‘Beloved sons’ of Sta Cruz: Thousands flock plaza to honor NPA fighters

SORSOGON— Thousands of people from all walks of life from all over the Bicol Region flocked to Barangay Sta. Cruz in Casiguran town Sunday night. They came to honor the two fallen New People’s Army (NPA) fighters Andres Hubilla and Miguel Himor in a unique tribute.

Progressive songs blared throughout the community. Flags of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), NPA and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) lined up the plaza. The villagers carried and arranged chairs for the visitors while children ran around as if a fiesta was being celebrated.

Before darkness fell, the caskets of Hubilla and Himor were transferred from their respective homes to the plaza. They were placed on the stage amidst flowers and banners. An announcer periodically told the gathering crowd the tribute for two of Sta. Cruz’s most beloved sons shall start on time.

Hubilla was Ka Magno, Ka Carlo, or Ka Bunso to the NPA while he was “Pay Magno” to the peasants and fisher folk of this southernmost Luzon province. For nearly three decades, he was among the leaders of the storied Celso Minguez Command of the NPA that government troops failed to crush through countless counter-insurgency operations from the Corazon Aquino to the current Rodrigo Duterte governments.

Hubilla: A teacher to the end

But it was the brutal Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship that turned a quiet and conscientious student to a legendary NPA commander in Hubilla. While still a 14-year old Grade Four student on his way home from school, he was stopped by troops from then Philippine Constabulary (PC), tortured, arrested and imprisoned for 75 days. Upon his release, he was again accosted, tortured and arrested by the PC. He quietly joined the Kabataang Makabayan soon after while resuming his studies and being a working student.

“It was nearly inconceivable that Andres would become an activist because he was focused on his studies and in his work as a house boy. In fact, he was my best student in English,” Ma’am ‘Cely’ told AlterMidya.

Through sheer determination and hard work, Hubilla finished his teacher’s course at Anunciation College in Sorsogon and was immediately hired as a high school teacher at his alma mater’s campus in Gubat town.

There, he became a very popular teacher who got along famously with his students. Teaching remained a life-long passion with Hubilla even when he was already with the NPA.

“He was responsible for sending hundreds of peasant children to school by asking benefactors for scholarships. He also spearheaded repairs and enhancements of many schools throughout the province. I wonder what would become of his education projects now that he is gone,” Ma’am Cely said.

Himor: A ‘regular’ route to becoming a guerilla

Himor, on the other hand, took a more regular route to becoming a revolutionary fighter. Also a son to poor peasants like his distant uncle Hubilla, poverty forced “Ka Billy” to find a job as a store errand boy in Metro Manila.

There, he realized that contractual workers like him would never be able to escape poverty and lifelong servitude without drastic social reforms. As soon as turned 18, he went back to this province and asked to be drafted into the NPA.

“Ka Billy showed early his potential of becoming a good fighter and organizer. He was a jolly fellow, joking about his self-declared good looks to crack people up. But he convinced a barrio maiden he was indeed good looking enough and they soon got married. They have a baby barely a year old,” the CPP in Bicol said.

Himor was only 21 when he was killed on July 28 along with Hubilla and civilians Arnel Borres and Dick Laura a few kilometers away from where their bodies lie in state in Barangay Sta. Cruz.

Funeral march

Thousands of supporters are expected to participate in today’s funeral of the fallen NPA fighters.
A five-kilometer march from Barangay Sta. Cruz will precede a funeral mass at Casiguran’s Catholic church before a noontime internment, family members said.

“It will be one of the biggest funeral marches this town shall ever hold with not just barrio mates and relatives but with hundreds of supporters from all the Bicol provinces,” a CPP member said.

Hubilla and Himor would be interred at Casiguran Cemetery.

“Ka Magno and Ka Billy’s heroism and service will serve as as inspiration to the people of Sorsogon to continue the fight for liberation and social justice,” the NPA’s Celso Minguez Command said in a statement. # Report by Raymund B. Villanueva / Altermidya