CORTEZ, Delia

CORTEZThe Cortez family was better off than most of the folks in the community for the father of Delia Cortez was a farmer and her mother a fish stall owner‑vendor in the Olongapo public market.

Delia was a consistent honor student. She was class officer of various student organizations. She was an officer in the school army training class. Delia dreamied of being a doctor.

Delia’s two brothers became activists and greatly influence the young Delia in outlook and direction in life. In her third year high school, she joined the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) and led her schoolmates and friends in rallies against tuition fee increases, oil price increases and brutalities being instituted by the Marcos regime.

She also led Samal women and youth in rallies against factory pollution in San Juan.

After high school, she refused to move up to college and insisted she would stay and pursue her learning among the masses.

When martial law was imposed, Delia simply went on holding secret meetings and discussion groups with women especially mothers on Saturdays and formed Grupong Pang‑organisa ng Kababaihan (GPK) in Samal. She also took up feminist views, discussing with women the roots of their second-class status in society. She urged them to defend basic rights within the family as well as in society.

In December 1974, soldiers were being poured into Bataan, with Delia and six others as targets of an intensive hunt. Delia and his comrades hid in forests, cared for by villagers. Delia joined an armed propaganda unit, and with her petite stature, pleasant voice, demure manners and good looks became a local attraction. At first people pitied her, then conceded her determination, and later they admired her sincerity and perseverance. On cold nights she used palay sacks for blanket. Her bare feet punctured with thorns. She learned to eat sweet potatoes with “bagoong” (fermented fish). She bore her backpack filled with reading and writing materials willingly. A big garbage bag served as her roof at night.

In 1975, Delia learned acupucture and began to practice acupuncture healing in San Luis, Pampanga. Her dream of being a doctor was closer to fulfillment. She learned the local language and became a counselor especially of women facing family and marital problems. Pampaguenos found her very sympathetic as well as articulate.

Delia returned to Samal in 1976 and continued organizing villagers. She met her death early in 1977. She and her team had been resting when gunfire broke the silence of the surroundings. Delia was was hit at the back with a bullet passing through her chest. She was 19 years old.

Parents : Jose Cortez Sr. and Lucila dela Rosa

Education : Elementary – Samal North Elementary School

High school – Jose Rizal Institute, Orani, Bataan

College – University of the Philippines