Fr. Ed and the Fourth of July


Fr. Ed dela TorreJuly 4 is American Independence Day.  In the Philippines, July 4 is Philippine-American Friendship Day and the day is marked with a double celebration by the Office of the President,  the American Embassy, the American Chamber of Commerce, American troops and CIA operatives in southern Mindanao and a handful of confused Filipino advocates for the annexation of the Philippines as the 51st state of the United States of America.  But this short article is not about the 1776 American declaration of independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.  It just happened that the date coincided with the visit of Edicio “Ed” dela Torre to my blog.  He even left a few kind words for me.  Was he thinking of Balangiga while browsing through my blog?

Ed is usually introduced with a “triple X (XXX)” lead:  ex-priest, ex-rebel, ex-political prisoner.  He embarked on his “triple X career” as a young idealistic priest during the socially convulsive years of the late sixties.  He organized and mobilized students, farmers and urban poor and took their cause to the streets and to the “gates of power”.  He joined the underground National Democratic Front during the martial law years, was captured twice and jailed for nine years as a political prisoner.  Released from prison when democracy was restored, Ed pioneered Popular Education (PopEd), an alternative educational approach directed toward the promotion of social change, which became a forerunner of Alternative Learning Systems (ALS).  He later went into self-exile in Europe during the rush of unresolved extra-judicial killings of former activists and political prisoners in the late eighties.  Ed worked for the cause of Filipino migrant and solidarity groups while in Europe.  He organized the “Education for Life Foundation” on his return home in early nineties and has since been the leading grassroots educator and advocate for politics of participation in the country.

I have known Ed from a “safe distance” during my college days in the late sixties and up close, but not quite personal, during his stint as Director General of TESDA.  Then and now, my admiration for his courage, conviction and integrity has not diminished a bit.  They don’t make good men like Fr. Ed anymore.

Author:  Rene “RC” Catacutan
Published 27 August 2009

Some still pictures of Ed

2009 photo of Ed’s family 

Ed marries Girlie

Ed and his cellmates at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, visited by Fr. Jaime Bulatao.




Unidentified old photo of Ed with fellow social activists.