Chuck Baclagon

Yesterday we paid our final respects to Ericson Dizon, who is better known as Wowie to those who had the honor of meeting him.

I cannot say that I’ve known him as much as his comrades in the Movement where he struggled and thrived in the work for a better world for 17 years of his life.

What I can say though is that in the few months that I’ve known him since the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) has graciously agreed to host me and in their office, he was one of those who’ve accommodated me with cheer and coffee. Most days I spent there was multi-tasking between work and light conversation about activism, the alternative rock music I played from my computer and life in Manila, which seemed to be the things that mattered most to Wowie.

All that changed on June 14, at the PMCJ office, when our Monday was welcomed with a gruesome sight: Wowie’s lifeless body ridden with more than 20 stab wounds. The office ransacked and robbed. His blood splattered all over the place.

His violent death arrives as a shock, knowing that such a gentle being with no composure towards cruelty met a fate that no one deserves. His brutal killing comes as a grim reminder that we still live in a world of violence that comes as a consequence of existing inequities in society where class, race, gender and political colors, strongly influence the structures of society and dynamics of relations and power.

Hearing the testimonies of his longtime friends and family the Movement I was able to get a glimpse of the depth of his commitment with stories of his beginnings as a part of an urban poor community that was set to be demolished in the late 90s to pave the way for the construction of the Metro Rail Transit and eventually the Trinoma shopping mall.

This exposure also led him to become part of the trade union centre, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Solidarity of Filipino Workers), and its allied organizations, where he spent time in workers’ strikes, picket lines and in doing menial but important tasks such as looking after the office and in helping paint slogans on banners and flags that are used in protest actions that he would be marching in on the front lines to stand unbowed before the presence of forces that fight to maintain the status quo.

He was part of the recent monumental struggles in the Philippines which include the fight to dissolve and alleviate the unequal burdens created by climate change. I believe it was at PMCJ that became an official part of the office staff, and it was there that one comrade fondly reminisced that he refused his pay check as he regards salaries as an instrument of servitude.

In many mobilizations Wowie has become known for the way he waved flags that made it looked like colourful beacons amidst the sea of people marching. He reminded us that the revolution should be a party and that change should be welcomed with a smile and gusto as it means liberation for the many who’ve lived in bondage to social and economic oppression.

We enjoin labor and the climate movement in the Philippines in mourning the loss and in pursuing justice for the murder of Wowie, a brother, friend and comrade to the many who chose the less travelled path of struggling for justice, freedom and equality.

Wowie, stands as a testimony to a life well-lived. A life of inspiring action for a better world.

May he rest in peace. May all of us who remain live in perseverance to usher in a world that Wowie, have worked hard for to become a reality, for the struggle carries even in his passing.