Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Issue No. 27 August 19-25, 2001 Quezon City, Philippines
Comrades and friends honor Tony Zumel, 69It rained hard the whole day of August 17 and many parts of Metro Manila went under water. But at 7 p.m., despite the incessant downpour, about 1,000 friends and comrades of former journalist and underground leader Antonio Zumel gathered at the Church of the Holy Sacrifice, University of the Philippines - Diliman and paid tribute to a beloved friend and leader.
gathering of family, friends and comrades of Antonio Zumel, 69, pushed through
last August 17, not for a happy reunion but for a tearful goodbye.
69, died of heart attack last August 13 at the St. Antonius Ziekenhuis in
Nieuwegein, The Netherlands.
Luisa Zumel Lopez and Eduardo Zumel, Zumel's eldest sister and youngest brother
respectively, represented the family at the gathering which also served as a
tribute to him. Lopez spoke in behalf of the family.
colleagues in media spoke during the program, among them Manuel Almario and Joan
Maglipon, while Nilo Mulles gave a written message. Former comrades in the
underground who paid tribute were Prof. Monico Atienza, columnist Bobbie Malay,
Capt. Dan Vizmanos and Bayan Muna party list Rep. Satur Ocampo.
Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison sent a message from The
Netherlands. Government peace negotiators Silvestre Bello and Secretary Hernani
Braganza also attended.
served as honorary chairman of the underground National Democratic Front of the
Philippines (NDFP) since 1994 and was a member of the Central Committee of the
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). In 1989, he flew to Europe to help
prepare for the soon to be opened peace talks between the NDF and Ramos
government when authorities learned of his presence. Unable to return home,
Zumel was forced to seek asylum from the Dutch government.
returned to the country last April 8 by virtue of a safe conduct pass issued by
the Arroyo government. Zumel, together with another NDF leader Luis Jalandoni,
came to speak at a peace conference. He was, however, taken straight from the
airport to the St. Luke's Hospital due to heart attack, triggered by the
emotional weight of finally being able to come home.
was born in Laoag, Ilocos Norte on August 10, 1932, the second of six children.
He started as a copyboy (newsroom gofer) at age 17 with the now defunct
Philippines Herald. Two years later, he became proofreader and later,
full-fledged reporter. Among the beats he covered were the Manila City Hall
during the time of Mayor Arsenio Lacson, Malacañang, Senate, and Congress. He
worked with noted writers such as Jose Lansang, Mac Vicencio and Osi Abad
stayed for 16 years at the Herald and actively participated in union activities.
He in fact led a three-month strike which management sought to break through
goons and police. When he transferred to the Manila Daily Bulletin under Teodoro
Benigno, he again involved himself in union building.
respected by his peers, Zumel was elected at least 12 times to the Board of
Directors of the National Press Club and served as its president twice. Zumel
led the group of progressive journalists who actively participated in the
protest movement. He was also involved in the Movement of Concerned Citizens for
Civil Liberties (MCCCL) which the late Senator Jose W. Diokno headed.
journalists and progressive leaders, Zumel had the reputation of being honest,
competent and full of integrity. The late Antonio Ma. Nieva described Zumel in
his one of his columns: "an ace reporter for the Herald, an Ilokano of
slight built with a hair-trigger temper and a heart that has never stopped
bleeding for the downtrodden, in whose cause he would forsake everything in 1972
to take up the life of a fugitive revel."
recounted the Zumel of pre-martial law years as "a soft touch who packed a
Colt 45 and gave out small loans and never collected them back, who would part
with his bottom peso just so some starving street Arab could have coffee and
pandesal (bread), who brought home stray kittens, and sang away the day's
unhappiness at the National Press Club Bar up to the 'wee hours of the
accounts of Zumel's newspaper years are peppered with colorful anecdotes,
including one of swimming stark naked across the Pasig River in a race against
three other reporters. He was also a dashing King Arthur in a production mounted
by the NPC.
martial law was declared in 1972, Zumel went underground, as then President
Ferdinand Marcos ordered the arrest of progressive journalists and the closure
of selected newspapers. He joined other revolutionary leaders like Satur Ocampo
and formed the National Democratic Front.
the underground, Zumel wrote about the Filipino people and his dreams of
liberation and democracy. He was among the first members of the editorial group
of Liberation, the official organ of NDF, and Balita ng Malayang Pilipinas,
NDF's news agency. When deployed for a time in the Ilocos region, Zumel also
edited Dangadang, the underground regional paper. In the late '80s before
leaving for Europe, he was handling the publication of Ang Bayan, the CPP's
official organ and was member of the CPP Propaganda Commission.
he was in The Netherlands, he was editor of the international edition of
Liberation and wrote for the Information Office of the NDF. He also represented
the revolutionary movement in various activities.
was appointed senior adviser of the NDF peace negotiation panel. A meticulous
writer who never allowed himself to be caught with an error, he played a
valuable role in helping prepare the various documents for the peace talks.
the speech for the peace conference that he prepared but never got to read,
Zumel said, "Those of us who joined the movement in its infancy in the late
1960s or early 1970s are getting on in years. Among the most senior in years
compared to the young people in our movement, I am myself approaching my 69th
and will soon be gone.
of us who are getting on in years can only look with satisfaction and pride at
the swelling ranks of the revolutionary movement that now fights for our
people's national and democratic rights -- and in the future, for
news of his impending arrival spread last April, several of his friends decided
to host a welcome home party for Zumel. It was supposed to be participated in
by, among others, his colleagues in the NPC and former comrades in the
underground. The invitation was simply titled, "Nice to see you again,
Antonio Zumel, a.k.a. Antomel, Batang Club, Ka Nonong."
he was rushed to the hospital upon arrival, the doctors advised against the
activity. His friends then made do with visiting him one at a time in the
various hospital rooms he was confined in until he was flown back to The
Netherlands in July.
Augus 17 gathering and tribute to Zumel concluded with a 10-minute video on his
life and struggle.
Ilagan of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and Dr. Carol Araullo of
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (National Patriotic Alliance) hosted the program.
Progressive artists painted a mural of Zumel, which served as a backdrop for
speakers and performers.
photo exhibit showing Zumel from childhood to media and underground days was set