TAGAMOLILA, Antonio S.
Antonio Tagamolila was a gifted student and scholar who obtained his education largely through scholarships. Antonio, called Tony, started showing a writing bent in high school as literary editor of the UP Highlights. He discovered activism when he joined the Kabataang Makabayan in 1966. He later joined the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK).
He entered college as a government scholar taking up an engineering course. As his political awareness deepened and his commitment to the national democratic movement grew, he decided to shift to AB Economics, which he thought was more relevant.
He joined the Philippine Collegian, first as a columnist and later as editor-in-chief and became quite known for his eloquent essays and social commentaries. Tony’s views about the election realities in the Philippines are still relevant: “The same classes of people are elected over and over. The vested interests, the born crook, the glib-tongued opportunists. The reason is that ‘free competition’ entails money—money for the campaign material, money for paying political stooges, money for the thousand and one forms and levels of vote-buying… Money equals power and symmetrically, power soon equals money. … In the Philippines, election is nothing more than an auction where the right to exploit the people is sold to the highest bidder.” (“Image Sellers,” 10 July 1969) In the same article, he called himself a revolutionary but, interestingly, he stressed the need to participate in elections and put honest people into power: “A partial boycott is the more logical (choice) since we could always fi nd a few candidates who rightly deserve to win… A revolutionary process is a very broad thing. It is also necessary that all possible fronts of struggle should be undertaken. And so why lose by default if we could possibly put a few progressive people into office?”
In answer to his family’s lament that his social commitment was a direct blow to their dreams for his future, Tony answered: “One must never forget one’s origins.”
Tony left Manila for Iloilo not long after martial law was declared. In Iloilo he joined armed propaganda teams that went around the barrios discussing social issues with the villagers.
On February 19, 1974, Tony’s team encountered a unit of the Philippine Constabulary which resulted in an exchange of fi re. In a matter of minutes, Tony, along with Antonio Hilario, Rolando Luarca and a woman who was pregnant, were all dead.