Reynante Andal’s father was a guerrilla in the resistance against Japan’s occupation of the Philippines during World War II. The boy was fascinated by his stories about the war, tales full of heroism and love of country.
While their parents were out all day working to put food on the table, Rey, the eldest of nine children, took care of the younger ones and their household. His father died just as Rey graduated from high school.
Andal left for Manila in 1968 on a scholarship, and enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for a degree course in political science.
He soon got involved in a Filipinization movement initiated by students from the Ateneo de Manila, and helped found a counterpart in UST, the Kilusang Kristiyano ng Kabataang Pilipino (known as 3KP). He also joined the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK). In 1970, he was among the founding members of the reform-oriented youth group, Kapulungan ng Sandigan ng Pilipinas (KASAPI). He coordinated support activities for the survivors and witnesses in the Bantay, Ilocos Sur incident in 1971 in which two sitios were burned down in an act of warlord terrorism. He joined the relief operations during the massive ﬂooding in Central Luzon in 1971. Still that same year, he organized and headed the Samahan ng mga Kabataan sa Ikauunlad ng mga Tsuper, which supported the headline-making transport strikes of the pre-martial law period.
An effective and charismatic leader, Andal gave fiery speeches and made friends with student activists, whether reform-oriented or militant.
By the middle of 1972, he had stopped attending classes and was spending more time with activist friends and jeepney drivers. When martial law was declared that September, with some of his friends he headed for the hills of Pinamalayan, Mindoro, apparently emulating what his father Mariano had done, to fight an oppressive regime.
Not long after, soldiers of Task Force Lawin surrounded the hut where they were staying and opened fire. Killed instantly were two local youths, Antonio Pastorfide and Rene Julao, while Andal and Dante Perez of Ateneo de Manila University in Manila were both wounded. During a break in the firing, one of the hut’s occupants, the wife of Perez and also an activist, ran out to ask the soldiers to stop the shooting. The latter then went inside and simply shot the two wounded men dead. Andal died at 21.
The following morning, a local paper bannered the story of “four communist rebels” killed and three captured in an encounter with soldiers.
As Andal‘s dead body lay in the coffin, his mother Patria tenderly wrapped it in the Philippine flag. Then she bravely sang “Bayan Ko,” a patriotic song she would hear him sing. In the days after the incident, people in Pinamalayan who had been Andal’s friends were rounded up by police: teachers, students, carpenters, even the owner of the local billiard hall filled up all the cells of the local jail; some were beaten up.
Some time later Mrs. Andal was arrested when a carbine riﬂe was found in her house; she was keeping it, she said, as a memento of her son. She was sentenced for illegal possession of firearms and remained in prison for 13 years, released only in 1986 after the martial law government was dismantled. She died in 1997.
Defending her son and his activist comrades, Aling Patty said they were only defending the people’s interests: “Ipinagtatanggol nila ang ating karapatan.”