Today is the 91st birth anniversary of Antonio Zumel II, a pioneer of unionism among media workers. A former national president of the National Press Club, he was proclaimed a hero of the Philippines in 2016 at his name’s inclusion at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani.
Acknowledged by his peers as an impeccable writer, including former House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Zumel worked as reporter at The Philippine Herald and editor at the Manila Bulletin. He went underground on the night Ferdinand Marcos Sr. declared martial law on September 22, 1972. He went on to edit the underground newsletter Ang Bayan of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Liberation and its news service Balita ng Malayang Pilipino of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and regional newsletter Dangadang.
After Marcos was deposed in 1986, Zumel served as member of the NDFP Negotiating Panel in its peace negotiations with the Corazon Aquino government. In 1990, he was elected chairperson of the NDFP while seeking political asylum in The Netherlands. He died of kidney failure and diabetes in Europe in 2001.