Affectionately known as “Ayi” to a generation of antidictatorship fighters old and young, Paula Carolina S. Malay found the full expression of her life in the struggle to defend and promote human rights in the Philippines.
She was already in her 50s when she threw herself into the rushing stream of activities that propelled the people’s movement forward during the turbulent period of martial law. Before it became easier to express open resistance through the “parliament of the streets” (especially after the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983), she dared to work even clandestinely because there was no other way in the earlier years.
She visited jails, raised funds, and distributed news bulletins from the underground and alternative press. She marched in the streets, waved placards and signed petitions.She wrote letters of appeal to friends abroad, prompting them to pressure their own governments to oppose Marcos’ repressive rule.
Hosting innumerable meetings, Ayi participated in the forging of democratic consensus, and helped strengthen – through simple acts of friendship and compassion – the then-emerging community of human-rights activists.
Indeed, Ayi played an important role in encouraging the latter, most of them young enough to be her children, in their commitment to country and people under conditions of great personal risk. Likewise, she tried to do what she could for the families of imprisoned peasants and workers. All of them could come any time and unburden themselves for a while – and Ayi would cry along with them, sharing her own worries and problems.
The Quezon City home of the Malays (he was dean of student affairs at the University of the Philippines during martial law) served as a haven for friends from all walks of life who found themselves united by the need to resist the repressive Marcos regime. When political prisoners were freed in 1986 after the dictatorship was toppled, it was in the Malay residence that a joyful reunion was held where hundreds came to celebrate.
Ayi’s involvement was rooted in her own strong political economic and social advocacy, mainly acquiredthrough self-study. But it was also very personal, as the entire family participated in the resistance movement as well.
Even after the fall of the dictatorship, Ayi continued to be active in the human-rights movement, especially in behalf of political detainees and children.
She died in 1993 at the age of 77.
BORN : April 4, 1916 in Obando, Bulacan
DIED : December 24, 1993 in Quezon City
PARENTS : Ricardo C. Santos and Paula Guevara
SPOUSE/CHILDREN : Armando J. Malay / 3
EDUCATION : Elementary:Obando Elementary School, Bulacan
Secondary: Torres High School, Manila
College: Philippine Normal School; University of the Philippines Diliman