MAGPANTAY, Aurelio D.

Aurelio Magpantay was called Boy by everyone. He was the neighborhood kuya, a kind and helpful guy, the one you wish could have been your elder brother.

He was a bright student, earning honors in elementary and high school, and even started out as a college scholar in engineering at Mapua. The family was, however, unable to keep him there, and so he went back home and enrolled in a course in welding at a vocational school, where he finished at the top of his class. Then he won a scholarship at the Western Philippine Colleges in Batangas to study for a commerce course. He joined the staff of the student paper, Western Advocates. His political involvement in the antidictatorship movement began as a student in Manila, and continued even as he transferred to other schools.

Magpantay was set to graduate from WPC when he was killed. He was one of four young men who disappeared during a Lakbayan, a “People’s Long March against Poverty,” and found dead weeks afterward. They were the “Lakbayani” – Ismael Umali, Ronilo Evangelio, Noel Clarete, and Boy.

After the assassination of Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. on August 21, 1983, Magpantay joined the Batangas chapter of the Justice for Aquino Justice for All Movement, as well as the Batangas chapter of the August Twenty-One Movement. He was detained for a short time in October-November 1983. Two men in civilian clothes but claiming to be constabulary officers arrested him while he was in the middle of a JAJA meeting inside a church in Tuy, Batangas. He was released after more than 10 days of interrogation and torture, and only after his captors learned that he was the nephew of a town mayor. But he and his family knew that he continued to be under close military surveillance.

Still, Magpantay remained an active participant in the many rallies and protest actions that were taking place then in his province, the Southern Tagalog region, and indeed all over the country.

On March 6, 1984, he joined a Lakbayan march. The next day, he and his friends took leave of the others in their contingent as they rested in Manila’s Rizal Park. That was the last time the four were seen alive. Three weeks later, their bodies were found dumped together in a shallow grave in Cavite. Magpantay’s body bore stab wounds and both wrists were tied together. His family believes he was summarily executed, “salvaged,” by martial law authorities.