Activists, Artists Pay Tribute to Ka Bel Tonight

In a night of songs and poems, activists and leaders of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) will be joined by mainstream artists and groups tonight, May 26, in paying tribute to labor leader and former Bayan chair Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran at the Philippine Independent Church in Manila. Beltran, Bayan chair from 1993-1999, will be interred on Wednesday in Angat, Bulacan.

The tribute at the PIC Cathedral will be “a celebration of the life and struggles of Ka Bel and his contributions to the movement here and abroad”, according to organizers.

Among those who will render performances are Armida Siguion-Reyna who will sing the classic “Ikaw ang Mahal Ko”, and The Jerks front man Chikoy Pura who will sing Don Mclean’s “And I Love You So”. The two songs are said to be favorites of Beltran, which he often sung to his wife Rosario.

Director Joel Lamangan of the Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Pelikulang Pilipino (NMPP) will do a brief monologue on the circumstances of Beltran’s death. Folk singer Heber Bartolome will sing “Karaniwang Tao”, a song about a working man’s struggles and hopes.

Reggae band Brownman Revival will sing the Bob Marley classic “Redemption Song”. Folk singer Paul Galang will sing “Maong”, a song about a pair of faded jeans symbolic of the decades-old struggle waged by Ka Bel. Veterans of the First Quarter Storm meanwhile do a medley of 70’s marches including “Ang Masa” and “Makibaka, huwag matakot!”.

ZTE scandal witness Jun Lozada will read a poem by Jose Ma. Sison entitled “What Makes a Hero”. Others who will recite poems include Nanding Josef, Bibeth Orteza, Marily Ilagan and actor-politician Jeffrey Santos. Orteza will read a poem from Palanca-awardee Joi Barrios.

Activist leaders from various member organizations of Bayan will also give their tributes through songs. A chorale which included KMU chair Bong Labog, Anakpawis representative Rafael Mariano, Courage chair Ferdie Gaite, HEAD sec-gen Dr. Beng Rivera, AGHAM chair Dr. Gani Tapang, UP Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, Bayan sec-gen Renato Reyes, Jr and Bayan Muna sec-gen Nathaniel Santiago will sing “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa”.

A short video clip of Beltran will also be shown by Kodao productions.

International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS) chair Jose Ma. Sison will give a recorded audio message extolling Beltran for his role in the international movement for change. Beltran was the first ILPS chair, elected in 2001. He is also the honorary chairman of the ILPS.

Expected to attend the tribute tonight are former Vice-president Teofisto Guingona, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, former DOTC secretary Josefina Lichauco, former partylist representative Joel Virador, Cuban ambassador Jorge Rey Jimenez, and Cuban charge d’affaires Manuel Perez Iturbe.

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