For the dedication of the Alexander Martin Remollino Library
Those who had the honor of sharing the life journey of Alexander Martin Remollino can witness with me that Alex had an exceptional ability to remember information. When Alex and I first started our relationship, I remember commenting as to how impressed I was with all of the statistics and details that Alex had ready for use in his mind. He smiled proudly and, with a hand propped on his leg, informed me that he takes seriously the task of being intellectually prepared. Alex went on to reveal that he scheduled time for reading each week. In his perspective, a good activist was one who is not only capable in political theory and current events, but who also has developed a grasp of science, literature, culture, and communication.
As a journalist, Alex covered his news beat diligently—he stored away information on congressmen and senators, he studied the various actors in Peacetalks, he spent a day riding with a jeepney driver and innumerable hours absorbing the people’s protests, and Alex listened sincerely during interviews. It was with genuine interest and quiet confidence that Alex sought to bring the truth to the Filipino people through his writing. I will never forget the unmatched joy of accomplishment that Alex expressed when he uncovered the government distortion in defining unpaid household help as employment. He exuded satisfaction for he had exposed the truth to the people while also demonstrating competence with statistics. Likewise, when Alex returned from his Fact-Finding Missions to Mindanao, he animatedly compared his first-hand experience to that of his previous research and interviews on the Bangsamoro reality. Alex beamed with honor at being included in scholarly works from CenPEG and IBON as well as seeing his work in various poetry collections. Alex enjoyed engaging new disciplines and applying them as an activist; his happiness was clear when he could serve the people through skills in research, interviewing, analysis and especially creative and news writing.
As many of us experienced, Alex was a particularly serious person. He often expressed disdain for nonsensical behavior, irrelevant small talk, and illogical reasoning. Alex had high standards. When many were engaged in the distractions of pop culture, personal mini-dramas, and the latest telenovela or talkshow, Alex observed the world, read, and thought. For Alex, an evening dissecting a CHR hearing on the Morong 43 to develop with clarity “Who is Mario Condes?” as a method to expose the military’s lies was filled with laughter and revelry—this service to political prisoners was a passion worth his evening hours, but still pure delight. Similarly, Alex always made time to accept invitations for poetry workshops and speaking engagements (especially those coming from the youth), to plan and participate in KM64 events and to have social time with his friends. These were all worthy and enjoyable, though equally venues to nurture critical and creative thought and commitment to the people’s agenda. Alex’s ideas often took shape in poems urging us to become more, to rise to the challenge of struggle, and to reflect deeply on the needs of the masses. Some comment on how quickly Alex wrote—in my observation, this was merely an expression of how deeply Alex thought and how much information he had already internalized.
Keeping up with Alex sometimes felt daunting. Initially he expected me to remember information after the first telling, but as time passed he grew to accept that for certain information, I would turn to him. He would patiently reply to my fifth text in as many months asking for the current statistics on Extra-Judicial Killings or what were the best issues and examples to lift up on the government’s latest scandals. I knew his information was always reliable and his perspectives sensible. In the same way, as I focused on my own tasks in educating Church members and visitors on the cultural and social context of the Philippines, I noticed that I began to depend on Alex to explain certain parts of the political situation. Alex’s eyes always lit up as he explained Philippine politics and realities to interested visitors, so much so that even I was energized as Alex excitedly delivered details and anecdotes. I grew accustomed to the ease with which I could answer difficult questions. I would merely smile and respond, “Ask Alex.”
Ask Alex… something that we can no longer physically do, but a powerful metaphor by which we can engage our world. We must be like Alex, reveling in deep thoughts and striving to master new disciplines in service to the people. This library is a tangible reminder that we can passionately and methodically rise to the challenge of struggle and dig deep to develop our abilities and analysis as activists and workers of the movement. We can dare to be like Alex–search engines of knowledge and wisdom hard-earned through diligent reading, research, study, and interaction with the masses. With unwavering principles and focus impermeable to pop culture’s numbing distractions, we are the ones who can bring, with the urgency needed today, the answers of Alex and all great kasama gone before. We do not start empty-handed as we have with us the resources, writings and commitment of people like Alex wise beyond their years. Alex was a gentle wind and a raging storm–he would rage for us to raise our level of capability, while assuring us that we have potential within us to be better than the best, as long as we are in service to the people.
We thank the community of friends and comrades that have shared their hands and hearts in making this library possible. The Bayan National, Bulatlat.com and Ibon Foundation staffs, members of Artists Arrest, Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Promotion of Church People’s Response, and especially KM64 have all played significant roles. We also want to thank Ms. Mennie Ruth Viray, who has graciously volunteered as Librarian Consultant. And we give thanks to the entire Cosmos and all who shaped Alex’s life for the opportunity to celebrate Alex’s legacy through this library project.
May we not tire in our service to the people’s struggle, but may we also listen to our need for health and rest—in mind, body and spirit. Alex will continue to be with us in our struggle for freedom and democracy. The Alexander Remollino Library is for all of us–a place to reflect and remember, a place to dream and strategize, a place to create and be inspired, and a place where we can become more prepared for and committed to liberating the struggling masses from oppression and foreign domination. May we not forget to share the search engine of Alex Remollino—in us, Alex will go on to infinity, and together, we will taste victory!