On the Death of more than a Bosom Friend
By Rudy D. Liporada
I am grieving the death of more than a bosom friend.
According to the Philippine Military, Julius Soriano Giron, a high-ranking member of the New People’s Army (NPA), resisted arrest and exchange fire with them resulting to his death last March 13, 2020 at 3:00 in the morning in Baguio City. Along with him, died a Dr. Maria Lourdes Tangco and an aide. According to other sources, the military rammed the door while the three were asleep and barged in with their guns blazing.
Julius was reported to be sick and being treated for illnesses borne from his getting old.
His death brings back memories of our kinship as fraternity brothers at the University of the Philippines in Baguio City. He was then enrolled as an engineering student. As described by one of his sisters, Nenet, Julius carried over from Baguio City High School his “different charisma, easily gaining friends, socializing, always jolly.” These traits endeared him to me as we engaged in social activities off and on campus. Oh! Yes, he could dance and sing which made him a favorite of his teachers while at the Quezon Elementary School.
The seventh of eight children, Julius is the son of former Baguio City Assistant Auditor Blas Giron and former Purificacion Soriano from Lingayen, Pangasinan. Due to the deep religiosity of the family, Julius became a sacristan serving mass for the friars at Dominican Hill. Nenet muses at a time when Julius came home after an Easter Sunday mass. “He was elated that he had the chance to serve mass for the Marcos family – not knowing that it would be Marcos who would incarcerate him years later.”
“Then came the DGs (discussion groups),” Nenet said. “…many meetings more which started his search for justice and love of country. His idealism went deep…deeper and deepened till his sweat and blood alone is not enough.”
Julius’s search led him to become a member of the Kabataang Makabayan. He then left the University to be a fulltime activist, immersing himself with the labor sector involved with transportation, energy, and mining. He would eventually be incarcerated during the Marcos martial law. He would escape and carry on in the struggle in the Cordillera Mountains with the NPAs.
I still can still see his fierce face and veins coursing his arms when he clenches his fist whenever he declaims his favorite poem during the earlier First Quarter Storm cultural presentations of urban activists. His image on the stage reciting “Kung Tuyo na ang Luha Mo, Aking Bayan” are etched in my memory. He would recite the poem while “Ang Gabing Lubhang Mapanglaw” plays as background.
Here is the poem written by Amado V. Hernandez
Lumuha ka, aking Bayan; buong lungkot mong iluha
Ang kawawang kapalaran ng lupain mong kawawa:
Ang bandilang sagisag mo’y lukob ng dayong bandila,
Pati wikang minana mo’y busabos ng ibang wika,
Ganito ring araw nang agawan ka ng laya,
Labintatlo ng Agosto nang saklutin ang Manila,
Lumuha ka, habang sila ay palalong nagdiriwang,
Sa libingan ng maliit, ang malaki’y may libangan;
Katulad mo ay si Huli, na aliping bayad utang,
Katulad mo ay si Sisa, binaliw ng kahirapan;
Walang lakas na magtanggol, walang tapang na lumaban,
Tumataghoy kung paslangin; tumatangis kung nakawan!
Iluha mo ang sambuntong kasawiang nagtalakop
Na sa iyo’y pampahirap, sa banyaga’y pampalusog:
Ang lahat mong kayamana’y kamal-kamal na naubos,
Ang lahat mong kalayaa’y sabay-sabay na natapos;
Masdan mo ang iyong lupa, dayong hukbo’y nakatanod,
Masdan mo ang iyong dagat, dayong bapor nasa laot!
Lumuha ka kung sa puso ay nagmaliw na ang layon,
Kung ang araw sa langit mo ay lagi nang dapithapon,
Kung ang alon sa dagat mo ay ayaw nang magdaluyong,
Kung ang bulkan sa dibdib mo ay hindi man umuungol,
Kung wala nang maglalamay sa gabi ng pagbabangon,
Lumuha ka nang lumuha’t ang laya mo’y nakaburol.
May araw ding ang luha mo’y masasaid, matutuyo,
May araw ding di na luha sa mata among namumugto
And dadaloy, kundi apoy, at apoy na kulay dugo,
Samantalang ang dugo mo ay aserong kumukulo;
Sisigaw kang buong giting sa liyab ng libong sulo
At ang lumang tanikala’y lalagutin mo ng punglo!
And here is the song I am singing for Julius now.
Ang gabing lubhang mapanglaw,
Lipos ng kadaliman.
Nasadlak and kanyang buhay
Dahil sa iyo bayan.
Ang kanyang simulain,
Tigmak ng dugo’t luha
Ay dapat nating itaguyod
Hanggang sa wakas.
Red Salute to you, Julius. Your death is heavier than the Cordillera Mountains.