Vergel Landrito, “Butch” to his friends, had a normal and ordinary childhood growing in a quiet middle class family. His childhood was unremarkable. His mother remembers him as a friendly child with an almost adult concern for weaker playmates.
Butch was in his late teens when he started to show interest in organizations. The first he helped organize he named Black Cats, a neighborhood barkada and basketball team. He became its leader.
At that time in the late 1960s, an intellectual ferment was brewing at the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines. Butch’s family lived in Area 2, a government housing project for members of the faculty.
Butch came into contact with a militant group of students called the Samahang Demokratiko ng mga Kabataan (SDK), and soon Butch made most of his Black Cats friends the core of the SDK chapter in Area 2. Butch and his friends held study sessions. Butch attended teach ins at the front steps of the UP Arts and Sciences building. He joined mass actions. He read the manifestos of various groups. He recruited for the SDK
In 1969, an unexpected twist of events changed Butch’s life. Butch’s Beta Sigma fraternity became involved in a rumble with another fraternity, the Upsilon Sigma Phi. The rumble resulted in the death of one Upsilonian member and the suspension from UP of Butch, among other Beta Sigmans. Butch never returned to the university.
He became more politically involved. He joined programs that organized exposure and immersion trips to urban poor areas. He started spending time in a community in Tandang Sora, Quezon City, and in another community in Old Balara, also in Quezon City. Soon he was organizing SDK chapters in these places. In 1970, he left the family home to move to an urban poor community in Tandang Sora. He was by then working fulltime as an SDK community organizer. Butch spoke plainly and had a sense of humor. He never spoke above people. He had ways of telling the truth as he believed in them.
The following year he joined an armed propaganda unit of the New People’s Army operating in the Tarlac-Zambales boundary, which was surrounded by Aeta communities. For months, Butch moved about the area, but with increasing difficulty. Sometimes he did organizing work inside the Crow Valley, still under American jurisdiction.
In April 1972, Butch’s group figured in a military encounter in Botolan, Zambales, where everyone in his team was killed.
In Zambales today, Butch is remembered as that even tempered person, who taught Aetas and other locals protest songs. He died a young 22 year old, never really reaching full adulthood, but in Zambales some residents regard him as a worthy warrior.
Born 27 July 1950 in Quezon City
Died 25 April 1972 in Botolan, Zambales
Parents : Maximo Landrito Jr and Paz Edquilane
Education : Elementary – UP Elementary School
High School – UP High School
College – University of the Philippines, Civil engineering (up to 3rd year only)