The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) renders full honors to Baltazar “Bal” Pinguel, the firebrand of the First Quarter Storm!
Ka Bal served the people through the national democratic movement as best as he could, in hard struggle and self-sacrifice.
Hailing from a poor family in Samar, he became an activist while studying Political Science at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. He was part of the Sandigang Makabansa progressive slate for the UP Student Council elections. That early, he was already making his mark as an intellectual, devouring books and periodicals and frequently engaging in passionate discourse.
He later joined Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and was its designated spokesperson because of his exceptional oratorical skills. Wearing his trademark black jacket and wire-rimmed glasses, he would not only agitate but educate the crowd during rallies, and lead it in spirited marches to the US Embassy or Malacañang where the demonstrators often ended up clashing with anti-riot policemen and Metrocom troopers. He was instrumental in many a nationalist awakening.
As a student leader on campus, he played an important part in rallying and organizing the students against the Marcos fascist invasion of UP in February 1971. Ka Bal was one of the most courageous “communards” of the Diliman Commune, agitating the students from the frontline, literally shooting fireworks at the military helicopters that hovered around the barricaded campus and then broadcasting fiery commentaries on DZUP.
When martial law was declared, he was one of hundreds of activists who went underground or joined the armed struggle in the countryside.
Ka Bal was first assigned to do guerrilla zone building in Southern Tagalog. He was later arrested, tortured and imprisoned at Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna. Shortly after, he took part in a daring escape and rejoined the revolutionary mainstream.
In 1974, he was assigned to Samar where he served as the political officer of one of the first NPA guerrilla units, and became a member of the first District Committee in the island. As such, he directly participated in building the foundations of the armed struggle in Samar. By the end of the 1970s, Samar had the distinction of leading the way in advancing the armed struggle against the US-Marcos dictatorship nationwide.
Arrested again in 1980 in Cebu City, he was detained for five years at Camp Bagong Diwa before being released in 1985. He briefly joined the legal democratic movement, helped found the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and became its secretary-general after Lean Alejandro’s death in 1987. In 1989, suspected military agents attempted to abduct him. He sought political asylum in the US in 1992, where he became involved in various justice and peace campaigns as program director at the American Friends Service Committee, and as one of the leaders of United for Peace and Justice, a broad US-based coalition against the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ka Bal continued to serve the national democratic movement in various capacities, never losing touch with comrades in the homeland or abroad. An adviser to BAYAN-USA, he last joined his fellow activists in a rally in front of the Philippine consulate in New York City to protest the dictator Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Ka Bal’s untimely death cannot erase his legacy as a fiery agitator and propagandist who scorched the oppressors and exploiters and enlightened and enlivened the masses. ###