04 Sep Legacy of an Artist: The Life of Emmanuel Lacaba and His Advocacy During the Marcos Regime
The Philippines indeed has a lot to offer to the world, not just its world-renowned natural beauty and incomparable character of its people but also its rich history and tales of the past. When the time in history that the country was struggling to break free from the domineering power of the Marcos administration, many from all walks of life joined in the cause to overthrow the supposed dictatorship which, as the story goes, has been successful.
A native of Cagayan de Oro City in the person of Emmanuel Lacaba was one of the many who dedicated their lives in order to bring about change to a torn and divided nation during the martial law in the 1970’s of the then President Ferdinand Marcos. Through his exemplary knack for literary and the arts, Emman became one of the most prominent fighters who fought against the abuses of the state at that time.
The life of an artist
Eman was born and raised in Cagayan de Oro City until the age of seven when he and his family moved to Pateros, Rizal.
Eman’s huge interest in poetry and prose set him different from the typical person. As a student, he was greatly involved in promoting social awareness his classmates and friends and those whom he reached through his writings while attending college at the Ateneo de Manila University.
As a professional, he became a professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) who taught Rizal’s Life and Works to his students.
From being a simple teacher, he ventured into other fields of professions which allowed him to continue his passion and enrich his capabilities. He became a production hand and even a stage actor with his most famous work for film, the lyrics for the theme song of the award-winning movie in 1974 “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang”.
Even as a student, Eman was already active in participating in revolutionary movement challenging the current status quo and the administration of the school. In fact, he was one of those who wanted to oust the American-dominated school administration in his school.
He started taking part in politics in the 1970’s particularly in the First Quarter Storm as a member of the Panday Sining group. He also became a member of the labor movement group Panulat Para sa Kaunlaran ng Sambayanan (PAKSA).
A few years later, he went back to Mindanao and became an addition to the troops of the armed leftist group New People’s Army (NPA) under the name of “Popoy Dakuykoy”, a fictional character in a poem he wrote in 1960.
After two years of being a member of NPA in 1976, their camp was raided by state soldier and killed all of his fellow guerrillas except him and a pregnant woman. Eman, who was held captive, was then executed on their way to Tagum, Davao del Norte by gunshot.
After Eman’s death, his memories were remembered through a collection of his poems titled “ Salvaged Poems” that was published in 1986 and a compilation of his literary works titled “Salvage Prose” published in 1992.
The story of Eman is just one of the endless stories that are drawn from the unsettling moments of chaos and disturbance in the society. It is also only fitting to relive their contribution to the country by retelling what they have gone through to achieve something for the benefit of the present generation and for more generations to come. And the best to do it is to imbibe their principles and be a catalyst for positive change.