Shot between the eyes and declared brain dead, Bong Manlulu was not expected to come out alive from the Mendiola Massacre on January 22, 1987.
Then only 18 years old, Bong was among some 20,000 marchers who headed to Malacañang Palace, demanding distribution of lands to farmers and zero retention of estates by landowners. They were stopped at Mendiola Bridge.
Bong, now 43, said he was a student of the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB) when he joined Southern Luzon activists in going to Mendiola, where rallyists from different parts of the country were calling for “genuine land reform.”
Upon reaching Mendiola Bridge, however, the shocking happened. Government forces suddenly fired without warning at the marchers. Panic ensued and the marchers fled, scrambling to escape the bridge, a bloody sea of tattered streamers.
Bong, then an officer of the activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) recalled, “We hadn’t even stepped on the bridge when there was a first round of gunfire that was directed at the rallyists.”
“Everybody ducked and the command was to stay down, and the idea was for our national leaders in Bayan, the likes of Jimmy Tadeo, to negotiate and allow us to move forward to Malacañang Palace,” he said.
Bong said there was confusion everywhere. “It was true, like in the cartoons, that you would see bullets flying above your head and hitting people randomly,” he said.
Suddenly, there was another round of gunfire and although he was quick to duck, he saw his classmate standing.
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