By RANDY FELIX P. MALAYAO
In honor of a beloved friend, faithful revolutionary, and genuine servant of the Filipino people, I am accommodating in Bandillo this week the tribute of the NDFP to Leonardo “Ka Zola” Manahan. We were together in the youth and students movement, and at one time or another, as peace consultant, I have been in coordination with him relative to advancing the GRP-NDFP peace process.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) pays the highest tribute to Leonardo Manahan, 48, of Bangued, Abra, who died due to an illness. The brave son of Abra breathed his last on April 14, 2017 surrounded by the mountain peaks of his beloved Gran Cordilleras and the masses he served.
Ka Zola (also known as “Ka Ugis,” “Ka Nante” and “Ka Emil” among the Cordillera masses, and “Ka Tolayts”, “Ka Daniel” and “Ka Dario” in the youth and student movement) was a fearless NPA warrior and well-loved by the masses for bringing light and hope to communities. His name is now etched on the pantheon of thousands of revolutionary heroes who showed unwavering dedication to the revolutionary cause and exemplified selflessness, self-sacrifice, simple living and arduous struggle.
Before he joined the New People’s Army, Ka Tolayts was an exemplary student leader and organizer. He first became an activist at Lapiang Makabayan in the University of the East-Recto campus where he studied Political Science. In 1992, he was elected chairperson of the militant League of Filipino Students-UE Chapter and went on to become LFS-NCR Regional Chair in 1994-1995. He was also a member of the National Secretariat of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines for a brief period.
During the Second Great Rectification Movement, he was one of the student activist-leaders who conducted recovery work and led anti-revisionist struggles in Metro Manila schools and urban poor communities. Comrades remember him for being a forceful debater against revisionists and reactionary elements, a skill sharpened by endless educational discussions he attended as both student and instructor. He was a tireless organizer who always knew where his revolutionary ardor would lead him: armed revolutionary struggle.
A jolly fellow, Ka Tolayts endeared himself to comrades, fellow youth and students and the urban poor he organized with endless jokes, funny stories and infectious laughter. Never one to put himself above comrades and organizational unity, he obediently submitted himself to Communist Party of the Philippines discipline during times of personal crises.
In 1999-2000, he transferred to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa, Manila where he became the Party Section Committee Secretary. At this time, he was nominated to become a member of the National Youth and Student Bureau. As part of his organizing work at PUP, he was briefly deployed to the then Provisional National Teachers Bureau to help organize professors and non-teaching personnel in the country’s biggest university.
In 2000, he heeded the call to help strengthen the YS movement in the Ilocos-Cordillera Region and eventually became one of the leading committee members of the Regional Youth and Students Bureau. Because of his capabilities and dedication to the revolutionary movement, he was later promoted to be part of the Regional Urban Committee in ICR and helped in the formation of the Ilocos White Area Committee in 2003.
In 2003, he joined the New People’s Army. It had been his long-time desire to join the armed struggle in the countryside. He was first deployed in the Ilocos provinces.
In June 2005, he was arrested with a comrade in Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte following a firefight with the AFP. They were charged with rebellion and detained at the Ilocos Norte Provincial Jail. This did not stop him from serving the Filipino people. His morale was not subdued. Instead, he became more resolute to carry on with the armed struggle. Immediately upon his release in August 2006, he rejoined the NPA and resumed leading roles in Ilocos, Abra, Mountain Province.
Sometime in 2009, in yet another firefight with fascist Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troops, he suffered multiple wounds. As soon as his wounds healed, he rejoined his NPA comrades and resumed revolutionary work.
At the time of his death, he was the Secretary of the Front Committee of Ifugao and a leading regional cadre of ICR, fulfilling his promise as one of the best the youth can offer the Filipino people and the revolution.
The Filipino masses, the Cordillera peoples and the revolutionary allied organizations of the NDFP salute Comrade Leonardo Manahan for his honor, courage, unfailing dedication and ultimate sacrifice to the revolutionary cause. May his children and loved ones take comfort from the fact that his comrades and the masses he selflessly served draw strength and inspiration from his heroism. # nordis.net