features from SOBRIETY for the PHILIPPINES:
(Without Fear or Favor)
Monday, July 9, 2012
Arman Albarillo dedicated his life to caring for his family, but the extrajudicial killing of his parents by soldiers led to his political awakening, which made him embrace an extended family: the oppressed.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Nanay Pacing, a petite woman in her 50s, broke into tears as though she lost a son.
“It is difficult to accept that we have lost him,” the old woman said at the wake of Arman Albarillo, former secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog (Bayan-ST) and in 2009, a New People’s Army (NPA) guerrilla who died in an encounter last June 30 in San Andres, Quezon, south of Manila.
“It is because of him that we still have a roof above our heads,” Nanay Pacing, one of the residents of sitio Kabute in Real, Calamba, Laguna, said during the tribute for Arman in a church in Quezon City.
She narrated how they met. It was during the early part of January 2008 when the houses of some 100 families were demolished. They sought temporary shelter at the nearby covered court. “Not one among the barangay or municipal officials offered us help. One day, while we were at the City Hall, Ka Arman saw some of us crying. He went to us, inquired about our situation and started organizing us,”
Nanay Pacing related. At that time, Arman was secretary general of Bayan-ST.
“Four years passed by and despite the harassment by soldiers encamped inside our community, we stayed put because of what Ka Arman taught us –that we have rights, too,” Nanay Pacing said.
It is not surprising how Arman was able to win the hearts of the poor. He knew poverty like the palm of his hands.
A caring brother
Before becoming an activist, Arman was an ordinary worker. Born from a peasant family in San Teodoro, Mindoro Oriental, Arman had helped augment the family income since he was 17. Together with his eldest brother, Arman worked as a construction worker in Makati.
“He would go home only during special occasions,” Bonsai, one of Arman’s four sisters, said. He has three brothers.
Like a typical big brother, Bonsai said, Arman was “quite strict” especially with the way his sisters dress. “He was so conservative; he did not want us to wear sleeveless, short skirts or any of that kind. We were only able to put lipstick when he was not around,” Bonsai said, smiling.
“Whenever we had problems and we turned to him, he would not mince words to warn us against making wrong decisions,” Bonsai said. “Yet, after scolding us, he would also make us laugh.”
Bonsai said she would not forget what her kuya (older brother) did on her wedding day. She was crying so hard minutes before the ceremony because the hair stylist cut her hair short. “Kuya Arman went to me and said, ‘Ne, stop crying. It’s okay’ and he carried me on his arms until I stopped crying,” Bonsai recalled. She was 24..... MORE
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