Nanette Vytiaco And Tony Ariado : A Retrospect

Or, Bulan’s  Past Brothers And Sisters in Arm

Every political ideology began by man finds its end also in man. First, people killed for communism and in the end people killed communism. Fascism (National Socialism), Anarchism, Monarchism, Imperialism, etc., had also met the same fate. What we still have in abundance today in Asian continent are political dynasties, which is not really a political ideology but a political practice with roots in feudalism and the smell of  decomposing corpse of colonialism buried beneath the earth. But this (political dynasty) is also subject to natural death as history has shown us: it dies due to lack of next generation that will continue or the shift in interest or lack of energy of the new generation, or continued strife with other political dynasties has led to total annihilation of the dynasty/clan members, continued political turmoils and rebellions leading to mass murder of clan members, loss of  properties (lands, houses) and financial capital, internal strife among dynasty members, or simply sickness and death of all the remaining members. Along with that, political dynasties will all disappear when democracy reaches its full development in each Asian country.It’s just a matter of time. Today’s highly democratic countries in Europe and in other continents are practically devoid of political dynasties. Europe was once the bastion of powerful political dynasties with Kings and Queens, Emperors, Dukes, Princes, Counts, etc., as their rulers for centuries and now they’re mostly gone, and of the some still existing, they really have no more real political power and are slowly becoming extinct. The need for economic progress had shown them that only through democratic system of governance and democratic dealing among men could a country solve its problems, not by swords and guns and titles of nobility. And they succeeded.

Marcos may have succeeded in killing thousands of  the leftist fighters, at that time legitimate freedom fighters, intellectuals whose educated minds had been insulted by the human-negating policies of the dictator. But Marcos failed to kill the spirit of freedom in our country. I was young when I saw the lifeless body of  Tony and that of  his comrades, all aligned on the bare cemented ground in front of the old Municipal building of Bulan. In another time, I went alone inside the Bulan Parish Church one morning to bid farewell to Nanette Vytiaco, where she was kept in a coffin, ready for the last trip to eternal peace. They had fought for a cause- for freedom and social justice. My lack of understanding about what really was going on at that time did not prevent me from sympathizing with these fallen Tagabulans. For me, they were simply one of us and it was sad and horrifying to see more and more mutilated, bullet-ridden dead bodies almost everyday being displayed inside the Municipal vicinity, as I used to pass by it after school just to check and see-  and count, something that became routinaryfor me. But deep inside, my purpose was to capture conversations among the adults around for I wanted to understand. For this reason I wanted to meet my older dear cousin L. Asuncion hoping to get some answers to some questions, but in vain. I had not seen him even once before I left Bulan, met him finally three years ago in Bulan after over thirty years but time constraints prevented me again from talking with him. Must I wait another 30 years? In Manila, year 1981, just a few weeks after college, I was told by my mother that a classmate of mine came by looking for me. I knew who it was and his intention. He wanted me to join their ranks in the mountains. But at that time- as now- I aready knew that revolution of such kind is not the answer to our social and economic problems.

But Nanette Vytiaco, Tony Ariado and their comrades did not die in vain. For today we still remember them and they’re just part of our time in Bulan. These people had a dream for their country and countrymen. And they were sincere and courageous, fought and died for their cause. They were the noble men and women of Bulan, our local heroes. Within the context of their time, what they did was justified. Even as we now know that communism did not survive the test of time, these freedom fighters were after all not prophets, but human beings of flesh and blood driven by their idealism. Their fight, however, was not only for communism but first and foremost  a fight against the Marcos dictatorship. If I were at their age at that time, I would have been surely one amongst them roaming the hills of Bicol, fighting not really for communism but for freedom from Marcos’ tyranny.

That’s the difference of their group with today’s armed people roaming around the hills. Idealism has been lost but what survived is a kind of ism that’s defined only by their action now. In any case communism has failed and Marcos is no longer around. Today there are still communist political parties in the world, not only in the Philippines, and in some countries they are just any other legal political party. Though the social and economic preconditions that made communism popular in the past still exist today in many countries, I think most people know by now that communism is only beautiful as a theory but in practice it’s ugly as hell for it negates freedom and human instincts. I have personally talked with Russian, Czech, Polish, former  East German, former Ex-Yugolavian, Albanian, Bulagian, Romanian and Chinese friends or colleagues of mine and asked them about their experiences of communism (and indeed variations of communism for each of these countries had each version of communism). Most of them described their experiences and the system negatively and would never want to experience communistic life again and those who answered rather indirectly said that it is nice to live in freedom, be respected, be paid for your work and to own what you can afford. In the Philippines, the mountain rebels of now are sort of stragglers who do not want to recognize that their battle has already ended, whose legitimate officers have already left them long ago and are now helping the fight for progress by working just like the rest. Devoid of a valid cause and legitimate leaders, these armed men and women are vulnerable to manipulation by any moneyed private individual or corrupt politician. It is  a sad  for it does no justice to the original freedom fighters who had respected the people and had  paid with their lives. This is the irony of the story for these people represent now the exact opposite of the original cause, indeed, a sort of a  heraclitic enantiodromic phenomenon.

I was 12 when Martial Law was declared in 1972. I think it was a certain Sgt. Magno who was killed the very first in an ambush somewhere between Bulan and Irosin, aboard an army jeep, in that sharp uphill curve whose local name I have already forgotten. It was dark but I went to the Municipio to check and see that ambushed jeep. I had not seen Sgt. Magno anymore but what had stuck in my memory were  the huge bullet holes behind the driver’s seat; it sent chills down my spines. Astonishing is human memory, for until now as I write, after more than 30 years, I can still see clearly the details of that jeep. Indeed, the details of Bulan from my standpoint throughout those 17 years I spent there are well stored in my mind. Now ambushing still occurs sporadically in Bulan but this has no longer a deeper meaning for the people. In fact, people are now being outraged to hear such a senseless but violent attack for it runs counter to the aspirations of the people- to live in peace and unity, fight for progress by hard work and respect for all.

This Christmas Day of 2008, let us honor Nanette Vytiaco, Tony Ariado and the rest of their group who died with good visions in their minds for Bulan and who activated good things within each of us we didn’t know  existing. We should remember our genuine freedom fighters and draw lessons from them in our fight for progress the peaceful way. I personally express my highest respect to the man who knew and suffered with  Nanette Vytiaco more than anybody else, and that is Mr. Antonio Vytiaco, Sr., of Sta. Remedios, the father of Nanette. To you sir and the rest of your family I wish you a Merry Christmas. Now is the time to celebrate for justice has been served.

 For A Brighter Bulan!

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer

Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms
Album: Brothers In Arms
Year: 1985


These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Some day youll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And youll no longer burn
To be brothers in arms

Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I’ve witnessed all your suffering
As the battles raged higher
And though they did hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms

There’s so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones

Now the suns gone to hell
And the moons riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But its written in the starlight
And every line on your palm
Were fools to make war
On our brothers in arms


………………………………………………related News……………………………….. 

Bicol Mail Online

December 04, 2008

Anti-Marcos heroes hailed
QUEZON CITY — Addressing a crowd here of illustrious men and women and relatives and friends of the victims of the bloody “Dekada 70”, Naga City Mayor Jesse M. Robredo underscored that the lives sacrificed by our heroes and martyrs duringthedark years of Martial Law would not be in vain if we, the living, continue the fight against deceit, decadence and oppression which are once again threatening the nation.

Robredo has been invited as guest of honor and speaker at the Bantayog ng mga  celebration honoring this year’s martyrs and heroes last Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 2, 2008.

The site of the celebration was the Bantayog Memorial Center located at the intersection of Edsa and Quezon Avenue here where the names of over 170 heroes and martyrs are etched on the black granite Wall of Remembrance near a 45-foot sculpture by Ed Castrillothatdepicts a defiant mother holding a fallen son.

This year’s honorees are: Prudencio Nemenzo, Sedfrey Ordonez, Lucio de Guzman, Alfredo Jazul, Bayani Lontoc, Catalino Blas, Nimfa del Rosario, Pastor Mesina, and Alex Torres.

An estimated 10,000 Filipinos, mostly young students, are believed to have suffered and died during the Marcos dictatorship that ended in 1986.

“Perhaps the reason [why I was invited] here is that I come from Naga, a small city of Bicol martyrs and heroes in the time of rage against a dictatorship,” Robredo told his audience that include former Sen. Jovito R. Salonga, chair emeritus of Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, and its Chairman, Alfonso T. Yuchengco.

He said Naga City is in the heart of Bicolandia that in the time of Marcos was a forsaken land in search of liberation from poverty and oppression “where the blood of a hundred or so young heroes and martyrs were spilled over its abandoned hills and barren farmlands”.

Robredo said he could remember the names of some of these heroes from Naga and Bicol: Tony G. Ariado; Jemino L. Balaquiao, Jr.; Floro Balce; Alex Belone; Dr. Juan B. Escandor; Romulo Jallores alias Kumander Tangkad, and his brother Ruben, also known as Kumander Benjie; the brothers Ramon, Jesus and Tomas Pilapil, and; Nanette Vytiaco, among others.

“Some of their names, I believe, are etched on this Wall of Remembrance,” the mayor said.

Robredo said he was a second year high school at the Ateneo de Naga when the wounded Romulo Jallores, alias Kumander Tangkad of Ocampo, Camarines Surwascornered and peppered with22 gunshots by Philippine Constabulary agents inside his relative’sapartment along Ateneo Avenue in the afternoon of December 30, 1971.

Ka Jemino Balaquiao, too, died a horrible death in the hands of Marcos soldiers. While lifeless, his face was desecrated and his bloodied body dragged by a tricycle on the way to the Army camp.

His brutal death in 1980 prompted a Naga-based local paper to strongly condemn it. His fellow students at the NagaParochialSchool where he finished his elementary grades before entering the Philippine Science High School and UP honored him so deeply. They kept vigil over his sealed body at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral where he used to be a student-altar boy.

During those times, even Naga’s and Camarines Sur’s prominent political leaders were fiercely anti-Marcos. These men included human rights lawyer Joker Arroyo, constitutionalist lawyer-priest Joaquin Bernas, House Minority Floor Leader Ramon H. Felipe, Jr. the late Justice Francis Garchitorena, then ConconDelegate Ramon Diaz, and local practicing lawyers Luis General Jr., J. Antonio Carpio, and Ramon San Andres. Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros was then a young activist who edited an underground news magazine.

Acknowledging the heroes’ courage and unwavering love for liberty and freedom, the mayor said their deaths were for a higher purpose that should be carried on by the present generations by continuing to serve the people in the best way that they can.

“Let us all be heroes [like them], more so in the absence of tumult and war,” Robredo stressed.


………………………………………….(News article referred by mr.rudyb)


The case of 2 ‘missing’ girls   

By Nikko Dizon

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:42am (Mla time) 12/27/2008Filed Under: Youth, Armed conflict, Civil unrest
MANILA, Philippines-Since the Supreme Court adopted over a year ago extraordinary measures to curb human rights abuses, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been on the defensive, receiving a barrage of complaints in connection with extrajudicial executions and disappearances.
But in a little publicized case in February, the AFP’s Civil Military Operations (CMO) found itself in an unusual court battle: Helpingparents secure information from leftist groups about two missing teenage girls who they believed had joined the New People’s Army (NPA).
The parents of Khristine Calido and Marissa Espedido sought a writ of amparo, from the Spanish amparar-to protect-adopted by the high tribunal from a successful judicial procedure in Guatemala to combat military abuses in the midst of a rash in political killings and kidnappings of activists.
This time, the respondents were leftist groups that, the parents averred, had recruited Calido and Espedido to pave the way for their membership in the NPA.
The girls were barely 18 years old when they left their homes and abandoned their studies, says Col. Buenaventura Pascual, CMO head.
“Filing the writ of amparo was the only solution so that those who knew where the girls were would be compelled to produce them in court,” Pascual says.
The case was lodged in the Regional Trial Court in Antipolo City against leaders of the Kabataan party-list group, Bayan Muna and individuals who included youthleaders accompanying Khristineand Marissa when their parents last saw them before they went missing.
The groups vehemently denied that they were responsible for the girls’ disappearance.
Volunteer educator
One respondent claimed Khristine gave “volunteer education to tribal folks and farmers” in Tanay, Rizal, on Dec. 26, 2007, but that she had never been seen after that.
Pascual says the court case uncovered the lives led by the girls since they joined the leftist youth organization Anakbayanwhile attendinga national high school where they were both enrolled.
Searching amongthe girls’ belongings, their parents discovered their diaries where they detailed their activities that included joining lightning rallies, “MOBs” or mobilizations, and campaigning for Bayan Muna in last year’s midter