QUIMPO, Ishmael Jr.

quimpoFriends of Ishmael Quimpo Jr. remember him as the talented college dropout who chose to work for the poor and devote his life to the cause of the downtrodden.

Jun Quimpo was exposed early to the student demonstrations that characterized the turbulent days of the early 1970s. His family lived inside Manila’s university belt and he himself went to school at San Beda, a stone’s throw away from the seat of the presidency, Malacan͂ang Palace. Only 13 when the First Quarter Storm erupted, he was caught in the spirit of his time. He wanted to participate, and started by getting involved in community organizing. His first experience of an urban poor community was at Constitution Hill in Quezon City (then a squatters’ relocation area, now the site of the Batasang Pambansa).

When martial law was imposed and student councils were banned, students thought of other means to assert their right to self-organization. At the University of the Philippines, they put up a Consultative Committee on Student Affairs, and Quimpo, then a freshman, joined its youth committee. Yet community work seemed to be more attractive to him.

Tatalon was another huge slum community in Quezon City and Quimpo became a member of the Alyansa ng Maralita sa Tatalon. With a small allowance from the Share and Care Apostolate for Poor Settlers, he went about his organizing work, discussing politics with the local residents, prodding them to turn away from the hopelessness and idleness of their daily lives, at least cut down on their beer-drinking sprees, and to take responsibility for their future.

Often it was through song that he expressed his views and dreams. With a guitar, he would sing the hours away, inspiring people and making them feel strong.

After being arrested and detained for 10 days in 1976, Quimpo decided to give up college and join the anti-martial law underground. For the next five years, he lived in the rural areas of Luzon where he organized farmers as a cadre of the New People’s Army.

In December 1981, in the village of Kalisitan in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, Quimpo was killed treacherously – shot from the back several times – by someone he had trusted, a member of his unit. He was unaware that this person was already working with the military. (Hailed as a “hero” by the latter, the killer was said to have committed suicide sometime later.)

Jun Quimpo was then 24 years old. His family put together a collection of his songs titled “Ang Awit ni Jun,” in his honor and memory.

PARENTS                             Ishmael Quimpo and Esperanza Ferrer

SPOUSE                                Maria Cristina (Tina) Pargas

EDUCATION                       Elementary: San Beda College, Manila

Secondary: San Beda College, Manila

College: University of the Philippines Diliman