LANZONA, Eduardo “Taking” Estrella

lanzona (1)In the 1960s, a red Jaguar would streak around Davao City, and all city residents knew the driver was that charming boy “Taking,” because who else had a red Jaguar anywhere? Taking was Eduardo Lanzona, who belonged to a very prominent family in the city.

Taking completed his economics course at the Ateneo de Davao, took further studies at the Ateneo de Manila University which he completed in 1969, then went back to teach economics at his alma mater.

In 1969, he married his college sweetheart.

He was always smiling, always had something nice to say to a new acquaintance. And he loved to play the guitar and sing Beatles’ songs.

Taking started to take an interest in politics because of the influence of politicians and professors in Ateneo such as the senator Raul Manglapus, and Fr. Francisco Araneta. He was a voracious reader and the debater in him took delight engaging in philosophical and political discussions about Karl Marx or Mao Tse Tung.

In the early 1970s, student activists had started organizing in Southern Mindanao. He had become a member of Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan in Manila and due to his influence, the Ateneo de Davao campus became the hub of the student protest movement.

He was passionate about the farmers’ movement for land to the tiller and along with other concerned Ateneans, joined thousands of farmers in 1969 to ask for real land reform. The mass action was led by the Federation of Free Farmers.

He helped organize a union of college professors at Ateneo de Davao and a bank employees’ union at the Davao branch of the Bank of the Philippine Islands.

When martial law made it impossible for him to work openly, he resigned his post at the Ateneo faculty and joined the left underground movement in Davao, moving in and out of the city to meet his growing family. He was regarded by then as an important political leader in the underground, particularly in the united front organization.

He was arrested on Jan. 17, 1975, in Davao del Norte (now Compostela Valley), together with four other activists. They were tortured then executed.

lanzona (2)Today, some of the bank employees remember Taking, and give thanks to him because through the unions he organized, the workers enjoyed higher living standards and stronger bargaining power.

Friend and fellow activist Mac Tiu admired Taking because, while most activists were single and had few possessions, Taking was rich and had a family and yet chose to go underground to fight the dictatorship. Former comrade from the SDK, Juan A. Perez III, now a physician, points out that Taking Lanzona had been about to reach the height of his career but he chose to fight the dictatorship.

Historian Rudy Rodil said that activists (like Taking) are driven by “the consuming conviction that one was doing the right thing, the only right thing to do, and nothing else mattered.”