Edjop, Lean Remembered

Two men who lived in different times and who died in the hands of state agents under fascist regimes were remembered and honored Sept. 20 at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani.

Vol. VII, No. 33, September 23-29, 2007

Two men who lived in different times and who died in the hands of state agents under fascist regimes were remembered and honored Sept. 20 at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani.

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance), First Quarter Storm Movement and National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), in cooperation with the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation and the Heroes Project, held a memorial tribute to Edgar “Edjop” Jopson and Lean Alejandro titled “Edjop at Lean: Kawing sa Kasalukuyan” (Edjop and Lean: Links to the Present).

It will be much more than the recollection of the past and their death; it will be an evaluation of greatness, of courageous lives,” said FQSM chairman Bonifacio Ilagan in his introduction.

Edjop, whom Ilagan describes as “the ultimate reformist-turned-radical” was slain 25 years ago in Davao City while Lean, founding secretary-general of Bayan, was gunned down in Quezon City 20 years ago.


Edjop was president of the moderate NUSP before Marcos declared martial law. Eventually, Edjop voluntarily joined the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Jo Ann Maglipon, then editor of Chi-rho, student publication of Maryknoll College (now Miriam College), spoke about Edjop’s transformation from a moderate to an earnest leftist. She related incidents which highlighted Edjop’s affection for the workers, Aetas and the urban poor.

One particular incident she shared was the election of leaders of a federation of labor unions. Edjop then was an organizer of trade unions.

“Ed did not want to run, he did not want to antagonize the senior labor leaders,” Maglipon said. “He did not want to be seen as a man with personal ambition.”

In the end, however, Edjop was elected by a majority vote.

“We must see that the grand gesture, the exact moment when he made the climb up that wall to jump and roll in the empty lot next door in his failed escape from his murderers, that grand gesture is not a miracle of the moment; it was part and parcel of the other grand gestures of his past – when he escaped from prison which took strategy and tactics not found in the Bible or his management books, when he helped lead the La Tondeña strike, when he faced comrades who knew their Marx and Lenin far better than he, and when he faced and told Ferdinand Marcos to put down in writing that he will never run for president again; which was again part and parcel of all the periods of quiet and tiring work which was moreover part and parcel of the daily gestures of sacrifice and will,” Maglipon said.

“We must believe that Edjop came to his martyrdom not from one climactic moment when he decided to face death but from the long-run of small moments when he decided to face life,” Maglipon said.

Meanwhile, Lualhati Abreu talked about Edjop’s life in the underground movement.

Abreu was with Edjop in Mindanao. Their first work together, Abreu said, was the completion of social investigation on economic, political and cultural conditions of the island.

“First meeting pa lang, napansin ko na mahusay siyang makinig, isang katangian ng isang mahusay na lider” (During our first meeting, I already noticed he was a good listener, a characteristic of a good leader), Abreu said.

Abreu said Edjop was not the type who let conflicts between comrades pass. “Minsan, nagkaroon kami ng hindi pagkakaunawaan ni Joy. Pinakinggan niya kami pareho. Pagkatapos, sabi niya kay Joy, ’O, umandar na naman ang pagka-St. Theresas mo’” (One time, Joy and I had a misunderstanding. He listened to both of us. Then, he told Joy, ‘You’re being a St. Theresian showed again), Abreu shared.

Joy was Edjop’s wife. She studied at St. Theresa’s College, which is run by nuns.

Abreu said that before Edjop came to Mindanao, there were already debates regarding the socio-economic conditions of the people of Mindanao. There were those who argued that Mindanao was already a semi-capitalist and peripheral-capitalist society. “Based on our study, Mindanao and the rest of the country remains semi-feudal,” Abreu said.

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