbor, and another resident opposing the project.

The Chico hydroelectric dam project would have submerged the sacred lands of indigenous peoples near the Chico River—from south of Bontoc in Mountain Province to north of Tomiangan in Tabuk, Kalinga—to provide electricity for the lowlands. If not for Macli-ing’s leadership and his determination to stand up to power, whole communities would have been displaced by the project.

Every April 24 since 1985, Cordillerans mark People’s Day to honor Macli-ing. Recently, the University of the Philippines (UP) Press published the book, “Macli-ing Dulag: Kalinga Chief, Defender of the Cordillera,” by Inquirer columnist Ma. Ceres Doyo. The book has an accompanying anthropological text by Prof. Nestor Castro of the Department of Anthropology at UP Diliman.

The accompanying study on the Cordillera complements the story on Macli-ing in the context of the history and culture of the region, the mountainous ancestral domain of major indigenous communities in the Philippines.

dulag2

‘Watershed moment’

“This book is yet another way of honoring and keeping alive the memory of the man who fought for his people, the Kalinga people, whose mountain homes were marked to give way to so-called development. Macli-ing’s struggle served as a watershed moment,” writes Doyo.

The book is an expanded version of an award-winning 1980 magazine article that led to Doyo’s interrogation and chastisement by the military. While the article put her and the magazine’s editor and publisher in trouble with authorities, the piece earned a journalism award handed by no less than Pope John Paul II during his 1981 visit to the Philippines.

Elders in Bugnay deeply remember Macli-ing but younger members of the community remain clueless on his larger contribution to the story of indigenous Filipinos.

Asked how the retelling of Macli-ing’s story could remind the Butbut-Kalinga and other Filipinos of his struggle and triumph, Doyo says: “I would tell them the impact of Macli-ing’s death not only on the people of the Cordillera but on people beyond. The elders and the youth should be proud that someone like Macli-ing once walked among them.”

“I would probably show the young the scar I have on my right elbow, narrate how difficult it was at that time to reach their village,” she says.

Doyo’s team was the first fact-finding group that reached the village after Macli-ing’s death. Several fact-finding missions, among these church-based and human rights groups, came later.

“It was difficult during that time—there was no food, water was scarce. The military was everywhere. We had to be vigilant,” says Apo Takhay, a Bugnay woman elder who is now more than 100 years old.

She recalls how a group of women dismantled and burned the campsites of project proponents in Basao, a village next to Bugnay. In one incident, she tells about the lusay—when elderly women disrobed and displayed their tattooed torsos and limbs in front of government surveyors and soldiers to protest the dam construction. This act, she says, is believed to bring extreme harm and bad luck to men observing them.

Apo Takhay says “the village mourned, but did not weep,” when Macli-ing died.
Her memory of Macli-ing is vivid: “He was eloquent and calm, full of courage. People intently listen to him with stillness.”

Doyo says Macli-ing’s words had an “almost mystical, spiritual quality.”

Asked what she wants to ask Macli-ing if she interviews him today, Doyo says: “Where did he draw his courage and timeless wisdom? Who is Kabunian to him? I would have wanted to have a really good glimpse not only of his mind but of his heart.”

Doyo says she also wants to learn about his childhood, the influences in his life, and what Bugnay and the Chico River were like before militarization and the proposed dam threatened the community.

Today, Macli-ing’s name is etched on the Wall of Remembrance of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City, one of the Filipino martyrs and heroes who offered their lives for freedom and justice during martial law.

VIERNES, Gene Allen

Viernes, Gene

Gene was born in Washington, USA, of a large but poor family. His father was a Filipino migrant worker and his Caucasian mother a waitress. Both also worked in farms and warehouses. Gene was fifth of 5 brothers and 5 sisters, growing in a small farming town with a considerable Filipino-American community. (Wapato claims itself to be at one time the only place in the United States where a Filipino could legally own land.)

Gene started to work in the farm when he was barely 11 years old. When he turned 15, he went with his father to work in Alaska, where work in the canneries paid better. Work in Wapato was hard but one was accepted without question, surrounded by family and friends. Alaska introduced Gene to racism, when he often had to swallow insults against people of color. Like most young men who rebelled against such treatment, Gene was advised by the older workers to “endure the situation,” earn money to finish college, and thus leave the hard life.

Friends describe Gene as “the quiet type,” not a rabble-rouser, but Gene could not take the casual insults and indignities he experienced in Alaska. He chose to fight. His first engagement was a strike in 1968 against unequal and segregated meals, which he and his fellow strikers won.

When Gene entered college, he met other Asian American activists, notable among them, Silme Domingo, with whom his life would take a parallel path until the end.

Gene, a half-Filipino, was very interested in his father’s homeland and history. He kept a popular column in community newspapers in Seattle where he documented how Filipino Americans participated and even led in the union struggles in the US from the turn of the 20th century to the 1950s.

Through his association with various student groups in Seattle, Gene became one of the first members of the Seattle-based movement against martial law in the Philippines. He joined the letter-writing campaigns whenever news filtered of a new round of arrest of political prisoners in Manila. They exposed the torture suffered by these prisoners, or the disappearance of others. They passed information to other Filipino migrant families in Seattle.

Meanwhile, he was also active in the Alaska Cannery Workers’ Association-International Longshoremen and Warehousemen’s Union (ACWA-ILWU), and the Northwest Labor and Employment Law Office (LELO). He supported the United Farm Workers (UFW)’s Radio KDNA, the first Spanish-language public radio in the Pacific Northwest.

He and fellow activist Silme (also a Bantayog nominee), began to seek reform within the ACWA-ILWU’s Seattle chapter, called Local 37, inspired by stories told by older union members, the “manongs,” to seek fair hiring and dispatching procedures. (The union local had the task of hiring and dispatching recruits to Alaska.)

In 1977, he helped establish the Rank and File Committee, around which fellow reform-oriented members of Seattle’s Local 37 could gravitate.

Then in a union election in 1980, under a platform of ridding the union of bribery, vote buying, violence and intimidation, members from the Rank and File Committee took leadership of the union’s executive board. Gene and Silme were elected dispatcher and secretary-treasurer, respectively.

The following year, 1981, Gene came to the Philippines for the first time, where he saw for himself grinding poverty unlike any he had seen before, but also, the heroic struggles against such poverty as well as against the repressive policies of the Marcos regime. He met with many worker-activists and even visited guerrilla zones in the countryside.  Later he would recall telling a very young guerrilla fighter the latter was “too young” to understand the dynamics and philosophy of the struggle against the dictatorship, and that he should go back to school, to which Gene got the following answer: “How old does one have to be to understand right from wrong?”

His Philippine experience fresh in his mind, Gene then travelled to Hawaii, where together with Silme Domingo, made a presentation at an international convention of the ILWU in Hawaii, providing documents that gave details of Marcos’ repressive rule, including anti-labor decrees promulgated by the regime. With support from the giant Local 142 in Hawaii (incidentally heavily represented by migrant Ilocanos), and despite opposition from pro-Marcos ILWU members, Local 37 won over the entire convention into passing a resolution criticizing these repressive policies and authorizing a high-level ILWU team to travel to the Philippines to look into the human rights situation in the country, particularly involving Filipino workers.

The only other labor union in the US that had taken a position on the Philippines prior to this was the United Farm Workers. UFW leader Cesar Chavez had been invited by the Marcoses to visit the country, wined and dined there, and later gave glowing reports about the country when he returned to the US.

The ILWU convention’s critical position was potentially disastrous to the Marcos regime. ILWU members could decide to boycott the servicing of Philippine ships abroad, and worse, could lead other unions into taking similar positions against the increasingly notorious Marcos rule. And most alarming of all, Marcos was scheduled for a state visit to the US the following year, 1982, where he expected to secure US aid from his friend and supporter, Ronald Reagan, making any political action against him in the US a huge public relations disaster.

Less than a month after their coup of sorts in Hawaii, Silme and Gene were shot dead inside the Local 37 office in Seattle. Two gunmen simply walked in and fired at the two. Gene died on the spot, but Silme managed to give the identities of the assailants before he died the next day.

The campaign for justice for the two activists’ murder took 7 years, but it was sustained by friends and family, forming the Committee for Justice for Domingo and Viernes (CJDV), The CJDV helped build the case, uncover evidence, search for witnesses and consistently pressure the US government to pursue the investigation and prosecution.

Finally in 1989, three members of a local gang called Tulisanes were found guilty of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. A fourth gang member was arrested then released, but later killed in mysterious circumstances.

For his role in planning and implementing the murder, a former president of Local 37 was also later sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

The hands of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were clearly seen in the murders of Silme  Domingo and Gene Viernes, through the decision of the U.S. Federal Court in a civil suit. Through a family friend, a physician, the Marcoses channeled the blood money to the hitmen. In 1991, the court ordered the Marcos estate to pay the families $15 million in damages.

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