Manuel Bautista had a relaxed childhood growing up in suburban Quezon City. He played soccer and chess with friends, hiking, swimming, and sometimes listening to music. His father was a mechanic and his mother ran a neighborhood store.
At school, he won honors consistently, and in college, was quite a popular figure. He was elected councilor to the college student body and representative to the university student council. He also became active with the college campus paper, the Aggie Green and Gold.
As college councilor, he helped in the establishment of a textbook exchange and rental center at the Los Baños campus of the University of the Philippines. The institution continues to serve UPLB students to this day.
As student council representative, he was one of several campus leaders who in 1969 exposed a controversial project being jointly undertaken by the UP College of Forestry with a foreign chemical company involving the testing of a defoliant that was used by American soldiers in Vietnam. The expose was published in the Philippine Collegian in 1969.
Manny became a tireless militant, doing research and writing for various causes. He joined the UPCA Cultural Society and the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK), both critical of the Marcos government. He was on his senior year when President Ferdinand Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971. In protest, Manny left the university and joined the underground movement operating in the Southern Tagalog provinces of Laguna and Quezon.
Since he spoke and wrote in both Filipino and English, his first task was understandably the running of an underground newspaper in Southern Tagalog. Manny was its writer and editor, and often its typesetter and proofreader as well.
Running an underground publishing network was risky, especially after Marcos imposed martial law in 1972. Manny and his team had to camouflage their editorial office, particularly the noise of typewriters and mimeographing machines, had to develop safe sources of paper and other materials, and ensure a safe but adequate distribution network.
Each copy that fell into soldiers’ hands made them more avid to find the source and to break the network. Manny was arrested in November 1973 and hauled to Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna. In December of that year, nine political prisoners prisoners escaped from the camp. Manny was one of them. Manny rejoined the underground, assuming editorship of another underground newspaper in the Quezon-Bicol area. Like missionaries, Manny and his team lived with the impoverished communities, enduring hunger and cold, and working days and nights, in the riskiest conditions, in order to produce their newspaper. It was fulfilling work, but dangerous.
In September 1976, Manny was with a group of guerrillas when it was chanced upon by government troopers in Tagkawayan, Quezon. Manny was killed in the encounter. Surviving comrades took his body and buried him in an unmarked grave. He had just turned 30.
* Born 25 July 1946 in Manila
* Died September 1976 in Tagkawayan, Quezon
* Parents: Uldarico and Susan Bautista
* Education : Elementary – Pura V. Kalaw Elementary School, Quezon City
High School – University of the Philippines High School, Diliman, Quezon City
College – UP Los Baños, Laguna, 4th year BS Economics