TAGOLOAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 20 November) – A Magna Cum Laude graduate of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro who joined the New People’s Army (NPA) in the late 1970s was laid to rest at the public cemetery here on Friday morning, a day after his townmates, classmates and former rebels held a parangal (tribute) in his honor.
Leonido “Nido” Nabong, more popularly known by his nom de guerre Ka Charo or Otik, was killed in an encounter with Army troops in Tampilisan town, Zamboanga del Norte last November 13.
He was tagge “Leonardo Nabong” in the Armed Forces of the Philippines order of battle and a reward of 6.15 million pesos was offered for his capture, dead or alive.
The remains of Nabong arrived in his hometown Wednesday morning after Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Emano facilitated the transfer of his remains from Zamboanga del Norte, his family said.
“Welcome home Manong,” read one of the ribbons on the wreath.
During the parangal at his wake in the residence of the Nabongs last Thursday, family members, townmates, classmates and former rebels shared stories of his childhood, his life in the New People’s Army and how he died.
Nabong finished Agriculture at Xavier University in 1976, Magna Cum Laude.
The third of eight children, Nabong was a consistent honor student and pursued his college studies as a scholar.
“He was the favorite of our parents because he was very intelligent. He always got the biggest share of the food on the table, a gesture that Nido resented very much,” his younger sister Chona said.
His classmates from Xavier University sent flowers and on their Facebook posts, admired how he took the difficult path to help change society.
After his college graduation, he worked in a banana plantation in the Davao region before joining the NPA.
“I won’t forget him and at the same time I will always know where he was,” Arthur Guerzon, Nabong’s best friend, said.
Raymond Toledo, a fellow Atenean, wrote: “To lay down one’s life for one’s principles and for the least of God’s brothers and sisters. Only a giant would be capable of such an act. The Xavier / Ateneo community should honor him. Salamat kaayo, Ka Charo.”
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, only a handful of Nabong’s former comrades came to the parangal.
With a wreath from the National Democratic Front, his former comrades described him as “the rock star of the guerilla movement.”
“The children would be very excited when Ka Charo would come by our village. They always wanted to talk to him because he was always nice to them,” a former rebel said.
According to the former rebels, after the peace talks with the late President Corazon Aquino failed, Nabong was reassigned from Misamis Oriental to Front Monterosa, a guerilla front that straddles Mount Malindang in the tri-boundaries of Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur.
A former rebel who fetched his remains said Nabong was the only one killed in the ten-man NPA unit that the soldiers engaged in Barangay ZNAC, Tampilisan town, last Friday.
He said Nabong was already suffering from arthritis, a swelling in his joints and had to be attended by a nurse.
“He could not run anymore. That is why I was not surprised he was the only casualty in his squad. He probably ordered everyone to leave him when the soldiers came,” he said.
He said they transferred the remains of Nabong in a white casket. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)