SILVA, Lazaro P.

 Silva Lazaro

He was fun-loving and lighthearted – kalog.  Having gained admission to a high school with strict academic standards, he refused to be known as a nerd, claiming that all he wanted was to “pass, and have a good time”[1] with his barkada, the guys he hung out with.

Lazzie Silva went on to enter college in 1970, and it was there, as an Ateneo freshman, that he began joining rallies: at first by himself, and then as a member of the radical Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan.  The protest actions escalated.  In February 1971, someone he knew from high school (Pastor Mesina) was shot dead at a barricade at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman.  Then, a few months later, he witnessed how government troops fired at a rally, killing four workers.

These experiences made a lasting impact on Silva, He now got serious, doing organizing work among the youth and the poor communities in Marikina and Quezon City.  Eventually he left school to devote himself full-time to the movement.  His commitment only grew stronger when President Marcos declared martial law.

In late 1973, he was arrested outside a printing press where he and another activist had been mimeographing a political manifesto. Silva was jailed for six months in Fort Bonifacio before being released (his father was a constabulary officer, and this probably helped).  While in detention, the many communal activities kept him busy; he even learned how to sew pants for himself and others.

But although he went right back to his organizational tasks afterwards, Silva had made up his mind to leave the city and join the armed guerrillas in the countryside. In the remote communities of Zambales, where he was assigned, life was very hard especially for a city-bred youth. But he was determined to share the people’s life: they taught him how to plow, plant and harvest; once, he helped to deliver a baby.  When his girlfriend suggested that he take a few days’ break back home in the city, he refused because “he might be tempted to stay.” She knew that he had “set a standard for himself and he was set on meeting that goal.” He asked her to come and visit him instead.[2]

But before that could happen, Silva met his death in an isolated hut somewhere in the hills. On August 13, 1975, a military unit was able to surround his group undetected. As they opened fire, Lazzie Silva decided he would stay on and hold off the attackers, so that his comrades could escape the cordon.

He was so young, just 23, said his girlfriend many years later. “The happy-go-lucky guy that I met turned out to be a real hero. He died fighting for his beliefs and in service to the people he loved.”[3]

BORN                                    :               March 4, 1952 in San Jose, Nueva Ecija

DIED                                      :               August 13, 1976 in Zambales

EDUCATION                       :               Elementary: Pio del Pilar Elementary School, [Quezon City]

Secondary: Philippine Science High School, Quezon City

College: Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City

[1] Personal communication, D. Bibat, March 16, 2001.

[2] Email, L. Castilla, March 2, 2001.

[3] Ibid.