It was not easy for Armando J. Malay to openly take the side of the resistance to martial law. In April 1970 he had agreed to be dean of students at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, at a time when it had already become a hotbed of open defiance against the authorities.
The Diliman Commune some months later, when students took over the campus for more than a week, tested the limits of his ability to balance between his innate sympathy for the activist youth and the expectation that he would enforce rules and regulations in a very unruly situation.
After all, Malay used to be an impulsive young man who once resigned from a prestigious, well-paying job at one of the country’s leading newspapers because he felt that staying on would compromise his integrity as a journalist. Besides, he and other top UP officials, as well as President Marcos himself, were loyal members of a college fraternity that fostered close personal ties.
In 1978 Malay chose to retire from UP: “…tired of being caught in the middle between students who accused him of acting as a censor when he considered himself very lenient, and the military, who thought he was a radical because he allowed anti-government leaflets to proliferate in UP.”
Freed from the obligations of being a UP official, Dean Malay happily returned to being a fighting journalist. The alternative press — so-called because it published news and opinions that were suppressed by the pro-dictatorship media – had gained its footing. Malay began writing for Who, Jose Burgos Jr.’s pioneer independent political magazine under martial law. In 1981 he joined Burgos in We Forum, and enjoyed a wide readership for the critical columns he wrote three times a week. In 1982 he was among the writers and staff who were arrested and detained by the military for alleged subversion.
Particularly after the assassination of Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. (another fraternity brother),Malay had also stepped up to the frontlines of the human-rights movement. He was founding chair of Kapatid, a support and advocacy group in behalf of political detainees all over the country. He and his wife Paula were among the many oppositionists and cause-oriented leaders indefatigably marching in rallies and demonstrations.
Having seen the downfall of the dictatorship and its aftermath, Dean Malay died at the age of 89 after a long and eventful life.
BORN : March 31, 1914 in Tondo, Manila
DIED : May 15, 2003 in Quezon City
PARENTS : Gonzalo C. Malay and Carmen de Jesus
SPOUSE/CHILDREN : Paula Carolina Santos / 3
EDUCATION : Elementary: Gagalangin Elementary School, Manila
Secondary: Torres High School, Manila
College: University of the Philippines
Marites N. Sison and Yvonne T. Chua, Armando J. Malay: A Guardian of Memory. The Life and Times of a Filipino Journalist and Activist. Pasig City, Anvil Publishing, Inc., 2002, p. 195.