Michael Hiram Sumilang was studying mechanical engineering in Manila when demonstrations, rallies, boycotts of classes and other forms of protests erupted there in the 1970s. Sumilang interrupted his schooling in 1972 (he was in 3rd year) and returned to his Southern Tagalog hometown of Tayabas.
He went into business exporting handicrafts, and got married. He was in his mid-20s when he ran for municipal councilor in 1980, and won. He headed various committees to improve the business and trade sectors as well as the agricultural sector in Tayabas. But the Marcos dictatorship was still in effect, and the young politician was aware of the many abuses of martial rule that had been going on for years.
Sumilang increasingly became identified with the province’s militant opposition especially after the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983. He helped to found the Quezon chapter of the Concerned Citizens for Justice and Peace (CCJP) in 1984. Under the CCJP, he organized marches and rallies seeking justice for victims of militarization and calling for the release of political prisoners. He joined factfinding missions organized by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines to document military abuses in Quezon.
Chosen to be the municipal chair of the Unido party in Tayabas in 1985, he joined opposition stalwarts in touring the province to campaign for Corazon Aquino during the snap presidential elections. Bobong Sumilang was an effective campaigner. He had a movie actor’s good looks, a deep booming voice, the ability to make audiences laugh, and strong convictions. He was the youngest in the group of veteran politicians, and was soon being referred to as the “rising star” of Quezon politics.
Only a few days after the snap presidential elections, late in the evening of February 10, 1986, Sumilang was driving a friend’s jeep on the way home from attending a meeting with other political leaders. Just past the boundary betweenTayabas and Lucena City, a car blocked his way. Sumilang told his four companions to get off and run. The ambushers aimed their guns and shot him dead. His remains were brought to the municipal hall. Thousands came to express their sorrow and recall the good deeds of Bobong Sumilang.
PARENTS Mario Sumilang and Romana Jardiniano
SPOUSE / CHILDREN Myrna Mojica / 4
EDUCATION Elementary: Tayabas East Central School
Secondary: St. John Bosco Academy, Tayabas
College: Adamson University, Manila