30 years ago today, Ateneo student leader-turned-rebel Edjop killed in a military raid
The online news portal of TV5
Dateline: September 20, 1982, Davao City. Edgar Jopson, a student leader from Ateneo and TOYM awardee who turned rebel against the Marcos dictatorship, was killed by the military in a raid of their safehouse.
It has been 30 years today. InterAksyon.com recalls the life of one who willingly and willfully gave of his life to trying to right the wrong.
Before he went underground, Edjop was on the path of an average, upper-middle-class life. Born to a self-made grocery owner, Edjop excelled academically. He graduated high school valedictorian and later cum laude Management Engineering at the Ateneo de Manila University. He drove his own car and brought his then girlfriend and now widow Joy to expensive restaurants when they were dating. He received several college scholarships, one even gave to a friend in Tondo. He was one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men awardees in 1970.
College was where Edjop bloomed as a leader. A member of the Ateneo Student Council, he later got elected president of the moderate National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP). It was a time of great upheavals worldwide, of hippies, of student power, of Woodstock. Here, two-termer president Marcos was paving the way for a third term.
From fighting for students’ rights and welfare, Edjop became more political. He and his group joined the call against Marcos changing the Constitution to suit his ambition. This earned him a meeting with the man in Malacanang in January 1970. With youth’s cheekiness, he demanded that Marcos promise - on a piece of paper - to not run a third term, angering the latter enough to mock him and tell him he’s only a “grocer’s son.” To which he said, “Honest grocer naman.”
Joy could not say exactly what pushed her husband to go underground. Perhaps it was the imposition of Martial Law and the shrinking democratic space and the increasing danger that he and his family faced. Perhaps it was his experience in the student movement and later after graduation in labor organizing that radicalized him. Perhaps it was a combination of all these things.
“Maybe Ed was trapped in a situation that he had to join the movement, but it wasn’t just for himself, the danger was real and present. Even before he joined the movement, the military was trying to visit daddy (Hernan Jopson) to make Ed cooperate, to work for the government and squeal on people he knew, so the choice is to go away so as not to prejudice the security of his family,” Joy says.
In June 14, 1979, Edjop was arrested in a raid in their safehouse in Las Pinas. He escaped a few days later and returned to his underground work until he was killed in 1982.
Underground, Edjop and Joy would start their family, with Noy and Joyette joining them during summer and Christmas breaks from school. When Edjop was killed, then newborn Risa was to join her two other siblings to be with their parents.
Like many, Edjop played many roles. Here, Joy describes how he performed them:
Ed, the husband: He’s very romantic. He remembered important dates. It was Valentine’s Day when we got together as sweethearts. On eve of important dates, he would surprise me with flowers, scribbles, small gifts. Sometimes he’ll sing to you, then we’d burst into a duet.
Ed, the son: He is respectful. Of course, Ed knew how painful it was for daddy and mommy not to bequeath the store to him. Nagtampo si (Slighted was) daddy when he supported the (labor) union, pero humingi rin sya ng tawad (but he asked for forgiveness). He sought for his blessings before we got married.
Tat, the father: A loving father. I think Noy, who luckily had the chance to live with us until he was four, enjoyed the love and care that Ed gave him during that time. Nung nahuli sila (nung una), he realized the danger and risks to the children kaya hindi na namin sila kinuha (When they were arrested the first time, he realized the danger and risks to the children so we did not take them with us).
Edgar Jopson, the friend: Matapat na kaibigan, malalahanin, gusto niya yung mga kabigan niya nainintindihan iyong ginagawa niya (True friend, thoughtful, he wanted his friend to understand what he was doing). Before he went underground, he made efforts to meet up with friends from school na more radical than he was, when he was still considered moderate. Probably they could not understand the path that he took, pinapaliwanag niya, maybe try to win them over to join him.
Edjop, the activist: Very serious and intellectually honest, committed student leader who tried to respond to the call of the times. He initiated activities to rally the students for a non-partisan constitutional convention, even for lower tuition, greater academic freedom, and of course outside, how the constitutional convention would impact on the lives of the people.