MENDOZA, Armando Lano
Armando was a student at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila when the First Quarter Storm (FQS) broke in 1970. Armando joined the UST chapter of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and was soon one of its leading members. He helped organize KM chapters in nearby schools and communities. While studying at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Armando worked as an employee of the First Continental Assurance Company.
When martial law was declared in September 1972, Armando left the university and went to live with farmers in the rural areas of Batangas. He lived with them, organizing them, and teaching them about the realities of martial law. He found a niche among farmers, farm workers and sugarcane workers in Batangas. He taught them to organize and fight for their rights, including the right to own the land they tilled and for reasonable working conditions. He was also involved in organizing to fight and topple the Marcos dictatorship.
By 1973 he had gained a name for himself as an underground political organizer and was a target of military intelligence. Still, Armando would secretly visit his family’s house in Manila, stay the night there with some comrades and leave in the dark hours of the following morning.
At this point, news reached the family about another member of the family, Alfredo, Armando’s older brother and a church organizer, who had disappeared mysteriously from a prison in Davao City. Knowing he risked the same fate, Armando nevertheless did not vacillate with his commitment.
In May 1974, soldiers raided the family house. This effectively stopped communication with Armando. Then in September someone called, asking to talk with Alfredo’s mother Gregoria. The caller, a woman, said that Armando was in prison together with the caller’s son in a military camp in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
In November of that year, a family friend with the help of a Good Shepherd sister, travelled to Sta. Cruz, and there they found Armando being kept in prison inside a small military detachment. It was six months since he was arrested. He looked dirty and uncared for, and he bore torture signs such as blisters and cigarette burns.
In December, Armando was moved to a regular detention center in Camp Vicente Lim, in Canlubang, Laguna, where he spent Christmas. In January of the following year, his jail visitors were told he escaped with eight others during the last days of December.
A full year passed with no news. Then in December 1975 the family got news that Armando was re-arrested and killed with three other persons in Lucena, Quezon, in October 1975. The family never recovered Armando’s body, as they also have never found the body of his older brother Alfredo.
Armando’s comrades in Southern Tagalog sent the family a document in 1976 titled “Tunay na may mga Leon at Agila ang Rebolusyon,” in honor of Comrade Armando Mendoza. This is the only indirect confirmation they have had that Armando had indeed given his life for his cause.
Armando’s name is inscribed in FIND’s Bantayog ng mga Desaparecidos/Flame of Courage Monument at the Redemptorist Church grounds in Baclaran, Paranaque, and in the Memorial Wall near Manila City Hall.