Until 1986, perhaps there was not a single UP student who did not know or hear of Lean. Very articulate and eloquent speaker, intelligent writer, and yet very friendly and humble. He was a famous student leader in UP from around 1982-86. Then he graduated in 1986, became active with BAYAN, a nat-dem organization.
Lean rose to UP and national prominence at the dying years of the Marcos dictatorship (former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, ruled from 1965 to February 1986, almost 21 years). The military was king, especially from 1972 Martial Law declaration until its "lifting" in 1982 or 83. But this picture below was common until around January 1986. The police and military have long firearms ready behind batton-wielding policemen in the front.
Another good friend, Fidel Nemenzo (a marathoner, now a faculty member at UP Math Department, and UP Vice President for research), was shot in the back by the police in another anti-Marcos rally in 1984. If Fidel was not athletic that time, he could have died with so much blood that puffed out of his body before he was brought to a hospital.
Political assassination was common especially in the 70s. One can just disappear and never be heard after, especially if one is a lesser-known activist with high media prominence. Many young people, those who were born from mid-80s up, do not realize how brutal the Marcos dictatorship was.
And Lean Alejandro was the top student leader at that time nationwide. There were many other articulate student leaders like Elmer Mercado, Pepe Alcantara, Raffy Aquino, Chito Gascon, Gil delos Reyes, Kiko Pangilinan, Jolly Macuja, Louie Pangulayan, and so on. But Lean was an intellectual and physical tower of them all.
When Lean was killed in September 1987, I was in Amsterdam, Netherlands. I was attending a 3-months course on Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and the 4th Communist International. I was a Marxist socialist at that time, affiliated with the first openly socialist organization in the country, BISIG.
BISIG was openly socialist, BAYAN was nat-dem, the CPP-NPA line of passing by a "national democracy" (national, anti-imperialist; democracy, anti-feudal) stage first before marching to socialism. But even then, all left-leaning activists were angry, were enraged, at the murder of Lean. Political and philosophical differences are respected, murder is not.
Yesterday, there was a fun run at UP Diliman to commemorate Lean's death anniversary. I wasn't there, and feeling sorry about it.
Notice the media and corporate sponsors in the poster. Many key officials of these entities were friends and buddies of Lean that time, were moved and influenced by his intellectual power.
From the photos, hundreds came and participated in the fun run, although there were rain showers.
Lean's widow, Lidy Nacpil. She is a very lucky lady. She has the great opportunity to love and live with that intellectual giant of our time.
All photos above taken from The Great Lean Run facebook page.
I repost here some testimonies from two other friends, posted in their facebook walls yesterday.
Taong 1987 nang nagpasya akong bumalik sa pag-aaral ng batas sa Pamantasan. Noong gabi ng September 19, 1987, pauwi na ako sa Narra mula sa pag-aaral sa law library, may nakasulubong akong kaibigang humahangos na nagsabi sa aking "Binaril nila si Lean!". Dali-dali akong tumakbo papuntang dorm at marami nang mga residente ng Narra na nakakumpol sa TV room upang pakinggan ang malagim na balita. Narinig ko ang mga usap-usapan ng mga residente. Pinatay si Lean. Binaril sa ulo. 27 anyos lamang siya ng kitlan ng buhay. Nanghina ako sa sinapit ni Lean. Nanghinayang ako dahil hindi pangkaraniwang lider-estudyante si Lean. Magiting, matalino, matapang at mapanlikha; si Lean ay isang lider na ginagalang at hinahangaan, maging ng kanyang mga katunggali. Sa araw ng kanyang libing, hindi ako pumasok sa klase at sumama ako sa martsang naghatid kay Lean sa kanyang huling hantungan. Wala na si Lean, pero buhay pa rin siya sa puso ng sambayanang kanyang minahal at inalayan ng buhay. Hindi siya kailanman malilimutan.
(2) Kiko Pangilinan (former Senator, now Cabinet Secretary)
MARAMING SALAMAT, LEAN!
Isa kang naging inspirasyon sa libu-libong mga kabataan at estudyante nung dekada 80 at isa na ako doon.
Sabado din noon, September 19, 1987, dalawampu't walong taon nang nakalilipas nung tumawag sa akin sa bahay sa Philam Q. C ang isang kasamahan sa UP Student Council (UP Student Regent pa ako nung 1987) upang ipaabot sa akin ang balita na binaril siya sa harap ng kanilang opisina sa may Rosal street sa Quezon City. Dinala daw siya sa St Lukes Hospital sa E. Rodriguez. Yun lang daw ang balita sa mga oras na yon.
Dali dali akong nagbihis at namganeho ng sasakyan papunta ng ospital habang walang tigil na nagmumura at nilalabas ang galit sa kung sinuman ang nasa likod nung pagbabaril sa kanya. Sa tindi ng galit at walang tigil na pagmumura hindi ko na maalala paano ako umabot sa ospital. Pagdataing dun, nandun na sina Lidy at nandun din ang ilan sa mga kasamahan ni Lean sa BAYAN. Wala na daw si Lean. Hindi na umabot ng buhay sa ospital. Nanlumo ako. Nanghina at hindi makapaniwala sa mga pangyayari.
28 taon na ang nakalilipas ngunit hanggang sa ngayon naalala ko pa rin ang araw na yun. Malagim, malungkot, galit na galit at naghahanap ng paraan upang makapaghigante, parusahan ang mga salarin, makamtan ang hustisya.
Maraming salamat Lean sa iyong pamumuno sa aming mga estudyante na sumunod sayo sa hanay ng mga kabataan at mag-aaral.
It was both an honor and a privilege to have marched with you, Comrade.
We thank you for offering your life for the cause of freedom and genuine social change.