CEZAR, Alfredo Celi Jr.

Alfredo Cezar belonged to a large family so even as a young boy, he had to work hard and be responsible. He helped tend his mother’s store. He was serious in his studies, graduating with honors. He is also remembered as a humble and even-tempered person.

He was a devout Catholic, serving for years as parish altar boy and dreaming of becoming a priest. He finished his secondary education at a seminary.

He graduated cum laude at the University of Santo Tomas, then went into theology and canon law. He was ordained deacon.

During his final years at UST, he became attracted to the events of the First Quarter Storm. He became a member of the Kilusang Kristiyano ng Kabataang Pilipino (KKKP, among whose leaders was then Fr. Edicio dela Torre), attended its study sessions and joined integration trips to Sapang Palay, Tondo, Tatalon and other urban poor areas.

He took a job as teacher at the Sta. Catalina College in Caloocan City, where he served as adviser to the student paper.

With the declaration of martial law, Alfredo Cezar returned to his hometown of Bolinao in Pangasinan. There he tried to organize resistance to the regime among his provincemates. He worked quietly with the local church people. He also provided sanctuary to activists who were evading the frequent waves of arrests by the military.

As repression escalated, Alfredo left Bolinao in 1974 and joined a research team based in Baguio City undertaking social investigation work on socioeconomic and political conditions in the Cordilleras. The research team’s output, “Northwestern Luzon Regional Social Investigation 1980,” which was undertaken under very difficult martial-law conditions, became a landmark project and served as handbook to activists in the region even after many years. It contained charts, tables, statistics, information on agriculture, on the mining industry, on the state of the public health system, etc., even a documentation of Cordilleran history from the arrival of Spanish colonialists in the 16th century up to the post-World War II period. It showed concrete data on the basic problems confronting the Cordillera people.

After the research project was completed, Alfredo found a place in Ilocos Sur as volunteer parish organizer for Fr. Zacarias Agatep (Bantayog honoree), who was known as an advocate for the welfare of the local tobacco farmers. Alfredo also found a teaching job at the rural high school.

Working with Fr. Agatep, he continued to build awareness among local folk regarding the situation in the country. Because Fr. Agatep was a farmers’ advocate, Alfredo became exposed to problems faced by tobacco farmers in the Ilocos region, including onerous tax burdens imposed on them by local officials. He found more evidence of military abuses in the province.

Alfredo eventually joined the armed resistance in Ilocos Sur, becoming known as Ka Darwin. He and Fr. Agatep were killed together during a dawn raid by soldiers. It is said they fought to give their comrades a chance to escape.

Alfredo was among those honored in 1986 during the Gabi ng Parangal para sa mga Biktima ng Karahasan organized by the Northern Luzon Human Rights Organization (NLHRO) in Baguio City. “In Memoriam,” a poem dedicated in the memory of Fr. Zacarias Agatep and Alfredo Cezar was written by Jason Montana, published in the collection of poems titled Clearing.

Dueñas, Ruth Emata

Eldest of seven children, Ruth Dueñas was jolly, honest, and was used to looking after her siblings. The word most often used to describe her was courageous. Marcos had just declared martial law when Ruth entered high school, and dire things were happening around her. Going home from school one day, she saw nine bodies killed in a shooting incident near her school. The bodies were loaded onto a passing jeep and Ruth boarded the same vehicle which brought her and the corpses to Davao City proper.

Ruth’s father was a church worker and her mother a public school teacher. Her parents taught their children to be sympathetic and to serve those in need. Ruth took their lessons to heart and in college, enrolled in social work. In her third year in college, she joined the Concerned Citizens for Justice and Peace (CCJP) in Davao. As an on-the-job trainee she was given the task of coordinating the CCJP’s Labor Assistance Committee.

This started her full involvement with labor. She worked to bring food and basic necessities to workers on strike. She learned tools for organizing labor unions.

The terror effect of martial law had been eroding in Davao by the late 1970s. Protest activities once done covertly were being held in the open. Church groups were becoming involved. As more people joined protest actions, issues being raised in these protest actions were also expanding to include demands for workers, peasants, and students. A common call for the dismantling of martial law was starting to reverberate. (Tiu, Reconstructing History from Text and Memory, 2005).

In 1980, protest groups in Davao planned a city-wide campaign to paint slogans and put up posters that called for the dismantling of the Marcos dictatorship. This event was dubbed “Lumpagon ang Balaod Militar (or LBM).” Dismantle martial law. The campaign led to the arrest of many known activists in the city. Ruth was part of the campaign but she managed to escape arrest.

After graduation, Ruth opted not to take a regular job but to work fulltime as labor organizer with the CCJP and to support the resistance groups in Davao working against the Marcos dictatorship. It was increasingly a dangerous involvement. Militarization continued to rise. She had to leave home and her family. In 1982 on the occasion of her parents’ wedding anniversary, she wrote them: “Although I love you but sorry if someday I will leave you for the sake of others who need me too.”

Ruth’s parents, while respecting her decision, prayed she would be spared from harm. But she would meet her fate just months later.

Soldiers from the Philippine Constabulary had come to raid a house in San Isidro, Bunawan, in Davao City. Ruth was inside, having a meeting with labor leaders. The soldiers fired warning shots. The unionists, all unarmed, came out. Two were shot dead then and there. Ruth and five others were seen herded into a green vehicle.

The following day, Ruth’s body and those of the five were found at a local funeral parlor. Ruth had a gunshot wound to her head and her body bore signs of terrible abuse. The wound was fresh with blood when Ruth’s father and a co-worker came to claim her body. She may have been alive just hours earlier. (The PC later spread the rumor that members of the New People’s Army were killed in a 30-minute gunfight in Bunawan.)

Some 2,000 mourners braved the repressive government in order to come and march in protest at Ruth’s funeral. She was buried at the Panabo Public Cemetery on February 4, 1983. The marchers included residents from the communities Ruth had served, her friends from school and colleagues from CCJP. They recall that rain was pouring in Panabo that afternoon they laid her to rest.

LIBRADO, Erasto "Nonoy" L.

Erasto Librado, more known by his nickname Nonoy, was the eldest of seven children. His parents sold vegetables and goods in a small sari-sari store in the market. The family lived in the store, and Nonoy and his siblings helped run it.

He studied hard, passing the board exams for accountants while still underage. He did not immediately get his certificate as a Certified Public Accountant. He studied law for two years.

His first job was at the Bank of the Philippine Islands(BPI) in the late 1960s. He joined the BPI employees union and was its president for more than 10 years. As president, he was usually the union’s lead negotiator for Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the BPI management.

Nonoy was married in 1971.

Following Marcos’ declaration of martial law was the widespread crackdown on activists, including labor unions and labor organizers. Nonoy started community work around Davao City, to try to organize and conscienticize the people to fight for democracy and resist the martial rule of the Marcos regime.

Together with other activists, Nonoy helped put up people’s organizations and launched conscientization programs where issues such as oil price hikes, the lack of land reform, and the abuse of workers’ rights and other people’s issues, including the issue about the martial law government, were discussed.

In 1980, mass arrest of known labor leaders took place after the Davao City-wide coordinated launching of a campaign called the “Lumpagon ang Balaod Militar (or LBM).” Dismantle martial law. This consisted mostly of painting slogans along street walls. Spared from arrest, he assumed the leadership of the Davao City trade union organizing.

Despite the threats and the risk, Nonoy gained even greater responsibilities as a union organizer in the city of Davao. With Hernando Cortez (a Bantayog honoree), they collaborated to create a Mindanao-wide workers organization. They called it the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Mindanao or United Workers in Mindanao, NAMAMIN. By the early 1980s NAMAMIN had over 170 labor unions from different parts of Mindanao as members.

Nonoy led the Mindanao delegates when Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) was established in Manila on May 1, 1980.

Nonoy continued to help organize new labor federations, including the National Federation of Labor (NFL), which expanded to some parts of the Visayas, the United Lumber and General Workers of the Philippines (ULGWP) the Southern Philippines Federation of Labor (SPFL) and the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Habagatang Mindanao (United Workers of Southern Mindanao) or NAMAHMIN.

With his fellow labor activists, Nonoy formed the Center for Trade Union in Mindanao or CENTRUM in the early 1980s. This center coordinated the many political campaigns by workers in Mindanao directed against the continuing Marcos dictatorship. It helped launch Mindanao-wide protest activities such as long marches and general strikes (welgang bayan). The protest slogans called for the end of militarization, killings and other abuses of the Marcos martial law regime. They also called for protests against the rising cost of commodities and oil, and other issues affecting the people.

Nonoy championed the concept of workers uniting with the rest of the population to advance and fight for the general welfare of the people.

With the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983 and Alex Orcullo in 1984, Nonoy helped in the formation in Mindanao of new alliances including the Justice for Aquino Justice for All (JAJA) and the Coalition of Organization for Restoration of Democracy (CORD).

He was arrested with his wife in December 1984, tortured and held in solitary confinement.The couple was released in 1985, helped in a large part by local and international pressure.

After the defeat of the Marcos regime in 1986, Nonoy continued to support calls for the release of political prisoners and justice for the victims of the Marcos dictatorship. He was secretary general of KMU-Mindanao from 1986 to 1992.

He went into electoral politics, running as councilor for the first district of Davao City during the 1992 elections. He won the post but served only for 54 days.He died of aneurism in August of that year.

Recognizing Nonoy’s commitment for the workers and the Filipino people, the Nonoy Librado Development Foundation, Inc. (NLDFI) was established by his family and friends to continue his advocacy of providing legal and moral services to the oppressed sectors.

ORBE, James Macaling

James Orbe came from a military family. His father was a member of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) and later was Chief of Police of the city of Iligan (1963). Four of his 12 siblings also entered military service, including the Philippine Constabulary (PC).

In 1966, James went to the Cebu Institute of Technology (CIT) for college, where he was introduced to activism. He participated in a students’ strike calling for the abolition of the pre-board examination review and the commercialization of education. By 1969, he was a member of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM). He also joined the Consolidation for Reforms for the Youth (CRY), an alliance of youth organizations, fraternities and student councils. CRY was Cebu’s counterpart to Metro Manila’s Movement for a Democratic Philippines (MDP).

When the First Quarter Storm erupted in Manila in 1970, Cebu’s student population was also in an uproar over tuition increases, the rise in prices of basic goods, government corruption and other national issues. Another huge cause of youthful anger was the death of CIT student Ramon Doong, killed during a violent dispersal of a protest rally. Rallies and demonstrations were also becoming frequent in Cebu City, as in Metro Manila.

James went back to Iligan in 1970, where he began to organize among students, farmers, workers and Moro communities in the Lanao provinces. James and his fellow activists were involved in providing assistance to evacuees of the Moro uprising in Marawi.

Also in 1970, James married Purita Licayan, a fellow activist and member of another activist organization, the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK).

James gave talks about many social issues in small group discussions and in big student forums. But he also often engaged his father in political talk -- the US bases in the Philippines, American war of aggression in Vietnam, government corruption and the looming Marcos dictatorship. He even had discussions with his father’s military friends. His father showed respect for his son’s commitment to change what was wrong in society, but he was also concerned for his son’s safety.

Upon the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in 1971, James left Iligan and joined other activists who fled to Isabela in Luzon. Before he left he asked one of his brothers: “Please take good care of mommy.”

In Isabela, militarization was intense. Farmers were often harassed and beaten up, their villages bombed, leaving them homeless and destitute. Soldiers accused communities of harboring guerillas of the New People’s Army. James’ political work consisted of organizing barriofolk to resist militarization and to demand an end to the Marcos dictatorship. With his rare academic background, he was also running literacy programs for the unlettered peasants, although the program was difficult to sustain under Isabela’s heavily-militarized conditions.

James was killed in February 1974 during a raid by troopers of the Philippine Constabulary in the community where he and his comrades were. They had all raised their arms in surrender but were shot down anyway.

James’ father came to claim his son’s body but with the prevailing difficult conditions he decided to leave the remains where it was already buried with the other fatalities in a public cemetery in Santiago, Isabela. James’ siblings came in turn in 1994 when conditions in Isabela were easier. They had the grave exhumed and the remains taken home to Iligan City. Today, James Orbe’s life is still remembered and celebrated by his friends and by the lives he had touched.

PINGUEL, Baltazar

Baltazar Pinguel came from a poor migrant family from Samar. He was a bright student, earning honors from elementary to his high school years. He entered the University of the Philippines through a scholarship.

In UP, he became a student leader. He ran for the UP Student Council under the Sandigang Makabansa progressive slate. He also joined other organizations such as the Brotherhood of UP Plebeians and Lakasdiwa. He read widely and was frequently engaged in earnest discussions over the problematic state of the country and the national politics.

By the time the First Quarter Storm erupted in January 1970, he was with the Kabataang Makabayan (KM). He had oratory skills and was eventually made spokesperson. He was also part of the historic 1971 Diliman Commune in UP.

Bal helped organize protest rallies against the increasingly repressive Marcos government but his true power was in his oratory. His speeches awakened and put spirit into many future nationalists. During the eve of Marcos’ declaration of martial law, the name Bal Pinguel was known to most Metro Manila activists as the rally speaker that held them spellbound. His speeches, well researched and wittily argued, often got the loudest cheers. He was the last national spokesperson of KM, which by then had become the largest youth-and-students activist organization in the country, before it went underground due to the declaration of martial law by Marcos in 1972.

Bal was arrested and detained twice during the period of the Marcos dictatorship. His first was in November 1973, with other UP students and teachers in Sta. Cruz, Laguna. He suffered torture from his captors. In December of that year, he and eight other prisoners dug a hole in the wall and escaped from the stockades of Camp Vicente Lim. This is the first known group jailbreak of political prisoners under Marcos’ martial law. He was arrested a second time in 1980, this time in Cebu City. Again he suffered maltreatment from his captors, particularly because of his 1973 record of escape. His captors kept hitting his left knee and leg in order to disable him. (The injury eventually healed but as Bal grew older the hurt knee gave him frequent problems.) The second time he was brought to Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Metro Manila, where he was kept for five years, together with other political

In 1981, Marcos released many political prisoners on the occasion of Pope John Paul II’s visit, but Marcos left several behind, including Bal. The remaining prisoners and their families launched a hunger strike so noisily they got the attention of the foreign press and the Vatican hierarchy. That hunger strike, says co-detainee Satur Ocampo, helped expose the existence of political prisoners in Marcos’ jails, an issue the dictator had been trying to deny for years.

Finally released from prison in January 1985, Bal went back to his political work. He helped build the groundwork for the founding of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or BAYAN in 1985. Bal worked with political opposition figures such as Senator Lorenzo Tañada, who became its founding chairperson, with student activist Lean Alejandro as secretary-general and Bal as deputy secretary-general.

When Lean Alejandro was assassinated in 1987, Bal took his place as BAYAN secretary-general. Then in 1989, Bal himself, while aboard a jeepney with his two-year-old son, narrowly escaped an abduction attempt. Bal decided to accept an offer from Amnesty International to go on a human rights speaking tour around Europe, Canada and the USA. In 1992, Bal applied for political asylum in the US, was first denied, but consequently got approval in 1997. His family joined him in the US.

Bal took a job at the Third World Coalition of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker peace and justice organization. He gave talks on human rights to students, church groups and friends of the Philippines. He was often invited to give this talk in other countries as well. He later became AFSC’s Director of Peacebuilding and Demilitarization Program.

Bal and his family chose to reside in Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, USA, and became a naturalized US citizen in 2013.

Bal stayed in touch with BAYAN, becoming a frequent speaker in activities of BAYAN-USA. He joined the BAYAN-USA activists who in 2016 protested in front of the Philippine Consulate in New York City over the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.

Bal was also part of protests against US intervention in Iraq under Pres. George Bush II, was one of the organizers of the 2002 Stop the War Mobilization in Washington DC, and helped in organizing the No Bases Conference in Quito and Manta in Ecuador in 2007.

In an interview for a Fil-Am magazine in 2011, Bal revealed, “I always had the Philippines in my heart. However, circumstances in my life changed and I had to adapt to new situations. As an activist for peace and justice, I believe I can be at home in any place where there is a need for organizing.”

Bal died of a heart attack in 2017 at his home. He was 67 years old. Before he died, he and his wife Rosario had been planning to return permanently to the Philippines for retirement.

On June 15, 2017, the City Council of Philadelphia approved a resolution authored by Councilwoman at-large Helen Gym, which read in part: “… hereby commemorates and honors the life and legacy of Baltazar “Bal” Pinguel, a former political prisoner who braved imprisonment and death threats to challenge authoritarian regimes in the Philippines and around the globe and became a tireless activist for peace and justice, and a radical voice for a democratic people’s movement.”  An Asian-American, Helen Gym was a former teacher and journalist, and a community organizer who frequently worked with Bal and admired his work in justice and peace-building.

PRINCIPE, Nestor Labastilla

Nestor was born in the province of Bohol. His family moved to Manila in search of better opportunities. They settled in Caloocan City where Nestor completed his elementary and secondary education.

The young Nestor grew in an area that was ruled by gangs and rogue policemen. Nestor and his brothers turned to martial arts to protect themselves. He came to detest authorities who abused their power and often boldly faced the local toughies that harassed poor folk while boasting of police connections. He was also once accused of a petty misdemeanor and beaten up.

In college, Nestor's skill in the martial arts grew. He earned a 3rd dan black in karate Shotokan style, and entered into matches where he challenged local luminaries in the field. Later, he found a job as instructor in self-defense at the National Bureau of Investigation and other military units. He also taught karate to deaf students.

At an International Martial Arts Exhibition in 1965, a Malaysian government minister saw his skill and invited him to Malaysia to serve as his bodyguard and martial arts instructor for his sons. Nestor accepted.

After his stint as bodyguard/tutor in Malaysia, he toured the world, supporting his wanderlust by taking odd jobs in piers, exhibition matches and karate gyms. He once told friends he once worked to clear land mines in Israel. He became friends with “hippies” and went with them on the "hippie trail" to places such as Thailand, India, Nepal and Pakistan, to the Middle East, North Africa and on to Europe.

Nestor heard of the First Quarter Storm in Manila while attending a big anti-war demonstration in Trafalgar Square in London in May 1970. Something in him clicked; working odd jobs once more, he hitchhiked his way back to his country.

He went back to school and enrolled in journalism at the Lyceum of the Philippines where student activism was strong. He joined the Kabataang Makabayan, shed his hippie look, and learned what he can about campus and national issues by joining discussion groups, teach-ins and mass actions. The leading members of the KM at the school, like Eugene Grey and Albert Espinas (both Bantayog honorees), Julius Fortuna and others served as his political mentors. He gave all of himself to his new-found activism, the way he gave himself to karate. He read extensively on the works of nationalists like Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tanada, as well as on Marxist philosophies.

He wrote four literary pieces, two of which were published in the Philippines Free Press: “Goodbye Manuel” and “Wadi is also a river.”

Soon he was blacklisted in school for his political activities. Heeding KM's call to “learn from the masses,” he left the university and went to live in several poor communities in Metro Manila. He helped organize jeepney drivers plying the Mounumento-Pier route and mobilized support for striking dockworkers at the Port area.

When martial law was declared in 1972, Nestor left Manila to avoid arrest and found himself in the Cordilleras in the north, first in Mt. Province and then in Benguet. He was unfamiliar with the area and the language, but was able to adapt, finding ways to discuss with the local people about their condition, talk to them about the national situation and tried to convince them to fight the dictatorship.

He became known in these areas he visited as Ka Wadi, the karate expert.

He died just weeks after reaching the town of Kabayan in Benguet. He was killed by the Philippine Constabulary during a military operation. (The PC soldiers took his head off and presented it to their commander in the town. The commander ordered it returned to be buried with the body but it is unknown if the instruction was carried out.) Local folk in Kabayan performed a ritual to cleanse the community of the desecration and buried Nestor’s body in the mountains where it remains to this day. He was 28 years old.

Nene Pimentel: Rule of Law Should Not Be Supplanted by ‘rule of the Bullet’

(Originally published at MSN written by Lira Dalangin-Fernandez)

At an event commemorating hundreds who lost their lives fighting the Marcos dictatorship, former Senate President Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr. stressed the end can never justify the means, especially if one resorts to killings.

"Hindi po pwede na, 'Sige na, we have a good objective, therefore puwede nang barilin kung sino ang dapat barilin'. No, sir. Because the end never justifies the means," the veteran lawmaker said.

"Kahit anong ganda ng layunin mo, kung masama ang pamamaraan na ginagamit mo, you cannot justify what you are doing,” he added.

Pimentel, who was a political detainee during the Martial Law regime, was invited by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation to speak at the ceremony honoring seven new "heroes" who risked their lives to oppose the dictatorial regime.
— Margaret Claire (@MClaireLayug) November 30, 2018

The unveiling of the latest names added to the Bantayog's Wall of Remembrance coincided with the 155th birth anniversary of revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio.

For Pimentel, the monument serves as the "restoration of our rights and freedoms that have been taken away from us."

"Ang buhay ng tao, kung wala pong karapatang pang tao, buhay ng hayop ‘yon. Ang karapatang pang-tao is the distinction between human beings and animals. And, therefore, even those who are in power must always respect the human rights of our people. Kailangan po ‘yun," he said

The 84-year-old political icon also reminded certain "people in power" about the importance of human rights.

"The freedom, liberties and rights of our people must never be supplanted by sacrifice for some fake notion na magandang policy ito, therefore we pursue it even if it's not in accordance with the law," he said.

"Kailangan po ang rule of law, kita sa bansa natin. And that rule must never be supplanted by the rule of the bullet. Otherwise, hay nako, wala nang kinabukasan ang ating mga kababayan,” he added. —LDF, GMA News

Never Forget the Famine in Negros

(Written by John Silva on March 1, 2016)

I was in Negros last week. Thirty years ago I was there just a day after the Marcos overthrow. I was with Oxfam, a relief and development agency and I was to review the malnutrition situation in Negros. Months prior, there were many accounts of the tens of thousands of starving children and our Oxfam reps there urged us to do a feeding program with UNICEF.

I drove past the provincial hospital where I first saw hundreds of malnourished children on mats on the floors tended by their mothers, and later, we were in the country through cane fields and small towns remembering the skeletal children being weighed and assessed by our medical team.

There were over 100,000 children in various degree of malnutrition and we started a feeding program for 90,000 of them, hoping to save the worse cases.

I took this picture of a nine year old girl south of Bacolod who was weighed but the medical team sensed she was not going to make it. She died several days later.

There is much recalling and writing about the Marcos Regime for this 30th anniversary of People Power and because Bong Bong Marcos is running for political office. I heard then as I hear now that Roberto Benedicto was the Marcos crony who dictated the price of sugar and bled the province dry. And starved its people.

I post this picture because aside from all the other nefarious deeds, the Marcos regime was responsible for the slow murder of the children and people of Negros.

Today I see progress in Negros and many healthy children. As our society progresses and moves on to increased levels of obesity and historical amnesia, this picture should be the grim reminder.

(Share your thoughts about this article at the Bantayog forum. Click here!)

Buwan Ng Paggunita at Pagpupugay 2019

Buwan ng Paggunita at Pagpupugay 2019

Buwan ng Paggunita at Pagpupugay 2019 is a month-long celebration of life in honor of Filipinos who stood up in defiance of a repressive regime and all those who continue to uphold justice, democracy, and freedom.

This creative celebration marked by spokenword performances and a music concert is organized by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in cooperation with Musika Publiko and in partnership with spokenword organizations Tadhana Collective, Baon Collective, Ampalaya Monologues, and the iconic band Buklod.

Buwan ng Paggunita at Pagpupugay 2019 Schedule

Here's the schedule for #BuwanNgPaggunitaAtPagpupugay2019:

Organizations and Performers

Bantayog ng mga Bayani is a memorial for those who stood up in defiance of the repressive regime that ruled over the Philippines and those who continue to uphold justice, democracy, and freedom.

Musika Publiko is a network of composers, musicians, performers, music producers, and music enthusiasts advancing socially relevant Filipino music.

Tadhana Collective believes that everybody needs space to awaken their inner creativity that is being held back by all the excuses from their inner systems.

Ampalaya Monologues is a group of monologists and spoken word artists who entertain, educate and empower audiences through performances that showcase the bitterness of love and life.

“Nagtatanghal para lumaya,
Lumalaya para magmulat,
Nagmumulat para sa sarili.”
- Baon Collective


The band was born in the 1980s at the height of the anti-Marcos struggle. Members Noel Cabangon, Rom Dongeto, and Rene Boncocan each had their own musical endeavors, but they banded together to form Buklod, which stands for Bukluran ng Musikero para sa Bayan.

Together with other cultural workers, they raised their voices against the Ferdinand Marcos’ government. They continued to sing about the social problems that persisted in the wake of Marcos’ removal, with songs that centerd on the lives, struggles, and aspirations of Filipino peasants.

“We discussed and agreed that so many things are happening in our country today and we believe that state of affairs is retrogressing – the war on drugs, mismanagement and corruption, inflation, misogyny, and the continuing attacks on institutions and personalities who don’t necessarily agree with some of the pronouncements and actions of the president and his allies in the legislative and judiciary. We felt that after three decades, our songs then are still very relevant today. And we believe that we can still contribute in raising public awareness on these issues and by providing our own perspectives on the same through music,” - Rom Dongeto, from Inquirer's Buklod's back and on a mission. (Photo and text from Inquirer)



Urduja is a folk, rock, ethnic trio. Listen to their music on Facebook.

Ada Tayao

Ada Tayao is a singer-songwriter,theater actress, and teacher. Listen to some of her songs at Musika Publiko's Finding Peace collection on Spotify.


Banda ng mangingibig at umiibig sa bayan. Listen to their alternative pop-rock tunes in their Facebook page and on Spotify.

Talahib People's Music

Talahib People's Music is the leading folk-rock world music band in the Philippines. Listen to their songs on Facebook.

Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani: a Unique Filipino Monument

(Remarks of Nene Pimentel at the commemoration of Bonifacio Day at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Quezon City, on November 30, 2018)

Ladies and gentlemen:

At the outset, may I thank my dear friend, Senator Wigberto Tanada, the Chair of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, and his fellow Foundation officials for their kind invitation for me to speak before you this afternoon.

Today, we commemorate the birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, one of our national heroes, by mandate of Act No. 2946 of the Philippine Legislature, dated February 16, 1921 some 87 years ago.

Today is also the 26th anniversary of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani before which we are gathered this afternoon.

Let me immediately say that this Bantayog is a unique memorial that honors a select group of heroes in our country.

The heroes symbolized by the Bantayog did not raise arms or their voices or any effort against our country's colonial invaders from Spain. Or from the U.S. Or from Japan.

I stress that point because in many countries, their famous group memorials, in general, salute their heroes in their armed forces, which fought against foreign invaders.

There are number of examples.

  • In France, under Napoleon, the Arc de Triumph was erected in 1806 in Paris to give credit to the French Army for their victories over their enemies;

(2) In the United States of America, the military cemetery at Arlington, Virginia was created in 1864 for the interment of men and women in the US Armed Forces, who died in the service of the nation;

(3) In Romania, the Mausoleum of Marasesti was constructed in 1938 to bury "the remains of some "5,073 Romanian soldiers and officers who were killed in the First World War."

The monument is now also used to pay tribute to the 24,000 men who fought against the Germans in the Second World War.

(4) In Russia, the Soviet War Memorial in Vienna was put up in 1945 to honor the Soviet Soldiers who fought against the Germans in the Second World War; and

(5) Nearer to us, in China the 1952 Monument to the People's Heroes was constructed in Beijing to memorialize "the martyrs of revolutionary struggle (against domestic and foreign enemies) during the 19th and 20th centuries."

The epitaph at the back of the monument describes "in the words of Mao Zedong and written by Zhou Enlai" the thrust of the statue to proclaim:

"Eternal glory to the heroes of the people who laid down their lives in the people's war of liberation and the people's revolution in the past three years (from 1949 to 1951)!;

"Eternal glory to the heroes of the people who laid down their lives in the people's war of liberation and the people's revolution in the past thirty years (from 1922)!

"Eternal glory to the heroes of the people who from 1840 laid down their lives in the many struggles against domestic and foreign enemies and for national independence and the freedom and well-being of the people!"

And in the ASEAN region, all the 10 member States also have public memorials within their respective territories to honor those "who fought" against foreign invaders to maintain their respective independence.

(1) In Bangkok, Thailand, the 1941 Victory Monument Obelisk symbolizes the country's victory in the Franco-Thai War that lasted from October 1940 to May, 1941;

(2) In Laos, the 1957 "Victory Gate" salutes the nation's "soldiers who fought in the Laotian struggle for independence from France, and those soldiers who died during World War II and the independence war from France in 1941;

(3) In Cambodia, the 1958 Independence Monument, or Vimean Ekareach eulogizes those who fought for the independence and the liberation of the country from the French who ruled Cambodia for almost a century from 1863 to 1953;

(4) In Indonesia, the 1961 Heroes Monument is dedicated to its people who died during the Battle of Surabaya on November 10, 1945;

(5) In Malaysia, the 1966 National Monument pays public homage to those "who died in the country's struggle for freedom, principally against the Japanese occupation during World War ll, and the Malayan Emergency, which lasted from 1948 until 1960";

  1. In Singapore, two monuments were built separately to pay tribute to the civilians and the soldiers who fought in two wars in their homeland:

(a) The 1967 Civilian War Memorial by its very name honors its non-military population who were killed between February 15, 1942 and August 18, 1945 when the Japanese Armed Forces occupied Singapore, and

(b) The 1922 Cenotaph glorifies Singapore's soldiers who fought and died during World War I and World War 11;

  1. In Myanmar, the 1976 Monument of Bang Rachan Heroes honors the villagers of Bang Rachan who bravely fought against the Burmese army in 1765 during the reign of King Ekkathat of Ayutthaya.

  2. In Vietnam, the 1993 War Memorial commends the "men and women who sacrificed themselves during the Second Indochina War", and

(9) In Brunei Darussalam, aside from a statue that praises its soldiers, the country also built a monument to "oil", the country's number one money maker. It is called, "The 1991 Billionth Barrel of Oil Monument" in Serei, Brunei Darussalam.

In our country, we have a memorial cemetery constructed by the government for our heroes who died in defense of our country, called the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

This, aside from many monuments all over the land that are individually dedicated to our nationally recognized heroes like Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio.

In any event, there is another aspect that makes the Bantayog different from the memorials to the heroes of other countries.

Literally, the Tagalog phrase, "Bantayog ng mga Bayani", translates into English as "A Monument of Heroes".

But the heroes glorified by this Bantayog did not actually fight against foreign invaders. They were civilians - mostly ordinary men and women - from all walks of life; individuals, who worked courageously, openly. and selflessly for the restoration of the freedoms, rights and liberties of our people that were taken away by the abusive, arbitrary, and tyrannical martial law administration of the then President Ferdinand E. Marcos from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s. In the words of the late Senator jovito Salonga, who, incidentally, avidly pushed for the construction of the Bantayog, the monument was meant to memorialize "Filipino patriots who

struggled valiantly against the unjust and repressive rule of Ferdinand Marcos" and "those men and women who offered their lives so that we may all see the dawn (of a new day).

At the unveiling of this monument some 26 years ago today, Senator Salonga sagely urged our people that "even as we now enjoy our liberation ... with the help of Divine Providence from the tyrannical rule of the Martial Law Dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, we must not forget those who fell during the night ..."

By remembering "those victims of authoritarian rule," the late Senator stressed, "we shall become more vigilant in preserving our freedom, defending our rights, and opposing any attempt by anyone to foist another dictatorship upon us."

And, with brilliant prescience, Senator Salonga cautioned our people against honoring rascals, hoodlums and scalawags with public monuments simply because they might have occupied high government offices.

If we "honor a scoundrel," he pointed out, "we could never lift up our heads out of a deep sense of shame."

In any case, as of this year, 2018, the names of some 298 heroic individuals had been enshrined on the Wall of Remembrance attached to this Bantayog.

And more names of heroic figures who defied martial rule will inscribed in the Bantayog's roll of honor as the years pass by.

At this point, it may not be amiss for us to express our gratitude publicly to all those who thought of, and pushed for the construction of the Bantayog.

To the best of my information, the original members of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Memorial Foundation were:

Dona Aurora A. Aquino, Senator Jovito R. Salonga, Dr. Pedro L. Yap, Atty. Abraham F. Sarmiento, Ms. Josefa M.Jopson, Ms. Cecilia C. Lagman, Bishop La Verne

Mercado, Bishop Tito E. Pasco, Ms. Lydia de la Paz, Rev. drib A. Rigos, Sister Christine Tan, Atty. Ramon M. Osmena, Ms. Nievelena V. Rosete, Atty. Felipe L. Gozon, Dr. Led ivina V. Carl no, Ms. Pearl G. Doromal, Mr. Victor Barrios, Atty. Delilah V. Magtolis, Mr. Solomon Y. Yuyitung, Mr. Benjamin Guingona, Ms. Domini Torrevillas Suarez, and Ms. Thelma Arceo.

Most of them, I understand, have already passed on to the Great Beyond.

But whether living or dead, I submit that they all deserve our gratitude for their incredibly innovative idea that led to the building and maintenance of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani.

For the Bantayog, to repeat, serves mainly as a concrete reminder to all our citizens that we have won our right to be a free people and to live as human beings in a democratic Republic.

And that our country is now governed by the Rule of Law not by the will of the wealthy and privileged sectors of our society but because of the supreme sacrifices made by simple folks, ordinary men and women, who come mainly from the masses of our people. In this connection, let us all remember that human rights are so basic, so fundamental and so essential that no one - not even those occupying the highest positions In our land - can arbitrarily take them away from us.

Otherwise, we will cease to exist as human beings, who, suggest, as a believer in God, are created to His image and likeness. Sadly, however, today, there are brazen, outrageous, indeed, shameless attempts to rewrite portions of the history of our country especially during the dark days of Martial Rule.

Those fiction writers would want to depict the Dictator as a benevolent ruler of our country even during those horrible days of Martial Rule.

And hopefully, too, the villains who implemented Martial Rule, including those who rapaciously raided the public treasury for their own benefit, should be made to pay for their misdeeds without unnecessary delay.

These assertions, however, will remain empty rhetoric unless the government and the people would get their act together and pursue what is right and just according to the demands of our country's system of law and justice.

It is, further, suggested that the traditional media: radio, tv, and print should get involved in the dissemination of factual information regarding the barbarities suffered by our people under the Martial Law years of the Marcos administration. The media outlets, themselves, should not forget that among the very first institutions of freedom and democracy that Marcos shut down were the radio and television stations and newspapers that he thought would uphold the democratic rights and liberties of our people in defiance of his autocratic rule.

And considering today's advances in the development of information technology, the concerned sectors of our society should likewise tap social media, Facebook, Twitter, and the like, to facilitate the spread of the core message of the Bantayog.

In closing, may we recall the cautionary warning of Jorge Agustin Santayana that: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

For it is in remembering the lessons of the past - and avoiding a repeat of their negative repercussions - that we will truly advance the welfare, the wellbeing, and the rights and liberties of all our people pursuant to the demands of the Rule of Law and our democratic Constitution.

Thank you and God bless our people and country!

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