Chuck Baclagon

Jams never said “no” to anything.

No matter how complex or outrageous the idea or the plan is.

It is his can-do attitude that endeared him to the collective and led him to take on key roles and responsibilities in our work here in the Philippines. His enthusiasm was so contagious.

I first met Jams at the annual anti-State of the Nation Address gathering of anarchists in Quezon City in 2017, he was with a group of Christian skateboarders who somehow found more affinity with anarchists than their church.

It took a couple of years before he became part of the first batch of volunteers that underwent orientation in the old 350 Pilipinas office in Teachers Village.

His first activity was at the March 15, 2019 Global Climate Strike which was quickly followed by the Earth Hour teach-in and vigil that we co-organized with the Malate Catholic Church’s Care for the Earth Ministry.

Jams (in black shirt) at the Global Climate Strike in Quezon Memorial Circle. Photo: Chuck Baclagon

Jams (top row middle) holding the LED banner we displayed at the Earth Hour vigil in Malate Catholic Church. Photo: Jilson Tiu

After that, he went to Leyte to do rural development work among communities as a staff of a faith-based organization where he stayed until the middle of 2020, and upon returning to Manila, he continued to be involved in almost all the actions and activities we organized while learning to adapt to the drastically altered campaign landscape that was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He embedded himself with the production and action team that was deployed during Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address, to denounce the regime’s anti-people and environmentally destructive policies by bringing together umbrellas to form the sky, the land, and the sea, with the call “WE RESIST AS ONE PLANET” written on them – a reminder to the government to heed the call of the people to protect our environment.

Production work for the #SONAGkaisa umbrella mobilization. Photo: Fread De Mesa

Aerial shot of the umbrella protest during Duterte’s 2020 State of the Nation Address. Photo: Dino Dimar

He was also part of the production team that helped and lent power tools during the painting and assembly of the Environmental Defenders mobile exhibit that was organized by Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines, the Center for Environmental Concerns and SAKA (Artist Alliance for Genuine Land Reform and Rural Development).

Being skilled in the more technical aspects of electronics, Jams was among the most capable volunteers to handle the Tekpak assembly that we conducted to power typhoon-impacted Dumagat communities at the tail end of 2020.

Jams on the right with Chris De Vera and Fread De Mesa building a portable solar Tekpak that was eventually  given to typhoon affected Dumagats in Rizal. Photo: AC Dimatatac

He would even be responsible for engineering a contraption that enabled our static 3D hologram fans to become modular and fit for purpose in outdoor protest actions like the November 6, 2021 Climate Rally at the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City.

Assembling the modular stands that were used for the hologram fans that were used at the Commission on Human Rights. Photo: Leo Sabangan II

Apart from those things, he also cared a lot about the shared volunteer space that he volunteered himself and his father to install hand railings to the stairs so we could access the second-floor meeting room in the office with ease – he was deeply concerned about the safety of people who would use the stairs.

Together with Johnny Guarin, he jump-started the urban vegetable garden in the office space’s yard, and spruced up the place with beautiful murals that speak of the values that we shared as a collective of activists that believed a better world is possible.

As a labor of love, Jams created porcelain pins using a DIY technique he had just learned, that we distributed as a year-end gift to active volunteers and friends from partner organizations.

Mural painting at the 350 Pilpinas office. Photo: Johnny Guarin

DIY pins. Jams sent this photo a few days before Christmas to update me that he was able to put together 50 pieces of the pins.


He identified with anarchist ethos, but he never dwelled in that movement’s more radical-than-thou identity politics.

He believed more in friendship – because he cared more about people than conceptual articulations of justice.

A quick look at the names and affiliations of people who sent their condolences in social media shows how he has transcended the divides of ideology, theology, scenes, and genres.

He always had a particular interest in drawing artworks that had bandages on them.

He said bandages remind him of healing. Being a skateboarder, a tattoo artist, together with his academic background in psychology and counseling, he finds a lot of resonance with the theme of healing.

One of Jams’ bandage-themed artworks.

It is sad that the year started with a massive rise of new infections coming from a new COVID variant and more tragic is that we lost a friend merely ten days into the year.

It’s tragic that our country’s healthcare system overwhelmed with the Omicron surge would be unable to save him from an aneurysm that cut short his 29 fruitful years on this planet.

I am still at a loss. Like much of everyone I know in the Philippines barely making it through the COVID wave with my entire household sick and in poor health, I can only hope that once we get past the worst, the bandages are off. The work of rebuilding our lives and fighting the good fight continues.

But for now, we rest knowing that when we recover, we have very big shoes to fill. The shoes left behind by Jams Gacita.

Artist. Activist. Revolutionary.

A comrade, dear friend and brother to all of us who were able to know and journey with him in the fight for climate justice.

Jams at the #WakasSONA protest in Quezon City. Photo: AC Dimatatac