Today is the 85th birth anniversary of stage and film actor and director Benjamín Roberto “Behn” Holcombe Cervantes, founder of the University of the Philippines Repertory Company. He was also a founding member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, the Philippines Education Theater Association and the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino.
Thrice imprisoned for his activism and opposition to the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Cervantes became one of the most recognized freedom of expression campaigners of the Philippines until his death in 2013.
During his second incarceration at the Bicutan Jail in Taguig in January 1978, Cervantes wrote to his family: “The history of the case is of course my consistent position as opposition to martial law and my work in the university as a teacher and a director. During these past few years, I have become known as one of the most vocal dissenters. My movie, Sakada, and my plays, especially the last one, Pagsambang Bayan, show the exploitative nature of this system, the evils the ruling class commit on the many, the need to change the order of things.”