Opinion > Guiangster
A tribute to a hard-core oppositionist:

Written by Ilocos Sentinel posted on Monday, September 16th, 2013

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In this 2011 file photo, Mrs. Porfiria "Porfing" Raval, widow of the late Atty. Castor Raval Sr., is shown seated in front of her husband's giant portrait during a visit at his mausoleum. Sir Castoring's 4th death anniversary is observed this September 13, 2013.(Photo courtesy of  Dondi Raval's Facebook/Text by Sentinel)

In this 2011 file photo, Mrs. Porfiria “Porfing” Raval, widow of the late Atty. Castor Raval Sr., is shown seated in front of her husband’s giant portrait during a visit at his mausoleum. Sir Castoring’s 4th death anniversary is observed this September 13, 2013.(Photo courtesy of Dondi Raval’s Facebook/Text by Sentinel)

So far, none of our local historians have ever written about the saga of our past political opposition leaders and youth activists in Ilocos Norte who resisted the Marcos rule in the 1970s and 1980s. Probably, the general impression of those outsiders, I meant the non-Ilocanos, is that every Tom, Dick and Harry in Ilocos Norte during the reign of Apo Ferdie was pro-Marcos and none ever took the opposite fence. Luckily, nobody of these political oppositionists in Ilocos Norte were arrested and jailed during the rule of martial law except for the activist group leaders and members who were rounded up in mass arrest and incarcerated at Camp Aquino, Tarlac for months and even years.


Now, for the sake of history, through my personal account of their profile and event, this writer will try to present for the first time since the ouster of Apo MCoy in 1986 about the few personalities in Ilocos Norte who turned defiant and critics of his administration. This is timely as Ilocos Norte will celebrate this September 11 the 96th birth anniversary of the late President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. As I write this piece, I hope this  tribute article would not offend the sensitivity of the Marcoses and their loyalists. My apology in case this piece turns sour to them. May I say further that  this article is meant for history purposes  so that the present young generation will know some untold chapters of our local political history during the reign of Apo Ferdie.


In 1969 when then  President Marcos sought for re-election, local oppositions emerged in Ilocos Norte led by lawyer Castor Raval of Laoag City. A human rights lawyer, Atty. Raval called by kin, pals and peers as Castoring always said this in public: ‘’Personally, I don’t hate President Marcos. I opposed him because we differ in principle and conviction.”


In 1967, opposition senatorial candidate Ninoy Aquino “invaded” Ilocos Norte known as “Marcos Country” as part of his campaign trail. It was Raval and his allies who met Ninoy in Laoag City where they mapped out campaign strategy plan for Ilocos. Fellow journalists and I (then as young writer) had a chance to interview Ninoy at said Tower place. He addressed us “Lakay” as he bade goodbye to our group.


Through a high-level commentary, Raval had a nightly radio program over DZVR (now Bombo) with studio at the defunct Tower Hotel and Restaurant in Laoag City. His alternates in the commentary program were two other opposition lawyers,  Efren O. Ramos and Cesar Dagdagan. By the way, DZVR and Tower’s cafe & bar, the journalists’ watering hole, were then owned and managed by Atty. Ramos, also publisher of the Ilocos Times.  Despite of his hard-hitting anti-Marcos commentaries, Atty. Raval did not lose the respect and friendship of the Marcos loyalists, many of them belonged to the Lions Club, Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, local chapter and other NGOs.


The three gentlemen were the original Liberal Party stalwart leaders in Ilocos Norte with Apo Raval as their overall head. When Apo Ferdie’s sister Madame Elizabeth Marcos Keon (KBL) run for governor in Ilocos Norte,  Apo Castoring (LP) opposed her although he knew he was no match to Madame Elizabeth, whose candidacy was backed by Malacanang and practically all town mayors. Abogado Efren also run for assemblyman and  provincial board member under LP banner in separate years but lost in the polls like Sir Castoring. (I could not recall if Atty. Dagdagan run for any position because he died in a car accident in Brgy. Barit, Laoag City before the martial law days in the 1970s). Atty. Ramos, also founding publisher of the Ilocos Times, later became RTC judge in Vigan, Ilocos Sur during the post-Marcos era. After retirement, he sought medical treatment  abroad and died in USA due to lingering illness.


A silent-type intellectual who was supporting the Raval political advocacy was a guy named Ross Tipon of Laoag City. He was the favorite target of surveillance by military intelligence group (MIG) for circulating in Ilocos Norte the anti-Marcos newspaper Malaya in the 1980s. To ensure that copies of Malaya were not seized by state agents, he personally supervised newsboys at Paco Roman St., east of the provincial capitol. The bearded Ross, suspected by the military as pro-opposition propagandist, left the city for good before the 1986 Edsa uprising.


Going back to the main  subject of this tribute,  Raval was a bosom friend and seatmate of former opposition senator Jovito Salonga during their college days at U.P. law school in Diliman, Quezon City. Sir Castoring was a hardcore opposition leader through out his political career. He headed the Liberal Party in Ilocos Norte for many years.  As his reward, he was designated OIC governor of Ilocos Norte shortly after the 1986 Edsa revolt. At this juncture, the “silent pro-opposition leaders” in several towns in Ilocos Norte resurfaced when many of them were appointed OIC mayors by the Cory government.


 Raval’s stint at the provincial capitol was shortlived as the shaky Cory Aquino government ousted him and named his successor, a certain Mr. Campos, an obscure political protege of former congressman Simeon M. Valdez, uncle of former president Fidel V. Ramos. Despite his brief reign as OIC governor, Sir Castoring Raval had carved out a niche in his name as far as anti-insurgency campaign was concerned. In many instances, he did lawyering for several captured suspected New People’s Army rebels who were charged in court for rebellion yet he went to many NPA-infested villages in the province, convincing the communist insurgents to surrender and return to the fold of the duly-constituted government.


In two separate incidents, he braved to enter the  NPA lairs in Tamdagan, Vintar and Payac, Bangui towns where he held pulong-pulong dialogues with the villagers. Knowing that many of the villagers were already NPA sympathizers, he told them “if the hungry rebels ask for food, feed them but never believe on their Godless communist ideology.”


Despite he was already ousted OIC governor, he accepted the invitation by lady Mayor Espiritu (mother of Mayor Francis) to serve as town fiesta’s guest of honor and speaker in Dumalneg town, known as hotbed of communist insurgency. Dumalneg was then the  turf of two notorious NPA commanders, “Ka Jomar” and “Ka Roland”. Accompanied by ex-NPA commander “Ka Victor”, Hydel (a karate black-belter champion) and this writer, ex-OIC Raval partly spent the night with the Dumalneg peasants as he wined and dined with them. At the public auditorium, he later crowned the fiesta beauty queen and danced with the ladies till past midnight.


Instead of spending his twilight years in lazy rocking chair, Sir Castoring kept himself alive and kicking  by going to the courts at the Marcos Hall of Justice defending both poor and rich litigants. This prompted his colleagues at IBP to call him “the oldest practicing lawyer”. They described him as the “well-dressed” lawyer in the courtroom. His signature attire was a colorful coat and tie, white pant and white shoes. Due to lingering illness, he passed away on Sept. 13, 2009 at the ripe age of 91. May the people, whose hearts were touched by his kindness, friendship and other virtues when he was still alive, remember him and pray for the repose of his soul on the occasion of his 4th death anniversary on September 13. (JUN R. GUIANG)


  • judge r.

    thank you tito jun, this made me teary eyed while reading your article. he is indeed a man of principle, courageous and passionate in helping the less fortunate. i have seen how he was loved by his clients. i have experienced this first-hand as i worked as his aide in his law office during my last 10 years in the philippines. again tito jun, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your love to our patriarch. – judge r.

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