Who is Ericson Acosta?
To the younger generation of activists in UP, Ericson Acosta’s name would occasionally be mentioned as the composer of Alay Sining songs that remain popular among activist youth groups.
To the 90’s generation of activists, Ericson was a campus journalist, poet, songwriter, and activist. He was Kultura section editor of the Philippine Collegian when I first met him in 1994. He wrote about the Eraserheads and Yano even before they were famous.
Our meeting was somewhat of an accident since I hung out at the CNS library which was adjacent to the Kule office at the 4th floor of Vinzons Hall. Ericson was not part of any ND mass organization then. He was with the school paper and he had some activist friends. He was also with Amnesty International at the time.
In the evening, we would jam at the 4th floor stairs along with other Kule staff and editors, singing our fare of Binky Lampano, Eraserheads and The Doors tunes. We would then move to the Grandstand at around 2am to sing some more to an unsuspecting audience at Sunken Garden.
In the course of this interaction, Ericson would meet other activists from the UP Fine Arts and Alay Sining. He would eventually become chair of Alay Sining and would write, direct and act in the first original production of the organization, “Monumento”. It was a multi-media production on the life of Andres Bonifacio and the continuation of the unfinished revolution of 1896.
We would collaborate on many of the early songs of Alay Sining, together with Babes, Len and Roselle. Ericson wrote a lot of songs despite not being able to play any instrument. He would write lyrics then compose tunes in his head. He would then ask someone to look for the chords of the songs as he sang them.
Ericson was also involved in STAND UP in the late 90’s, becoming its chair during the early, difficult years of the alliance. It was during these challenging times that STAND UP sought to establish itself as the progressive alliance of students. This period paved the way for the eventual victories at the turn of the 21st century.
He served the people even when he was no longer in UP. He remained a dedicated cultural worker and activist. He brought his talents and skills closer to the struggling masses.
Last February 13, Ericson was arrested in San Jorge town in Samar, according to news reports. He remains detained in Western Samar and is accused of illegal possession of explosives according to one source in the military. The lone media report we have seen provides sketchy details as to the circumstances of his arrest. We do not know yet where exactly he is detained but there has been sufficient confirmation that he is being held.
Human rights groups are now working to see him and provide whatever legal and medical assistance he may need. Media contacts quoting an AFP press release said that he was treated well during detention.
Whatever the circumstances of his arrest may be, we his friends believe he is not a criminal and that he should be released. His safety must be assured and his human rights respected.
We ask our friends from UP, as well as the cultural community, to help in securing his immediate and unconditional release. We will post additional updates as soon as available along with information on what we can do to help. ###
LATEST UPDATES AS OF FEB.16, 930AM: Ericson is detained at the Samar sub-provincial jail, Calbayog City. HR groups are on the way to see him.