LADLAD, Ma. Leticia J. Pascual

ladladLeticia Pascual loved books. As a young girl, she was “laman ng bookstore,”and by sixth grade serious philosophical works were part of her reading fare. Her intellectual interests were nurtured by her parents; her father, a pediatrician, was once director of the Philippine General Hospital and her mother a professor in graduate school.

Pascual excelled as a student at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB), where she was expected to graduate magna cum laude in agricultural chemistry. But her nose was not always buried in books. Tish, as friends called her, joined the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan and co-founded the UP Cultural Society and the League of Editors for a Democratic Society. In her third year she became the first woman editor of the student paper Aggie Green and Gold.

Although Pascual grew up in the city and had a relatively sheltered middle-class upbringing, she rapidly became aware of the social and political realities that the country’s poor had to live with. Her writings began to show this deepening understanding of her country’s politics, especially when she actually started making extended visits to Southern Luzon farming communities and learning about their problems.

Her parents were worried for Tish (who was frail), but they realized that it was a decision they could understand and respect, and admired her for it. When Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971, she left her studies and continued to work among the peasant farmers in Laguna and Quezon provinces. In 1973 she married fellow activist Vicente Ladlad and gave birth to their daughter in 1975.

In late November of 1975, she left home to meet with some comrades in the area of Paco Church in Manila; she expected to return later that day. The group all disappeared without a trace. Parents and friends looked for her at the defense and constabulary headquarters but their efforts were fruitless.

Leticia Ladlad