LEGISLADOR, Edmundo R.

Edmundo Legislador, Toto Eddie to his family and friends, was born into two prominent families of Oton, Iloilo.

His father, who once served as town councilor, owned a rice mill. The young boy was taught how to handle money; he should learn the business and be smart, his father said, because he would own the mill someday. But Toto Eddie used to wonder why his family always got the bigger share in the income, when they were very much less in number than the others. From his mother he learned how to care for the workers, helping her buy, wrap and distribute gifts for them for Christmas.

Toto Eddie got along well with people. He had a good voice and played the guitar well. Sometimes he and his friends spent their evenings drinking beer and singing to the wee hours of the morning.

In college, Legislador joined the local chapter of the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan, which started him into activism. He was in his 2nd year in college when the First Quarter Storm swept the country. He participated in rallies denouncing police brutality in breaking up the mass actions in Manila. Later he joined the Kalinangan Cultural Guild which offered cultural presentations during protest actions. Quickly, as the student movement launched more and bigger actions, Legislador decided to become a fulltime cultural activist even as he found the time to get married. Performances and training seminars brought him to as far as Luzon.

When martial law was declared in September 1972, Legislador had been living among the migrant farm workers, or sacada, in the sugarcane plantations of Negros. He was unable to return to Iloilo until the following June, but soon after left home again to travel to Antique, to the impoverished areas where many sacadas came from. With some other young people, he visited the towns of San Jose, Patnongon, San Remigio and then Sibalom.

On July 27, 1973 the Marcos regime conducted a sham referendum, during which the people were asked if they approved of martial law and the establishment of a parliament to replace the Congress which had been abolished. Of course no one dared to say no.

On that same day, Legislador and his group were resting after lunch when all of a sudden shots were fired in their direction. Toto Eddie was hit in the head by a bullet. He was 23 years old.

Edmundo Legislador’s funeral procession was said to have been the longest ever in the history of Oton, an act of resistance to the dictatorship. It was attended by people from different walks of life, with some coming from as far as Negros and Antique.