Ruben Alegre

Roberto Alegre Lumaban (aka Ruben Alegre)

Born on 14 July 1949 in Mendez, Cavite, Ruben, together with his younger brother was left behind by their mother in the care of their grandparents when their father died.  Their mother eventually remarried.  Due to poverty, he had to work at a tender age and help their grandparents.  He went to school in the morning and sold balut and banana cue until midnight at the Crossing in Tagaytay City.

Ruben had to stop schooling several times to work for their living and was already 17 years old when he came back to continue his Grade V at Naic Elementary School.  He eventually graduated at Mendez Elementary School as salutatorian.  Despite studying and working at the same time, he graduated as valedictorian in secondary school in Cavite Community Academy at Naic, Cavite and later enrolled at the Philippine College of Commerce (PCC, now Polytechnic University of the Philippines or PUP) taking up Commerce major in Economics.

Ruben as a friend, son, father and brother to his family

Ruben is easy to get along with.  He is friendly, humble, understanding and helpful to others especially with the poor.  Although he had to work to help his grandparents, he always finds time to read and study his lessons even when he was in elementary and high school.

He was fond of gardening and taking care of animals such as chicken, turkey, and dogs.  He was very patient and tireless.   Although he was not too close to his siblings because they did not grew up together, Ruben was known for being fair and just to his family, friends and to other people.  He showed his love and concern for his mother and siblings although he lived separately from them for a long time.  When he got married, he became very close to the family of his wife.

Ruben as an activist

Ruben was a diligent student when he was in College.  Always thirsting to read and learn, he read all progressive materials available in PCC where he is enrolled.  Soon, he joined one of the mass organizations in school and became a student activist.  He was so involved with organizing fellow students and the masses that he later decided to drop out of school and became a full time activist.

When the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law on 21 September 1972, the military raided PCC where Ruben was studying.  Truckloads of student activists and progressive faculty members were herded and detained in various military camps and detention centers.

On 7 October 1972, Ruben was arrested and went missing for two weeks.  Relatives later found him detained at the military camp in Tejero, Rosario, Cavite.  A few days later, his relatives could not find him again.  They were told that Ruben escaped.  His relatives did not believe what the military told them and frantically searched for him in different detention centers.  After three days of searching, his relatives located him at the Provincial Command in Imus, Cavite where Marines based there made him to work like a slave.  He was made to cook, clean the barracks, and polish the shoes of the soldiers.

When he was released on 31 October 1972 through the help of a relative, he helped organize the farmers in Batangas and Quezon.  He was again arrested on 26 August 1984 in Las Piñas on the alleged charge that he was the mastermind in the assassination of General Tomas Karingal.  His relatives frantically searched for him again but they cannot find him.  After two weeks of searching and only after filing the writ of habeas corpus, the MISG that the late General Rolando Abadilla and Panfilo Lacson head finally surfaced Ruben in Bicutan.  He suffered severe tortures under the dreaded MISG.   He was locked up in an isolation cell for four months before he was transferred to a regular cell.

Meanwhile, the resistance against Marcos dictatorial regime escalated and culminated in the ousting of the dictator on 25 February 1986 in a bloodless EDSA Revolution.  Soon after the late Cory Aquino was installed as President, Ruben, together with other political detainees (e.g. Victor Corpuz, Bernabe Buscayno, etcetera) were released.

He worked briefly in Peace Foundation, a non-government organization, and helped organize the farmers and assisted them in setting up their cooperatives.

Then the unexpected happened. While Ruben was making charcoals for cooking, two unidentified armed men shot him on 13 July 1996.  His wife, who was sitting in their bamboo hut witnessed how Ruben was brutally murdered.  The assassins made sure that he is dead by emptying their armalites in his body.  Ruben died instantly.

Ruben was an ordinary man with weaknesses and limitations.  He made a difference though in fighting for his beliefs and had a strong determination to live a life that is right and just.  Despite the many crises in his life, he remained committed to fight for the rights of the poor and the oppressed masses.

He left behind his wife, who continued his unfinished struggle and advocacies through actively working in various human rights organizations. His wife is currently battling cancer.

(Zenaida Mique)

By apol1972

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