Urban poor champion Carmen Deunida passes away

Carmen Deunida, founding chairperson of the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), died yesterday, Monday, July 19.

“It is with sadness that we announce that our great leader and founding chairperson has passed away at 93 years old,” Kadamay announced in Filipino.

Deunida was a 50 year old single mother in Leveriza in Manila when she became an activist and a community leader after listening to political discussions held in their house by youth groups her son was part of in 1978.

She was also a women’s rights advocate, being a victim of domestic violence.

Frail-looking but a master of rousing speeches, Deunida first gained prominence at anti-Joseph Estrada protest rallies and became among the most popular speakers in rallies against the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presidency.

She remained a critic even during the Benigno Aquino and Rodrigo Duterte administrations.

Lalaban hanggang may dugo. Titigil lang ako sa kapag ako’y nasa kabaong na!” was one of her most memorable and oft-repeated lines. (I will fight on while there is still blood in me. I will only stop when I am inside a coffin.)

Deunida’s popularity was instrumental in the establishment of Kadamay after the second people power uprising that ousted Estrada in 2001.

She witnessed the organization’s growth into the country’s biggest and most militant organization of the urban poor.

Deunida had been in an undisclosed hospital for several days before she died.

Deunida was the subject of the bio-documentary “Nanay Mameng” that won the 2012 Gawad Urian Best Documentary. Produced by Kodao Productions, it was written and directed by Adjani Arumpac.

Kadamay said it will soon announce schedules of tribute activities and Nanay Mameng’s internment. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)