On Valentine's Day

Labs ko si Ka Roda: a Tribute


UP Diliman


February 14, 2009






Labs ko si Ka Roda: The Tribute
Today at 7:21pm

UP Solair’s open garden was filled with love last Saturday—not just because it was Valentine’s Day. After weeks of preparations, the ‘Labs ko si Ka Roda’ event was held there to pay tribute to Piston chairperson emeritus Medardo Roda.

Proof of how much Ka Roda is loved was the early arrival of most of the performers and attendees. The UP Solair garden was filling up nicely an hour before the program was to start. This was a pleasant surprise. And good thing many arrived early because Ka Roda himself and his family arrived 20 minutes before the scheduled start of the program. We had the rare luxury of starting at exactly five o’clock in the afternoon.

Ka Roda and family were surprised to see how many people turned up. Ka Roda himself was nearly smothered by the number of people who wished to shake his hands and ask him how he was doing. The frail man gamely smiled and exchanged pleasantries to all. Vintage Ka Roda.

Katrina Sarah Maramag kindly agreed to lead the singing of the national anthem. No, it wasn’t because she was wearing a red “Serve the People” shirt that she was asked. Magaling naman talaga si Birong at pretty siya noong hapong iyon.

Piston sec-gen George San Mateo gave it his usual touch when he delivered the welcome and opening remarks—rousing and a bit long-winded. But it wouldn’t be George if it was otherwise.

The officers of Piston’s Bicol Chapter were loveable as they struggled through ‘Sarung Banggi’. I know those guys were more comfortable with a karaoke mike but they braved through their song and finished it with panache. Ka Roda was clapping and singing along throughout the song. It was a nice start.

Bayan chairperson Carol Araullo came well-prepared and had her speech written down. She talked about the time when she and Ka Roda were at odds over some tactics in the past. But Carol is Carol and Ka Roda is Ka Roda. In the end, it was moving that Carol admitted how much she admired Ka Roda from the time when she was a young student leader up to the present when she heads Bayan.

The People’s Chorale came in full force and was well-prepared. Their performance of ‘Moonriver’ and ‘Around the World’ brought the house down. It was moving when the more senior activists sang along. Boni Ilagan and Mon Ramirez even swayed while fully displaying they still knew the songs’ lyrics by heart. Bisto!

KMU deputy secretary general Roger Soluta spoke in behalf of chairperson Elmer Labog (who was out of the country) and EVP Lito Ustarez who was indisposed. Ka Roger spoke of how he first met Ka Roda inside a courtroom where he was accused of drug running while Ka Roda was facing rebellion charges. He recalled one of Ka Roda’s favourite jokes to the delight of the crowd. For an impromptu speech, it was good.

Tambisan sa Sining arrived early and had plenty of time to rehearse. It showed on their performance. It’s seldom that they perform as a group nowadays but it was for Ka Roda they were performing for last Saturday and they were happy to do it. They did not wear red, though, and even hassled everyone who wore red at the time. And even if they did not perform their signature songs, Tambisan was delightful and funny.

Ka Roda was energetic up to this point. He would shout “Balik, balik” (More, more!) and “Tuloy lang!” (Go on!)

Ka Roda’s long-time colleague and sometime nemesis at the KMU Norma Binas spoke next. Ka Norma came with a list of anecdotes about Ka Roda—how hard-headed Ka Roda and the late Ka Bel were in regard to their diets, how Ka Roda hated cold weather, how their group have to fight off a snake that slithered into Ka Roda’s old car through a hole on its floor. Ka Norma refreshed everyone’s memory about how funny and (sometimes) exasperating Ka Roda was in his prime.

Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano arrived in time to deliver his message. He praised Ka Roda’s steadfast stance against the counter-revolutionaries who polluted the mass movement some time in the last decade. When Ka Paeng sang his own signature ‘Patak ng Ulan’ everyone was bowled over. Nothing beats a mass leader who, aside from being good as a speaker and organizer, can sing with aplomb.

Walkie Mirana, Roselle Pineda, Amihan Euza Mabalay, Sarah Maramag and Jasmine Icasiano made the crowd feel the love even more with well-chosen and well-sung Filipino love songs. Their minus-one CD was defective so we had to resort to an Ipod as back-up. This contributed to some ‘dead air’ but Roselle was quick with her funny spiels. This were the exact reasons why I was ordered to get this group—magaling, kahit sa sitwasyong alanganin. (I also saw how they practiced diligently weeks before the event. And it showed.)

Next, Kodao’s ‘Ruta ni Ka Roda’ (written, directed and edited by Risa Jopson) was shown to its biggest audience yet. After the tribute, I received many text messages saying they cried when they watched the video. I was very happy for the video but sad with the realization that many comrades have not seen it yet despite the fact that it was the first of Kodao’s ‘tribute videos’ and it had been two years since it was finished and first distributed.

Piston’s entire National Council performed next. They sung “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa.” Good thing they did or some people may not have forgiven us if this song was left out. I gave them an ‘A’ for effort. But then again, I don’t think the audience minded too much if they were off-key.

And now, it can be told. I found it very easy to ask Prof Jose Maria Sison through Facebook to sing for Ka Roda on video. He immediately said ‘okay’ and delivered with days to spare. I sent him You Tube links of the Mabuhay Singers’ cover of the Ilocano Folk Song ‘Naranniag Nga Bulan’ and its lyrics and that was it. So, yey! to Facebook and You Tube. And despite Ka Joma describing his effort as “amateur’ it was a hit. People were delighted to watch him sing and Kodao received several requests for copies of the video.

Three of Ka Roda’s young granddaughters offered two songs to their lolo. Halatang matanda na ang karamihan ng audience. Walang nakaka-alam sa mga kinanta ng mga bata! Hahahaha! I hope those pretty kids now know how well-loved Ka Roda is.

By this time, Ka Roda was already tired and he showed it. He gave the shortest speech he ever gave when I asked him for a response. But he was moved. Boy, was he moved.

When everyone got up to sing ‘The International’ Ka Roda was bowed on his wheelchair but his fist was clenched all throughout. He pounded it on the armrest as he bravely mouthed the words. I remembered Nes Jacinto and Ka Dan Vizmanos who both did exactly the same thing last year. Heroes all.

Maraming salamat po.

Mahal niyo nga si Ka Roda!




Ka Roda, Most Loved Driver
PUBLISHED ON February 16, 2009 AT 3:10 PM

Medardo “Ka Roda” Roda is probably the most loved driver in the world. On Valentine’s Day, more than 350 people gathered to pay tribute to the long-time leader of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston).


Medardo “Ka Roda” Roda is probably the most loved driver in the world.

On Valentine’s Day, more than 200 people gathered to pay tribute to the long-time leader of Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston).

The Bonifacio Hall of the School of Labor and Industrial Relations (SOLAIR) at the University of the Philippines in Diliman was adorned with red balloons, with the texts, “Labs ko si Ka Roda” (I love Ka Roda.) Members of Piston-Kamuning chapter wore shirts with the same message.

Organized by the Kodao Productions in cooperation with Piston, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement), Anakpawis (Toiling Masses), and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance), Labs ko si Ka Roda was indeed a serenade. Testimonies revealed why he is so loved.

Members of Piston flock to Medardo “Ka Roda” Roda, long time leader of Piston. (Photo by Ronalyn Olea)

Ka Roda was born on Oct. 27, 1934 to a peasant family in Libanan, Camarines Sur in Bicol.

In 1965, he went to Manila to find work. He landed as a stevedore at the pier.

Later, he became a taxi driver. After four hold-up incidents, he decided to drive a jeepney instead. His first route was Cubao to V. Luna.

It was then that he met activists and started studying the ills of Philippine society. He rose as a leader of the most progressive and militant transport group.

Militant leader

Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, chairperson of Bayan, said that Ka Roda has been transformed from an ordinary jeepney driver into a street parliamentarian.

Araullo said Ka Roda led protest actions, mainly transport strikes against the soaring oil prices, against the exploitation of drivers and against the fascism of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Steve Ranjo, Piston chair, said, “Dalawampung taong pinamunuan ni Ka Roda ang Piston. Malaking bahagi niyon ay panahon ng martial law. Ganyan kabigat ang kanyang naging ambag” (Ka Roda led Piston for 20 years. A great part of it was during the martial law years. That’s how great his contributions are.)

In a video released by Kodao Productions in 2007 entitled, Ang Ruta ni Ka Roda (Ka Roda’s Route), Ka Roda relates how Marcos viewed him: “The most rebellious driver the Philippines ever had, sabi ni Marcos. Gago talaga si Marcos.” (Marcos said. Marcos was really nasty.)

Ka Roda said one day, he was invited to Camp Crame. The invitation lasted for one year and three months.

Roger Soluta, KMU deputy secretary-general, recalled how he started admiring Ka Roda.

Sometime in 1990, Soluta said he saw Ka Roda at a court hearing. Both of them were facing charges. Soluta and his co-workers at a five-star hotel in Manila were charged with drug trafficking. He said they were framed up by the management. Ka Roda, on the other hand, was slapped with inciting to sedition.

Soluta said, “Nakita ko, matibay ang paninindigan nito. Ginigipit siya dahil sa inilunsad na welga… Nakita ko, tunay na lider ito, handang magsakripisyo alang-alang sa drayber” (I saw that his convictions are firm. He was being harassed because of the strike. I saw that he is a true leader, one ready to sacrifice for the sake of his fellow drivers.)

Araullo said, “Hinahangaan si Ka Roda bilang isang sinsero, matapat at marangal na lider… Laging tinatanganan ang kahilingan ng masang drayber” (Ka Roda is admired for being a sincere and honorable leader… He always carries with him the interest of the ordinary drivers).

Even Jose Maria Sison, chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) agreed. In a video-taped message, Sison described Ka Roda as an intelligent, brave and militant mass leader. Sison said Ka Roda struggled against the foreign oil monopoly and their local cohorts.

Speaking at the gathering, Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano said of Ka Roda, “Hindi matatawaran ang nagpapatuloy na papel ni Ka Roda sa pagsigla ng kilusang manggagawa at mala-manggagawa sa ating bansa. Kung pag-uusapan ang pagpupundar ng KMU at Piston, hindi mawawaglit ang bahagi ni Ka Roda” (Ka Roda’s continuing role in strengthening the movements of workers and the semi-proletariat in our country cannot be downplayed. If we are to talk about planting the seeds of KMU and Piston, we cannot miss Ka Roda’s part.)

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano sings “Patak ng Ulan” in a tribute to Medardo Roda. (Photo by Ronalyn Olea)

Mariano said that even during the “storm in the national democratic movement”, Ka Roda stood by the principles of national democracy and struggled against the reformists who peddled right and left opportunism and urban insurrection.

Warm, cheerful

Soluta described Ka Roda, “Hindi nauubusan ng kuwento, magiliw.” (He would never run out of stories, he is cheerful). He even recalled one of Ka Roda’s favorite jokes.

Araullo said that despite debates between Piston and Bayan regarding certain tactical campaigns, Ka Roda remained warm and cheerful. She said Ka Roda does not take political contradictions personally.

During the entire program, Ka Roda sat in front of the stage. Many times, he would comment on the speeches.

When Soluta said he is cheerful, Ka Roda quickly added, “Madaldal” (Talkative.)

When a member of Tambisan sa Sining, KMU’s cultural group, was explaining their songs, Ka Roda jokingly said, “Kanta na” (Just sing it). Tambisan sa Sining sang “Walang Hanggang Paalam” and “Aanhin”.

While Mariano was singing “Patak ng Ulan”, the man sitting next to him asked him if he, too, is a good singer. Ka Roda replied, “Oo nama.” (Of course).

After the People’s Chorale sang two of his favorite love songs, “Moon River” and “Around the World”, Ka Roda said, “’Sumulong Ka, Anakpawis!’ naman”

Mariano recited Ka Roda’s favorite lines, “Public office is a public trust.” “Sovereignty resides in the people…”

Ka Roda quickly added, “…and all government authority emanates from them.” Ka Roda memorized certain sections of the Philippine Constitution, citing these whenever arguing with the authorities.

Ka Roda’s spirit has remained the same even as he is now confined to a wheel chair. He suffered two strokes in 2002 and 2003.

Outpouring of love

Members of the Concerned Drivers and Operators for Reforms (CONDOR), the Piston chapter in the Bicol region, sang to him “Sarong Banggi”.

Southern Tagalog activists performed a poem about the drivers’ plight.

Four women members of the People’s Chorale serenaded Ka Roda with songs, “Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka” and “Kung Tayo’y Matanda Na.”

Sison also sang to him an Ilocano folk song via the video.

Ka Roda’s grand daughters Rica, Nica and Bea offered two songs to their grandfather.

When asked to deliver a speech, Ka Roda said, this time, seriously, “Kung makakatayo uli ako, maglilingkod pa rin ako sa drayber at mamamayang Pilipino” (If I could stand again, I would still serve drivers and the Filipino people.)

Undoubtedly, he is the most loved driver. His love for others, too, is boundless. (Bulatlat.com)



KA RODA: Journey to Activism

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Activists, critics and traffic enforcers know him as Ka Roda, a fiery speaker, a man who never minced words in defence of transport workers and a man that used to drive an extremely old and slow car that no driver would like to get close to. Once an admirer of Marcos Martial Law for its formidable law enforcement, Ka Roda became one of its strongest critics that took him to the streets to topple the dictator. He is one of the few leaders who know the provisions of 1987 Constitution by heart that armed him well in many battles and strikes against oil price hikes, excessive fines and ridiculous regulations on the road.

This is his story… a modest tribute to his great contributions to the militant labour movement and to the many hearts that leapt in joy whenever he sings in huge organizational and political gatherings.

Farmhand by age 12

Born on October 27, 1934, Libmanan, Camarines Sur, Medardo Roda or popularly known as Ka Roda was always called Ding by his parents, Evaristo Rabago Roda and Paz de Lara Rubio. Being 7th of 10 children of a farming family, he grew up a farmer and learned how to plough the field at the age of 12. In between schools, he helped in harvesting and became a farmhand to his father.

He went to Bicol Central Academy where he was a consistent student leader. He finished high school in 1954 and started his journey to the urban jungle, hoping he could make his way to get a bachelor’s degree.

First taste of urban hard life

Like many others, he left his town without his parents’ consent “in search for greener pastures”. He went to Cavite and stayed with his brother who was a body guard-driver to the then Senator Justiniano Montano of Cavite in 1957. The Montanos welcomed him, gave him employment and sent him to an automotive school.

He eventually finished and secured a license but instead of working as automotive mechanic, he was asked to assist in managing the car rental business of Ciriaco Montano, the eldest son of the senator. He was able to support his daily needs. “The daily minimum wage then was only P4.00, a whole pork leg (pata) cost only P0.70cents, and car rental was only P20-P25 and P100 deposit”, Ka Roda recalled.

Ka Roda recalls “I used to refuel cars at the rental shop at a D.Tuazon gasoline station when I met a lady who looked like Gloria Romero. She was the cashier who gave me rebates each time I refuel. I asked her out to watch movie, lunch or dine together. Later on, we eloped, I was then 27 years old.” He was dreaming to get a college degree but when their first child was conceived he knew that it was no longer possible.

Later at work, he was accused of using one of the cars during car barn hours. He cleared it up by telling the truth that it was not him but the manager, a brother-in-law of the car rental owner. Despite regaining his credibility, he left his job after one year of service.

Driving a Taxi Cab

“I will not forget the very first day I started driving a taxi cab, it was on the 8th of July, 1960…” he fondly recalled. “You know, in my 18 years of driving a cab from 1960 to 1978, I was held up only four times, huh…” smiled Ka Roda.

“I remember in the later years of being a taxi driver, that every afternoon at the House of Representatives in front of the Manila City Hall, youngsters hold demonstrations. I could not help but wonder why the teenagers were very determined to hold their protests even if they were continually mauled by the Metrocom. Pag tigil ng mga pulis, tigil din sila. Pag atras ng mga pulis, sunod din sila. Ang kalaban nila may mga baril, sila wala bakit babalik pa. Napaisip ako, bakit kaya ang tatapang ng mga batang ito .…”(If the police stopped, they stopped. If the police stepped back, they followed. Their opponents have guns, they don’t have any and they keep advancing. It made me think, why are those youngsters so brave?) Ka Roda reflected.

“Before my association in transport workers meetings, seminars and discussions, I did not see problems in Marcos Martial Law. In fact, I was a Marcos admirer and happy with the seemingly peaceful environment at the time. As a taxi cab driver, there were no robberies at that time, back then I believe in the effectiveness of the Martial Law. Even if no one was allowed to talk collectively and that the curfew was strictly implemented, I could not disagree with it. There were no robbers at large and criminality in the Metro Manila had dropped. I was even ready to defend Marcos in case an assassination plot against the dictator comes to my attention. I guess, it’s my admiration for effective law enforcement or my experience with the robbers that drew me closer to liking the Martial law.”

“But I could not forget the last robbery. I was on my way home when I accommodated two passengers at Barangay Pinyahan in the middle of the night. When we reached Don Antonio Heights, they took all my earnings the entire day. I was so furious so I went back after few minutes. I was so determined to hit the robbers if I saw them along my way back. But then, I realized that I had cut on my face and ice cold blood was streaming down my face. Actually, I did not notice it until I felt and touched my cheeks. I looked at my hands and it was wet with my blood”, narrated Ka Roda.

The robbery incident made him think of the risks of his job. He thought that it was better to lose all his earnings that night than lose his life and let his family suffer. From that instant he knew he will leave MY taxi.

Ka Roda as a Transport Leader

Leaving the taxi, Ka Roda transferred to jeepney driving –Cubao-V.Luna route in 1978 at the same time the transport organization of the route was being first organized. Here, he began his exposures to meetings and dynamics of transport organization. In meetings, he actively participated in discussions and in decision making processes concerning jeepney operations in the area. Vocal as he always is, he was later elected as the president of the drivers’ and operators’ association despite being a neophyte. Subsequently, he was invited to attend several education seminars that not only honed his knowledge in organization but opened the road to his deeper involvement in social activism.

Times had changed. In July 1981, a general assembly of transport leaders was held and Ka Roda was represented his local transport association. He was elected as the Third Vice President of Pinag-isang Tsuper at Operaytor Nationwide (PISTON). “My years of service to PISTON is equivalent to its years of existence, I was one of its pioneers.” he quipped.

Ka Roda could not forget how mad the former Quezon City Mayor Mathay when strikers had the strike on weekdays. “We were demanding the repeal of PD 1605 which penalizes drivers violating any of the traffic laws and cancels the driver’s license on the third offense. Excessive fine shall not be imposed or cruel and unusual punishment,” Ka Roda quoted the constitutional provision. “Paralyzed namin yan, talagang walang pumapasada” (Transportation system was paralyzed, no one was plying their route).

Organized Ants and Stories behind Bars

Ka Roda’s active involvements in issues of transport sector brought him to a different kind of popularity. His previous admiration for Marcos did not save him from a dangerous branding as the most rebellious driver in the Philippines by Marcos himself. On September 5,1983, he was arrested and charged with rebellion under the Arrest, Seize and Seizure Order (ASSO). He was detained for one year and three months.

“Dun ko napagmasdan ang mga langgam. Napaka-interesting,” (It was where I observed the ants. They are very interesting), Ka Roda said when asked what kept him busy inside the jail. He continuously observed the ants collectively working to transport their food. Ants walk in an organized way along one line for several days getting food. Probably, ants have stocked their food for the rainy days. What a good value, isn’t it?

“Ka Bel (Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran) was also detained then. We are friends since our days as taxi drivers.”

Even in detention, Ka Roda and his friends did not miss an opportunity to make their miserable conditions quite entertaining. There was a time when the jail wardens did not allow their families to visit them. All the activists held a noise barrage, hitting the iron bars in protest. Nothing could silence them. And when the jail guards began hosing them with water, they took their soaps and started bathing.

A little more than a year, Ka Roda and some of his colleagues were released. His feet were heavy, not because he did want to be free, but because he left the others behind including a very good friend, Ka Bel. His detention fired his desire more to struggle for justice. From the local transport association he began his journey to activism.

The “Oragon”

Ka Roda is a proud father of seven (7) children, to a loving wife, Teresita Yunzon Velasquez. They have five daughters and two sons. Tough as it is, Ka Roda managed to send all his kids to school and all of them finished secondary school. Despite financial constraints, his two sons, Bobby and Gerry reached tertiary education but only Gerry got a diploma. “Gerry was lucky because he was the youngest. He was able to get through college.”

Ka Roda was protective of his children he did not encourage nor discourage them to get involved as he is. But his commitment was well accepted and understood by his family. He takes pride in the knowledge that his relatives from Libmanan are proud of him, his being “Oragon” critical of the anti-people policies. He considers his popularity a big encouragement for him to continue to fight for social justice. He felt honored in the public recognition of him as Ka Roda.

On February 2, 2002, he survived a stroke. The left side of his body was partially paralyzed. “It was because of stress, I think because heart ailments do not run in my family.” he claims. His reparation took almost a year, but his mobility took only a month to revive. He never considered it an obstacle though.

Ka Roda spent and continues to spend his life in expanding the chapters of PISTON. He succeeded in bringing together other transport groups, moderates included in several battles against oil price hikes and unreasonable toll fees. In fact, he was again arrested during mass mobilizations in October 1988 and October 1990. He was never discouraged. The media respects him and sought his opinion on issues that may affect the transport sector, even up to present. He even gets invited to consultations about the transport sector by the LTFRB and DOTC.

Now despite his physical limitations, Ka Roda refuses to retire. There are still many things to be done. The struggle to make the public office a public trust is an uphill battle. To several questions that CTUHR asked, his answers are crisp and clear:

CTUHR: what would you tell GMA if given a chance to talk to her?

I would like all the public officials to bear in their hearts and in their minds the constitutional provision about public officials. “Dapat nilang tandaan ang (They should remember) Article 11 Section 1 of the Philippine Constitution… Public Office is Public Trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”

I would like to add “Article 9 of the Civil Service Commission Section 4 which states that: All public officers and employees shall take an oath or affirmation to uphold and defend this Constitution. Di ka nangangako, sumusumpa ka…”(You don’t just promise, you take an oath)

CTUHR: What outrages you at present?

I am angry against the several attempts to revise the 1987 constitution by recollecting a provision in the constitution. “Kung tutuparin nila ang probisyon ng Saligang Batas, Article I, Section 9, ay napakaganda sana. (If only they will abide by the provisions of the Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, it will be an excellent set-up). ” The State shall promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that will provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living and an improved quality of life for all.

Ano yan? E kung pumunta ka sa tapat ng SSS, ang daming di kumakain diyan. Tapos eto ka papalitan mo ang Konstitusyon.”. (What is that? If you go to SSS, there are many who do not have something to eat. Then, they are changing the Constitution.)

Specifically, in the transport services, I do not agree with the implementation of the Ordinance Traffic Receipt. “Ang mga driver ngayon, P200-P300 lang ang kinikita sa maghapon tapos sisingilin ka ng P500 pag nagkamali ka. Yun ang pinakamaliit na penalty sa ngayon, compounded pa. Tumataas pa habang tumatagal. Tapos pipila ka pa sa LTO…”(Drivers today are only earning P200-300 a day, when they misbehave, authorities will ask them to pay P500. This is the smallest amount of penalty and it continues to increase. Then, you still have to queue at the LTO.)

CTUHR: What is your message to the youth?

The youth should continue to fight for justice and be one with the people. “Dapat sundan nila ang tama…”(They should follow what is right).#



Singing The Internationale

Prof. Jose Maria Sison talked about Ka Roda, the man and his work, and sang an Ilocano folk song, O Naranniag nga bulan.


Bayan chairperson Carol Araullo came well-prepared and had her speech written down. She talked about the time when she and Ka Roda were at odds over some tactics in the past. But Carol is Carol and Ka Roda is Ka Roda. In the end, it was moving that Carol admitted how much she admired Ka Roda from the time when she was a young student leader up to the present when she heads Bayan - RV.

Roger Soluta, PISTON president

Anakpawis partylist Rep. Rafael Mariano pays tribute to Ka Roda with a speech and a song,  Patak ng Ulan


Ka Roda’s long-time colleague and sometime nemesis at the KMU Norma Binas spoke next. Ka Norma came with a list of anecdotes about Ka Roda—how hard-headed Ka Roda and the late Ka Bel were in regard to their diets, how Ka Roda hated cold weather, how their group have to fight off a snake that slithered into Ka Roda’s old car through a hole on its floor. Ka Norma refreshed everyone’s memory about how funny and (sometimes) exasperating Ka Roda was in his prime - RV.

PISTON Secretary General George San Mateo

Steve Ranjo, KMU deputy secretary general,  spoke in behalf of chairperson Elmer Labog (who was out of the country)

The Bicol Piston members sang "Sarung Banggui"

The People’s Chorale sang ‘Moonriver’ and ‘Around the World’



Ruta ni Ka Roda

Jeffrey Ocampo
posted 16-Feb-2009
Pinoy Weekly

KILALA sa tawag na “Ka Roda,” pinarangalan kamakailan si Medardo Roda ng mga kapamilya, kaibigan at mga kasama sa organisasyon ng mga manggagawa sa trasportasyon. Kasalukuyan siyang tumatayo bilang chairperson emeritus ng Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston).

Anang marami, ang bansag sa kanya ng dating pangulo na si Ferdinand Marcos ay ang “most rebellious driver the Philippines ever had.” Paano nga ba’y mula pa noong dekada ’80, aktibo na siyang kasapi ng Piston at nakikipaglaban para sa interes ng kinabibilangang sektor. Bahagi siya ng pagpaparami ng kasapian ng Piston na sa kasalukuyan ay tinuturing na pinakamalaking organisasyon ng mga manggagawa sa transportasyon sa bansa.

Ilang beses din siyang nakulong sa pagitan ng 1983 at 1990 dahil sa kanyang paninindigan.

Sa kabila ng kasalukuyang karamdaman, tuloy pa rin si Ka Roda sa pagsisilbi sa kanyang sektor at sa buong sambayanan.


Ipinanganak noong Oktubre 27, 1934 at tubong Libmanan, Camarines Sur si Ka Roda. Sampu silang magkakapatid sa isang pamilya na pagsasaka ang ikinabubuhay. Madalas niyang ikuwento na sa maagang edad ay natutunan na niya ang pag-aararo.

Sa kabila ng pangangailangang tumulong sa pagsasaka habang nag-aaral, aktibo pa rin bilang estudyante si Ka Roda sa Bicol Central Academy.

Nang makapagtapos sa mataas na paaralan, napadpad siya sa Maynila dahil sa “pang-ekonomiyang pangangailangan.”

Una siyang nagtrabaho sa Cavite kung saan nakasama niya ang kanyang kapatid na lalaki. Pinag-aral siya ng kanyang amo sa isang automotive school, nakapagtapos at hanggang naging tsuper sa kalaunan.

Tandang tanda pa ni Ka Roda kung kailan siya unang pumasada sa kanyang taksi: Hulyo 8, 1960.

Sa loob ng 18 taon bilang tsuper ng taksi, dalawang bagay ang nagtutunggali sa kanyang isip. Una, dama niya ang “mabuting bunga” ng pagpapatupad ng batas militar dahil sa pagbaba umano ng datos ng krimen sa Kamaynilaan. Inisip niyang nagdulot ng kaayusan ang “epektibong pagpapatupad ng batas” ng diktadura.

Ngunit sa kabila nito, kapag nagagawi ang kanyang taksi sa harap ng Kongreso na dati ay nasa Maynila, laging tumatambad sa kanyang paningin ang mga kabataan at estudyante na nagpoprotesta sa harap nito. Aniya, may armas man ang mga kapulisang pumipigil sa kanila, matapang pa rin silang humaharap sa mga ito.

Kaya naisip niyang mayroong malalim na dahilan kung bakit nila ito ginagawa.

Pagkamulat at pakikisangkot

Matapos iwanan ang pagiging tsuper ng taksi, namasada siya ng dyip na biyaheng Cubao-V. Luna noong 1978. Sa organisasyon na itinatayo ng mga tsuper sa rutang ito niya naunawaan ng kalagayan ng kanyang sektor at namulat sa iba pang panlipunang reyalidad.

Bagamat bago pa lamang na tsuper ng dyip, naging tagapangulo kaagad siya ng samahan ng mga ito sa kanyang ruta dahil na rin sa kanyang aktibong partisipasyon sa mga diskusyon at iba pang mga aktibidad. Noong 1981, nahalal si Ka Roda bilang ikatlong tagapangulo ng Piston. Matapos ito, sunud-sunod na tigil-pasada na ang matagumpay na naipanawagan ng grupo kasama si Ka Roda.

Dahil sa pakikisangkot si Ka Roda, binilanggo siya pamahalaang Marcos noong Setyembre 5, 1983 sa salang rebelyon sa ilalim ng Arrest, Seize at Seizure Order. Sa loob ng bilangguan, kasama si Ka Roda sa mga kilos-protesta kapag may paglabag sa karapatan ng mga nakalulong.

Matapos ang isang taon at tatlong buwan, nakalaya siya kasama ang ilan pa. Aniya, malungkot siyang lumabas ng piitan dahil alam niyang marami pang iba na naiwan sa loob.

Tuloy pa rin

Noong 2002, dumanas ng stroke si Ka Roda na pumaralisa sa kalahati ng kanyang katawan. Aniya, “stress” ang naging dahilan nito. Sa kabila ng pangyayari, mabilis nakarekober ang lider-tsuper at nagtuloy sa pagsisilbi sa sektor ng mga manggagawa sa transportasyon.

Aniya, kailangang mabigyan ng solusyon ang mga problemang kinakaharap ng kanilang sektor. Panguhahin dito, ayon sa Piston, ay ang “walang habas na pagtaas ng presyo ng langis.” Gayundin, dahil sa kakarampot na kita, lubha umanong apektado ang mga tsuper sa pagtaas ng mga pangunahing bilihin dahil sa mga polisiya gaya ng Expanded Value-Added Tax. Problema rin ang magmamantina ng mga sasakyan.

Sa kabila ng kasalukuyang sakit, tuloy pa rin si Ka Roda sa pagtulong sa Piston at sa mga manggagawa sa transportasyon upang masolusyunan ng mga ito ang kanilang mga problema bilang sektor. Wala pa rin siyang sawa sa pagpapaalala sa mga nanunungkulan sa pamahalaan hinggil sa mga nilalaman ng Saligang Batas na kanilang nilalabag.

Sa isa namang panayam sa Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, pinaalalahanan ni Ka Roda ang mga opisyal ng pamahalaan hinggil sa Artikulo 11, Seksiyon 1 ng Saligang Batas na nagsasabing “ang mga pampublikong opisyal at mga empleyado ay kailangan, sa lahat na panahon, maging matapat sa mga mamamayan.” Pinaalala rin niya na ang panunungkulan bilang opisyal ay hindi simpleng pangangako, ngunit pagsumpa na gagawin ang mga tungkuling nakaatang sa kanila.

Para naman sa kanyang kinabibilangang organisasyon, tinagubilinan niya ang kanyang mga kasamahan na “ipagpatuloy laban para sa ikabubuti ng sektor at ng buong sambayanan.”

*Pamagat ng bidyo-dokumentaryo hinggil sa buhay ni Ka Roda na ginawa ng Kodao Productions, sa panulat at direksiyon ni Teresa Lorena Jopson.


Tambisan sa Sining

Walkie Mirana, Roselle Pineda, Amihan Euza Mabalay, Sarah Maramag and Jasmine Icasiano sang Filipino love songs.

The grandkids of Ka Roda sing a song to their Lolo


February 13, 2009, Austria

Ka Roda, isang kang kaibigan ng Bayan!

Ika'y aking nakilala sa loob ng kilusan,
Magaling makisama, mahusay na kaibigan,
Mabait, masaya at madaling lapitan,
Kapakanan ng mga tsuper laging mong pinahahalagan!

Mga tsuper ay great lover ang kanilang sabi,
Ngunit ikaw ay iba at ito ay katangi-tangi,
Sapagkat ito'y para sa Bayan at di pansarili
Kaya't ito'y dapat saluduhan ng isang pagbati!

Ang di ko malimutan sa iyong palabirong katangian,
Di ka pikon at pantay lang sa mga biruan,
Kaya't ika'y nasumpungan na biruin ng isang batang musmus lang,
Nang hilahin nitong bata ang iyong upuan,
At ikaw ay napaupo sa palapag ng bulwagan!

Umalingaw-gaw ang tawanan ng mga kasama sa pulong,
Nguni't ito'y di nagbigay upang ikaw ay mapikon,
Sa halip, ngumiti ka't may kasama pang bow,
Kaibigan, itong iyong katangian ay dapat lang isulong!

Mabuhay ka! Ka Roda, tunay kang kaibigan,
Mga kasama sa kilusan, di mo pababayaan,
Tsuper kang talaga nitong ating Bayan,

Direksyon ng takbo mo'y palayain ang Bayan!

Mula kay
Ka Manny Sarmiento,

dating kasama ni Ka Roda sa Konseho ng KMU
dating Secretary General ng KMU at dating Pangulo ng
Nestle Union at dating Pangulo ng Drug Food and Allied
Industries Federation ng KMU.


Ka Roda with members of KMU (left), KODAO Productions (center) and First Quarter Storm Movement (right)



Preparing for the Pagpupugay kay Ka Roda:

Putting up the Piston banners, tuning up the public address system, and taking a final look at the programme flow


From Pinoy Weekly       

Ka Roda, during the martial law days