Simplicio Diez Villados, who was known as Ka Felicing, was a working class hero who defied the Marcos dictatorship when it was at the height of its power.
Ka Felicing was born and grew up in Meycauayan, Bulacan. His parents were simple folk who made a living from making and selling bakya, the wooden footwear common to many Filipinos up to the 1960s. He studied in the local elementary school where he excelled and, with his gift of words, was often the school’s representative in local balagtasan contests
He was in sixth grade when the Japanese forces invaded and occupied the country. Still in his teens, he joined the guerilla resistance and was given various tasks in the anti-Japanese resistance movement.
After the war ended, Ka Felicing married fellow Bulakeña Fe Flaviano. They had seven children. Like his parents, Felicing and his new wife made a living from making and selling bakya. He also worked as a truck driver, bus conductor and jeepney driver. Felicing had another talent: he directed sarswelas during local fiestas in Meycauayan and neighboring towns of Bulacan. He was invited to direct performances as far away as Bataan.
History of political involvement
In 1964, Felicing found work as company driver at the Elizalde Rope Factory (ELIROPE), then a leading producer of ropes made of abaca, known internationally as Manila hemp. Later he was promoted to machine operator.
He became active in the union, a local affiliate of the Philippine Association of Labor Unions (PAFLU). He was local president in 1972, when martial law was imposed. At this time, PAFLU assigned a new organizer named Edgar Jopson (Bantayog martyr), to assist the union in negotiating a collective bargaining agreement or CBA with management.
Assisted by the PAFLU organizers, Ka Felicing led the negotiations, defying harassment and blandishments of monetary gain from management. He refused to sell out. Under his stewardship, his union gained many concessions and later became one of the founding locals of the National Union of Garment, Textile and Allied Workers of the Philippines or GATCORD, an alliance of industry related unions, also under the wings of PAFLU. Ka Felicing was elected its vice-president.
GATCORD went on to play an important role in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship. In 1976, the ELIROPE union went on strike at a time when strikes were prohibited by the martial law regime. The striking workers were attacked by strike breakers and scabs. Ka Felicing sustained head injuries and had to undergo surgery.
He became close friends with Edgar Jopson, then a major figure in the underground resistance. Edjop had a profound impact on Ka Felicing. Jopson often spent the night with Ka Felicing and his wife at their house in Meycauayan. The Villados couple hosted Jopson and his wife Joy for about a year. They held long discussions about unionism and workers’ rights, as well as the political and economic situation in the country.
Ka Felicing and his family provided active support to the anti-martial-law movement, often at great risk to himself and his family. He opened his home to underground activists, even though many of them were being hunted down by the military. The family even looked after the children of activists.
The Elizalde Rope Factory closed down in the late 1970s, unable to meet the competition from cheaper synthetic ropes. When he lost his job in the factory, Ka Felicing decided to become a full-time labor organizer. It entailed sacrifices for his family. Two of his children had to quit school. However, he believed he made the right decision for his country.
He was founding member of the Kilusang Mayo Uno-National Capital Region where he became its Vice Chairman. The early 80’s saw heightened and open defiance to the dictatorship. Ka Felicing led the workers in the many protest actions launched against the Marcos dictatorship, bravely speaking out in rallies, welgang-bayan, boycott and other campaigns that eventually led to the repressive Marcos government’s downfall in 1986.
Circumstance of death and impact to the community
After the dictatorship was dismantled, Ka Felicing went on with his work in trade unions. He became the KMU’s national treasurer until 1993. He died from prostate cancer in 1995. He was 70 years old.
Ka Felicing’s deep understanding of the common workers’ plight made him an effective labor leader, kind-hearted but very principled in advancing their interests. Not a few have expressed admiration for the evident purity of his heart. Among others, former Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales, who described herself as a “fan,” had this to say:
“Hindi malalampasan ang naging papel ni Ka Felicing noong panahon na iyon – isang panahon na namamayani ang takot at kaba dahil sa kamay na bakal ng diktadura. Ang tapang at tinig niya habang kumikilos sa pabrika upang iangat ang kalagayan ng kanyang sector sa kabila ng takot na namamayani sa marami ay tanyag at matatag sa mahabang panahon. Para sa akin, dalisay si Ka Felicing. Walang yabang nguni’t matapang, mapagkumbaba at, higit sa lahat, matapat sa kanyang kapwa at bayan.”
A few months before he died , the KMU gave to Ka Felicing its “Gawad ng Pagkilala at Pasasalamat” for devoting 37 years of dedicated service for the advancement of the cause and interests of the working class.
Born January 21, 1925 in Longos, Meycauayan, Bulacan
Died May 24, 1995 in Meycauayan, Bulacan
Parents Romualdo Villados and Dorotea Diez
Siblings 3 brothers and 1 sister Birth sequence of hero: 2nd
Spouse Fe Flaviano Children: Seven
Elementary Longos Elementary School, Meycauyan, Bulacan
Grade 6 (stopped during the Japanese Occupation)
Bantayog profile form and narrative submitted by family members
Bantayog nomination form and letter submitted by Elmer C. Labog, co-organizer in KMU, July 28, 2016
Isang maikling alaala kay Ka Felicing, by Etta P. Rosales, friend, July 28, 2016
Isang dalisay na lider-manggagawa, by Caridad M. Pascual, friend, undated
Sinser at Dedikadong Pambansang Treasurer ng KMU, by Nick Elman, former National Spokesperson, former Secretary for Popular Struggle, Kilusang Mayo Uno, undated
Interview with Cecille V. Valdellon, daughter, August 5, 2016, Quezon City
Interview with Joy Asuncion, friend, August 5, 2016, Quezon City
“U.G., An Underground Tale, the Journey of Edgar Jopson and the First Quarter Storm
Generation, ” by Benjamin Pimentel, Chapters 19 – 21, Anvil Publishing House, Pasig City, 2006 (2nd printing)