His great-grandfather was Katipunan General Pascual Alvarez of the 1896 revolution. Emmanuel himself grew up in Cavite, a province steeped in Philippine history. Thus it is not surprising that he took up the call for revolutionary change in the Philippines, and gave his life to the cause.
Emmanuel was a consistent honor student, graduating at the top of his class in elementary and high school. In 1969, he enrolled at the College of Public Administration at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, at that time already boiling with activist energy. Joining the UP chapter of the militant youth organization, the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) he was active in public discussions of pressing national issues, and helped organize KM chapters in nearby communities.
His political involvement grew deeper after his election to the KM National Council. In 1971 he became acting KM vice chair, and national chair shortly before martial law was declared in 1972. The militant youth organization was declared illegal, but continued to operate clandestinely under Alvarez’ leadership.
Well-known for his sober views and soft-spoken ways, Alvarez’s low profile served him well after he joined the underground resistance; his friends say that was why he was able to elude arrest for several years.
From the underground, he explained to his parents in 1975 that “we must recognize the need to act in order to solve our own problems…we cannot rely on others, much less the regime,” saying further:
“Ang tanging ambag ko na maibibigay sa bayan ay ang aking buong kakayahan na makatulong sa pagbibigay ng direksyon at pamumuno sa mamamayan sa paglutas ng kasalukuyang problema.” (All I can offer the country is my absolute readiness to help in giving direction and leadership to the people in solving our present problems.)
On January 6, 1976 he left the family home in Cavite City, took a bus, and was never seen again. It is said that he was picked up by two men in civilian clothes. The family suspected military involvement in his disappearance.
“Kung ako’y mahuhuli o mapapatay ng kaaway, huwag kayong lubhang mangamba o malungkot.Nakahanda akong harapin ang ganitong kalagayan. Alam naman natin na ang pagbabago ng lipunan ay hindi isang laro, katuwaan o sine. Ito’y tiyak na may kalakip na sakripisyo gaya ng katiyakan din ng tagumpay nito.” (If I am arrested or killed by the enemy, do not fear or grieve too much. I am ready for it. Indeed we realize that social change is no game, whim or entertainment. It surely requires sacrifice from us, but just as surely is its victory assured.)
Emmanuel Alvarez was 27 when he disappeared. His short life did not go to waste.