We fight because we remember

 Today remember Gloria Capitan, through the art and prose of people who, like her, believe that the struggle for climate justice is one that requires not only reducing emissions, but also building a future that enables communities like hers to thrive amidst a warming climate.

It has been 4 years since Gloria Capitan, a community organizer and anti-coal activist from Barangay Lucanin in Mariveles, Bataan, was cowardly silenced by still unidentified gunmen in her own home. She led the local opposition of a coal plant and storage facility in her town as one of the leaders of the Coal-Free Bataan Movement and as president of United Citizens of Lucanin Association (Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Lucanin).

Gloria has given her life for the cause of building a fossil-free future. We remember her today through the art and prose of people who, like her, believe that the struggle for climate justice is one that requires not only reducing emissions, but also building a future that enables communities like hers to thrive amidst a warming climate.

We also remember how Gloria was killed the day after Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as president of the Philippines. While he was voted into power by promising Filipinos that change is coming, four years on Gloria would be followed by thousands more who have met violent deaths spurred on by a culture of impunity and a brazen disregard for human rights.


Words & drawing by Denise Tolentino

Gloria Capitan could not
keep her roadside canteen clean
because toxic coal dust
just kept coming in.
She was ordered to close it down
by the local sanitation department.
But the coal plant nearby, it stayed open.
Coal dust wilted her mango and coconut trees.
Her grandkids suffered asthma and skin allergies.
Farms were destroyed, tuberculosis spiked
her community was suffering,
their coastline turned into a waste bin.
With 30 of her neighbors she formed an advocacy group
and asked for living conditions that were fair.
This led to a city ruling: companies
must cover their coal stockpiles
to reduce harmful coal dust in the air.
Harassment and death threats
soon followed this grandmother of 18.
Coal plants multiplied and expanded
but Gloria also adapted, turning her canteen
into a karaoke bar
for a less strict health certification.
And Gloria, she rallied on.
One night, while with her grandson
singing a pop song together
Two men walked in, one grabbed her shoulder
They shot her thrice: 2 to the neck and 1 in the arm.
Gloria did not survive.
Punished for being outspoken.
Her community heartbroken.
And the coal plants, they stay open.

Courage Under Terror

Chuck Baclagon, of 350.org shares the story of Gloria Capitan on MUNI on This podcast episode “Courage Under Terror”, which explores how the anti-terror bill could potentially affect our freedoms, and in particular, of those who fight to protect our environment. The Philippines is one of the most deadly places to be an environmental activist, and there have been 113 reporting killings of environmental defenders since President Duterte assumed office. With the anti-terror bill, these defenders face potentially greater dangers in being labeled or tagged as terrorists.

Listen to the podcast

Alas Ng Bayan

Gloria Capitan is among the women featured in the Alas ng Bayan exhibit a collaborative project organized by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, the Constantino Foundation, and 350.org Pilipinas, to raise awareness about the intersections between women, history, memory, climate change, and citizenship.

The exhibit consists of five paintings depicting individually the heroes Gregoria “Oriang” de Jesus, Apolonia Catra, Remedios “Kumander Liwayway” Gomez-Paraiso, Lorena Barros, and Gloria Capitan painted by artist and 350 Pilipinas volunteer, John Erhard Guarin.

Visit Alas Ng Bayan

For Ate Gloria Capitan, a comrade in the struggle

Coal-Free Bataan Movement celebrated a Mass to commemorate Gloria’s life and struggle. Photo: Derek Cabe

By Derek Cabe

On the very same day, July 1, 2016, President Duterte was sworn in as the nation’s first president from Mindanao. He won with a promise to Filipinos that change is coming. It turned out that Ate Gloria was only the first victim, and the number of deaths are still climbing. Her death was not just a coincidence but the beginning of an administration’s policy (declared or not) on extrajudicial killings.

Read the article

Struggling on Dangerous Ground

By Val De Guzman

If this is a message to silence other anti-coal activist like her, then they are mistaken.

Because on the ground where Ate Glo’s body fell, where the blood from her body flows more anti-coal activists will sprout. Instead of silencing us, it will only strengthen our convictions, that the evil menace of coal must end. And we will persevere in this fight and see to it that our children and the children of our children will be free from it.

Read the article


  • Denise Tolentino is a freelance illustrator and writer. She does creative work for various companies, organizations and individuals. She also spends her time educating herself about current political, social, and environmental issues and constantly looks for ways to contribute to solutions.
  • MUNI on This is a bi-monthly podcast where we reflect on the coexisting tensions, challenges and possibilities in co-creating a more mindful and livable world.
  • John Erhard Guarin is a Filipino painter, poet, and hip-hop recording artist from Tondo, Manila.
  • Veronica ‘Derek’ Cabe is a community organizer and coordinator of the Coal-Free Bataan Movement, where she is involved in raising community resistance against the looming threat posed by coal and nuclear power in Bataan province, Philippines.
  • Val De Guzman is a campaigner for the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, a national movement putting forward the climate justice framework as a fundamental element of solving the climate crisis.