Nanette Vytiaco was a vivacious young woman from Bikol, studying in Manila and thoroughly energized by the hectic pace of student activism. And plunging heart and soul into that life was not enough for her – she wanted to share it with her friends and family.
In those days before everyone had a cellphone and connected through social media, people sent letters to each other in what is now called “snail mail.” Writing back home to her cousin Bing, Vytiaco described a typical day: “If I was not very busy today I should have gone to the picket at Retelco in Pasig.” Earlier, she had attended a rally in support of a jailed youth leader. She was planning to join a group visit on a “Learn from the People” trip to Central Luzon. Knowing that her father would disapprove, she confided: “If he does not permit me, I will make takas.”
Torn between her father’s worries and her own enthusiasm to serve, Vytiaco mused: “Surely I love him so much,” she told Bing, “I know I will disappoint him. I, too, am aware that he has high expectations and dreams for me. But what can I do? Should I give in to Papa’s call or the Lord’s? The matter with us is that we are too selfish and this is what makes our country stagnant… Honestly, how do you judge me at present? Do you think I should return to the same old me, or continue pursuing my new-found life?”
President Marcos was then well on his way to declaring martial law, so that Vytiaco and many others found it easy to abandon their studies and devote themselves full-time to the political resistance. She met and married Nicanor Vergara, a fellow activist, and together they began organizing chapters of Kabataang Makabayan in the Bikol region, starting in her hometown of Bulan, Sorsogon. They also networked with government employees, coconut farmers, cargadores loading and unloading goods at the seaport, fishermen. Humble folk who worked on their family’s land gave her shelter in their homes.
Although the situation had become especially dangerous, Vytiaco remained in close touch with her loved ones. She was so happy to see her mother one day in November 1972, bringing her favorite food. She was expecting a baby for the third time, having already suffered two miscarriages.
“Your Papa wants you to surrender, and says not to worry because the chief of police is our relative,” Mrs. Vytiaco said. Nanette refused, saying: “Tell him that I have chosen this life.”
That same evening, a message was received from the town mayor, informing Mr. Vytiaco that a pregnant rebel had been killed, who could be his daughter. “So I went up to the munisipyo and saw her body trussed up and hacked by a bolo… practically hacked to pieces. I did not say anything. I carried my daughter home.”
BORN : April 13, 1953 in Bulan, Sorsogon
DIED : November 10, 1972 in Bulan, Sorsogon
PARENTS : Antonio Vytiaco and Marita Villa
SPOUSE : Nicanor Vergara
EDUCATION : Elementary: Bulan Elementary School, Sorsogon; Centro Escolar
Secondary: University of the Philippines Preparatory School, Manila
College: University of the Philippines Diliman