BELORIA, Vicente Laus

Vicente Beloria picVicente “Vic” Beloria’s college education took place in the Baptist-founded Central Philippine University in Jaro, Iloilo City. He entered the university in 1970, a time of ferment and upsurge of student activism, not only in Manila but the rest of the country. In the university, he was introduced to continental philosophy and the Filipino nationalist ideas of Claro M. Recto and historian Renato Constantino. He had also read books like the Philippine Society and Revolution of Amado Guerrero and other Marxist tracts at that time.

Vic was a leader in the student government of the university, the CPU Republic. It was probably through campus politics that he joined the Movement for Democratic Philippines in 1970 that gave rise to the Federation of Ilonggo Students or FIST. It was under FIST’s leadership that a series of huge rallies and demonstrations were held in Iloilo City. It was also FIST, that Vic met student Ilonggo student leaders from Manila including Fluellen Ortigas and Alberto Espinas, who became his friends and mentors.

Vic’s activism allowed him to ask deep questions about society and change. He also joined the Iloilo chapter of Kabataang Makabayan (KM), As the student movement in Iloilo became more politicized and restive, Vic foresaw the impending threats on the persons of local student leaders, with the plan of Marcos to declare martial law. However Vic and other student leaders in Iloilo were undeterred; they continued to launch demonstrations and organize students in the Iloilo City and other provinces in Panay, in defiance of the government’s restrictions.

Vic set up a coordinating group that simultaneously led open demonstrations and clandestine organizing and teach-ins. This two-pronged tactic was intended to expand the ranks of student activists but at the same time ensure their safety in an event of a crackdown.

In January 1972, months before Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972, Vic and other student leaders in Iloilo decided to abandon the open arena of activism by going to the countryside to join the underground resistance against the dictatorship.

Circumstances of death

Vic joined six others to conduct a research in the remote areas of Antique on July 1973, timed with the campaign to reject the Marcos’s Constitution seeking acclamation through a referendum. The group visited remote villages in Antique that were home to the sacada or seasonal sugarcane plantation workers in Negros Island. At the close of their field visits, they were arrested. They tried to escape, taking various routes but almost all of them were pursued and shot. Of the seven, five of them died. Vic and Ferdinand Arceo were the last to fall on July 29, 1973. They managed to escape the military that were chasing them for two days before they were caught in San Joaquin town. Vic and Ferdinand were summarily executed while another companion was captured and tortured.

His family brought Vic’s remains to Culasi, Ajuy town, for burial on August 3, 1973.

Impact of Death

Vic’s activism was a source of pride for his family because it demonstrated his selflessness and resoluteness. For Cesar Beloria, the brother of Vic, the latter was a hero and martyr, driven by his patriotism that he carried up to his last breath.

Despite their loss, some members of his family joined the anti- Marcos struggle. Cesar, who became a lawyer, was active in defending human rights cases. For him, Vic was a committed revolutionary who dedicated his life to educate the masses. The people that his brother met would fondly remember him for his ideals.

There were no public honors for Vic, except that he was recognized as among the martial law martyrs of Panay during the dedication rites for the monument of heroes at Plaza Libertad, Iloilo City, in 2007.