bantayog.foundation

bantayog.foundation

FRANCISCO, Oscar Diamaro

Francisco, Oscar

Oscar was Oca to most who knew him. His socio-political activism started in the late 1960s with the Student Catholic Action (SCA) in Mapua University, and later at the Manila Archdiocese. He also was involved with the reform-oriented National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) under the leadership of the late Edgar Jopson (a Bantayog honoree), and then later the Christians for National Liberation (CNL).

Shortly before the declaration of martial law in 1972, Oca began a life-long involvement in community work, then called community organizing or CO. Working under church programs, Oca became a trainer and supervisor of community organizers, working primarily in Tondo, one of Metro Manila’s oldest and poorest districts.

When Marcos imposed martial law, he wanted to build an international port in the Tondo foreshore, thus ordering the razing of the homes of some 30,000 informal settlers in the area. Oca, doing organizing work in Tondo’s Magsaysay Village, was right in the center of what often became a fierce battleground between the regime and the affected villagers. In order to empower the local people, Oca together with organizers from the local parish, helped set up a broad alliance called Zone One Tondo Organization (ZOTO). The resident “squatters” defied the regime. They trooped to offices to submit petition papers, talked to foreign reporters, invited nuns and priests to their homes. They had a single message: Marcos’ plan was unjust and inhuman. ZOTO’s open defiance, which could not be cowed despite arrests and threats, made the community one of the Marcos regime’s biggest embarrassments abroad. Oca was a key figure in this local movement.

Oca was respected and even loved by many of Tondo’s tough community leaders. He was not only an effective community organizer; he was a brilliant trainer of organizers. He proposed daring tactics. He was quick to grasp situations and adapt them to his goals. He was calling on people to help themselves, applying the concept of “people power” when the term was yet unknown. More important, ZOTO’s thousands of poor families soon were joining the marches and rallies against the dictatorship.

After his stint with ZOTO, Oca joined the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), under the justice and peace desk and the desk for poor settlers. He continued to show out-of-the-box thinking, introducing innovations such as the creation of justice and peace groups nationwide. These groups later became the nucleus for a strong national ecumenical human rights network called the Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace, or EMJP.

Oca was also a key person in the development of the Basic Christian Community-Community Organizing (BCC-CO), a church program that became a crucial weapon in many urban and rural communities nationwide in resisting the Marcos dictatorship.

Oca’s contribution to the anti-Marcos struggle is incalculable. One of his most notable strengths was in building alliances. By the early 1980s, friends were seeking his help in building such broad anti-dictatorship alliances as the People’s Assembly for the Pope’s Arrival (PAPA), the National Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights (NCPWR), the People’s Movement for Nationalism, Independence and Democracy (People’s MIND), the Coalition for the Restoration of Democracy (CORD), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), and the Lakbayan-Sakbayan (March and Caravan) for the campaign to boycott the 1984 elections.

His friends sometimes claimed that Oca had one of the most number of “comrades” in the anti-dictatorship circles. They came from north to south, and ranged from the proudest to the humblest, the highest of the high and the lowest of the low.

After Marcos was overthrown, Oca went full blast into supporting initiatives for urban and rural development, agrarian reform, as well as people empowerment and good governance. These initiatives included the Partnership for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (PARRDS), where he was executive director, and later president, and the Philippine NGO Council for Food Security and Fair Trade, where he was president for 14 years.

Towards the late 1990s, Oca returned to his Leyte roots and started the Leyte-based Institute for Democratic Participation in Governance, serving as its first executive director. He continued to be tapped as consultant for pro-poor programs in both rural and urban areas by the government and even international organizations.

He accepted several government positions, always choosing posts that allowed him to help the poor. For nine years, he was NGO sectoral representative in the government’s National Anti-Poverty Commission, later its vice-chair. He was board member of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and consultant at the Department of Agrarian Reform, and the KALAHI-CIDSS Program of the Department of Social Work and Development. For a short while, Oca also served as party-list representative at the House of Representatives.

Yet as he rose in position, he remained grounded, full of humor, and approachable. He always welcomed his friends who irreverently called him “General Tolindoy.” In or out of government, Oca pursued his crusade for the working people, fighting to enhance their power and to improve their welfare.

In the late 1990s, his health took a turn for the worse. Diabetes slowly ravaged his body. He finally succumbed to it in 2010.
Oca led in mobilizing the national network of diocesan social action centers in the promotion of human rights, justice, peace and the integrity of creation based on Gospel values. He also played a key role in linking the church with secular national and international movements for peace and justice. -SOPHIE LIZARES BODEGON, FORMER COORDINATOR OF THE NASSA RESEARCH DEPARTMENT

Two things strike me … : how Oca kept out of prison despite all his activities and statements in favor of empowering the poor and opposing Marcos’s martial law regime, and how he was so frequently effective both in stimulating consensus on contriversial matters and in modifying excesses. -VICTOR GERARDO BULATAO, MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS, LANDBANK

I was one of the many who witnessed Ka Oca’s heroism, not only as a political and social activist, but as a man who knew his mission and the roles he had to play at the right time. -JOHN MARK CAJIUAT

Oca was truly one of the many people who contributed in toppling the dictatorship. Fueled by his passion to teach and mentor people with a heart for real change, he was able to hone young community organizers to become people’s partners in understanding and asserting their rights. -ATTY. ARMANDO D. JARILLA, NATIONAL COORDINATOR OF TASK FORCE MAPALAD INC.

Oca will be remembered for his service to the poor, his pioneering work in human rights under the Marcos dictatorship, and for his work as coalition builder, reformer and bridge-builder. 

We all knew Oca as a critical instrument in the building of alliances between the included and the excluded in our society, a crucial hand in coalition building, and a determined reformer and bridge builder between civil society and the state. -FRANCISCO LARA, COUNTRY DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL ALERT, UK

Oca had the sensitivity to religious belief and the respect for differences of opinion that many of our friends had in the 1970s. -DENNIS MURPHY, URBAN POOR ALLIANCE

I am deeply humbled and remain in awe of Oca Francisco’s valuable contributions to the cause of democracy, justice, and human rights… What a difference Oca would have made if we still had him working … within our ranks. -ALEXANDER A. PADILLA, EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, PHILHEALTH

For his exemplary service in organizing the people of the Tondo foreshore and other communities during martial law, for enabling them to participate in decision-making and to exert their interests in an authoritarian regime, I strongly recommend (Oca to) the Bantayog ng mga Bayani. -MARY RACELIS, PROFESSOR AND RESEARCH SCIENTIST, ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY

Those years of ZOTO and Ugnayan were the golden years of people organization because of organizers like Ka Oca, who leave no stones unturned, so that the message of the urban poor can be heard. -TRINIDAD HERRERA REPUNO, FOUNDING PRESIDENT OF THE ZONE ONE TONDO ORGANIZATION

MEDINA, Constantino Reyes

Constantino Medina was born on the eve of the feast day of St. Helena of Constantinople, thus his name. He was also called Tinoy and Ante. Tinoy grew up in the coastal town of Hagonoy, in a barangay called Sagrada Familia, where poems can be plucked off the air just by the way people speak. His father was a fishpond caretaker while his mother looked after the couple’s six children.

Tinoy’s early life was like most everyone else’s in Hagonoy, a fisherman’s life. Even as a young boy, he fished in the sea, repaired footpaths and levees in fish ponds, and gathered seaweeds in Manila Bay to sell to gelatin makers. He was hardworking and industrious, but quiet and unassuming. He liked reading and had a quick, inquisitive mind. Friends say he could have become a lawyer.

In the late 1970s, Bulacan produced a number of nationalist and progressive writers and artists, such as a group called Galian sa Arte at Tula (GAT). These artists would sometimes bring their barriomates, Tinoy among them, to watch for free some of the plays staged by the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) in Manila.

The PETA plays Tinoy saw woke him up to realities in Philippine society and started his political awakening. When he heard that a protest rally was being scheduled in Manila, Tinoy and some of his townmates would plan to join these protests. He was joining more and more political meetings, taking him away from home for long periods of time. He was the fifth in the group of organizers that was formed to start the seeds of Bulacan’s AMGL.

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.

MANIMBO, Renato Turla

Manimbo, Renato id pic

Renato Manimbo was a popular figure in his village in the town of San Ildefonso. His family hailed from Candaba in Pampanga province. The family relocated to Bulacan after an uncle who worked as a government agent was killed by armed men spraying their house with bullets.

Renato graduated top of his grade school batch. He was also a skilled basketball player, winning many basketball competitions for his school and barangay teams. He was smart, sociable and quick-witted, and was always sought-after in gatherings. His nicknames were Rey and “Jap” (friends say his eyes looked Japanese).

Rey’s father was a farmer of modest means. Appreciating his exceptionally bright son, he sent Rey to FEATI University in Manila to study mechanical engineering. For a while basketball was Rey’s main preoccupation. But in 1978, most of the campuses in Manila saw an upsurge in student protests over tuition fee increases and demands for students’ rights and welfare. The farcical Interim Batasang Pambansa elections that year made many people question the martial law regime. Rey became involved in campus politics. He presided over FEATI’s student council for two years, and soon was leading student actions on and off campus, speaking at rallies to denounce the dictatorship. On school breaks, he would go home and talk to friends and neighbors, discussing the ills and injustices he saw happening in the country, explaining the political conditions he had been learning.

Rey expected to graduate in 1979, but school authorities withheld his diploma because of his political activities. Rey pursued his activism and helped fledgling protest groups in their organizing and expansion work. He was a founding member of the League of Filipino Students (LFS). He organized students to undertake relief operations for typhoon victims in Central Luzon. He joined a group of students who dared to put up protest banners exposing to world-wide media coverage the deplorable human rights situation in the country during Pope John Paul II’s mass at the Quezon Memorial Circle in 1981. When he learned that Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) was seeking volunteer-organizers for Bulacan, Rey wanted in.

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.

LLORENTE, Teresita Evangelista

Llorente, Teresita pic

Tessie Llorente was an attractive young lady, fair and smooth-skinned, with reddish lips, pretty as a teen idol. Her parents owned a small restaurant in Meycauyan, and Tessie grew up in the business. The family was hard-working and business-minded. But Tessie had other interests. She was a member of the parish choir and later joined the Pamparokyang Kilusan ng Kabataang Kristiyano (PKKK), which implemented the parish’s social action and social justice work.

Attending PKKK’s seminars and bible-study sessions, Tessie became aware of the problems besetting many in her community. Tessie helped in a feeding program for the families of striking workers in a nearby textile factory. Greatly affected by her exposure to the strikers, she wanted to do more.

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.

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
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/noel.bazaar
Instagram: @noelbazaar
Twitter: @noelbazaars

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