Rachelle was an intelligent
student. She graduated
Valedictorian at Mandaue Science High School. While a student she was
active in rallies
Photo, rights, shows Rachelle
Mae raising her clenched fist at the May 2007 miting de avance of the
Kabataan Partylist, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and Gabriela in Cebu City
Stills from the videos
"Fil-Am Youths Pay Tribute
to Fellow Youth/Fallen Nurse"
Jersey City, NJ - Last September 18, 2008, Anakbayan NY/NJ, LA and Seattle
led Fil-Am and Filipino immigrant youths from coast to coast in the making
of a protest video against the ongoing and escalating political repression
in the Philippines, particularly those violations against the youth.
Members from HabiArts, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE),
Sandiwa, Kappa Pi and Pugadlawin, and several supporters including some
nurses, and nursing students all coordinated with Anakbayan to make a
tribute video for Rachelle Mae Palang who is the most recent victim of the
military’s aggressive persecution of student activists and progressive
youths in the country.
Rachelle, or Mae-Mae as her friends call her, recently finished her
Nursing studies at the Velez College in Cebu and successfully passed the
Nursing Licensure Exam in June 2008. Her passion, however, was to become a
physician so she can better serve the poor and the oppressed. In pursuit
of this dream, she took and successfully passed the National Medical
Admissions Test. Sadly, the world will never see a Dr. Rachelle Palang;
the Philippines lost one more vessel of hope and righteousness.
In July of this year, Mae-Mae asked her parents’ permission to go to
Negros Oriental for a three-month medical mission. Her goal while in the
hinterlands was to promote health, treat the sick and to investigate the
causes of the people’s demise. Unfortunately, In September 18, 2008 at
Dauin town, Negros Oriental, that mission was cut-short. Mae-Mae was shot
and killed by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during an
encounter with the New Peoples Army. She was shot at the back of her head
at point-blank range; her face was barely recognizable, the rest of her
body bruised as evidence of torture. According to the AFP, Mae-Mae was a
member of the NPA, and was said to be carrying and using an M-16 during
the fight. This claim however, came as a shock to those who are very close
Her friends unanimously expressed disbelief in the AFP’s report. They said
Mae-Mae was outspoken but she would never have thought of using a gun. Her
weapon of choice was the pen as evidenced by her commitment as the editor
of their school paper in Velez College. In 2005, she was elected as Vice
President for the Visayas during the College Editors Guild of the
Philippines’ (CEGP) 67th National Student Press Convention and 33rd
Biennial Student Press Congress held in Albay, Bicol. She relinquished her
position last May after three consecutive years of faithful service.
Accordingly, she endeavored to reopen closed college publications and
established student publications in schools that have none. Her work
focused on student rights violations in campus. Her knowledge of the
society was further honed when she participated in a Basic Mass
Integration (BMI) program of the CEGP where she experienced the forms of
oppression endured by the masses.
“What was once called youth activism and nationalism is now labeled as
threat to national security by the government. When a young person like
Rachelle wishes to genuinely contribute in uplifting the downtrodden and
the oppressed, the fascist government led by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo deal
with it as if idealism is a menace,patriotism is a plague and serving the
people a high crime,” said Kathleen Dy, member of Anakbayan NY/NJ.
In conformity with this recent surge of repression and oppression, the
military has invaded the campuses of politically-involved universities.
Military personnels are now a common sight in the country’s most prominent
colleges and universities particularly in the University of the
Philippines, Diliman (UPD) and Polytechnic University of the Philippines,
Sta. Mesa (PUP).
Bea Sabino of Anakbayan NY/NJ and a nursing student expressed her concern
as well, “We observed an increase of political harassment lately and one
would think that this was a consequence of the newest impeachment
complaint filed versus Gloria Arroyo after the one-year ban.” This latest
impeachment complaint which was submitted in October 13, 2008 is already
the fourth for GMA. Keen observation supports the hypothesis that the
increased militarization right before the endorsement of impeachment was
not a coincidence but a calculated move by the administration to scare off
the opposition. Regrettably, they did not just scare off Rachelle, they
In their press release, the CEGP asserts that “the act of the military in
linking Rachelle with the New Peoples’ Army is a desperate attempt to
shadow the real reason why she went to Negros, that is to help the
oppressed farmers. We are deeply insulted when the military praised and
showered Mae-Mae’s killers with gifts and recognitions. The CEGP
admonishes these inhumane and insulting actions of the military, as well
as the brutal treatment of her body. We condemn the malicious attempt of
the military to mislead the people from the real issue.”
Rachelle was an ordinary person who chose the road less travelled. Yes,
she could have chosen a different path and lived to be a hundred but she
did not. She chose to become an epitome of a student leader who struggles
for genuine freedom and democracy for the people and for that, she will
always be remembered.
“In memory of Mae-mae and countless other victims of state terrorism, we,
the youth, reaffirm our commitment in the struggle against Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo’s tyranny and against the oppressive system that continue
to burden our people. As long as our brothers and sisters in the
Philippines are harassed, repressed, disappeared and killed the powers
that be can expect more militant actions from the youth to come,” said
Yves Nibungco, deputy secretary general of Anakbayan NY/NJ.
Justice for Rachelle Palang -
by Anakbayan NY/NJ, LA and Seatle
tioInstead of a Eulogy
Posted by: karlo mikhail on: September 24, 2008
One of the things I do very early in the morning when I wake up is to read
the local news posted in the Internet. I don’t read everything and most of
the times I just end up skimming through the mass of headlines lined up on
Like any other morning, I also went over all the headlines last Monday
morning. One item that caught my attention was the news of an armed
encounter between the military and alleged communist insurgents. It was
titled “3 killed in Negros Oriental clash.”
that I felt it was something special, I am after all, like most people in
this information-saturated society, desensitized to most accounts of
violence. It was the proximity of the said event, the conflict occurring
only an island away from Cebu, that “seduced” me to read the article
When I read the news item, I was surprised. I was shocked for I personally
knew one of the names listed as casualties in the encounter.
Happier times: Rachelle Mae Palang in the May 2007 electoral campaign.
The front page of the local paper’s hard copy version even carried a
different headline of the same story, “Cebu student killed in clash.” I
knew Rachelle Mae Palang from two years ago when I was still chairman of
the UP Cebu Student Council and later on with the Kabataan Partylist for
the 2007 Elections.
Rachelle Mae was a stout,
bubbly, but outspoken nursing student who was editor of Velez College’s
school publication, Vital Signs. She was also an officer of the College
Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) - a national organization of
Needless to say, reading the news was depressing. After all, we were
together in several causes - especially those related to students’ rights
and the educational system.
The last time we saw each other was during the opening of the school year
in 2007 at the Arts and Sciences Lobby of the UP Cebu College. She was
returning the book about how to write press releases that I lent her.
I cannot say that the military’s insistence on Rachelle’s brandishing of
long arms in Negros is true. After all, it is characteristic for
contenders of any armed conflict to ornament the truth for their own ends.
The news of her unexpected death makes me sad. She was only twenty one.
[Photo] Rachelle Mae raising her fist during the May 2007 multiparty
miting de avance of the Kabataan Partylist, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and
Gabriela at Colon St. That's me in the extreme left.
But what if the military is right: what if Rachelle really carried an M-16
rifle? This hypothesis leads us to question what made her forgo a
successful career ahead of her to go to the countryside and take up arms
against the State. What made some of today’s youth give up on peaceful
means for the attainment of social change?
The lamentable state of the nation is such that our youth either, like
most, join the diaspora to other lands or, like a few, are led to believe
that the only solution is heading for the hills.
Rachelle Mae Palang video
Mae Mae's memories for her
24 September 2008
Nurse dies in military encounter
Posted by Negros Chronicle
Published in Daily News Updates
Would you believe that one of the fatalities during the latest encounter
between the government troop and the New People’s Army in Sitio Langub,
Barangay Malungkay Daku in Dauin town last September 18 is a registered
nurse and the Vice-President of the College Editors Guild for the Visayas.
One of the three fatalities was identified as one Rachelle Mae Palang, 21
years old from Consolacion, Cebu. Palang was positively identified by her
father Elenito Palang last Sunday at the Clarina Funeral Parlor in Banilad
where the dead bodies of the suspected members of the New People’s Army
The two others were identified through their relatives who personally came
here to identify and claim the dead bodies. The two were named as Federico
Villalongha aka Edong, platoon leader of the Palmolive Platoon of the
Komiteng Rehiyonal Southern Visayas and a native of Sevilla, Bohol and one
Jerry Cabungcag, 27 years old form Sitio MAbuhay, Barangay Luz, Cebu City.
The three dead bodies are scheduled to be taken back to their respective
Elenito Palang, Vice-President of Norkis Mandaue City Branch in Cebu,
furiously accepted the sad fate of his beloved daughter. Rachelle is the
second among four broods. Rachelle had just graduated as Bachelor of
Science in Nursing last March at Velez College in Cebu City. She took the
nursing board exam last July and passed.
Elenito narrated that his daughter was intelligent. In fact she graduated
Valedictorian at Mandaue Science High School. He said his daughter was
already active in rallies when she was still a student. It was yet in July
when he last saw his daughter. Rachelle asked her father’s permission to
come to Negros Oriental for a medical mission. Elenito admitted that he
did not know that his daughter was recruited by an underground movement.
The victim’s father added that before his daughter left, she disclosed
that she would continue to fight for what she believed was right and to
continue the fight off her father which the latter failed to attain.
Elenito admitted that he was himself once involved in the underground
The father has no other recourse but to accept the sad reality but he also
said that he does not blame the military for what had happened to his
Rachelle Mae Palang
(1986-2008), press freedom fighter and nurse for the people
By PINOY BLOGGER on September 23rd, 2008
THE COLLEGE Editors Guild of the Philippines, in behalf of its National
Office, regional formations and chapters, all member publications and
affiliate organizations nationwide and across the globe, expresses its
most heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of
Rachelle Mae Palang (1986-2008).
Rachelle, or Mae-Mae to her closest friends and colleagues, was beloved to
the Guild for her bubbly, tongue-in-cheek demeanor. She graced the Guild’s
gatherings with her easy banter and infectious smile, but was always brisk
and business-like in her leadership. She has served as a valuable pillar
and driving force in all of the conventions and gatherings she has
attended and helped organize. To most Guilders, she was not only a
colleague but a precious friend and confidante.
Shock for her untimely demise are evident in her Friendster and Multiply
accounts, riddled with comments ranging from disbelief, grief, and even
anger - all directed at her, as if to attest that even at the time of her
death her friends and colleagues still go to her for conciliation.
Such was Mae-Mae’s legacy and brand of leadership. She has always been
easy to approach, a rational adviser and generous in her time and efforts.
Mae-Mae was also an outstanding student at the Velez College in Cebu City
where she took up and finished her nursing degree. She became
editor-in-chief of Vital Signs, the official campus publication. As campus
journalist and student leader, she exemplified deep commitment to uphold
press freedom, freedom of speech and students’ democratic rights and
welfare. She is respected by her fellow campus journalists nationwide for
her wit, intelligence and sharp grasp of issues.
She was elected as Vice President for the Visayas during CEGP’s 67th
National Student Press Convention and 33rd Biennial Student Press Congress
held in Albay, Bicol in 2005. She served her term for three consecutive
years before she finally relinquished her post May of this year. The CEGP
will without end be honored and grateful to have had someone as dedicated
as Mae-Mae as one of its leading officers.
Mae-Mae worked hard to help re-open closed campus publications, establish
student papers in universities who had none, and expose and fight campus
press freedom violations as well as other forms of campus repression
nationwide. She led, organized and participated in countless poetry
readings, cultural nights, Writers’ Trips, journalist skills workshops and
protest actions and activities. Even after her stint as VP for the
Visayas, she proved instrumental in gathering and collating cases of
campus press freedom violations in the region for CEGP’s quarterly digest.
Mae-Mae had to cut short her attendance in CEGPs’ 68th National Student
Press Convention and 34th Biennial Student Press Congress in Davao City
for her scheduled nursing licensure exams in May 2008. She passed with
flying colors and eventually became a registered nurse. Even before she
left, she announced to the Guild her desire to pursue an alternative
medical career, one that she would devote to the less-privileged. Mae-Mae
also took and passed the National Medical Admission Test. She dreamt of
becoming a doctor.
It therefore did not come as a surprise to the Guild to learn that upon
achieving her nursing license Mae-Mae immediately volunteered for a
three-month medical mission to the hinterlands of Negros. Mae-Mae barely
finished her volunteer work in Negros when her dreams died with her.
Mae-Mae was killed by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on
September 18, 2008 in an alleged encounter with New People’s Army rebels.
Her face was barely recognizable; she was shot at point-blank range. Her
feet and legs were black and bruised, signs of torture evident elsewhere
in her beaten body.
Mae-Mae’s untimely demise reminds the Guild all too painfully of the same
fate that another CEGP alumna suffered under the hands of the AFP.
In April 2002, Benjaline ‘Beng’ Hernandez, former CEGP Vice-President for
Mindanao and a human rights volunteer, was murdered by the military while
conducting a fact-finding mission in Cotabato province. Investigations
revealed that the AFP, after wounding Beng, raped and shot her at close
range. The AFP later on insisted that Beng was an NPA rebel.
Beng, like Mae-Mae, was also
only 22 years old when she died.
The CEGP condemns in strongest terms accusations and insinuations by the
AFP that Mae-Mae was armed and a combatant. She was in Negros in her
capacity as a registered nurse and circumstances surrounding her brutal
killing should be independently investigated.
The CEGP, in this regard, welcomes initiatives by the Commission on Human
Rights Regional Office to conduct an investigation on Mae-Mae’s case.
The CEGP is also reviled at the AFP’s gall to celebrate Mae-Mae’s death by
bestowing incentives and acclaim to her killers. It is an awful and
terrible reminder of the state and characteristic of our security forces.
They who are supposed to protect civilians are the main enemies of human
rights defenders and social workers.
The CEGP also condemns in strongest terms the AFP’s malicious attempts to
malign the Guild’s name through red-tagging and nasty insinuations. It is
precisely this kind of twisted mentality that gives license to the
military to repress, harass, silence and kill with impunity. Journalists
are easily treated and branded as rebels simply because they are exposed
to the ills of society.
The CEGP calls on all its member publications and fellow journalist
organizations nationwide and abroad to collectively wield their pens and
raise their voices to denounce Mae-Mae’s killers.
The CEGP regards the likes of Beng and Mae-Mae as heroes of the present
generation, young martyrs who have chosen to exchange their lives of
comfort for their noble convictions.
National President, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP)
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The
Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR- 7) has invited the
family of Rachelle Mae Palang and rights group Karapatan ...