Jessica Sales graduated cum laude in 1972 with a degree in the social sciences from the Centro Escolar University in Manila. For five years after that, she taught sociology and political science at the University of the Philippines in Manila and later at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna (UPLB).
She then worked as a research associate at the Department of Agricultural Education at UPLB’s College of Agriculture, while taking masteral units in the same department. She was preparing to defend her thesis when she disappeared in 1977.
Friends and colleagues describe Jessica as diligent and hardworking, lively and passionate, very intelligent, conversant in many subjects, and having an insatiable thirst for knowledge and experience.
She was involved in student politics in college. She was chair of the student government from 1971 to 1972, editor of the CEU student paper, and an active member of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.
At the UPLB, Jessica is remembered for allowing her students much leeway in discussions. She urged the students to ask questions about the country’s sociopolitical situation under martial law. With her support, students organized forums inviting nationalist speakers such as senators Jose Diokno, Lorenzo Tañada, and Jovito Salonga.
Jessica encouraged all types of student groups, from trekking groups, poetry groups, rodeo clubs and others, and was adviser or honorary member to many of them. She initiated the formation of the Student Christian Movement (SCM) in UPLB and represented it in a conference in Hong Kong of the Asia Youth Mission, under the auspices of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA). She also served as youth consultant to the CCA in its assembly held in June 1977 in Penang, Malaysia.
With fellow teachers, Jessica conducted discussion groups tackling issues concerning teachers and teaching. Often, the discussion centered on how to make teaching more relevant despite the curtailment of freedoms under martial rule. She organized the Kapisanan ng mga Gurong Makabayan (Kaguma), a teacher’s organization that worked for the promotion and protection of teachers’ rights and actively campaigned against the repressive policies of the dictatorship.
She became involved with the Folk Medicine Society, which counted as members, doctors, nurses, sociologist, biology professors and students, and the community of folk healers (herbolarios) in Laguna and Batangas. The society aimed to revive and popularize traditional and herbal medicine to alleviate the health conditions of the poor. It conducted seminars and workshops for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and biology students. Members went to far-flung communities conducting seminars with local healers and other community members. The society also conducted research on medicinal plants.
Jessica disappeared on 31 July 1977 with six others (Gerardo Faustino, Rizalina Ilagan, Bong Sison, Ramon Jasul and Cristina Catalla. The military never verified reports of their arrest. Reports of sightings have occasionally reached the family but all efforts to locate her have proved fruitless.
Born 24 October 1951
Disappeared July 1977
Mother Eufrocina Sales
Education College – Centro Escolar University, Social Sciences.
Master – University of the Philippines Manila