Jermaine Pe Benito: A Short but Meaningful Life

Jermaine’s untimely death saddened his family, friends and comrades. An activist, writer, educator and a loving son and friend, his life was dedicated for others. He set aside numerous opportunities knocking on his door to serve the people.

Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 15 May 20-26, 2007

Jermaine’s untimely death saddened his family, friends and comrades. An activist, writer, educator and a loving son and friend, his life was dedicated for others. He set aside numerous opportunities knocking on his door to serve the people.

He spent his life meaningfully by carrying his principles and standing firm despite state attacks on the people’s movement. His youth was devoted to being with the people in their quest for a brighter future for the next generation.

Loving son

Jermaine was born on Sept. 27, 1979 as the only son of Cirila Porte and Florante Pe Benito.His father was a businessman who died when he was four and his mother is a nurse who would later on work abroad. His Auntie Cena together with his Lola Valentina took care of him. Jermaine grew up as a loving son to his family. His Lola Valentina recounted that he is respectful and caring. He would often remind his Lola to take care of her health.

Jermaine’s cousins also recalled that he would help them in their school work despite his busy schedules in school. Jermaine finished elementary and high school at the St. Paul College of Ilocos Sur (SPCIS) and his bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of Northern Philippines (UNP). He passed both the midwifery and nursing board exams before he took up Medicine in 2000.

Writer and leader

During his college days, Jermaine, or Jerry as his colleagues call him, was very active in school events. He became an officer of the University Student Council (USC) in 1999-2000 as well as editor-in-chief of RX Ladder, the official student publication of the UNP College of Health Sciences. In 2000, he joined Tandem, the official student publication of UNP and became the editor-in-chief in 2001. Jermaine also wrote for Northern Dispatch in 2002, contributing articles on various people’s issues in the Ilocos region.

Consequently, Jermaine’s involvement in various student organizations molded him as a student leader in the university. He was known for his works and his writings. When he graduated, he received an award for being one of the university’s most outstanding student leaders.

A fellow editor of Tandem, Rhanny Belle Urbis, said that Jermaine’s experience in campus journalism inspired many other writers to tackle the democratic interests of the people in their writings. “He is among those who transformed Tandem into an alternative publication devoted to serving the people,” she added.

Albert Lagrimas, former student council president of the UNP USC, also noted that even after Jermaine had already graduated he would still help them in various campaigns concerning the students. “He gladly shared their experiences in handling the struggle of the students for their democratic rights,” Lagrimas said.


Jermaine became the provincial chairperson of College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) in Ilocos Sur in 2000. He, along with his fellow executive committee members, led various activities for campus writers. He spearheaded the campaign for the ouster of then President Joseph Estrada among the youth and students in the province and later on led massive anti-Estrada rallies there.

Jermaine is one of the founders of the CEGP-Ilocos Region formation. “He has contributed a lot in struggling for campus press freedom (CPF) here especially in schools where there are massive violations of CPF,” Mark Galanga, former regional chairperson of CEGP, said.

He also led campaigns for campus press freedom, and against increases in tuition and other fees, as well as campus repression. He was also at the frontline of campaigns to abolish the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) in 2001.

He was also convener of various alliances, including Dump PPA (Purchased Power Adjustment) as well as broad human rights formations. He also helped in forming provincial chapters of student mass organizations such as Anakbayan, Student Christian Movement (SCM) and League of Filipino Students (LFS) as well other student alliances such as Alliance of Concerned Students-Partido ng Demokratikong Mag-aaral (ACS-PDM) and National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP).

GABRIELA-Ilocos secretary-general and former CEGP-Ilocos Sur chairperson Cindy Relucio recounts that Jermaine was very active in struggling for issues concerning the youth and students as well as the people. “He mobilized the youth and students to participate in the broader political struggle,” she said.

“Sir Jermaine”

In 2004, Jermaine taught midwifery courses at the Ilocos Sur Community College (ISCC). He is one of the faculty members who steadfastly strove to improve the quality of education in ISCC. He shared his learning to his students willingly.

He also shared his leadership to the academe. He served as the Officer-in-Charge for Student Affairs and later became the head of the school’s Midwifery Department.

During his term as the department head, he launched training activities to develop the leadership capabilities of his students. He believed that health workers should be leaders capable of serving the communities since their profession is service-oriented.

“He was a very patient and hardworking instructor,” his student, Marcillus Chi, stressed. “Sir Jermaine touched the lives of his students.”

Despite his busy schedule in school, Jermaine continued his work for the people’s movement. He served as a member of the secretariat of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance)-Ilocos in 2006 where he shared his writing skills as a public information officer.

A life well lived

Jermaine suffered from cancer and underwent treatment starting 2006. However, he was not able to survive the illness and passed away last May 4, 2007. It is a sad irony for a son, friend and comrade who had just been happily talking about his survival from his treatment.

Jermaine’s 28-year life has been a source of inspiration to his family, colleagues, and his friends. He was able to touch lives of many people through his writings and his works. Jermaine’s youth has been spent meaningfully and despite his loss, his works has left a mark in the people’s movement in Ilocos.

During a tribute paid in his honor, his mother, Cirila, was surprised to see many friends and comrades who lamented for her son’s untimely death. “I am happy to see that many of us love Jermaine,” she said in Ilocano.

For his family and friends, they will never get to see, read nor hear him again. No more stories about his previous experiences, no more caring grandson and nephew for his lola and tita, no more loving son for his mother, no more poems in poetry jams. But his memory lives in their hearts.

Like a torch, his life will serve to light every life he was able to touch. He will always serve as an inspiration to carry forward the struggle of the people until its glorious victory like he once dreamed for. Northern Dispatch/ (

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