Edgardo Dojillo, known as Big Boy, Boy or simply Ed to friends and family, was a popular campus figure in the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos in Bacolod City in the late ‘60s. He was in the student council as Senator-at-Large, and Vice-Chancellor, then Grand Chancellor, of the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity. He was a fairly good student who sang and played the guitar, and could keep his friends in stitches with his jokes. He practiced martial arts (he was good with the nunchaku popularized in films of Bruce Lee), and was often asked to serve as escort to beauties in fiestas.
Ed was born the third child of a family living in the seaside barangay of Miranda, in Pontevedra, Negros Occidental. His father started out as a tailor and then went into fishing, gradually acquiring several boats and building a medium-sized fishing enterprise. His mother came from a landed family in Guimaras province, but earned a living selling hibi, or dried small shrimps. Ed learned to drive a tricycle as a young boy in order to bring some income to the family.
He had a soft heart for the weak, the oppressed and the poor. Once he emptied his pockets of coins to give to a calesa driver who he saw was on all fours looking for a dropped coin. He believed that girls should be shown respect, especially those who came from poor families, because reputation “was all they had.”
It was no wonder he felt badly about the maltreatment of sacadas, calling to mind the experience of his maternal grandfather who lost his lands in Guimaras to somebody who used the fact that the old man could not read or write.
History of political involvement
The lively student protest movement and increasing dissatisfaction with the Marcos government, evidenced by the rallies in Metro Manila, were also hearing echoes in other regions in the country. Students from the provinces who were studying in Manila would go home and talk to their townmates about the political and social issues they had learned about.
Ed was in college at that time, initially as a medical technology student who shifted later to accountancy. It was a younger brother’s friend, Tito Firmantes, an Ilonggo student activist from the FEATI University in Manila who motivated Ed to participate in the growing protest movement.
Fluent in English, Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, Cebuano and Tagalog, Ed was soon speaking before the students on various political and social issues confronting the country. His status in both the fraternity and the student council enabled him to lead programs and activities that raised student and faculty awareness of and brought about their involvement in issues within and outside the campus. He spearheaded events to foster consciousness of nationalism, of exploitation, of human rights.
One such activity was the holding of summer camps in different locations in Negros Occidental. Organized by Ed’s fraternity and seminarians from the Sacred Heart Seminary, the summer camps’ purpose was to conduct literacy programs for barrio residents. It was in one such camp in 1970 where Ed met Eloisa Tinio, a student volunteer from UP Diliman. A whirlwind courtship ensued and a year later, the two were blessed with a son whom Ed loved to show off to friends.
As Ed became more involved and enlightened, the more he talked. He spoke at public rallies about the exploitative feudal relations that thrust the sacadas into such a pathetic condition, dependent on the whims of uncaring authorities. Ed became the provincial chairman of Kabataang Makabayan in 1971 and it was said that during his time, the number of people engaged in progressive activities rapidly multiplied within and outside of Negros Occidental. A passionate and convincing speaker, Ed’s revealing tirades against the hacenderos and the depravity of the Marcos government were much appreciated by the people but brought him to the attention of the military. When martial law was declared, Ed joined the many young activists who evacuated to the hinterlands of Negros in search of safety and freedom. There they planned to continue the resistance against a corrupt and repressive rule.
Circumstances of death
A few weeks into the dictatorship, Ed and his friend Tito Firmantes were headed towards Kabankalan when they were ambushed by a team from 332nd PC Company based in Hinigaran town. The two were riding a motorcycle and were just crossing a bridge in pitch black darkness when the headlights of an unmoving train were suddenly turned on, and a hail of bullets burst forth. Tito was wounded, while Ed was pinned under the motorcycle, also bleeding from gunshot wounds and a fractured leg. The two were then hauled up, tied and suspended like animal carcasses on the sides of a cargo truck and brought to the provincial headquarters of the Philippine Constabulary, and then transferred to a weapons carrier where they were allowed to bleed to death.
In the morning, Ed’s brother Napoleon, a student activist then detained at the provincial headquarters, was brought to a funeral parlor to identify his body. Ed’s wife Eloisa was then in Manila with their baby son.
Impact of death on the family and community
In life, Ed enjoyed the high esteem of his townmates. In death, they flocked to his wake and burial to sympathize with his family, unfazed by military surveillance. To this day, he is spoken of with respect and admiration for his courage and desire to serve the people.
Edgardo Dojillo of Pontevedra and Tito Firmantes of Hinigaran are considered in Negros Occidental to be the province’s first martyrs in the anti-dictatorship movement. Their deaths galvanized many to continue the struggle for freedom.
BORN September 17, 1948 in Pontevedra, Negros Occidental
DIED November 11, 1972 in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental
PARENTS SalustianoDojillo, politician and businessman; and Estifana Galve, businesswoman
Siblings 8 (4 brothers and 4 sisters) Birth sequence of hero: 3rd
SPOUSE Eloisa PeñalosaTinio CHILD: 1 son (Edgar Edgardo T. Dojillo)
Elementary Negros Occidental High School, Bacolod City
Highschool Negros Occidental High School, Bacolod City
College University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos (UNO-R), Bacolod City
B.S. in Commerce, major in Accounting
Extracurricular Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity
Grand Chancellor, 1971
Supreme Student Council (Senator-at-Large)
Bantayog Nomination/Profile form accomplished by Eloisa P. Tinio, widow
Notarized affidavit of Eloisa P. Tinio, April 7, 2015
Transcripts of interview with -
Eloisa P. Tinio, April 14, 2016, Quezon City
Vic Estandarte, friend, June 17, 2016, Quezon City
A Memoriam, written by Julie Dojillo through the narration of Napoleon Dojillo, undated
Facebook post of Napoleon Dojillo, brother, undated. Copy sent by Eloisa P. Tinio
Short testimonial of Fluellen Ortigas, friend, sent thru SMS to Bantayog Research, April 7, 2016
Death Certificate of Edgardo Galve Dojillo