Tribute to Monico Ka Togs Atienza

Well - loved revolutionary and teacher

 

Part I (this page)      Part II       Part III - Parangal ng mga Kabataan   

 

Part IV - Parangal ng FQSM and March to UP Campus

 

December 6, 2007

 

 

April 23, 2005: 4th Anniversary of FQSM January 21, 2006: Bantayog ng mga Bayani

We know that Comrade Togs is strong and defiant. We would not be surprised if he overcomes his present condition and continues contributing to the advancement of the Philippine revolution. Whatever happens to him, we are sure that his is a worthy and glorious life and role in history.

 

-- From the testimonial of Jose Maria Sison in January 2007

 

Feb. 15, 2006: launching of the 2006 edition of PSR  
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Tribute to Monico Atienza

By the Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom

December 6, 2007

 

 

The Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom conveys its deepest condolence and sorrow to the family, colleagues and comrades of Prof. Monico Atienza. Ka Nic as he was fondly called passed away yesterday, December 5.

 

Ka Nic will be remembered for his intensity and determination to carry out the people’s interest even during the darkest hours of martial law. He suffered severe and grave physical and mental torture at the hands of the enemies upon his arrest in 1974. The brutal enemy tried to break him to betray the revolution and his comrades. But he stood firm and militant putting the safety and interest of the revolutionary movement and the comrades foremost in his mind.

 

Ka Nic would talk about the suffering of the majority of the people under the rule of the small minority of the reactionary classes; how each one has a role to play in the national democratic struggle of the masses; and how the movement should muster resources for the revolution. If there is an epitome of simple living and hard work, it was Ka Nic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He had many stories to share with the young members of the movement. He always put stress on the lessons to be learned from past experiences. He was always careful that they do not romanticize the struggle. It was his way of preparing others for the long, arduous and formidable fight ahead. One of his favourite quotes was “revolution was no picnic”.  But although Ka Nic was a very serious person, he was also a comrade who could be funny. He had this deadpan humour.

 

Ka Nic was a wellspring of ideas and efforts to enrich, develop and propagate the Pilipino national language.  The Pilipino language is abundant and alive in his prose and poetry. His poetry is a study of the purity of the language.

 

And now we say goodbye to Ka Nic who will forever be remembered as the people’s teacher, poet, friend and comrade.

 

 

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BAYAN USA Salutes the Life and Work of Monico Atienza
For a Life of Service to the Filipino People (1948-2007)

Very rarely in our people's history do individuals stand out for their great practice of service to their fellow Filipinos, even in the midst of the utmost repression and adversity. It is with honor that the members of BAYAN USA salute the life and work of Monico "Sir Nick" Atienza, a professor of Filipino literature at the University of the Philippines (UP), who quietly passed away last night after being comatose for more than year.

People like Sir Nick live on in the people they inspire to continue with the revolutionary task of arousing, organizing, and mobilizing the Filipino people to struggle for basic social change in the Philippines. In his case, Sir Nick inspired not only scores and scores of his young students at UP, but even his contemporaries as a young student activist with the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) during the tumultuous eve of Martial Law known as the First Quarter Storm (FQS) in the late 1960's into the 1970's.

For his work as a student leader and activist, Sir Nick went underground in 1972 upon the declaration of Martial Law. In the underground, he was simply known as Ka Togs. His work and friendship with then-CPP Chairperson Jose Maria Sison placed him in the CPP's Central Committee.

In 1974, Atienza was arrested and detained by the military. He underwent unspeakable physical and psychological torture, including an overdose of truth serum. After he surfaced back to the above-ground movement, he continued on by helping to found the Partido Ng Bayan (PnB), the first truly progressive partylist of its time and a precursor of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela Women's Party today.

In an ambush on PnB leaders by a suspected military death squad in 1987, Atienza was seriously wounded, together with PnB senatorial candidate Bernabe Buscayno who was a leader of the New People's Army (NPA) during Martial Law. Even a severe injury to the head and leg that never fully healed did not deter Nick from continuing on with his activism.

When asked decades later by one of his students why he did not apply for the compensation offered to victims of torture under the Marcos Regime, he simply replied "No amount of money could ever make up for what they did to me."

Sir Nick continued on with his activism as a UP Professor and President of the First Quarter Storm Movement (FQSM) till the day of his death. He had suffered a severe heart attack last year as well as a surgical extraction of a mysterious mass found growing in his throat. The impact of both had placed him in a coma for the last year of his life.

We in BAYAN USA, although thousands of miles away from our motherland and from the homefront of our struggle, will learn great lessons from Sir Nick's selfless example and strive to continue with his legacy of great and humble service to our compatriots.

MABUHAY SI SIR NICK!
MABUHAY ANG FQSM!

 

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Ka Togs at the FQSM 4th Anniversary

April 23, 2005

Click here to go to FQSMovement Website
           
           

At the Bantayog ng mga Bayani to commemorate the anniversary of the First Quarter Storm

January 21, 2006

           

 

 Monico M. Atienza: A Life Worth Fighting For

His friends and relatives described Monico Atienza's stubborn will to live, in the face of a most life-threatening debilitation, as very characteristic of the man. This kind of courage, they say - together with the man's extraordinary conviction and abilities - enabled him to live the kind of life he has chosen, unmindful of the obstacles that came his way.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat

The atmosphere at the University of the Philippines (UP) Film Center the night of January 25 was both light and serious. There were occasional bursts of laughter from the audience as speakers talked of the man's mood swings and short temper. A serious mood, however, would be apparent as the speakers discussed the man's unwavering resolve to serve the people.

“Bugnutin siya, siguro, dahil masyado siyang maraming iniisip at iniintindi” (His temper is short, maybe because there are too many things on his mind), said Prof. Vina Paz, chair of the UP Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature. “Y'ong pagiging bugnutin, ganoon na talaga siya mula pagkabata” (He had a short temper even in his youth), said his nephew Adolfo Atienza.

But even as they made some fun of the man's having a short fuse, the speakers and the audience were in awe of the kind of life the man has lived thus far. “Madali siyang maging inspirasyon, dahil sa kanyang salita at gawa” (It is easy to be inspired by him because of his words and deeds), said UP Faculty Regent Prof. Roland Simbulan.

The subject of all these was activist, writer, and UP professor Monico M. Atienza who was given a tribute by fellow activists, colleagues, former classmates, students and friends.

Atienza suffered a heart attack last Dec. 23, while attending the wake of First Quarter Storm (FQS) activist Selma Salvador at the Bustillos Church in Sampaloc, Manila. An undetected mass in his throat blocked his breath, leading to successive heart seizures.

Award-winning playwright Bonifacio Ilagan, chair of the First Quarter Storm Movement of which Atienza is president, said that he had noticed that Atienza had difficulty breathing even as they were in the taxi on the way to Salvador's wake. “Lingon nang lingon yung drayber, inaalala siguro yung pasaherong hirap huminga.” (The driver kept turning his head, perhaps worrying about the passenger who had a hard time breathing.) Ilagan asked Atienza if he was fine, and the latter said that he was.

At Salvador's wake, Ilagan said, Atienza was at one point brought to an adjacent room within the Bustillos Church, in the hope that it would ease his breathing. After a few minutes, someone told Ilagan that they should bring Atienza to the hospital.

Atienza insisted that he was still fine and even walked by himself as they went to the nearby Mary Chiles Hospital, Ilagan said. But when they got to Mary Chiles, Ilagan felt he had to assist Atienza who lost consciousness a few minutes later.

After a few days Atienza was transferred to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), also in Manila, where he remains confined.

During his first few days of hospital confinement, Atienza was hooked to a respirator. Within a few days of his transfer to the PGH, however, he was able to begin breathing by himself. He is also said to be now able to respond to communication: When a few friends visited him at the PGH one day and told him, “Nick, kung naririnig mo kami, sumipa ka” (Nick, if you can hear us, throw a kick), he raised his leg slightly.

“Parang inaaway mo si Kamatayan” (It is as though you are fighting Death), said FQSM member Jake Abad in a poem for Atienza that he recited at the tribute.

His friends and relatives described Atienza's stubborn will to live, in the face of a most life-threatening debilitation, as very characteristic of the man. This kind of courage, they say - together with the man's extraordinary conviction and abilities - enabled him to live the kind of life he has chosen.

Born to a lower-middle class family in Cuenca, Batangas (a Tagalog province south of Manila), Atienza displayed his remarkable abilities early on in life.

“Nick, as he is known fondly by countless friends, was my classmate in the Far Eastern University Boys High School (FEU-BHS) up to 1964,” writes journalist-activist Hermie Garcia, a political detainee during Martial Law who is now based in Canada together with his wife Mila Astorga, also a journalist-activist. “He was our class president, valedictorian and student council president. With those distinguished achievements at a very young age, our teachers predicted he would have a very distinguished career in whatever profession he would soon choose.”

His graduation as class valedictorian in 1965 made him a recipient of a scholarship at FEU where he took business and finance while many of his friends went to UP. He joined the FEU chapter of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM or Patriotic Youth), and together with a number of schoolmates went on a two-month visit to China which was then a socialist country.

Shortly after their return to the Philippines, Atienza transferred to UP where he took up literature, and there he joined the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP), a progressive study group of which he eventually became president. He also got involved in the broad alliance Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN), which had Sen. Lorenzo Tañada as its chair and then KM Chair and UP Professor Jose Maria Sison as its secretary-general. In the late 1960s he became the KM's secretary-general, and was holding this position when the First Quarter Storm – a series of massive demonstrations against the Marcos administration – happened in 1970.

He went underground shortly before then President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in September 1972. Sison said that Atienza who became known as Ka (comrade) Togs in the underground movement headed the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) National Organizing Committee (NOD) and was also a member of its Central Committee.

In 1974, Atienza was arrested and detained by the military. He underwent severe physical and psychological torture, including an overdose of truth serum. Based on old fact sheets prepared by human rights groups, Atienza's torture caused him to suffer a mental breakdown and seriously impaired his health. At one point he had to be confined at the V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City.

He was detained for six years. Upon his release he went back to UP to finish his studies and eventually teach Filipino. He actively helped in the committee campaigning for the release of Sison who was arrested in 1977 and was also heavily tortured.

Atienza played a prominent part in founding and organizing the Partido ng Bayan (PnB or People's Party), a progressive political party which fielded congressional candidates in the 1987 elections under the Aquino administration.

In an ambush on PnB leaders by a suspected military death squad in 1987, Atienza was seriously wounded, together with PnB senatorial candidate Bernabe Buscayno who was a leader of the New People's Army (NPA) during Martial Law. A shrapnel remains embedded in Atienza's head and a leg wound he sustained from the attack has not healed to this day.

In spite of all these, however, Atienza has remained unfazed. He has continued to propagate progressive ideas in his work as both a teacher and a writer. In various capacities he has extended help to several people's organizations.

At the PGH Atienza continues to fight for his life - and, by all accounts, rightly so, for his is an extraordinary life worth fighting for.

As Sison said in his testimonial to Atienza released on Jan. 7:

Alam nating matibay at palaban si Ka Togs. Hindi tayo magugulat kung makakatawid siya sa kasalukuyang kalagayan at magpapatuloy sa pag-ambag sa pagsusulong ng rebolusyong Pilipino. Anuman ang mangyari sa personal na katayuan niya, natitiyak nating makabuluhan at maningning ang kanyang buhay at papel na ginampanan sa kasaysayan.

(We know that Comrade Togs is strong and defiant. We would not be surprised if he overcomes his present condition and continues contributing to the advancement of the Philippine revolution. Whatever happens to him, we are sure that his is a worthy and glorious life and role in history.) Bulatlat

 

 

Click here to go to page:

Celebrating the 36th anniversary of the FQS:

Diwa ng FQS, Ipagtagumpay! Jan. 21, 2006

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
           
           

At the launching of the 2006 edition of Philippine Society and Revolution

February 15, 2006

           

 

From the UPAlumni.net
A site for University of the Philippines alumni
http://www.upalumni.net/

 

 

Prof. Atienza was a well-loved teacher and activist prominently known in the national democratic movement. He went into a coma in December last year after a heart attack.

In a letter soliciting financial support, his colleagues provided this backgrounder on Prof. Atienza:

Atienza was the president of the First Quarter Storm (FQS) Movement, an organization of activists in the 1960s and 1970s. In various ways, he has continuously helped and inspired activists of people’s organizations and institutions, especially the youth and students.

As a political prisoner during martial law, Monico was heavily tortured and held in solitary confinement. Government intelligence claimed that he was a ranking member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines and head of its National Organization Department when he was arrested in 1974. Released in 1977, he went back to the university.

As secretary-general of the militant Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic Youth) in the late 1960s, he was among the indefatigable architects of the youth and student activism that eventually expanded to help establish today’s formidable progressive mass movement in the Philippines.

In 1987, he survived an assassination attempt by a death squad of the Philippine military which claimed the lives of two colleagues. Monico’s health, already deteriorated by the torture in 1974, all the more worsened with the injuries he sustained in the incident. A shrapnel remains embedded in his head and a leg
wound would not heal to this day.

 

Pagpupugay kay Monico Atienza –ni Renato Reyes, BAYAN Secretary General 

 

     
           
 

 

Click here to go to page:

Launching the 5th edition of Philippine Society and Revolution, Feb. 15, 2006

 

 
           

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