Remembering Beng

It was a very short encounter. In May 2001, after SCMP’s (Student Christian Movement of the Philippines) National Assembly in Cebu, a fellow SCMer invited me to come to the CEGP Congress simultaneously held in Bohol. Being a Guilder alumna myself, I immediately said yes, especially that we’re only a Supercat ride away from Bohol.

In Bohol, many of the delegates were already strangers to me. However, the familiar faces (and personalities) were there – Len, Rey, Ruth, Mao (was Vince there?) from the national office and those coming from the regions. One of them was Beng, then vice-president for Mindanao of CEGP.

I tried to remember if we were formally introduced to each other, but what I remember most is that we exchanged smiles – the cornered grin that I see now with her younger siblings, Megace and Alec. Perhaps my time with CEGP was very short, that I never had the chance of getting acquainted with many of its regional leaders. Likewise, we were able to exchange a few words, mostly introducing ourselves to each other. She came from Atenews, I came from the P. Kule (Collegian’s nickname as there’s also Manila Collegian in UP Manila). Other than that, it was already a general questionnaire for Guilders (hehe) – from what section are you, under which editor did you enter the publication, etc.

It was already CEGP’s last day in Bohol. They capped the days of workshops and business meetings with a press conference with the local media. Many issues were tackled, including press freedom, education issues, campus repression, and the greater repression led by the state. Beng was one of the panelists. I took pictures of the press conference, which I keep to this day. Beng was wearing a black mini skirt and a white shirt.

These are the only memories I have of Beng. Maybe just because I was not able to meet her longer that I can only remember that she was quite silent (the Guilders can prove me wrong). A year after, news came about her death, being massacred along with two others in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato while on a fact-finding mission nine years ago. She was already deputy secretary general of Karapatan – Southern Mindanao Region then.

Anybody who just knew about somebody getting killed will immediately work on threshing out memories of the person. I can only mention of our short encounter and perhaps, I can only relate for being a fellow Guilder. However, we all know that we never needed to be close friends to the victims to call for justice for Beng and all the victims of extrajudicial killings.

Nine years after, Beng’s martyrdom has never ended. In August last year, the United Nations issued a resolution stating that the Government of the Philippines is accountable for Beng’s death, for its inaction and inability to punish the perpetrators. Until now, the government has yet to act on the case.

Meanwhile, all perpetrators of the Arroyo government’s bloody campaign Oplan Bantay Laya are still on the loose. None have been prosecuted, then there’s a new counter-insurgency program named Oplan Bayanihan.

Beng was killed on Gloria’s birthday in 2002. She was 55, Beng was 22. A Facebook status said today, courtesy of Sarah Alderson, “Hapi b-day, GMA! 64 k n ngaun. akalain mong umabot k ng ganyan? maraming taong di umabot sa ganyang edad dahil sayo…”

The Arakan Valley massacre where Beng was one of the victims was dubbed as a gift of the AFP to GMA, desperately tagging everybody as insurgents so they can go on and on with their killing spree to stay in power. However, nine years after, I don’t know how Gloria can celebrate her birthday when everybody wants her…well, you know what.

And Beng. She would have been proud to witness the people’s protests against widespread militarization in Mindanao. Of course, for the people’s clamor for justice for her, and many of those killed by the regime. She is not with us anymore, but she remains alive.

Her life might have been a short encounter compared to GMA and her killers, but for the people she loved and served with all her heart, they will not just remember her as Beng.

They shall continue her struggle.


First posted by:
Cristina Giba Guevarra
Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 1:47pm sianezfrancine