Artemio Celestial Jr., or Jun to family and friends, spent his childhood in Cavite where his father was public schools superintendent. He went to the Ateneo in Quezon City for all his schooling years. Jun was outgoing and amiable, and a bright and hardworking student. He taught catechism to poor children.
As in most schools in Manila in the early 1960s, Ateneo was electrified by student activism. Students held hold discussion groups, symposia and other mass actions as issues raged through the campus such as campus repression, violation of civil liberties, militarization, and the impending martial law.
Jun became involved in the Student Catholic Action (SCA) and joined student assemblies marching across the campus, calling on other students to become involved.
In November 1971, leading officers of the Student Council were expelled for their activism. Jun became the council’s secretary-general. The council continued to pursue its militant actions. Jun got other campus groups to join council-sponsored activities. He raised funds and mobilized students to help in flood relief operations in Central Luzon. He even hid in his car students banned from the campus.
After martial law was declared, Jun himself was expelled along with other activists, their pictures posted in the school’s guardhouses. The following year, soldiers raided the Celestial home in Project 4. Jun and younger brother Joel, also an activist, escaped arrest but they had to leave home for some time.
Jun later found a job at the National Grains Authority (NGA) where he worked for two years. He rose to a supervisor’s position. One day, soldiers arrested him and brought him to camp mistaking him for his brother Joel who had gone underground. Jun was released after a few days.
Jun left the government and put up a tailoring business with a friend. Joel was arrested in 1973 and Jun also spent time visiting him in Fort Bonifacio. Many of Jun’s own friends were also in prison. Jun himself continued to help the underground movement.with financial and logistical support.
One day in February 1975, Jun took a cab to somewhere but left a strange letter addressed to Ferdinand Marcos, exhorting the president to free all political prisoners, among other demands. He handed the letter over to a person at a toll gate who then gave it to a passing army soldier. Three days later, Jun’s body was found floating in the Montalban River near the Wawa Dam, his skull and body badly broken. Local police who undertook the investigation believe Jun might have been taken by the army. His family did not pursue the case.
Born 16 September 1950 in Maragondon, Cavite
Died 19 February 1975 in Montalban River
Parents : Artemio Celestial and Marina Somoza
Education : Elementary – Ateneo de Manila, Honorable Mention
Secondary – Ateneo High School
College – Ateneo de Manila University, AB Economics