Instead of the annual Mass Movement Moments, my last blog post for the year would be about the people I will truly miss, comrades whom I personally knew. This year, there were so many funerals and tributes held, with so many comrades and friends who either passed on or were killed in the struggle.
I’d like to honor their memory one more time before this year ends.
Atty. Romeo Capulong , people’s lawyer par excellence, fought to his last breath before succumbing to a lingering illness. A genuine champion of the masses, he was hailed not just for his accomplishments in the legal arena, but also for his commitment to the cause of national and social liberation. Prof. Jose Ma. Sison called him a proletarian revolutionary fighter. For many who belonged to a younger generation, he was a patient mentor. To his numerous clients from the oppressed classes, his death was a great loss.
Maita Gomez became a legend for being a beauty queen turned rebel. Her passing was unexpected. She had devoted her life to the cause of women, and to the struggle for national democracy. Her sudden passing was mourned by comrades and friends. At the time of her death, Maita was the co-chair of the Makabayan Coalition. She was also one of the founders of Gabriela.
Arman Arbarillo first came to public attention when his parents were killed by soldiers believed to be acting under the orders of one Col. Jovito Palparan in Mindoro. Arman would go on to become the secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Southern Tagalog. He would lead marches and lakbayans to Manila. He would be at the frontlines of the movement to oust to US-Arroyo regime. Because of the unjust persecution of activists in the region, Arman went underground and joined the revolutionary armed struggle. He died a Red Fighter in the province of Quezon in an military encounter with the military.
Willem Geertman was a Dutch development worker who had lived in the Philippines for more than three decades. He was gunned down, execution-style, in broad daylight, at Alay Bayan Inc. office in Pampanga. The suspects are believed to have links with the military. Geertman is the second European development worker killed under the Aquino regime, the first being Fr. Pops Tentorio from Mindanao. I had the chance of working with Willem during a relief mission to Nueva Ecija last year. His death also came as a terrible shock to us. His work in the Philippines, which he considered his home, was indeed outstanding. Hundreds joined his funeral march as he was buried in Aurora province.
Ed Manalo – Tsong Ed’s departure was sudden. He has long been involved in the mass movement through cultural work. He helped in the mounting of Pol-Det, a production on the plight of political prisoners staged in 2011. He was present during major mobilizations, including the recent SONA 2012. He was also our friend. He helped decorate our wedding reception, as we were full-time activists. His wake was attended by media people, artists and activists. I’m sure he will be missed in the annual December 26 “Christmas Party” of his friends who hang out in Conspiracy Cafe.
Pacita Maniquis Reyes, our mom, passed away this year at the age of 77. She was one of the strongest women I’ve known, raising three children virtually by herself, from 1992 onward. While she had initially disagreed with the complicated life I chose, she eventually came to accept and support it. It was from her that I got my own copy of the book Philippine Society and Revolution, handed down from her friend who asked her to keep it when Martial Law was declared. She was also the one who influenced me to take up music when I was 6 or 7. In her last years, she helped us raise Dylan. This is our first Christmas and New Year without her.
There were many other comrades in the struggle who passed on this year. I may not have personally met them, and I apologize if I may not remember all their names. We celebrate their life, grieve their passing, seek justice for their deaths, and draw lessons and inspiration from their sacrifices. We are ever grateful.
They help make us stronger as we face the challenges of the coming year.