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Beautiful women in armed struggle

/ 01:25 AM July 19, 2012

It was a fine dinner a year ago with Maita Gomez—with red wine and Manchego cheese. She invited me with a KM (Kabataang Makabayan) colleague of bespectacled Joey Decena. Joey, Maita’s guerrilla-husband who bore her a son now working in a call center. Joey died fighting in the countryside. Maita would relive the days when the terrified Forbes Park reacted to the First Quarter Storm. Society page mainstay Conchitina Bernardo gave her a can of biscuits for the rallies and reminded Maita that if the revolution succeeds, Conchitina should be remembered with her humble contribution to the cause. Maita felt amused.

I remember telling her about another beauty queen, Miss Guatemala 1959 Rogelia Cruz Martinez, a criolla who took up architecture. She represented a country whose majority comprises the oppressed Mayans, whose colorful huipiles  (a traditional garment) concealed the terror of the death squads. Rogelia would join the underground movement. In 1968, 14 years after the overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz by the CIA, Rogelia was captured by Guatemalan military. She was gang-raped and mutilated. Guatemalan women honor her with a collective named after her.

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Gabriela Silang’s soul hovers in Guatemala’s highlands.

—ALEX UMALI,

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TAGS: armed struggle, letters, maita gomez, rogelia cruz Martinez
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