By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — “Ang tunay na Kristiano ay nasa lansangan…” (True Christians are on the street…) so goes a popular song among church activists. But one of this year’s seven Bantayog ng mga Bayani honorees, an ordained deacon and teacher, did more than joining the parliament of the streets.
Alfredo Celi Cezar, Jr., the namesake of the New People’s Army’s provincial command in Ilocos Sur, joined the list of Martial Law heroes and martyrs in the Bantayog ng mga Bayani memorial.
The ceremony held on November 30 also paid tribute and inscribe the names of Ruth E. Dueñas (1959-1983), Erasto L. Librado (1947-1992), James M. Orbe (1950-1974), Baltazar A. Pinguel (1949-2017), Nestor L. Principe (1945-1973) and Edgar C. Ang Sinco (1952-1971).
According to his profile in the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation website, Alfredo was Born in Bolinao, Pangasinan on November 28, 1948 and grew to be a devout Catholic. At a young age, he desired to be a priest, serving as an altar boy and eventually taking his high school study in a seminary.
He went to the University of Santo Tomas for his college, graduating cum laude. He went on to take and finish theology and canon laws.
Inside the university and with the break of the First Quarter Storm, he joined the Kilusang Kristiyano ng Kabataang Pilipino. The organization’s study sessions and integration program with among the marginalized provided a deeper awakening for the young Alfredo.
When Martial Law was declared, he returned to his hometown and organized his provincemates to resist the dictatorship. In 1974 he left Bolinao and traveled to Baguio City where he became part of a team that undertook what activists call “social investigation and class analysis.”
After completing the task, he went to Ilocos Sur and volunteered in the parish of Fr. Zacarias Agatep and taught in a rural high school. He continued his organizing work and with the priest’s advocacy work among farmers, Alfredo became more familiar of their issues and struggles.
In his worked in the rural areas of Ilocos Sur, he witnessed widespread abuse both by the military and local political warlords. He eventually joined NPA in the province, taking the alias Ka Darwin.
The military killed Alfredo and Fr. Agatep on October 11, 1982 during a dawn attack in Barangay Baybayading in the upland town of Salcedo, Ilocos Sur.
In 1986, the Northern Luzon Human Rights Organization organized the Gabi ng Parangal para sa mga Biktima ng Karahasan in Baguio City where Alfredo was among those given recognition.
His citation during this year’s honoring ceremony read:
“For showing what Catholic believer can do in the face of systemic poverty and oppression, quietly but critically performing his various duties as deacon, as teacher and later as a parish worker;
For providing sanctuary to activists being hunted down by the Marcos military in his hometown of Bolinao, Pangasinan;
For his participation in undertaking the landmark research, “Northern Luzon Regional Social Investigation 1980.” Undertaken under very difficult martial law conditions; and
For exemplifying the Christian ideal of the greatest act of love when he and Catholic priest Zacarias Agatep they took on the rear guard to give their comrades a chance to escape the military raid.”# nordis.net