Boy came from a close-knit middle-income religious family in Roxas District, Quezon City. His father was a teacher and his mother a pediatrician. Boy was the 5th child and 2nd son in a brood of seven children. Because there were seven of them, Boy and his siblings were taught to share and be generous and considerate of others; so that when food was passed around during dinner, the last child usually got the biggest share.
Boy was a playful, naughty, inquisitive young boy. He was prime suspect when anything got broken. One of his elementary class cards showed a progressive tendency: 1st grading – “Quiet in class”; 2nd grading – “Becoming talkative”; 3rd grading – “Very talkative.” He was indeed talkative, and he read a lot for his age.
Boy’s mother was a devout Catholic, which had a marked influence on her children. The young Boy would often gather his siblings for “mass,” using a towel for an alb and thin banana slices for communion hosts. (Worried that the youthful play verged on sacrilege, his mother once consulted a priest, who told her that early interest in Christian rites and religion was welcome.) Boy eventually enrolled at the Christ the King Mission Seminary for high school.
Life at home and in the seminary instilled in Boy the qualities that would later drive him to give up his life for the cause of the downtrodden. He was generous and always ready to help. Boy also showed early signs of peace-making skills, often settling fights among his siblings.
Boy absorbed the progressive, pro-poor ideas of his mentor-priests, particularly Fr. Constante Floresca, SVD, and soon, Boy was involved in community work among urban-poor families.
As a college student, Boy became an activist with the 3K, a community-based organization, then in 1970, he joined the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK). His undertook teach-ins. He was seen in demonstrations and marches. He participated in relief operations in typhoon-devastated areas. Boy had mestizo features and often played the role of Uncle Sam in street plays. He joined picketlines in support of workers on strike, sometimes sleeping on carton boards or sharing a meal of sardines and misua with fellow activists.
When President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, SDK launched a “back-to-school” campaign among its members, and Boy was sent to organize students in private girls’ schools in Quezon City and Marikina.
Eventually, Boy’s activities caught the attention of Marcos’ spies, and Boy cut himself off from his family for the next three years. His silence distressed his family until they managed to trace him in Bicol. After that, Boy would visit, particularly on special occasions. He would write letters to his family, written in small sheets of paper folded to the smallest size possible. His mother and siblings attended his wedding in 1986.
Life in the mountains was hard, but Boy coped. He took to the simple life, sharing the gifts and donations from his family and patrons. A sister from abroad would send him clothes and shoes. Boy kept for himself only three sets of clothes and a pair of rubber shoes, and gave the rest away.
Boy’s concern for the villagers in his area of operation went often beyond politics. On his rare visits home he would sometimes bring local products with him in the hope of finding a market for them. He also found work in the city for some villagers. By then an acupuncture expert, Boy would treat sick villagers, who often had to wait their turn with him, their favorite acupuncturist, mediator, family counselor, friend and mentor.
The assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983 led to bigger protest actions and alliances. Boy, who had by then moved his operations to Mindoro, helped mobilize as many people as possible to the great rallies that erupted after the assassination, particularly the Lakbayan in 1984, a march that started from southern Luzon and culminated in Ugarte Field at Makati. However, when the EDSA uprising brought down Marcos’ rule in 1986, Boy stayed put in Mindoro, unconvinced that the new government under Corazon Aquino represented a genuinely democratic government.
On the 4th of November in 1987, Boy and a local leader were on board a motorcycle when the vehicle started having problems. The two stopped on the roadside, just as soldiers on foot patrol were passing by, together with a civilian informer who recognized Boy. This led to Boy’s and his friend’s arrest. Boy was tortured for days, and on the fourth day, executed. Later the military reported that several New People’s Army rebels had been killed a firefight.
Photographs taken and accounts from witnesses revealed that little of Boy’s body was spared by his torturers: his bones were broken, his skin bruised and full of cigarette burns, his testicles bashed, and his eyes and his brain all showed the suffering he went through. As his mutilated body lay exposed in the town plaza to instill fear among the people, many asked: How could such brutality happen when there was no longer a dictator and the country was marching towards democracy?
Boy’s family learned of his death from newspaper accounts. They claimed his body and brought it to Manila for cremation. His ashes are buried at the Holy Cross Memorial Park in Novaliches. Later the New People’s Army in Mindoro named a Lucio De Guzman Command in Boy’s honor.
Once Boy wrote his sister a letter that said: Hanggang kung buhay ma’y ialay ay walang pag-aatubili para sa kalayaan at demokrasya. That was exactly what Boy did – he offered his life for the dream of freedom and democracy in his country.