Bayani Abadilla is not a simple teacher, poet and journalist. He lived a life dedicated to the Filipino people. From the dark days of martial rule, he went underground to fight the Marcos dictatorship and later on became a fighter in the cultural sphere. As what his colleague said, his mind is always fresh when it comes to matters of the Philippine revolution.
BY EMILY VITAL
Vol. VIII, No. 16, May 25-31, 2008
Bayani Abadilla or Ka Bay to colleagues succumbed to lymphoma this May 14. But his life will continue to inspire many young journalists, teachers and activists.
In a tribute organized by Pinoy Weekly, a progressive weekly newspaper, friends of Ka Bay recognized his contributions to the struggle for national freedom and genuine democracy. He served as the associate of the said weekly paper until the time of his death. The room at the Funeraria Paz along Araneta Avenue in Quezon City was too small for hundreds of former students, First Quarter Storm (FQS) activists, young journalists and friends who paid their last respects to Ka Bay.
Ilang-Ilang Quijano, features editor of Pinoy Weekly, described Ka Bay as a great editor. “Tinuruan niya kami kung paano palakasin ang teksto” (He taught us how to strengthen the text), Yet, Quijano said, Ka Bay was always humble and never acted all-knowing.
Kenneth Roland Guda, present editor-in-chief of the same publication, agreed. “Lagi siyang bukas sa pagbabago. Kahit master niya ang wikang Filipino, hindi niya pinipilit ang paggamit sa ilang mga salitang may ibang pakahulugan para sa iba” (He is always open to changes. Even though he had the master of the Filipino language, he never insisted on how certain words should be used.)
Ka Bay was always comradely, too, Guda described. In debates, Guda said Ka Bay was always “hot” or passionate. Guda said Ka Bay was assertive in matters of politics.
Romy de Jesus, who used to be president of Prometheus Publishing Corporation which publishes Pinoy Weekly, recalled the first few days of Ka Bay at the newspaper’s. “Ayaw niya sa modern technology kaya binilhan ko siya ng makinilya. Maririnig mo ang tikatik ng tiklado, ang kanyang pagkamuhi sa tinatawag niyang punerarya ng utak.” (He hated modern technology so I bought him a typewriter. You hear him hitting on the keys, raging against what he called the funeral parlor for the brain.)
Prestoline Suyat, former managing editor of Pinoy Weekly, related that the early years of the publication were tough. “Nagkakasigawan kami sa mga pagtatasa. Pero di ko kailanman narinig kay Ka Bay na ‘mali ka.’ Laging nagsasalubong, nagrerespetuhan. Tawanan na pagkatapos ng mga pagtatalo. At si Ka Bay, parang bata kung humagikgik” (Sometimes, during assessments, we raised our voices to one another. But I never heard Ka Bay say ‘you’re wrong.’ We always meet halfway, we maintain respect for one another. After every argument, we would soon find ourselves laughing again. And Ka Bay’s hearty laugh was like that of a child.)